Letters to the Editor

Thanks to Alderman Hairston!

To the Editor: 

Editor’s note: An open letter to Alderman Leslie Hairston from Jackson Park Watch

Dear Alderman Hairston,

Jackson Park Watch wants to thank you for convening and leading the May 31 community meeting on the future of Jackson Park.  The fact that over 170 residents from communities surrounding the park came out on a very wet and stormy night to listen to and question Park District CEO Michael Kelly and others indicates the depth and breadth of interest in and concern about the proposals for the future of our park that have been promoted by Project 120.

We congratulate you especially on a well-run meeting that, in spite of the overflow crowd, allowed participants to give voice to questions on a variety of issues representing many points of view  — the history of Project 120, the role of the Park District, the scale and location of the proposed Phoenix Pavilion (including whether any new structure is needed at all), concern about loss of trees, green space and parking, as well as about the fates of the golf course and driving range, basketball court, and tennis courts, among them.

We are particularly pleased that the meeting provided the community with clarifications on some key concerns: 

  • Contrary to Project 120’s recent presentations, traffic over the restored Darrow Bridge will be limited to pedestrians, bicycles, and emergency vehicles only.  There will not be a road for regular automobile traffic leading over the Bridge with parking along both sides.
  • The pavilion proposal is a concept, not a done deal.   Because the idea of a road across the Bridge is off the table, there is a great opportunity to revisit not only the proposed location of this pavilion (on the current parking lot), but also its size and scope.  A relocated, down-sized, simplified pavilion could far better align with community views.

We are grateful that you are committed to working with Mr. Kelly to develop a procedure and process for community input that will fully represent the Jackson Park community in all its diversity.  The May 31 meeting was a great step toward that goal, and, once again, we thank you.

Brenda Nelms and Margaret Schmid
Jackson Park Watch

Jackson Park: Sacred Cows and Holy Beavers

To the Editor:

Last week I learned of local concern that the Jackson Park Golf Driving Range, constructed in 1978 near the site of the Nike Missile Base, was soon to be sacrificed to Project 120’s plan to convert the space into a spacious lawn. I also learned that beavers would soon be unwelcome facets of Jackson Park ecology. Never mind that, in 1978, when the golf driving range was about to become reality, concerned citizens sought the help of former alderman Leon Despres to prevent the Chicago Park District (CPD) from destroying much of the existing Bobolink Meadow. Documents, signed by Mr. Despres, were presented by a local resident to the chief lawyer of the CPD, temporarily halting bulldozers poised to tear up the precious land. Hyde Parkers, who chained themselves to driving range posts, were cut free by CPD employees, carted off to district police headquarters, and released at the request of Mr. Despres. Now, it seems, the driving range is a sacred cow – to be saved at all cost!

Beavers travel north along Lake Michigan’s shoreline from south lakeshore wilderness areas to seek out fresh stands of new and mature trees. They often settle in Jackson Park’s lagoons to build lodges and feed upon branches with their powerful teeth and jaws. CPD employees trap the creatures, take them back to forest preserves, knowing full well that many of them will return. Beavers are persistent. It seems, that in the eyes of some, they are sacred as well.

Thank you, Alderman Hairston, for arranging the community meeting about Jackson Park issues on June 1 at LaRabida Hospital, where more than 150 people braved a rainstorm to voice their concerns about Jackson Park’s future. Many came to voice concern about Project 120, an program perceived by many to threaten the very survival of the. CPD officials present included CEO Michael Kelly and Heather Gleason, Director of Planning and Construction. Robert Karr, President of Project 120, and other associated indiviiduals sought to quell fears that the park would be permanently changed. Alderman Hairston’s talents as a moderator – and clarifier — were notable.

