WBEZ | OEMC http://www.wbez.org/tags/oemc Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Majority of aldermen call for budget changes http://www.wbez.org/story/majority-aldermen-call-budget-changes-93680 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-October/2011-10-21/CPL books.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A majority of Chicago's aldermen are calling for changes to Mayor Rahm Emanuel's 2012 city budget. They say his proposed budget cuts would hurt public safety and quality of life.</p><p>Twenty-eight of the city's 50 aldermen signed the letter to Mayor Emanuel.&nbsp; They say his plan to cut library hours would cause too many layoffs and negatively effect patrons who rely on the library.</p><p>"We're hearing it loud and clear, all across the city, from the West Side to the East Side to the North Side to the South Side," said Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd). "Everybody's complaining about the cuts."</p><p>Fioretti said cutting library hours, as mayor Emanuel has proposed, would hurt kids and people who use the internet to search for jobs.</p><p>In addition to the library cuts, the 28 aldermen voiced other concerns.</p><p>The current budget proposal also consolidates 12 mental health clinics into six, and privatizes some health services. Aldermen say public clinics are vital for Chicago's neediest and must be protected.</p><p>Other concerns include the $10 million cut from the Office of Emergency Management and Communications. That would eliminate fire and police dispatcher positions - and, aldermen say, endanger public safety.</p><p>The bloc says they also "have reservations" about the proposed near doubling of the fee for city stickers on SUVs. But aldermen recognize that the 2012 budget won't avoid cuts entirely, said Ald. Walter Burnett (27th).</p><p>"'Cause somethin' have [sic] to give. And we're rational enough to understand that. But we just wanna see if we can balance the burden out a little bit more," Burnett said.</p><p>Meanwhile, Mayor Emanuel said he remains open to changing his proposed budget, as long as alderment identify other cuts or revenue sources to offset the ones they don't like.</p><p>"I hear them. It doesn't mean I agree. But it doesn't mean I disagree," Emanuel said. "And as I always said, not all signatures on a letter are created equal."</p><p><br> &nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 02 Nov 2011 11:58:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/majority-aldermen-call-budget-changes-93680 Officials say millions in grant money could help city prep for NATO and G-8 summit http://www.wbez.org/story/officials-say-millions-grant-money-could-help-city-prep-nato-and-g-8-summit-92636 <p><p>The Chicago area is getting millions of dollars that safety officials say could help the city prepare for the upcoming NATO and G-8 summits.</p><p>On Thursday, city and state officials announced Cook County and the city of Chicago would be awarded more than $54 million from the federal government. The money is part of the Urban Area Security Initiative grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The grant is intended to help urban areas prepare for a possible attack or disaster.</p><p>“I think we're not looking at this from what individual component, but what holistic strategy can be developed to get the urban area prepared for any event that we might face, whether man made or natural,” said Michael Masters, who heads the Cook County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.</p><p>Masters said the $54 million will go primarily toward training programs and new equipment for first responders to potential disasters. Gary Schenkel, director of the Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications, suggested the money could go toward security planning for the upcoming summits.</p><p>“That is certainly the impetus for our strategic plan to expend the money,” Shenkel said.</p><p>The NATO and G8 summits are scheduled for May of next year.</p></p> Fri, 30 Sep 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/officials-say-millions-grant-money-could-help-city-prep-nato-and-g-8-summit-92636 Smaller crowds expected for fireworks show http://www.wbez.org/story/smaller-crowds-expected-fireworks-show-88639 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-July/2011-07-01/IMG_0741.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Safety officials in Chicago say they expect smaller crowds for this year's Fourth of July fireworks. The city canceled its main fireworks display this year to save money, relying on Navy Pier's fireworks show Monday to lead the Fourth of July celebrations.</p><p>"We're looking at about 15 minutes of a display and the pier itself may not be the best spot to actually view them," said Gary Schenkel, the head of Chicago's Office of Emergency Management and Communications. "I think you'd be better off along the waterfront if you really want to see the fireworks this year."</p><p>Schenkel said about 250,000 people converged around Navy Pier for last year's Fourth of July fireworks. He expects the pier to reach capacity this year, but overall numbers to be lower.