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Rahm Wants Urban Farms, Mobile Food Trucks

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More than 600,000 Chicagoans lack easy access to a grocery store offering healthy and fresh foods, according to mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel.

To eradicate food deserts in low-income communities throughout the city, Emmanuel plans to increase access to fresh food options, by “engaging smaller local grocery stores, facilitating public-private partnerships and encouraging community gardens to thrive,” he said at a Feb. 1 press conference at Growing Power Iron Street Farm, 3333 S. Iron St.

Chicago mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel fielding reporters questions, during his press conference at the Growing Power Iron Street Farm, on Feb. 1, where he talked about his plans to combat food deserts in low-income communities across the city. Photo by Mary C. Johns

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Emanuel Removed From Ballot, Candidates’ Education Plans

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The Illinois Appellate Court threw Chicago’s mayoral election into chaos Monday when it said that Rahm Emanuel, until recently President Barack Obama’s chief of staff, did not meet the requirement for residency in Chicago and therefore could not run in the February contest. Emanuel has vowed to appeal the ruling to the Illinois Supreme Court.

Emanuel was ahead of his rivals in terms of fund-raising and in some polls of the race, so his departure from the field would make the campaign difficult to predict.

Today’s development makes the plans of Emanuel’s rivals suddenly more important. Last month, several mayoral candidates – excluding Emanuel – outlined their plans for the Chicago Public Schools system during the Forum on Education at Walter Payton College Prep High School.

Chicago Mayoral candidate Miguel De Valle, talking about more recess time for kids as part of his education plans for the city, if elected mayor. Looking on are his rivals, Gery Chico and Carol Moseley Braun, during the Mayoral Forum on Education at Walter Payton High School on December 15, 2010. Photo by Mary C. Johns

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Mayoral Candidate’s Plans for Low-income people and Ex-offenders

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Chicago mayoral candidate Patricia Van Pelt Watkins told Residents’ Journal in an interview that she felt a sense of responsibility to run for mayor, and she would carry the voice of the people into decision making of the city.

If elected mayor, Watkins said the people of Chicago can expect an “open government with transparency,” Watkins said during a visit to Residents’ Journal’s offices.

Chicago Mayoral candidate Patricia Van Pelt Watkins, talking to Residents' Journal reporter Quintana Woodridge, on January 1, about her plans to service low-income people of the city, if elected Mayor this February 22. Photo by Mary C. Johns

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Emanuel’s Anti-Crime Plan for Chicago if elected Mayor

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Chicago mayoral contender Rahm Emanuel recently introduced his plan to “put more police on the beat, and keep kids, guns and drugs off the street.”

Emanuel’s anti-crime agenda includes adding 1,000 new cops to the neighborhoods that need them most without pulling them from other parts of the city. He intends to fund this initiative with the use of $25 million of “excess” Tax Increment Financing or TIF money.

A police officer holds a touting sign of current Mayor Richard M. Daley, during a police protest outside the Chicago Police Headquarters, to oust their boss, Superintendent Jody Weis, on September 19, 2010. Photo by Mary C. Johns

Emanuel’s plan also would add 250 new cops on the streets over a three-year period.

Emanuel claims that he will also cut bureaucracy, crack down on abuse of police sick leave—by “medical abusers” who earn full pay but leave fighting crime to their colleagues—and expand the Chicago Police Cadet program to get uniformed officers who are working desk jobs back on the street.

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Cabrini rowhouses’ fate in jeopardy

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Tjuanne Pitchford, 36, one of the last of the two remaining families at the historical Cabrini–Green public housing site, packed his and his brother’s belongings and moved out of the last high rise building on December 7, 2010.

He is temporarily moving into the Francis Cabrini Rowhouses nearby, waiting for his Section 8 Housing Voucher to come through.

Cabrini-Green resident, Tjuanne Pitchford, one of the two last families living at the 1230 N. Burling St. CHA high-rise building, was in the process of moving out to temporarily live in the Cabrini Rowhouses on December 7, 2010. Photo by Mary C. Johns

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Are Illinois’ Drug Laws Racially Biased?

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State Commissioner Marian Perkins discusses proposed changes to current drug laws while state Rep. Art Turner (D-Chicago) and Sen. Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago) look on. Photo by MARY C. JOHNS

Why are African Americans in Illinois nine times more likely to be incarcerated than whites?

A new state commission is trying to find the answers to this question and devise some solutions.

The Illinois Disproportionate Justice Impact Study Commission held the first of several public hearings in February in response to a 2007 Sentencing Project study showing Illinois was the 14th worst state in the nation when it came to the odds of African Americans going to prison.

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US Reps Issue New Call to Stop Demolitions

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US Representatives Maxine Waters (D-CA) and Barney Frank (D-Mass.) recently issued a new call to stop demolition of public housing.

Waters and Frank initially sent a letter to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development calling for the moratorium on demolition in fall 2008.

They sent a new letter to President Barack Obama’s HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan on June 15 last year.

The two congressional leaders urged Donovan to consider imposing a 1-year moratorium on demolition of public housing units because of the national housing crisis.

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A Tale of Two Cities

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Two totally different worlds exist just blocks from each other in New Orleans.

The French Quarter is the oldest, most famous neighborhood in New Orleans, a national historic landmark known for its old Spanish architectural style.

Colorful walls and shutters decorate the narrow streets, and many of the buildings have fancy iron balconies.

The French Quarter is known for its nightlife. The streets are lined with bars, clubs, restaurants, galleries and tourist shops.

The Iberville public housing development is located directly west of the French Quarter and just north of the Central Business District.

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After Katrina, New Orleans Still Turbulent

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These series of articles were produced with the assistance of a Grant from the Chicago Headline Club’s Watchdog Fund made possible by the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, which supports investigative and enterprise journalism throughout the Chicago region.

More than four years after Hurricane Katrina flooded New Orleans, this is what the Residents’ Journal team found on our visit to the city:

Many of the city’s low-income, African American areas looked like ghost towns. Whole city blocks remained abandoned, still showing signs of storm damage. Moldy clothing, debris and other trash were piled up on the deserted streets.

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CHA Report: Crime Rates Not Linked to CHA Relocatees

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The Chicago Housing Authority reported on November 18, 2008 that “contrary to claims made that increased violence can be tied to former CHA leaseholders.” They determined that no link between the Plan for Transformation’s demolition of high-rise public housing buildings and perceived increases in crime can be made.

Based on an analysis of Chicago Police Department data, CHA CEO Lewis A. Jordan provided a snapshot of how it tenants, and the City of Chicago, are faring since the start of their 1.6 billion housing revitalization plan, at the CHA Board of Commissioners meeting earlier in the day at the LeClaire Courts public housing complex.

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