Update: Rahm Gets His (Run) Way

As you know, on Wednesday Mayor Emanuel told the leaders of FAIR (Fair Allocation in Runways) and the citizens it represents that he would “probably not” support their efforts to preserve the diagonal runways to help control noise and air pollution over north and northwest side neighborhoods heavily impacted by his expansion of O’Hare Airport.

Now Greg Hinz of Crain’s reports that the City, American Airlines, and United Airlines have reached a $1.3 billion deal to build a new east-west runway, a de-icing center, and a cross-field taxiway. Rahm also got the FAA to add another $60 million to the $285 million it previously earmarked for the plan.

No wonder citizen input ain’t worth a damn.


Update: TIF Funds, School Deficits, and the Alderman

The alderman announced in yesterday’s ward newsletter that she has signed on as a co-sponsor of this resolution.

She will be joining the 17 original co-sponsors who presented the resolution to the City Council on January 13.

Supporters believe that surplus TIF funds (more than one billion dollars at this writing) should be used to help balance the CPS budget deficit.



Inexcusable Garbage

West Ridge seems to have a lot of residents and visitors who don’t know the first thing about disposing of their garbage. The messes pictured here are inexcusable and unacceptable.

Look at the 6400 block of Washtenaw, an absolute pigsty. It used to be a beautifully-maintained block, but most of the current residents and owners don’t care anymore:

Then there’s the building on the northwest corner of Devon and Fairfield. Although it has  at least 12 apartments and several businesses, there’s only one dumpster, so there are messes like this:

It’s time for building owners and residents to clean up their acts. Now.

FAIR-Emanuel Meeting: What Now?

Representatives of Fair Allocation in Runways (FAIR) met with Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday, January 27, only to have the Mayor tell them that he would “probably not” respond to noise and pollution complaints as the group had hoped. In other words, he is going to allow the demolition of the two remaining east-west diagonal runways to proceed.

Despite nearly three years of citizen complaints about noise and jet fuel pollution over north and northwest side City neighborhoods, the Mayor has chosen to continue the expansion of O’Hare Airport. The City is funding a new runway and the building of a road to make the airport more accessible.

Under current law, the City’s Commissioner of Aviation, Ginger Evans, needs only a go-ahead from the Mayor to implement plans that have had a devastating impact on City and suburban residents.

However, Ald. Anthony Napolitano (41) has introduced an ordinance that would require City Council approval before the demolition could take place; not surprisingly, it has little support in the Council so far.

Residents of Phoenix faced a similar impasse last year, when flight paths were changed without notice and produced mind-numbing noise. Despite protests by citizens to their Congressional representatives, no headway was made (see report from Rep. Ruben Gallego) until November of 2015, when the U.S. Senate approved an amendment to the HUD Appropriations Bill sponsored by Arizona Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake that requires the FAA to engage with local citizens before such flight path changes are made in the future. The amendment applies throughout the country.

FAIR’s petition to the Governor, the Mayor, and other city, state, and federal officials can be signed via its Web site. Deadline for signatures is February 28, 2016.


UPDATE: FAIR (Fair Allocation in Runways)

Representatives of FAIR met with Mayor Emmanuel this morning to discuss the FAIR Coalition’s demand that the City respond to citizen complaints about noise and air pollution in Chicago’s north and northwest side neighborhoods and nearby suburbs caused by new runway construction and runway allocation at O’Hare Airport.

FAIR has been organizing citizens for nearly three years, and has been asking the Mayor to meet with coalition representatives for almost as long. After submitting 23 meeting requests, the politically-wounded Mayor finally agreed to discuss FAIR’s concerns in a meeting scheduled for this morning. FAIR’s leaders have pointed out that O’Hare is run by the City and the Mayor is the final decision-maker when it comes to runway construction and demolition.

The issue of the diagonal runways remains on the table. The Mayor recently announced that the City will finance a new runway (9C – 27C) that will increase flyovers on the north side in the areas between Runways 9L – 27R (Pratt) and 9R – 27L (Thorndale).  See map.

POWR (People of West Ridge) is a proud FAIR Coalition member.


ICPR Forum: Addendum

Among the many things I learned at the ICPR Forum was the answer to a question that troubles many Chicagoans: why can’t police officers be more quickly disciplined or terminated when their actions warrant such consequences? The answer is simple: state law defers to the police union contract. Read the current contract and the disciplinary procedures it outlines as posted on the FOP Web site.

I mentioned the reform legislation that Gov. Rauner signed into law in August 2015, but neglected to include a link to it. The text of the “Police and Community Relations Improvement Act” can be found here.


