city budget – Chicago Newstips by Community Media Workshop http://www.newstips.org Chicago Community Stories Mon, 08 Jan 2018 18:45:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.4.14 Will Emanuel back privatization transparency measure? http://www.newstips.org/2013/04/will-emanuel-back-privatization-transparency-measure/ Tue, 09 Apr 2013 23:09:05 +0000 http://www.newstips.org/?p=7103 Community and public interest groups are calling on Mayor Emanuel to support a privatization transparency ordinance that is expected to be considered by the City Council Rules Committee on Wednesday.

The Privatization Transparency and Accountability Ordinance, submitted last November by Alderman Roderick Sawyer (7th) and sponsored by 32 aldermen, would require a cost-effectiveness study and public hearings when the city seeks to contract out services and operations.

Along with a cost-effectiveness study prior to the award of any contract, Sawyer’s ordinance would require a study of possible alternatives in collaboration with unions representing city workers whose jobs could be threatened.  City workers would also be qualified to bid on contracts through their unions.

Noting concerns over unemployment, wage levels and workforce diversity, the ordinance would require that at least half of contract work be performed by city residents, and that contractors pay wages and benefits comparable to what city workers get for the same work.  It would mandate City Council hearings and approval of contracts over $250,000.

“I have a concern about touting a monetary savings if we haven’t thought about the people that will lose a job, the families that could lose a home and the local businesses that could lose a loyal customer,” Sawyer said when he introduced the ordinance.

“If we gut the foundation of our most stable communities by moving jobs to companies that do not have a residency requirement, does the money saved on the budget make up for the money lost in property tax and sales tax revenue? Is there consideration of possible collateral costs of neighborhood destabilization and loss of property values?”

In a letter to Emanuel, the groups backing Sawyer’s ordinance note the $200-million lawsuit against the city based on a non-compete clause in the parking meter privatization deal signed by Mayor Daley in 2008.  Daley now works for the law firm that negotiated the deal.

The process of privatization “must take place in the open from beginning to end,” the groups write.  “The public should be aware of every step that is taken in pursuing a privatization proposal — from the initial hiring of a consultant to the selection of a winning bidder.”

“Given Mayor Emanuel’s repeated statements that he is committed to transparency and accountability in City government and privatization deals, we think this should be an easy commitment for him to make,” said Hailey Golds of Illinois PIRG, one of the groups backing the ordinance.

Other groups signing the letter include the Chatham Business Council, Horner Park Advisory Council, West Loop Community Organization, Rogers Park Community Organization, Wicker Park Committee, and Wrightwood Neighbors Association.

 

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Patients ‘disappeared’ in mental health closings http://www.newstips.org/2012/10/patients-disappeared-in-mental-health-clinic-closings/ http://www.newstips.org/2012/10/patients-disappeared-in-mental-health-clinic-closings/#comments Wed, 31 Oct 2012 23:17:59 +0000 http://www.newstips.org/?p=6735 Last year’s closing of six of the city’s twelve mental health clinics – for a reported savings of just $3 million – was “characterized by poor planning, mismanagement, inaccurate information, and profound insensitivity to clients,” according to a new report from the Mental Health Movement and AFSCME Council 31.

That meant a rocky transition for many clients, while the Chicago Department of Public Health seems to have lost track of as many as two thousand clients whose transition it had pledged to monitor.

According to the report, “Abandoning the Most Vulnerable,” the city listed 5,337 clients in October 2011 when the clinic closings were announced, but its report on the transition this July gave the total as 2,798.

Asked about this, the city told researchers that a March review found only 3,282 “active” cases.  The difference includes clients who weren’t currently seeing a therapist but expected to be able to if necessary – and in any case, between March and July, nearly 500 clients “disappeared” entirely, according to the report.

One problem was that therapists who were being transferred from closing clinics weren’t informed of their new assignments until the very last minute, making it impossible to keep their clients in the loop, said Jo Patton of AFSCME.

The failure to monitor all the city’s clients “represents a signficant lapse at the top echelons” of CDPH, while “the attempt to cover up that failure by simply revising the total number of clients raises serious ethical concerns,” the report charges.

No comprehensive effort

“There was not a comprehensive effort to reach each client and provide them with the information they needed to continue to receive services,” according to the report.

Nor was the transition smooth – as shown by a spike in the rate of psychiatric hospitalizations of CDPH clients in April, the year of the closing. In that month, hospitalizations were nearly twice as high as the average over the previous year and a half.

