WBEZ | Walter Burnett http://www.wbez.org/tags/walter-burnett Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en SRO tenants gain protections http://www.wbez.org/news/sro-tenants-gain-protections-111093 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/RS7102_IMG_2085 (outside 2)-scr.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Low-income tenants of Chicago&rsquo;s disappearing single-room occupancy hotels have new protections under an ordinance city council approved Wednesday. The &ldquo;Chicago for All&rdquo; ordinance, as it has come to be known, passed 47-2, with only Aldermen Carrie Austin (34th) and Mary O&rsquo;Connor (41st) opposing. Supporters of the measure hope it will slow the trend of affordable SRO units falling into the hands of for-profit developers who displace low-income tenants.</p><p>&ldquo;This is all a piece of an overall fabric,&rdquo; said Mayor Rahm Emanuel, whose office helped broker the compromise between affordable housing advocates and SRO owners. &ldquo;The housing strategy particularly is part of a five-year plan: 41,000 units of affordable housing in the City of Chicago.&quot;</p><p>Emanuel&rsquo;s office worked closely with sponsors Alderman Walter Burnett (27th), Ameya Pawar (47th), and a coalition of organizations including ONE Northside, the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, and many more.</p><p>The ordinance regulates the sale of SRO buildings such that owners are encouraged to negotiate first with buyers who intend to preserve the building as affordable housing. If an owner opts not to do so, he may sell to for-profit developers and pay into a city SRO preservation fund at the rate of $20,000 per unit in the building. The preservation fund, in turn, could be used to provide forgivable loans to SRO owners who wish to make building improvements, to subsidize building purchases by preservation buyers, and to build new SRO buildings in Chicago.</p><p>&ldquo;In places like the Fourth Ward, we believe that we are doing our fair share when it comes to affordable housing and public housing,&rdquo; said Alderman William Burns (4th).&nbsp; &ldquo;And when we look at other places in the city, we ask what&rsquo;s being done to create affordable housing on the north lakefront? On the North Side of Chicago? So that there&rsquo;s equal opportunity for people to have affordable housing throughout the city&mdash;and particularly in communities where there&rsquo;s access to good schools, jobs, grocery stores, and an opportunity to break down racial segregation in this city?&rdquo;</p><p>Burns and other aldermen praised the ordinance for addressing, in part, the city&rsquo;s shortage of affordable housing. In particular, they cited it as a key way to combat the problem of homeless veterans. Housing advocates estimate about one-quarter of SRO residents are war veterans who might otherwise be homeless. Mayor Emanuel has declared one of his goals in the 2015 budget will be to end veteran homelessness in Chicago.</p><p>Additionally, the ordinance would provide additional financial assistance for SRO residents who are displaced. It would require building owners to pay between $2,000 and $10,600, depending on the circumstances. It would also forbid SRO owners from retaliating against residents who complain to the city or the news media about conditions in their buildings.</p><p>Negotiations between the city, advocates and SRO owners were challenging. Initially, many SRO owners hoped the city would shy away from regulations, and instead offer more financial incentives for them to keep their buildings affordable. But concerns early on that the regulations may be enough to prompt a lawsuit against the city have largely dissipated.</p><p>&ldquo;We were disappointed that the ordinance fell a bit short. We, and so many other stakeholders over about six months had been working very diligently,&rdquo; said Eric Rubenstein, Executive Director of the Single Room Housing Assistance Corporation. &ldquo;We will, as operators, do our very best to work with the plan, with the ordinance, as it was presented.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-6cd3f03c-a623-4dee-4055-9af79ec2a054"><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 12 Nov 2014 16:29:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/sro-tenants-gain-protections-111093 Chicago SRO owners say proposed city ordinance is 'hostile' http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-sro-owners-say-proposed-city-ordinance-hostile-110775 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/SRO ordinance.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-6a96fd4e-5c8e-a95a-a0fa-12b9a087e263">A new City Hall plan to preserve <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/slow-disappearing-act-chicago-sro-105836">fast-vanishing</a> affordable housing units in single-room occupancy (SRO) and residential hotels has some Chicago SRO owners upset.