WBEZ | Chicago Alderman James Cappleman http://www.wbez.org/tags/chicago-alderman-james-cappleman Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Violence plagues some new 'Safe Passage' routes http://www.wbez.org/news/violence-plagues-some-new-safe-passage-routes-108514 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/safe passage_130809 credit BILL HEALY_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The areas closely surrounding routes designated by Chicago Public Schools as Safe Passage, where students will begin walking this week, have already seen more than 100 shootings and dozens of murders this year, according to a WBEZ analysis.<br /><br />The analysis of Chicago Police Department data offers a snapshot of violent crime within a one-block radius along each of the 53 <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-public-schools-unveils-safe-passage-routes-108369">newly designated</a> Safe Passage routes, as defined on the city&rsquo;s <a href="https://www.google.com/url?q=https%3A%2F%2Fdata.cityofchicago.org%2FPublic-Safety%2FSafe-Passages%2Fb4yy-ytgy&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNE-_S6flSr2u_VizuHJkK-vJSGBPg">website</a>, before the expanded program goes into effect on Monday.</p><p>Following safety concerns in the wake of a historic round of 50 school <a href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wbez.org%2Fnews%2Fcps-board-votes-close-50-schools-107294&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNHN5xfFFuualP20kbksCbYwLrMTnw">closures</a>, the district is spending an additional $7.7 million this year to double the number of Safe Passage workers, from 600 to 1,200. The program stations adults, trained in conflict resolution and armed with cell phones and high-visibility vests, along designated Safe Passage routes during the hours students are walking to and from school.</p><p>Safe Passage is already in place near 35 Chicago high schools and four elementary schools. CPS and Mayor Rahm Emanuel&rsquo;s administration are<a href="http://cps.edu/Pages/safepassage.aspx"> expanding</a> it this year to allay safety concerns for the roughly 10,000 students who will be heading to new receiving schools this year, sometimes through dangerous gang territory.</p><p>The grisly daytime <a href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Farticles.chicagotribune.com%2F2013-08-20%2Fnews%2Fct-met-uptown-shooting-folo-20130821_1_safe-passage-uptown-shooting-five-men&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNHcdN589tfquYaS_eHcG5fsrcEwqA">shooting</a> of five people along one new Safe Passage route in Chicago&rsquo;s Uptown neighborhood last week drew more attention to violence along the new routes, just days before the start of classes.<br /><br />But it was hardly the first.</p><p>There have been 133 shootings and 38 murders near Safe Passage routes so far in 2013, according to a WBEZ analysis of Chicago Police Department data. That&rsquo;s 16 percent of all shootings, and 16 percent of all murders, that have taken place citywide through Aug. 13, the most recent data available.</p><p>Crime data also show that violence plagued the areas around some new Safe Passage routes, even while CPS students were in class last year. Areas within a one-block radius of the newly named routes saw 68 shootings and 12 murders on school days during daytime hours last school year, according to WBEZ&rsquo;s analysis.</p><p>The Safe Passage zone around Luke O&rsquo;Toole Elementary School, in the West Englewood neighborhood, has seen 10 shootings and three murders this year through Aug. 13, and seven shootings between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. on school days last year. In the area surrounding the new Safe Passage route leading to Mollison Elementary School, in the South Side&rsquo;s Bronzeville neighborhood, there have been at least 10 shootings so far in 2013.</p><p>WBEZ reached out to principals at several schools with the most violence near the new Safe Passage routes, but none returned phone calls.