transition – Chicago Newstips by Community Media Workshop Chicago Community Stories Mon, 08 Jan 2018 18:45:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Ray LaHood: Peoria transit needs help! Wed, 21 Jan 2009 00:10:49 +0000 As Transportation Secretary-designate Ray LaHood prepares for his confirmation hearing tomorrow, Illinois PIRG is highlighting the budget crisis at the Greater Peoria Mass Transit District in LaHood’s home town — and the failure of the proposed economic stimulus bill to include direct assistance for local transit authorities.

Nationally, many local transit authorities are facing severe budgetary problems.  In Peoria, a $3 million shortfall could force the firing of over a third of the transit district’s workforce.  But in an economic recovery proposal released by the House Appropriations Committee last week, a proposal from the House Transportation Committee to provide $2 billion to local transit authorities to prevent layoffs and fare hikes was eliminated.

“There’s not a dime in the estimated $825 billion package to help local transit authorities avoid severe cutbacks at a time when ridership is at an all-time high,” said Brian Imus of Illinois PIRG.  “And the proposal fails to ensure that any of the $30 billion proposed for highways would create jobs that fix our crumbling bridges and highways. As it stands, every cent of the $30 billion could be spent on building new, unnecessary highways that will only increase our dependence on foreign oil.”

He urged senators to press the matter at the hearing.

Immigrants celebrate change Tue, 20 Jan 2009 23:13:43 +0000 One day after President Obama’s inauguration, immigrants are stepping right up to ensure that their issues get attention from the new administration, holding actions in Washington D.C., Chicago, and elsewhere.

On January 21 in Washington, the Fair Immigration Reform Movement and groups from across the country, including members of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, will march to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office.

There 200 religious leaders will perform traditional cleaning ceremonies from various faiths, intended “to mark the end of enforcement-only immigration policies and celebrate the new momentum for just and humane immigration reform and worker justice,” according to a statement. A rally at Westminster Presbyterian Church follows.

“We want to transform our society so that workers don’t have to fear raids, families stay together, and no one lives in the shadows,” according to the FIRM statement. “We want workers to have the freedom to organize and demand fundamental change. Everyone in this country must be entitled to dignity and due process. Our country must welcome the contributions and cultures of immigrants from all over the world, and celebrate the vitality they bring to our country.”

In Chicago, local members of the National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities will hold a press conference at 10 a.m. at Casa Michoacan, 1638 S. Blue Island, to urge the new president to “launch a long-overdue transformation of the nation’s immigration policies,” said Claudia Lucero of Durango Unido, a Mexican-American hometown association.

They’ll call on the administration to stop workplace raids which leave “a lot of families…scared to go to work” and “worried when they drop their kids at school whether they can pick them up,” Lucero said. They’ll call for action on a backlog of many years for applications for residency and citizenship which puts immigrants in jeapordy. And they’ll call for a “just and humane immigration reform that leads to legalization for families working and paying taxes in the United States,” she said.

Lucero said NALACC members have already joined other groups in meeting with the immigration committee of the presidential transition team, and were told “immigration issues are still a priority for Mr. Obama,” Lucero said.

At noon on the 21st, ICIRR and the Ya Basta Coalition will rally at the local office of ICE, 55 E. Monroe, to demand a moratorium on raids and deportations. Then they’ll march to the Federal Plaza and hold an interfaith service at Chicago Temple, 77 W. Washington.

Arne Duncan, militarist? Tue, 20 Jan 2009 23:09:40 +0000 Andy Kroll highlights the militarization and privatization of Chicago public schools in a critical view of Arne Duncan’s record at Tomdispatch.

The Challenge of Change Tue, 20 Jan 2009 23:05:34 +0000 Normon Solomon cites (former) Chicago activist Carl Davidson in arguing that the Obama administration presents opportunities and challenges for progressives, but this is not the time to rest on any laurels — or to blame the new president if he doesn’t meet every expectation.