Points made during presentations included the following:

  • The Darrow Bridge, once restored, will NOT carry heavy vehicular traffic. (Community leaflets had indicated that it would become a major route between 59th Street and the east side of the park.) It would be for use by service vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrians.
  • The golf driving range will be relocated to a new area adjacent to the golf course.
  • A pavilion, now a concept, not a definite plan, would occupy the space of two-and-one-half tennis courts. Its construction would not result in the loss of parking space. It should be noted that former Hyde Parker, Victoria Post Ranney, writes in her wonderful book, Olmsted in Chicago (Donnelley, 1972) that in his 1870 design of the “upper portion” of South Park (now Washington Park), Olmsted “planned a Pavilion, a large refectory building where meals would be served… Concerts would be held in front of the Pavilion … and the roof of the gallery toward the “Southopen Ground (presently the athletic fields) would serve as a grandstand for parades, exhibitions, and fireworks displays.” This shows, of course, that Olmsted was not averse to a pavilion and concomitant activities in his parks at all. For Olmsted, a major mission of urban parks was to advance the spirit of democracy among residents of all backgrounds. Parks were for human activity and involvement. Parks were places for meetings, discussions, campaigns, and social events. Parks were for people — people who can rejoice in space, beauty, and peace.

The Role of Project 120 in Jackson Park Planning.

Many folks are unaware that Project 120 is part of a collaborative effort involving the Chicago Park District and U. S. Army Corps of Engineers known as GLFER, Great Lakes Fisheries and Ecosystem Restoration. GLFER uses CPD and U.S. Government funds supplemented by private funds raised by Project 120.  GLFER is committed to addressing park management issues in view of evolving urban needs and the inevitable climate changes foreseen for the 21st Century. Also, part of its duty is to inform and involve the public in all actions proposed or taken.  Numerous meetings have been held to discuss all issues related to the project. Questions (that appeared on a Jackson Park Watch handout on May 29) about “how the Park District feels about…, “ or “what the Park District thinks about …” are specious and misleading.  The three units making up GLFER are in total agreement.  Project 120 is easier to say than GLFER, but it is NOT a defining term.

Project 120 has engaged the nation’s foremost expert on Frederick Law Olmsted, Patricia O’Donnell of Heritage Landscapes, LLC, for advice about park design. Working for GLFER is the outstanding young CPD ecologist, Lauren Umek, who analyzes and suggests the very best ecological practices for management of the special treasure that is Jackson Park.

We are so lucky.

Frances Vandervoort
Jackson Park Advisory Council
Washington Park Conservancy

I will never go to the stores at 5105 Harper again

To the Editor:

Editor’s note: Bree Andrews sent the Herald a letter that she sent to Chicago Parking about her unpleasant experience with an employee of the company.

Dear Chicago Parking:

This afternoon I did some shopping with my children at the Hyde Park Marshalls. We were happy to have local shopping and spent $150.00 at the store. We had our parking ticket validated. When we went to exit the garage onto Lake Park, the woman in front of us called you to say the machine wasn’t accepting tickets. Begrudgingly you opened the gate for her after interrogation. When I drove up, of course the ticket slot was jammed or slowed and didn’t accept my ticket either. Your gate agent insisted I give you my name and my phone number to exit the building and suggested that if I didn’t want to, I would have to find another exit (there is no other exit I could identify). Five cars waited behind me. My ticket stub number is 03698 and my time was 6/12/16 15:06.

I will never go to the stores at 5105 Harper again. I work for the University of Chicago and my children attend the Laboratory Schools and I will encourage them to park elsewhere and shop elsewhere.

Bree Andrews

I still want to know more about Ald. Sophia King

To the Editor:

I have read various articles about the new 4th ward alderman Ms. Sophia King.  Although I am not familiar with her I was encouraged to hear about her background and passions.

My apprehension in becoming too excited is that when I took a close look her resume that she submitted it says a lot but not much specifically.  In addition, I have some concerns with the lack of significance that her organization Harriett’s Daughters has demonstrated which she credits as a vehicle for her work in the community; the organization’s website was surprisingly light on activities, outreach and any measurable outcomes.  This is surprising since she does point to this organization as one of her major outlets in which she was an advocate.

Could someone please identify where one can get a better understanding of her previous work that led to her appointment?  Although I do not get around like I use to, I have not run into her at the various, educational, economic, safety and housing forums and meetings that I have attended.

Education has been stated as a big focus of Alderman King’s, but I do not recall her voice or person present during the Dyett journey of the past three plus years or during the back and forth of the fifty school closings.

In addition, her organization’s Facebook has only 1 post.  They may just not very active on social media as myself, but I would think that they would want to be more active to promote their work and accomplishments to recruit support.

