1st Ward election forum

BETTER GOVERNMENT ASSOCIATION TO MODERATE HOTLY CONTESTED 1ST WARD DEBATE

Candidates for alderman in Chicago’s 1st Ward candidate will answer questions at a 7 p.m. Jan. 29 debate in the Wells Community Academy High School auditorium, 936 W. Ashland Ave.

The forum is moderated by Alden Loury, senior policy analyst of the Better Government Association, and organized by a coalition of West Town community organizations. The format will include questions submitted by residents.

All four candidates in the ward confirm they will attend:

  • Proco “Joe” Moreno - Incumbent appointed by Mayor Richard M. Daley in 2010 and elected in 2011 Chicago municipal election.
  • Anne Shaw – Lawyer active in public safety issues, former Cook County Board of Ethics commissioner.
  • Andrew Hamilton – 1st Ward resident, consumer and victim’s rights lawyer.
  • Ronda Locke – Former 1st Ward staffer serving on local school council and park advisory council.

The event is sponsored by Chicago Grand Neighbors Association, East Village Association, Ukrainian Village Neighborhood Association and West Town Neighbors Association.

Doors open at 6:30pm. Debate will start at 7pm and conclude by 8:30pm.

Chess lessons make their move at West Town library

By Caleb Nolan, Chicago Public Library children's librarian

Weekly chess lessons return Jan. 27 at the West Town Branch Library, 1625 W. Chicago Ave. The Tuesday evening classes from 6 to 7pm are supported by East Village Association fund-raising.

An instructor from Renaissance Knights Chess Foundation heads the drop-in program through March 3. Segun Kamara led a loyal following of 40 kids in 6 weekly lessons last fall.

Sessions are recommended for children 7 and up, or children ages 5 and 6 accompanied by a parent or guardian.

A local children's musician will perform for the public and local Head Start groups in late spring. The concert should draw a full house of about 100 kids - details to follow.

The branch will also update its "big books" collection for early childhood programming. We need new, oversized books we're unable to purchase from the book budget. When story time programs are in session, we serve on average 30 to 40 children a week, ages 6 months to 3 years.

Marijuana shops in holding pattern

Chicago approved a marijuana dispensary in a retail strip at 744 N. Damen Ave.

Chicago has approved 10 locations for medicinal marijuana sales, including 744 N. Damen Ave. and 1368 N. Milwaukee Ave. But none has received a state license.

The state's "in the process of comprehensively evaluating all applications," according to a Dec. 30 statement from the Medical Cannabis Pilot Program. Only 13 licenses will be granted in Chicago.

East Village Association members will discuss marijuana dispensaries at Monday's meeting, at 7pm in the Happy Village, 1059 N. Wolcott. The agenda also includes question periods with 1st Ward Ald. Proco Joe Moreno and 2nd Ward contender Alyx Pattison.


Chicago has approved 10 marijuana dispensaries and a grow center.

The city Zoning Board of Appeals approved the Damen storefront Dec. 19. It's in Moreno's ward, but just outside EVA's boundaries (Chicago to Division, Damen to Milwaukee). Members will consider whether to take a position on the Damen site.

At the November EVA meeting, members commented that medicinal marijuana would be a valuable option to treat chronic pain. However, they argued that the stores' large cash transactions and controlled substances would raise robbery risks, and suggested an EVA policy to limit shops to commercial districts.

Marijuana shops are not allowed in residential areas or within 1,000 feet of schools, preschools or day-care centers. Neighbors questioned whether the state restrictions would rule out the Damen address.

The retail building adjoins a McDonald's parking lot. But operator Scott Bergin says 30 cameras and two guards would provide security. He also plans to specialize in products that aren't psychoactive.


Illinois will follow a formula in scoring marijuana stores.

The state's pilot program puts licensing in the hands of the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation. Manuel Flores, a former 1st Ward alderman, is acting secretary.

