Alderman Roderick T. Sawyer of the 6th Ward is still keeping up the fight to get a full hearing for the Privatization Transparency and Accountability Ordinance. Alderman Sawyer, along with over 30 co-sponsors, introduced the ordinance in the October 2012 City Council Meeting that would have required the city council to hold full hearings before any city asset or service was privatized. If this ordinance had been in place controversial deals like the parking meter lease could have either been avoided or structured better.
Alderman Sawyer says that he introduced this ordinance because he was seeing the effect that privatization was having on his community. Well aware that the strong middle class African-American neighborhoods like Chatham are historically home to people with good paying government jobs that provide opportunities to achieve the American Dream, Alderman Sawyer has committed to push for this ordinance. Privatizing Chicago government jobs generally means that the salaries decrease as private companies often pay less and does not maintain the requirement that the people who serve Chicago must live in the city. “With the few services such as water billing and library aids that were cut in my time as alderman,” Sawyer said, “I knew that we needed to assess the full cost of privatization on people before we entered into any more deals. I have no idea what might be up for privatization next, but it is important that we get a fair and uniform process in place.”
The goal of this ordinance is to force a hearing before a privatization over $25,000 and setting certain guidelines moving forward. The privatization must actually save the tax payers a certain amount of money through some open form of accounting that the city council can see, we need to evaluate the effect it will have on employment or particular neighborhood for any unintended consequences and there is a review period after 2 years to ensure that the deal is keeping the promises that were made in the deal. With more information elected officials can make more informed choices rather than creating new local problems in the name of promised savings that may never arrive.
“Evaluating these deals must be more than just about the bottom line, the good wages in city government is a major part of what built our neighborhoods and our local black businesses and we must consider all of the costs before export jobs to balance the budget on the backs of our neighborhood residents,” Sawyer concluded.
Representatives from a national pawn shop chain who wants to move into a strip mall in Chicago’s Jeffery Manor neighborhood, tried during a meeting last week that included 7th Ward Alderman, Natashia Holmes, to convince residents they would be an asset to the area, pledging to be a “positive influence” on the community.
Their efforts however, were to no avail as residents made clear in no uncertain terms they were against the idea, telling Cash America, Inc. of Illinois they are against a pawn shop taking the vacant space at 2059-65 E. 95th St.
Cash America representatives told residents they incorporate crime prevention tactics including special training for store employees, video recorded transactions and a requirement of showing two forms of identification prior to any transaction.
Paul Rosenfeld, Government Community Relations for Cash America said that the company’s pawn shops are clean and bright and that Cash America usually are involved in all the communities they set up shop and will hire people from the neighborhood.
Each pitch Cash America made to sell residents the idea they’ll be good neighbors, met resistance.
Though one woman was for the pawn shop, the majority of others in the room spoke out against it citing a concern for an increase in crime.
Janice Lusk has resided in the area since 1985 and feels the pawn shop is a done deal.
“They’re going to do what they want,” Lusk said from the parking lot of the Greater Morning View Church, 2335 E. 100th St., the site where the meeting was held.
Some of the residents in attendance also took part in a May 27 protest at 95th Street and Clyde Avenue and are also continuing a petition drive against the pawn shop.
Mark Muenzer with the City of Chicago’s Zoning Board of Appeals said Cash America has to meet five criteria to be approved.
“Because the pawnshop is a “special use” and can have an impact on the quality of life of the residents, it’s deemed “special use,” Muenzer said.
Muenzer referred to a recently passed City Council ordinance, the Zoning Restrictions for Pay Day, Titled-Secured Lenders and Pawn Shops that reads in part:
The overconcentration of alternative financial services such as pay day lenders and pawn shops have a deleterious impact on communities, including higher neighborhood bankruptcy rates, higher crime rates, and greater financial instability. In Chicago, these types of businesses tend to concentrate in the community areas with the largest proportion of low-income workers.
• To reduce the over-proliferation of alternative financial services in under-banked neighborhoods, this ordinance establishes new location restrictions for the placement of pay day lending, title-secured lending, and pawn shop storefronts.
