Emanuel, Garanzini unveil Loyola Red Line Station

By Jillian Schwartz

U.S Senator Dick Durbin, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Father Garanzini and Alderman Joe Moore joined with others in the official unveiling of the renovated CTA Loyola Red Line Station.

The changes were made possible by $11 million in federal funding and $6.9 million in real estate acquisitions, business re-locations and street scape improvements from Loyola.

The $20 million project included station and track infrastructure upgrades, a reconfigured pedestrian crossing and a new open-air community plaza adjacent to the station, creating a safer, more inviting environment for commuters and pedestrians.

This is the final station to be renovated in the 49th ward.

For more information, see the letter from Alderman Joe Moore below.

Dear Neighbor,

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin and Mayor Rahm Emanuel joined me yesterday in officially unveiling the renovated CTA Loyola Red Line station and plaza.   Also present at the official dedication were Loyola University President Rev. Michael GaranziniU.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, State Rep. Kelly Cassidy, CTA President Forrest Claypool and CTA Chairman Terry Peterson.

The collaborative $20 million project included station and track infrastructure upgrades, a reconfigured pedestrian crossing and a new open-air community plaza adjacent to the station, creating a safer, more inviting environment for commuters and pedestrians. All projects were completed earlier this fall.

The dedication marked Senator Durbin’s first visit to the 49th Ward since July, 2011, when he joined me in announcing the acquisition of $11 million in federal funding to support construction of the project. Loyola University invested an additional $6.9 million in real estate acquisitions, business relocations and streetscape improvements to create the beautiful plaza that now graces the Sheridan Road entrance to the station.

With the completion of the Loyola station project, all four CTA rail stations in the 49th Ward are now fully renovated. The Howard station was entirely rebuilt in 2009 and the Morse and Jarvis stations were gut rehabbed in 2012.

As Mayor Emanuel pointed out, more people take the CTA in one month than all of Amtrak nationwide all year. “Modernizing [the CTA] has been a single focus of the City’s,” he added.

“The Loyola CTA Station is the front door to Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus and one of the busiest commuter stations on the north side,” said Father Garanzini. “The important structural and safety renovations made to the station were critical to ensuring the safety and well-being of everyone who passes through it each day, and we are delighted with the end result.”

I noted that not only is the Loyola station the front door to the university’s campus, “it is also the southern gateway to Rogers Park and the 49th Ward.” With the Loyola station rehabilitation, every Rogers Park commuter will now enjoy a safe and inviting station from which to board the train.

Construction continues on a four-story, mixed use building immediately north of the new plaza (see rendering on the left). The building, owned by Loyola University, will contain approximately 15,000 square feet of first-floor retail space and house 41 one-bedroom apartments.

The building is scheduled for occupancy next summer and will nicely complement the new stationhouse and plaza.

The Loyola Station rehab was first announced in July, 2011, and construction of both the plaza and the building received unanimous support at a community meeting I hosted in April, 2012.

If you haven’t done so already, I urge you to check out the renovated station and plaza.


Joe Moore

By“It can be a trap of the photographer to think that his or her best pictures were the ones that were hardest to get. – Timothy Allen – See more at: http://digital-photography-school.com/photography-quotes#sthash.JyvW4N9W.dpuf

Emanuel has mixed feelings about proposed marijuana ordinace

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel says he has mixed feelings about a proposal that would lower the punishment of possession of marijuana from an arrest to a ticket and fine.

Here’s the story from The Courier-News:

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he would not be rushed into decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana because doing so creates its own set of problems that other cities have been forced to correct.

The mayor shined the light on his deliberations on the hot-button issue as Chicago aldermen formally introduced their decriminalization plan after releasing ward-by-ward statistics that show minorities bear the brunt of pot busts.

Emanuel said that writing tickets instead of arresting people for small marijuana busts was suggested by police officers over the summer. That same night, Emanuel then asked top police brass “to look into it.”

Does that mean the mayor is inclined to go along with the idea? Not so fast.

“This issue has two parts to it, not one,” he said. “The first part, which is what’s motivating people, is the issue of the cost in the system: arresting, overtime, court, jail. Then there’s also the criminal justice side. I have to evaluate and will evaluate both.”

