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Quick Hit
by Op-Ed
3:16pm
Thu Mar 26

Op-Ed: Some Good, Some Bad In Obama Administration Plan To Protect Antibiotics

The following comes from Dev Gowda, an advocate with Illinois PIRG.

Plan fails to adequately address growing public health threat

Tomorrow the National Task Force for Combating Resistant Bacteria will release a five-year action plan to tackle the growing problem of antibiotic resistance. While the plan will take several important steps necessary to control the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, it will miss the opportunity to call for critical reforms in the agricultural sector that are essential to protect public health.

President Obama gets an 'A' for tackling this problem from multiple angles. But in terms of addressing the biggest problem, the troubling overuse and misuse of antibiotics on large factory farms, the administration gets an incomplete.

This lack of action to address the overuse of antibiotics in agriculture is notable in the face of recent commitments by several major retailers to curtail the purchase of meat raised with the routine use of the drugs.  Earlier this month, for instance, McDonald's announced it will phase out chicken raised with medically important antibiotics in its U.S. restaurants.  This policy will likely do more to confront the overuse of antibiotics in agriculture than the policies recommended in today's plan. 

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
2:51pm
Wed Mar 25

Garcia, CTU Call For $15 Minimum Wage For CPS Employees (VIDEO)

Chicago Mayoral challenger Jesus 'Chuy' Garcia joined the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) on Wednesday in demanding a $15 an hour minimum wage for all Chicago Public Schools (CPS) employees, including subcontracted workers.

Garcia and CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey made the call for a "living wage" for CPS employees at a press conference held ahead of the Chicago Board of Education's monthly meeting.

Safe Passage workers, who guard routes students take while traveling to and from school, are among those who would be impacted if CPS lifted its hourly minimum wage to $15 for all employees.

Sharkey said "there are hundreds, if not thousands, of Safe Passage workers" who currently earn less than $15 an hour.

"I stand with CTU today because what they are pressing for is an increase in the living wage," said Garcia, who is endorsed by the teachers' union in Chicago's mayoral race. "It is essential to have more stable families. They are critical providers of front-line services, caring for our children, ensuring greater community stability. I stand with them because it is good for Chicago and for a more promising Chicago for all workers in the city."

Quick Hit
by Aaron Cynic
6:48pm
Tue Mar 24

Activists Rally Support For 'A Financial Plan That Puts Chicago’s Communities First'

Community activists say they have an alternative plan for making Chicago fiscally solvent -- and it doesn't rely on cuts that disproportionately affect low- and middle-income people. 

A new report, "Our Kind of Town: A Financial Plan that Puts Chicago's Communities First," targets "predatory financial deals" that cost the city millions of dollars. The paper, crafted by the Refund America Project at the Roosevelt Institute, also suggests a series of progressive taxes could put millions back into the city's coffers.

"What we have is a priorities crisis," said Amisha Patel, executive director of the Grassroots Collaborative at press conference outside the offices of Loop Capital Management. "For decades, budgets in Chicago have been balanced on the backs of working families. In fact, there are a clear set of policy solutions to raise a progressive revenue that our neighborhoods need."

Quick Hit
by La Risa Lynch
5:47pm
Tue Mar 24

Chicago West Side Residents Discuss Potential Impact Of Rauner's Budget

State Rep. Arthur Turner (D-Chicago) called Gov. Bruce Rauner's proposed budget a "doomsday situation" that is compounded by a $1.6 billion shortfall from former Gov. Pat Quinn's underfunded FY2015 budget.

In February, Rauner proposed sweeping cuts to the state's Medicaid program, higher education, mass transit and government pensions to address the state's financial woes. The cuts aimed to combat a $6 billion deficit for fiscal year 2016, which begins in July 1, and the state's $111 billion pension crisis. But critics of Rauner's budget plan say those cuts adversely affect the poor and middle class families.

"It's gonna be tough," said Turner, who held a town hall meeting Monday night to discuss the impact Rauner's proposed cuts could have on the state. More than 30 residents attended the meeting held at Mt. Sinai Community Institute, 2653 W. Ogden Ave.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
5:12pm
Mon Mar 23

New Poll Looks At Latino Perspectives In Chicago Mayoral Race

A new survey shows Latino registered voters in Chicago overwhelming support Chicago mayoral challenger Jesus 'Chuy' Garcia over Mayor Rahm Emanuel. But while Latino voters are strongly pro-Garcia, they are not necessarily anti-Emanuel, the polling results indicate.

