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Roderick Sawyer

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Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
10:17am
Thu Oct 31, 2013

Chicagoans Talk 2014 Budget With Progressive Reform Caucus At Town Hall Meeting (UPDATED)

Public schools, mental health services and Mayor Rahm Emanuel's plan to phaseout the city's health care subsidy for a number of retired municipal workers were some of the concerns Chicagoans raised at a budget town hall meeting Wednesday night.

The city council's Progressive Reform Caucus held the packed town hall meeting at United Electrical Workers Hall and heard comments from dozens of residents about the mayor's proposed 2014 budget, which was unveiled last week.

The mayor's $8.7 billion 2014 budget does not increase property, sales or gas taxes, but Progressive Reform Caucus members expressed worry that the spending plan relies mainly on other increased taxes and fees that would impact everyone from drivers to cigarette smokers to cable TV customers as a means to help close the city's $339 million deficit.

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
6:48pm
Thu Oct 24, 2013

Breaking Down Emanuel's 2014 Chicago Budget

Although Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's proposed 2014 budget unveiled Wednesday includes no increases on property, sales and gas taxes, some aldermen say the plan relies too heavily on hiking other fees and fines to help reduce the city's $339 million deficit. Progress Illinois provides an overview of the mayor's budget plan.

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
11:57am
Wed Oct 16, 2013

Community Members Launch Economic Plan To 'Take Back Chicago' (VIDEO)

Chicagoans packed a town hall meeting Tuesday evening to launch a new social and economic justice agenda for the city. Progress Illinois was there to learn more about "Take Back Chicago."

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
6:57pm
Tue Sep 24, 2013

Chicago's Public Employees Want New Contract With Fair Wages, Privatization Safeguards

Chicago public employees picketed downtown Tuesday, calling on Mayor Rahm Emanuel to settle a new union contract with AFSCME Council 31 that includes decent wages that keep up with inflation.

A new contract must also include "common sense" rules meant to prevent bad privatization deals and protect public services and workers, according to the dozens of public employees who protested near City Hall.

The union’s previous contract with the city was set to expire July 1, 2012, but it was temporarily extended. Workers have been at the bargaining table with the city bartering over a new contract for more than a year and a half.

"Any company should want to pay their employees fair wages but the transparency with the privatization, it's really a huge issue, because what (the mayor) is basically trying to do is sell off the city of Chicago," said Nicole Herron, who's worked in the city's finance department for 18 years. "If he does that, we lose a huge part of the middle class and lower-class people who make up a bulk of the city."

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
2:58pm
Wed Jul 10, 2013

Group Unveils Plan To Tackle Privatization, Increase Government Transparency

The push back against privatization, or putting public services and assets in the hands of private entities, has become more organized. Last week, a public interest group released a legislative agenda to combat privatization, which they say too often contributes to the downward spiral of local economies and the growing wage gap in the U.S.

The newly-released “Taxpayer Empowerment Agenda” is a package of policy recommendations intended to assert taxpayer control over public resources. Unveiled by In The Public Interest (ITPI), a resource group focused on privatization and contracting, the agenda is being introduced to lawmakers across the country in the hopes of making government contracting processes more accountable and transparent.

“We wanted to introduce a set of proactive public protections aimed at defending our communities from the often detrimental effects of privatization,” said Shahrzad Habibi, research and policy director for ITPI.

Quick Hit
by
11:31am
Thu Jun 27, 2013

Op-Ed: City Council Progressive Reform Caucus Speaks Out On CPS Budget Cuts

The Chicago City Council Progressive Reform Caucus members released the following statement on Thursday in response to the news of massive cuts to Chicago Public School budgets across the city.

Even after all the supposed cost-savings arising from the closing of 50 public schools, Chicago Public Schools are now facing the most severe budget cuts in their history. While we still do not know the full extent of these cuts, at least 850 CPS employees will lose their jobs. Schools received their new budgets this month and found their budgets severely reduced.

As elected representatives of the communities of Chicago, we are alarmed by the stripping of basic necessities which define a school. The neighborhood schools have been reduced to beggars, lacking such essentials as sanitation supplies, library book funds, field trip money, playground supervision. The principals have been given the new budgets and told to ‘do more with less.’

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
5:45pm
Wed Jun 26, 2013

Emanuel Introduces Assault Weapons Ban, Student Safety Measure At Busy Council Meeting

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel introduced an ordinance at Wednesday’s city council meeting that looks to ban the import, sale, transfer and possession of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines in the city.

The move comes in response to the concealed carry legislation the Illinois General Assembly passed last month that is currently awaiting action from Gov. Pat Quinn.

State lawmakers are required to come up with new legislation by a July 9 deadline following a federal court ruling back in December that struck down Illinois’ concealed carry ban. The deadline was extended from June 9 to July 9 to give Gov. Quinn more time to consider the bill once it passed.

Under the proposed statewide concealed carry legislation, HB 183, sponsored by State Rep. Brandon Phelps (D-Harrisburg), Illinois municipalities will have 10 days after the bill is signed to pass a new or updated assault weapons measure.

The Chicago Police Department is making a “strong effort” to bring down gun-related crimes and violence in the city in part by putting more police on the streets and getting “kids, guns and drugs” off of them, Emanuel said in remarks after the meeting.

“It is essential that we make sure we do everything to bring safety to all our communities and neighborhoods throughout the city,” Emanuel said. “The assault weapon ban, and making sure it’s comprehensive, is part of that overall strategy — bringing safety throughout our streets.”

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
4:46pm
Tue May 14, 2013

Workers, Aldermen Want Emanuel To Push Controversial O'Hare Contractor To Recognize Janitors' Desire For SEIU Representation (VIDEO) (UPDATED)

After more than 70 percent of O’Hare’s recently hired janitors voted in favor of SEIU* Local 1 union representation, a small group of workers gathered with supporting aldermen at City Hall Tuesday to urge Mayor Rahm Emanuel to push the contractor to recognize the union.

“In a climate where everybody is trying to figure out how to squeeze the bottom line, the only way to protect workers is to have union representation,” said Ald. Ricardo Munoz (22nd) in an interview with Progress Illinois.

Munoz said contractors, such as the O’Hare janitors’ employer, United Maintenance, Inc., are “squeezing wages.”

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
4:15pm
Thu Mar 21, 2013

How The School Closure Moratorium Bill Got Kicked Down The Road

A bill to put a to put a temporary moratorium on school closings advanced in the Senate Education Committee Tuesday, however it was “shelled” and all language was stripped out, according to a spokeswoman for Sen. William Delgado (D-Chicago), the legislation’s chief sponsor.

The bill, SB 1571, was changed because the votes in the committee weren’t all there for its approval and its language needed to be strengthened.

Lawmakers were also feeling the heat of getting bills out of committee by this week’s deadline, the Associated Press reported.

Stacy Davis Gates, legislative and political director for the Chicago Teachers Union, which sent members to Springfield to testify on the moratorium’s behalf, said stripping the language was a “legislative maneuver,” because if it stayed in committee, it would be dead.

“The biggest part is it’s alive,” she said. “Had everything stayed in as is, it probably wouldn’t have gotten out.”

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