</p><p>The Single-Room Occupancy and Residential Hotel Preservation Ordinance, to be introduced at Wednesday&rsquo;s City Council meeting, includes incentives to induce building owners to maintain a certain threshold of affordable units in their buildings. There are few specifics about those incentives, but much of the measure focuses on financial penalties that owners would face if the number of affordable units in their buildings falls below a mandated percentage.</p><p>&ldquo;Essentially what has happened is the city wants to change the rules in the middle of the game,&rdquo; said Eric Rubenstein, Executive Director of the Single Room Housing Assistance Corporation, which works with building owners, operators and tenants to preserve SRO housing in Chicago. &ldquo;The properties are going to be dropping substantially in value because of the proposed ordinance, as now written,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Under the proposal, owners who wish to demolish or convert their properties to market-rate rentals would be required to maintain at least 20 percent of the building&rsquo;s units as affordable, or else pay a $200,000 &ldquo;preservation fee&rdquo; for every unit that falls short of that threshold. Additionally, if an owner wishes to sell a building, it would allow non-profits first crack at purchasing it and would require the owner to engage in good-faith negotiations with those organizations. If no sale occurs within six months of notifying non-profits, then the owner may attempt to sell the property to private developers.</p><p>&ldquo;The private market often moves too quickly for these non-profits to pull together the financing,&rdquo; explained Michael Negron, Chief of Policy to Mayor Rahm Emanuel, &ldquo;and so we wanted to make sure that there was enough period of time for these organizations to actually&hellip; know a sale is coming, and then work with potential lenders, work with the city, work with the state. There are different parties that could potentially help put together a deal like that, but they just need the time to do it.&rdquo;</p><p>The proposal would allow building owners to bypass this process altogether, and to approach the private market first, if they pay a fee of $200,000 on each unit for 30 percent of the units in the building. But many current owners fear that these fines will drastically undercut the selling price of their buildings.</p><p>&ldquo;The property values will have plunged based on the market being so restricted, that the only option essentially for a current owner when he or she is ready to sell is to turn to a non-profit,&rdquo; worried Rubenstein, &ldquo;and the non-profit could offer nickels or dimes on the dollar.&rdquo;</p><p>All fees collected through the proposed ordinance would go to a preservation fund, which the city would use to assist SRO owners with defraying the cost of maintaining, developing or improving their properties. Negron said, additionally, that the city already may have existing resources to preserve at least 700 SRO units through the end of 2018. He said owners may call the city&rsquo;s Department of Planning and Development to discuss rental subsidies from the Low Income Housing Trust Fund, and financing from TIF districts and low-interest loans, to maintain affordability.</p><p>Rubenstein said he and other building owners had hoped the city would employ more incentives than penalties to encourage affordability. He said SRHAC submitted a list of 15 suggested incentives for the city to consider in its ordinance, including exemptions from sales taxes, water fees, and the proposed minimum wage ordinance. Negron said many of the suggestions were impractical.</p><p>A broad coalition of advocates for the homeless, and low-income tenants around Chicago, praised the proposal.</p><p>&ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s a great ordinance,&rdquo; said Adelaide Meyers, a former tenant of the Norman Hotel and affordable housing advocate. &ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s exactly what Chicago needs to maintain SROs throughout the city, because if we lose all our SROs we&rsquo;re going to have a lot of homeless people.&rdquo;</p><p>Meyers was herself displaced from the Norman Hotel when Cedar Street Co. bought the North Side property and converted it to upscale rentals within its <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/flats-chicago-developer-weighs-housing-affordability-debate-110475">FLATS portfolio</a>. Meyers now shares an apartment in the Rogers Park neighborhood with a friend, and with some rental assistance from her father.</p><p>&ldquo;I never thought that I would end up living in an SRO to start off with, but I lived in a few different ones for several years,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;So I could definitely end up back in an SRO.