I have attempted to do various searches with her name and found very little output.  Not much more than I would for a person as myself that has been retired for 16 years.  I do not know Ms. King but I am surprised that there isn’t more work of hers to identify given that that was the reason stated that she was chosen.

I would like to presume the best about Alderman Kings’ resume and application that was released the other weekend, but I am concerned that I cannot find any substance to support it.

Her resume states that she has not held a day-to-day job since 2003.  I would just like to better understand that if she left for-profit work to focus on the community why her local activities for the community can’t be verified.  This seems puzzling today with the amount of information one can gather.

I also understand that she has been interested in this position since former Alderman[Toni] Preckwinkle stepped down but was not able to garner political support.  The relevance with this, if true, is that if she was interested in this position six years ago, why would she not have become more visible with things to point to since then.

She has said on numerous occasions that she was not sent by anyone.  I believe that.  I have not heard one elected official come out to speak aggressively in her favor.  That is both refreshing and alarming at the same time.

The same individuals from city hall that shared that she had an interest back in 2010/2011 said her sponsors may not have been elected officials but that the mayor was lobbied by the business elite.

Any input that you can give would be appreciated.  Although I do my best to get out of the house to attend community events and meetings (much less the past year due to a debilitating condition) so I am thankful for outlets like your newspaper and web presence to get information out to the masses when I cannot be there in person.

My goal is to get a more precise understanding of who Ms. King is by clarifying who she has been.  There is a local pastor that said he would not stand by as someone who has not been involved in community engagement becomes alderman.  Well, he is one of the references for Ms. King, yet I can not find any references to Ms. King being involved in the community on the development, education or violence that has been out front as issues the 4th ward has faced.

The good news is I have heard again and again that Alderman King has worked tirelessly to meet individuals, groups and organizations since she took office.  That is a great sign of someone that is willing to work and a reason to think the best.

Anything you can do to bring light to this subject I would be thankful.

Thank you.  

James T. Wilson

Thank you Hyde Park for making my 90th birthday a great one

To the Editor:

Just celebrated my 90th birthday and the 40th anniversary of my organization, Jane Addams Senior Caucus. Your newspaper helped me considerably. In addition to my family, I wish to thank my friends and neighbors in Hyde Park and the surrounding communities as well as Alderman Leslie Hairston who honored me with an uplifting statement which she passed through the City Council. And of course I cannot forget the generosity of Mac Properties in which magnificent space the event took place. If there is a better neighborhood any place, I wish to know where it is.

Alfred D. Klinger

Aging is an issue that affects us all

To the Editor:

Thank you to the Herald for the good pictures of the community forum discussion on May 7 of our important consideration of issues that affect us all.   This forum was organized by the Chicago Hyde Park group of OWL ~ The Voice of Women 40+, on the topic of the 2016 Mother’s Day Report Aging in Community: Contributions and Challenges of Different Models. The research summarized in the report builds on the facts that our community — and our world — is aging. Many of us are surviving to be old and very old, and we find that most of our housing is not designed for our changing needs and capabilities. Many forms of organizations are operating to meet some of the needs of this changing demographic — hoping to create more aging-friendly communities so that adults can do what 90 percent say they want to do: stay in their own community as long as possible. In our own community we have several different options, which differ in how they are organized, governed, managed, and funded. Many services are funded by taxes, such as the Atlas Senior Center in South Shore (whose Director, Robin Tillotson, spoke at the Forum; and the City of Chicago Home Service Division, who provides care for Grace Latibeaudiere-Williams and her 100-year old mother, Herga. Some services are provided by philanthropic foundations, such as the Mather Lifeways Cafe on 83rd and Wabash; Beedie Jones reported on how they provide physical fitness, social activities, and nutrition to thousands of clients every year. Consumer-driven models include the Villages, now a national movement; they are member-funded, member-organized, and much of the work is done by volunteers; Susan Alitto, the Founding President of CHPV spoke about how we work.  Esther Wong, representing a very large, complex model, The Chinese American Service League, receives tax supports, philanthropic funding, member fees, and uses professionals and volunteers for programs from birth to death.