Of the 406 Latino survey respondents, 61 percent opted for Garcia, while 18 percent said they would vote for Emanuel if the April 7 runoff were held today. Twenty-one percent of survey respondents were undecided in the poll, conducted March 16 through March 20.

Latino Decisions' bilingual telephone survey -- co-sponsored by the Latino Policy Forum, National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities (NALACC) and Univision Chicago -- has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.8 percentage points.

Representatives from the groups involved with the survey, along with Northwestern University political science lecturer Jamie Dominguez, whose expertise includes Latino and Chicago politics, spoke at a Monday morning forum to discuss to the polling results.

Panelists stressed the importance of the new survey, noting that the Latino vote is generally under-polled in Chicago mayoral polls.

"No other poll conducted this season has aimed to connect directly with (Latinos) or sought to gauge their perspective on critical issues," Dominguez noted.

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
12:57pm
Mon Mar 23

Hundreds Protest For Living Wage, Union Rights At Chicago Food 4 Less Store (VIDEO)

Hundreds of Chicago minimum wage workers and their supporters descended upon a West Side Food 4 Less store Saturday morning, demanding that the grocer give its employees a higher wage and the right to form a union.

Food 4 Less is owned by Kroger. The activists allege that Food 4 Less workers in Chicago are provided less money and fewer benefits than unionized Kroger workers across the country.

"We're asking them to respect Chicago, because Food 4 Less is union in California, and other Kroger banners are union as well, but for some reason they don't care enough about workers here," said Kristin Ryan, an organizer with United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 881.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
11:30am
Fri Mar 20

Chicago 16th Ward Candidate Responds To Residency Questions, Criticism Over Ownership Of 'Unsafe' Vacant Home

South Side aldermanic candidate Stephanie Coleman, who's vying for the Chicago City Council's 16th Ward seat, is taking heat over an "unsafe" vacant home she owns with her father in Englewood. 

Questions are also being raised over whether Coleman is truly a "lifelong 16th Ward resident," as she claims.

Coleman's campaign, however, says critics are "making false claims" against the 27-year-old aldermanic candidate and are "trying to deflect from real neighborhood issues."

Coleman, who bills herself as a "daughter of Englewood," is set to go head-to-head with progressive Ald. Toni Foulkes (15th) in the 16th Ward's aldermanic runoff contest on April 7. The 16th Ward, which covers the Chicago Lawn, Englewood, Gage Park and West Englewood neighborhoods, was previously represented by Ald. JoAnn Thompson, who died suddenly of heart failure on February 9. Foulkes is running in the 16th Ward as a result of the ward remap. The 15th ward was previously a predominately-black ward, but is now majority Latino following the 2012 remapping process.  

Quick Hit
by Op-Ed
5:45pm
Thu Mar 19

OP-ED: Our Days of Discontent With Springfield

The following was written by Jennifer Ritter, executive director of ONE Northside.

The March 11 converging of thousands of everyday working people on Springfield demonstrates the level of outrage with Gov. Rauner's budget proposals. These proposals reveal his lack of concern and even contempt for Illinois' working families and those who depend on social safety net services to survive.

The outpouring also demonstrates our dissatisfaction with our legislators' failure to take a stand and develop a plan to raise revenue in order to preserve life-saving programs for the most vulnerable in our society.

People clearly are tired of politicians rigging the system on behalf of big corporations and the wealthy while our families struggle to get by.

Rauner's single-minded focus on cuts without a mention of revenue-generating options that could soften the blow betrays the level of "compassion" the governor said he would demonstrate while in office.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
5:31pm
Thu Mar 19

Report Calls Attention To Racial Divide Among Low-Income Illinois Families

Minority working families are about twice as likely to be low-income than white working families at both the national level and in Illinois.

That's one of the key findings of a new report by the Working Poor Families Project, a national initiative focused on strengthening state-level policies to help working families attain economic security.

Illinois is home to over 400,000 low-income working families, representing 30 percent of all working families in the state, according to the report. Low-income working families are defined as those with incomes below 200 percent of the official poverty level.

Forty-six percent of all minority working families in Illinois were low-income in 2013, compared with 20 percent of white, non-Hispanic working families.

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