There were other problems, according to the report.  Two private agencies to which clients were referred closed their doors in the two months following the closings.  Only 43 percent of clients transferred to private agencies were reported by CDPH as receiving services from them.

Meanwhile, with half of CDPH therapists laid off but 85 percent of clients continuing to attend the remaining clinics, caseloads and waiting times increased dramatically.

This all takes place at a time when national and state surveys have revealed increasing demand for mental health services and huge gaps in the capacity to provide services.

Needs assessment

The report calls for reopening the six clinics closed in April and adequately staffing the remaining six clinics, rehiring African-American and bilingual therapists to ensure culturally competent care, and implementing an outreach program to let people in need know about CDPH services.

At a budget hearing held by the Progressive Caucus of the City Council in South Shore on Tuesday, mental health advocate Badonna Reingold said she’s “very, very concerned about  a dramatic turnback of care for people with mental illness” on the part of the state and the city.

While the city has promised to provide care for people without insurance, it is only planning for 2,000 clients, she said, at a time when and increased unemployment and violence are certainly adding stress to the lives of many more people.

She called on the City Council’s health committee to hold a hearing and sponsor a full-scale needs assessment.

Margaret Sullivan of the Mental Health Movement criticized the aldermen for voting for last year’s budget after 28 council members signed a letter opposing the mental health cuts.

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Public left out of Emanuel’s budget http://www.newstips.org/2012/10/public-left-out-of-emanuels-budget/ http://www.newstips.org/2012/10/public-left-out-of-emanuels-budget/#comments Fri, 05 Oct 2012 00:02:17 +0000 http://www.newstips.org/?p=6681 A Sun-Times headline from last August may be the crux of the matter:  “Rahm hears boos at budget chat.”

Rahm will hear no boos this year.

With virtually no notice from the media, Mayor Emanuel has sharply reduced public participation in the city’s budget process and completely eliminated public information about his budget proposal.

For over 30 years, the city has held open public hearings on the mayor’s proposed budget.  Emanuel has ended that, substituting closed sessions with specially-selected groups.

And while Mayor Daley always released his draft budget in August, Emanuel has released nothing – not even the standard update on expenses and revenues for the second quarter of the year.

On Wednesday, a delegation representing dozens of community and labor groups delivered an open letter to Emanuel calling on him to “release a proposed budget immediately and schedule public town hall meetings to ensure that our communities are involved in all steps of [the budgeting] process.”

“The Mayor’s shift away from community participation is not only a dramatic break with precedent, but also directly contradicts his campaign promise to create ‘the most open, accountable and transparent government that the city of Chicago has ever seen,'” said Elizabeth Parisian of Stand Up Chicago, one of the groups signing the letter.

“I didn’t think anybody could be more closed-door than Daley, but lo and behold, Rahm’s done it,” said Jerry Morrison of SEIU Local 1.  He believes Chicago is now “the only large city in America that has no public process for its budget.”

“Rahm is good on transparency in terms of putting things on the internet,” commented Dick Simpson, a former independent alderman now at UIC.  “He’s not so good on community participation and democracy.”

***

Mayor Harold Washington initiated town hall budget meetings with the 1984 city budget.  “It was very, very important to him,” recalls Alton Miller, Washington’s press secretary and author of “Harold Washington: The Mayor, The Man,” who’s now at Columbia College.  “He filled his administration with people who had spent many years working on issues from the outside, banging on the doors of City Hall, and he said, let’s do it right.

“It was important to him that when budgets were being decided, it wasn’t just an inside deal with a few people at the table but was genuinely informed by what people in the neighborhoods said they needed,” Miller said.  “And the best way to get that was with open town hall meetings where anybody could ask a question or raise an objection or take issue with any of the proposals.”

It was remarkable to witness: any resident could ask anything and get a concrete, substantive answer from the city’s top decision-makers.

And according to Miller, the feedback from the town halls “was funneled into the actual writing of the budgets.”

Daley continued the town halls, though they were pro-forma: his draft budget was never significantly revised, and instead of getting an answer from the commissioners sitting up front, residents with questions or problems would get to confer with an aide off to the side.  Nonetheless, any taxpayer in the city could come and speak his or her mind to the administration, and many did.

“Say this for Daley – he took what came his way,” commented Ben Joravsky.

