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Protestors Rally to Keep Medicaid Services

by Mary C. Piemonte 
A protestor holds a sign expressing the sentiments of the gathering on Sept. 21. Photo by Mary C. Piemonte.

A protestor at a Sept. 21 rally against potential cuts to federal health care programs. Photo by Mary C. Piemonte.

Seniors and people with disabilities rallied outside of Federal Plaza in downtown Chicago this week, chanting “We will not be silent,” in an attempt to block cuts to Medicaid and Medicare.

The protestors were responding to on-going negotiations by the congressional “Super-Committee,” which is seeking ways to reduce the federal deficit, and may propose cuts to existing federal government programs.

The protestors gathered on Sept. 21 represented diverse organizations around the city and demanded that Illinois’ U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) “expand the use of home and community-based services; de-medicalize community services; expand consumer directed service options; reorganize Medicaid services to eliminate wasteful bureaucracy; and defend Social Security.”

The protest was organized by ADAPT and the Taskforce for Attendant Services, an advocacy group of Access Living, which is an organization for people with disabilities. The event was held “in solidarity” with a national protest happening in Washington D.C. and other protests throughout the country, according to Tom Wilson, an organizer with Access Living.

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Charlotte Housing Authority Chief takes CHA Position

by Mary C. Piemonte 

Mayor Rahm Emanuel's choice to head the Chicago Housing Authority, outgoing Charlotte, North Carolina, Housing Authority CEO Charles Woodyard. Photo from Charlotte Housing Authority website.

Carlos Ponce, interim chief of the Chicago Housing Authority is out, and Charles Woodyard, the CEO of the Charlotte Housing Authority since 2002, is in. Woodyard will govern CHA’s family and senior housing stock, and oversee the Plan for Transformation, which calls for 25,000 units of fully rehabilitated or renovated housing by 2015.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced today that Woodyard’s new position begins on October 24, and he added that Ponce will remain as a senior advisor “to help ensure a smooth transition.”

Ponce was put in place after former chief Lewis Jordan resigned after it was discovered that he and other CHA staff members were frivolously using credit cards for things not pertaining to the general operation of the public housing stock.

Emanuel said that Woodyard “has proven management ability and a history of innovation in public housing, and is the right man to lead the CHA to the successful completion of its Plan for Transformation and beyond,” stated Emanuel in a press release. “Throughout his career, Charles has focused on sound financial management and has dedicated himself to providing residents with affordable, sanitary and safe housing. In Charlotte, Charles was able to successfully integrate public housing into communities, a crucial element of Chicago’s Plan for Transformation. He has built strong partnerships with community groups and encouraged private sector investment in public housing, and we look forward to his leadership here in Chicago.”

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Forgotten History: Lecture on Black Aviators

by Mary C. Piemonte 

From left to right: 92 year old Tuskegee Airman Marshall Knox, Tyrone Haymore, the director and co-founder of the Robbins History Museum, Keneth Rapier, president of the Tuskegee Airmen’s Chicago “DODO” Chapter, and Pastor Bill Winston, who served in the U.S. Air Force as a fighter pilot, talking about the forgotten history of Black aviators at the DuSable Muesum of African American History on Sept. 8, 2011. Photo by Mary C. Piemonte

Chicagoland aviators, aviation enthusiasts and aviation historians descended on the DuSable Museum of African American History on Sept. 8 “to talk about and pay tribute to the endeavors of the great pioneers of flight, from Bessie Coleman and the Tuskegee Airmen to present day history-makers.”

The lecture entitled “The Sky is Not the Limit” focused on the legacy of African Americans in aviation and aerospace. The panelists included an original Tuskegee Airman — one of the pioneering African American soldiers who flew in World War II. The panelists talked about how they got interested in becoming pilots and how it was for African American pilots during their service in the U.S military.
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Corporate Partnership Builds a Public School Playground

by Mary C. Piemonte 

Howe Elementary School of Excellence students on their new playground built through Coca Cola's "Sprite Spark Park Project" on September 9, 2011. Photo by Mary C. Piemonte

Keisha S. Campbell, principal of the Howe School of Excellence in the West Side’s Austin neighborhood, pointed at her school’s new playground and recalled what was there before:

“When we took over Howe, there was not a green area on site. It was gravel,” Campbell said during a press conference on Friday, Sept. 9, at the school, 720 N. Lorel Ave. “In three years, due to the partnership of the Chicago Public Schools, and the alderman’s office, we now have a green area and grass for students to run and play safely.”

