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

March 5

Thanks to a unanimous vote at the Chicago Department of Planning and Development Community Development Commission’s first meeting of the year, a North Lawndale street vendor food cooperative is expanding. Commissioners unanimously approved all agenda items, including a request from the Department of Planning and Development to negotiate the sale of city-owned land to Cocina Compartida de Trabajadores Cooperativistas. The food cooperative was founded in 2016 by a group of street vendors who bought a shared commercial kitchen space. Plans call for renovating and building out an existing vacant building to house a fresh food market, community garden, greenhouse, and restaurant. The $4.6 million project relies on grants and private funding; the city will sell the two parcels of land for one dollar each.

March 7

A potential federal grant for a quantum computing track at the City Colleges of Chicago was discussed during the City Colleges of Chicago Finance and Administrative Services Committee and Regular Board Meeting. The goal of the grant is to give students more opportunities to explore the field and connect with potential employers. The program would involve, in part, partnerships with the University of Chicago, IBM, and Argonne and Fermi national labs, and other organizations and enterprises. Governor J.B. Pritzker’s budget includes $500 million for quantum technology work. In October, the greater Chicago area was designated a U.S. Regional and Technology Hub for quantum technologies by the Department of Commerce.

March 8

The Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability (CCPSA) District Nominating Committee released a list of fifteen candidates to serve as commissioners on the CCPSA itself at its meeting. There were 120 applicants. The CCPSA is one of two pillars created by ordinance in 2021; Police District Councils are the second pillar. The nominating committee is composed of a representative from each district council and employed a three-month process that included a citywide search, a community-informed rubric, and a comprehensive assessment. Now, Mayor Brandon Johnson must select within thirty days of receiving the list seven of the fifteen candidates to serve four-year terms. If the mayor rejects the recommended names, the process begins again.

March 12

At its meeting, the Chicago City Council Committee on Budget and Government Operations approved a program to incentivize whistleblowers to report illegal or “fly” dumping, the discarding of waste material—concrete pieces, tires, large appliances, for example—on public or private property without a permit from the Department of Public Health. People who share tips that result in a conviction are eligible for a $100 reward. A pilot program began in 2013 and fines for fly dumping were increased in 2017 by about ten times to $30,000, depending on the specific offense. Committee members also approved the mayoral appointment of Julie Hernandez-Tomlin as commissioner of the Department of Fleet and Facility Management, which oversees a wide array of city assets ranging from vehicles to graphic design. Hernandez-Tomlin said she plans to prioritize energy efficiency and ADA accessibility in facilities.

March 13

Commissioners from the Department of Housing (DOH) presented a progress report on the City’s 2019-2023 five-year housing plan at a meeting of the Chicago City Council Committee on Housing and Real Estate.  Since 1994, the city has developed six five-year plans to provide more affordable housing opportunities, particularly in gentrifying neighborhoods, by creating more affordable rental units, supporting paths to homeownership and subsidizing home repairs. During that time the city spent nearly $2 billion on housing efforts (152 percent of its goal) but only produced or impacted 23,000 units (88 percent of its goal). Managing Deputy Commissioner Jim Horan said that the COVID-19 pandemic and surge in development have resulted in higher prices. The seventh five-year plan (2024-2028) is in the works and will be released this summer.

March 14

At their meeting members of the City Council Committee on Public Safety voted to approve Jose Tirado as executive director of the Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC). Tirado, a veteran CPD official who most recently headed the department’s counterterrorism and criminal networks bureau, has been the interim head of OEMC for nearly a year. OEMC coordinates responses to 911 and 311 calls and other large-scale emergencies, including the city’s ongoing response to newly arrived migrants. Council Member Andre Vasquez (40th Ward) asked what percentage of current 911 operators speak Spanish and for a breakdown of how many calls are related to homelessness, new migrant arrivals, or language access. Tirado said he didn’t have those numbers on hand. Vasquez also questioned the OEMC’s handling of a measles outbreak at a city-run shelter and the implementation of the sixty-day eviction policy for migrants. Tirado said OEMC is exploring mandatory vaccinations and separate quarantine shelters for those who have tested positive.

Sandra Blakemore’s appointment as commissioner of the Department of Human Resources was approved at a meeting of the Chicago City Council Committee on Workforce Development. Blakemore, who has served as interim commissioner since January, has led the Department of Assets, Information, and Services (AIS). AIS was a merger of the departments of Innovation and Technology, and Fleet and Facilities Management, that Lightfoot created as a cost-cutting measure. Mayor Brandon Johnson vowed to reverse that decision, as part of the budget he released last year. Blakemore spoke about leading AIS, where she oversaw a $500 million budget and more than 1,000 employees. She also discussed delivering the key contract for 100 percent renewable energy in municipal buildings and electrifying twenty-five percent of the light-duty fleet.

March 16

Accusations of attempts by two council members to exclude another from discussions of council business disrupted a meeting of the 2nd Police District Council—Bronzeville/Washington Park/Hyde Park. Julia Kline said fellow council members Ephraim Lee and Alexander Perez, met secretly and kept her out of the information loop. Perez, however, said that Kline hadn’t checked her email, failing to retrieve necessary information. Kline and Perez had previously clashed at a January meeting over goal-setting, where Perez distributed a letter calling for Kline to be held accountable for her alleged comments and behavior. 

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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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