• The Committee on Committees, Rules and Ethics will meet before Wednesday’s full City Council meeting to appoint members to the City Council’s Financial Office Oversight Committee, created in 2013 as part of a larger plan to create an independent budget office, The Chicago Office of Financial Analysis (COFA). The committee was originally created to do two things: find a Financial Analyst to oversee the new office, and serve as a liaison between the city’s Budget Office and aldermen. The committee announced its choice, Ben Winick, just before last month’s City Council meeting. In his interview with Aldertrack, Winick said he wouldn’t start work until July, giving him just three months to staff up before the expected September release date of the Mayor’s budget.

    The ordinance before the Rules Committee reappoints Ald. Pat Dowell (3) and Ald. Ameya Pawar (47) to the committee. Ald. Rick Munoz (22) would replace former Ald. Ray Suarez (31) to become the newest alderman to join the seven member group, which according to enacting legislation must include: Chairman of the Budget Committee Ald. Carrie Austin (34), Chairman of the Finance Committee Ald. Ed Burke (14), and representatives from two of the following three categories: a current or former representative from a civic or public interest group union, or business.

    Carole Brown, the City’s new Chief Financial Officer, was one of those representatives when she was in her former role as Chairman of the Chicago Transit Authority. She’ll have to forfeit her seat. Joseph Pijanowski, with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local 126A, will likely keep his seat, according to Ald. Pawar, who also says the group will likely meet on a quarterly basis.

  • The committee confirmed Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s appointment of Ginger Evans as the City’s new Commissioner of Aviation after dishing out over an hour’s worth of praise for her resume and 30-year industry background.

    Start Time: 10:03
    Committee Members Present: Chairman Mike Zalewski (23), Vice-Chair Ameya Pawar (47), Pat Dowell (3), Raymond Lopez (15), Willie Cochran (20), Ariel Reboyras (30), Gilbert Villegas (36), Margaret Laurino (39), Pat O’Connor (40), Anthony Napolitano (41), John Arena (45)

    Evans did not shy away from detailing major investment plans, from a high-speed rail connecting O’Hare to downtown Chicago, to a redesign of the Kennedy Expressway, to an aggressive marketing campaign targeting international tourists. “There is great potential to build on and enhance Chicago’s Aviation system with actions we can take right now, and by developing bold plans for the future,” Evans told the committee.

    Plans for high-speed rail between downtown and O’Hare have been floated for years. The CTA and the city are currently in the process of surveying travelers to find out how they access the airport. Mayor Emanuel has made repeated calls for an express service to the Loop to complement blue line service.

    But several aldermen were also concerned with what they called a more pressing issue: an exorbitant amount of noise complaints stemming from O’Hare’s recently expanded runways. “My biggest ask is communication,” Ald. Margaret Laurino told Evans. “It is very important that you keep us in the loop on what issues are coming forward, how we can address the concerns of our neighbors that have to deal with the noise of these runways [...] especially overnight.”

    Evans said it was an issue all major cities are trying to address. In Denver, Evans said she helped the city as it made the “radical decision” to build a new airport far outside city limits. She also offered up the example of New York City, which insulated homes and changed flight times. She also suggested that once the current fleet of aircrafts expire, there could be an entire redesign of airplane engines.

    Ald. Anthony Napolitano, whose ward encompases O’Hare Airport, was pleased with the ideas. “Beautiful. I can’t wait to work with you.”

  • The Committee approved two ordinances renewing Class 6(b) tax incentives for the MRC Polymers INC warehouse on 3535 W. 31st Street (22nd Ward) and the Berkshire Refrigerated Warehouse on 4550 S. Packers Ave (20th Ward).

    Committee Members Present: Chairman Howard Brookins Jr. (21), Leslie Hairston (5), Gregory Mitchell (7), Patrick Daley Thompson (11), David Moore (17), Michael Scott, Jr. (24), Jason Ervin (28), Milly Santiago (31), Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35), Tom Tunney (44), John Arena (45), Ameya Pawar (47)

    Edward Lewis, with the Department of Planning and Development, testified in support of MRC Polymer’s request to renew a 2003 designation set to expire. The 65,000 square-foot warehouse sits on three acres of land and is part of the Little Village TIF.

