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

Public Meetings Report – March 24, 2022

A recap of select open meetings at the local, county, and state level for the March 10 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
  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

Mar. 3

The Board of Commissioners of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) expressed support for Ukrainian independence and for the well-being of the Ukrainian people at its meeting. The board also voted to advertise an $8 million request for proposals (RFP) to design a new secondary treatment battery to mitigate odors at Skokie’s Terrence J. O’Brien Water Reclamation Plant, one of seven plants that serve Cook County. Several other items were moved to the consent agenda, including one to approve advertising a contract for boilers at the Stickney Water Reclamation Plant. A consent agenda allows approval of all listed items together without discussion or motions. President Kari Steele acknowledged the recognition from the National Association of Clean Water Agencies for an environment animation project completed by the public affairs department. Where Does IT Go? is adapted from a children’s story book produced by the department in 2021, is available in four languages, and emphasizes activities drawn from STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) topics.

Mar. 8

A West Side violence prevention and youth development organization group seeks $2.5 million from a special tax district to renovate and construct a youth center in Austin. At its meeting, the Community Development Commission voted to recommend that the City Council approve the Department of Planning and Development’s (DPD) redevelopment negotiations with Broader Urban Involvement and Leadership Development (BUILD). The organization plans to redevelop its current campus at a base cost of $21 million and add a three-story building with a gym. BUILD is asking for $2.5 million from the City’s Harrison/Central Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district fund. Construction of the new complex would increase BUILD’s capacity for fitness, mental health, workforce development, and arts service. Completion is expected eighteen months after negotiations are completed. The DPD also recommended that the City Council authorize negotiation of a redevelopment agreement for Logan Square’s Congress Theater. A public commenter called for a community benefits agreement (CBA) for the Congress Theater project and the jobs it’s expected to create. 

Mar. 9

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) plans to buy one hundred electric buses this year as a step toward achieving full-fleet electrification by 2040. In one of a series of CTA meetings, Chief Planning Officer Michael Connelly presented a report to the Committee on Strategic Planning and Service Delivery that mapped out fleet changes and facility upgrades for electric charging. The changes are projected to cut costs and dramatically decrease the fleet’s carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter emissions. Connelly said the CTA plans to prioritize garage conversions in low-income and communities of color, which are disproportionately affected by pollution. The CTA’s Charging Forward report indicates that the agency must stop purchasing non-electric buses in 2026 to reach the goal of full fleet electrification by 2040. 

Mar. 14

At its meeting, the Committee on Contracting Oversight and Equity dealt with two items designed to hold individuals and entities accountable for hate-related crimes and other actions, essentially by prohibiting them from doing business with the City of Chicago. An amendment to the Municipal Code was proposed that would make such individuals or entities ineligible to do business “due to removal from public office, treason, sedition, or related offenses” and adding hate crimes as a factor. Alderman Gilbert Villegas (36th Ward) sponsored the amendment to ensure that the City holds “businesses accountable at every level” for actions or statements based on hate. He said the storming of the U.S Capitol on January 6 is an example of why the amendment is important. Offered by retired Judge William Haddad, a former Cook County Circuit Court judge, an agenda item called for the Municipal Code to include “Middle Eastern or North African Americans as a minority group.” Alderman Villegas explained that this addition would enable research into discrimination against Arab residents and be the basis for other policies.

Mar. 15

The Chicago Department of Housing (DOH) is prioritizing applications from low-income households as it approves about $1 million a day in federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) funds, DOH policy director Daniel Hertz reported during a meeting of the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) Board of Commissioners. The City has distributed more than $145 million in ERAP funds to tenants and landlords affected by COVID. While evictions have increased since the Illinois Eviction Moratorium was lifted in October 2021, they remain below pre-pandemic levels, Hertz noted. Hertz said he requested approval from the City Council Committee on Budget and Government Operations to increase the value of the City’s two-year contract with the software company Unqork, which supplies an app the City uses to collect, process, and approve applications. The new contract value would be $1.2 million or twice the initial amount. Hertz said the increase was needed to accommodate a second round of federal funds for the program that pushed the amount of funds to be distributed to $182 million from $80 million. Committee members approved the item, sending it to the City Council for final approval.

At its monthly meeting, the City Council Committee on Housing and Real Estate approved an ordinance that would allow the City to participate directly in the Cook County Scavenger Sale and contract the Cook County Land Bank Authority (CCLBA) to hold, manage, and sell City-owned vacant lots. The City wants to work with the CCLBA to expedite development of vacant lots, but some council members worry that they won’t have a say on land sales in their wards. Alderpersons were told the partnership would help the City find buyers to redevelop the land, returning it to tax rolls, and “breaking the cycle” of speculative investors buying land without redevelopment plans. After some debate, council members approved a revised version of the ordinance, shortening the time CCLBA and the City can work on a specific project from five years to three, and requiring reports on land banking activity for the committee. Alderperson Pat Dowell (3rd Ward), a former city planner, requested that council members be consulted about vacant properties in their wards because they may have insights on whether a buyer is a good fit and on other topics, such as whether a sale would contribute to gentrification. The City owns nearly 10,000 vacant lots. The ordinance was sent to the City Council for final approval.

Mar. 16

A special City Council  meeting convened by members who want the City to accept natural COVID-19 immunity from past illness as an alternative to the vaccination requirement for City employees was adjourned. Only seventeen alderpersons attended, nine short of the quorum necessary to conduct a full meeting and vote. The City requires employees to submit proof of vaccination to be paid and to avoid disciplinary action, including potential termination. The City has struggled to enforce multiple deadlines for vocal critics of the mandate, most notably a faction of the Chicago Police Department.

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

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