Find The Daily Line Guest Commentaries Below

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    From left: Ald. Michael Rodriguez (22), Ald. Rossana Rodriguez-Sanchez (33), Ald. Silvana Tabares (23) and Ald. Andre Vasquez (40).

    At a time when states across the U.S. are implementing unjust restrictions on the right to vote, we believe that we have an opportunity and obligation to expand the franchise in Chicago and Illinois. In the short term, we need a fully elected school board in Chicago. And in the only slightly longer term, we need to create a method for non-citizens to vote in school board elections across Illinois. 

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    Ethics and lobbying reform is on the minds of many in Illinois. This is a good thing. But reforms must be developed and implemented carefully and carefully respect the structures and progress made in local home rule communities. And certainly, in the search for uniformity, the General Assembly would not wish to appear to weaken rules for which it perhaps cannot yet gain consensus on a statewide basis.

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    On March 24, Illinois amped up the state’s fight to prevent a COVID related housing crisis by passing HB2775 out of the Illinois House of Representatives’ Housing Committee. HB2775 will amend the Illinois Human Rights Act to prohibit landlords from discriminating against individuals solely because they use non-traditional sources of income (aka “SOI” discrimination) and, in turn, will aid in the state’s efforts to reduce and prevent homelessness through the many rental subsidy programs assisting households with low incomes. Non-traditional sources of income can include benefits through the VA, Social Security (Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI)), or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). In other words, a diverse group of individuals, including families, seniors, veterans, and those with disabilities, rely on non-traditional sources of income to pay their bills.

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    Chicago is consumed in shock and grief after the police shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo. It is an unfathomable tragedy that demands answers and accountability from police.  We expect that accountability, but will we get it?

    “Consider another example. A family is playing in their own front yard in rural southern Georgia on a warm summer day, when a group of police officers arrive suddenly in pursuit of a suspect. After apprehending the suspect, who is unarmed, the police inexplicably order the family — at gunpoint — to lie face down on the ground. They comply immediately, scared and shaking. For no apparent reason, a Coffee County Sheriff’s deputy fires two shots at the family dog, who posed no threat. The deputy misses the dog, but his bullets strike a 10-year-old child in the back of his knee.

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    With tens of thousands of Illinoisans receiving their COVID vaccinations every day, it feels like we’re starting to see a light at the end of this long, dark tunnel. For those in the restaurant industry, we can begin to turn our attention from simply surviving to growing and thriving. As we look ahead, we also have to recognize the changes our industry has undergone in recent months, with one major change being the prevalence of third-party delivery platforms.

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    The global pandemic has created an urgency in Illinois to ensure that housing is affordable and plentiful, but I’m not certain this next statement is widely understood: Advocacy groups from both the landlords’ and the tenants’ perspective absolutely agree there is a shortage of viable affordable housing options in many neighborhoods across the state.

    Beyond the significant areas where we concur, our differences of opinion stem from how to accomplish our shared goals of increasing affordable housing, with rent control remaining as perhaps our widest disagreement.

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    Now that the final numbers are in on Illinois recreational marijuana sales for 2020, it is clear that the state should pick up the pace of approving licenses and opening dispensaries in 2021.

    The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation announced on Jan. 4 that pot sales reached $669 million in 2020, the first year in which customers 21 and older could legally purchase marijuana. While the final sales figures were strong and beat estimates—an impressive feat, given the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on retail sales generally—the state continues to leave potential revenue on the table by not opening more dispensaries at a quicker pace.

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    In 1969, the story of Illinois’ financial picture was arguably as dire as it is today.

    To put Illinois on firmer footing, then-Governor Richard Ogilvie, a Republican, advocated for the need to enact a state income tax. For passage, Ogilvie needed the support of local officials across Illinois who would be preempted by the state’s proposal that also limited local income taxing authority. Ogilvie sought the assistance of then-Mayor Richard J. Daley, a Democrat. They compromised for the good of all. Instead of the new revenue going solely to the state, a revenue-sharing agreement was established giving local governments a percentage of all funds the state income tax provided.

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    For a moment, let us sidestep the staggering statistics, the debates, and the studies like this one from the nonpartisan Urban Institute, which found that Illinois’ ban on rent control “constrained local housing policy responses to COVID-19.” First, let us be clear about the scenes we will bear witness to. They won’t include a UHAUL truck or friendly movers.

    A baby’s crib thrown onto the front lawn. Precious family heirlooms picked over by passerby. A toddler crying into the arms of her humiliated parents, who have been evicted for the crime of losing their jobs during a global economic collapse. Most likely, the tenants will not move into a new apartment, but face homelessness and potentially suicide. Their community will destabilize a little further, and phenomena like unrest and looting will increase.

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    The proposed Residential Tenant Landlord Ordinance (RTLO), which will go to a vote by the Cook County Board of Commissioners this week, is far from revolutionary. It creates basic floors for landlord conduct that have existed for more than 30 years in Chicago, Evanston, and Mount Prospect.

    Landlords who foster good working relationships with their tenants are already doing what the ordinance requires: offering fair lease terms, making repairs, respecting tenants’ dignity and privacy, and ensuring safe, healthy living conditions in their units and buildings. For these landlords, the RTLO won’t make a big difference. By clarifying roles and responsibilities and establishing more uniform standards throughout Chicagoland, it will in fact make life simpler.