    Essie Banks, a project manager with the Department of Planning and Development, testified in support of the Berkshire’s application to renew a Class 6(b) designation from 2005. The property is located in the Stockyards Industrial Corridor, Planned Manufacturing District 8, 47th Ashland TIF, and the new Community Area in the 21st Ward. According to Banks, the family-owned business focuses on cold storage warehousing and has been in business at the current location since the 1950s. The company has already invested $11M in two additional expansions.

  • The Committee met briefly yesterday morning to approve receipt of federal grants, donation of a bus to a non-profit and an internal committee funds transfer, which Chairman Austin will report out to the full City Council today.

    Committee Members Present: Chairman Carrie Austin (34), Brian Hopkins (2), Leslie Hairston (5),  Roderick Sawyer (6), David Moore (17), Derrick Curtis (18), Matt O’Shea (19), Willie Cochran (20), Rick Muñoz (22), Michael Scott Jr. (24), Jason Ervin (28), Ariel Reboyras (30), Milly Santiago (31), Scott Waguespack (32), Deb Mell (33), Tom Tunney (44), James Cappleman (46)

    The first ordinance brought by the Office of Budget and Management asked that the Committee approve an additional $8.2M in unappropriated federal and state grant funds. According to Rosalind Stevens, the director of administration for the Department of Budget and Management, city departments received the following grants:

    • $3.68M in federal funding from the Centers for Disease Control to the City’s Health Department to “conduct preparedness activities for civilians and monitoring of Ebola virus diseases over a three year period.”

    • $61,000 in federal funding from the from the U.S. Department of Education to the City’s Health Department to pay for the Child and Adult Care Food Program. The funds will pay for inspections for child and adult care sites.

    • $2.63M from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to the City’s Health Department for the Hospital Preparedness Program for Ebola preparedness and response activities. The funds will be used over five years to isolate, transport and treat patients suffering from Ebola.

    • $112,000 in private funds the Department of Family and Support Services asked to be rolled over. The private funds include $112,000 for the Foster Grandparent Program and $49,000 for the Senior Companion Program.

    • $1.7M in federal funds from the U.S. Department of Health and Urban Development for the Department of Family and Support Services for the Shelter Plus Care Program. The funds will provide permanent supportive housing for disabled and homeless households.

    • $210,000 in federal funds the Chicago Police Department received from the U.S. Department of Justice through the Research Triangle Institute National Crime Statistics Exchange. The funds will be used to “modify and enhance the Departments’ citizen and law enforcement analysis and reporting system.”

    • $373,000 in federal funds the City’s Office of Emergency Management received from the U.S. Department of Homeless Security through the Illinois Emergency Management Agency. The program helps pays for the unique planning, equipment training and exercise needs of high threat, high density urban areas.

    • The Health Department and Office of Emergency Management also asked approval to enter into an agreement with the Illinois Medical Districts Guest House for $90,000 in grant funds; half of the money comes from the Bioterrorism Terrorism Response Grant to pay for emergency house services.

    The committee also okayed the Department of Fleet and Facilities Management's request to donate an out-of-service Chicago Public Library bus to Growing Power, Inc., a Wisconsin-based non-profit. According to Deputy Commissioner Jennifer Muse, Growing Power would repurpose the bus into a mobile produce truck to sell locally grown fruits and vegetables in underserved areas. Muse says Growing Power received a federal grant to launch the program, which will make approximately 2,200 community stops over a 50 week period. The FFM also wants to donate $50,000 in fuel and $60,000 in maintenance services to the company. Muse stated in her testimony that the Department wants to donate one bus, but the ordinance lists two. George Blakemore provided the only testimony, asking how many black farmers participate in the program.