• Under this ordinance, any new pay day or title-secured lending store must be at least 1,000 feet away from another pay day or title-secured lending store. Any new pawn shop must be at least 1,000 feet away from another pawn shop.
However, Muenzer also said, Cash America applied for permission before passage of the ordinance and therefore they do not have to consider the ordinance.
Some of the residents accused Terraco Real Estate Development and Management, managers of the Jeffrey property, of running out other businesses located in the strip mall.
“Some of them left on their own and some of them were not paying rent,” Scott Gendell, President and Chief Executive Officer, Terraco, said in response to the comment. “No one who is paying rent in a timely fashion and wants to stay is being asked to leave.”
Ald. Holmes, in a letter dated March 11 addressed to Muenzer, states she is not in support of Cash America’s zoning appeal request for the 95th Street property saying she met with residents who expressed concerns about safety, increased crime, and retail establishments that take away from the integrity and character of the neighborhood. Residents during a Feb. 25 meeting, she stated, voted unanimously against the pawn shop. In the letter, Holmes requested the Zoning Board of Appeals deny Cash America, Inc.’s special use application.
“The residents of Jeffrey Manor and Calumet Heights have made their concerns heard regarding the pawn shop being established on 95th and Jeffrey,” Holmes said via email. “I support them. We have to be deliberate about establishing the types of businesses in the 7th Ward that can be supported and beneficial to the residents.”
By Deborah Bayliss
Following a series of hearings and court appearances that began last December, Ill. State Sen. Donne Trotter (Dist.-17th), accused of trying to board a Washington, D.C.-bound flight with a hand-gun and ammunition, pleaded guilty last Wednesday to a misdemeanor and was sentenced to one year court supervision and 60 hours community service for the one count of reckless conduct..
As part of the plea deal, Cook County prosecutors dropped the Class 4 Felony charge of seeking to board an aircraft with a weapon. A felony conviction could have cost Trotter, 63, his Senate job and pension.
“He is very relieved,” Trotter’s attorney, Thomas Durkin, was quoted saying, calling the sentence “fair and appropriate.”
Trotter’s journey down this long, legal path began Dec. 5 when security screeners at O’Hare International Airport stopped him after detecting a .25-caliber gun in his carry-on bag. Trotter has responded saying he worked a part-time security job and forgot the weapon was in the bag.
Durkin, throughout, has maintained his client unknowingly, attempted to board an airplane with a gun in his bag and that they were confident and looking forward to having their day in court.
Following the Jan. 17 hearing, Durkin said that he’d hoped the judge would dismiss the case and that he didn’t think prosecutors would be able to prove that Trotter knew the gun was in the bag when he headed to the airport.
The case wasn’t dismissed and a plea agreement was ultimately reached.
What exactly is a plea deal? According to information from the American Bar Association’s website, in a plea deal, both sides are spared the uncertainty of going to trail and plea bargaining usually involves the defendant pleading guilty to a lesser charge, or to only one of several charges.
It also may involve a guilty plea as charged, with the prosecution recommending leniency in sentencing. The judge, however, is not bound to follow the prosecution’s recommendation.
A lot of plea bargains are subject to the approval of the court, but some may not be (e.g., prosecutors may be able to drop charges without court approval in exchange for a “guilty” plea to a lesser offense).
Hugh Mundy, Assistant Professor of Law at the John Marshall Law School, Chicago, said he has followed the Trotter situation.
“I believe the motivation for the plea was the case was up for a misdemeanor and not a felony,” Mundy said. “A felony conviction is much more serious in length and consequences. The senator would not have been able to ever possess a firearm again if he’d been convicted on a felony charge.”
Mundy said he considers Trotter’s sentence very lenient.
As for the difference between court supervision and probation, Mundy said it’s less supervision.
“Under court supervision, he wouldn’t have to report to a probation officer or have one looking over his shoulder,” Mundy said. “The only way he can be found in violation is if he fails to complete his community service. If that happened he would have to go back to court and answer for it.”
