Also this week: CountyCare woes and city cycling wins.
By Bettina Chang
1. Prosecutor to Join Police Board
If you know the names Laquan McDonald, Paul O’Neal or Quintonio Legrier, you probably know the Chicago Police Board. Last week the City Council Committee on Public Safety voted unanimously to recommend Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s appointment of Matthew Crowl to the board, which handles police officer disciplinary cases—including the high-profile police shootings of citizens. DOCUMENTERS Crowl is a partner at law firm Riley Safer Holmes and Cancila; he was a prosecutor in the case that convicted Gangster Disciples chairman Larry Hoover. RSHC
Why It Matters: The nine-member Chicago Police Board is appointed by the mayor, and our mayor just happens to be the former president of that body. In recent history, the board has tended to vote together, with members rarely voting in opposition of the final decision. See a breakdown of votes by member via CHICAGO JUSTICE PROJECT.
Also: In the same meeting, the committee recommended the reappointment of Police Board members Paula Wolff and John O’Malley. When the board voted this summer to fire Officer Daphne Sebastian for her involvement in the murder of Laquan McDonald, O’Malley was the sole dissenting vote—a decision that was scrutinized at last week’s committee meeting. DOCUMENTERS
Up Next: The three approved appointments are up for confirmation at the next full City Council session on Wednesday (9/18). DOCUMENTERS
2. Throw the Mayor an Oxygen Tank
You may have heard that the city budget is underwater. Two weeks ago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot hosted a prime time speech to tell us we’re at Mariana Trench levels. REUTERS
It Could Be Worse: Remember when our biggest worry was the state not having a budget at all? Actually, in some good budget news for once, comptroller Susana Mendoza announced that the state cut its deficit in half in 2018 compared to 2017. WLDS
By the Numbers: The budget deficit in fiscal year 2020 will be $838 million, Lightfoot announced. It’s the biggest since 2001—and it’s already been trimmed down from $1 billion. BUDGET REPORT Last week Lightfoot held the first of four budget town halls where she’s asking for everybody and anybody’s input on how to close the gap. Ideas at the Jefferson Park meeting ranged from keeping the streetlights off during daytime hours to raking back the $1.3 million TIF subsidy paid to the megadeveloper at Lincoln Yards. TRIBUNE
Up Next: Lightfoot will host three more budget town halls before the end of the month, in Humboldt Park (9/14), East Side (9/19) and Englewood (9/25). DOCUMENTERS
3. Plan Commission Is Getting a New Chair
Chicago’s Plan Commission is an important agency that reviews major city projects such as planned developments, manufacturing districts and Tax Increment Finance districts. In July, former chair Martin Cabrera Jr. ushered three big deals to approval, then resigned, citing that Mayor Lightfoot wanted to take the agency in “a different direction.” SUN-TIMES
First Notice: Tucked into the agenda of City Council’s Committee on Zoning, Landmarks & Building Standards meeting on Tuesday is an ordinance that appoints Teresa Córdova to Cabrera’s recently vacated seat. DOCUMENTERS Córdova is currently director of the Great Cities Institute at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She has served on a wide range of commissions and boards, including most recently being part of Governor J.B. Prtizker’s transition committee on job creation and economic opportunity. UIC
Also: The Zoning Committee will vote on a plan that will allow some “office, retail and restaurant development” on the eastern end of the 854-acre Kinzie Industrial Corridor. But it will not allow condo development, which should help preserve its industrial character, according to NEXT CITY.
Up Next: If approved in committee and at the full City Council vote next week, Córdova could preside over the Plan Commission’s next meeting on September 19. DOCUMENTERS
4. Commotion over CountyCare
Back in June, the county inspector general released a scathing report alleging shady financial practices at the county’s Medicaid program, otherwise known as CountyCare. Now, Cook County Health is firing back with an official response and report from consultants at Deloitte that explained most of the discrepancies. WBEZ
Ironically: The Deloitte report, which cost $300,000, was described as an “emergency expense” at the August 30 meeting of Cook County Health’s board of directors. DOCUMENTERS
Why It Matters: The system, which includes Stroger Hospital and Provident Hospital in Chicago, “is one of the largest public health systems in the nation,” according to WBEZ’s Kristen Schorsch. “It's a medical safety net considered to be the last resort for poor and uninsured patients in Cook County.” It accounts for about half of the county government’s budget.
Up Next: The board of directors of the Cook County Health and Hospitals system is meeting Friday. DOCUMENTERS The Cook County Board of Commissioners has said it will schedule a special hearing, though details have not been released yet.
5. Mayor’s Bike Plans Rolling Smoothly
Though it was former Mayor Rahm Emanuel who was known for his focus on bike infrastructure, the Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Council seems to continue its success with Lightfoot at the handlebars. At a recent meeting, attendees applauded each project on the agenda and even specifically called out senior planner David Smith for being responsive to community feedback. DOCUMENTERS / LIVE TWEETS
ICYMI: Speaking of Rahm, he finished a 900-plus-mile cycling trip around Lake Michigan shortly after leaving office—and he debriefed with STREETSBLOG.
The city has federal funding to build new bike racks that will hold 5,000 bikes, and it wants your input! Submit your request at CDOT.
M | T | W | T | F
Tues (9/10): Live, work or play in South Shore? The Chicago Department of Planning and Development is hosting its second meeting to discuss housing, retail and transit between 75th and 79th Streets, from Stony Island to Lake Michigan. DOCUMENTERS Weigh in on initial ideas and hear what they learned from residents already. SOUTH SHORE CORRIDOR STUDY
Weds (9/11): Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s campaign promise to release Laquan McDonald investigation records rests on an upcoming vote of City Council’s Committee on Ethics and Government Oversight. DOCUMENTERS She proposed an ordinance that would make it possible to publicly release city Inspector General reports, including the one into the alleged “coverup” of the McDonald shooting. WBEZ
Weds (9/11): The Chicago Park District’s board of commissioners will meet to approve several new contracts, including one to design and construct a park near James Shields Middle School in Brighton Park. DOCUMENTERS
Apparently 238 people showed up to a Naperville City Council meeting in which the suburb considered opting out of recreational marijuana when it becomes legal in the state on January 1. (And yes… most of them were supporting the opt-out, and the city voted to do so.) Now that’s public participation. NAPERVILLE SUN
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