“If you look at other cities that have done something like this, they have also created their own set of problems on the criminal side,” he said.

The ordinance introduced at Wednesday’s city council meeting would allow police to issue $200 tickets to those carrying 10 grams or less of marijuana. That’s instead of having police spend hours off the street hauling someone into jail on a misdemeanor charge, only to have 90 percent of those cases dismissed.

At a city hall news conference earlier Wednesday, nine aldermen also pointed to the disproportionate number of minorities arrested for marijuana possession over the last decade.

The West Side’s 28th Ward led the city with 12,270 arrests. The 32nd and 43rd Wards had 719 and 529 arrests respectively during that time, even though DePaul University straddles both wards.

Seven other black wards each recorded more than 7,000 arrests over the decade.

“The real tragedy of this is that most of these arrests are being made are in poor, African-American, Hispanic communities where high-crime rates are going on and police are being taking out of the field,” said 25th Ward Alderman Danny Solis, the plan’s chief sponsor, who acknowledged that ticket revenue would be an “added plus.”

First Ward Alderman Joe Moreno pointed to this week’s Sun-Times series that shows Mexican drug cartels are supplying the bulk of the marijuana on Chicago streets and that grass sales are bankrolling the rest of their drug operations.

Solis acknowledged that the proposal is not likely to pass until sometime next year, and only after “at least two public hearings” and consultations with police officials and social scientists.

– Brittany Nelson

Loyola drivers face closer scrutiny with traffic cameras

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is working on getting more traffic cameras installed all over the city. Loyola University Chicago Students must take caution on their commute along Lake Shore Drive.

Here’s the story from the Chicago Tribune:

Nearly half the city would fall into so-called safety zones where speed cameras sought by Mayor Rahm Emanuel could flag fast drivers for $100 tickets, according to a Tribune analysis of camera legislation in Springfield.

Emanuel has framed his plan in narrow terms, pitching it as a way to leverage technology to better protect children near schools and parks. But bills introduced at the mayor’s behest and being weighed this week by lawmakers would give him authority to use automated devices to nab speeders across a broad swath of city streets.

The measures, one sponsored by Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, and the other by House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, would render about 47 percent of the city eligible for speed camera surveillance, the analysis found. As originally introduced last week, Madigan’s bill would have covered about 75 percent of the city, but he promised Tuesday to scale it back.

Even the 47 percent coverage projection is likely conservative. The newspaper analysis, using the bills as guides, measured the extent of camera-eligible zones surrounding parks and schools but did not include zones that would also be created around colleges and universities.

What’s more, the Tribune’s calculation includes the massive O’Hare International Airport and Lake Calumet regions, even though they have few publicly accessible roads — eliminating them would make the percentage higher. On the flip side, the calculation includes Lake Shore Drive and Chicago expressways, even though lawmakers say speed cameras would not be allowed there.

-Loyola Student Dispatch post By Eliot Somen

Attack at Sullivan High School captured on video

Two female students have been suspended from Sullivan High School in Rogers Park after a they allegedly beat another girl in an attack captured on video.

ABC-7  broadcast the video this week. Click here to view video:


Here is a portion of the ABC-7 story:

A Rogers Park classroom fight was caught on cell phone camera, and now two of the students involved face charges.

Two girls attacked another girl at Roger C. Sullivan High School on the Far North Side.

The fight happened last Thursday during a biology class. Two 17- and 18-year-old sisters are now charged in the attack.

At one point the victim’s head may have been slammed on the table. The victim suffered cuts and bruises.

In a statement, Chicago Public Schools says it does not tolerate violence in any way.

The two students involved have been suspended from school with further discipline pending. Some students reportedly say fights like this occur all the time.

Mayor Emanuel curbs plan for tolls on Lake Shore Drive

Loyola University Chicago  shuttle bus drivers: put away your coins.

A proposal to install city tolls along Lake Shore Drive has been shot down by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Here’s the story from the Chicago Sun-Times:

Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday ruled out installing toll booths on Lake Shore Drive or raising sales or income taxes — even as aldermen warmed to the concept of a 1 percent commuter tax on suburbanites who work in Chicago.

