Public Meetings Report. Illustration by Holley Appold/South Side Weekly
Public Meetings Report. Illustration by Holley Appold/South Side Weekly
  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
  34. Public Meetings Report – August 11, 2022
  35. Public Meetings Report – August 25, 2022

April 13

In a push for pay transparency, some Chicago alderpersons want employers to list a minimum and maximum hourly wage or salary in postings about job, promotion, or transfer opportunities. The proposal was discussed at the City Council Committee on Workforce Development’s meeting. The requirement would also apply to listings for independent contractors, domestic workers, and even to jobs performed by an employer’s parent, spouse, or child. The original version also banned employers from asking prospective hires about their wage history and authorizes fines for violations ranging from $500 to $1,000. Council member Nicole Lee (11th Ward) said that while transparency is necessary, the proposed ordinance doesn’t address disparity in connection with a wide range between minimum and maximum pay for a position and offered to help refine the language. Gilbert Villegas (36th Ward), chair of the committee and chief sponsor of the proposed ordinance, said wage transparency would “level the playing field” and create opportunities for discussion around why pay is lower for women and people of color.

April 14

The City hopes to address racial intolerance during an upcoming Unity Summit, reported Commissioner Nancy Andrade at the Chicago Commission on Human Relations board meeting.The summit, which is to offer both in-person and virtual elements, Andrade said, may include a series of seminars focusing on restorative justice and addressing anti-Muslim and antisemitic violence. Esther Nieves, a member of the Advisory Council on Equity, said the council would be involved in the summit and discussed an equity dashboard built by the City’s Office of Equity and Racial Justice (OERJ). The dashboard breaks down the City government workforce by ethnicity, race, age, and gender, she said, and compares the government’s makeup to Chicago’s general population. The data included in the dashboard come from Chicago’s Integrated Personnel and Payroll systems (ChIPPs) and the American Community Survey (ACS) by the U.S. Census Bureau (2018). Andrade also said that the commission has “reached out” to alderpersons “whose wards have sizable populations’’ of Russians or Ukrainians and can “assist in conflict resolution.” She pointed out that the office of engagement has been “working on the refugee issue.” The commission heard reports from some of its several advisory councils, including those focusing on LGBTQ+, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders hate crimes, veterans, and equity issues. 

April 18

Local School Council (LSC) elections took place on April 20 and 21 but some schools were short on candidates. The typical LSC has seats for six Chicago Public Schools (CPS) parents, one to three students, two teachers, one non-teacher staff member, two community residents, and the school principal. Students serve one year, other members two years. At its monthly meeting the district-wide Local School Council (LSC) Advisory Board heard from Kishasha Williams-Ford, director of LSC relations, that 6,140 LSC candidates were running and ninety-six percent of Chicago Public Schools (CPS) locations had enough candidates for an election. Most of the eighteen schools without enough candidates are on the South and West sides. CPS plans to appoint members to those LSCs, but a few schools will operate without an LSC for the two-year term. Near the end of the meeting, attendees asked why some schools had no candidates and shared concerns about how principals might deter current or prospective LSC members who challenge their authority. Changes to the selective enrollment policy of CPS magnet schools are under study, reported CPS Policy Program Manager Ali Fendrick. There are twenty-eight elementary magnet schools and eleven high schools. Concerns have been that the system currently allots more seats to affluent, white, or Asian American students than other groups. 

April 19

An additional $350 to $400 million invested in “transformative change” to upgrade the city’s information technology (IT) infrastructure and processes could save the City $500 million over the next decade. At its meeting, the City Council Committee on Economic, Capital, and Technology Development heard Kevin Smith of the Chicago Office of the Inspector General review poor data-collection practices across City agencies, such as the Chicago Police Department’s gang database. Collecting and managing data should employ an “intentional approach” to ensure government transparency, he explained, and enable accurate evaluation of any program’s efficacy. Sandra Blakemore, acting commissioner of the city’s Department of Assets, Information, and Services, reported takeaways from a private sector assessment of Chicago’s IT processes, completed in 2021 by technology consulting firm Gartner. The report recommended that the City prioritize staff development, upgrade costly outdated operating systems, and promote best practices in data quality management across departments. While $25 million in the Chicago Recovery Plan has been set aside for IT, it’s not clear where additional funds would come from.

April 20

A survey of 1,500 Chicago families showed that a message such as, “parents like you are vaccinating their kids” was more effective than general statements about the safety or efficacy of vaccines for children, Chicago Board of Health member and pediatrician Matthew Davis reported at the board’s meeting. Jacqueline Tiema-Massie, director of the Chicago Department of Public Health’s (CDPH) immunization program, reported that the department has been expanding vaccine access and outreach, especially for children. Tiema-Massie, who assumed her role about a year ago, said she had been surprised to learn that the City’s immunization program was underfunded, receiving about $5.5 million annually before the pandemic. Through COVID supplemental funding, the program has received more than $80 million and added thirty full-time employees, which more than doubled the program’s staff. Board member Davis calculated that CDPH’s COVID-19 vaccination outreach and incentives, such as gift cards and home visits, are costing an average of $1,000 per vaccination, which he said was not sustainable. Board member Steven Rothschild responded that he wasn’t comfortable with quantifying the cost on that basis in that way because the City needs to go that “last mile” to reach all possible residents, including those who face barriers to accessing health care. The CDPH call center has apparently increased vaccination rates among Black Chicagoans.