***

That all changed with Emanuel’s first budget.  The new mayor seemed to prefer a talk-show format.  He’s “going Oprah,” as Joravsky put it.  “It was the Rahm Emanuel Show,” said Amisha Patel of the Grassroots Collaborative.

It was tightly controlled, too.  At a town hall at Kennedy King College last August, Emanuel sat on a raised stage with City Colleges Chancellor Cheryl Hyman, his commissioners filling the first rows of the studio audience.  Rahm did most of the talking.  Hyman read questions from cards that had been filled out by audience members, who were invited to stand while their question was asked and answered.

That’s where the problems started.  Some people weren’t satisfied with the mayoral talking points and tried to engage in a discussion.

“That’s when some of our members got to make some points,” said Patel.  “And that’s when Emanuel couldn’t control it.  And he can’t deal with that, so he’s not going to have any more hearings.”

“Rahm doesn’t like to be questioned,” said Morrison.  “Of course he’s smarter than anybody else.  And clearly he decided he’s not going to have any more of that.”

The small private meetings with friendly groups featured this year are an attempt to give the impression of a public process in a setting he controls, said Simpson.

Press notices for the meetings say “B-roll only,” which means no sound.  They’re essentially photo ops.

Patel said Grassroots Collaborative is encouraging aldermen to hold their own budget hearings.  One problem, of course, is that the budget hasn’t been released yet.

***

Daley released complete line-item draft budgets every August, and civic groups and unions representing city workers could go over them line by line, job by job, and ward by ward, said Don Wiener, a budget analyst who consults for labor groups.

By the time the City Council held budget hearings in October – a two-week process in which each department head submitted to extensive questioning – aldermen were well-versed in the concerns of their constituents.  “There was plenty of opportunity to ask question and suggest changes – and sometime Daley’s people would agree to make changes,” Wiener said.

This year Emanuel is presumably releasing his budget with his October 8 budget address, and the City Council is set to start hearings less than a week later.  It reminds Morrison of the notorious parking meter deal, when aldermen were barely given time to read the contract.

Morrison notes Emanuel has scheduled a special council session at the end of October, and fears he’ll try to ram his budget through then, when most attention — and activism — will be focused on the presidential election.

On top of that, Emanuel’s administration has yet to release budget numbers for the second quarter of this year, which ended three months ago.  “Rahm wants government to be run like the private sector,” said Wiener.  “Well, any publicly-traded corporation issues an earnings report within four or five weeks after the end of the quarter.”

Since Emanuel discussed increased revenues a week ago, “we know the city has the numbers,” said Wiener.  “We know the rating agencies are getting that information, and the financial institutions.”  It looks like the Inspector General, which has offered a menu of budget fixes, is in the loop.

“Everyone knows what Chicago’s budget is — except the citizens of Chicago.”

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Sheriff Dart to speak on impact of clinic closings http://www.newstips.org/2012/09/sheriff-dart-to-speak-on-impact-of-clinic-closings/ http://www.newstips.org/2012/09/sheriff-dart-to-speak-on-impact-of-clinic-closings/#comments Tue, 04 Sep 2012 22:28:14 +0000 http://www.newstips.org/?p=6597 Sheriff Tom Dart’s warning last year that closing the city’s mental health clinics would add to the burden of the Cook County Jail is coming true, according to the Mental Health Movement.

Joined by mental health professionals and consumers, Dart will discuss the impact of the clinic closings on the jail — including people who could avoid incarceration if they had access to mental health services — at a forum on Wednesday, September 5, at 6:30 p.m. at Episcopal Church Nuestra Senora, 2610 N. Francisco.

Dart will be joined by Crystal Colon of Iraq Veterans Against the War and psychologist Rebecca Paz-Ford of Lurie Children’s Hospital and Northwestern University.  According to MHM, psychiatric hospitalizations doubled in April, after half of the city’s clinics were closed.

In addition, former clinic patients will talk about the devastating impact the closings had on their lives, including people suffering severe anxiety who are unable to make the long trek to clinics to which they were transferred.

Two nonprofit mental health agencies – which were supposed to pick up the slack when six city clinics were closed this spring – have gone out of business since the clinic closings, in part due to cuts in state funding, according to Matt Ginsburg-Jaeckle of MHM.   Hundreds of patients from the South Side’s Community Mental Health Closing, which closed in July, are flooding the city’s Englewood clinic, he said.

In response, the city is said to be considering opening two additional lightly-staffed “satellite clinics,” he said, though rehiring laid-off staff is not planned.  A city promise to keep the Woodlawn clinic open as an “outpost” has not materialized, he said.