Those ideas — and dozens of others — are part of the $3 billion roadmap to financial stability outlined by Inspector General Joe Ferguson earlier in the week.

Emanuel has vowed to erase the city’s $635.7 million shortfall without raising taxes, cutting police officers or using one-time revenues. In spite of that promise and his strained relationship with Ferguson, the mayor did not dismiss the inspector general’s recommendations out of hand.

“There are a number of reforms and efficiencies … that are promising, some of which we have already implemented and some, we will give serious consideration,” the mayor said in a statement.

However, “as I have said from the beginning, raising property taxes, income taxes or the sales tax is off the table. Asking drivers on Lake Shore Drive to pay a toll is also a non-starter,” said the mayor, who campaigned on a promise to apply the sales tax to an array of services not now covered.

While the mayor is ruling out tax increases for the time being, Chicago aldermen are not. They’re particularly intrigued by the $300 million-a-year commuter tax, which would essentially be a 1 percent income tax on suburbanites who work in Chicago.

“I look at it as a user tax. … People who live outside the city and work in the city utilize our streets, our transportation systems. They’re in Chicago. They’re out of Chicago. Perhaps, there’s a price to be put on that,” said Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd).

Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) added, “Membership has its privileges. … A lot of people come in the city. A lot of people outside do business with the city and we don’t recoup those dollars.”

Ald. Pat O’Connor (40th), Emanuel’s City Council floor leader, was even open to a 1 percent city income tax on Chicagoans, provided it was part of a tax swap that reduced other levies.

“In theory, it’s probably a more fair type of tax than a lot of taxes we have. It’s based on an ability to pay as opposed to just a flat rate. [But] there would have to be some indication for taxpayers that this was an exchange,” O’Connor said.

“Would you roll back property taxes? Would you try and cap them in some way? …You couldn’t say we’re gonna do an income tax on top of the structure we currently have. People are not at a point where they can accept huge new taxes or taxes that might go in small and kind of wedge the door open and become huge down the road.”

Earlier this week, Ferguson served up a tantalizing, menu of 63 cost-cutting and revenue-raising ideas.

Some of them play right into Emanuel’s hands — like saving $190 million by eliminating supervisory personnel, 707 of them in the Chicago Fire Department, where there are 3.58 supervisors for every rank-and-file employee and 309 in the Police Department, where the current ratio is 8 to 1.

“If those figures are correct and if those folks just supervise and don’t have other duties, he may be on to something,” O’Connor said.

“Historically over the last many years, we have not looked tremendously hard at the police and fire budget to realize savings. They’ve kind of been the sacred cow. The idea of trying to go in there and find savings is appealing to everybody. He’s going in the direction that the administration has already been going in.”

The same could be said for Ferguson’s proposal to either privatize both recycling and garbage collection to save $165 million or keep it in-house, but switch to a grid system (saving $46.7 million) and reduce to one the number of laborers on a truck (saving $19.4 million).

“Garbage has been in the crosshairs of this administration since they got here. We’ve been attacking absenteeism. We’ve been talking about doing a grid system. We’ve been talking about trying to privatize a portion of it,” O’Connor said.

Dowell is one of many aldermen who remain dead set against a grid system for fear it would deprive them of their ability to respond to special requests for housekeeping services. In other words, O’Connor has his work cut out trying to sell it.

“You’d have to show me how all of the vacant lots I have are gonna be taken care of — my commercial corridors, the constant dumping of construction debris — how that gets addressed,” she said.

“I definitely would need to have the Streets and San crew have some kind of flexibility in being able to respond to emergencies in the ward.”

-Ashton Mitchell

Chicago mulls adding tolls to Lake Shore Drive

Could L oyola University Chicago shuttle drivers be faced with paying a toll to get students to and from the Water Tower and Lake Shore Campuses?

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is toying with the idea.

