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Illustration by Rohan McDonald.

Chicago May Soon Host America’s Largest Universal Basic Income Trial To Date

Chicago Alderman Ameya Pawar is currently endorsing a pilot Universal Basic Income (UBI) program for Chicago. 36 Chicago aldermen are co-sponsoring the plan.

For the trial, $500 a month would be given to 1000 families, and their Earned Income Tax Credit adjusted to monthly payments (known as ‘smoothing’). Chicago would be the largest city to run a UBI trial in national history.

Pawar ran for the Illinois Gubernatorial candidacy as a Democrat earlier this year, losing to billionaire and hotel heir J.B. Pritzker. Concerned that automation will lead to a loss of jobs and a subsequent rise in extremism from a discontented population, Pawar is pushing for this UBI test in the hopes that it will lead to a wider and more permanent implementation of the program.

Michael Tubbs, the mayor of Stockton, California, is rolling out a similar UBI trial, starting in 2019. Alaska has a yearly equivalent in place.   

 

Chicago Didn’t Lift Spray Paint Ban of 26 Years as Planned

An ordinance to lift a spray paint ban in place in Chicago since 1992 has been drifting through City Council limbo for the past two years. This past July, it looked like it would finally be passed. It didn’t.

The original spray paint ban took two years to pass, after being put on hold when paint executives promised thousands of gallons of paint to cover the city’s graffiti in exchange for not banning spray paint sales. According to the National Paint and Coatings Association, Chicago is the only city with such a ban. It was challenged a number of times, but upheld by the US Supreme Court in 1995.

Though Alderman Edward Burke (14th) was the original author of the ban, he also co-authored the new ordinance alongside Alderman Matt O’Shea (19th). When the ordinance didn’t pass, it was referred back to the Finance Committee, chaired by Burke.

The ordinance was proposed to help retailers in suburb-bordering wards retain more business. These retailers lose many customers to suburban stores that stock the spray paint Chicago stores lack, according to Burke and O’Shea. Those against the ordinance argue that lifting the ban would allow taggers to run wild, and that the profit to the small businesses would be outweighed by clean-up costs.

According to the ordinance, spray paint would still only be sold to customers above 18, kept inaccessible without employee assistance, and fines for illegal possession would be increased. Stores selling spray paint will also be required to display cards that warn readers of vandalism’s repercussions.

 

A Pilsen Church Continues the Two-Year Struggle to Hold onto its Home

The Society of St. Adalbert held an emergency meeting in Logan Square earlier this month after the Archdiocese of Chicago confirmed the historic St. Adalbert Roman Catholic Church would soon be put back up for sale. The archdiocese has justified the closure by the declining attendance of a dwindling family community that is being increasingly priced out of the neighborhood, as well as high repair costs.

The archdiocese revealed plans to conglomerate six of Pilsen’s Catholic churches — including St. Adalbert — into three in 2016. The building was put up for sale that year and the Chicago Academy of Music seemed set to buy it, but the deal later fell through.

The society is aiming to raise $1 million to acquire the historic building. Though more than $3 million is needed for repairs overall, the Society hopes that the $1 million in funds raised will show the Archdiocese that the community is serious about investing in the church’s future.

If successful in its fund-raising efforts, the Society plans to convert the church’s convent into a bed and breakfast. Profits from the endeavor will go towards tower repairs and building upkeep, amongst other expenses. The sanctuary would remain a religious area.

St. Adalbert was founded in 1874 by Polish immigrants. The current building opened its doors in 1912. Over time, Pilsen’s Polish community shrunk while its Mexican community grew; both communities now come together in the space. Weekly services are held in English and Spanish, and a monthly mass occurs in Polish.

 

Aldermanic Prerogative Perpetuates Segregation in Chicago Neighborhoods, According to a New Report

A report released this month has found that Chicago aldermen have been using their ability to decide zoning and land use to maintain the division of communities along lines of race and class since the 1930s.

The report, titled “A City Fragmented,” critically investigates the aldermanic power to control affordable housing developments. As it stands, aldermen hold almost complete control over development projects in their wards, making decisions subject to political maneuvers and neighborhood opposition to racial change, according to the report.

If an alderman does not support a development, according to aldermanic prerogative any zoning changes or permits the development needs will be voted down if they ever reach the full City Council. According to the report, this system leads to almost no lower-income housing on the North Side and almost no developments to attract middle-class families to the South and West Sides, trapping working-class families into pockets of residential poverty.

“The consequence of aldermanic prerogative has been decades of missed opportunities to develop affordable housing in areas lacking a sufficient supply. The impact of that loss is felt by all racial and ethnic groups in need of affordable housing, but disproportionately by black and Latinx families,” the report states.  

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