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People’s City Council: community perspectives on fiscal crisis

Fifteen hundred community activists from neighborhoods across the city will gather tomorrow evening for a People’s City Council to make sure that the needs of Chicago residents – jobs, housing, education, services and safety – aren’t sacrificed for an agenda driven by corporate greed.

Twenty or more aldermen are expected to attend.

Sponsored by the Grassroots Collaborative and twenty community, labor, and civic groups, the event takes place at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, July 7 at the UIC Forum, 725 W. Roosevelt.

“With all the talk about ‘shared sacrifice,’ we want to make sure that it’s not just community residents sacrificing in terms of service cuts and job losses and their ripple effects,” said Eric Tellez of Grassroots Collaborative.  “We want to make sure the banks and corporations are sharing in the sacrifices and not taking more resources than they need.”

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Candidates and Cities

Because rural states have monopolized the early presidential contests, urban issues have been marginalized in the national debate — despite the fact that 80 percent of Americans live in and around cities.

In an effort to give those issues a higher profile, the Drum Major Institute and the Nation have launched Mayor TV, a website featuring video clips of ten American mayors discussing the concerns that they wish presidential candidates would address.

Mayor after mayor decries the current administration’s neglect of the nation’s cities and stresses the the importance of urban issues — like housing, transportation, education, crime, and infrastructure — to the well-being of the nation as a whole.  The “hot button issues” pushed by the media and pollsters are not the big challenges facing “those of us in the trenches,” says Manny Diaz of Miami.

Some of the mayors — including Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles, Rocky Anderson of Salt Lake City, and R. T. Tyback of Minneapolis — discuss which candidate they are supporting.

John Hickenlooper of Denver talks about the disconnect between presidential debates featuring the bashing of immigrants and gays and the reality in his city, where those groups contribute mightily to its strength and growth.

Byron Brown of Buffalo suggests more mayors might mount the national stage, recalling Grover Cleveland, a previous Buffalo mayor who became president. 

Agenda for Chicago–Beyond Corruption

A thousand black, white, and Latino community and labor activists from across the city are expected for a July 30 rally to “build a new vision for Chicago” — and start to hold city officials accountable on issues of health care, schools, housing, transporation, and jobs.

Coming city elections are already being framed in the media as centering on corruption, notes Ken Snyder of the Grassroots Collaborative, which is sponsoring the rally.

“The reason corruption is important is because it impacts whether we get a good schools policy or housing policy,” he said. “It’s because of corruption that housing policy in the city of Chicago favors developers and not residents.”

U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., State Sen. Miguel del Valle, and Chicago Federation of Labor president Dennis Gannon are the featured speakers. The Grassroots Collaborative includes ACORN, the American Friends Service Committee, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, Metro Seniors in Action, and SEIU Locals 73 and 880, along with other groups.

“If we can build a diverse neighborhood-based coalition we can force these issues onto the agenda,” said Snyder. July 30 will see “people coming together to commit to changing the culture of the city so that systemic issues will be addressed….

“It’s not enough for aldermen to rest on their laurels as long as their streets are swept — they need to be accountable for transit funding, for a jobs policy.”

The rally is 10 a.m. to Noon on Saturday, July 30 at the Chicago Temple, 77 W. Washington.



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