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 09 Sep 2014 17:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-sro-owners-say-proposed-city-ordinance-hostile-110775 Dems call on voters to support Derrick Smith, despite bribery arrest http://www.wbez.org/story/dems-call-voters-support-derrick-smith-despite-bribery-arrest-97415 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2012-March/2012-03-19/P1040620.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Some Chicago Democratic leaders are urging voters to support state Rep. Derrick Smith. That's despite Smith's arrest last week on a federal bribery charge.</p><p>U.S. Rep. Danny Davis and other members of the group West Side Black Elected Officials said on Sunday that voters shouldn't rush to judgment on Smith's guilt.</p><p>"We know that our colleague is charged with criminal activity, Davis said at a press conference outside the Thompson Center in downtown Chicago. "But we also know that a charge is not a conviction."</p><p>Still, Smith is not doing much to explain his innocence. He was not at the press conference and his campaign has not returned repeated messages seeking comment.</p><p>But Davis and others acknowledged their push is as much about Smith's opponent as it is about Smith himself. Tom Swiss is the only other candidate running in the Democratic primary, and - as Davis pointed out - Swiss has held leadership positions in the local Republican Party.</p><div class="inset"><div class="insetContent"><a href="http://www.wbez.org/content-categories/99831"><img alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/story/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-19/election2012promo.jpg" style="width: 270px; height: 50px; " title=""></a></div><div class="insetContent">&nbsp;</div></div><p>"We want to make sure that we don't elect a wolf in sheep's clothing," Davis said.</p><p>Swiss has said he hasn't worked with the Republicans for several years.</p><p>If Smith wins the Democratic nomination and ends up resigning or is forced to resign, Democratic leaders would pick his replacement on the ballot for the general election.</p><p>But if Swiss wins, the ballot spot is his. Democrats could try to run an independent or third-party candidate against him, though.</p><p>"If think at some point in time that we would be looking at that [if Swiss wins]," said Ald. Emma Mitts, chair of the West Side Black Elected Officials. "I don't want a sheep in wool clothing to represent no parts of my ward."</p><p>The 10th state House District includes parts of Chicago's North and West Sides.</p></p> Mon, 19 Mar 2012 06:55:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/dems-call-voters-support-derrick-smith-despite-bribery-arrest-97415 Emanuel's budget: How many aldermen will vote no? http://www.wbez.org/story/emanuels-budget-how-many-aldermen-will-vote-no-94086 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-16/Rahm - AP MSG.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's first budget comes up for a city council vote Wednesday, and the outcome is not in doubt. The proposal&nbsp;relies on cuts, layoffs, fines and fee increases to address a more than $600 million deficit.&nbsp;</p><p>Emanuel has tinkered with his original proposal to appease some aldermen.&nbsp;There's still grumbling, but make no mistake: It's gonna pass easily.</p><p>The only question is how many of the 50 aldermen will vote against it.</p><p>"It could be six or it could be a unanimous vote," said Ald. Bob Fioretti from the 2nd Ward, who was still undecided on Tuesday morning. He said he worried Emanuel's proposal to just about double the fees for water and sewer service over four years would drive more people from the city.</p><p>Also taking the night to think about it: 36th Ward Ald. Nick Sposato.</p><p>"I think there's maybe a couple no's for sure, and then maybe eight on-the-fencers," he guessed, including himself among the latter. "My yes or no vote isn't going to mean anything. I believe it's already decided. I just have to feel what I think is the right thing to do."</p><p>Sposato was elected alderman this past April, so this is his first budget process. He called it the "hardest thing I ever did in my life. It's pretty intense." Concerned about cuts at libraries, mental health clinics and the city's 911 center, Sposato said he'd do "soul searching" before the vote.</p><p>"Oh, I don't think they'll be any no votes," said 27th Ward Ald. Walter Burnett, with a laugh. "I'm just kidding. You know, I don't know. Maybe two or three."</p><p>Burnett, despite reservations about the gradual elimination of a $75 a year trash rebate for condo owners, said he planned to vote for the budget.</p><p>Last year, seven aldermen voted against the final spending plan of Mayor Richard Daley's career.</p><p>The council meets at 10 o'clock Wednesday morning.