Before the incident, Trotter was a front-runner in the race to replace ex-U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. but withdrew, saying he didn’t want the gun charge to be a distraction.
Telephone calls to Trotter and his attorney were not returned by Chicago Citizen Newspaper’s press-time.
By Deborah Bayliss
Several local dignitaries and organizations gathered on Chicago’s South Side for a free screening of the movie premiere of “42,” the biopic which tells the tale of legendary African American major league baseball player, Jackie Robinson. More than 20 members of Chicago’s South Side-based baseball teams The Patriots and The Yankees were also in attendance.
The event was held last Friday, at the Chatham 14 Theater. The newly renovated theater took the opportunity to also unveil their new 4K RealD 3D projectors which were used during the free screening.
Elected officials and community leaders were on hand including, Ill. State Sen. Jacqueline Collins (6th Dist.); Ald. JoAnn Thompson (16th Ward); Ill. State Sen. Kwame Raoul (13th Dist.), Ald. Howard Brookins (21st Ward); Melinda Kelly, Executive Director, Chatham Business Association; and John Scaletta, Vice President, F&F Management, the company that manages the Chatham 14 Theaters.
“The movie “42” is a historic film that brings so much positive light to the advancements in our culture. “42” means so much to the Chatham community because they want to see those movies that are uplifting and positive based similar to when ‘Red Tails’ came out and when ‘Princess and the Frog’ came out, those are the type of films that families can get together and celebrate, ” Scaletta told the Chicago Citizen.
The Chatham 14 Theater also hosted a screening of “42” over the weekend for Chicago Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.
Chapter President JoAnn Thomas Woods stated, “Delta Sigma Theta and “42” is a natural fit because it highlights the history of Blacks in America which is our primary focus in the community and this gives us a great opportunity to share these experiences with our young people so that they can see the things one person can do to change a whole community.”
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporate has officially partnered with Liquid Soul Media, Wal-Mart and Warner Bros. to screen “42” throughout the nation. After the screening movie-goers got a treat in getting an opportunity to meet as well take pictures with “42” stars Andre Holland and Dusan Brown who played Wendell Smith and Ed Charles respectively.
Liquid Soul Media Vice President Tracey Jennings stated, “We have done screenings all across the country with partners such as Delta Sigma Theta [Sorority Incorporated]; we did one with Hank Aaron in Atlanta [with] the Atlanta Braves; so we’ve been reaching out to different influencers throughout the country to get the word out.”
Liquid Soul Media is a lifestyle marketing agency that has partnered with Wal-Mart, Warner Bros., Scotts Turf and Ball Park for the release of “42”.
By Lee Edwards
Households on the far south and southwest sides of Chicago that have not yet transitioned to the new grid garbage collection system, effective April 15, will have a change in their garbage pick-up day as the Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation implement the seventh and final phase of the process.
Approximately 90,000 households in wards 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 19, 21, and 34 are part of this final phase. The first seven phases were put in place throughout last year.
“By moving to a grid garbage collection system we will be able to continue to provide residents with the same high-quality garbage collection services while using fewer resources,” said Commissioner Charles Williams, Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation via press release. “Residents may experience a change in their refuse collection day, but that will be the only change.”
By using a grid garbage collection system, the Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation seeks to increase service efficiency and crew productivity.
A new colored map associated with the new grid system is now available. Residents should review the map to determine their day of service beginning the week of April 15, 2013.
However, in coordination with aldermanic offices and community groups, the City of Chicago will inform residents about the grid system and potential day of week service changes through targeted public outreach that includes media relations, direct-to-consumer outreach and social media engagement.
Widely used by municipalities and private refuse haulers, the grid system, changes collection routes from non-linear ward geography to a system of routes bordered by main streets and natural boundaries, concentrating sanitation workers in targeted areas of the city as a way to improve daily collection performance.