    When Ald. Austin asked Ald. Derrick Curtis (18) to second her motion to approve the ordinance, she called him out for not paying attention, “Ald. Curtis  has a motion due pass--HEY, [Ald. Curtis] LOOK AT ME," Austin demanded before laughing and repeating the motion.

    Aldermen also approved an ordinance authorizing a transfer of funds within the City Council Committee on Housing and Real Estate. It passed without discussion or elaboration as to what those funds are.

    At the end of the meeting, Ald. Ariel Reboyras (30) moved that two permanent City Council Subcommittees be reestablished: the Subcommittee of MBE/WBE Matters and the Subcommittee on Miscellaneous Matters.

  • The City Council's newly formed LGBT Caucus will formally announce their inception at a press conference immediately following today's City Council meeting. With the recent addition of Ald. Raymond Lopez (15) and Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35) to the Council, there are now five openly gay aldermen comprising 10% of the 50-member body. Other members include Ald. Tom Tunney (44), Ald. James Cappleman (47), and Ald. Deb Mell (33).

    Caucus members have told Aldertrack that they have been meeting on a regular basis to discuss legislative priorities, but this will be the first time they speak to the public as an organized group.

  • A number of ordinances regulating downtown entertainment passed the License and Consumer Protection Committee Tuesday. 42nd Ward ordinances to amend regulations of sidewalk cafes, alcohol at Navy Pier, and outdoor patio hours now advance before the full Council. The meeting concluded with quick approval of a number of liquor and grocery store licenses.

    Start Time: 11:11 a.m.
    Committee Members Present: Chairman Emma Mitts (37), Roderick Sawyer (6), Gregory Mitchell (7), David Moore (17), Matt O’Shea (19), Willie Cochran (20), Michael Scott Jr. (24), Walter Burnett Jr. (27), Chris Taliferro (29), Ariel Reboyras (30), Scott Waguespack (32), Pat O’Connor (40), Brendan Reilly (42), Michele Smith (43), Tom Tunney (44), John Arena (45), James Cappleman (46), Debra Silverstein (50)

    Aldermen passed an ordinance loosening rules on where visitors can carry alcohol at Navy Pier. Greg Steadman, Local Liquor Control Commissioner, says current liquor laws only allow alcohol between outdoor venues, so long as the drinks were bought on the Pier and transported in red plastic cups that identify the bar or restaurant that sold the drink. The proposed ordinance would expand those open-container rules to indoor venues, with the same security protocols. Steadman says this would help make Navy Pier a year-round attraction.

    Ald. Scott, Ald. Tunney, and Ald. Smith asked several follow-up questions about the ordinance. Steadman clarified that alcohol cannot leave the pier, there’s no BYOB allowed, and people can’t bring open alcohol containers to boats at Navy Pier, but can bring closed containers if they have a boat docked there. The ordinance passed by voice vote.

    Aldermen also voted to allow the rooftops around Wrigley Field to stay open and sell tickets for concerts through 2018. Ald. Tunney says this was initially done on a case-by-case basis, but in light of the recent renovations, he thought this ordinance would be more expedient.

    The Committee also advanced Ald. Brendan Reilly’s request to designate extra city workers to enforce the sidewalk cafe ordinance. “On the weekends, especially when there are not many city inspectors on the clock, that’s when we see most of our abuse to the outdoor cafe footprint.” He says, for example, the city could designate a ward superintendent to inspect cafes. Those violations would be routed through the Commissioner of Business Affairs’ office.

    George Blakemore testified that he’s seen multiple, “out of control” violations in Ald. Reilly’s lakefront ward. In response to Blakemore’s testimony, Ald. Sawyer suggested the city consider charging a square foot fee for sidewalk cafes, instead of a flat fee.

    Aldermen also re-upped an annual policy change allowing business district patios to stay open an extra hour, until midnight, during the summer season. The Committee also approved licensing for a bowling alley, movie theater, and a new Mariano’s in the 27th Ward. When asking for motion to move to pass, Chairman Mitts joked to Ald. Sawyer that he was jealous of the new Mariano’s, “You almost didn’t want to say that one, cause you’re hatin’ on it. I know you’re hatin’ on it, I see that look!”

