Note from the Alderman
This summer my office is again sponsoring a student intern from the Mikva Challenge. This summer our intern is John G. who just graduated from Whitney Young, and he is interested in politics and public policy. John will be working with us on a virtual basis, and I’m excited to spend the next few weeks working with him and other Mikva students as they bring inspiring and change making work to public service. Students serve on Mikva programs such as the Citywide Youth Council, the CPS Student Advisory Council, and the Youth Safety Advisory Council. In the past, our students have written memos to City Council on issues like policing, gun violence, language access, and provided us with input on ordinances and regulations. Chicago students also participated in the discussion and final draft of the City's Recovery Advisory Plan. You can read the Mikva students Open letter from the Mikva Challenge National Board of Directors focusing on racial justice and root cause work here.
The voice of our youth is vital to helping us move forward with a new vision for the city and country. For years, our Mikva student interns have provided us with insight to the needs of Chicago's youth, and have shown great creativity in their public service. We look forward to working with John this summer, and despite the COVID crisis, it will be a great learning experience with Mikva. You can show your support for our Chicago students and the Mikva program here.
If you are a parent of a CPS child, you should have received the letter and request to take a re-opening survey from CPS this past week. Please read the letter and give your feedback directly to CPS in the survey here. The safety and health of all of our children is a priority that requires taking all health precautions possible for any methods of teaching this fall. There are varying degrees of concern, and we have heard from many of you with different concerns and cautions. Again, I urge you to take the survey and put your concerns in writing to CPS so they can hear everyone's voice on the return to school issue.
On that note, I realize it is very difficult to maintain tight health restrictions on our schools, parks, businesses and religious institutions due to the ongoing COVID crisis. There have been 56,174 cases of COVID-19 identified in Chicago residents so far and 157,950 in Illinois. For the most current daily COVID data, please see the COVID Daily Dashboard at chi.gov/coviddash. As you know from last week’s news, the Lincoln Park community saw a huge increase in COVID cases and younger Chicagoans infection rates increased dramatically in the latest data provided by the Department of Public Health. Wearing a mask in public is vital to the safety of everyone. Take care and protect everyone by wearing a mask in public.
As many of you saw today, ComEd was charged with bribery by the US Attorney and hit with a $200 million fine for pushing jobs and other benefits to Illinois House Speaker Madigan and others. The list includes lobbyists and a former alderman. U.S. Atty John Lausch discussed the clout laden hires of ComEd, saying those people "did little to no work" for the payments by ComEd. It shows that we still have a fight no our hands digging out of the corruption that directly affects the ethics and pocketbook of our state and city.
ComEd is also in the middle of negotiations with the City of Chicago on the franchise agreement. Mayor Lightfoot is trying to negotiate deal possible for the city residents and address concerns for the environment. The ComEd agreement allows ComEd access to public property for poles, electric wires and city infrastructure. While some people would like to see ComEd be taken over by the City, I do not believe that the City could manage the system, could not benefit from this, it would cost billions to take it over not including future maintenance and personnel costs.
This week, the City Council’s Workforce Committee voted to approve the arbitration agreement between the City and the unions representing Chicago Police Sergeants, Captains, and Lieutenants (PBPA). Negotiations were underway for three years, but the issues surrounding these CBA provisions were finally resolved in a binding arbitration by Arbitrator George Roumell, according to national labor relations laws.
The arbitration agreement sets terms for the city's next contract with the Policemen's Benevolent & Protective Association (PBPA) but not the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP). The FOP contract negotiations, which could lead to arbitration as well, present the greatest opportunity for police reform. State laws that are being considered would also add to the reform agenda that would cover all departments statewide. Additionally, the community oversight board being considered in council will also put policy discussions and changes at the forefront of reforms as well. While no one piece of reforms, such as this arbitration ruling, will change the culture and structure of the Chicago Police, we have to work for the holistic set of reforms that will together to rebuild the Department.
Roumell’s ruling in the binding arbitration makes several changes that will set the tone for potential changes in the FOP contract. City attorneys used the federal consent decree, the report and testimony of citizens in the Task Force on Police Accountability, the contract changes resolution of aldermen from 2017, and the Mayor’s testimony to affect the arbitration. Read the arbitration ruling here:
• It ends the 40 year ban on anonymous complaints
• Per new state law as well, ends CPD requirement to destroy disciplinary records
• Broadens the use of disciplinary records
• Allows CPD to recognize officers who report misconduct
• Ends open ended allowance for second jobs
• Puts limit on blocking officer interrogations
• Delays disclosure of the identity of the complainant if known, i.e. in a lawsuit
The FOP contract negotiations begin soon, but will not be finalized until next year or later.
BLOOD DRIVE RESCHEDULED to JULY 31ST 10:00 AM-4PM - Thank you everyone who has signed up for the drive! Yes, even amidst the COVID pandemic there is a need for blood in hospitals. Due to maximum volume of donors, the blood drive manager decided to postpone the drive to July 31st. There will be a coach bus provided to ensure the safety of the staff and donors. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused. We will be reaching out to constituents to reschedule for the new date.
Finally, please check on your most vulnerable neighbors as the heat index rises. There are many locations throughout the City that can be used as cooling centers this summer. If you need assistance, call our office or 311 directly!
Scott Waguespack, Alderman