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Quick Hit
by Micah Maidenberg
Wed Oct 6, 2010

Daley's Tough Day In City Council Chambers

Outgoing Chicago Mayor Richard Daley is accustomed to seeing his legislative proposals sail through City Council like a 747 hurrying out of O'Hare. He isn't used to seeing a council member introduce legislation that would limit his power over local government operations. So today's council meeting must have been an especially bad one for Daley.

According to the Tribune's initial report on the meeting, an ordinance designed to assist renters facing displacement when a developer is converting their unit from rental to condo was sent back to committee. Protests from the real estate development industry sank the bill. That's a pretty disappointing outcome for legislation that, if passed, wouldn't even immediately help renters because virtually no rentals are being converted in condos in the present real estate market, unlike during the middle part of the decade. The city's Condo Conversion Task Force, which met 10 times over a two-year period starting in 2007 and included real estate firms, came up with the recomendations that underlie the proposed bill. "We heard nothing, and then at the last minute. Again, it puts the real estate industry not in a good light, because this was all discussed prior," the Tribune reported Daley saying. 

Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd Ward), meanwhile, introduced an ordinance today that would allow the council's Committee on Finance to review all city contracts worth more than $500,000. The council has not provided a check over executive-branch contracting since Daley took office in 1989.

PI Original
by Micah Maidenberg
Tue Oct 5, 2010

The Politics Of Chicago's Public Housing (VIDEO)

Chicago has seen dramatic changes to its public housing system. What does that mean for the mayoral race?

PI Original
by Adam Doster
Mon Oct 4, 2010

Charting A "New Chicago" In 2011 (VIDEO)

Over the next several months, a city-wide coalition of progressive activists are going to work hard to hold the feet of Chicago's mayoral candidates to the proverbial fire.

PI Original
by Micah Maidenberg
Tue Sep 21, 2010

The Proposed Condo Rules

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley is proposing new rules to govern how condo conversions work in the city. But it may be too late to help many displaced during the conversion boom in the middle part of the decade. 

Quick Hit
by Micah Maidenberg
Tue Sep 14, 2010

Chicago Can't Quit The Woodlawn Organization

City of Chicago subsidies continue flowing to The Woodlawn Organization (TWO), the politically connected non-profit headed by Mayor Daley ally Leon Finney Jr., despite the fact that the city's own lawyers keep hauling the group into housing court for code violations at buildings it manages across the South Side. This startling revelation, uncovered by the Chicago Reporter, is the latest controversy surrounding TWO, which has gained an infamous reputation for leaving its affordable housing units in poor condition.

The piece also points out that the open spigot for TWO cuts against legislation passed by City Council earlier this year that forbids city contracts from going to "building code scofflaws." Since January, when the new rules were approved, TWO received $1.3 million from the in subsidies from the Daley Administration. "Over that same time period," the Reporter finds, "the city initiated 15 separate legal cases against the South Side developer for violations including rat infestations, broken plumbing, leaking roofs and deteriorating porches." A city spokesman said that officials are still writing enforcement rules for the law.

Those rules can't come too soon. Here's Progress Illinois' video from earlier this year of Latasha Thomas, talking about the conditions she and her family dealt with while living in a TWO building on South Kimbark in Chicago's Woodlawn neighborhood:

When Thomas's story originally broke, Progress Illinois asked why Leon Finney was invited by the mayor to serve on the Chicago Plan Commission, a development advisory body. An updated version of that question might be put thusly, given recent political developments: Will Chicago's next mayor demand accountability from contractors like Finney when she or he takes the reigns of city government next spring? 

PI Original
by Micah Maidenberg
Wed Sep 8, 2010

Converting Foreclosures Into Affordable Housing With TIF (VIDEO)

A new report finds that federal resources to address the home foreclosure crisis aren't commensurate with the need and argues for using Chicago's TIF dollars to convert foreclosed properties into affordable housing.