    Chairman Mitts re-referred Ald.Tunney and Clerk Susana Mendoza’s ordinance O2015-4198 to amend the Municipal Code as it relates to the issuance to residential parking permits insurance to the Committee on Pedestrian and Traffic Safety. Chairman Mitts also deferred ordinances O2015-4196O2015-3713 and O2015-3723.

  • The Finance Committee advanced Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan to refinance existing debt by issuing up to $1.1B in general obligation bonds. It also approved $3.65M in legal settlements against the Chicago Police Department, one intergovernmental agreement for a redevelopment plan and appointments to Special Service Areas. All of these items will go before the full Council on Wednesday.

    Committee Members Present: Chairman Ed Burke (14), Vice Chair Patrick O’Connor (40), Pat Dowell (3), Leslie Hairston (5), Roderick Sawyer (6), Gregory Mitchell (7), Michelle Harris (8), Anthony Beale (9), George Cardenas (12), Marty Quinn (13), Toni Foulkes (16), Matt O’Shea (19), Willie Cochran (20), Rick Munoz (22), Michael Zalewski (23), John Arena (24), Danny Solis (25), Walter Burnett, Jr. (27), Jason Ervin (28), Ariel Reboyras (30), Scott Waguespack (32), Emma Mitts (37), Nick Sposato (38), Margaret Laurino (39), Tom Tunney (44), Harry Osterman (48), Joe Moore (49), Debra Silverstein (50)

    Other Aldermen Present: Raymond Lopez (15), David Moore (17), Michael Scott, Jr. (24), Milly Santiago (31), Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35)

    Bond Ordinance To Restructure Debt
    The committee overwhelmingly approved, with one dissenting vote from Ald. Scott Waguespack (32), an ordinance that greenlights an Emanuel Administration plan to restructure outstanding city debt with the issuance of an additional $1.1B in general obligations bonds that includes legal settlements and upcoming interest payments on existing debt. Although several committee members said they had a hard time understanding the language of the ordinance, and what was at stake if they failed to approve it (the most frequent comments aldermen made during the two hour debate), the ordinance received overwhelming approval.

    The plan is a necessary first step the City needs to take to reduce its exposure to outstanding variable-rate interest payments, according to testimony from Carole L. Brown, the city’s new Chief Financial Officer. Brown reported that once the city executes the sale of the new bonds, the city will have moved to fixed-rate debt which will be paid down over 30 years.

    The new debt helps phase out a financial tool known as “scoop and toss”, when borrowers refinance the principal and interest of long-term and extend the payments over a longer payment period. The practice, which is comparable to a homeowner continually refinancing their mortgage and extending the pay periods, is not a sustainable practice, but over the last ten years the city had relied on this method to pay for certain operating expenses when it presented its annual budget. Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced in April he is committed to phasing this process out by 2019, and this ordinance helps with that plan, according to Brown.

    Brown also said the accelerated timeline for the bond sale, which was made public late Thursday when the Finance Committee agenda was posted online, is largely due to Moody’s recent ratings downgrade of the city’s bonds. When the city’s credit rating fell to junk status last month, it made the city vulnerable to $2.2B in payments from lenders holding lines of credit with the city.

    According to Brown, the city has a line a line of credit with Morgan Stanley for $135M, plus an additional commitment for $200M that has not been allocated yet. The City also has a line of credit with Citigroup for O’Hare Airport totaling $140M and BMO Harris totaling $225M.

    Brown says the city minimized its risk of potentially defaulting on those payments by making a deal, known as a forbearance agreement, with the banks. Under the agreement, the banks waived their right to terminate outstanding loan repayments if the city promised to retire its exposure to variable interest rates in a timely basis.

