I respect the Austin Weekly News’ recommendation of Ald. Ed Smith for Recorder of Deeds. I am not sure of the criteria used to rate his qualifications, but I hope this letter will lend some insight into Ed Smith’s lack of accomplishments, and his empty rhetoric.
Unfortunately, Ed Smith has been all smoke but no fire, and all talk with no action.
He turned his back on the Austin community and supported the Chicago Public School’s closing of Austin High School in 2004. He then remained silent about the problems associated with the school’s closing. He said nothing about the increased violence and lack of additional security at the receiving schools. Nothing was said about those schools having no support services for the displaced Austin students. Ed Smith never held CPS accountable for the mess associated with the closing of Austin High School.
The community, not Smith, fought for and secured up to $140 million in capital improvements for schools in his 28th Ward.
The new Westinghouse High School was announced at the same time as Little Village and North Grand high schools. These schools were built. But CPS did not begin to move on the Westinghouse construction until a small group of concerned residents and parents lobbied for it.
When the construction was jeopardized by bids over the initial budget, we organized parents and met with both the Chicago Public Building Commission and CPS to ensure that the new school will be built.
CPS wanted the new Westinghouse to be 100 percent selective enrollment. This would have closed Westinghouse to 95 percent of West Side students. I personally lobbied and worked with CPS to develop a formula guaranteeing seats for students living in the immediate Westinghouse community. The school will be 50 percent selective enrollment and 50 percent vocational.
During a January 2007 meeting with the Public Building Commission to discuss garnering contracts for West Side contractors, Ed Smith walked out of the meeting because he wanted an Olympic-sized swimming pool built at the Westinghouse site.
Per the list of subcontractors listed on the PBC website, no West Side contractors were awarded a contract despite a local community organization compiling a list of qualified local contractors. Westinghouse is 40 percent MBE/MBW – zero West Side contractors.
The former Austin Local School Council (LSC), Austin Transitional Advisory Council (TAC), West side Ministers Coalition, and others, lobbied CPS to keep its commitment to renovate the Austin campus building. The building is currently undergoing a $30 million renovation. During the first renovation in 2006, there were only 3 African-Americans out of a workforce of 90 working at the building. This was brought to Ald. Smith’s attention, yet, no action and no effort from him. Again, I personally challenged CPS to pressure the contractors to hire a workforce reflective of the Austin community. CPS complied. Austin is 50 percent MBE/MBW.
The proposed Marshall Campus Park/Stadium was announced in the mid ’90s. CPS acquired the land around Marshal High School. The lots are still vacant. I assisted with a local community organization and the Marshall LSC to get the project moving. The PBC currently has an architectural firm working on the design.
Ed Smith has failed to secure desperately needed jobs for African-Americans.
It is shameful and pathetic that he criticized the mayor for the City of Chicago’s low percentage of contracts awarded to African-American businesses. Instead, he chose to make no effort to change these situations other than to show up at meetings, make a fiery speech, and cash his paycheck.