</p></p> Wed, 16 Nov 2011 04:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/emanuels-budget-how-many-aldermen-will-vote-no-94086 Turnaround school gets turned around again http://www.wbez.org/story/turnaround-school-gets-turned-around-again-85474 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-April/2011-04-20/Sims.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>President Obama and congressional leaders may be trying to cut the federal budget, but they’ve agreed to pour more than a half-billion dollars of new funds into Race to the Top, the president’s signature education program. It aims to turn around low-performing schools by taking steps like bringing in an outside group to replace the staff and run the school. Education Secretary Arne Duncan helped pioneer that model as Chicago schools chief. The city now has 12 turnaround schools. But their record is mixed and Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel has not said where he stands on them yet. A school near Chicago’s Garfield Park shows that the turnaround strategy is anything but a panacea.</p><p>MITCHELL: When classes change at Orr Academy High School, Tyese Sims drops everything and joins a dozen security guards patrolling the halls. She’s the new principal. And she keeps an eye on all three floors.</p><p>SIMS: I run up these stairs every day, all day.</p><p>MITCHELL: I bet you’re in pretty good shape.</p><p>SIMS: I guess!</p><p>SIMS (to students): Excuse me. What are we doing? Keep it moving.</p><p>MITCHELL: Almost every student in sight is wearing a school-issued polo shirt, either black or gold.</p><p>SIMS: Come on. Hurry up. 30 seconds.</p><p>MITCHELL: By the time the tardy bell rings, the halls are empty again.</p><p>SIMS: You don’t hear loud noises coming out of the rooms. It’s quiet. It’s calm.</p><p>MITCHELL: Orr Academy is undergoing its second turnaround in three years. In 2008, Chicago officials consolidated three small high schools that had occupied the building. To run the new Orr, the district contracted a nonprofit group called AUSL. That’s short for Academy for Urban School Leadership. AUSL brought in new teachers and staffers and a new principal. But student test scores after the first turnaround remained dismal. And Sims says there were other problems.<br> <br> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://public.tableausoftware.com/javascripts/api/viz_v1.js"></script></p><div id="tableau_hide_this" style="width: 654px; height: 634px;">&nbsp;</div><object class="tableauViz" style="display: none;" width="654" height="634"><param name="host_url" value="http%3A%2F%2Fpublic.tableausoftware.com%2F"><param name="name" value="PSAEscoresatOrrandpredecessors/Dashboard1"><param name="tabs" value="no"><param name="toolbar" value="yes"><param name="animate_transition" value="yes"><param name="display_static_image" value="yes"><param name="display_spinner" value="yes"><param name="display_overlay" value="yes"></object><noscript>Dashboard 1 <br /><a href="#"><img alt="Dashboard 1 " src="http:&#47;&#47;public.tableausoftware.com&#47;static&#47;images&#47;PS&#47;PSAEscoresatOrrandpredecessors&#47;Dashboard1&#47;1_rss.png" height="100%" /></a></noscript><div style="width: 654px; height: 22px; padding: 0px 10px 0px 0px; color: black; font: 8pt verdana,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;"><div style="float: right; padding-right: 8px;"><a href="http://www.tableausoftware.com/public?ref=http://public.tableausoftware.com/views/PSAEscoresatOrrandpredecessors/Dashboard1" target="_blank">Powered by Tableau</a></div></div><p>SIMS: When I came before — profane language, being disrespectful to peers, being disrespectful to other adults — I did see it. It was just something I wanted to change.</p><p>MITCHELL: Now AUSL has changed Orr’s principal again. The group brought in Sims in the middle of the semester. During her first month, the school gave students 310 out-of-school suspensions. A handful resulted from behavior the district calls “very serious” — things like assault, alcohol use and vandalism. Most suspensions concerned infractions like tardiness, disobedience and disruption. Sims says she also dropped almost three dozen students for poor attendance.</p><p>SIMS: If we’re really preparing them for the real world, there’s no way we can keep a job and, with missing this number of days and being tardy, they’ll think, ‘Wow, my high school didn’t prepare me. This was acceptable there, but now I’m in the real world and it’s not like that.’</p><p>LANG: When you’re first starting something new and you’re changing, people have to take it seriously.</p><p>MITCHELL: AUSL’s Debbra Lang oversees Orr and two other high schools the group runs for the Chicago district. Lang says AUSL is applying what’s called the broken-windows theory. It’s a way some police try to keep the peace by focusing on low-level offenses like vandalism. Lang says the approach works for schools, too.