    The City already took steps to get rid of half of the risk to the city’s corporate funds, Brown says. It eliminated about $918M in variable interest rate risk associated with general obligation bonds that date back to 2002 and terminated 21 swap agreements. Brown said this ordinance was crucial in eliminating the rest of that risk by paying for the following items:

    • $192M in general obligation swap termination costs. When the city was downgraded by Moody’s, the swaps had an automatic termination event. This means the swap counterparties could demand immediate payment and terminate the swap. The city was able to negotiate a discounted rate and terminate the swap. The city used commercial paper to pay off the termination cost. This ordinance pays the city back for that payment.

    • $150M for variable rate general obligation bonds converted to a fixed rate 

    • $40M in variable rate fees associated with Moody’s recent downgrade

    • $170M in a so-called “scoop and toss” bond levy issued in 2014, where debt was rolled into a interest-only loan. The levy was put in place during the 2014 budget process. The City had funded it with short-term commercial paper. This ordinance would pay down the commercial paper. There will still be $100M in outstanding commercial paper payments.

    • $35M towards a 2015 loan payment for the site of the former Michael Reese Hospital. This dates back to a deal Mayor Richard M. Daley made to buy the site so he could build an Olympic Village.

    • $19M for a lawsuit related to the parking meter deal. Ironically, Morgan Stanley, the firm the city chose to oversee the bond agreement, is a plaintiff in the lawsuit.

    • $62M for judgement against the city by Aqua Hotel. The city approved the hotel’s plan to build a public parking garage, which it wasn’t allowed to do under a separate agreement it made in 2006 to privatize downtown public parking garages. The agreement had a non-compete clause. Approving Aqua Hotel’s plan violated that clause.

    • $4M to terminate QTE equipment lease transaction

    • $180M to terminate a 2005 CTA Orange Line financing agreement

    • $75M in retroactive raises and pension payments for Chicago police officersthat date back to a 2014 contract negotiation the city made with the police union.

    • Two years of capitalized interest for the bonds. When Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35) asked what would happen after the first two years, Brown said that when the city eventually sells the bonds, it will put in a debt service levy associated with the debt on the bonds for the life of the bond deal. That means after the first two years, both the principal and interest on the bonds will be paid with the property tax levy.

    • The cost to issue the bonds. Financial fees to underwriters.

    Brown would not speculate on what she expects interest rates to be on the $1.1B in general obligation bonds, which she says the city hopes to sell later this summer. The city could end up issuing less debt, she says, depending on how much those rates could end up costing the city. Brown reiterated this point multiple times after several aldermen questioned whether it was appropriate for the city to incur additional debt at a time when the city already has too many bills to pay.

    Brown said she was confident the city wouldn’t have any trouble finding buyers for the new debt, because the response to the city’s bond sale three weeks ago was “great” with six-times as many interested buyers as there were bonds. “We should see agressive rates on this transaction based on just the favorable feedback we are getting from investors and the rating agencies and the general direction of the city.”

    Ald. Scott Waguespack (32), who voiced some of the committee’s most forceful criticism, quipped that the market would obviously be interested in junk bonds because it would mean a higher interest rate with a greater a greater return.

    Ald. John Arena (45) demanded to know what plans the city had in place to bring in additional revenue. Arena said that other than, “fines here and fees here,” the city has yet to devise a revenue strategy other than threatening a property tax increase. He added that it was “irresponsible” for the city to issue new debt without a revenue plan. “Many here on the Council and many taxpayers finally want to see us actually paying our bills and [have] the administration telling us what it costs to run the city based on our past debt,” he said, accusing the city of once again pushing off long-term debt by issuing new debt.

    Brown countered that not approving the plan would be more irresponsible because of the promises the city made to its lenders after the downgrade. She added the Emanuel Administration is committed to discussing new revenue proposals, but that would come later as part of a “larger discussion around not just this years budget, but budgets going forward.”