Each model has benefits and challenges. The emerging goal must be to work on collaborating across groups and organizations who are trying to contribute something toward aging well. Collaboration is much more difficult than working within one type of service, or one particular need, but because we need to be more efficient in using scarce resources we need to work together. A wide variety of public-private partnerships have been developed — sometimes coming out of forums like this one. This forum was co-sponsored by our Chicago Hyde Park Village, the DuPage County OWL, Lincoln Park Village, North Shore Village, and Skyline Village.

We had a capacity crowd. Thanks to the University of Chicago Community Programs Accelerator for the meeting space, and to all the community supporters who provided refreshments for the lovely reception that followed the discussions. The report is available online at owl-national.org; I have a limited number of printed, bound copies of the report available for $10.00.

My future goals are to work more intensively toward an aging-friendly community, and toward a dementia-friendly, utilizing the manuals developed already. We have some elements already, but we have much more to do.

Margaret Hellie Huyck, Ph.D.
President, OWL National Board
President, Chicago Hyde Park Village

Community members made first Blackstone book sale a success

To the Editor:

We would like to express a heartfelt thank you to the Hyde Park-Kenwood community for making the first Spring Book Sale to Benefit Blackstone Library a success. Come rain or shine, the community really showed its love of Blackstone and of books! Thank you to all the volunteers who sorted, packed, moved boxes, counted books, and served customers. A special thank you to the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference (HPKCC) for providing the first donation of books for the sale and for sharing their expertise in operating a book sale. An extra special thank you to Rod Sawyer for his invaluable help and support.

We are no longer accepting books at the library. Please save your donations for the Hyde Park Used Book Sale in October in the Treasure Island courtyard on 55th Street. Proceeds from that sale fund the work of HPKCC, supporting many great community causes including local schools, parks, and our work at Blackstone Library. See you next spring!

Brenda P. Sawyer
Friends of Blackstone

Anne Keough
Chicago Public Library
Blackstone Branch

Who is monitoring UCPD activity in the neighborhood? 

To the Editor:

Due to the recent shootings, I have noticed a heavy saturation of police patrols in the North Hyde Park and South Kenwood areas, by both Chicago and University of Chicago police departments. But UCPD patrols have been much heavier, despite the fact that the University of Chicago has sold off much of its residential and commercial property north of its 55th Street campus borders.

Former 4th Ward Ald. Will Burns asked UCPD to increase patrols back in September in response to a shooting in Kenwood. But they have become heavier since his resignation in March and prior to the appointment of Interim Ald. Sophia King. This implies that UCPD is operating on its own agenda by taking the initiative to significantly increase these patrols.
They do so because current state statutes and city ordinances allow for this, for which State Senator Kwame Raoul, and 5th Ward Alderman Leslie Hariston have not kept the commitments they made to reign in UCPD.

State Senator Raoul has made a commitment to re-introduce HB3932, which subjects UCPD to the same Freedom of Information Act standards all public Illinois police forces are required to abide by. Sen. Raoul recently praised Chief Walker’s decision to equip his officers with body cameras. But if a UCPD officer unloads a clip into a resident ala Laquan McDonald-style, that video will never see the light of day. While Senator Raoul helped to write the standards that govern the use of police body cams, he continues to neglect the public’s right to see them if a private police force, one given constitutional law enforcement powers, declines to make them public. The bill has been stalled in the judiciary committee he chairs, since May of 2015.

Ald. Hariston agreed to head a task force to look into claims of abuse by UCPD in a community meeting back in October of 2014, the same month the McDonald shooting occurred. In that same meeting, the 4+ term alderman stated this was an issue she was familiar with since having attended the University’s Lab School as a child. Yet since she has chaired the committee, I have heard nothing coming from it. As someone who is currently advancing reforms within the Chicago’s Police Department, such as abolishing the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA), the only ordinances I am aware of that she has backed was the advancing of 2011 and 2015 Memorandum of Understandings with the University, which endorses UCPD as a law-enforcement partner. Not once has she used her position or past experiences to make UC’s independent review body independent from the University, nor has she pushed to require UCPD be subject to FOIA, something the City of Chicago is not prohibited by state statute from doing.

