Local Opinion

Organization Responds To Allegations From CSJ Report

By Chris Shickles | Thursday, November 10, 2011

In response to Wednesday’s article Politically Connected Group Gets City Contracts, 500K A Year For Little Work, the Ravenswood Community Council would like to clarify misinformation and dispel the notion that the RCC is not an effective community organization.  The RCC is adamant that painting the current organization in this light is irresponsible on behalf of the Center sq journal’s Jordan Graham and Mike Fourcher, and ultimately harmful to our community.  The foundation of this article is grounded on work done in 2007-2008, quotes ex-board members Nancy Benjamin and Martha Cameron, who fled the organization during this time amid a cloud of financial mismanagement by previous Exec. Director Anne Kamykowski, whom they supported and were culpable with during repeated financial blunders, quotes old city audits performed during this time period, and reflects a misunderstanding of RCC budgets and Greater Ravenswood Special Service Area #31.

Ravenswood Investigation Series
Ravenswood Council: $500k for Little Work

Frm. Ald. Schulter’s Response

Current Ald. Pawar’s Response

Ravenswood Chamber Financial Problems

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RCC stands today as a community organization working on multiple city contracts for Industrial and Commercial business development, much like other local chambers and industrial councils. RCC will also fulfill its contract of assisting 25 local low-income seniors to age in place in our community and providing assistance to our communities’ most vulnerable seniors. The addition of new staff has led to progressive improvements of the delivery of services to the community. In addition, the Greater Ravenswood Special Service Area #31, which is not a city contract but a special taxing district created three years ago to reduce the administrative costs of multiple SSA’s, has proven effective in returning as many dollars as possible back to the streets for clean and green services. Moreover, all of these contracts fall under intense scrutiny by the city, our elected officials, and the business community charged with overseeing these funds. As a community organization that receives city grants there is a necessary working relationship with all local government offices and community organizations. RCC challenges Mr. Graham and Mr. Fourcher to inform themselves more thoroughly before publishing misinformation regarding RCC, the SSA, and our city contracts. As is often the case, the journal has mis-interpreted the information they have received.  For example, The Journal reports that RCC receives an additional $368,000 in administering the Special Service Area contract. In fact, RCC will receive about $50,000 in service provider compensation for managing the SSA which is in line with other similar sized SSAs throughout the city.  In an effort to be as transparent as possible, most of this information is accessible on our website. www.ravenswoodcommunity.org. RCC Board President Tom O’Donnell is on record stating that, “The RCC has always been focused on ensuring that every dollar that we receive is returned to the streets of Ravenswood through direct community involvement for local seniors, neighborhood businesses, and local events.  The current employees of the Ravenswood Community Council are active volunteers in the community, support local businesses, and have significant working relationships with local residents and organizations. I am proud of our hard-working and capable staff and the benefits of their hard work are apparent in our community. We have turned the corner on past events and are focused on improving our community.”

Chris Shickles is the Executive Director of the Ravenwood Community Council. This response is unedited and published as is.

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  • Anonymous

    Hi, Chris,
    Nah, we didn’t flee.  We quit for ethical reasons.  The community was not being served, yet the RCC continued to get city funds.   I understand the necessity for you to cast your organization in a good light.  So perhaps you can explain to the readers the 2009 City of Chicago study, two years after Anne’s departure (during whose tenure you served as her assistant) that stated that the RCC was not worthy of funding.  Or why the administrative budget is out of proportion with your operating budget.  Or why it took the press Freedom of Information Act requests to obtain this information.  Or why the board members are nearly wholly comprised of 47th ward appointees.  I’m sure the members of the press who you disparage would appreciate it.  And I think the members of this community deserve to know. 
    Concerned citizen and long-time resident, Nancy Benjamin

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