First 47th Ward Council Meeting Focuses On Logistics

By Mike Fourcher | Friday, October 28, 2011

Thirty five 47th Ward Council members and their alternates met for the first time last night. Credit: Mike Fourcher

Last night’s first 47th Ward Council meeting wrapped up after 90 minutes with no specific directives or issues posed by Ald. Ameya Pawar, but instead focused on logistical issues, a speech from Pawar on his vision for the Council and Pawar answering some questions about ward issues.

Conducted in the basement of the Ravenswood United Church of Christ, 2050 W. Pensacola Ave., thirty five Council delegates selected from block clubs around the ward were arrayed in a official-looking semi-circle while about a dozen onlookers were seated in an “Observer’s Gallery.” Pawar invited everyone in the meeting to speak, but after introductions, less than ten Council members spoke up while Pawar took the lion’s share of the meeting discussing his plans for the group and the ward.

Nonetheless, council members said they were happy with the first meeting.

“This was largely what I was expecting,” said council member Eric Sinclair. “I think tonight was largely discovery. It’s going to take four to six of these to find out how it goes.”

“It was an informative first start, I think. We established the groundwork. But we didn’t get into the nitty gritty. It’s still open as to how we’re going to approach that. Maybe we’ll get there in the next meeting,” said council member Yvonne Law.

Pawar told the group that he hoped it would focus on running emergency preparedness seminars, organizing block club meetings and parties, informing him on priorities for ward menu money spending, help abate flooding problems across the ward and help create a zoning and planning priorities document for the ward.

One council member spoke up to say that twelve council members met before the meeting and determined they wanted to focus on revitalizing schools, gangs and graffiti, pedestrian safety and ward cleanliness, including rodent control. Pawar responded that the council should create committees to focus on these and other issues, but no action was taken in the meeting to create those committees.

During a question and answer session, Pawar responded to a number of questions from the council about current ward issues including:

  • Would block clubs help administer Tax Increment Financing districts? No, said Pawar. But he would like their input on how to spend TIF dollars.
  • What will happen in the ward remap process? Pawar thinks the 47th Ward will not change much. [See more detail here.]
  • Ward service expectations should be curbed, said Pawar. Citywide, it now takes an average 18 months for the city to trim a tree, 76 days to replace a garbage bin and 71 days to remove graffiti.
  • Pawar says to expect, “a major announcement on Lake View High School in the next four weeks.”
  • Pawar says he has, “no power on police policies,” and that community members should not expect him to be able to get Chicago police to respond to his demands to improve police protection in response to crime.
  • In his opinion, the Chicago police force is large enough. “Fifty years ago there were a million more people in the city, and with less police,” Pawar said. “Today we’re a million short, and per capita we have more police than almost every major city in the U.S. This isn’t just a linear issue where you just keep hiring more police. If you hire 20% more police, crime isn’t going to go down 20%. The issues that drive crime are going to keep driving crime. It has very little to do with how many police you put on the ground. It’s just not how it works.”

Pawar suggested, and the group assented, that the council meet once a month. The next meeting was set for December 1, with the location to be determined.

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