“There’s little point in progressives’ faulting Obama [for his centrist appointments] because so much of their vital work remains undone at the grassroots. A longtime Chicago-based activist on the left, Carl Davidson, made the point well when he wrote after the November election that ‘one is not likely to win at the top what one has not consolidated and won at the base.’

“By the same token, we should recognize that Obama’s campaign victories (beginning with the Iowa caucuses) were possible only because of the painstaking work by antiwar activists and other progressive advocates in prior years. To make further progress possible, in electoral arenas and in national policies, the country must be moved anew — from the bottom up.

“As his administration gets underway, disappointed progressives shouldn’t blame Barack Obama for their own projection or naivete. He is a highly pragmatic leader who seeks and occupies the center of political gravity. Those who don’t like where he’s standing will need to move the center in their direction.

“Obama has often said that his presidential quest isn’t about him nearly as much as it is about us — the people yearning for real change and willing to work for it. If there’s ever a time to take Obama up on his word, this is it.

“Crucial issues must be reframed. The national healthcare reform debate, for instance, still lacks the clarity to distinguish between guaranteeing healthcare for all and mandating loophole-ridden insurance coverage for all…. As for foreign policy, the paradigm of a ‘war on terror,’ more than seven years on, remains nearly sacrosanct. Among its most stultifying effects is the widely held assumption that many more U.S. troops should go to Afghanistan.

“During his race for the White House, ironically, Obama was fond of quoting Martin Luther King Jr. about ‘the fierce urgency of now.’ But King uttered the phrase in the same speech (on April 4, 1967) that spoke of ‘a society gone mad on war,’ condemned ‘my own government’ as ‘the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today’ and declared: ‘Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now.’

“Barack Obama never promised progressives a rose garden. His campaign inspired tens of millions of Americans, raised the level of public discourse and ousted the right wing from the White House. And he has pledged to encourage civic engagement and respectful debate. The rest is up to us.”

Chicago Rocks for Barack Mon, 19 Jan 2009 00:26:34 +0000 Chicago celebrates — and discusses, debates, writes poetry and composes music — as our favorite son enters the White House. Check back for updates.

January 18, 19, 20

DuSable Museum presents the Road to the White House film series on Sunday, June 18, at 12:30 p.m. (free); a Martinmas celebration with performances, education, service projects and fun, Monday, January 19, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. ($8/$5 children); all-day Inauguration Day program including inaugural luncheon and viewing of ceremony, Tuesday, January 20 (admission charges vary). 773-947-0600 x 236

Sunday, January 18

All-Chicago Inaugural Ball, with all-ages afternoon cultural program, 4-7 p.m. ($5) and dance party with Ghanatta and DJ Warp at 7 p.m. ($15), sponsored by Partisan Arts International at Martyrs, 3855 N. Lincoln

Monday, January 19

Korean Americans answer the Inauguration Committee’s call for community organizations to hold activities for a national day of service on King Day. The Korean American Resource and Cultural Center, Korean American Women In Need, and Korean American Community Services invite you to join their children’s drumming circle, enjoy a Korean lunch, and view films on the civil rights movement, 12 noon to 3 p.m. at 2434 Dempster in DesPlaines. 773-588-9158

A People’s Inauguration culminates the Camp Hope vigil with a King Day rally to “reclaim our democracy” in Federal Plaza at 4 p.m. Also at Federal Plaza, at 1 p.m., women and children will hold a silent vigil for peace and justice in Palestine. (Camp Hope’s Kathy Kelly recently reported from her peace witness on the Gaza border.)

Tuesday January 20

Moveon has a listing of dozens of inaugural events throughout Chicago. Some highlights:

9:30 a.m. – Workers Education Society gathers to discuss, watch the Inauguration at the Unity Center, 3339 S. Halsted

10 a.m. until – Silver Room, 1442 N. Milwaukee, is open for large-screen viewing of inaugural events all day; holds its monthly current events forum and discussion at 7 p.m.; the party starts at 9 p.m.