MHM activists arrested when they occupied the Woodlawn clinic in April are slated to go to trial on trespassing charges on October 15.

MHM is pushing to get full funding for the clinics restored to the city’s budget.  The group is also highlighting “the multiple ways people are denied access to services,” including a shortage of social workers and psychologists in CPS schools for students traumatized by violence, and long waiting lists at the Veterans Administration, Ginsburg-Jaeckle said.

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Chicago infrastructure trust – and water privatization? http://www.newstips.org/2012/08/chicago-infrastructure-trust-and-water-privatization/ http://www.newstips.org/2012/08/chicago-infrastructure-trust-and-water-privatization/#comments Mon, 27 Aug 2012 20:59:56 +0000 http://www.newstips.org/?p=6578 A new report on private equity takeovers of public infrastructure focused on privatization of water services highlights Chicago’s infrastructure trust and warns of higher costs, degraded service, and diminished accountability.

“The infrastructure trust makes us more vulnerable to a public-private partnership” either to finance water system repairs and upgrades or for an operation-and-maintenance contract, said Emily Carroll of Food and Water Watch, which released the report.  “Taxpayers should be wary of getting a raw deal,” she said.

Mayor Emanuel has said he opposes the sale of Chicago’s water system, but the infrastructure trust is set up specifically to foster public-private partnerships, which Food and Water Watch considers a form of privatization, Carroll said.  In so-called P3s, public control over infrastructure is lost and ratepayers are on the hook for private financing costs, she said.

She points to the experience of Atlanta, which canceled a contract with a private corporation for water system operation in 2002 after huge problems with repairs, including emergency responses, and inflated charges for work done.  When only half the promised savings were realized and revenues fell short, the city requested the company’s billing records and was refused, according to FWW.

Water rates

And while Emanuel recently raised water rates to pay for repairs and upgrades, he could later come back and say more money is needed – and the higher rates would make the system more attractive to private investors, Carroll said.

In investment industry surveys, water systems are rated among the most desirable kinds of infrastructure, according to the report.  One of the Chicago trust’s participants, Macquairie Infrastructure and Real Assets, spent $578 million to purchase a private water company in 2007 – the largest private equity water service deal listed by FWW.

The report cites a trade publication describing Chicago’s $1 billion infrastructure trust as “an industry-backed deal to establish PPPs as a politically and financially viable business.”

Currently “private equity vehicles are armed with over $100 billion” seeking highly profitable investments in public infrastructure around the world, in an attempt “to exploit the lagging recovery of the public sector,” according to the report.

About Chicago it says:  “The city’s primary motivation appeared to be the desire to take debt off city books to give the illusion of reducing its liabilities.  ‘We have a tool here that takes some of the pressure off taxpayers,’ Emanuel claimed.  ‘Use somebody else’s money for a change, rather than theirs.’

“In the real world, however, banks do not provide free lunches.  Chicago will have to repay the private capital investment with interest through user fees.

“The city’s chief financial officer admitted that private investment could be more expensive than traditional government borrowing.  Nevertheless, the City Council signed off on Emanuel’s plan.”

Higher costs

In fact, private equity financing is “much more expensive than government borrowing,” according to FWW.  “Private equity players have targeted annual returns of at least 12-15 percent.”

While the financial industry encourages governments “to use privatization as a ‘mega-credit card’ to finance infrastructure projects,” FWW cites a report by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants: “Just as with a credit card, the interest rates have been relatively high, and at some point the debts have to be paid off.”

In the UK, a parliamentary commission found that private investors in infrastructure projects were making “excessively high returns” and concluded the private finance model was “inappropriate” for public works projects, according to the report.

While surveying water privatization issues around the country, the report raises more general concerns about private equity financing that could be relevant to Chicago’s experiment:

— Private equity investments in public infrastructure tend to be highly leveraged, adding risk and long-term borrowing costs, and private equity players “usually flip assets within a decade” to cash in on deals.

— Financial consultants for cities come from investment firms and have potential conflicts of interest.  The general use of “success-based” fees based on a percentage of the transaction deal gives consultants “a strong financial incentive to recommend the biggest deal possible,” even if it is “a terrible deal for the community.”

— Often public-private deals allow investors to renegotiate terms after a bid is chosen, so they will initially low-ball estimates.  Costs and profits can later be boosted with pessimistic financial projections and other devices.

