Archives:

Rush vs. Jackson

by Beauty Turner Assistant Editor

On March 21, the voters of the First Congressional District in Illinois will have a choice between their longtime incumbent Congressman, Bobby Rush, and former Chicago Housing Authority CEO and director of the Black Star Project Phillip Jackson. RJ decided to interview the two candidates.

Former CHA CEO Phillip Jackson, top, is challenging U.S. Congressman Bobby Rush (D-1) for his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Photos by Beatuy Turner

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Cook County Presidential Race

by Mary C. Piemonte Editor-in-Chief

As the two Democratic frontrunners for the Cook County Board President were prepping for primary race elections in March, Residents’ Journal spoke to incumbent Cook County Board President John Stroger and to his contender, Cook County Commissioner Forrest Claypool, about their plans for the poor. In in-depth interviews at their offices in January, both were asked about housing, health care and ex-offender services as well as recent juvenile detention center scandals. RJ also questioned both about the ethics of campaign contributions from employees and contractors.
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Troubling Development Update

by Beauty Turner Assistant Editor

Dearborn Homes; New Crack City?
Dearborn Homes are becoming like New Jack City,” said Joyce Van Allen, a long time resident of the development, in an interview in January, 2006.

“More like New Crack City,” Louisa Samuel, a relocated resident from Robert Taylor, said as she was visiting Van Allen’s apartment from next door. The residents reported a decrease in violent crime and an increased police presence but complained about a sharp rise in the drug dealing taking place on the property.

“Last year, we had no protection down here,” Van Allen told RJ, “but this year the police presence has increased.”
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Deadly Moves II

by Mary C. Piemonte Editor-in-Chief

In Deadly Moves, a series of articles produced by Residents Journal and the Chicago Reporter magazine in the fall of 2004, a year long investigation found that the murder rate increased in public housing developments and areas where CHA residents had been relocated across the city under the Chicago Housing Authoritys $1.6 billion Plan for Transformation. The articles appeared simultaneously in both publications and resulted in a new police pilot program.

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Update: Questions Linger, Contributions Dwindle

by Ethan Michaeli, Publisher 

Well over one-half of the contributions to a political fund closely linked to Chicago Housing Authority CEO Terry Peterson came from CHA contractors, affiliated companies or their employees and officers, according to an analysis by Residents’ Journal and the Better Government Association.

Over 60 percent of the itemized individual contributions to the 17th Ward Democratic Organization in 2005 came from CHA contractors and related sources, according to a comparison of records filed with the Illinois Board of Election Commissioners with lists of CHA contractors. The overall total of contributions to the 17th Ward Democratic Organization dropped dramatically in 2005 as compared with previous years after three straight years of increasing totals. The 17th Ward Democratic Organization saw its donations drop to their lowest level since 2001.

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Victory at Bridgeport Homes

by Mary C. Piemonte Editor-in-Chief

For years, the resident leaders of the South Side CHA Bridgeport Homes public housing complex said that Legum and Norman, the private property management firm for the public housing site, were poor managers.

The resident representatives at the complex often reported to the CHA officials the concerns and problems they were experiencing with the management company. Residents’ complaints range from long-standing work orders that were not addressed, to poor roofing work done in a rows of units housing seniors during the winter, to allegations of mismanagement of public funds by former property managers of the company, to one manager’s alleged violation of federal rules by granting a prison inmate permission to live with his sister at the CHA site currently under rehabilitation. Because of the residents’ continued complaints about the private property management company, Legum and Norman, a Virginia based company, also came under scrutiny for their campaign donations. Legum and Norman’s only business interests in Illinois seem to be in Chicago and the company made their only political donations in Illinois to the 17th Ward Democratic Organization, where there is no public housing or redevelopment activity. “A Questionable Connection,” an investigation done by Residents’ Journal in collaboration with the Better Government Association and published in the last issue, detailed an analysis of the Illinois State Campaign Contribution Disclosure Forms and CHA contract agreements which showed that Legum and Norman gave before and after receiving contracts from the CHA. But they made no campaign donations to any other wards since working in Chicago. The 17th Ward is currently home to CHA CEO Terry Peterson, who was also the former alderman of the ward. Current 17th Ward Alderman Latasha Thomas confirmed in “A Questionable Connection” that Peterson remains actively involved in 17th Ward affairs.
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Publisher’s Box

by Ethan Michaeli, Publisher 

We’re back. Our regular readers will notice that Residents’ Journal has not published in a few months. I apologize for this delay. As a not-for-profit organization, we are dependent on foundation support, and the grants did not come in the way we hoped for in 2005.

I will admit that there were times the Residents’ Journal staff wondered if we would ever publish again. But we kept at it, broadcasting over our Web site, www.wethepeoplemedia.org, and on “Residents’ Journal TV,” our television program on the CAN-TV network. We also reached out for help and got great support both from our fellow journalists and from the broader community. In the spring, the Chicago Headline Club announced that Editor-in-Chief Mary C. Johns and Assistant Editor Beauty Turner – as well as our partners at the Chicago Reporter, Alden Loury and Brian Rogal – won first place in the Media Collaboration category for our report, “Deadly Moves.” In the summer, the Society of Professional Journalists announced that “Deadly Moves” won the First Place Award in the first-ever New America category. I got to accompany Mary and Beauty when they went to the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. to pick up their award. I even got to take the photo of Mary posing with legendary CBS anchorman Dan Rather. The “Deadly Moves” team was asked to train other journalists on the techniques of successful collaborations at the SPJ convention in Las Vegas later that year.
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