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Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Fri Sep 26, 2014

South Siders Question TIF Use In Chicago's 21st Ward

South Side residents were shocked to learn at a Thursday night community meeting that the six active tax increment financing (TIF) districts in Chicago's 21st Ward had more than $1.6 million sitting in their collective bank accounts at the end of 2013.

The Chicago-based CivicLab revealed that TIF finding and relevant information at a meeting held at the Carter G. Woodson Regional Library in Roseland.

The $1.6 million in unspent funds would have otherwise been dispersed among the local units of government that rely on property tax revenue, including the school and park districts, were it not for the city’s controversial TIF program, which is intended to spur economic development in “blighted” areas.

The non-profit CivicLab launched its TIF Illumination Project, which highlights how the city's TIF program works at the ward level, back in February 2013. The group has held 30 community TIF meetings thus far

Many South Siders at the meeting said they were unaware of the private projects that got TIF money in the 21st Ward, including a Home Depot and the Chatham Market shopping center that received a $32 million TIF subsidy. 

"I think a lot of people have been getting a raw deal," Leatha Patton, a 21st Ward resident of more than 42 years, told Progress Illinois after the event. "These are things that the alderman should make you aware of. We should know how it works, and who gets what."

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Mon Aug 4, 2014

Fired Chicago Walmart Worker 'Seeking Justice' Over 'Retaliatory' Firing

A pregnant former Walmart worker on Chicago's South Side says she was unjustly fired and is now fighting to get her job back.

The worker and labor activists plan to protest the pregnant employee's May firing Tuesday evening at the Walmart in Chatham. 

Back in April, Thelma Moore was shopping at the Chatham Walmart on her day off when two TV boxes fell from a product cart and hit her. Moore, who was about two months pregnant at the time, sought immediate medical care after the accident, which occurred just over a week after she was hired. Moore, 23, said she hurt her ankle during the incident and also experienced vaginal bleeding.

Both her primary physician and an orthopedic doctor wrote letters stating Moore needed to take a total of two-and-a-half weeks off of work to recover. Those letters were provided to the store's management, according to Moore.

On May 8, she was supposed to start working the overnight shift again. Moore brought along a list of needed accommodations written by her primary doctor, including a water break every two hours and a restriction on lifting items heavier than 25 pounds. Moore said she was instructed to fill out company paperwork for the requested accommodations, which would take between seven to 10 business days to process. In the meantime, Moore was not put on the schedule because no positions were immediately available that involved lifting only up to 25 pounds, she said.

"All that time (I was) just waiting on that form to come back," she said, adding that she checked in with management on multiple occasions to see if the accommodations had been approved and when she could return to work. "They can view the cameras. I was up there every day trying to get my job back."

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
Wed Jan 22, 2014

Chicago Board Of Ed OK's New Charters; Might Join Forces With CTU Against IL Charter Commission

At its monthly meeting Wednesday, the Chicago Board of Education approved seven new charter schools scheduled to open over the next two years. Also on Wednesday, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis and Chicago Board of Education President David Vitale said they might "join hands" to push back against the Illinois State Charter School Commission.

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
Wed Jan 8, 2014

Debate Over New Chicago Charter School Proposals Heats Up At CPS Hearing

Chicagoans braved the bitter cold Tuesday night to speak out at community hearings held by the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) regarding proposals for 21 new privately-run charter schools. Progress Illinois provides a snapshot of the hearings.

Quick Hit
by Aaron Cynic
Mon Dec 2, 2013

Workers Push Back Against Walmart During Black Friday Protests

Hundreds demonstrated outside Walmart stores across the country on Black Friday to protest what they say are “poverty wages” and poor working conditions for workers of the retail giant. Organizers with the group OUR Walmart say more than 110 people were arrested at various Black Friday demonstrations in cities across the country, according to the protest organizers, in cities including Sacramento, St. Paul, Seattle and Chicago. In total, demonstrations took place in 46 states across the country.

“We cannot wait any longer. That’s why I’m standing up today – for my coworkers, my family and my community,” said Myron Bird, a worker from Walmart’s Lakeview location in Chicago. Bird was arrested with nine others at the Chicago store for participating in civil disobedience and blocking the street.

Quick Hit
by Aaron Cynic
Thu Nov 14, 2013

Chicago Walmart Workers Take Part In National Series Of Strikes

Less than a week after Walmart workers in Los Angeles went on strike and a day after Seattle workers at the retail giant walked off the job, Walmart employees at three locations in Chicago staged a strike of their own.

Employees from stores in Lakeview, Evergreen Park and Chatham staged walkouts in the early afternoon Wednesday and later descended on the South Side Chatham location for a rally. The series of strikes are part of a larger campaign by OUR Walmart, which is tied to the United Food & Commercial Workers Union. The group is calling for a nationwide protest against Walmart on Black Friday and has built a website to help organize workers and community supporters. The Nation reports that more than 400 Walmart workers walked off the job in a similar protest against the company last year.