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Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
1:52pm
Tue Jul 22, 2014

Sheriff Dart, Chicago Faith Leaders Discuss Incarceration Alternatives For Mentally Ill Inmates (VIDEO)

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart has pledged to work with Chicago community and faith leaders in their effort to establish pilot restorative justice "hubs" with a focus on mental health services on the South and Southwest Sides as a means to keep people with mental illness out of the county's jail.

The Reclaim Campaign, comprised of Chicago community and church leaders, wants to see more community-based alternatives to incarceration created in order to reduce the number of nonviolent inmates at the jail. Specifically, the group has called for community mental health centers, or hubs, to work towards preventing those with mental illness from being unnecessarily incarcerated.

At a packed public meeting Monday evening hosted by the Reclaim Campaign at the South Side's St. Gall Church, Teresa Fraga, with the Pilsen Neighbors Community Council and Gamaliel of Metro Chicago, said a restorative justice hub would serve as "a community-based, accessible, affordable institution that provides health care to the uninsured, the underinsured and the undocumented."

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
2:21pm
Thu Jul 17, 2014

Chicagoans Criticize School Funding Cuts At CPS Budget Hearing (VIDEO)

Chicago Public Schools' (CPS) proposed $5.76 billion spending plan for the 2014-2015 academic year slashes $72 million in funding from 504 traditional neighborhood schools but boosts the budgets of privately-run charter and contract schools by 12 percent.

The funding difference, mostly due to declining enrollment projected at traditional CPS schools and increased enrollment at charters, did not sit well with parents, teachers, education activists and Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd), who vented their frustrations at a CPS budget hearing Wednesday evening at Malcolm X College on the city's West Side. Education activists toting signs reading, "BOE has different rules for different schools," also spoke out against neighborhood school budget cuts ahead of the hearing.

"There's a crisis in Chicago Public Schools today," Fioretti told the six CPS officials at the hearing. "CPS closed 50 schools last year, supposedly based upon declining enrollment. At the same time, they opened new charter schools. Despite promises of increased funding for existing schools, CPS cut the budget for neighborhood schools this year, while they increased the budget for charter schools. 

"There is no political will from CPS or the fifth floor of this city," he added. "When we decide that politicians should allow charter schools, contract schools and other schools that take away the resources for political ends only, we are depriving our kids of the necessary education here in this city."

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
4:28pm
Tue Jun 24, 2014

Southeast Side Chicagoans Want Answers About Reported Uptick In Petcoke-Filled Trains

Southeast Side Chicagoans are sounding the alarm on the latest environmental and public safety issue impacting their communities — an alleged uptick in trains transporting uncovered piles of petcoke, a byproduct of oil refining.

Over the past two months, some Southeast Side residents say they have noticed increased train traffic on old rail lines in the Hegewisch community that have previously been unused for many years. The trains, many of which pull more than 100 cars, are moving in and out of the area day and night, said Tom Shepherd of the Southeast Environmental Task Force. 

Shepherd said the trains are carrying unenclosed petcoke, which is mostly coming from the BP refinery in Whiting, Indiana and stockpiled at storage facilities along the Calumet River on Chicago's far Southeast Side. 

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
4:33pm
Mon Jun 23, 2014

Report: CPS Closings Limited Parental Involvement, Adversely Affected Children

A new University of Illinois report shows that last year's round of 50 Chicago public school closings has had a negative impact on both parents and students. Progress Illinois takes a closer look at the report's findings.

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
6:49pm
Wed May 28, 2014

Chicago City Council Roundup: Ridesharing, Guns, Sweatshops, SROs & $15 Minimum Wage

Progress Illinois provides highlights from Wednesday's Chicago City Council meeting.

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