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12:34am
Thu Dec 12, 2013

Letter To The Editor From The Chicago Aldermanic Black Caucus

To the Editor:

We are deeply disturbed about recent reports that suggest that the Chicago Transit Authority will end its ex-offender rail car employment program.

African Americans are disproportionately represented in Illinois’ prison population. More often than not, these ex-offenders return to their home communities after serving their sentences in prison. They return to communities that have higher than average rates of unemployment and underemployment caused by a chronic shortage of living wage jobs. Moreover, even non-violent ex-offenders face statutory bars to employment and government benefits that serve as perverse incentives for criminal behavior.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
11:39am
Wed Dec 4, 2013

RTA Far From Achieving "World-Class" Public Transit System, Experts Say

The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) has a lot of work to do if the northeastern Illinois public transit network it oversees plans on becoming a "world-class system" anytime soon, panelists said at a discussion on the topic Tuesday at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC).

The RTA is the oversight agency for the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), Metra and Pace, covering Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will counties. The agency was created in 1974 and was reformed in 1983 and 2008.

Stephen Schlickman, who served as RTA's executive director from 2005 to 2010 and currently heads up UIC's Urban Transportation Center, said RTA's multi-agency structure "isn’t working as well as it should be." He noted that regional public transit systems in other U.S. metro areas are typically organized as one agency. The region's current transit structure has four governing boards, for the RTA, CTA, Metra and Pace, with 47 members.

"There is a serious lack of accountability when you have such a complex structure," he stressed. "We have complexities, not only in governance, but also in service overlap, in capital planning and programming, in the equities in the allocation of our finances. These topics defy public understanding."

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
1:56pm
Thu Nov 7, 2013

Austin, Galewood Residents Unveil Community Sustainability Action Plan

Chicago's Austin and Galewood community members unveiled their draft "sustainability roadmap" Wednesday evening, detailing ways in which they will take action to strengthen their neighborhoods.

The new community-based planning initiative on the West Side is taking place in Ald. Deborah Graham's 29th Ward. Prior to Wednesday's meeting, residents and other community stakeholders held two "visioning sessions" where they floated ideas to be included in their plan on how to make their neighborhoods more economically, environmentally and socially sustainable. Check out Progress Illinois' full coverage of the first visioning meeting here.

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