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

June 6

At the City Colleges of Chicago (CCC) Academic Affairs and Student Services Committee & Regular Board meeting, presentations included an update on clean energy initiatives introduced by Senior Advisor Eric Lugo and related reports from officials of individual city colleges. Several organizations have partnered with CCC in building a framework and providing funding as well as including students in the development. In April, $1.7 million in industry assessment planning began a three-year program running to March 2027. The goal is to help CCC create an eco-friendly footprint and provide related opportunities for students in trade workforces. David Girzadas, dean of advanced manufacturing at Daley College, discussed a design program for students earning degrees and apprenticeship programs. He credited the program’s partners and its accomplishments. Touting Kennedy-King’s collaborative initiative, Melissa Damewood, associate dean for career and technical education, explained upcoming opportunities for students to experience an industrial level of work. The program is set to launch next summer. Speaking for Olive-Harvey College, the dean of transportation, distribution, and logistics, Cheryl Freeman Smith, expressed support for funding localized apprenticeship pathways and curriculum as well as equipment donations. As an outcome of the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act, CEJA Workforce Hubs is putting approximately $700,000 over two years to activate a network of training hubs on Chicago’s South and West sides. The CEJA is implemented by the state’s department of commerce and economic opportunity.

June 20

The Department of Planning and Development (DPD) is looking for ideas for a project to develop a former rail corridor in Englewood into a multi-use bike path and spaces for park, farming, and commercial activities. Community members can offer their thoughts at At its meeting, the Chicago Plan Commission heard a report on the status of the project from the department. The corridor’s development is part of the Commission’s “Green Healthy Neighborhoods” plan adopted in 2014. The seventeen-acre, 1.75-mile path varies in width from fifty to 100 feet. The Englewood Nature Trail web page notes that “environmental contamination from former industrial uses still remains on several adjacent lots.” The City bought the land from the Norfolk Southern Railroad in 2018 and allocated $6 million in 2022 to initiate the trail’s design. The U.S. Department of Transportation kicked in $20 million in grants for design and construction. The Commission also heard updates on six other projects and deferred consideration of a seventh. The commission signed off on plans for a Dunkin’ Donuts drive-thru on the Near South Side and a warehouse in Pullman. Discussion of a controversial 246,000-square-foot logistics facility in North Lawndale proposed by IDI logistics was deferred.

The mental well-being of Chicago police officers was a key topic at a meeting of the Chicago Police Board. A University of Chicago Crime Lab study reported the likelihood of officers violating policy is strongly correlated with their mental health. The Crime Lab report also referenced evidence from the Los Angeles Police Department that misconduct dropped when officers received proactive mental health services and the murder rate decreased. One goal of the Chicago study was to gauge the predictability of police behavior using five years of data, including complaints, use-of-force reports, and arrest reports. The results showed that “the top two percent of officers with the highest predicted risk are six times more likely to engage in serious misconduct than the average officer.” Results of the study were released in May. The study called the Chicago Police Department policy regarding misconduct and mental health “reactive” instead of “proactive.” The study notes that a better approach is to develop policy with goals of preventing such conduct before it occurs.

A petition encouraging retention of the controversial ShotSpotter sound detecting technology had more than 900 signatures as of June 20, it was announced at the Chicago Police District Council 0008 Regular Meeting-Archer Heights/Chicago Lawn/Clearing/Ashburn. Community members disagree on whether the increased police presence generated by a ShotSpotter alert is desirable. Fulfilling a campaign promise, Mayor Brandon Johnson ended the City’s contract for the service in February. 8th Police District Council members plan to continue to circulate the petition via email. In May, thirty-four City Council members voted to overturn the mayor’s decision. District police councils are one-half of a new model for “police oversight, accountability, and public safety,” according to the Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability (CCPSA), created by the City Council three years ago. Each of twenty-two district councils has three members elected every four years. The councils focus on local district issues while the other half of the new model deals with citywide concerns.

June 21

To renew or not to renew a permit for a Sims Metal Management facility was a topic discussed at the Chicago Department of Public Health Pilsen Public Meeting #2: Sims Metal Large Recycling Facility Permit. In May, at its first public meeting on the issue, the department fielded a request from community members to shut down the operation at 2500 S. Paulina St. Allegedly dangerous pollutants and a fire just over a year ago were among the reasons cited to justify the recycling plant’s shutdown. The Sims facility is now receiving more attention since the move of a General Iron car-shredding plant to the South Side was rejected by the Lori Lightfoot administration in 2022 and is now tied up in court. As a result of that controversy and following a federal directive, public meetings on complex demolitions and other developments posing potential health hazards are now required as part of more in-depth reviews of such projects. At this most recent CDPH meeting, City officials again presented data that show Sims’ average particulate matter emissions are below the threshold of concern. (In December, 2022, the EPA cleared Sims of wrongdoing: “Monitoring data from October and November shows no pollutant concentrations that would cause human health effects from short-term exposure to the air in the area around the facility.”) While some public commenters supported the value of jobs created by the Sims facility, more reiterated objections based on a 2021 state lawsuit over Sims’ failure to adequately reduce emissions. A key complication, Public Health Commissioner Dr. Olusimbo Ige explained, is that she is pinned between a rock and a hard place. The previous permit expired four years ago but has remained in effect in the absence of a new one. CDPH can’t reject the permit renewal unless it proves Sims is violating environmental protections, which CDPH hasn’t yet been able to do. Once CDPH renews the permit, Ige said, the department will then be able to enforce stricter requirements, such as air monitoring and community input. Community activists are now calling on CDPH to publish a draft permit agreement for public review before it signs off on the renewal. 

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This information was collected and curated by the Weekly in large part using reporting from City Bureau’s Documenters at

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