At its meeting the Community Development Commission heard from city residents about sanitation concerns, the need for transportation routes, and the need for better security. Many also expressed a strong desire to extend and revisit TIF announcements for more Chicagoans to access information. Commissioners explained that they engage with city officials as well as consultants regarding TIF plans and projects.
At the morning session of a day-long City Council 2023 Budget Hearing, Council members expressed concerns that the new Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability (CCPSA) operates independently and fulfills its purpose without government overreach. Members said they expect the CCPSA to take action soon to consider the CPD budget, which the Commission must vote on before November 8, Election Day. Council members asked questions to clarify the differences between the new commission and Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS), which has been in existence for nearly twenty years and works in tandem with district police stations. Concerns included perceived redundancy and confusion over responsibilities.
During the afternoon segment of the day’s City Council 2023 City Budget Hearing, Council members heard that the Chicago Department of Buildings (DOB) intends to upgrade its IT systems and is now implementing the transition of some systems and documents. The goal is to make information more accessible to the public. Some Council members noted that the DOB seems to process and investigate claims quickly but isn’t as efficient in completing the work because the courts are slow to process cases. The Department of Water Management (DWM) heard complaints from Council members that, for years, the department has not addressed ward concerns—specifically, that workers don’t clean up completely after projects, often leaving construction cones, other materials, and rubble behind.
The morning session of the City Council 2023 City Budget Hearing reviewed the Chicago Commission on Animal Care and Control functions of education and public service and how they compared to departments in other cities. Animal control centers across the country are needing to supply services for more and more animals. Aileen Velazquez, head of the Department of Procurement Services, was unable to answer questions about some key metrics, especially related to increasing business for minority and women-owned businesses).
The Department of Assets, Informations, and Services (AIS) presented at the afternoon City Council 2023 City Budget Hearing. Their budget is increasing mainly due to higher labor costs for security. The issue of off-duty CPD officers used for armed security in Millennium Park was emphasized as a significant concern. A planned IT modernization will be a major focus for AIS and is estimated to cost $350 million to $400 million over eight years. Several Council members expressed frustration over the City’s leaking garbage trucks, which many of their constituents have complained about in 2022. Council members learned that as many as one hundred of the City’s garbage trucks—about twenty percent—–are out of service at the same time. Council members also expressed concern about sustainability issues, especially in connection with modernizing the City’s fleet of vehicles, in part by using electric vehicles, or EVs.
In the morning’s City Council 2023 City Budget Hearing, Patricia Jackowiak, director and chief administrative law judge of the City’s Department of Administrative Hearings, explained the department’s goal is to increase the diversity of administrative law judges to reflect the city’s demographics. The department has sixty-nine administrative law judges: thirty-five white, twenty-six Black, and eight Latinx. Kyrsten Emanuel, senior policy manager for the Start Early organization, requested $9 million in additional funding for the organization’s early childhood education program. This money would fully fund the Chicago Early Learning Workforce Scholarship. Chicago Board of Elections Executive Director, Charles Holiday, Jr., explained that the department’s budget will be used to expand early voting, modernize the election system with a new website, update E-poll books, equipment, and IT. Staffing shortages, increased vendor pricing, and mail delays have made the voting process more expensive. Council members asked for more mass texting, signage, and polling information to increase voter turnout. Holiday said that all fifty-two early voting locations are handicap accessible and will remain open on Election Day.
In response to Council member questions during the afternoon City Council 2023 City Budget Hearing, License Appeal Commission Chair Laura Perry explained that she and two state commissioners review appeals and vote to uphold or reverse each decision. Two licenses were revoked in 2022 and the amount of fines is still pending. Eight public hearings have been filed and six reviewed. Perry said no additional staff are needed. Brandie Knazze, commissioner of the Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS), said that the department has responsibilities in three key areas: youth employment programs, services for homeless Chicagoans, and family services. From 800 to 900 individuals will be served by the department’s allotments of $20 million in American Rescue Plan federal funds, $3.5 million in Home-Share funding for survivors of gender-based violence, and $5 million for rapid rehousing and coordinating domestic-violence responses. Regarding Haitian migrants, Knazze said, “We have been taking things day by day. There is no coordination that the state has been doing with us. They just send people.” Some ten to eleven percent of the 3,000 Haitians so far sent to Chicago have been diverted to other locations. Others will receive homeless services in Chicago.
In the morning session of the City Council 2023 City Budget Hearing, council members heard from the Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), Inspector General, and Aviation departments. Funding for the DCASE budget is small relative to other departments, and some Council members supported increasing that budget. Members complained, however, about the department’s communications in connection with City events. They sometimes feel they are not well-informed, especially about events in their wards. They emphasized that they can’t serve their constituents well, causing constituents to lose confidence in the Council members. Funding for the Office of the Inspector General is tied directly to the city’s revenue gains and losses.
Operations at O’Hare Airport are running smoothly, especially compared to other major airports, Council members learned during the afternoon Hearing for City Council 2023 City Budget. O’Hare is up to date on many fronts and leading on some, such as construction and security. City officials are encouraging increased employment at O’Hare, one of the biggest economic engines of the city. Officials are hoping for more workers to come from the South and West sides. Airport security and air safety remain top concerns, with cutting-edge drone technology in the works for O’Hare.
The morning City Council 2023 City Budget Hearing covers the Mayor’’s Office for People with Disabilities and Public Safety Administration. One public commenter in the morning was Alex Goodwin, who lives in the 20th Ward, and spoke against providing $8 million to Chicago’s Shot Spotter gunshot detection system. “Shot Spotter gives an illusion of safety,” he said. “Shot Spotter doesn’t stop the gun shots from happening in the first place.” He added that “fear mongering is high” at this time. Rachel Arfa, commissioner for the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, said, “Our mission is to foster accessibility through participation and equal opportunities.” She reported on several programs that serve that mission: a new “private meeting space” where individuals applying for jobs and building resumes can be helped. “We already have sixty-eight clients and ten people have gotten jobs,” she noted.
During the afternoon session of the City Council 2023 City Budget Hearing, Kenneth J. Meyer, commissioner of the department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, reported that “forty-eight percent of my employees speak a second language,” covering fourteen languages. Andrew Fox, director of the office of labor standards, explained that fair work-week cases have spread across forty-two locations. “Food industry and manufacturing” require the most labor and time to handle, he noted. Expanded Outdoor Dining (EOD) was also discussed. Meyer said that the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) would lead permitting efforts, which involve issues of pedestrians and street resurfacing. Compliance can also be a problem, said Meyer: “There are a lot of business people who think ‘City Hall closes at 4 p.m [and] [the authorities] won’t notice” violations. He noted he has a compliance team that covers 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Plans to expand compliance resources are important because bars that get out of control after midnight are a “time suck” for police officers.
This information was collected and curated by the Weekly in large part using reporting from City Bureau’s Documenters at documenters.org.