The week that was in Chicago politics and government (July 23-27).
Chicago and Cook County News
The Chicago Teachers Union and Chicago Public Schools announced Tuesday afternoon an interim agreement that will let Mayor Rahm Emanuel go forward with his desired seven-hour school day, while also more or less maintaining the workload of teachers.
Both CTU President Karen Lewis and Emanuel billed the compromise as a breakthrough victory.
The agreement does not necessarily mean that the two sides are close to reaching a deal on a new contract, but it does set precise 2013-14 school day guidelines and also lets up to 477 laid off teachers return to work.
However, there remains no recall plan in place for the 2,000 additional tenured teachers CPS has laid off since 2010. Following the longer school day agreement, CTU is pushing for a recall procedure to handle past and future layoffs as they continue collective bargaining negotiations with CPS.
UNITE HERE Local 1 members kicked off what they bill as a week-long global boycott of Hyatt Hotel Corp. yesterday, organizing rallies in coordination with hotel housekeepers across the country.
Stand Up! Chicago joined forces with grassroots organizations across the city Thursday for a series of rallies and marches as a part of the National Minimum Wage Day of Action.
City of Chicago Inspector General Joseph Ferguson said Thursday that the Chicago City Council Finance Committee, chaired by Ald. Ed Burke (14th), is blocking a probe of the city’s duty disability program, the main workers compensation program for city employees. The accusation comes a week after the Chicago Sun-Times reported waste and fraud in duty disability.
Ald. Joe Moreno (1st) has made waves for trying to block a Chick-fil-A restaurant from setting up shop in his Northwest Side ward, because restaurant President Dan Cathy vocally opposes gay marriage and has donated money to anti-gay marriage groups.
Whether aldermanic privilege will enable Moreno to successfully block the store is unclear. Emanuel weighed in on Wednesday, supporting Moreno’s contention that Cathy doesn’t share the city’s values.
An Emanuel spokesman, though, clarified to the Sun-Times Thursday that the mayor will not act to block Chick-fil-A Chicago locations – he simply opposes Cathy’s views.
Emanuel encouraged Wednesday Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan's deployment of Fruit of Islam members in areas of the city hit especially hard with violence this year. Farrakhan has a “role to play in helping to protect our neighborhoods and our citizens,” Emanuel said.
Ald. Joe Moore (49th) caused a stir at the city council's Human Relations committee meeting yesterday when he refused to consider a resolution on whether there should be an elected school board.
The Cook County Board passed a resolution Tuesday setting up a committee that has 60 days to devise a model for a county land bank, an ambitious proposal to deal with the country’s growing number of vacant, foreclosed properties.
PI reported Friday on the annual Kids Count data book for 2012, which provides a number of state-by-state measures on children’s quality of life. It’s a mixed picture for Illinois as the state’s chikd health care services received high marks, but the number of Illinois children living in poverty has grown to more than 300,000 over the past decade.
As we analyzed Monday, Gov. Pat Quinn appears poised to reject a major gambling expansion bill the Illinois General Assembly passed in May. Quinn’s objections are around the lack of ethics measures, but there are also questions as to whether gaming expansion will be the big jobs generator its supporters claim.
The Illinois House will meet August 17 to vote on expelling State Rep. Derrick Smith (D-Chicago). The legislators might also take that time to tackle a pension bill, which doesn’t include public educators, that the Senate passed in May.
Quinn paid a visit to Freeport Thursday, home of Sensata Technologies, a manufacturing plant owned by Bain Capital, that is scheduled to outsource 170 jobs to China later this year.
The Chicago Tribune reported Wednesday that State Rep. Connie Howard (D-Chicago) sent a letter of resignation to Speaker of the House Mike Madigan (D-Chicago) on July 6. The state previously discovered that Howard's AIDS awareness group, the Let's Talk, Let's Test Foundation, did not keep satisfactory financial records.
The State-Journal Register reported Tuesday that the scheduled closing of Dwight women's prison August 31 means a shifting of the state's inmate population that the Illinois Department of Corrections hasn't entirely figured out yet.
Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon announced Tuesday that a federal grant could double the number of Illinois farmers markets that accept electronic payments, enabling more Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamp, recipients to use their link cards at farmer’s markets. The plan will also be a boon for more than just SNAP recipients.
Quinn sent a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Monday, requesting that most Illinois counties be declared disaster areas because of a record-breaking drought this summer.
Federal government numbers released Friday show the U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 1.5 percent in the second quarter of 2012, a growth rate lower than the first quarter and another sign of a glacially slow economic recovery.
The sluggish economy might prompt the Federal Reserve, whose policy committee meets next week, to look at a third round of “quantitative easing” to stimulate the economy.
We looked Wednesday at a new report by the Chicago-based Woodstock Institute that found a racial divide continues to perpetuate among those seeking a mortgage loan. Examining seven cities, the report concluds that mortgage lenders have steered more black and Latino borrowers towards government-backed home loans by limiting their access to more conventional financing.
PI examined the findings of a recent poll which revealed that candidates and their parties have largely ignored the rapidly growing population of Asian American and Pacific Islander voters in the U.S.