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Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
11:52am
Thu Aug 28

Southwest Side Chicagoans Question TIF Use In 23rd Ward (UPDATED)

Residents of Chicago's 23rd Ward raised concerns about the city's tax increment financing (TIF) program after learning Wednesday evening that millions in economic development funds have yet to be spent in their community.

At the CivicLab's TIF town hall meeting at John F. Kennedy High School, Southwest Side community members learned that the six TIF districts located in the 23rd Ward had about $16.6 million sitting in their collective bank accounts at the end of 2013. Last year alone, the ward's TIF districts collected nearly $2.3 million in property tax revenue, according to the CivicLab's analysis.

Business owner and Southwest Side resident Martin Arteaga, who is running for alderman in the 23rd Ward, attended the meeting.

"There needs to be a lot more clarity and transparency as to where this TIF money is going," he told Progress Illinois. "Here in the 23rd Ward, particularly in the Midway Airport area along Cicero Avenue, you have a bunch of empty lots. We could use some of that money to redevelop that area and actually be able to expand our tax base, because we have thousands of people who pass through going to Midway Airport. Read more »

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
4:39pm
Mon Aug 25

Education Activists Call On Emanuel To Keep Dyett Open, Demand More Input In School Reforms (VIDEO)

Education activists on Monday renewed their call to keep Bronzeville’s Walter H. Dyett High School open beyond 2015. The group also allege that Chicago Public Schools (CPS) officials are phoning Dyett’s few existing students and urging them to transfer because the school may be shuttered earlier than planned.

The demonstrators also called on the Emanuel administration to support more community involvement in CPS school reforms.

“When they get these schools, they get our communities,” said Jitu Brown, national director for the Journey for Justice Alliance.

The education activists, led by Brown and the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (KOCO), held a press conference Monday at City Hall and requested a meeting with Mayor Rahm Emanuel, in the hopes he would intervene on the school’s closure and support turning Dyett into a "global leadership and green technology" open-enrollment high school. Read more »

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
11:14am
Wed Aug 20

Karen Lewis Discusses Potential Mayoral Run During Stop On Chicago 'Listening Tour' (VIDEO)

Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) President Karen Lewis said she is "seriously considering" running for Chicago mayor and will decided whether to challenge Mayor Rahm Emanuel when she has "certain things in place."

"And those things are, primarily, the three things you need to run a campaign," Lewis said at a Tuesday evening discussion about city issues, held on Chicago's far Southwest Side in the 19th Ward. "You've got to have money. You've got to have people, and you've got to have time."

"I want to run things on my timeline," she added at the talk, moderated by journalist Walter Jacobson and hosted by the CTU at the Beverly Woods Banquet Hall, 11532 S. Western Ave. Read more »

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
11:11am
Tue Jul 29

Coalition To Revitalize Dyett High School Takes Center Stage At 4th Ward Meeting (VIDEO)

Supporters of keeping Bronzeville's Walter H. Dyett High School open beyond 2015 by turning it into a "global leadership and green technology" open-enrollment high school came out in force to discuss the proposal at a rowdy 4th Ward community meeting Monday evening.

Local Ald. Will Burns (4th) held the meeting to gather community feedback about the future of Dyett, which the Chicago Board of Education voted to phaseout back in 2012 due to poor academic performance. Dyett is slated to close completely in 2015 after its last senior class graduates.

A community-driven blueprint to offer a global leadership and green technology curriculum at Dyett, along with other programs involving agricultural sciences and cultural awareness, dominated the discussion at the meeting, held at King College Prep High School. The academic plan, developed by community members and academics over several years, is backed by the Coalition to Revitalize Dyett High School, a group spearheaded by the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (KOCO).

"Whatever happens at Dyett, it's got to be a high-quality, open-enrollment high school, and so the whole point is to have a process by which we get ideas for what that should be," Burns told Progress Illinois at the meeting, attended by more than 100 people. "I know that KOCO and the Coalition to Revitalize Dyett is very organized and very vocal, but there are other voices in the community, and I want to make sure that they have a way to be heard." Read more »