UCPD Chief Fountain Walker says that his department may have committed abuses in the past, but now they’ve turned over a new leaf. I’d like to educate him on how those past abuses occurred. (1). The community is encouraged to call UCPD because of its’ lack of trust of a police department it pays for, (2). Serious incidents begin to make community residents fearful, which is now occurring, (3). A tipping-point crime that involves a University student makes national headlines, and, (4). A University response, that makes creative use of current, inadequate laws, provides an avenue via UCPD for the University to protect its’ reputation in part by abusing the rights of non-university residents. When protests of these abuses reaches a crescendo, the police chief will be removed from his position. We’ve seen it before, Chief Walker.

Both State Sen. Raoul and Ald. Hariston have also seen it before. It is incredible that they both would decry Cook County’s State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez and the time she took to prosecute police misconduct, but have taken similar timeframes to act upon HB3932, and a taskforce to institute real reform on private police forces, issues they’ve understood for most of their lives. Should not the voters take a similar stance with them as they have done with Ms. Alvarez?

Roderick Sawyer

Workmen renege on parking promise

To the Editor:

For a few weeks the workmen on the Vue 53 building honored their promise not to park on Kimbark and Kenwood Avenues. They are supposed to put their cars in the parking garage on Lake Park at 53rd Streets and walk to work. But they don’t. Once before they were asked not to fill up our streets, but they are at it again. Kimbark has very few cars at night but by 8AM the street is wall to wall with pick up trucks and other vehicles that are not local. If the workmen cannot be kept from filling our streets with their vehicles even though they have available parking designated for them, how will people living in Vue 53 find places for their cars considering that there is very little designated parking in that building for them?

Sharon Bowen

JPW applauds Ald. Hairston’s push for more community involvment in Project 120

To the Editor:

Jackson Park Watch (JPW) is a community initiative dedicated to ensuring that community members have a decisive voice in any major changes made to Jackson Park.  In particular, JPW has focused on the varied and changing proposals for the north end of the Park that have been advanced by Project 120 over the past few years. The most significant of these concern a large multi-purpose visitors center/pavilion that would be located east of the Darrow Bridge and the very major changes in traffic patterns and parking options that would result.

For that reason, JPW applauds Alderman Leslie Hairston’s April 26 announcement that she has asked the Chicago Park District to convene a community process to consider those proposals, to sort out fact from fiction, and to identify a possible timeline for any work that might eventually occur.  We know that many JPW participants have communicated their concerns about Project 120’s proposals to the alderman, and we offer a collective JPW THANK YOU! to Alderman Hairston for her leadership on this issue.

For those readers who have not yet learned about JPW’s work to ensure that Jackson Park neighbors and users have a priority voice in future plans for our Park, we invite you to learn more by visiting our website (http://jacksonparkwatch.org) and to sign up to receive periodic email Updates by contacting us at the address below.

Brenda Nelms and Margaret Schmid,
coordinators, Jackson Park Watch

Time for clean elections across Chicago

To the Editor:

Voter disenfranchisement is real in this country, as we saw in Arizona’s March 22nd presidential primary election, where tens of thousands of voters — particularly in non-white and working class communities — were denied the right to cast ballots that counted. We’ve seen this dynamic grow since 2013, when the Supreme Court essentially gutted the 1965 Voting Rights Act — with dire consequences for young people, the elderly, the poor and people of color.

Voter disenfranchisement remains an issue right here at home in Chicago, which has a long and notorious history of suppressing, steering and outright fabricating election results. In the 26th District race, in my own home precinct, judges handed me the wrong ballot for my own race for State Representative — and when I complained, essentially showed me the door despite the presence of reporters!

We heard this complaint repeatedly on primary election day not just in our district but across the city, with numerous complaints about incorrect ballots filed with the Chicago Board of Elections. The Board has new leadership, yet serious problems persist in polling places — including failing to put the correct ballot in voters’ hands.

The problem was particularly acute in “split” precincts — roughly a third of the precincts in Chicago and fully 40 percent in the 26th District. Voters in the same ‘split’ precinct may in fact be assigned to different districts — in part a legacy of the endless gerrymandering of legislative boundaries for our wards, our state legislative and our congressional districts. If you steer a vote to the wrong race, you undercut the number of legitimate votes for a particular candidate — and you can even conceivably change the outcome of an election.