10:30 a.m. – Inaugural celebration at the Lutheran School of Theology in Hyde Park

5 p.m. – Lil’s Something Cool Cocktail Lounge, 8022-24 S. Cottage, celebrates

6:30 p.m. – IVI-IPO Inaugural Party at Lake and Union Grill, 666 W. Lake

6:30 p.m. Leadership Academy Inaugural Dinner and Celebration at Oak Park and River Forest High School

7 p.m. THERE Lounge, 8235 S. Ashland, rings in the new administration, hosted by veteran activist Mark Allen

7 p.m. Milton Township Democrats hold a No-Hunger Ball — admission with a bag of nonperishable groceries for the Milton Township Food Pantry — at the Theosophical Society, 1926 N. Main, Wheaton

7 p.m. – Veterans celebrate at the Montford Point Marine Association, 7011 S. Vincennes

Immigrants gather to watch an immigrant’s son sworn in at Casa Michoacan, 1683 S. Blue Island, starting at 9 a.m. Groups participating include the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, CONFEMEX (the federation of Mexican hometown associations), Federacion de Clubes Michoacanos and SEIU. (ICIRR members are also participating in an national immigration rights mobilization in Washington D.C. on January 21.)

Seniors Rock   Pioneer Gardens and Pioneer Village Senior Homes in Bronzeville holds “a celebration that many did not expect in their lifetimes; some residents are 80 and 90 years old. Balloons, noise makers, patriotic top hats, flags, music, food, Obama attire, red-white-and-blue punch…We will rock the house.” 3800 S. King, 11 a.m. 708-533-6558 (or

Writers Congress   Twenty poets read from works published in the new anthology, “Writers Congress: Chicago Poets on Barack Obama’s Inauguration,” published by the Poetry Institute at the Depaul University Humanities Center. DePaul Student Center, 2250 N. Sheffield, 6 p.m.

Salim Muwakkil lectures at the East-West University with a provocative topic: “President Barack Obama: Progressive Pragmatist or Political Dupe?” at 7 p.m. (reception at 6:30) at EWU, 816 S. Michigan, fourth floor auditorium.

Sounds of Hope   The Morse Theatre holds an inaugural celebration featuring jazz supervocalist Dee Alexander starting at 6:30 p.m. — and at 7:30, the premier of “Sounds of Hope” by Chicago-based Uruguayan composer Elbio Barilari and renowned percussionist and bandleader Kahil El Zabar. The 45-minute jazz composition, which features 20 musicians, “represents a new time of hope” as well as “the structure we need to reach our future, a structure made out of diverse elements, a reflection of our society, and the capability of improvising new solutions and new visions,” according to the composers. (Read Howard Reich’s preview). Admission is free.

Sunday, January 25

A New New Deal: What Should It Look Like?   A forum sponsored by the Oak Park Coalition for Truth and Justice featuring James Thindwa of Chicago Jobs With Justice, Bill Barclay of the Chicago Political Economy Group, United Steelworkers organizer Robin Rich, Dr. Ida Hollander of Physicians for a National Health Program, and DePaul University professor and United for Peace and Justice steering committee member Bamshad Mobasher, at the Oak Park Library 834 Lake, at 2 p.m. 708-386-1371

A Hip-Hop State of the Union  The Public Square, Young Chicago Authors, and Chicago Public Radio present Open Mic Academy: State of the Union, with performance poets Roger Bonair-Agard and Idris Goodman, joined by local spoken word performers, at Victory Gardens Biograph Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln, at 3 p.m. 312-948-4600

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Transportation stimulus cuts rail, transit Mon, 19 Jan 2009 00:05:26 +0000

House Democrats unveiled an $825 billion stimulus plan Thursday, and environmental and transporation advocates weren’t happy with the transportation portion, which cut funding for rail and transit from the House Transportation Committee’s proposal.  And as TPM reports, committee members are angry too.  

Friends of the Earth:

“The stimulus as it currently stands doesn’t do enough to create green jobs through clean transportation investments, and it doesn’t prevent spending from going to unnecessary new roads that increase pollution and oil consumption.