Actually, the new playground at Howe – a school that is run by a private non-profit organization under contract to the Chicago Public Schools – is the result of a grant from a major corporation, Coca Cola/Sprite, which donated $25,000 to build the brand new playground where none existed under their “Sprite Spark Parks Project for Schools,” a national campaign that is “focused on refurbishing active spaces for students, in order to create clean, safe and fun areas and to encourage physical fitness among students.”
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Cabrini Row House Tenants Prepare to Fight CHA

by Mary C. Piemonte 

Residents and their supporters protest in the Cabrini-Green Row Houses in June 2010. Photo by Mary C. Piemonte.

Tenants of the Cabrini Green Row-Houses are preparing to battle the Chicago Housing Authority for “reneging” on their promise to rehab all remaining units at the North Side public housing complex.

The final high-rise in Cabrini-Green was demolished this past spring, but 534 low-rise units remain in the complex. In 2008, CHA received approval from the federal government to rehab the row houses. However, only 146 units were rehabbed in 2009, leaving 438 units in disrepair, with a great majority left vacant. Only 33 of those are currently occupied, “creating a 92% vacancy rate,” according to the CHA, which announced late last week that it will not continue rehabilitation and will instead boot out the remaining public housing tenants in the non-rehabbed section of the row houses. CHA claimed that “persistent criminal activity” in the area “forces” them to make the tenants relocate elsewhere.

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Mayor Emanuel Booed at Budget Town Hall

by Mary C. Piemonte 

Mayor Rahm Emanuel tries to calm audience members who booed him at a town hall meeting on the City's budget at Kennedy King College on August 30, 2011. Photo by Mary C. Piemonte

Mayor Rahm Emanuel was jeered and booed by many of the people who arrived early at Kennedy King College on August 30, 2011, in hopes of getting their concerns heard and addressed at the first of two public town hall meeting on the city’s budget.

Upon arrival, people learned that they had to fill out questionnaire cards rather than speak directly to the mayor. In a display of sheer disappointment, several people in the crowded main auditorium began loudly complaining about how they were denied the opportunity to speak, while the mayor attempted to answer some of the handwritten questions, which were read to him by Cheryl Hyman, the chancellor of the City Colleges, instead of the people who actually wrote the questions on the cards. Read more »

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Residents’ Journal’s Newly Accessible Online Archives

by Mary C. Piemonte 

Click on the image to view the eighth episode of this season’s “RJ TV,” on August 29, 2011.

Watch Residents’ Journal’s reporter Quintana Woodridge discussing We the People Media’s newly accessible online archives of the news publication for low-income people, with intern Hilary Sharp.

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Residents’ Journal Coverage of the Recent Demolition of the Last CHA Ida B. Wells Homes Buildings

by Mary C. Piemonte 

Click on the image to view the seventh episode of this season’s “RJ TV,” on August 22, 2011.

Watch Residents’ Journal’s senior reporter Jacqueline Thompson talking about the recent demolition of the last two Chicago Housing Authority Ida B. Wells public housing buildings.

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Residents’ Journal Editor and Publisher Discussing Youth Online Articles

by Mary C. Piemonte 

Click on the image to view the sixth episode of this season’s “RJ TV,” on August 15, 2011.

Watch Residents’ Journal’s Editor-in-Chief Mary C. Piemonte discussing recent Urban Youth International Journalism Program students’ online news coverage with Publisher Ethan Michaeli.

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Residents’ Journal Publisher and Editor Discussing Recent CHA Issues

by Mary C. Piemonte 


Click on the image to view the fifth episode of this season’s “RJ TV,” on August 8, 2011.

Watch Residents’ Journal’s Publisher Ethan Michaeli discussing recent news coverage on the Chicago Housing Authority, with the Editor-in-Chief Mary C. Piemonte.

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