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

Public Meetings Report – July 14, 2022

A recap of select open meetings at the local, county, and state level

  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
  11. Public Meetings Report – August 05, 2021
  12. Public Meetings Report – August 19, 2021
  13. Public Meetings Report – September 30, 2021
  14. Public Meetings Report – October 14, 2021
  15. Public Meetings Report – October 28, 2021
  16. Public Meetings Report – November 11, 2021
  17. Public Meetings Report – November 25, 2021
  18. Public Meetings Report – December 9, 2021
  19. Public Meetings Report – January 13, 2022
  20. Public Meetings Report – January 27, 2022
  21. Public Meetings Report – February 10, 2022
  22. Public Meetings Report – February 24, 2022
  23. Public Meetings Report – March 10, 2022
  24. Public Meetings Report – March 24, 2022
  25. Public Meetings Report – April 7, 2022
  26. Public Meetings Report – April 21, 2022
  27. Public Meetings Report – May 5, 2022
  28. Public Meetings Report – May 19, 2022
  29. Public Meetings Report – June 2, 2022
  30. Public Meetings Report – June 22, 2022
  31. Public Meetings Report – June 30, 2022
  32. Public Meetings Report – July 14, 2022
  33. Public Meetings Report – July 28, 2022

June 17

The announced objective of a Chicago Public Schools Capital Plan hearing was “to provide an overview of the proposed FY23 capital budget and obtain feedback from stakeholders.” CPS Chief Facilities Officer Ivan Hansen and Executive Director of Capital Planning and Construction Venny Dye made an extensive presentation, but the proposed allocation of $764.5 million to improve school infrastructure, accessibility, and instruction was a focus. (Two other key components of the $9.5 billion proposal had been presented at a recent public hearing: $8 billion for the district’s day-to-day expenses and $769 million for the debt service budget.) The presentation detailed how site improvements were selected and a breakdown of investments by category. All proposed projects were evaluated by “equity, assessed need, educational priorities and available funding.” Six community members spoke during the public comment section that followed. Key issues were racial inequity in the schools and related funding, especially for a high school proposed for the Chinatown neighborhood. 

June 21

During its meeting, the City Council Committee on Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards passed a proposed heating and cooling ordinance introduced after three residents died from heat exhaustion in the James Sneider Apartments in May. The ordinance would require apartment buildings with more than one hundred units and senior living buildings for those fifty-five and older to establish “cooling centers,” usually a common room or lounge, when the heat index is above eighty degrees. Various issues were debated, largely pitting the difficulties in efficiently switching buildings from heating to cooling against the need to prevent resident health issues and deaths, before the measure was approved for the full Council. Also, twenty-five rezoning requests were rapidly approved. 

The City Council Committee on Committees and Rules approved the single agenda item at its meeting, recommending Monique Scott to fill the 24th Ward aldermanic vacancy left by her brother Michael Scott Jr., who resigned as alderman to accept a job with Cinespace Chicago Film Studios. Eighteen other ward residents applied for the position and were considered by a four-member selection committee that included ward residents. Monique Scott has served as a park supervisor for the Chicago Park District.

June 22

During its fifth meeting since its creation in February by the Cook County Board of Commissioners, the Alternative Health and Intervention and Response Task Force—established to develop a pilot mobile mental health response service—heard a presentation about the Cook County Sheriff’s Office treatment response team (TRT). The TRT was created in 2019 to provide additional support for drug overdose-related 911 calls. During the pandemic, the program has relied on virtual mental health visits via computer tablets. TRT officers field 911 overdose calls and determine whether a virtual mental health visit is required. Also discussed at the meeting was the task force’s work on a SWOT analysis to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in the current suburban Cook County crisis intervention landscape. The task force’s report is due August 1. 

Amid a recent spate of traffic-related deaths, the City Council considered at its meeting—and then deferred and published—a proposed ordinance related to speed cameras. The ordinance would raise the threshold for ticketing by the cameras to ten miles per hour over the speed limit from six, with proponents highlighting that the cameras disproportionately ticket Black and Latinx drivers. Others pointed out that June alone saw three children killed by drivers, one each in Uptown, Lincoln Square, and, most recently, near Douglass Park. The Council heard from public commenters about several other issues, including calls to raise taxes to care for the homeless; to preserve several historic Chicago buildings, including Pilsen’s St. Adalbert Catholic Church and St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church at 83rd and South Shore Drive; and to replace Chicago’s residential combination sewer system that mixes rainwater and wastewater. 

June 24

At its meeting, the Cook County Land Bank Authority (CCLBA) Board of Directors approved the contingent transfer of land to 548 Development for a mixed-use project in the South Chicago neighborhood as part of the Invest South/West initiative. The Board voted to increase the unilateral decision-making power of the CCLBA’s executive director, Eleanor Gorski, to approve transfers of property up to $100,000 in value. This move is designed to expedite property transfers and reduce the number of required meetings. The land bank plans to hire a real estate attorney to work with municipalities. The Board also heard an update on environmental issues in connection with installation of solar panels at a former petcoke facility on the Southeast Side. Before work can proceed, the Illinois EPA is requiring additional testing to clear up several issues. Federal Superfund money is apparently available for remediation, and the site could be cleaned up within four years.

A special City Council Joint Committee meeting called for by thirty alderpersons focused on the city’s crime and how it’s being approached as a “public health crisis” by the Mayor’s office, especially gun violence. Some Council members contend that the Council has not been included in the decision making. Over three hours, the Council members heard from and interacted with an array of top appointees, including Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown, Chicago Public Schools CEO Pedro Martinez, Chicago Park District Superintendent Rosa Escareño, Office of Emergency Management and Communication Executive Director Rich Guidice, and Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health Allison Arwady. The meeting was framed by Mayor Lightfoot’s “whole-of-government” program of applying lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic to the City’s “public health crisis” of gun violence. Concerns revolved around safety in several arenas: short staffing in the police department, unruly groups of youths, and shootings, including a recent one on North Avenue Beach. 

June 27

The City Council Committee on Health and Human Relations learned at its meeting that an updated COVID-19 vaccine may be available this fall. The number of new cases in the city has increased, though the City doesn’t plan to impose new requirements or mandates unless hospital services are threatened. The Chicago Department of Public Health has several pilot programs based on community health, both in the mental health space for responding to crises and in communities through the Healthy Chicago Equity Zones program. The initiative, explains the City’s website, “deploys hyper-local strategies to confront the social and environmental factors that contribute to health and racial inequity—with the ultimate goal of closing Chicago’s racial life expectancy gap.”

June 30

At its meeting, the Cook County Forest Preserves District Equity, Cultural Sensitivity, and Inclusion Task Force demonstrated that it’s struggling with the process of determining whether the names of historical figures, including organizations such as the Grand Army of the Republic, would be appropriate for naming Forest Preserve facilities. Seventeen individuals and organizations were reviewed by four teams and received numerical ratings based on their advancement of equity. Task force members debated the validity of the ratings, however. A challenging factor, for example, was how to compare standards of behavior and equity in different time periods. The task force has received an extension to complete its work from the County Board, which would make the final determination of naming facilities. Public hearings are being considered, as is increasing social media exposure about the task force’s work. 

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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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