By utilizing what the Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation refers to as more efficient routes, the plan provides the same weekly refuse services to Chicago residents while saving millions in operating costs.
Streets and Sanitation began Monday, finalizing preparations for the transition. Crews will post “Change in Garbage Service Day” notices to garbage carts to inform residents within the boundaries of their new day of service.
Notices will also inform residents who receive curbside blue cart recycling services that their recycling day of service will also change to the same day as their garbage pickup.
Residents who receive alley blue cart recycling services will maintain their same week of service, though their day of collection may change. Residents with alley blue cart services should leave their carts in the alley for their entire collection week to ensure service.
For more information about the grid garbage collection system and related service changes, residents are encouraged to visit the Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation website at www.cityofchicago.org/dss, call 311 or contact your local ward office.
By Deborah Bayliss
Robin Kelly has won the race to Illinois’ 2nd Congressional District seat, defeating GOP nominee Paul McKinley by a margin of 80 percent (at press time) in the special election to fill vacancy left by former U.S. Congressman, Jesse Jackson, Jr.
Kelly, a former state representative who spoke out against and quickly became the voice for gun control during the special election primary, gained huge momentum when New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s super PAC poured $2 million into anti-gun television ads, won the special Feb. 23, 2013 primary with 54 percent of the vote in the very crowded race.
Kelly has championed gun control and the limiting of gun violence throughout her campaign, previously applying pressure to her political opponents in both the Democratic primary and in the general election to reveal their stance and voting record on gun control legislation and the organizations they have supported.
Already armed with heavyweight endorsements including those of U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush (Dist. 1st) and U.S. Rep. Danny Davis (Dist. 7th), Kelly more than sealed the deal by picking up President Barack Obama’s endorsement last week.
“I share Robin’s passionate advocacy to end gun violence with common sense solutions because like her, I believe families impacted by gun violence—especially in my home city of Chicago, deserve a vote,” Obama said of Kelly. “As a member of Congress, Robin will help us get that vote and that’s why I urge you to elect Robin Kelly as your representative in the United States Congress.”
Kelly has known President Obama for years dating back to their time working together in the Illinois state legislature.
Robin Kelly has a history of serving the citizens of Illinois in several different offices; she was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives in 2003 to 2007; served as the Chief of Staff to Illinois Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias in 2007; and in 2011 Kelly was appointed Chief administrative Officer for Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle before quitting to run for Congressional office.
McKinley, Kelly’s Republican and primary opponent, is a convicted ex-felon who served 20 years in state prison for 6 felony counts of armed robberies, burglaries, and aggravated battery. McKinley won the Republican primary over Eric Wallace of Flossmoor, IL by a reported 23 votes. McKinley’s key campaign message was that he would fight ‘Machine controlled-Democrats’ if elected. McKinley stated on his campaign website, “I’m not running against a candidate, I’m running against the Machine.”
By Lee Edwards
With the onslaught of popular reality television shows depicting violent, outrageous, and outlandish behavior amongst young African American men and women, it is no wonder why Chicago’s sixth ward alderman, Roderick Sawyer, is supporting No TV Week 2013.
No TV Week 2013 begins April 8 and runs through April12. The project was initiated by the Acts of Love organization which was founded by sixth ward resident William E. Hall. The 6th ward has partnered with Acts of Love in the past on highly successful book drives.
Sawyer and Hall are encouraging families to not watch television during No TV Week, a plan they believe will yield positive results, especially if families replace television time with an activity or an event.
“No TV Week is week for imagination and for love to saturate homes across Chicago,” Hall said. “Turning off the television for one week, and spending time as a family will start what we hope are new family traditions that can improve the character of young people and the conditions of homes across the city of Chicago.”
Alderman Sawyer joins at least 3 public schools, multiple community organizations and a growing number of residents in supporting No TV Week.
“At a time where there are so many issues going on in our community, there is no better time for a project that focuses on re-establishing family connections,” Sawyer said in a press release.
The No TV Week movement has migrated outside of the Chatham neighborhood and crossed into the Englewood area.
