Also this week: a climate policy crossover and census maps.
By Darryl Holliday
Special Service Surveillance
Aldermen at this month’s Chicago City Council Committee Meeting on Economic, Capital and Technology Development raised questions around how people are appointed to Special Service Area commissions. DOCUMENTERS
Why it Matters: Special Service Areas are localized property tax districts that fund expanded services and programs in the designated area. Controlled by an SSA commission (with members appointed by the mayor), they can fund things like new street signs for commercial districts, security cameras, public art and even private security guards. Though the local alderman can weigh in on SSA appointees in their ward, one alderman at the meeting pointed out that there’s no mechanism to ensure they’re notified or to keep track of their responses. At least one alderman spoke up to say that, while he was supportive of leaders of Special Service Areas in his ward, he was not notified of new appointees.
But: A motion to ensure the mayor’s office keeps a public record of these notifications was denied by a 2-7 vote on the committee.
Speaking of Surveillance...: A bill currently working its way through City Council would allow Special Service Areas to employ uniformed, off-duty police officers as added security LEGISTAR
Chicken Enthusiasts, Unite!
Alds. Aldermen Raymond Lopez (15) and Anthony Napolitano (41) are coming for your roosters. The two have proposed the Livestock Ordinance which would impose limits on livestock, including annual fees and permits, in residential areas. LEGISTAR
Why It Matters: If you’re not an early bird, you could probably guess. This 2017 Curious City explains why relations between neighbors and livestock-owning households can get tense—and how Chicago ended up with some of the loosest livestock laws in the state. WBEZ
Cluck Cluck: Judging by the responses on Lopez’s Twitter announcement of the ordinance, the move faces opposition from coop operators, urban farmers, “chicken enthusiasts” and local agriculturalists—replies ranged from “boo” to “really disappointing. Do not support.” TWITTER
Climate from City to County
Ald. George Cardenas (12th), who is already chair of City Council’s Committee of Environmental Protection and Energy, is joining its new county-level counterpart, the Environmental Commission of Cook County.
Why it Matters: Global (in)action on climate change has had intensive media coverage lately, but many people feel local policies—like California’s strict emission standards—can lead the way. “We have an immense responsibility to protect the environment for future generations, and the city and county must combine their resources and knowledge to address the impacts of climate change,” Cardenas said in statement after his appointment by Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
But, the details: Created earlier this year, the commission will meet every other month and will sunset in November 2022. Its goals are “to ensure Cook County is a leader in combating global warming” and to promote carbon footprint-reducing policies. It will begin creating an annual report in January 2020 and be subject to the Open Meetings Act and Freedom of Information Act. MUNICODE
Up Next: If you were inspired by the Climate March last week and looking to get involved locally, UIC Eco-Educators and Extinction Rebellion are hosting an info session on Oct. 2. FACEBOOK
Who’s ‘Hard to Count’ in Chicago?
We’ve said it before, and we’ll keep on saying it: The Census means money and power for Chicago’s communities. CITY BUREAU This summer, we interviewed Chicagoans who expressed fear, confusion and excitement about the decennial survey. Most of all, they want to know more about the census and how it’s used. CITY BUREAU This month, a map was launched to make hard-to-count areas… easier to count.
Why it Matters: The Cook County “Hard to Count” map makes it easy to view areas where less than 73 percent of households responded to the 2010 Census. But its main use lies in its layers, including a range of city to federal level political boundaries, township boundaries and ZIP codes. You can download any search for further research or distribution. CENSUS MAIL RETURN RATE VIEWER
Also: The map currently lacks ward-level data for Chicago but it can be used for local groups who are doing specialized outreach to communities who are at risk of being undercounted.
Up Next: There are a few government bodies working on Census 2020 issues, and we’re tracking them with a special tag on DOCUMENTERS
Public Libraries, Private Partnerships?
A meeting of the City Council Committee on Budget and Government Operations covered two appointees to the Chicago Public Library Board, but a side conversation caught our eye: a nod toward potential public-private partnerships at Chicago’s public libraries.
First Notice: We only have a short exchange between Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) and reappointed Chicago Public Library Board member Christopher P. Valenti. The discussion centered on a transparency regarding three Chicago Public Library locations at sites managed by the Chicago Housing Authority. WTTW Hairston asked Valenti if one of those projects was a public-private collaboration. Valenti responded no—all locations involve the CHA—but both agreed that public-private partnerships should be explored in the future. DOCUMENTERS
Why it Matters: What would those partnerships look like? The three library-CHA projects include a mix of public housing units, affordable units and market-rate units, and private developers were involved. Valenti seems to be open to potential future private developments that would include library branches (though he could not be reached for comment). Beyond that, some cities are enlisting private groups to help bolster their library systems. Library Systems & Services, a for-profit company that works with public libraries, lays out its sales pitch here. LIBRARY SYSTEMS & SERVICES
Buckle up, Chicago, we could be in for a triple strike. Park District employees voted to authorize a strike yesterday. WGN They’re represented by SEIU Local 73, which also includes school support staff, who are also considering a walkout. And you’ve probably already heard that the Chicago Teachers Union is voting right now on strike authorization, which means we’ll potentially have 35,000 people on strike at the same time. CHICAGO TRIBUNE
M | T | W | T | F
Thurs (9/26): The Cook County Board of Commissioners will discuss an ordinance that would guarantee access to translated voting materials for languages spoken by thirteen thousand or more “limited-English-proficient Cook County residents.” See the full agenda DOCUMENTERS
Thurs (9/26): 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. Today, the Cook County Board of Commissioners Health & Hospitals Committee will discuss outstanding liabilities of $701 million for the 2018 fiscal year compared to the small amounts the state tends to owe. DOCUMENTERS
Fri (9/27): Blue Island’s MetroSouth Medical Center stopped admitting new patients and temporarily suspended emergency departments last Friday. CHICAGO TRIBUNE Meanwhile, talks continue at the Cook County Health and Hospitals System Board of Directors to purchase real estate at 12757 S. Western Avenue in Orland Park—less than half a mile away—to operate Blue Island Health Center. DOCUMENTERS