</p><p>LANG: The precursor to fighting is often a slew of curse words. And so we would much rather intervene — deal with the cursing — rather than having it lead to fighting. What we’re really encouraging is an environment where learning can take place.</p><p>MITCHELL: Not everyone is happy about that encouragement. 27th Ward Alderman Walter Burnett got so many calls about Orr Academy’s latest turnaround that he held a community forum with Principal Sims. She got mixed reactions there from parents...</p><p>MOTHER: Two-day suspension for ‘damn’ — for the words — I think that that’s a little harsh.</p><p>GRANDMOTHER: I like your approach to what you’re doing at the school with the children. They need to have some respect.</p><p>FATHER: My son comes home suspended two days. Where was that phone call to the parents?</p><p>MITCHELL: ...and from teachers and counselors.</p><p>TEACHER: The history at Orr has been inconsistency. You take your kids to Whitney Young, they know on Day 1, ‘I can’t curse in class.’ This year, we’re getting that message half-way into the third semester. That’s where you’re going to get push-back from students.</p><p>COUNSELOR: I’ve never seen Orr any better than it is now. You can walk in that school — I would ask anybody to walk in that school and just walk around.</p><p>MITCHELL: The alderman’s forum also turned out young people. An Orr Academy senior stood up and said she’d like a turnaround of some school staff attitudes.</p><p>STUDENT: Students curse out adults. Adults curse out students. The students are the only group of people being addressed for that.</p><p>MITCHELL: A community organizer spoke up for students who end up on the street.</p><p>ORGANIZER: This is not the first time where we had phone calls from parents, saying, ‘I feel like my kid is getting pushed out.’</p><p>MITCHELL: But Alderman Burnett urged everyone to give the school’s new leaders a chance.</p><p>BURNETT: We just lost a principal at Orr because they didn’t think he was doing well enough. So these principals, just like everyone else, have a duty to do things in order to keep their jobs too.</p><p>JENNINGS: This is a daunting task.</p><p>MITCHELL: Jack Jennings of the Washington-based Center on Education Policy says there’s not much evidence yet that the turnaround model works.</p><p>JENNINGS: These schools serve very poor students who bring the problems of poverty into the school — namely one-parent homes, sometimes parents being on drugs. These schools generally are in dangerous neighborhoods. Sometimes there’s a lack of security in the building itself. These schools have teachers that are frequently discouraged because they’ve tried to improve for years and they’re not being given adequate help. And a number schools do everything right and they still don’t succeed in turning around. And some schools that have become better, if they don’t receive assistance over a couple more years, will slide back and wind up in the same type of trouble [that they were in] before.</p><p>MITCHELL: Chicago Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel’s team didn’t respond when we asked whether he’d try to turn around more schools. This week he did announce that two AUSL officials would fill top city education posts. The turnaround approach isn’t the only vision for improving the nation’s worst schools. In Chicago, the teachers union suggests more social services for students and decent jobs for parents. Those remedies could be expensive, though. At Orr Academy, Principal Sims insists that simpler steps can go a long way.</p><p>SIMS: It’s just structures in place so we can have a safe, orderly environment for our students so learning can take place.</p><p>MITCHELL: Simpler steps like getting kids to class on time.</p><p>SIMS: Let’s go baby. Come on, let’s hustle.</p></p> Thu, 21 Apr 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/turnaround-school-gets-turned-around-again-85474 Aldermen slam Daley administration in affordable housing flap http://www.wbez.org/story/berny-stone/aldermen-slam-daley-administration-affordable-housing-flap-85046 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/archives/images/cityroom/cityroom_20100708_cmitchell_2343721_Hous_large.png" alt="" /><p><p>Some Chicago aldermen lashed out at the Daley administration Monday for putting the brakes on an affordable housing bill, while pushing the mayor's own proposal.</p><p>Ald. Walter Burnett from the West Side's 27th Ward, has long championed what's called Sweet Home Chicago, a proposed ordinance to require some economic development money be spent on affordable housing. His efforts stalled in negotiations with the Daley administration. Then the mayor put forth his own plan - to give people some money to buy and rehab vacant houses.