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Charge CPS obstruction on LSC election info

Neighborhood new sites report they’re “fighting to get basic information” about candidates in next week’s Local School Council election.

Citing “privacy” concerns, CPS has required Center Square Journal and Austin Talks to file FOIA requests for lists of candidates, candidate statements and contact information, according to reports.  In the past that information was routinely released.

On April 4, after weeks of inquiries, CSJ and AustinTalks received lists of candidates’ names and addresses, but no candidate statements and no phone numbers, according to Ellyn Fortino at AustinTalks.

Mike Fourcher of Center Square Journal writes that CPS has “obstructed” efforts to promote LSC elections – and CSJ efforts to report on the election.

“Obtaining a list of candidates for public office is a basic right of the voting public and the press,” Fourcher writes. “It’s necessary for citizens to determine for whom they plan to vote, for the press to report on candidates’ qualifications, and for candidates to know their opponents.

“In elections for any other public office, local governments make candidate lists easily available as a matter of course.”

“This practice of demanding FOIAs for information that should simply be publicly available in the case of the elections is something we’ve never seen before,” Don Moore of Designs for Change told CSJ.

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Parents air concerns on longer school day

Parents in meetings on the West and North Sides this week discussing the proposal for an extended school day expressed a range of concerns far beyond the “for-or-against” terms in which the issue has been framed by Mayor Emanuel and the media.

Both groups released surveys – one large, one small, neither scientific but both gauging the views of parents who are particularly active in their children’s schools.   How the longer day will be implemented and how it will be funded are major concerns.

But how long it should be is also an open question for parents.  The Raise Your Hand Coalition surveyed 1200 parents in 230 schools and found broad support for a longer school day – but little support for making it as long as Emanuel has proposed.

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On TIF reform, Bronzeville has ideas

Bronzeville residents turned out in impressive numbers for last Thursday’s public forum of the Mayor’s Task Force on TIF Reform, which was held at the Bronzeville Chicago Military Academy.

Other communities were represented, but more forums in additional communities would certainly offer the task force greater breadth of public input.  But last week’s was the only hearing that is planned.

Bronzeville is one of the city’s most heavily TIFed communities, with thirteen TIF districts covering 80 percent of the area, many created to finance CHA redevelopments – with more in the works had Mayor Daley won the 2016 Olympic games, according to Housing Bronzeville.

Sheila Carter testified on behalf of the group that TIFs have “failed local taxpayers” in their lack of transparency and accountability.  It’s been “virtuallly impossible for local residents to understand how TIF monies were being raised and spent in our area,” she said, suggesting “this confusion and lack of documentation was intentional.”

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  • Telling people’s stories, an ethnic media success September 2, 2015
        By Stephen Franklin Community Media Workshop   A 3-year-old child died on a plane from Chicago to Poland. This, Magdalena Pantelis instantly knew, was a story her readers would care about. But she needed more detail to write about it for the Polish Daily News, the nation’s oldest daily newspaper in Polish, founded Jan. […]
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