Public Meetings Report. Illustration by Holley Appold/South Side Weekly
Public Meetings Report. Illustration by Holley Appold/South Side Weekly

Public Meetings Report – July 08, 2021

A recap of select open meetings at the local, county, and state level for the July 08 issue

  1. Public Meetings Report – March 18, 2021
  2. Public Meetings Report – April 1, 2021
  3. Public Meetings Report – April 15, 2021
  4. Public Meetings Report – April 29, 2021
  5. Public Meetings Report – May 13, 2021
  6. Public Meetings Report – May 27, 2021
  7. Public Meetings Report – June 10, 2021
  8. Public Meetings Report – June 24, 2021
  9. Public Meetings Report – July 08, 2021
  10. Public Meetings Report – July 22, 2021

June 21

The City Council Committee on Finance changed how the City collects taxes on food app deliveries. Taxes will now be collected directly from the delivery apps instead of the restaurants order apps. This action reflects similar state reforms that went into effect on January 1. The committee also decided that about $18 million in Tax-Increment Financing (TIF) funds will go to support a series of parks projects. Garfield Park and river access projects will be most affected. The City awarded $1.8 million to five plaintiffs in connection with a sexual harassment lawsuit filed in 2018. The lawsuit alleged sexual harassment by Chicago Fire Department employees. 

A meeting of the Cook County Board of Commissioners 2020 Census Redistricting Committee heard 20 public commenters representing a broad cross-section of citizens, organizations, institutions, and groups. The committee and its consultant are preparing a draft of a district map using Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) and American Community Survey (ACS) data. The final map will use the US Census data to be released on August 16. Districts must be determined by September 16. Redistricting of the seventeen Cook County Board of Commissioners legislative districts occurs every ten years to conform to U.S. and Illinois laws on voting and fair representation. The public can review the Cook County redistricting process and draw proposed maps in a designated room in the Cook County Administration Building at 118 N. Clark Street, 4th Floor, Room 4A. 

 

June 23

During public comments at the City Council meeting, a minister said news coverage describing a “compromise” on renaming Lake Shore Drive for Jean Baptiste Point DuSable was troubling, explaining that the original proposal would be “best, right, and honorable.” The Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression expressed support for the Empowering Communities for Public Safety ordinance to allow community oversight of public safety. Ald. Raymond Lopez, followed by Ald. Jeanette Taylor, asked that the nomination of Celia Meza as Corporation Counsel be deferred in light of her predecessor’s handling of the Anjanette Young case. The request caused Mayor Lori Lightfoot to walk up to Taylor for what became a confrontational exchange. Annette Nance-Holt was then confirmed as Chicago Fire Department  Commissioner, the first Black woman to lead the fire department, before the meeting was abruptly adjourned. 

 

June 24

The City Council Joint Committee on Health and Human Relations and Public Safety heard from several gender-based and sexual violence prevention organizations in connection with a resolution sponsored by fifteen council members. R2020-805 calls for “hearing(s) on expanding community-based domestic, sexual and gender-based violence prevention programming.” The organizations are asking for the reallocation of $35 million from police department funds to their programs. One program, The Network, has published a proposal, Shifting Resources & Saving Lives, which provides background information on funding domestic violence prevention services. 

In an INVEST South/West Auburn-Gresham community roundtable, the Department of Planning and Development (DPD) asked virtual attendees to weigh in on questions of housing, the appropriate mix of resident-owned and rental housing in the community, and public space. A small group of homeowners believe that too many low-income developments already exist and that more could bring crime. A developer of Evergreen Imagine, a mixed-use proposal at 79th and Green, said the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit is not accurately named. He said it is for working professional people who earn approximately $35,000 to $50,000 per year, not for Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) tenants who may have relied solely on government assistance. DPD Commissioner Maurice Cox said that crime and development must be addressed to “grow this community.”

 

June 25

The Cook County Health and Hospitals System Board of Directors learned that the system has received a $25.2M grant from the Centers for Disease Control. The grant will be used to build up public health and data infrastructure, address health disparities, establish an office of health equity, and engage communities to increase vaccination rates. Nine hundred nurses and two thousand other workers went on strike to protest staffing shortages at Cook County Health (CCH) hospitals. In past board meetings dozens of nurses have testified that staffing shortages lead to reductions in the availability and quality of patient care. Regarding the strikes, which he called “workforce events,” CEO Israel Rocha Jr. said that management is actively engaged in conversations with unions and are trying to “do everything possible to come to an agreement, as soon as possible.”

In a follow-up City Council meeting, a compromise was passed 33-15 to add the name of the first Black and non-Indigenous settler in Chicago to Lake Shore Drive. The new name will be Jean Baptiste Point DuSable Lake Shore Drive. The day before, a variety of council members sent the mayor an open letter calling on her to honor Robert’s Rules of Order at City Council. At the meeting, the Council confirmed Meza, the City’s first Latina Corporation Counsel. Chamber of commerce representatives supported Lightfoot’s Chi Biz Strong Initiative, which according to one, “will make the city more business-friendly, eliminating some red tape.”

 

June 28

Some 107 Zoom and twenty-four YouTube participants attended a CPS Moving Forward Together Town Hall to discuss what the initiative’s website describes as an “unprecedented $525 million investment” over fiscal years 2022 and 2023. The program is designed to ensure student success “beyond the pandemic.” Several school officials explained how Moving Forward Together will affect students in their areas, including expanded summer and English-as-a-second-language programming, early childhood education, support for students in transition, and high school diverse learners. Questions raised in breakout sessions were presented to the entire group. The session is available in English and Spanish on YouTube.

 

June 30

Police should no longer run after a suspect in an alleged crime for anything less than a Class A misdemeanor, according to an interim foot pursuit policy, the subject of a community conversation hosted by the Chicago Police Department (CPD). Class A misdemeanors include aggravated assault, driving under the influence, and retail theft. Examples of offenses that don’t meet the foot-pursuit threshold are low-level traffic violations, disorderly conduct, and littering. The U.S. Department of Justice had flagged the lack of a foot pursuit policy as dangerous for both police and the public, but CPD had not developed a policy before the fatal police shootings of Adam Toledo and Anthony Alvarez in March. In one facilitated breakout discussion, attendees offering different perspectives were skeptical that a policy would lead to meaningful change “in the moment” during encounters. 

 

July 2

A special City Council meeting about CPD’s summer public safety strategy was convened at the request of multiple council members before the 4th of July weekend. Superintendent David Brown said he wouldn’t “divulge specific numbers on officer deployments,” but that nearly 6,000 guns have been taken off the street, including 240 “assault weapons.” In line with the mayor’s past statements, Brown blamed the Cook County court system for not being punitive enough, adding that the “explosion of electronic monitoring [is] harming our city.” 

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This information was collected in large part using reporting from City Bureau’s Documenters at documenters.org.

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