<br> <br> Daley's proposal came up in the City Council Finance Committee on Monday morning. Though Burnett says he supports the goal, he got angry. The alderman told Daley's staff that he feels like he's "playing with some rotten kids."<br> <br> "The other ordinance had a lot of aldermen signed on to it," Burnett said. "So you're just like, 'Forget what you all signed on to. We're just going to push this, and you all just take this and do it.'"</p><p>Ald. Berny Stone from the North Side's 50th Ward expressed other concerns with the content of the bill, while also complaining about transparency.</p><p>"If this is your answer to Sweet Home Chicago, you should have met with us, should have met with Walter [Burnett]," Stone said. "And we'd have sat down and we should have figured it out. [Don't] try and slip it through on a Finance [Committee] agenda. I'm sorry. This stinks."</p><p>Even the chair of the committee seemed to be frustrated with the administration's handling of the issue. Ald. Ed Burke from the Southwest Side's 14th Ward joked that it is a "time honored process around here" for someone to "take your idea and then they rework it and it becomes somebody else's idea."</p><p>A city official testified to the committee that the mayor's vacant building proposal was not intended to be a response to the Sweet Home Chicago plan.</p><p>"We have a big vacant home problem out there in many, many neighborhoods as you all know," said William Eager, deputy commissioner at the Department of Housing and Economic Development. "We're simply trying to come up with additional tools to deal with that. This is one."<br> <br> Regardless, the criticism from Burnett and others took hold. When Burke asked if any alderman had a motion, everyone sat silent, leaving the mayor's bill stuck in committee.</p></p> Mon, 11 Apr 2011 20:40:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/berny-stone/aldermen-slam-daley-administration-affordable-housing-flap-85046 Open Meeting Act thwarts affordable housing ordinance http://www.wbez.org/story/news/open-meeting-act-thwarts-affordable-housing-ordinance <p><p><span style="color: black;">An affordable housing measure in Chicago City Council got delayed again &ndash; this time for an open government violation.</span></p><p><span style="color: black;">Ald. Walter Burnett had sought a council vote Thursday on Sweet Home Chicago. The measure would designate 20 percent of tax increment finance dollars, of TIFs, toward affordable housing and rehabbing foreclosed properties. But Ald. Ed Burke objected to releasing the measure for a vote because Burnett did not give 48-hours notice, per Illinois&rsquo; Open Meetings Act. Mayor Richard Daley also said state law needed to be followed. Burnett countered that city code stipulates there has to be 24-hours notice.</span></p> <div><span style="color: black;">&ldquo;I think we&rsquo;re playing a game of chess. Unfortunately, we&rsquo;re playing a game of chess with peoples&rsquo; livelihoods, with peoples&rsquo; housing,&rdquo; Burnett said. &ldquo;All we&rsquo;re asking for is a piece of the pie of the TIF money so we can be able to acquire some of these foreclosed properties and build affordable housing in the city of Chicago.&rdquo;</span></div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><span style="color: black;">A council roll-call vote backed Burke and Daley.</span></div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><span style="color: black;">Sweet Home Chicago has languished in city council for more than a year. Opponents had sought to weaken the measure by lowering the percentage of TIF funds that would be applied to the program or, alternatively, stripping the measure of mandates for developers. </span></div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><span style="color: black;">Burnett said there would&rsquo;ve been enough votes to pass the language on Thursday. &ldquo;Do you think we did not have the votes?&rdquo; he asked. &ldquo;Why would you think they would not let us bring it up for a vote if we didn&rsquo;t have the votes?&rdquo;</span></div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><span style="color: black;">Daley said he has no opinion on Sweet Home Chicago and didn&rsquo;t block the vote for political reasons.</span></div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><span style="color: black;">&ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t stop it. When someone brings up the violation of the Open Meetings Act, you have to respond to it. You cannot be silent on it,&rdquo; Daley said.