— Private investors tend to overbuild or “gold plate” infrastructure projects in order to increase profits.

FWW was particularly concerned with the fact that Chicago’s infrastructure trust is set up as a nonprofit rather than a public entity, legally exempting it from open meetings and freedom of information requirements, Carroll said.

 

Related:

Chicago water for sale?

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Austerity in Chicago http://www.newstips.org/2012/05/austerity-in-chicago/ Thu, 17 May 2012 23:19:55 +0000 http://www.newstips.org/?p=6209 As European voters increasingly reject the austerity program, community leaders here are proposing alternatives to Mayor Emanuel’s agenda of spending cuts and privatization– an approach they say hurts working families and stifles economic recovery.

“We are saying there are ways of looking at budget- and policy-making other than just cut, cut, cut,” said Michael Bennett, a sociology professor at DePaul University, one of the coordinators of a group of local activists and scholars meeting this weekend to develop a local public policy agenda “that gives priority to social justice, balanced community development, and responsible fiscal management.”

The Chicago Equity and Fiscal Policy Initiative will release working papers on the city budget, schools, community and the environment, and economic development and jobs, at a gathering with the theme Act Locally Chicago this Saturday, May 19, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Erie Neighborhood House, 1347 W. Erie.

“We have to focus just as much on neighborhoods as we do on downtown,” Bennett said. “It has not been balanced.”

The working papers and policy recommendations are aimed at starting a conversation, he said. One of their goals is to maintain public services that are threatened by privatization. They’ll talk about reallocating existing resources more fairly, and about longer-term solutions to raise revenues more sustainably.

Devastating

Their initiative reflects concerns that are widespread among community organizations.

“What’s happening under Mayor Emanuel is a microcosm of what’s happening around the world,” said Amisha Patel of the Grassroots Collaborative, a citywide coalition of labor and community organizations.

“Politicians are pushing austerity, saying the government has to cut spending, but it’s really devastating to the local economy and to people’s lives,” she said. “It’s the worst thing we can do in economically challenging times. For the economy to have a chance we have to invest in the public sector and public services.

“When you cut resources going to low-income families, you hurt the people who put money back into the economy most directly, she said. “And you end up paying through the back end: when you cut mental health services, it costs you more in hospitalizations, in incarceration.”

The city continues to “move resources out of the neighborhoods and into downtown,” she said, pointing to a $29-million city subsidy for a new office building in the West Loop announced this week.

Regressive

Emanuel has cut taxes on corporations (where profit levels are at record highs) while “focusing on revenue generation that saps working families – quadrupling water fees, installing speed cameras, higher fees and fines,” she said. “We’ve got to have revenue solutions that don’t hurt working families.”

Chicago’s fiscal crisis is compounded by several factors, said Ron Baiman of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability. Locked in political stalemate, the federal government is cutting domestic spending, and the state’s budget crisis is exacerbated by a constitutional provision mandating a flat-rate income tax. (On top of that, Illinois is one of the top states for corporate subsidies.)

The basic problem is that the tax burden is concentrated on the people who have been hurt most badly in the recession, he said.

In addition, the majority of income earned in the city goes to people who pay taxes in the suburbs – an estimated 620,000 commuters earn $30 billion a year. Emanuel is phasing out the corporate head tax, a modest per-employee charge for large companies, which was the only mechanism the city had for capturing some of that. Baiman said a city income tax would be the most efficient approach.

On top of that dynamic, city workforce reductions have hit black and Latino communities hardest, while city subsidies to downtown developments have mostly created jobs for suburban residents.

Baiman points out that Chicago has the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the Chicago Board of Trade, and the Chicago Options Exchange – and that a tiny financial transaction tax could raise huge amounts of money for the city.

“The only real answer is taxing the wealthy and the financial sector,” he said.

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What about the neighborhoods? http://www.newstips.org/2012/05/what-about-the-neighborhoods/ Wed, 16 May 2012 20:38:10 +0000 http://www.newstips.org/?p=6201 The Grassroots Collaborative is offering visiting journalists bus tours of working-class neighborhoods struggling with violence, foreclosures, and clinic closings — and they’re questioning the millions of dollars being spent on entertainment at the NATO summit.

Buses leave from the Hyatt Regency at 8:15 a.m. on Thursday and Friday, May 17 and 18, and return by 11 a.m.  Information is at thegrassrootscollaborative.org.