Why care? Because our vote is essentially the only voice we’re allowed as citizens to determine who will speak for us in the halls of government power. Rob us of that right to democratically choose who represents us, and you’ve undermined the very backbone of our democracy.

People died for the right to vote, yet this fundamental right is under attack across the nation, with political elites working in states from Florida to Texas to deny people the right to vote.

We’ve got to do better in Chicago. Getting the wrong ballot is just as bad as getting no ballot, or seeing that ballot go uncounted — or being turned away at the polls — because in each of these scenarios people are being denied the right to elect their representation.

There was some good news for local voters on March 15 — including a heartening uptick in turnout, with more than 11,000 voters in my race alone casting ballots to support a platform built on a commitment to the retirement security of our seniors, quality neighborhood public schools for our kids, and accountability to working families. That’s a powerful testament to committed, issues-based grassroots organizing that lives well beyond Election Day.

Yet as activists, organizers and engaged residents, we must add a critical issue to our list of concerns: fair and transparent elections — and the right of every registered voter to cast a ballot for the candidate of their choice.

Jay Travis

Benign neglect has not helped Jackson Park

To the Editor:

Ms. Newhouse is correct (Herald, March 2, 2016). The Paul H. Douglas Nature Sanctuary occupies a significant portion of Wooded Island in Jackson Park, and almost all of the park is a haven for migratory and resident birds.
Squirrels and other mammals, turtles, fishes, and a vast array of invertebrates — insects, crayfish, worms thrive there despite the temporary disruption of Project 120.  They will continue to do so.

Benign neglect has not helped Jackson Park, nor will it. Over the years, non-indigenous  plants and trees, including buckthorn, white poplar and garlic mustard took over woodland, grassy fields, and lagoons, making the park unsuitable, even unlivable, for many native species.

On a broader scale, benign neglect led to the breakdown of physical structures — roofs of buildings decayed, and concrete walls crumbled. Benches, walkways, and playgrounds, even our beloved Darrow Bridge succumbed to the powerful forces of nature.  And, when a park’s superstructure is neglected, at what point does benign neglect morph into overt abuse?

All park-goers have seen the results of such abuse — accumulation of filth in open areas and underused buildings, deliberately ruined benches and park equipment, damaged and often destroyed trees and other vegetation, and the too-common practices of trading in drugs and sex.

Project 120 addresses all of these issues.  Experts in park history, ecology, and geology are already improving the ecological balance within the park.  The park’s infrastructure will be stabilized with improved walkways and bridges so that once again it is safe to look for birds, engage in photography, or simply stroll in a superb natural garden. “Neglect” must no longer be a part of Jackson Park.  Parks must be safe, beautiful places for all to enjoy, respect, and become a part of.

Project 120’s organizers have held several public meetings to encourage open-ended discussion about the future of Jackson Park, Washington Parks, and the Midway, most recently on Feb. 8 at the Washington Park Refectory.  These meetings are publicly announced — all concerned individuals are welcome to attend.

Ms. Newhouse, please visit Jackson Park to see it change and grow.  You will be impressed with what is there, and what it promises to become.

Guided tours of Wooded Island take place the last Saturday of each month, beginning at 10 a.m., at the south bridge of the Island. We hope to see you on March 26.

Frances S. Vandervoort
Nature Trail Coordinator
Jackson Park Advisory Council

Jackson Park is not for profit

To the Editor:

Jackson Park is a sanctuary. It is a haven. Jackson Park is everyone’s Sanctuary. Jackson Park is not for profit. It is not for anyone’s exploitation.

My highest priority is the protection and preservation of the Wooded Island, the bird sanctuary and the Bowling Green. For 50 years I have cared about Jackson Park. Also, Jackson Park is in the midst of a quiet residential area.

Benign neglect is far preferable to the 120 Project encroachment or any project of its ilk.

Thank you for your attention and concern.