</span></div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><span style="color: black;">During the council meeting, Ald. Joe Moore cited instances when the city council took votes with only 24-hours notice. He said, strictly speaking, aldermen didn&rsquo;t give enough notice before they overturned one of his high-profile ordinances: the city&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/chi-foie-gras-ban-perspective,0,3199140.story">ban on foie gras</a>. </span></div> <div>&nbsp;</div></p> Thu, 13 Jan 2011 22:41:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/news/open-meeting-act-thwarts-affordable-housing-ordinance When someone else’s art lands in your neighborhood http://www.wbez.org/story/abductions/when-someone-else%E2%80%99s-art-lands-your-neighborhood <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/Sculpture2.JPG" alt="" /><p><p><b>Ten sculptors have put up outdoor pieces in Chicago&rsquo;s East Garfield Park neighborhood. The installation&rsquo;s supposed to stay up for a year. The group says the purpose is to expose people to art that they might not be able to see otherwise. But, then again, residents never asked for the opportunity. So what happens when someone else&rsquo;s art lands in your neighborhood? We report from our West Side bureau.</b><br /><br />Before looking into how the 10 pieces are going over in East Garfield Park, I ask Chicago sculptor Terrence Karpowicz to show them to me. He led the installation.<br /><br />MITCHELL: To me it looks like a huge, three-fingered claw. What is this?<br />KARPOWICZ: This is a sculpture by Fisher Stoltz titled &ldquo;Moonbench.&rdquo; I see it as a rendezvous point for the local community. They can actually come and sit down and converse.<br />MITCHELL: Yeah, there&rsquo;s a marble bench here.<br />KARPOWICZ: Actually it&rsquo;s granite. There is an electrical element that lights up at night so that the white marble sphere glows. Come on and sit down.<br />MITCHELL: Yeah, now that we&rsquo;re sitting down, this granite is very cold on my fat rear end.<br />KARPOWICZ: It warms up in summertime.<br /><br />The sculptures stand as high as 14 feet. They&rsquo;re spanning a half-mile boulevard called West Franklin for the next year. The artists are all members of a group called Chicago Sculpture International.<br /><br />Karpowicz takes me to a pile of rings made of industrial tubing.<br /><br />KARPOWICZ: That&rsquo;s a sculpture by Dusty Falwarczny. The title of the sculpture is &ldquo;Scrap.&rdquo; I measure that one as, probably, a three-shopping-cart operation.<br />MITCHELL: You measure the volume by shopping carts?<br />KARPOWICZ: That&rsquo;s how many shopping carts it&rsquo;ll take to get that to a scrap yard. Because you see a lot of hardworking men with shopping carts and they pick up debris and take it to recycling places.<br />MITCHELL: Have you ever lost one of your works to shopping carts?<br />KARPOWICZ: No, thank goodness.<br /><br />And there&rsquo;s more to see. Karpowicz shows me a giant, spiky sphere made of orange traffic cones. And there&rsquo;s a stainless-steel piece called &ldquo;Abduction.&rdquo;<br /><br />The installation is definitely capturing attention in the neighborhood.<br /><br />MAN: Oh, man, that&rsquo;s cool. Who did that?<br />WOMAN: It beautifies the neighborhood.<br />MAN: It&rsquo;s really nice for the block.<br />GRANT: I like them.<br />MITCHELL: What&rsquo;s your name?<br />GRANT: My name is Felincia Grant.<br />MITCHELL: Do any of the pieces stick out to you -- that you can really relate to?<br />GRANT: The one that&rsquo;s all the way down on Franklin and Kedzie. It looks like a hook. Actually, to be honest with you, I had a nephew that was--there used to be a tree there. My nephew ran into this tree. And that&rsquo;s where he died. And that piece, right there, it was put where the tree was.<br />MITCHELL: Does it remind you of him?<br />GRANT: Yeah. He had these hooked attitudes at times. He made a lot of bad choices. But he was a good kid.<br /><br />It&rsquo;s easy to find people who admire at least some of the 10 new sculptures in East Garfield Park. It&rsquo;s harder to find folks who have a beef with the installation, but they are around.<br /><br />FIELDS: My name is Cy Fields.<br /><br />Fields is pastor of New Landmark Missionary Baptist Church, a few blocks southeast of the parkway.<br /><br />FIELDS: It seems like they just plopped artwork in the community and just sort of said, &lsquo;Well, here it is and, surprise, I hope you enjoy it.&rsquo; I&rsquo;m not against community beautification and artwork, but I think the process and the end goal are very important. Many schools are struggling to have art classes in the schools. Can the artists come and teach the kids in East Garfield Park? Communities of color--African American and Latino--have their share of capable artists. Will their artwork be able to go to the North Side or to other communities as well? Let&rsquo;s have a cultural exchange.<br /><br />Fields isn&rsquo;t the only one talking about race. An unemployed interior decorator named Tony Green wants to know why the sculptures ended up in his neighborhood.<br /><br />GREEN: Only in the black community with no blacks involved. That&rsquo;s not personal, is it?