Here’s the story from the Chicago Sun-Times:

Chicago’s inspector general is offering Mayor Rahm Emanuel a $3 billion roadmap to financial stability that includes everything from a city income tax, commuter tax and tolls on Lake Shore Drive to privatizing garbage collection and converting 20 percent of all fire suppression apparatus to ambulances.

Last year, Inspector General Joe Ferguson rocked the boat with a $247.3 million menu of cost-cutting options that called for the city to fire 595 firefighters, 161 laborers and 75 downtown traffic control aides, impose a recycling fee and snatch away subsidies for senior citizens, condominium owners and non-profits.

This year’s version makes the earlier blueprint look like child’s play.

Although Emanuel has emphatically ruled out higher taxes, Ferguson is serving up 19 revenue generating ideas with tantalizing earning potential of $2.3 billion-a-year.

Chicago could raise $500 million-a-year by imposing a one percent city income tax, following New York City’s lead, the inspector general said.

A one percent commuter tax would have an annual take of $300 million. Resurrecting Emanuel’s controversial campaign promise to broaden the sales tax to an array of services not now covered — branded the “Rahm tax” by rivals — could yield $450 million.

Imposing a $5, London-style congestion fee on vehicles entering the city’s Central Business District during the morning and evening rush periods could raise $375 million, even after a 20 percent reduction in traffic to 400,000 vehicles-a-day.

Installing toll booths on Lake Shore Drive—and charging the average vehicle $2.50 — could raise $87.5 million, even after hefty capital costs.

The inspector general’s revenue menu also includes: raising water and sewer rates to the national average ($380 million); imposing a “pay-as-you-throw” garbage collection fee ($125 million); broadening the amusement tax ($105 million); and imposing a transaction tax on the major exchanges ($37 million) and imposing a blue cart recycling fee ($18 million).

Although Emanuel wants to reform, but keep tax-increment-financing districts, Ferguson says the city could save $100 million by eliminating all 160-plus TIF’s.

The list also includes eliminating free sewer service for senior citizens ($17 million); turning off the free water spigot for hospitals and non-profits ($15.2 million) and doubling ambulance fees ($13.2 million).

The $660 million in spending cuts are also politically-explosive.

The inspector general is tossing out the idea of merging the city and Chicago Park District to save $5 million.

In the Chicago Fire Department, where Emanuel has demanded a 20 percent cut, Ferguson is playing with fire by proposing that 20 percent of fire suppression apparatus be converted to ambulances to cut annual costs by $41.5 million.

To save $57 million-a-year, the inspector general is resurrecting his proposal to reduce — from five employees to four — the minimum required to staff every piece of fire apparatus. That’s the issue that touched off the bitter 1980 firefighters strike.

Ferguson also wants to disband the police marine and helicopter units ($6.2 million), eliminate quarterly pay for supervisors ($9.6 million) and get rid of duty availability pay that essentially compensates police officers and firefighters for being on call at all times ($52 million).

The inspector general wants to save $190 million by eliminating redundant layers of supervisory personnel, 707 of them in the Fire Department, where there are 3.58 supervisors for every rank-and-file employee and 309 in the Police Department, where the current ratio if 8-to-1.

Next week, Emanuel is scheduled to launch a ground-breaking “managed competition” between city crews and private recycling contractors.

But, that didn’t stop Ferguson from resurrecting his proposal to have the city choose between privatizing both recycling and garbage collection to save $165 million and keeping it in-house, but switching to a grid system ($46.7 million) and reducing to one the number of laborers on a truck ($19.4 million). He also wants to switch all employees to a 40-hour work week ($40 million) and eliminate the jobs of 200 motor truck drivers who do little more than transport city crews to job sites and wait for them to finish the job. The driver cuts would save $19 million.

Last year, Ferguson’s budget ideas were shot down right out of the box.

Aldermen were so incensed by the suggestions, they summoned city department heads to denounce the proposals as irresponsible.

Then-Budget Director Eugene Munin went so far as to suggest that Ferguson’s ideas could “put public safety at risk” and force nearly $90 million in new fees.

This time, the political climate is dramatically different and so is the reception.

“Pretty radical stuff, but everything should be on the table. Nothing should be dismissed out of hand,” said Ald. Joe Moore (49th).