    There was also some concern about the city’s lack of involvement with local, women and minority-owned financial firms. The deal is underwritten by Morgan Stanley, who employs William Daley, Mayor Emanuel’s successor as White House Chief of Staff, and the brother of former Mayor Richard M. DaleyAld. Walter Burnett (27) and Ald. George Cardenas (12) spoke at length about their annoyance with the city for not doing enough to hire local, women, and minority-owned firms during bond sales. According to Brown, 50% of the financial fees associated with this bond deal will be paid to local firms and 30% will go towards minority and women-owned firms.

    Legal Settlements
    As the meeting approached the three-hour mark, the committee approved $3.65M in three financial settlements against Chicago police officers. Leslie Darling, with the city’s Law Department, provided a detailed brief of the first case and a short synopsis of the second and third settlements.

    Mary Daniel as Special Administrator of the Estate of Joshua Madison, Sr., deceased, and Shaunda Rogers v. Estate of Chicago Police Officer Robert Campbell & The City of Chicago (13 C 1682).

    According to Darling, Chicago Police Officer Robert Campbell and his partner fatally shot 21-year-old Joshua Madison, Senior Officer Campbell and his partner were responding to a report that drugs were being sold in a fast food parking lot. Mary Daniels sued the city for the wrongful death of Joshua Madison, Sr. on behalf of Madison’s two sons. Shaunda Rogers, who was in Madison’s car at the time of the incident, brought her own claims for assault, battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Darling recommended that the committee approve the settlement for the November 2, 2010 incident, because Officer Campbell, who was the city’s key witness to the event, died before the case made it to court. The plaintiffs had asked for $6M, but the Law Department brought the settlement down to $1M.


    Dana Cross v. City of Chicago, Officers Macario Chavez, Mohammed Ali, and Matilde Ocampo, cited as 12 C 4263, Now known as Tunoka Jett v. City of Chicago, Officers Macario Chavez, Mohammed Ali, and Matilde Ocampo, cited as 12 C 4263.

    Officers fired at 19-year-old Calvin Cross, Sr. 45 times during a foot chase. Officers believed Cross had a gun, according to Darling, but when the officers questioned Cross, he refused to comply and fled the scene, prompting the chase. A gun was later found at the spot of the first shooting, but since it wasn’t on Cross at the time of death, it would have been difficult for the city to prove it was Cross’ gun. The committee approved the Law Department's recommendation to settle the case out of court for $2M.


    Jose Salgado v. Hiram Gutierrez & City of Chicago (10 L 10568)

    According to Darling, 39-year-old Salgado was riding his bike to work down a designated bike lane when Officer Hiram Gutierrez opened the door of his parked squad car, hitting Salgado. The plaintiff sustained neck and shoulder injuries that required $250,000 in medical surgeries. The committee approved the Law Department’s recommendation to settle the case for $650,000.


    Other Items Discussed
    There was no discussion of Ald. Will Burns’ (4) resolution requesting the state deny Spike Lee’s film company, Forty Acres and A Mule Filmworks, an application for a Film Production Tax Credit for his new film Chiraq. Ald. Burns could not attend the meeting. Chairman Burke also defered an ordinance to amend the Municipal Code concerning the sale of wood products made with formaldehyde. The committee approved various appointments and reappointments to nine Special Service Areas.

    The Committee also signed off on two of the four ordinances proposed by the Department of Planning and Development. One of the approved ordinances [O2015-4195] is a redevelopment agreement to pay for infrastructure improvements for Amundsen High School. The other ordinance [O2015-4235] would approve a new loan agreement of $1.7M for Newberry Park Preservation Associates, LP. The other two ordinances [O2015-3708O2015-4207] to approve a Class 7(c) Tax Incentive Classification for 1056-1520 E. 87th Street and a new redevelopment plan for Maple Park Marketplace in the 34th Ward were held in committee.