</p><p>CPS maintains posting Safe Passage workers along the routes can lead to a drop in crime. Over the past two years, overall crime along the 39 existing Safe Passage routes has dropped 20 percent, according to CPS. The district did not provide numbers to back that up, or data showing the effect on violent crime specifically.</p><p>&ldquo;Any crime near our schools underscores the importance of partnering with community-based Safe Passage vendors and workers to help our children get to and from school safely,&rdquo; CPS spokeswoman Keiana Barrett was quoted as saying in an email to WBEZ late Friday. &ldquo;CPS looks forward to collaborating with CPD, CFD, other city agencies and responsible adults throughout the communities we serve to provide for the safety and security of our students.&rdquo;</p><p>Crime in the areas surrounding Safe Passage routes does tend to go down as the programs become more established in communities and local business owners and residents become involved, said Cindy Wilder, with Prologue, one of the vendors providing workers along new Safe Passage routes serving five schools across the city&rsquo;s West Side.</p><p>&ldquo;We tell the older kids, &lsquo;C&rsquo;mon you guys, you&rsquo;re doing something illegal, this isn&rsquo;t the place to do it,&rsquo;&rdquo; Wilder said. &ldquo;It becomes known in the community, you can&rsquo;t do those kinda wrongdoings in that area.&rdquo;<br /><br />But CPS has also suggested the program shouldn&rsquo;t be seen as a panacea for the city&rsquo;s crime problem.</p><p>&ldquo;Safe Passage is during the time that children come to school and leave school,&rdquo; said CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett when asked about last week&rsquo;s shooting in Uptown. &ldquo;That doesn&rsquo;t minimize sympathy for any child or any person that&rsquo;s hurt on a particular street, but Safe Passage is slightly different and it&rsquo;s comprehensive.&rdquo;</p><p>But just days before the start of classes, the city&rsquo;s continuing violence added to worries among some CPS parents and other officials.</p><p>&ldquo;I am more concerned,&rdquo; said Chicago 46th Ward Ald. James Cappleman. His ward includes Brennemann Elementary, near where the five people were shot along the new Safe Passage route in Uptown last week. The area around Brennemann&rsquo;s route has seen at least four shootings so far this year, and five daytime shootings during the last school year.<br /><br />&ldquo;That&rsquo;s why we continue to put pressure on CPS to have a good program in place that ensures children feel safe as they go to and from school,&rdquo; Cappleman said.</p><p>The Chicago Teachers Union, meanwhile, has questioned CPS&rsquo; commitment to the Safe Passage program beyond the first week of class.<br /><br />&ldquo;We&rsquo;re skeptical that the Board is gonna be able to protect the kids in all of these routes for the whole entire school year, and the school years to come. So that&rsquo;s a concern,&rdquo; said Norine Gutekanst, the coordinator of organizing for the Chicago Teachers Union.</p><p>Meanwhile, Cappleman said he remains optimistic but is waiting to see how the new Safe Passage routes shake out.<br /><br />&ldquo;For me, the proof is in the pudding,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;We look at the data. We will know it&rsquo;s a good plan when we see less violence occurring when school lets out.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Alex Keefe covers politics and Elliott Ramos is a web producer at WBEZ. </em></p><p><em>Follow Alex&nbsp;<a href="https://www.google.com/url?q=https%3A%2F%2Ftwitter.com%2Fakeefe&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNEVrPvbWptqW-vqRNGdFWcP5RpnpA">@akeefe</a>&nbsp;and Elliott <a href="https://twitter.com/ChicagoEl">@ChicagoEl</a>.