City Updates: Infrastructure Trust Ordinance, Mental Health Clinics, Automated Speed Cameras
Infrastructure Trust Ordinance
41 aldermen vote yes to bringing private investors into city’s infrastructure plans
After much debate and opposition from community groups, the City Council approved Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Infrastructure Trust Ordinance with a vote of 41 to seven on Tuesday, April 24.
The ordinance gives private investors the opportunity to finance future development projects in the city of Chicago, however, little is known on what the trust will finance.
Ald. Willie Cochran (20th) suggested the investments go towards improving the DuSable Museum on 57th and Cottage Grove.
“I could use this tool to expand and improve upon the DuSable Museum,” he said, in a reported quote by WBEZ.
But lack of City Council insight and transparency prevented other aldermen from voting for the ordinance. According to the Chicago Reader, two oversight amendments to the ordinance were proposed to give aldermen more say on the investments but those were quickly tabled.
Soon after Tuesday’s vote, the Grassroots Collaborative, a coalition of local groups and organizations against the ordinance, sent out a statement in disapproval.
“By creating a false urgency, Mayor Emanuel has tried to avoid being accountable for the most troubling aspects of this legislation – no parameters on user fees, no guarantees of infrastructure development in blighted communities, and no checks and balances to insure against conflicts of interests,” read the statement. “Chicagoans thought the parking meter deal under Mayor Daley was bad – this ordinance puts private interests into the mix of every future public asset project. Investors’ bottom line is always their returns, and not the public good.”
The ordinance will create a five-member board to oversee a $1.7 billion fund that will help the city build infrastructure projects it cannot afford on its own, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Aldermen that opposed the ordinance were Bob Fioretti (2nd); Leslie Hairston (5th); Toni Foulkes (15th); Ricardo Munoz (22nd); Scott Waguespack (32nd); Brendan Reilly (42nd) and John Arena (45th).
Mental Health Clinics
10 arrested for protesting the closure of the Woodlawn Health Clinic
Nearly two weeks after 23 members of the Mental Health Movement were arrested for barricading themselves inside the Woodlawn Mental Health Clinic, police arrested 10 more people protesting the closure of the clinic on Monday.
According to the Chicago Tribune, police vehicles pulled up to the across the street of the Woodlawn Clinic at 10:30 p.m. where demonstrators had set up tents and chatted around a bonfire. A commanding officer ordered the group to disperse, saying the site was city-owned and they would be arrested fro trespassing.
Demonstrators responded by holding up signs that read “Health care is a human right” and did not disperse. After 11 p.m. about 20 officers arrested the demonstrators.
A day after the arrests, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that he would be giving free CTA passes to patients who have been affected by the consolidation of the health clinics to ease the burden of traveling farther for the services, reported the Chicago Sun-Times.
Automated Speed Cameras
No more speeding on school and park zones
On Wednesday, April 18, the Chicago City Council passed a proposal to install automated speed cameras near schools and parks with a vote of 33 to 14.
The ordinance establishes the Children’s Safety Zone program that will put cameras in effect in school zones between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and by parks during park hours of 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Warnings will be issued for the first 30 days after cameras are newly-established in a safety zone, after the 30-day period, speeders who travel between six miles per hour and 11 miles per hour over the limit will face a $35 fine. Those traveling more than 11 miles per hour over the limit will face a $100 fine.
According to the city all revenue from the program will be used for programs that enhance the safety of children, including after school, anti-violence and jobs programs, crossing guards and police officers around schools, and infrastructure improvements.
Critics of the ordinance believe, however, that the cameras are just a revenue-raiser.