  • Start Time: 10:12

    Members Present: Chairman Joe Moore (49), Vice-Chair Pat Dowell (3), Leslie Hairston (5),  Raymond Lopez (15), David Moore (17), Michael Scott Jr. (24), Deb Mell (33), Walter Burnett Jr. (28), Ariel Reboyras (30), James Cappleman (46)

    Department of Planning and Development Members who testified: Efrain Hernandez-Diaz, Sarah Wilson, Bryan Esenberg, Michele Rhymes, Tracy Sanchez, Cary Steinbuck

    All 12 items on the Housing and Real Estate Committee’s agenda passed in a relatively short meeting Monday. The only hiccup in the meeting was Chairman Moore (49) repeatedly mistaking new committee member Ald. David Moore (17) with Ald. Gregory Mitchell (7), which he soon corrected after the aldermen seated around him whispered repeated corrections. More Moores, more problems.

    Monday's action included a vote to re-up the Low Income Housing Trust Fund’s status as local administering agent for the Illinois Rental Housing Support Program (RHSP), meaning it distributes state rental housing support money in Chicago. Peter Strazzabosco, Deputy Commissioner for the Department of Planning and Development, says the agreement’s been renewed every four years since Illinois established the RHSP roughly a decade ago.

    Tom McNulty, the president of the LIHTF since its founding 25 years ago, says the fund is “breathing again” after a court case over the constitutionality of certain fees collected for the RHSP held up funds for two years. McNulty says the Fund is ready to find new projects and expand services. Several aldermen took time to praise the Fund’s work, including Chairman Moore (49), Ald. James Cappleman (46), and Ald. Pat Dowell (3), though Ald. Dowell had some questions about the frequency and transparency of the Fund’s subcontracting bidding process. Ald. David Moore said he looks forward to working with the Fund’s board to find ways to keep 17th Ward residents from being displaced.

    The committee also approved an amendment to a redevelopment agreement with Wings Metro LLC’s multi-use project in the Chicago Lawn neighborhood. The $8.2M project converts an old police station into a domestic violence shelter. The city already approved the negotiated sale of the land, but Monday’s ordinance clarified that the city is responsible for remediation of off-site contaminants found in a nearby alley left from an old gasoline tank.

    The committee also approved the $36K sale of a city-owned vacant lot at 265 E. Garfield Park that would become a landscaped venue with a pavilion for performances. The space will be leased to University of Chicago for arts programming. Ald. Dowell told the committee she had some questions about the pavilion. The committee voted to approve the issue for council, but Moore offered Dowell an opportunity to include further information for the full report to Council. The city also approved sale of a parcel at 1245-1257 E. 72nd Pl. for $88K that Kimbark Studios is planning to use as a public sculpture garden, and the conveyance of a once-vacant corner lot at 4200 S. Vincennes Ave. to Neighbor Space, who is already using the area as a block garden.

    Vice-Chair Dowell will present the committee’s report at Wednesday’s City Council meeting, as Ald. Moore will be out of town for a meeting.

  • The first order of business on today’s Finance Committee meeting is to rally support to deny Spike Lee’s production company’s application for a tax credit if Lee calls his controversial new film “Chiraq.” There’s also a communication from the city’s Chief Financial Officer recommending the Mayor’s plan to borrow $1.1 billion dollars to finish his debt restructuring plan, nine reappointments to Special Service Areas, and loan agreements totaling as much as $4.7 million dollars–one for a supportive living facility, the other for a rehabilitation of a residential building with 84 affordable rental units.
  • Today’s Committee on Housing and Real Estate meeting includes an ordinance to extend the city’s agreement with Low Income Housing Trust Fund for its implementation of the trust fund’s rental housing program. It gives grants to building owners and developers, who in turn reduce rents for low-income residents. The Trust Fund is the local administering agency (LAA) that distributes rental housing support funds–that designation expires June 30th, so does their agreement for city resources. According to its 2014 year-end report, the Trust Fund supported subsidies in more than 2,800 units of housing at an annual cost of $15.1 million. It’s the biggest city-funded rental assistance program in the country. Today’s agenda also includes a number of sales and negotiated sales in redevelopment project areas and the sale of two 9th Ward properties as part of the city’s Preserving Communities Together program.