</em></p><div>&nbsp;</div><table border="0" cellpadding="1" cellspacing="1" style="width: 620px;"><tbody><tr><td colspan="3"><strong>Violence near new &#39;Safe Passage&#39; routes, 2013</strong></td></tr><tr><td style="background-color: rgb(11, 83, 148); width: 205px;"><strong><span style="color:#ffffff;">New Safe Passage zones</span></strong></td><td style="background-color: rgb(255, 51, 51);"><strong>Homicides</strong></td><td style="background-color: rgb(255, 255, 153);"><strong>Shootings</strong></td></tr></tbody></table><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="800" scrolling="no" src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/INTERACTIVE+DATA+PUBLISHING/2013+Projects/August/SafePassage/2013CrimeMap.html" width="620"></iframe></p><p><span style="font-size:10px;"><em>Source: City of Chicago and Chicago Police Department data through Aug. 13, the most recent available. <a href="https://www.google.com/fusiontables/embedviz?viz=GVIZ&amp;t=TABLE&amp;q=select+col0%2C+col1%2C+col2%2C+col3%2C+col4%2C+col5%2C+col6%2C+col7%2C+col8%2C+col9%2C+col10%2C+col11%2C+col12%2C+col13%2C+col14%2C+col15%2C+col16%2C+col17%2C+col18%2C+col19%2C+col20%2C+col21%2C+col22%2C+col23%2C+col24+from+1cMIaCFFbZGeD-9b3ocVnXC357IFizZtFKnKgqfE&amp;containerId=gviz_canvas">Shootings data</a> | <a href="https://www.google.com/fusiontables/embedviz?viz=GVIZ&amp;t=TABLE&amp;q=select+col0%2C+col1%2C+col2%2C+col3%2C+col4%2C+col5%2C+col6%2C+col7%2C+col8%2C+col9%2C+col10%2C+col11%2C+col12%2C+col13%2C+col14%2C+col15%2C+col16%2C+col17%2C+col18%2C+col19%2C+col20%2C+col21%2C+col22%2C+col23%2C+col24+from+1cMIaCFFbZGeD-9b3ocVnXC357IFizZtFKnKgqfE&amp;containerId=gviz_canvas">Homicide data</a></em></span></p><p>&nbsp;</p><table border="0" cellpadding="1" cellspacing="1" style="width: 620px;"><tbody><tr><td colspan="3"><strong>Daytime violence near new &#39;Safe Passage&#39; routes, 2012-2013 school year</strong></td></tr><tr><td style="background-color: rgb(11, 83, 148); width: 205px;"><strong><span style="color:#ffffff;">New Safe Passage routes</span></strong><span id="cke_bm_347S" style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span><span style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span></td><td style="background-color: rgb(255, 51, 51);"><span style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span><span id="cke_bm_347E" style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span><strong>Homicides</strong></td><td style="background-color: rgb(255, 255, 153);"><strong>Shootings</strong></td></tr></tbody></table><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="800" scrolling="no" src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/INTERACTIVE+DATA+PUBLISHING/2013+Projects/August/SafePassage/SchoolYearCrime.html" width="620"></iframe></p><p><em style="font-size: 10px;">Source: City of Chicago and Chicago Police Department data through Aug. 13, the most recent available. Includes all shootings and murders that took place between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. on days when class was in session for all CPS students. <a href="https://www.google.com/fusiontables/embedviz?viz=GVIZ&amp;t=TABLE&amp;q=select+col0%2C+col1%2C+col2%2C+col3%2C+col4%2C+col5%2C+col6%2C+col7%2C+col8%2C+col9%2C+col10%2C+col11%2C+col12%2C+col13%2C+col14%2C+col15%2C+col16%2C+col17%2C+col18%2C+col19%2C+col20%2C+col21%2C+col22%2C+col23%2C+col24%2C+col25%2C+col26%2C+col27%2C+col28%2C+col29%2C+col30%2C+col31+from+1KtSVldYmC7Byz0Mbb9nq-6Cp8UxkafD5ZGc-cX0&amp;containerId=gviz_canvas">Shootings data</a> | <a href="https://www.google.com/fusiontables/embedviz?viz=GVIZ&amp;t=TABLE&amp;q=select+col0%2C+col1%2C+col2%2C+col3%2C+col4%2C+col5%2C+col6%2C+col7%2C+col8%2C+col9%2C+col10%2C+col11%2C+col12%2C+col13%2C+col14%2C+col15%2C+col16%2C+col17%2C+col18%2C+col19%2C+col20%2C+col21%2C+col22%2C+col23%2C+col24%2C+col25%2C+col26%2C+col27%2C+col28%2C+col29%2C+col30%2C+col31+from+1KtSVldYmC7Byz0Mbb9nq-6Cp8UxkafD5ZGc-cX0&amp;containerId=gviz_canvas">Homicide data</a></em></p></p> Fri, 23 Aug 2013 17:48:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/violence-plagues-some-new-safe-passage-routes-108514 Pregnancy tests? Pigeon poo? What Chicago aldermen really do http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/pregnancy-tests-pigeon-poo-what-chicago-aldermen-really-do-107648 <p><p><a name="Audio"></a>Chicagoan Andrea Lee had a problem.</p><p>When she looked across the street from her condo building in the city&rsquo;s Noble Square neighborhood, the 35-year-old noticed that her neighbors had something she didn&rsquo;t: recycling bins.