- Public Meetings Report – March 18, 2021
- Public Meetings Report – April 1, 2021
- Public Meetings Report – April 15, 2021
- Public Meetings Report – April 29, 2021
- Public Meetings Report – May 13, 2021
- Public Meetings Report – May 27, 2021
- Public Meetings Report – June 10, 2021
- Public Meetings Report – June 24, 2021
- Public Meetings Report – July 08, 2021
- Public Meetings Report – July 22, 2021
- Public Meetings Report – August 05, 2021
- Public Meetings Report – August 19, 2021
- Public Meetings Report – September 30, 2021
- Public Meetings Report – October 14, 2021
- Public Meetings Report – October 28, 2021
- Public Meetings Report – November 11, 2021
- Public Meetings Report – November 25, 2021
- Public Meetings Report – December 9, 2021
- Public Meetings Report – January 13, 2022
The Muddy Waters House, Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley House, Glessner House, and several places of worship are among twelve recipients of $4.3 million in building-repair grants from Adopt-A-Landmark. The Department of Planning and Development (DPD) reported on the grants at the Commission on Chicago Landmarks meeting. The report prioritized “shovel-ready” projects in INVEST South/West areas that support exterior and structural integrity and have a revitalizing effect on buildings and neighboring communities. The funds are a significantly greater commitment to Chicago’s architectural heritage than the one million dollars in grants for 2019. Individual grants over $250,000 must be ratified by a City Council vote.
Alderpersons reviewed racial demographics of each of the three current redistricting map proposals, Chicago Advisory Redistricting Commission’s People’s Map, the Latino Caucus’ Coalition Map, and the City Hall map, at a meeting of the City Council Committee on Committees and Rules. Anne Schaeffer, a government consultant, presented on the number of wards with a majority-Black, majority-Latinx, majority-white, majority-non-white, and no-majority group populations. The version of the Coalition Map she used had not yet been revised to include a majority-Asian ward. Council members discussed how they could better engage and seek input from their constituents on the map proposals, especially those with limited internet access. Chair Michelle Harris (8th Ward), who has come under fire for a lack of transparency around the remap process, noted that the “tone” at this meeting was much better and thanked committee members for their patience.
Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi defended his office’s commercial property assessments at a hearing with the City Council Committee on Finance. He explained that commercial properties are taxed at a higher rate than residential properties (twenty-five percent of market value versus ten percent). Commercial properties previously received much lower assessments, he explained, which resulted in residential property owners shouldering more of the tax burden. A City agency or nonprofit could support small banks and credit unions in completing the application process to serve as municipal depositories, Horacio Mendez, president and CEO of the Woodstock Institute, suggested at the meeting. Despite targeted outreach, no neighborhood banks applied to serve as the City’s and Chicago Public Schools’ checking account for the upcoming year. The Woodstock Institute analyzed data from the eleven banks that did apply using four metrics to assess their lending to small businesses and people of color. They found that Citibank performed above average on all metrics, First Midwest Bank performed above average on three, and Fifth Third Bank and PNC performed above average on two.
At the Commission on Human Relations Board of Commissioners meeting, the commission’s Equity Advisory Council announced 2022 as a “year of healing,” consisting of a series of programs, a summit, and a comprehensive report. The public safety committee of the commission’s LGBTQ+ Advisory Council plans to work with the Chicago Police Department as CPD relaunches its LGBTQ+ liaison team. The goal is to improve the department’s relationship with the city’s queer communities. The commission’s ad hoc committee on Anti-Asian American/Pacific Islander hate crimes announced an upcoming meeting to discuss the daytime murder of seventy-one-year-old Woom Sing Tse in Chinatown on December 7. The AAPI committee comprises key stakeholders from Asian organizations and community leaders, including Ninth District Chicago Police Commander Don Jerome. The CCHR is tasked with enforcing two Chicago anti-discrimination ordinances, one for fair housing and one for human rights.
The appointments of Mareilé Bayard Cusack and Steven Block to the Chicago Police Board were approved by the City Council Committee on Public Safety at a brief meeting. Cusack is a senior vice president and general counsel at Ariel Investments. Block is a partner at the law firm Thompson Hine, where he specializes in government enforcement, white-collar criminal defense, and business litigation. Both appointees acknowledged the tense relationship between Chicago residents and the police force and expressed the hope that the Police Board could work to restore public trust.
Due to the high number of people who signed up for public comment, each speaker’s time was shortened from three minutes to two at a City Council Committee on Committees and Rules redistricting hearing. Eight Canaryville residents shared concerns about their neighborhood being split up and urged Council members to keep it in the 11th Ward. Other speakers shared concerns with the committee’s current map proposal and suggestions for the placement of ward lines in relation to the Barbara Jean Wright Courts, Englewood, the Gold Coast, and Cabrini-Green. Committee Chair Michelle Harris (8th Ward) was absent due to a death in the family; Alderman Matt O’Shea (19th Ward) served as chair.
