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Group Carols to Save Mental Health Clinics

by Mary C. Piemonte 

Protesters who want to avert cuts to the city’s mental health clinics tried a unique tactic this week.

As the City Council convened their first session since voting to close half of the city’s clinics and privatize all of its neighborhood health centers, members of the Mental Health Movement wore Santa Claus hats and formed a circle in the hallway outside the elected officials’ offices at City Hall, then sung altered classic holiday songs.

In their rendition of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” “Jingle Bells,” and the “Twelve Days of Christmas,” they accused Mayor Rahm Emanuel and other city officials of catering to “corporate greed,” and giving “tax breaks” to the wealthy while closing clinics in poor African American and Hispanic communities “without shame.”
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On the Campaign Trail with Che “Rhymefest” Smith

by Cornelius Jordan 

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in the Urban Youth International Journalism Program in partnership with Imagine Englewood If, a youth services organization based in that South Side neighborhood:

Driving around Englewood, pointing out empty lots on Feb. 18, Che “Rhymefest” Smith talked about how these used to be houses. He said he wants to transform the neighborhood and make it a clean and safe environment for kids to play in. He said the neighborhood has no love and care in it, but he wants to change that.

Che 'Rhymefest' Smith on the campaign trail. Photo courtesy of Smith's campaign web site.

Smith is running for alderman of the 20th ward in the April 5 run-off election, after he got 20 percent of the vote in the primary election in February. His opponent is incumbent Willie Cochran. Smith is a Grammy-award-winning rapper, who has met

famous people including Ciara, Bow Wow and Rick Ross. But now, he says he wants to focus his attention on serving his community.

As he went door to door campaigning, some of the gates were locked. He and his assistant put campaign fliers on the locked gates and his assistant rang every doorbell where the gates were unlocked, until she got an answer. For ones with no answer, they would come back the next day. Smith was determined to reach every voter. In his office, he had maps with circles around the homes he’d already been to. After covering an entire block, Smith and his supporters got back into the white van decorated with his name and drove to the next block. Read more »

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Debating Affordable Housing

by Michael Ibrahem 

On April 9, the Chicago City Council passed Mayor Richard M. Daley’s version of an affordable housing ordinance. Many activists are concerned that the mayor’s ordinance does not go far enough to alleviate the affordable housing crisis in Chicago.

According to Fourth Ward Ald. Toni Preckwinkle, “We think that this is a good beginning and we’re looking for consideration of our [alternative] ordinance which would apply to the private development community and involve the creation of a lot more units.

Our ordinance is still in committee and we are hoping there will be a point at which it is heard, and we will have an opportunity to provide testimony for its support.”
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