“Some of it would prove to be politically challenging, however we’re running out of ideas. Everyone is saying next year’s budget is gonna be worse than this year’s. Thing that may have appeared politically impossible a few years ago may now be something we have no choice but to do.”

Emanuel has promised to erase the city’s $635.7 million shortfall without raising taxes, cutting police officers or using one-time or casino revenues. He has vowed to entertain any and all ideas that meet those criteria.

The question now is whether the mayor is open to suggestions from an inspector general with whom he has a strained relationship.

“There are serious fiscal challenges ahead, and we welcome any and all ideas that will protect Chicago’s taxpayers,” said Chris Mather, the mayor’s communications director.

This article puts in perspective how some aldermen “laughed off” the toll proposal.

– Eliot Somen

Phil Ponce hosts forum on Rahm Emanuel tonight at Loyola

Phil Ponce
Inside Loyola featured tonight’s Phil Ponce forum in a front page story. Here is the story:

Phil Ponce, anchor on WTTW’s Chicago Tonight, and a panel of local journalists will critique Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s first days in office at Rating Rahm: The Media Assesses Mayor Emanuel, a forum occurring Tuesday, September 13, 6-7 p.m., at Loyola’s Water Tower Campus.

The panelists are:

  • Carol Marin, reporter at NBC 5 and Chicago Tonight
  • Charles Thomas, political reporter at ABC 7
  • Kristen Mack, City Hall reporter for the Chicago Tribune
  • Laura Washington, columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times
  • Mick Dumke, who covers City Hall for the Chicago Reader

The panelists will discuss how Emanuel has performed in office and evaluate how he’s addressed issues such as layoffs, the city’s budget deficit, crime, and the Chicago Public Schools. The panel is comprised of journalists whose “beats” primarily include Chicago politics, especially covering Emanuel’s numerous press conferences and public appearances.

“Reporters are the ones monitoring, on behalf of the public, what’s happening happening day to day,” Don Heider, dean of the School of Communication, says. “Most citizens do not have time or any inclination [to keep up,] so we depend on them to pay attention” and act as a watchdog.

Loyola’s School of Communication has made a tradition of hosting an annual fall forum that features high-profile panelists discussing a timely political issue. Ponce, a distinguished professional in residence at Loyola’s SOC, coordinates the event each year with the help of John Slania, program director of journalism. Ponce selects the panelists, consistently choosing people who foster a lively discussion. Last year, journalists and political commentators provided a midterm assessment of Barack Obama’s presidency.

Heider insists Ponce always brings “the best of the best in Chicago” to campus for the annual event.

Rating Rahm: The Media Assesses Mayor Emanuel will begin at 6 p.m. in Kasbeer Hall, on the 15th Floor of Corboy Law Center, 25 E. Pearson Street. The event is free and open to the public. Complimentary food and refreshments will be served.

Emanuel talks transparency, schools during visit to Loyola

By Jessica Reynolds for Inside Loyola 

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel discussed the successes and ongoing battles of his first 100 days in office during the Better Government Association’s LiveStream at Lunchtime held at Loyola’s Water Tower Campus on Wednesday afternoon.

Photo courtesy of Mark Beane

During the nearly hour-long event, Emanuel insisted, ”The change I’m trying to bring is that the city taxpayers are in the front seat, not the city payroll.”

When asked about the privatization of services, Emanuel said he wants private firms and city workers to “competitively bid” for city contracts.

“I believe the city workers can win,” he added. “They have to come in at good value price.”

Emanuel explained that the bidding process for city contracts will occur online through “reverse auctions,” which put companies in competition to work for the lowest price.

Emanuel also touted the increase in transparency he has brought to city government, specifically mentioning that the salaries and financial disclosure forms of city employees are now available online.

A key part of transparency is allowing Chicagoans to feel connected to what’s happening in city government, Emanuel urged. He explained that Chicagoans have used Twitter and Facebook to voice various problems to city government offices.

“Technology is a tool of empowerment. . . so people do not feel powerless to a nameless, faceless bureaucracy,” he added.