</p></p> Fri, 01 Jul 2011 18:27:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/smaller-crowds-expected-fireworks-show-88639 New emergency official defends keeping Lake Shore Drive open during blizzard http://www.wbez.org/story/new-emergency-official-defends-keeping-lake-shore-drive-open-during-blizzard-88090 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//108759823.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago emergency officials are defending how the city handled February's blizzard, including the decision to keep Lake Shore Drive open during the evening rush hour.</p><p>The public comments come after a new report was given to the media outlining how the city should handle the next blizzard that may come Chicago's way. Gary Schenkel is the new head of the Office of Emergency Management and Communications and says he wouldn't have closed Lake Shore Drive before the blizzard hit, either, even though hundreds of vehicles were buried in the rapidly falling snow after traffic came to a halt.</p><p>Joe Schwieterman is a transportation professor at DePaul University.</p><p>"There's kind of a, I think, assumption here that the next crisis is going to be like the last one and so a lot of these measures certainly will help, but there's a feel-good element to this, I think," he said.</p><p>The report recommends cutting out parts of the Lake Shore Drive median so drivers could turn around and having tow trucks close by when bad weather is coming.</p></p> Tue, 21 Jun 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/new-emergency-official-defends-keeping-lake-shore-drive-open-during-blizzard-88090 New report spells out what to do next time blizzard hits Chicago http://www.wbez.org/story/new-report-spells-out-what-do-next-time-blizzard-hits-chicago-88085 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//LSD Tim Brown 1.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>A new report out Monday from the City of Chicago recommends making some structural changes to Lake Shore Drive before another major blizzard hits.</p><p>The report recommends officials with the Chicago Department of Transportation look into cutting out chunks of the median along Lake Shore Drive so drivers could turn around in emergency situations. It also suggests towing equipment should be staged along the Drive when extreme weather is predicted and getting specialized towing equipment for the Chicago Transit Authority.</p><p>Hundreds of drivers on Lake Shore Drive had to abandon their cars after three quick accidents occurred during the February blizzard, when more than 20 inches of snow were dumped in a matter of hours.</p><p>"I think the biggest thing we learned from this is that there is limited access for emergency responders on Lake Shore Drive," said Gary Schenkel, the new head of the OEMC, Chicago's Office of Emergency Management and Communications.</p><p>Officials with OEMC also say more surveillance cameras are coming to Lake Shore Drive, up from the 17 already installed.</p></p> Mon, 20 Jun 2011 21:11:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/new-report-spells-out-what-do-next-time-blizzard-hits-chicago-88085 The impact of surveillance cameras on our civil rights http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-02-08/impact-surveillance-cameras-our-civil-rights-81971 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//cameras getty boyle.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago's next mayor will have to tackle a myriad of issues including public safety and security. In recent years the city has increasingly turned to one security tool - surveillance cameras. Proponents like the mayor and <a target="_blank" href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/oem.html">Office of Emergency Management and Communications</a> tout their effectiveness and would like to see more on Chicago&rsquo;s streets. But the <a target="_blank" href="http://www.aclu-il.org/">American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois</a> thinks they are an unregulated intrusion on our privacy.<br /><br />Tuesday the ACLU will ask City Council to adopt a moratorium on installing new surveillance cameras in Chicago. That call comes on the heels of the first large-scale, <a target="_blank" href="http://il.aclu.org/site/DocServer/Surveillance_Camera_Report1.pdf?docID=3261">independent study of Chicago&rsquo;s cameras commissioned by the ACLU</a>. Adam Schwartz is an attorney for the ACLU and he joined <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> to discuss the findings of the report.<br /><br /><em>Eight Forty-Eight </em>invited Chicago&rsquo;s Office of Emergency Management and Communications to discuss the findings of the ACLU study but did not receive a response.</p><p><em>Music Button: Zero One, &quot;Lifeforce&quot;, from the CD Ozone, (Waveform) </em></p></p> Tue, 08 Feb 2011 14:19:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-02-08/impact-surveillance-cameras-our-civil-rights-81971