<br /><br />These are fair questions. Karpowicz&rsquo;s group got an alderman&rsquo;s approval to put the sculptures up. But the group did not work with residents to choose the art or get them involved any other way.<br /><br />MITCHELL: How about helping artists in this community display their art here on the boulevard?<br />KARPOWICZ: Well, if those artists were members of Chicago Sculpture International, which they certainly can become part of, they&rsquo;d be the first ones on the list. It&rsquo;s not about shutting anybody out. It&rsquo;s about inclusivity.<br /><br />But then Karpowicz tells me the group&rsquo;s got a hundred and forty-nine members and not one is African American.<br /><br />MITCHELL: Why is that? Something like a third or 40 percent of the population here in the city is African American. <br />KARPOWICZ: We don&rsquo;t reach out, we don&rsquo;t publicize. As a result of an exhibition like this, if there are sculptors out there who happen to be African American [and] they want to be sculptors, the door is open. It&rsquo;s always open.<br /><br />He points out annual memberships cost only 25 dollars.<br /><br />Karpowicz and I keep talking as he shows me some sculptures toward the end of the parkway. He reminds me they&rsquo;ll be up in East Garfield Park only a year.<br /><br />KARPOWICZ: A lot of the people who live around here probably wouldn&rsquo;t venture downtown to see sculpture. And this is our opportunity, as part of the sculpture community of Chicago, to bring art to the communities.<br />MITCHELL: Where we&rsquo;re standing right now, we&rsquo;ve got a vacant lot on this side and we&rsquo;ve got another vacant lot we&rsquo;re standing in right now. The population here--they&rsquo;re not going to be buying these pieces afterwards.<br />KARPOWICZ: No, they probably won&rsquo;t, Chip, but I think they&rsquo;ll appreciate art a lot more. They&rsquo;ll appreciate sculpture. Next time they see a piece of art, they&rsquo;ll say, &lsquo;Oh yeah, we had one of those in our neighborhood once.&rsquo;<br /><br />If this installation works out, Karpowicz says his group&rsquo;ll try to bring sculptures to other Chicago boulevards. Next time, he says, the artists will try harder to get the neighborhood involved.</p></p> Wed, 08 Dec 2010 22:46:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/abductions/when-someone-else%E2%80%99s-art-lands-your-neighborhood Chicago City Council delays affordable housing vote http://www.wbez.org/story/news/housing/chicago-city-council-delays-affordable-housing-vote <p><p><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <o:OfficeDocumentSettings> <o:AllowPNG /> </o:OfficeDocumentSettings> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:TrackMoves /> <w:TrackFormatting /> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:DoNotPromoteQF /> <w:LidThemeOther>EN-US</w:LidThemeOther> <w:LidThemeAsian>X-NONE</w:LidThemeAsian> <w:LidThemeComplexScript>X-NONE</w:LidThemeComplexScript> <w:Compatibility> 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Name="Bibliography" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" QFormat="true" Name="TOC Heading" /> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 10]> <style> /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin-top:0in; mso-para-margin-right:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt; mso-para-margin-left:0in; line-height:115%; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif"; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;} </style> <![endif]-->The Chicago City Council once again delayed an affordable housing ordinance. The Sweet Home Chicago ordinance wants to use 20 percent of special tax funds known as TIFs for affordable housing. Some of the money would go toward fighting foreclosures in neighborhoods that have been crippled with blight.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">The measure has ping ponged between city council and Mayor Richard Daley&rsquo;s administration. Now, it&rsquo;s on hold until more kinks are worked out.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">&quot;So they were reasonable compromises and I think we&rsquo;re there 99 percent,&quot; said Alderman Walter Burnett.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">One of the issues is whether the 20 percent earmarked for affordable housing should be a goal or an obligation. An obligation might open the city to lawsuits. City housing officials want the legal language to be fixed.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Despite the delay, housing activists say they feel confident that the measure will eventually pass. Burnett said the new plan is for the measure to go for a vote in December.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 17 Nov 2010 17:36:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/news/housing/chicago-city-council-delays-affordable-housing-vote