Andy Shaw, president and CEO of the Better Government Association, interviewed Emanuel during the event, which took place in the School of Communication’s convergence studio at 51 E. Pearson St.

Shaw questioned Emanuel about the proposed property tax hike for Chicago Public Schools, which, if implemented, would increase the annual tax bills of Chicago homeowners by 2.4 percent. Shaw specifically asked Emanuel why he would raise taxes before tapping into the $868 million of unallocated tax increment financing (TIF) funds.

Emanuel defended his stance by explaining that the school system has already cut $400 million in spending by making major changes and consolidations, and he warned, “they’re not done.”

Emanuel rejected the notion that the unallocated TIF dollars could help solve the financial problems of Chicago Public Schools, including their $712 million budget gap.

“The TIFs are a one-time thing. They don’t solve the problem. They don’t yield reform. Next year, we’d be back at it like ground hog day,” he said.

Emanuel called for a longer school day, an idea he has emphatically supported since the mayoral campaign. He said he will work to give Chicago youth a chance to further their educations and compete in the workforce.

“For too long, this system was about the adults and not the children,” he declared when saying he would not back down from his negotiations with teachers and principals concerning the expansion of the school day.

To learn more about the event’s sponsor, the Better Government Association, visit their website at www.bettergov.org.

Rahm Emanuel to appear live at Loyola TV studio

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel will be appearing live at Loyola University Chicago’s School of Communication studio to conduct a live interview with the Better Government Association.

The BGA’s Andy Shaw will conduct the live lunchtime interview on Wednesday, August 17 in the downtown studio at 51 E. Pearson Street.

The interview will be streamed live from 12:15-1 p.m. at www.bettergov.org.

The event is not open to the public, but Loyola journalism students are being asked to submit written questions for the interview.

For more information, visit the Loyola School of Communication or the Better Government Association website.

Loyola students among faithful at Cubs Opening Day

By Caitlin Botsios

Despite the rain, thousands of Chicago Cubs fans brought out their red and blue and headed to Wrigley Field to kick off the 2011 baseball season. And Loyola University Chicago students were among the faithful.

Around 5 a.m., fans began to line up outside the stadium and bars began to fill the minute their doors open.

Kara Kwiatkowski a junior Biology major at Loyola attended the game and had lots to say on her experience inside and outside of the stadium.

Upon arrival at the Addison Red Line stop and after a speech from the train conductor concluding with a “Go Cubs!”, Kwiatkowski said, “Masses of people poured off the train and formed into a sea of blue. The scene on the streets was just as incredible.”

After fighting through the crowds on the street Kwiatkowski was able to enter the game. She said, ” [At the game] The rain was there to test the true fans. I was amazed to see the fans sitting in uncovered seats last through the entire game of constant rain. I heard people walking by say they were freezing, but they went and bought another hot dog and beer and returned to their seats like troopers.”

Among the “troopers” battling the rain for Opening Day, were mayor elect Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Bear’s legend Mike Ditka.

During the game, the Cubs ran in the first points of 2011 in the 1st inning and held onto a lead until the 5th inning.

Loyal Cubs fan and Loyola Biology junior Daniel Biggs said, “When they were up 2-0 in the 4th, I figured it was an April fool’s joke. Sure enough, they let the lead go.”

While the Cubs lost 6-3 to the Pittsburgh Pirates, after the game, the thousands poured onto the streets and headed to bars to continue the celebration of the first day of baseball.

[Video – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zejqmAezi6M%5D

Students who were unable to attend the game still voiced their excitement about Opening Day. Loyola Psychology junior Akshar Patel said, “Opening day of baseball is unrivaled by the opening day of any other sport. What better to do on a lazy afternoon but kick back, have a few cold ones and watch America’s greatest pastime!”

Scott Salhanick, a senior International Film and Media Studies major said, “I love opening day because every year the Chicago media puts these ridiculous expectations on the Cubs, and to see them inevitably crash and burn every season, that is something special.”

For some though, it doesn’t matter if the Cubs win or lose. As Patel said, “Regardless the outcome [of the game], I will bleed that Cubbie blue through thick and thin.”