Coalition asks mayor: Keep vow on CBA

STOP member Lanessa Young criticizes Mayor Lightfoot for failing to keep her promise to support a CBA for Obama Presidential Center during Monday morning press conference at City Hall. (Photo by Owen M. Lawson)

Staff writer

The Community Benefits Agreement Coalition gave Mayor Lori Lightfoot a grade of “incomplete” after her first 100 days in office and noted her support for a CBA on the campaign trail.

“We need her to follow through on that promise,” said Lanessa Young, a Hyde Park Academy High School student, at an Aug. 26 City Hall press conference. “Everyday people are being pushed out of the neighborhood. We urgently need the mayor to come out and support passing the CBA housing ordinance now.”

Alds. Leslie Hairston (5th) and Jeanette Taylor (20th) introduced a CBA housing bill to the City Council in June. A majority of aldermen, including Sophia King (4th) have signed on as co-sponsors.

The mayor declined to comment on the ordinance specifically on the day of its introduction, saying that she had not yet read it. But she swore to “do whatever I can to bring folks together” and hosted an invitation-only meeting on Obama Presidential Center-related civic engagement later that month at the South Shore Cultural Center.

Nevertheless, it remains unclear what the bill — currently written as an affordable requirements ordinance with big set-asides for low-income people that covers much of Hyde Park, Woodlawn and South Shore — will look like when it comes up for a vote. It will be first considered by Ald. Harry Osterman’s (48th) Housing Committee.

Hairston said that she has asked King, Osterman and Alds. Pat Dowell (3rd), Howard Brookins, Jr. (21st) and Maria Haddan (49th) to join a working group to refine it.

United Working Families was even harder on Lightfoot, giving her “D” grades on a real estate transfer tax to fund homelessness and affordable housing programs, the Welcoming Cities Ordinance to “close loopholes that allow for police collaboration with ICE” and ending money bond “as a means of reducing incarceration and addressing racial disparities in the legal system.”

She got an “F” for public education: United Working Families said she did not do enough to support an elected Chicago Public Schools Board. Legislation creating an elected board did not pass the Illinois General Assembly this spring.

And she got incompletes regarding the opening of an Office of Gun Violence Prevention and on the reopening of municipal mental health clinics that closed under Mayor Rahm Emanual.

At the press conference, Diane Adams with Southside Together Organizing for Power, which is a part of the CBA Coalition, struck a hopeful note in her remarks at City Hall.

“She campaigned that she would reopen up the clinics, she said. “We want her to keep her word.”

Adams recounted her 15-year experience through mental health issues, which she said included a suicide attempt, a months-long coma and a therapist who took interest in her care and got her on the right medication.

“You can’t tell me mental health isn’t health,” said Adams.