The agency's screening 211 applicants who paid the $5,000 fee for one of Illinois' 60 available licenses. It's scoring their plans for operations, security, record keeping and inventory controls. The top 30% will earn bonus points for such things as employment practices or substance-abuse prevention plans.

Four more dispensaries await city hearings. The zoning board rejected two sites, including 1811 W. North Ave. in Wicker Park. Plans for onsite consultations were a concern, and the operator didn't have a bank lined up. The city also approved a marijuana farm in Hegewisch, which would compete for one of the state's 21 grow-center licenses.

More prospective sites may surface once Illinois releases its list of approved licenses. State law makes their identities confidential.

Governor-elect Bruce Rauner has criticized the secrecy as a "rigged process." During the campaign, Rauner maintained licenses should be auctioned to the highest qualified bidder. He hasn't said he'd try to halt the process after he takes office Jan. 12.

A South Side Chicago site seeks one of the state's 21 grow-center licenses.

2nd Ward candidates: Hopkins, Wilson share views

East Village Association board minutes for Dec. 1, 2014, submitted by Catherine Garypie

2ND WARD CANDIDATES: BRIAN HOPKINS

Hopkins spent 16 years working as part of Streeterville neighborhood groups, and had a lot of experience with developers in those groups. Originally from McKinley Park, he worked as chief of staff for Cook County Commissioner John Daley. Campaigning since July, Hopkins said he's concerned about community confusion over the 2nd Ward boundaries.

Your position on aldermen accepting campaign contributions when they have matters pending before them? Ethical rules prohibit it when you accept contributions when there are matters pending before the City Council. I am ethical and will be ethical. Ethics and laws are pretty different. Laws are clear. Ethical guidelines are grey. Your conscience will tell you when you are acting ethically. I would not accept any contributions from persons or entities having matters pending before City Council, zoning committees, people who are seeking contracts with the City, etc.

What is your view of how ward boundaries should be drawn? Federal law requires Cook County to draw a new map based on census data. Usually neutral professionals come up with a map & politicians tinker with it a little. Really, it should only be neutrals, not incumbents.

Your thoughts on the proposed Ashland Bus Rapid Transit? Personally I am for mass transit. I think we need to have an open mind and have an open mind about mass transit. I would however vote no on the Ashland BRT as it is now structured. Problems with the Ashland BRT include no left turns and cost estimates. But I have ridden a BRT in New York, I know it will work.

2nd WARD CANDIDATE: CORNELL WILSON

A Marine Corp veteran (Captain, logistics officer), Wilson joined in 2004 and was on active duty in Japan, Iraq and Africa. Then he went to law school at Northwestern and a law review editor. He practiced for a few years at a mid-sized firm in Chicago. Wilson said he has a passion for service and wants to use his leadership skills for the benefit of the city.

"Pension reform is a real example of a lack of leadership. But there are good things happening in the city too: graduation rates are up. ... My goals: smart ward (work with community groups in the City), smart government (transparency - you may not agree with all my decisions, but I will give you information about my decisions), smart Chicago (2nd ward is comprised of parts of 5 wards (42, 3, 27, 32, 1). We should have a neutral body deciding ward boundaries).

"My primary concerns: crime, guns, budget/finance, future of the city. Focusing on guns in particular: illiegal guns on the streets are a huge issue. One problem is that the city buys guns in mass quantities for law enforcement and buys them back when new models are out – the used guns that are “bought back” end up for sale in nearby states & then eventually to city streets. I'm interested in looking seriously at smart gun technology (biometrics or bracelet proximity).

Chicago has a ton of aldermen compared to other cities. Are you seeking a job you want to eliminate? True. There are fewer city politicians per citizen in Los Angeles and New York. Eliminating my job won't be my first act, admittedly.

