PI Original Angela Caputo Friday March 27th, 2009, 9:22am

Chicago 2016 Benefits Agreement A "Good Start"

Quite a few news reports emerged out of Chicago's City Hall yesterday touting a community benefits agreement signed by Chicago 2016 and an advisory body known as the community outreach committee. For months, South Side community activists have been pushing for this so-called ...

Quite a few news reports emerged out of Chicago's City Hall yesterday touting a community benefits agreement signed by Chicago 2016 and an advisory body known as the community outreach committee. For months, South Side community activists have been pushing for this so-called CBA, which would ensure that -- if Chicago is awarded the 2016 Summer Games -- affordable housing and jobs will be set-aside for folks living near the planned site of the Olympic Village and Olympic Stadium.  So shouldn't these groups should be celebrating today?  Not quite yet.  As Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd Ward) told the Tribune, the agreement represents a "good start":

"I think it's a good start. That's all I'm going to say right now." ... "I really want to review it and talk to some of the activists we worked with in putting this ordinance together."

Jay Travis, director of the Kenwood-Oakland Community Organization (KOCO), told us yesterday that Alds. Dowell and Toni Preckwinkle (4th Ward) deserve credit for introducing an ordinance calling for a CBA and negotiating the deal in good faith.  She noted that the pressure now seems to be coming from "higher up."

But Travis also pointed out that what's in hand at the moment is a "memorandum of understanding" between these two mayorally-appointed bodies -- with the city acting as a facilitator of sorts. The next step for the activists is to make sure that the document is made legally-binding with the city named as a party to the agreement. This would force the Daley administration and Chicago 2016 to actually follow-through on the deal.

This morning, the City Council's Finance Committee will put the proposed CBA to a vote. Travis and other members of Community for Equitable Olympics 2016 (CEO 2016) -- a coalition of community and labor groups that have succeeded in pushing the debate this far -- are holding out hope that the city will add its signature to the agreement. On WTTW's Chicago Tonight yesterday, Preckwinkle described the finance commitee's planned action this way:

There will be a resolution to which this (the CBA) will be "Exhibit A," so the city council can kind of bless this.  And we'll move forward to passage in April.

We'll have more from that hearing later in the day.

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