“It is particularly disappointing to see that, unlike highway funds, public transportation and passenger rail funds have been cut below the levels suggested by the House Transportation Committee, limiting job creation in these areas. Public transportation investments create 19 percent more jobs per dollar spent than investments in new highways.”


The Environmental Defense Funds echoed Illinois PIRG’s call here last week for Illinois and other states to disclose the infrastructure proposols they’ve submitted to Congress.

“States generally have flexibility to use highway funds to ‘fix-it-first’ — repair existing bridges and roads — or to rush through new highway expansion that might otherwise fail to meet basic environmental needs.  It’s time to shine a light on those priorities.”


Transportation For America said the House proposal “fails to move America forward in reducing our oil dependency, creating opportunity for all Americans, and making us competitive for the 21st Century economy.

“First, the proposal only pays lip service to ensuring that the recovery bill puts Americans back to work by maintaining and repairing our crumbling roads and bridges. Without explicit language prioritizing a fix-it-first approach to infrastructure investment written into the legislation, federal funds could be wasted adding new highways to a system the House bill describes as ‘crumbling,’ This would have the effect of digging ourselves a deeper hole of oil dependence, even as we invest stimulus money elsewhere in the hope of finding a way out.

“Second, the House Appropriations proposal does nothing to provide immediate help for America’s transit systems, which employ thousands of hard working Americans and transport millions more to their jobs every day. Even as ridership has surged over the last year, transit providers have been hit by falling local revenues and volatile fuel prices.  Without federal funds to keep our existing public transportation operating, transit agencies in towns and cities across the country will be forced to institute massive layoffs, service cuts and fare increases for the American workers who are already struggling the most to make ends meet.”

T4America points out that the transit system in Transportation Secretary designee Ray LaHood’s hometown of Peoria announced a $3 million budget shortfall last week — with deep service cuts and higher fares now under consideration.

Compared the the Transportation Committee’s proposal, the House legislation eliminated $2 billion in emergency assistance to prevent transit layoffs and fare hikes and cut appropriations for Amtrak and intercity rail from $5 billion to $1.1 billion.

The ratio of spending on highways and bridges versus transit and rail went up from 3-to-1 to 4-to-1, according to T4America.


TPM points to reports (including the Wall Street Journal’s) of anger inside the House Transportation Committee and the possibility of some pushback from Democrats and Republicans on the committee — which, with 75 members, is the largest in the House..

Locally, Illinois PIRG and the Transit Riders Alliance are among those pushing for a better allocation of funds. 

More on Geithner Sun, 18 Jan 2009 23:49:11 +0000 Last week we noted questions about Treasury Secretary-designate Timothy Geithner’s record on economic policy.  Propublica has more on his role as regulator in the Citigroup debacle.  As head of the New York Fed, Geithner lifted a ban on major acquisitions and reduced oversight and capital requirements as Citi aggressively expanded subprime mortgage business.   Now the firm is in crisis, and we’re paying for it.

‘This skinny guy’ Thu, 15 Jan 2009 23:13:00 +0000 The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal visits Chicago’s Roseland community, where Barack Obama worked as an organizer 20 years ago.

“‘I woke up and felt better the day after he was elected, said Crystal Bell, 20, who carefully wraps a blanket around 1-year-old daughter Chiyah. ‘We made history. It felt like a new world.’

“But the old world remains. Bell said she works two part-time jobs, running a cash register at a Wendy’s and doing home child care. She struggles financially.

“Bell said her neighborhood is plagued with violence. In the last year, she said, two of her friends were shot and killed.

“‘He (Obama) can’t stop someone from shooting,’ she said. ‘But he can help make it better with gun laws. I hope he helps this unemployment, too, keeps his word.’…

“In Altgelt Gardens, longtime resident Dorian Gray smiles at the memory of Obama.

“‘He was this skinny guy, talked too much,’ he said.

“Now the ‘skinny guy’ is headed to the White House.

“‘What it changes is the way these younger black men look at things now,’ Gray said. ‘People 20 to 30 years old believed this would happen. I never thought in my lifetime that a black man would become president.'”