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Community organizing and the new City Council

Community organizers from across the city will meet Friday to discuss opportunities presented by new dynamics in the City Council.

Interest is so strong that registration for the Government Accountability Conference is at capacity and closed, said Brian Gladstein, director of the Developing Government Accountability to the People (DGAP) project.

“There is real excitement for this,” he said. “People are really itching to find ways to work together on progressive issues in citywide coalitions.”

In a morning panel, former Ald. Dick Simpson and Cindi Canary from the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform will analyze Chicago’s new City Council. Panels of experts and organizers will discuss the city budget; how to research campaign contributions and pursue issues of electoral reform, accountability and transparency; how to use the election cycle to push community issues; and how a human rights framework offers community activists global tools when local options have been exhausted.

In the afternoon, aldermen from the City Council’s new independent caucus — including Ricardo Munoz and Sandi Jackson — will join in a discussion of how community organizations can work with the new council.

DGAP emphasizes the connection between social justice issues and issues of democracy, accountability, and corruption. Last year the group issued a report card giving a comprehensive overview of city policies on the environment, transportation, jobs, education, criminal justice, and ethics — and grading them (from A- on environmental policies to F’s for criminal justice and ethics); report cards for aldermen covered voting records on a range of issues and campaign contributions.

Gladstein said the group plans to issue biannual report cards and use them for community and citywide organizing around specific issues.

The Government Accountability Conference takes place Friday, November 16, at Access Living, 115 W. Chicago.

For more: Brian Gladstein, DGAP, 312-663-0960 x316, briang@jcua.org

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Category: City Council, organizing

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