Aysha Butler, President of the Resident Association of Greater Englewood (R.A.G.E.) who is also supporting the event added, “R.A.G.E. is in complete support of No TV week because too often our young people are being raised by reality shows, videos, etc. who does not always have their best interest in mine. No TV Week will give families and young people the opportunity to genuinely connect without any distractions, which we feel should happen more frequently especially in our communities.”
Here is a suggested list of activities to engage in during No TV Week.
• Monday – Arts and Crafts project t
• Tuesday – Prepare a family meal together
• Wednesday – Family history night
• Thursday – Story telling time
• Friday – Game night
For additional information on No TV Week 2013 please visit www.NoTVWeek.com
By Larissa M. Tyler
Universities on the south sides of Chicago are coming together in an effort to train the next generation of health care leaders in the fight against cancer.
On a project entitled “The Southside Cancer Disparities Initiative,” Chicago State University (CSU) announced last week that the school will partner with the University of Chicago’s Comprehensive Cancer Center.
“This partnership provides a unique opportunity for Chicago State’s Master of Public Health graduate students to receive an elevated level of hands on experience,” said Dr. Wayne D. Watson, president of Chicago State University via press release. “This new initiative is another example of how Chicago State is meeting the challenge to offer students cutting-edge, innovative education that prepares them to make a difference in the world.”
The universities’ partnership will create and explore opportunities for graduate students interested in biomedical and cancer research.
Students involved in the program will focus on cancer education, training and community engagement.
Supported by a grant from the National Cancer Institute of the National Institute of Health, the new venture will work with community-based health organizations to prepare and train staff in cancer disparity issues.
Health organizations also will work on collaborative projects with students who receive mini-grants to conduct community-based participation research that will focus on work with community members.
CSU’s master of Public Health program was approved by the Illinois Board of Higher Education in June 2010, as a program within the College of Health and Sciences to focus on minority health and health equity.
The program also addresses the lack of diversity among public health professionals.
Statistics on African American women, who die from breast cancer, is higher than any other group in the U.S., but are even higher in Chicago than the rest of the country, according to the press release.
“Most of CSU’s students represent Chicago’s Southside communities, specifically Roseland, Woodlawn and Englewood,” said Thomas Britt, MD, MPH, principal investigator on the grant and Chair, Health Studies at CSU.” These communities suffer an ongoing shortage of public health professionals and disproportionately high morbidity and mortality rates in cardiovascular, infectious diseases and cancer. Our partnerships will provide an entrée of cancer disparities curriculum to prepare a health professional interested in the understanding and elimination of cancer disparities on Chicago’s Southside.”
By Deborah Bayliss
Cook Commissioner William Beavers, found guilty of tax evasion last week, feels he didn’t get a fair trial and said his attorneys, as expected, will appeal the verdict.
“They will make a motion for a new trial on April 30,” Beavers told the Chicago Citizen Newspaper from his south side office last week. “The attorneys said they have plenty of grounds including preventing my tax expert’s testimony. He wanted to say on the stand that the government owes me.”
Beavers said he’s still reporting to work at his south side office and is not worried about anything.
“Once they file, I will know whether or not I will get an appeal bond,” Beavers said. “Whatever happens, I can deal with it.”
Beavers, 78, was convicted by jury on tax evasion for failing to report more than $225,000 in campaign funds as income that federal prosecutors said he spent on gambling and personal uses.
A verdict was returned last Thursday afternoon, after about two hours of jury deliberation.
It is unclear at this point as to how prosecutors are planning to deal with Beavers’ planned appeal. Randall Samborn, spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s office called the Chicago Citizen Newspaper to decline comment “on a pending case.’”
According to the Associated Press, Beavers’ defense attorney Sam Adam Jr., alleged government attorneys twisted the evidence and told jurors that prosecutors were trying to “bamboozle” them.
“The judge wouldn’t let my expert witness testify,” Beavers said last Friday. “The judge interviewed him in private and then put him on the stand for just a few minutes.”
