Flawed public process at city hearing

Imagine a community larger than Evanston Township High School or New Trier Township High School without a central high school campus. Impossible, right?

There is such a community in the City of Chicago: the Austin neighborhood. It has been without a central high school for years. If communities such as Evanston, Winnetka, or Wilmette had no high school to serve the educational, athletic and recreational needs of their students, how long would it take their local government to come together to build an appropriate facility? Last week, Chicago’s city council ignored the voices of parents and children of the Austin community, who wanted a high school campus on a site perfectly suited to their needs-the abandoned Brach’s candy plant at 401 N. Cicero. Instead, the city council favored a public subsidy to allow the construction of a truck-terminal warehouse. Excuses for this action involved such arguments as the new school being “a bad signal to manufacturing interests,” and “against the zoning prerogatives of the alderman.” The requests of community organizers for information about the city’s $10 million subsidy and financial agreement with the suburban developer for the Brach’s parcel were disregarded. The pleas of the community fell on deaf ears with all the Aldermen voting in favor of subsidy measure. The lack of transparency concerning the public’s money benefiting private parties rather than for Austin’s needs would shock many. On the other hand, many may not be shocked at all. The time has come for the voices of Austin to be raised. Those who lack access to a fair public process must be heard. The students of Austin deserve to benefit from educational opportunities currently taken for granted by so many others.

Jacqueline Reed,
President of the Westside Health Authority

Reinstating of police unit a backward step

Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis, feeling pressure to stem the tide of violence, suggested he might reconstitute the discredited Special Operations Services. It sounds like panic and would be a giant step backwards. A better forward-looking move is a realignment of police beats, which places more beat officers in areas with the highest crime rates. There is a qualitative difference in professional policing when beat officers interact daily with neighbors as part of the community fabric, verses the SWAT tactics of the old SOS.

Mr. Weis has to be aware of the failure in over relying on the “SWAT” approach. And their are continuing investigations of SOS officers on police misconduct charges. Thos allegations led to the unit being dissolved. In reconstituted, their lack of supervision and accountability will cost millions in lawsuits and public trust. A recycled SOS is a bad idea. Weis should retract his pronouncements of reconstituting it immediately.

We have every right to expect the new top cop to bring fresh ideas and courage to the table. Mr. Weis should now champion a realignment of the beats, commit to community/police partnerships, and reassure all Chicagoans that public safety and police accountability are the hallmarks of good, effective law enforcement. In times like these, we need a steady hand and a clear head at the police helm. The jury’s still out on whether Mr. Weis is up to the task.

Rev. Dr. Marshall E. Hatch

Yasmine-your friends are still with you

Yasmine, you are missed by APA (Austin Polytech Academy where Yasmine is a student). You are a friend to many. You have a personality that is out of this world. Polytech hasn’t been the same without you-please come home soon. Everyone is worried about you. If someone is withholding her from the world, please let her go. Let her live the life that she deserves. Oh Yasmine-my crazy, smart, outgoing, loving, Yasmine-you are missed so much. Just come home where you belong.

Latoya Fondren

More needs to be done to bring Yasmine home

I am writing this because it is wrong that I haven’t heard more about this case on T.V. or on the front pages of larger newspapers. All this time I thought my prayers came true and she was home safe until the other day when I read the Austin Weekly News. It really hurt me so bad. So please, let’s all pray for her return, and also let’s start talking about it more on the TV news and in all the newspapers because somebody needs to step up to help return her home. It would be helpful for the police to get more involved because right now, it look’s like they do not care and that’s their job- to serve and protect.

Latanya McBride
Submitted at www.AustinWeeklyNews.com