ICPR Forum: How City Hall & CPD Can Increase Disclosure & Transparency

The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform (ICPR) sponsored a well-attended forum on Wednesday, January 20, to discuss increasing police disclosure and transparency in the wake of protests over the Laquan McDonald shooting.

The event’s moderator was journalist Laura Washington, the panel included Dean C. Angelo, Sr., President of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP); Lori Lightfoot, Attorney and President of the Chicago Police Board; State Senator Kwame Raoul; Tracy Siska, Executive Director of the Chicago Justice Project, Brandon Smith, the journalist who sued the City to force release of the McDonald video; Civil Rights Attorney Christopher Smith; and Pula Thornton Greear, VP of External Affairs for the Chicago Urban League.

My take-away from the discussion is that concerned and thoughtful people are working hard to create reform in law enforcement and to resolve issues in community policing such as police-community relations, operational problems with FOIA requests,  and deciding when and how to release videos of police-involved shootings so that investigations are not compromised and the impression of cover-ups in process does not arise.

I found State Senator Kwame Raoul’s statements especially impressive. He noted that a bipartisan group of legislators in Springfield had been working on law enforcement reform before the McDonald video was released, and noted that transparency “sometimes slows people down” (in the sense of getting things accomplished). He also noted that systemic problems exist in both the police department and the community, with both practicing a code of silence, and added that “there must be ways of creating consequences” for behaviors.

The discussion can be viewed online at CAN TV.

CAN-TV (Channel 19) will also broadcast the video on Friday, January 29, at 8:00 a.m.

TIF Funds, School Deficits, and the Alderman

Seventeen aldermen have co-sponsored a resolution to use surplus TIF funds to overcome the budget deficit at the Chicago Public Schools.

Alderman Silverstein was not among them.

She should be.

Silverstein and the Legislative Inspector General

The alderman’s current newsletter attempts to rewrite the history of her support for oversight of aldermen and their staffs. Her statements are laughable.

First she credits herself for “co-sponsoring” the bill in a way that suggests that she played a leadership role, rather than joining late in the game, which is what she did. In truth, she is one of at least 27 aldermen who signed on a during the first week of January as co-sponsors of the legislation that would give the City’s Legislative Inspector General, Joe Ferguson, authority to investigate the aldermen and their staffs. Read the story as reported by CBS reporter Craig Dellimore on January 7.

At this writing, more aldermen have become co-sponsors—a supermajority, in fact—and the bill is expected to pass soon, despite the efforts of Aldermen “Fast Eddie” Burke and Carrie Austin to delay it.

The push for this legislation is a direct response to the Laquan McDonald shooting. With the Mayor politically dead, and the rubber-stamp bloc, including Silverstein, running for cover, the Council’s Progressive Coalition was able to seize the advantage, moving the bill out of the Rules Committee, where it’s been bottled up by Ald. Michelle Harris, and bring it forward for a vote. Since she always goes where she has the most cover, Silverstein’s temporarily landed with the majority on this bill.

But the alderman is never content with just one misleading statement. She goes on to claim that she “…believes this is a common-sense measure that should have been instituted years ago.”  Nonsense.

This legislation has been locked up in the City Council’s Rules Committee for years. At no time did Silverstein make any moves or attempt to form any coalitions to force the Rules Committee to bring this matter to the Council floor for a vote. In fact, she voted with the rubber-stampers to keep the aldermen’s activities away from oversight. She wasn’t a cheerleader for former Legislative Inspector General Faisal Khan.

Note that the photo accompanying Dellimore’s report is basically the same as the photo in Silverstein’s newsletter, except that she’s absent from the CBS photo. There’s also a bigger crowd in the photo where she’s at the lectern as well. Never one to hid from a camera, it wouldn’t be surprising if she waited her turn for a photo-op (it’s practically a hobby) and then ran the photo that suggests that she’s leading the fight on this. As a matter of fact, crowd-pleasing events like good legislation are magnets for aldermen, and each always gets a turn at the microphone and a photo to show the folks back in the ward.

That’s why her newsletter is so full of pictures of herself.

People remember the photos long after they forget the real story.

Friends of Debra Silverstein

According to the Illinois Sunshine Database, which tracks political contributions throughout the state, the alderman has $58,701.82 in available campaign funds. In the last quarter of 2015, she accepted $7,500 in contributions.

Remember Banner Storage? The company that plans to build a storage facility on the site of the old Cineplex at Lincoln and McCormick? Banner donated $1,000 to Friends of Debra Silverstein in November 2015.

Cermak Produce, whose West Ridge grocery opened in December 2014, donated $1,000 in December 2015.

Check out the committee’s other receipts and expenditures here.

Keep the link to the Sunshine Database handy. It can be searched by committee, candidate, donor, and vendor. It’s an eye-opener.