Kathie Newhouse

Christian Mitchell is no friend of public education

To the Editor:

The Herald gets it wrong: Christian Mitchell is no friend of public education. He IS a friend of the charter school expansion and anti-union movement that has donated more than $150,000 to his campaigns through organizations such as Stand for Children and Democrats for Education Reform and individuals such as Eli Broad and Andrew Broy. We advocate for policies to keep public education public and free of private and corporate interests. Mitchell IS NOT our friend. We advocated twice for a bill to reduce the power of the Illinois State Charter Commission, an appointed body, which currently can overrule local school board decisions about opening new charter schools. He voted against this measure, twice. We advocated for an opt-out bill so parents can push back against the influence of the standardized testing industry on our children’s schools. He voted against this measure. We have advocated for three years for an Elected Representative School Board for Chicago; he did not support it until it became politically expedient. He was silent during the massive school closings of 2013 and failed to stand with those who fought for years to get Dyett High School re-opened. As public education advocates, we know that we need truly progressive voices in Springfield; in the 26th District race that candidate is Jay Travis.

Brenda I Delgado Als
Joy Clendenning
Debra A. Hass
Hannah Hayes
Victoria Long
Patricia Smith
Julie Vassilato

Endorsing spin,ignoring facts insults readers

To the Editor: 

Seasoned news professionals check their facts and know how to separate truth from spin. So it was shocking to see the Hyde Park Herald print the unsubstantiated claims of a desperate incumbent who will say anything to hold onto his seat — including taking credit for other hard-working legislators’ work.

The Herald claims its endorsement of Mitchell is based on bills that Mitchell takes credit for proposing, pushing and passing. But the facts show otherwise. The Herald also ignored Mitchell’s repeated votes to cut our seniors’ retirement security, undermine democracy in our schools, shortchange already cash-strapped school systems and vote the agenda of his fat cat corporate backers.

Mitchell takes credit for the work of State Representative Elgie Sims and State Senator Kwame Raoul, who together proposed and pushed for passage of SB1304. The police reform omnibus bill provides for police body cams as well as other policing and criminal justice reforms. It’s not Mitchell’s bill; he wasn’t even added as a cosponsor until more than three months after Raoul and Sims proposed the bill.

Same thing with HB0218, which decriminalizes possession of small amounts of marijuana.The bill was actually introduced in the House not by Mitchell, but by Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) and in the Senate by Sen. Michael Noland (D-Elgin). Again, Mitchell didn’t even sign on as a cosponsor until more than three months after Cassidy proposed the bill, which died when Rauner refused to sign it.

In terms of Mitchell’s so-called education reform bill, HB4272 — really a pension cost shift that has sweeping bipartisan opposition across the state. Mitchell’s bill does NOTHING to address either Chicago’s school funding crisis over the long term or our state-wide crisis in education funding, which is simply inadequate. Slapping school districts outside of Chicago with the new burden of pension costs — when more than 60 percent of those districts already confront deficit spending challenges — does nothing to address the fundamental structural deficit in statewide education funding. Mitchell, CPS CEO Forrest Claypool and his boss Rahm Emanuel like to trot out their political spin on this scheme, but the bill has garnered only a handful of cosponsors and is simply electioneering smoke and mirrors that has zero possibility of passing.

And it’s truly cynical of Mitchell to try to take credit for SB 570, actually pushed in the Senate by Toi Hutchinson and in the House by Peoria State Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth. The bill would have restored access to child care subsidies to many low-income families. Chicago Democratic State Representative Esther Golar literally checked herself out of the hospital to vote for Gordon-Booth’s bill. It failed by one House vote. That was Golar’s last trip to Springfield. She died the following week. Yet Mitchell would seek to take credit away from these two committed Black women legislators to pad his own shoddy resume.

That’s the kind of behavior we expect from hedge fund bosses and investment bankers — the very political elites who bankroll Mitchell’s campaign.

The Herald could have done at least a little basic fact-checking instead of swallowing Mitchell’s distortions whole. And it bears noting that there was no endorsement ‘process’ at the Herald — publisher Bruce Sagan and general manager Susan Walker never invited my campaign to make a case for support over Mitchell. If they had, I would have reminded them that Mitchell’s campaign is funded by those who share his agenda: Rauner allies who include school privatizers, union busters and corporate opportunists who don’t give a damn about either the truth or the greater public good. Neither, apparently, do Sagan and Walker.

Jay Travis