City Council Reform
Lincoln Yards Survey
Public Safety Update
Dear Neighbor,

As you know, a series of events led Alderman Edward Burke (14) to resign his longtime post as Finance Committee Chair today. This happened after the federal government charged Alderman Burke with extortion.

We can seize this opportunity to bring long overdue change to City Council by enacting reforms that some Aldermen and I have strongly advocated for over several years.
These measures for accountability and transparency will result with specific changes:

Strengthen the City Inspector General
  • Reintroduce the ethics ordinance I co-authored, which lets the Inspector General audit the Council and Committees.
  • Give the Inspector General subpoena power and the ability to enforce them.

Limit City Council Committee Functions
  • Move $100 Worker's Compensation Committee to the Executive Branch. 
  • Audit Workmen's Compensation.

Strengthen Ethics Guidelines
  • Ban campaign contributions to Committee Chairmen from parties seeking their relief.
  • End "recusals" allowing Council members to leave only during a final vote but have participation throughout a matter's life.

City Council Transparency
  • Make COFA independent of the Budget Committee.
  • Create a City Council Committee calendar to promote predictability and public participation.
  • Live-stream Committee hearings the same way we currently do for the monthly City Council sessions.

The fight for reform has yielded some successes.

In 2013 like-minded Aldermen joined me to create COFA, the Council Office of Financial Analysis, the first official independent source of budget analysis in the history of Council. In 2016, I co-authored the ordinance allowing the Inspector General to review City Council. This ordinance  included  the ability to audit City Council programs and committees. Most recently, I joined with Ald. Scott Waguespack to transfer the Workmen’s Compensation department to the Law Department to shine a light on this largely unexamined $100M dollar entity. This will hopefully be voted upon at the next Council meeting. 

 We must not let these events sour us on government but use the opportunity to create the Chicago we deserve and can be proud of.   

When I first became your Alderman, there was no ethical oversight of Council; no limits on campaign contributions; no limits on Mayoral contributions and no independent budget information. We have made strides but there is far to go.
Lincoln Yards Survey

I encourage you to share your opinions of the Lincoln Yards project with Alderman Hopkins in his latest survey. Also, continue to comment to the City of Chicago and please give me your feedback. Here is a brief update on the status.

A meeting held before the New Year, attended by 1000 people, showed strong dissatisfaction with the latest Lincoln Yards proposal by Sterling Bay and strong support for a public park by the river. For a stream of that meeting, click here.

Most participants questioned the use of $800 million in TIF funds to pay the infrastructure needs of the private development. In addition, Chicago Tribune architectural critic, Blair Kamin, wrote an incisive and highly critical review, urging the city to "slow it down."

The next step is formal public consideration of the TIF district which does not yet include property acquisition or planning for a real park as the Department of Planning and Development stated. You can read the entire TIF proposal here.

As currently written, the TIF proposes an $800 million "bucket" for an unspecified number of projects. It is rare for a TIF to lack basic details about the allocation of funds. 

With no specificity in the TIF plan, our community does not know if any public amenity or road improvement will be built.

Next Steps

The public next step is a meeting of the "Joint Review Board" scheduled for Friday January 11, 2019 at 10 a.m. in Room 1003A (10th Floor City Hall).

According to the Rules for the Community Development Commission, "The Joint Review Board votes whether to recommend approval of the TIF district." This approval is necessary before the Community Development Commission can approve a TIF District.

Also, there is a special public meeting scheduled for February 19th where you can urge the City to amend the TIF language to include purchasing land for a public park, and initiate eminent domain procedures on the east bank of the Chicago River (the General Iron site). Sterling Bay should also be required to contribute its parcel next to the proposed park site to help meet public benefit requirements of a TIF for their massive, $5 Billion plan.

Thank you for your unflagging involvement in this defining issue and please, if you can, attend these meetings to express your views.
Public Safety Update

I want to commend the 19th District police officers on excellent work leading to a successful arrest. On December 22nd, two men committed a string of robberies in the area. The crimes were committed at:

  • 800 block of West Diversey 8:50 PM December 22nd, 2018
  • 2200 block of North Fremont 8:15 PM December 22nd, 2018

In Case number 18112429201, Deandre Wilson is charged with felony offenses of Armed Robbery with a Firearm (2 counts), and Unlawful Use of a Weapon by a Felon. He is also charged with one count of misdemeanor Reckless Conduct.  On December 24th, Wilson was ordered held NO BAIL. The other offender will appear in juvenile court.

The next court date is Friday, January 18, 2019 at Br. 42, at 9 a.m. If you would like to join our court advocacy program and attend court to let the offender and courts know that crime is not tolerated in our Ward, please contact us .
Important Chicago Police Beat Meetings Next Week

Please attend the meeting closest to your home. If you are unsure of your beat district, you can find it here.
18th District -Special Safety Meeting
BEAT 1811, BEAT 1812, BEAT 1813, BEAT 1814
Thursday, January 10th
Old Town Triangle Association
1763 N. North Park Avenue
6:00 PM.

Commander Dan O'Shea (18th District) will attend to discuss recent incidents in Old Town. OEMC, Office of Emergency Management, will present information on private security cameras, and block captain training.
18th District BEAT 1824 (Gold Coast)
Tuesday, January 8th
18th District Chicago Police Department
1160 N. Larrabee Street
6:00 PM.
19th District BEAT 1932 
Monday, January 14th
New Life Church
1110 W. Lill Avenue
6:30 PM.

19th District BEAT 1935 
Monday, February 11th
2nd Unitarian Church
656 W. Barry Avenue.
6:30 PM.
Shared Sidewalk Program
Tuesday, January 8th

The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT)'s popular  Shared Cost Sidewalk Program  reopens for applications on Tuesday, January 8th beginning after midnight. Shared Cost is a voluntary program allowing property owners to share the cost of sidewalk repair with the City. Applications are taken on a first-come, first-served basis. The number of participants is based on availability of funds.

Applications will only be accepted through the City's 311 system by calling 311 or online at .

For complete information, please visit CDOT's   website .
2019 Christmas Tree Recycling

Remember to  recycle your Christmas Tree January 5-19th. Please do not toss trees into the City Trash can or leave them in the alley, as they can be a fire hazard and prevent emergency and garbage vehicles navigating the alley.

Here in the 43rd Ward, the closest place to recycle your tree is in Lincoln Park on Cannon across from the Peggy Notebaert Museum. The City's Forestry Department will give you free compost from your tree. You must remove all tinsel and lights.

Tree Pick Up Service:
Healthy Soil Compost, a Chicago composting service, is offering Christmas Tree pickups across Chicago through the end of January. The cost is $35 for current Healthy Soil Compost members, $45 for non-members. For additional trees at the same location, the cost is just $15 so it can pay off to get the neighbors involved too.

Contact  Healthy Soil Compost by phone 312-927-4778 or email for service. 

Ten percent of the proceeds from Healthy Soil Compost's tree pickups will be donated to support  Zero Waste Chicago, a local do-good non-profit, dedicated to reducing waste. 
Check Out the New 43rd Ward Website
See you in the neighborhood,

Michele Smith
43rd Ward Alderman
43rd Ward Office Hours: M 9 AM - 7 PM, T - F 9 AM - 6 PM 
  2523 N Halsted  |  773-348-9500
Text Us for Constituent Services: 773-906-4333