</p><p>So Andrea did what many Chicagoans with neighborhood problems do: She called her local alderman, only to learn that aldermanic power (at least when it comes to refuse collection) <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/new-garbage-grid-mayor-emanuel-trashes-symbol-machine-power-106712">ain&rsquo;t what it used to be</a>.</p><p>After another dead end with her alderman&rsquo;s office (this time, about basement flooding), Andrea asked Curious City:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>&ldquo;If these are the city services that are supposed to be tackled by the aldermen, and this isn&rsquo;t what they&rsquo;re actually doing, then what are they doing?&rdquo;</em></p><p>&ldquo;I guess there are things that the mayor proposes that they vote on,&rdquo; Andrea said when Curious City first reached out to her last month. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t know what those things are. I want a little more of a window into that black box of aldermanic duties.&rdquo;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em><iframe align="middle" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" scrolling="no" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/k4jqqLi9Q6Q" width="560"></iframe></em></p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>(In the video above, we hear what Andrea learned during a visit to Ald. Walter Burnett&rsquo;s office.)</em></p><p>Chicago&rsquo;s 50 aldermen, it turns out, have a hodgepodge of legislative, administrative and downright strange responsibilities that fall into their laps. (Think: pigeon poop and pregnancy tests.) Some of those duties are codified in law, but some are passed down by tradition alone.</p><p>Here are the three broad categories of aldermanic duties &mdash; a list, as we learned, that is hardly exhaustive.</p><p><strong>Chicago alderman legislate</strong></p><p>At least on paper, Chicago aldermen comprise the legislative branch of city government.</p><p><a href="http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs5.asp?ActID=803&amp;ChapterID=14">State law</a> puts them in charge of a host of the expected legislative duties: They introduce and pass laws, they approve <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-city-council-approves-new-budget-103866">budgets</a> and mayoral appointments, and they <a href="http://www.wbez.org/no-sidebar/approved-ward-map-95662">redraw </a>Chicago&rsquo;s political boundaries every decade.</p><p>But the vast majority of stuff that moves through the City Council lacks any headline-grabbing sex appeal. Think less about <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/news/local/foie-gras-ban-0">foie gras bans</a> and controversial city-wide <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/news/politics/city-council-approves-parking-meter-lease-deal">privatization deals</a>, and more about mundane city ephemera that happen to require approval by the entire City Council: <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/why-are-chicago%E2%80%99s-sidewalk-cafes-all-north-side-part-1-107257">sidewalk cafe permits</a>, loading zones, and senior citizen sewer fee refunds.</p><p>Since Mayor Rahm Emanuel took office in May 2011, there have been 28,971 measures introduced to the City Council. Of those, only 2,030 (about seven percent) were flagged by the City Clerk&rsquo;s office as being pieces of &ldquo;key legislation&rdquo;; that is, they were proposals that could have a potential citywide impact, such as mayoral appointments, legal settlements, or tax and fee hikes.</p><p>If this strikes you as more administrative than legislative, that&rsquo;s because City Council isn&rsquo;t set up as a robust watchdog-like second branch of city government, at least according to Dick Simpson, a former North Side alderman who&#39;s now a political scientist at the University of Illinois at Chicago.