What are your thoughts on other revenue ideas? For example a “LaSalle Street Tax” on securities contracts would generate several billion dollars for Chicago and ease the pension crisis. We need to look at this - I want to do the research. We need answers for the pension crisis. The city budget is $7 billion. Our deficit is $200 million a year. That deficit will go up in a few years to $500 million a year. Crain's says no on the LaSalle Street Tax, but we need to keep it on the table. The citizens who didn't create the problem should not be paying the price later.

What is your thought process on balancing development vs. lifestyle issues in East Village (development, liquor licenses, liquor moritoria, etc)? The people who vote me in will be primarily residents. Developers are part of the community, sure. I will start by asking community: What do you want the community to look like? I like the fact the community spoke up about whether or not it wanted a Trader Joe's.

How do you plan to manage a ward with such distinct areas - how do you focus on all the different interests? You're right, there are very different areas in the 2nd Ward. I'd like to take it block by block. We all have to have relationships with one another & communicate: homeowners, hipsters, high-rise residents, etc. I plan to show up and be accountable.

Candidates previously at EVA: Ronda Locke (1st), Andrew Hamilton (1st), Steve Niketopolous (2nd).

PLANNING PRESERVATION & DEVELOPMENT

Forbidden Root, 1746 W. Chicago Ave.: EVA leadership initially had concerns about lifting the liquor moratorium. There was pressure to reconsider by parts of the EVA membership & Ald. Proco Joe Moreno. EVA leadership reconsidered. EVA membership then voted to lift the moratorium. Now that Forbidden Root's coming in, let's support the business when it opens in May 2015.

Fifield Cos., 1822-50 W. Chicago Ave. This development passed in the last City Council meeting over EVA's objection. The approved plans have 59 apartment units with ground-floor retail, 52 parking spaces (not quite 1-to-1), using the alley off Wolcott and Wood. The 1st-floor tenant will be a daycare center. The size of the development requires 6 affordable units under city ordinance – the developer will be allowed to build only 4 of these units and put $200,000 into the city affordable housing fund. Construction is expected to begin in the 1st quarter of 2015.

Smithfield/Miller Lumber, 1811-25 W. Division St.: The owner-developer is going back to the original development plan & zoning. There will be 4 affordable units. Ald. Moreno has not been communicating with EVA recently on this development. Sidewalk trees were recently cut down.

DEBATE QUESTIONS

Aldermanic debates are scheduled for Wells High School on Jan. 29 (1st Ward) and Feb. 5 (2nd Ward), both at 7pm. Submit questions for candidates to EVA board members or send them to debate@eastvillagechicago.org.

Nominate Chicago's most endangered buildings


St. Adalbert Church in Pilsen is on the 2014 Chicago's Seven list.

Do you know a building worth saving? Preservation Chicago is calling for nominations to its Chicago's Seven list of most endangered buildings.

The list raises awareness about threats facing some of Chicago's most at-risk architectural treasures. Nominees can include a single building, an entire neighborhood or a category of buildings such as warehouses or religious structures.

An endangered building is important to the community, or architecturally or historically significant. Risks must be present, such as some degree of owner neglect, a proposed demolition, rezoning or redevelopment.

Download the nomination form, gather photos and other evidence, and make a nomination by Feb. 1.

EVA Monday: Holiday treats

Complimentary pizza from Roots and baked goods from West Town Bakery will be served at Monday's East Village Association meeting, in the game room at Happy Village, 1059 N. Wolcott. The meeting starts at 7pm.

The agenda includes development updates on the Fifield Cos. apartment site at 1850 W. Chicago Ave., the former AAA Distributing site; the Smithfield apartments at 1815 W. Division St., the former Miller Lumber location, and the Forbidden Root brewery at 1750 W. Chicago Ave.

EVA's aldermanic meet-and-greet series continues with 2nd Ward candidates Cornell Wilson and Brian Hopkins. You're also welcome to submit your questions for our candidate debates, set for Jan. 29 in the 1st Ward and Feb. 15 in the 2nd Ward, at Wells High School.