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PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
5:47pm
Wed Apr 30, 2014

Chicago City Council Passes Plastic Bag Ban, Petcoke Regulations

The Chicago City Council voted Wednesday to partially ban plastic shopping bags and put in place tougher regulations for petcoke facilities. Progress Illinois takes a look at the two issues as well as other highlights from the council meeting.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
5:38pm
Thu Apr 10, 2014

Education Activists Call CPS Per-Student Funding Increase 'A Wash'; Fight Against Turnarounds Continues

The Chicago Public Schools (CPS) district announced Wednesday that it will increase funding for school budgets next year by $70 million. But education experts and activists stopped short of calling it a big boost for schools.

"It's really not an increase. It's less of a decrease," said Eric 'Rico' Gutstein, faculty associate with the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Collaborative for Equity and Justice in Education.

CPS plans to reduce central office spending and use a one-time accounting adjustment so it can allocate the extra $70 million, which will be used to increase its base per-student funding amount by $250.

It looks like a good chunk of the extra per-pupil funds sent to schools would help to offset inflation and contractually-required pay bumps for teachers, CPS spokesman Joel Hood told the Chicago Sun-Times. Next year, the Chicago Teachers Union is owed a 2 percent teacher pay hike, which will reportedly come out to be no less than $50 million.

West Side education activist Dwayne Truss with the Raise Your Hand education coalition called the per-student funding increase "just a wash."

"You're not gaining much from last year other than being able to just hold on to what you already have," he said. 

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
11:41am
Sun Dec 1, 2013

IDNR Hosts Public Hearing On Proposed Fracking Administrative Rules (VIDEO)

Proposed rules for hydraulic fracturing in Illinois fell under harsh scrutiny Tuesday night, as the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) hosted its first public hearing on draft regulations before the controversial horizontal oil and gas drilling technology comes to the state.

“I know that we need natural gas, but we need to do this in the safest way possible so that we’re not killing ourselves,” said Jessica Bryant, a representative of Greenpeace, in her speech before the panel of five IDNR representatives.

Bryant was one of more than 250 people to attend Tuesday’s meeting at the University of Illinois at Chicago, the first of five public hearings on the state's draft fracking administrative rules.

“There are about a million fracking wells nationwide. Industry itself has admitted that at least 5 percent of those wells have failed, in case you’re not good at math, that’s 50,000 wells ... What are the chances you live close to one of those wells,” asked Bryant, pointing out that the cement casing in the wells could leak, causing the water and chemicals used in fracking to leak and contaminate groundwater.

Quick Hit
by Aaron Cynic
8:48pm
Thu Nov 21, 2013

South Siders March To U Of Chicago Hospital In Demand Of A Trauma Center

More than 200 demonstrators marched down Cottage Grove Ave. on Chicago's South Side Wednesday night to the University of Chicago Medical Center. The protesters demanded the hospital open a Level 1 trauma center.

While chanting “how can you ignore while we’re dying at your door,” the group left two mock coffins covered in flowers across outside of the hospital on 58th Street. The demonstration came just hours after a state hearing hosted by state Sen. Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago) to discuss the lack of a trauma center on Chicago's South Side. Calling the area a “trauma desert,” community groups and activists say a South Side trauma center would save lives. 

“People wouldn’t have to travel as far,” said Zan Adams, co-founder of RISE Chicago, a member group of the Trauma Center Coalition, and organizer of the demonstration.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
1:14pm
Fri Nov 15, 2013

Southeast Side Residents Get Heated Over Petcoke Pollution At Illinois EPA Meeting

A Chicago community meeting the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) hosted to discuss a proposed construction permit for KCBX Terminals Company quickly escalated into angry shouting from Southeast Side residents fed up with the firm storing large piles of petroleum coke, or petcoke, near their homes.

KCBX, which is controlled by the conservative billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, stockpiles the petcoke, a byproduct of oil refining, along the Calumet River on Chicago's far Southeast side. The thick, powdery petcoke is sent to KCBX from a BP refinery in Whiting, Indiana. East Side and South Deering residents have been sounding the alarm for some time now that petcoke dust is blowing into their neighborhoods and getting into their homes.

"No one asked us if we wanted to have these piles dumped in the first place. They just did it," Southeast Side resident Sue Garza told the IEPA officials at the packed two-hour meeting, held at the East Side United Methodist Church. "We have been the toxic dumping ground here for over 100 years. We don't want it anymore."

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