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/al%20in%20alderman%20office.png" style="height: 202px; width: 320px; float: left;" title="Alderman Burnett helps a local business owner find partners in his City Hall office. (WBEZ/Logan Jaffe)" />&ldquo;A big problem with aldermen in the city of Chicago is they don&rsquo;t legislate very well,&rdquo; Simpson said. &ldquo;They&rsquo;ll look at what comes across their desk, ask what the mayor wants, and vote &lsquo;<a href="http://www.uic.edu/depts/pols/ChicagoPolitics/City_Council_Report_April2013.pdf">yes</a>.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>Part of the problem is that aldermen don&rsquo;t have staff to exhaustively vet complicated ordinances, and the city has no equivalent to the <a href="http://www.cbo.gov/">Congressional Budget Office</a>, Simpson said. He points to the unpopular parking meter privatization deal that was passed in 2008, which former Mayor Richard M. Daley gave aldermen just three days to review.</p><p>But the lack of legislative muscle is also cultural, said 49th Ward Ald. Joe Moore, who has represented the city&rsquo;s Rogers Park neighborhood for more than two decades.</p><p>Somewhere between the Second Floor and the Fifth Floor of City Hall, there has developed a tacit understanding, Moore said: The mayor gets to drive the citywide agenda, and aldermen are left to control what goes on their wards.</p><p>&ldquo;I often liken the City of Chicago [to] a feudal system, where the mayor is sort of a de facto king,&rdquo; Moore said. &ldquo;And each alderman is the lord &mdash; I guess, lady, for female aldermen &mdash; of their individual fiefdom.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Chicago aldermen zone</strong></p><p>And one of the most important lordly duties, after all, is the building of castles.</p><p>In Chicago the method of approving applications for castles &mdash; or skyscrapers, home additions, and business expansions, for that matter &mdash; is the city&rsquo;s zoning process.</p><p>Zoning may sound tearfully boring, but it&rsquo;s incredibly important. Simply put, the City Council&rsquo;s zoning decisions determine where buildings are allowed to be built, how high they can be, and what you can do in them.</p><p>The City Council&rsquo;s zoning role explains why there are no 80-story high rises vaulting out of quiet residential blocks, and why you won&rsquo;t find a one-room log cabin on Michigan Avenue.</p><p>&ldquo;If you wanna know why a city looks the way it does, or why it works the way it does, all private behavior in this regard is regulated by the city,&rdquo; said David Schleicher, a George Mason University law professor who has studied municipal zoning.</p><p>&ldquo;More than the police, more than the schools, it is the most important thing cities do,&rdquo; Schleicher said.</p><p>And it is here that Chicago aldermen enjoy a nearly unchecked power, unmatched by their city council counterparts in other American cities. The unwritten rule of &ldquo;aldermanic privilege&rdquo; (also called &ldquo;aldermanic prerogative&rdquo;) gives aldermen de facto veto power over any development project in their ward.</p><p>&ldquo;You wouldn&rsquo;t find that in any city code or state statute,&rdquo; Ald. Moore said. &ldquo;It has just been the custom and practice of the City Council for generations.&rdquo;</p><p>Despite the minutiae of zoning, Moore and other aldermen defend their privilege by saying that they have an intimate knowledge of what goes on in their wards, and the extraordinary zoning power helps them shape the architectural and economic landscapes.</p><p>But Schleicher said Chicago&rsquo;s &ldquo;sacrosanct&rdquo; aldermanic privilege has its drawbacks. He points to homeless shelters, which most people agree serve a greater good but which often fall victim to &ldquo;not in my backyard&rdquo; opposition when it comes time to break ground.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/alderman%20art.png" style="float: right; height: 259px; width: 320px;" title="Question-asker Andrea Lee and WBEZ reporter Alex Keefe examine the artwork in Alderman Burnett's office. (WBEZ/Logan Jaffe)" /></p><p>&ldquo;The cost of aldermanic privilege is not wasting city council people&rsquo;s time,&rdquo; Schleicher said. &ldquo;But rather, creating too parochial an attitude towards problems that are really citywide problems.