In 2022, the Cook County Land Bank Authority (CCLBA) will focus on strategic partnerships with other government agencies and in areas where it already owns property, Executive Director Eleanor Gorski said at a meeting of the board of directors. Gorski gave the example of the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) Red Line Extension as a project they could keep in mind as they acquire properties. The controversial Cook County Scavenger Sale is planned for February, an auction of properties with at least three years of unpaid property taxes that were not bid on at the Annual Tax Sale. The sale has been criticized for inadequate methodology and ineffectiveness. The Board reviewed what has been accomplished both in CCLBA’s lifetime and in 2021 specifically as they near 1,000 rehabs complete.
A $2.9 million settlement offer to Anjanette Young was approved at a meeting of the City Council Committee on Finance. The City’s offer of one million dollars had previously been rejected. Even though five of six charges against police were dismissed in the fall, new Corporation Counsel Celia Meza explained that a jury trial on the remaining charge of “willful and wanton conduct” posed a risk of significantly higher damages. Three other settlements, which concerned allegations of police misconduct in 2014, were also discussed.
The City has the green light to purchase a vacant lot at 18th and Peoria Streets in Pilsen for $12 million dollars as part of a massive investment in affordable housing announced by the mayor’s office. At a meeting of DPD’s Community Development Commission, Alderman Byron Sigcho-Lopez shared that the aim is to bring more family-sized residential units to Pilsen and to curb declining enrollment in the neighborhood’s public schools. The City plans to use low-income housing tax credits to fund twenty-four new developments and create or preserve 2,400 affordable units. Previous community concerns about gentrification caused the private developer who owns the land to abandon its efforts.
A lot happened at the final City Council meeting of 2021. A $2.9 million settlement was approved for Anjanette Young in the matter of a highly publicized wrongful and traumatic police raid of her home. The previously stalled appointment of Andrea Kersten as Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) chief administrator passed. Council members had expressed outrage over a COPA report on the Anjanette Young raid. In-person sports betting was legalized.
The first week of December saw 8,654 Chicago Public Schools (CPS) students and staff asked to isolate due to COVID positivity or exposure, the highest weekly average of the school year thus far. At a meeting of the Board of Education, CPS Chief Health Officer Kenneth Fox explained that on any given day, one to three percent of CPS students are in quarantine. In preparation for winter break, CPS said they were sending 150,000 COVID screening test kits home with students on December 17. Students were asked to collect a specimen and send it for analysis by December 28 so that the lab could identify students who should not return to school on January 3. The Board learned that CPS is still short of bus drivers. A $9 million settlement was approved for Black educators disproportionately affected by layoffs at turnaround schools.
Two board members and two public commenters spoke against granting a permit for RMG, the parent company of metal recycler formerly known as General Iron, a metal recycling facility on the Southeast Side during a meeting of the Chicago Board of Health. Board member Steven K. Rothschild said, “By our own data, our role, I would hope … is to reduce [air] particulates. The application is clear that under the best of circumstances it will increase particulates in this Latinx community.” Another board member, Carmen Vergara, added, “Allowing this permit will set us back, particularly with all the work we’ve done with COVID over the last two years.” Public Health Commissioner Allison Arwady added that because several lawsuits have been filed on the permit, with more likely on the way, she can’t say much on the topic. Substance abuse, mental health care, violence prevention, and housing are all important, high priority needs of many Chicago residents. The Chicago Department of Public Health is currently tackling these relevant intertwined public health issues but more coordination and funds are drastically needed.
With more people voting early or by mail, 169 precincts in suburban Cook County will be eliminated in 2022. The Cook County Board of Commissioners voted to approve the change at their meeting, though some commissioners and township officials who spoke during public comment expressed concerns about transparency and how the reduced number of precincts would affect voter access. The change was recommended by the office of Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough as a way to save $200,000 to $400,000 per election and offset the growing costs of early voting and vote-by-mail. Commissioner Larry Suffredin clarified that no polling locations will change; the focus will be on consolidating precincts that share a polling location.
Chicago Police Department (CPD) Superintendent David O. Brown reported that his team cleared 374 homicide cases in 2021, the most in nineteen years. At the meeting of the Chicago Police Board, Andrea Kersten, recently confirmed as Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) chief administrator, reported that COPA received 475 police misconduct complaints in November. During the meeting, the Police Board reviewed a case in which Brown and COPA disagreed on disciplinary action for Sergeant Juan Perez in connection with an October 2019 incident in which Perez was found to have misused his body camera and conducted a vehicle stop, search, and seizure without justification. COPA recommended Perez’s dismissal from the force; Superintendent Brown recommended a 180-day suspension. As the deciding vote, the Police Board ruled in favor of the 180-day suspension. As of this meeting, 812 homicides had been committed in 2021, the most in a single year since 1996.
At the first ward redistricting hearing of 2022, alderpersons did not overcome the tensions they sought to leave behind in 2021. At the City Council Committee on Committees and Rules hearing, Alderperson Silvana Tabares (23rd Ward) moved to include a letter she sent to committee chair Michelle Harris (8th Ward) in the public record. The letter, written in December, was forwarded to other City Council members just minutes before this meeting, and the committee ultimately decided not to discuss it because it was not listed on the agenda. When Harris moved to introduce a presentation from redistricting attorney Michael Kasper, Alderman Gilbert Villegas (36th Ward) pointed out it wasn’t on the agenda either. Harris then abruptly adjourned the meeting.
This information was collected in large part using reporting from City Bureau’s Documenters at documenters.org.