The former policeman and one-time Chicago alderman was convicted of all four tax counts where each carries a maximum three-year prison term.
Assistant U.S. Atty. Carrie Hamilton accused Beavers of intentionally understating his income between 2006 and 2008 saying Beavers wrote 93 checks from his campaign fund to use the money for gambling expenses at the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, Indiana. and never reported the money on his federal tax returns, or as a tax-exempt loan, and that he lost nearly $500,000 total from 2006 to 2008 on the slots.
Adam Jr. acknowledged Beavers might have a gambling problem, but said he used ATMs to pay for his gambling expenses, and wrote campaign checks only to cover legitimate campaign expenses. He said Beavers was repaying any campaign cash he used as loans for personal expenses.
Beavers kept thorough records of any campaign spending to make sure he was reimbursed, but there were no loan agreements regarding the money in question, Hamilton said.
During the trial, prosecutors showed jurors dozens of checks Beavers wrote to himself on his campaign fund accounts, while playing the slots at the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond.
Federal prosecutors said he never declared those checks on his tax returns, and never paid taxes on that income.
Prosecutors also said Beavers failed to declare a $69,000 boost he gave his pension from campaign funds, as well as $1,200 per month that he received in county expense checks — falsifying check stubs to “deliberately impede the IRS.”
By Deborah Bayliss
Illinois State Sen. Donne Trotter seemed upbeat as he sat on the front row of a court room at 26th and California Tuesday morning for arraignment on a Class 4 Felony charge for trying to board a flight at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport Dec. 5 with a weapon and ammunition in a carry-on bag.
Wearing a grey suit and polka dot bow-tie, Trotter arrived at about 10:05 a.m., seemingly less somber than when he appeared before Judge Ann O’Donnell Jan. 17–even laughing and talking at times with what appeared to be a male family member who sat next to him.
Appearing Tuesday before Judge Charles Burns, in Court Room 202, Trotter listened as Judge Burns sternly told him he had to appear in person for each hearing as he set an April 18 status hearing date.
Leaving the court room, Trotter’s attorney, Thomas Durkin said he maintains the defense that his client did not knowingly, attempt to board a plane at the airport with a gun in his bag.
“We’re confident and we’re looking forward to our day in court,” Durkin told reporters on Tuesday, reiterating what he’s said previously. “Someone doesn’t go to an important meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus, knowing he has a gun in his bag.”
Trotter, 62, was charged Dec. 6, 2012 with the felony count for allegedly trying to board a flight at O’Hare International Airport with a .25-caliber Beretta handgun and ammunition in a carry-on bag.
During the Jan 17 hearing, Judge O’Donnell found probable cause to continue the case against Trotter and set the March 12 arraignment.
Durkin said after the Jan. 17 hearing that he’d hoped the judge would dismiss the case but said he believes prosecutors won’t be able to prove that Trotter knew the gun was in the bag when he headed to the airport.
“We’re very confident going forward. We’ll just take it to the next step,” Durkin said previously.
Trotter, had been considered a front-runner to replace former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. in Congress, but withdrew from the 2nd Congressional District Democratic race, won by Robin Kelly, saying he didn’t want the gun charge to detract from the district’s important issues.
Arrested, Dec. 5 after security screeners at O’Hare found an unloaded Beretta in his bag as he attempted to board a flight to Washington, D.C., Trotter told airport security that he uses the handgun for his job with a security company and had forgotten it was in his bag.
Chicago Police Officer Vince Bielicki testified Jan. 17 that airport security called him after an outline of a gun was seen in a screened bag. Bielicki told the judge he initially couldn’t locate the weapon in the bag but eventually found it in an outer zipped pocket. Bielicki said Trotter cooperated with authorities at the airport.
After the Jan. 17 hearing, Durkin told reporters the officer’s testimony helped his client saying, “The most telling fact was the police officer said when he went to look for it he couldn’t even find it,” Durkin said. “He didn’t even find it the first time he looked for it.”
By Deborah Bayliss