Roundup: March 31, 2023

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1. City Council seizes power back from the Mayor

No matter which mayoral candidate wins the runoff on Tuesday, they will likely find themselves with less power over City Council — in a potential sea change for Chicago politics.

For generations, alderpeople have deferred their power to select Committee Chairs to the mayor, who normally chooses allies who will stay loyal to their agenda. This practice may soon come to an end, as City Council on Thursday passed a historic rules package that aims to claw back powers from the mayor and make itself a more independent legislative body.

The legislation that passed not only preempts Chicago’s next mayor by identifying Committee Chairs for the next term (here they are), but increase the number of Committees from 19 to 28, decrease the maximum size of Committees from 20 to 11 alders, and make it more difficult to introduce proposals at the last minute.

Unable to participate in the vote were the many first-time alders who will soon take office. Advocacy groups like the League of Women Voters of Chicago and Better Government Association had argued that City Council should hold off until these new alders could participate. But alders barreled forward anyway.

The new City Council that begins its term on Ma5 15 must vote on the rules package again, but the legislation likely has the votes to pass. Look out for how the new rules shift the balance of power in City Hall in a Brandon Johnson or Paul Vallas administration.

2. JCUA’s immigration platform is moving forward

Thanks to our coalition’s organizing, two important pieces of the 2023 ICIRR Platform are moving forward in Springfield!

The Drivers License legislation — which makes it so immigrants do not need to reveal their immigration status every time they show ID — and the Medical Debt legislation — which requires hospitals to screen uninsured patients for payment assistance — have passed in the Illinois House. Next up is the Senate and signing by Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

Take Action! Join JCUA and ICIRR in Springfield to help pass these bills and the rest of the 2023 platform on Wednesday, April 26 and Tuesday, May 9.

3. Two CVP projects break ground

Two projects supported by JCUA’s Community Ventures Program (CVP) broke ground this week.

In Chicago Lawn, our partners at the Greater Southwest Development Corporation (GSDC) broke ground on the rehabilitation of Churchview Supportive Living, for which CVP provided a $100,000 zero-interest loan. Churchview Supportive Living offers residents congregate dining, nursing support, an activities director, and other amenities. JCUA celebrated the ground-breaking this week alongside GSDC, Churchview residents, community leaders, and neighbors!

In Bronzeville, our partners broke ground on the Bronzeville Lakefront Development project at the site of the former Michael Reese Hospital. CVP awarded a $200,000 loan to cover predevelopment costs for the the ten-year project, which includes the creation of 300 affordable housing units for seniors.

Read about all of CVP’s current projects.

4. Dalya Lessem Elnecave on Bring Chicago Home

Youth leader Dalya Lessem Elnecave reflected on their involvement with JCUA the Bring Chicago Home campaign. Dalya got involved through our Youth Organizing Caucus, has been a JCUA intern, participates in the Housing & Economic Justice Committee, and most recently served as Mayor of Chicago for the People’s Hearing for Bring Chicago Home!

Read more about Dalya’s organizing trajectory and why they’re organizing to address Chicago’s homelessness crisis.

5. Mourning a social justice champion

JCUA sends love to our friends and partners at Jewish Community Action in Minnesota, who are mourning the loss of former Executive Director Vic Rosenthal (z”l).

During his years leading JCA, Vic collaborated with JCUA on important campaigns, including protesting inhumane working conditions at the Agriprocessors kosher meat packing plant in Postville and calling out ICE raids and the families broken apart by public policies.

Vic was an lifelong fighter for social justice, a dear friend to JCUA founder Rabbi Robert J. Marx (z”l), and a leader who helped build JCA into a powerful force for justice in Minnesota and beyond. May his memory be for a blessing. You can read more about him in an obtituary written by his son Ben, and attend funeral services online April 2.