Unarmed security guards will be added to public transit facilities, as Chicago continues to grapple with safety concerns. At a meeting of the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) Transit Board, members approved two security contracts: $15.5 million for unarmed security to “patrol various CTA facilities” and $2.7 million for armed and unarmed security at administrative and warehouse locations. Chair Lester Barclay said that the CTA is working with the Chicago Police Department (CPD) to deploy more officers and requested a CPD presentation on security strategies at the next CTA meeting. Initiatives to upgrade CTA infrastructure continue, including the Jackson Park to O’Hare Signals Project and the Red and Purple Line Modernization Program.   

Is a program to distribute $12.5 million in prepaid gas and public transit cards simply a political ploy for Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s reelection or is it a legitimate public service?  At its meeting, the City Council Committee on Budget and Government Operations narrowly approved the program known as Chicago Moves for consideration by the full Council, where it also barely passed. Under the program, households of eight with annual incomes of $123,100, or less, for example, would be eligible to apply for transportation assistance in the form of up to 100,000 prepaid Ventra cards worth $50 each and up to 50,000 prepaid gas cards worth $150 each. If demand exceeds 150,000 cards, the City would select recipients in a lottery. The City is aiming for about seventy-five percent of transit and gas cards going to Chicagoans who reside in “high mobility hardship community areas.” Several factors are considered in determining an area’s “mobility hardship,” including  access to public transportation, average travel time to work, portion of income spent on transportation, and number of residents with a disability. The committee gave the green light to a pilot program with Community Investment Corporation to provide loans to help preserve single room occupancy buildings, a source of housing for very low-income individuals.

There was recognition of Mayor Harold Washington’s Centennial birthday at the Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners meeting. Under his term, the Park District gained seven new parks and five newly constructed field houses. An Earth Day celebration was held in his honor at Harold Washington Park in Hyde Park and other locations. A public commenter said a North Lawndale resident has tried to host events in Douglass park, but has been pushed out by other events. She asked for more transparency and for the profits that come from the music festivals to be put back into the park and community. Another public commenter said she is opposed to the closing of Douglass Park for the Summer Smash Festival because of the reduction in summer programming for local students and the inability to celebrate Mexican Independence and Juneteenth. Someone called the Park District racist and adamantly and passionately asked the Board why there is no investment in Black communities.

April 21

The most police misconduct complaints submitted to the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) in the first quarter of 2022 have come from the Chicago Police Department’s (CPD) 11th District (Harrison). The 11th District includes West Garfield Park and parts of East Garfield Park, Humboldt Park, and North Lawndale. The 11th District has been in the top spot previously, since COPA began reporting the number of complaints by district in the third quarter of 2017. At its monthly meeting, the Chicago Police Board heard Ephraim Eaddy, first deputy chief administrator for COPA, report that COPA received a total of 1,133 complaints of CPD misconduct during the first three months of this year. Of those, 878 that alleged criminal activity or other actions not involving civilian contact were forwarded to CPD’s Bureau of Internal Affairs. Of the remaining 255 under COPA’s jurisdiction, twenty-six, or about ten percent, were for incidents in the 11th District.

April 25

A pilot program to be launched by Cook County in January 2023 aims to reduce the role of law enforcement in responding to mental health crises, the Cook County Board of Commissioners Alternative Health Intervention and Response Task Force heard at its meeting. It was the first meeting of the task force since the Cook County Board established it in February. Kiran Joshi, co-lead of the Cook County Department of Public Health (CCDPH), shared data indicating that mental-health-focused responses—over the phone or in-person—are more effective in emergency situations than current crisis interventions that involve police. Joshi also said that responses without police participation can help divert individuals from costly and punitive measures like arrest, jail, or psychiatric hospitalization. A draft ordinance specifies that in certain scenarios the county’s emergency call center would deploy a two-person team of a mental health or substance use treatment professional and a medic. Joshi added that the non-police team would collaborate with law enforcement in cases of criminal activity. The pilot program under consideration by the task force is, in effect, a re-launch of the City’s Crisis Assistance Response and Engagement (CARE) co-responder pilot that was developed internally and launched in September 2021. At a City Council hearing in March, alderpersons and members of the public voiced many questions and reservations about the CARE pilot’s design. The task force plans to meet twice a month until August to design the new pilot program, which will then be submitted to the Cook County Board as an ordinance for review. 

April 27

CEO Pedro Martínez said at the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) Board of Education meeting that he saw news about the budget cuts at Zapata Academy, but the information was not completely accurate as factors that affect the budget fluctuate and have since been changed. Juan Sanchez, an educator from Zapata, said the budget cuts are a choice and that CPS has the funds to restore Zapata’s full budget. The next speaker said Latinx and Central American students deserve the same consideration as white and rich students. She said the board is cutting a ton of money from Brighton Park specifically, and that it isn’t fair. The meeting translator had technical difficulties. 1st District State Representative Aaron Ortiz was in attendance to vouch for Southwest Side schools, saying that cuts perpetuate a cycle of violence these students cannot seem to escape. “I think when the dust settles, this budget will be much more equitable,” CEO Martinez said. A CPS report said 64% of schools voted to reduce SRO presence in their schools. Schools that voted to completely remove SROs from their schools are not allowed to reinstate them. They will receive the same recurring funding from last year but can choose to allocate it elsewhere. President Del Valle said CPS is hiring 1,600 teachers on top of the 180 academic coaches that Martinez mentioned. Del Valle added there is a transitional period right now where some teachers may be moved to other schools to fit the needs of students, but said these shouldn’t be called layoffs.

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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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