Thursday’s tour will cover Little Village, one of the city’s largest Latino neighborhoods, where community groups are working to address youth violence; and Back of the Yards, where one of six mental health centers recently closed by the city is located.

(The two clinics primarily serving Latino communities were closed, as were four of six South Side clinics, and half the bilingual staff was laid off, all to save $3 million.  Having been repeatedly rebuffed in attempts to hold meetings with city officials – including a City Council hearing blocked by the mayor– the Mental Health Movement is planning to march on Mayor Emanuel’s home on Saturday morning.)

Friday morning’s tour will cover Englewood, a poor African-American community hard hit by foreclosures and violence, and Brighton Park, where low-income Latino residents are developing community schools.

Grassroots Collaborative, a citywide coalition of labor and community organizations, is questioning the priorities of spending millions of dollars to host the NATO summit while the city shuts down clinics and schools, said Eric Tellez.

On another level, he said, NATO spends billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars while poverty and unemployment “devastates communities across the country” and “the global poor fall deeper into poverty.”

Party fund

Last month the coalition called on World Business Chicago, which is raising money to host NATO, to donate comparable sums to establish a Neighborhood Jobs Trust.  In recent statements, the group is focusing on the $14 million being spent on parties for the summit.

“Spending $14 million on food and wine and music just seems evil and sinful when you have kids in this neighborhood who have no place to play, when you have parents keeping their children inside after school because they’re afraid of gun violence,” said Pastor Victor Rodriguez of La Villita Church in Little Village, a leader in Enlace Chicago.

To visiting journalists he says, “I would ask them to ask somebody if it’s fair to spend $14 million on parties when organizations are looking for $600 to buy new equipment so that 120 kids can stay off the streets for a year.”

Emanuel has “cut the head tax for the corporations and then the corporations turn back around in a deal and donate to support NATO coming here,” says Charles Brown, a 43-year resident of Englewood and a leader with Action Now.  “Well the people that are going to profit from NATO coming here…it’s going to be the corporations.

“Will you treat us the way that you’re treating NATO, spend $14 million on us and put forth a program to help the people that are struggling and suffering?  So that we won’t tear down any more homes, so that we’ll start preserving them, so that the banks will start paying their fair share and giving back to the 99 percent that made all of this possible?”

“Our elected officials time and time again take the podium and pound their fists and say it’s about the kids, it’s about the kids,” said Rodriguez.  “I think that about 10 percent of that $14 million would do so much good here in our community.”

 

 
Pastor Victor Rodriguez, Enlace Chicago, Little Village:

Charles Brown, Action Now, Englewood:

Sonovia Petty, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, Austin:

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Mental health closures causing hospitalizations http://www.newstips.org/2012/04/mental-health-closures-causing-hospitalizations/ Sun, 29 Apr 2012 21:00:22 +0000 http://www.newstips.org/?p=6086 With four more mental health centers slated for closing Monday, clinic users and supporters will seek a “pardon” from President Obama tomorrow – and highlight psychiatric hospitalizations that have resulted from the closure of two clinics earlier this month.

The Mental Health Movement will march on Obama’s campaign headquarters, 130 E. Randolph, at 11 a.m., Monday, April 30, to ask for “presidential pardon” for the condemned clinics – and for the clinic users they say will die as a result of the closures.

At 5:15 p.m. on Monday, therapists from the city clinics joined by health advocate Quentin Young will hold a press conference outside the mayor’s office in City Hall to discuss the impact of the closures.

One immediate outcome has been a surge of psychiatric hospitalizations for clients of two clinics closed earlier this month.  MHM knows of 18 such hospitalizations, said organizer Matt Ginsburg-Jaeckle.

One client – who was hospitalized after attempting suicide when she lost her long-time therapist – has been released and is telling her story for a video that MHM will be releasing, Ginsburg-Jaeckle said.

The cost of such hospitalizations (averaging $13,000 each) will eat up any taxpayers savings from clinic closings, according to an MHM report issued earlier this year.

Other issues highlighted in the report include the firing of all bilingual therapists at a time when immigrant communities increasingly need mental health services; the closure of four clinics in South Side communities that have a critical shortage of mental health services; and the diminished capacity of nonprofit providers that are supposed to take up the slack.

MHM members and supporters have been occupying the lot across from the Woodlawn Mental Health Center, 63rd and Woodlawn, since 23 were arrested at a sit-in at the clinic on April 12.  The Woodlawn center is slated for closure Monday.

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