&rdquo;</p><p>And UIC&rsquo;s Dick Simpson can point to another problem with concentrating so much power in the hands of one Chicago politician: Dozens of aldermen have found themselves on the wrong side of the law.</p><p>&ldquo;Ninety percent of &lsquo;em have gone to jail for either zoning or building bribes,&rdquo; Simpson said.</p><p><strong>Chicago aldermen deal with &lsquo;everything else&rsquo;</strong></p><p>Zoning and legislating may look good on paper, but woe to the alderman who doesn&rsquo;t make sure the ward&rsquo;s trash gets picked up.</p><p>During a recent hearing, veteran 33rd Ward Ald. Dick Mell &mdash; a self-described &ldquo;dinosaur&rdquo; of the City Council &mdash; excoriated some aldermen who questioned Mayor Rahm Emanuel&rsquo;s proposed <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-aldermen-approve-free-sunday-parking-longer-meter-hours-107550">tweaks</a> to the city&rsquo;s much-reviled parking meter privatization.</p><p>&ldquo;If anybody thinks that a legislative vote is gonna cost you the election, you&rsquo;re gonna lose your election,&rdquo; Mell said on the City Council floor. &ldquo;What&rsquo;s gonna get you elected is when ... your guy comes in and says ... his next-door neighbor&rsquo;s throwing dog poop in his yard, and you go over and solve it.&rdquo;</p><p>Indeed, the pedestrian concerns that fall under the broad umbrella of &ldquo;ward issues&rdquo; range from neighborly disputes to public safety. Several elected officials said those problems occupy the bulk of an alderman&rsquo;s time.</p><p>&ldquo;I am so focused on potholes and sidewalks, and I just didn&rsquo;t think that would be the case,&rdquo; said 46th Ward Ald. James Cappleman, who was just elected to the City Council in 2011. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m obsessed with that, and I just didn&rsquo;t think that would be the case.&rdquo;</p><p>Cappleman says he&rsquo;s spent a lot of time dealing with a building in his ward that suffered roof damage due to excess pigeon poop. Alderman Mell, meanwhile, bought a chainsaw for his ward office in case constituents need a tree trimmed on short notice. Alderman Moore said he once had a staffer administer a pregnancy test to a worried young woman who visited his ward office.</p><p><strong>Why it works this way</strong></p><p>The structure of Chicago&rsquo;s curiously personal aldermanic duties has its genesis from the days of political patronage, Simpson said. Aldermen could trade city favors, such as pothole-filling and curb-cutting, for votes come election day.</p><p>While that sort of quid-pro-quo is now looked down upon, the scaffolding of the Machine ward system remains intact, allowing aldermen micro-manage their wards. Each of Chicago&rsquo;s 50 aldermen only has to deal with about 55,000 constituents. Compare that to about 162,000 constituents a piece for <a href="http://council.nyc.gov/html/members/members.shtml">New York</a>&rsquo;s 51 council members, and a whopping 255,000 constituents for the average <a href="http://www.lacity.org/government/AbouttheCityGovernment/index.htm?laCategory=1936">Los Angeles</a> council member.</p><p>While some newer council members are concerned with this sort of aldermanic co-dependence (&ldquo;Can&rsquo;t they just call 311?&rdquo;), Moore said it&rsquo;s one of the reasons he loves his job.</p><p>&ldquo;All of humanity comes walking into my office, with all sorts of problems from the very serious to the mundane, and everything in between,&rdquo; said. Ald. Moore. &ldquo;They&rsquo;re looking to us to help solve them.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Alex Keefe reports on Chicago politics for WBEZ. Follow him on Twitter&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/akeefe">@akeefe</a></em></p><p><em>Correction: This story originally misstated Andrea Lee&#39;s age. She is 35 years of age.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Tue, 11 Jun 2013 17:21:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/pregnancy-tests-pigeon-poo-what-chicago-aldermen-really-do-107648