While we try to keep up with music, the arts and whatever else is happening culturally in the city, news has never been more important. With the disintegration of important news outlets like DNAInfo & Chicagoist, along with the fact that music from the city continues to be paced by artists focusing on the social issues and politics that make the city move, it seems only right to keep an eye on the movements around the city to keep us all up to date on what’s going on. Check out some quick hits below and keep an eye out for my Live News show on Mild Sauce Radio beginning in January 2018. For now, get into all the news thats fit to post here below.
Two CPS Heads Out In ‘Pay to Play’ Scandal
Chicago Public Schools (CPS) General Counsel Ronald Marmer & CEO Forrest Claypool have both resigned from their positions within the organization following a series of revelations that revealed a pay-to-play scheme allegedly crafted by Marmer and covered up by Claypool.
It’s a disappointing development for the country’s third-largest public school district which utilizes $6.4 billion in public funds managing 514 public schools.CPS has been a talking point throughout 2017 from several angles, from Chance The Rapper & Gov. Bruce Rauner squaring off over the immense funding gap schools have been facing, as well as being a constant thorn in the side of Mayor Rahm Emanuel who oversaw the largest public school closing in American History back in 2012.
The resignations of Claypool and Marmer come following an ethics investigation that revealed that Marmer received a $1 million severance package from law firm Jenner & Block while also tapping them for work within CPS. Claypool was found to be engaged in “elaborate cover-ups” of Marmer’s behavior, including a “pattern of attorney shopping, record changing and lies to investigators.”
The investigation found that Claypool also lied several times to investigators about his dealings with Marmer and the law firm. Despite that, Emanuel at first pushed back against accepting his resignation, instead pointing to his eventual apology as a sign of “character”. Claypool follows an illustrious line of Chicago public servants in the role. His predecessor, Barbara Byrd-Bennett was sentenced to four and a half-years in federal prison in 2015 for her part in a bribery scandal, and Jean-Claude Brizard resigned in 2012 following the teacher’s strike that year.
“Claypool and Marmer’s resignations come as Chicago’s school system receives a $499 million budget increase. Chicago taxpayers have also seen their property taxes increase by 10 percent, three-fifths of which is earmarked for the Chicago Teachers’ Pension Fund.” — Reason.com
CTA Ups Fares For 2018
In the latest edition of Chicago and America’s general assault on the everyday person, city & CTA officials agreed to a $.25 increase in bus and train fares, to begin on January 7, 2018.
While CTA did not announce any reductions to service in the next year, the fare hikes are the first since 2009 and shake out across the board: bus fares with a Ventra card would go up from $2.00 to $2.25. Cash fares would go up from $2.25 to $2.50. Train fares also would go up from $2.25 to $2.50. A 30-day unlimited ride pass would go up from $100 to $105.
The fare increase will also not immediately result in more transportation resources for a city sorely in need. While bus ridership has dipped over the last few years, the Blue Line is one of several train lines that have seen a surge in popularity, spurred by building booms along Milwaukee Ave from Wicker Park to Logan Square and beyond. Chicago Magazine did a great piece illustrating the packed train cars frequenting the Blue Line, a reality that could potentially be resolved by the increase. It is Chicago, though, after all.
EPA Quotes $84.9 Million For East Side Lead Cleanup
While many have heard the trials and tribulations of Flint, Michigan and they’re battle against tainted water, the city of Chicago has quietly been dealing with it’s own cleanup efforts on the east side of town, which last week was quoted at $84.9 million, four times its original price.
While the problems of areas like the west and south sides have been repeatedly highlighted as violence and crime has piqued interest of those locally and abroad, the issues the east side has faced have been numerous. The area is considered a Lead Superfund site,a list of 21 sites across the county in need of immediate and intense attention by the EPA, who has overseen efforts to clean up the land and remove harmful chemicals left over from generations of industry in the area.
“EPA has determined that the number of properties requiring remediation, the size of those properties and the extent of contamination at those properties are all greater than what was originally estimated,” the EPA said in the report.
According to the Chicago Tribune: “the total volume of contaminated soil to be excavated has gone from roughly 47,000 cubic yards to about 88,000 cubic yards, according to the report, and the estimated cost per cubic yard has gone from $115 to $471.”
Despite the cost increases, those in charge have stressed the fact that the timetable to complete the excavation of up to 24 inches of ground that will then have to be transported, disposed of and replaced.
The added cost does not include the portion of the site that includes the West Calumet Housing Complex and former Carrie Gosch property. The EPA is reviewing alternatives for the remediation in that area, according to the document.
“The EPA may fundamentally change the remedy for those areas,” the EPA’s report said.