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Since 2007.

Subscriber Update
Tuesday, January 26, 2016
This is the subscriber-only Aldertrack weekday political newsletter edited by Mike Fourcher with original reporting and a daily overview of Chicago political news. Please do not forward our report to those who have not paid for it. We promise you high quality reporting in return for fair compensation. Learn more about subscriptions.

Council Meetings & Agendas

Thursday, January 28
11:00a - Committee on Transportation and Public Way - No Agenda Online

Wednesday, February 3
Noon - Committee on Pedestrian and Traffic Safety, Room 201A - No Agenda Online

Monday, February 8
10:00a - Committee on Finance, Council Chambers - No Agenda Online

Tuesday, February 9
10:00a - Committee on Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards, Room 201A - No Agenda Online
10:00a - Committee on Budget and Government Operations - No Agenda Online
11:00a - Committee on License and Consumer Protection, Room 201A - No Agenda Online

Wednesday, February 10
10:00a - City Council, Council Chambers

Wednesday, February 17
10:00a - Committee on Housing and Real Estate, Subject Matter Hearing, Keeping the Promise Ordinance, Council Chambers - No Agenda Online

The Wait Is Over! Introducing The Cook County Racing Form
Cook County Budget Overview

Our data gnomes have been hard at work in the dirty, dirty election data mines. This week they're rolling out their latest and greatest, the Cook County Racing Form, which includes every judge, Ward Committeeman, county-wide and WMRD candidate in Cook County. All for a one-time fee of $15. Subscribe today, and we'll get you your first weekly report right away and then send you an update every week through the March 15 Primary Election.
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Our Review of Our New Podcast: It's Great, You Should Listen
We launched a new Chicago politics podcast this weekend and experts (us) say that you should listen to it. It's a brief seven-and-a-half minutes and includes some of the best sounds of the week. It's produced and hosted by our A.D. Quig and Claudia Morell. They're radio veterans, so you know it's good. Subscribe on iTunes or Soundcloud.

Ervin-AFSCME Ordinance Would Force Higher City Psych Staffing at CDPH Clinics
by A.D. Quig – ad@aldertrack.com

Six city-run mental health clinics face declining revenue and unfilled vacancies, and have been using contractors to fill psychiatry positions for more than a year, according to Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) documents and a recent Office of the Inspector General (OIG) report. A new ordinance from Ald. Jason Ervin (28) immediately calls for new contracts so clinics can take on more patients, take "whatever steps are necessary" to fill vacancies, and expand neighborhood outreach. The ordinance has 29 cosponsors.

Jo Patton, Director of Special Projects at AFSCME Council 31, consulted with Ald. Ervin on the ordinance and says vacant psychiatry positions at city clinics have long been a concern, but worries without some aggressive recruiting from CDPH, clinics might be forced into a “vicious circle.”

“If you don’t have enough psych hours, you can’t take in new patients, then the client base shrinks and the rationale for keeping those centers going also is diminished,” she told Aldertrack.

Ervin’s ordinance says the number of care hours at city clinics has been cut in half over the past two years. That drop can partly be attributed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s move, and City Council’s unanimous approval, to shutter six of the city’s 12 mental health clinics in April of 2012.

Five of the six remaining clinics are scattered throughout the South and West Sides, one is on the Northwest Side.

Just one full-time psychiatrist serves at those six clinics, Public Health Commissioner Dr. Julie Morita told aldermen this past fall at the department’s budget hearing. Other psychiatry positions, she said, are being filled by contractors. Those contractors are budgeted for 2,185 hours in 2016. Those temps have been there longer than a year, according to a recent OIG report, which violates the city’s Contractor Policy. Patton says AFSCME started becoming concerned when the clinics were down to four full-time psychiatrists.  

CDPH says they’ve made progress on finding another full-time psychiatrist, and filling other vacancies. The department also points to spending on targeted mental health programs for victims of sexual assault and family members of homicide victims.

Matt Smith, from CDPH’s Media Affairs, says there are 58 full-time positions across CDPH’s clinics. As of this summer, 27 of those positions are therapists, between 3 and 6 therapists at each site. Some therapists see as many as 40 patients a month. 

Morita has blamed a national shortage in psychiatrists for the lag time in finding permanent psychiatry staff. During budget hearings, Ald. Leslie Hairston (5), who is co-sponsoring Ervin’s ordinance, countered that the city couldn’t attract candidates because of low starting salaries. In an effort to make those positions more attractive, Morita said that Chicago had recently won federal designation as a Health Shortage Service Area. The designation allows applicants with outstanding medical school loans to be repaid by the federal government in exchange for working in underserved areas.

But Ervin’s ordinance also says that while CDPH is understaffed, it is also turning away revenue by failing to join managed care networks and not seeking reimbursement for Medicaid recipients.

CDPH says their clinics do mostly focus on uninsured patients, and have faced declining revenue. “We continue to provide services to clients regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay,” CDPH’s Smith says. In 2015, CDPH was allocated $9.5 million for mental health services, most of which went to direct services at those clinics.

By contrast, the Cook County Health and Hospitals System (CCHHS) has started to bounce back from precarious financial footing in part by setting up its own managed care system, CountyCare, a Medicaid program through the Affordable Care Act. CCHHS currently gets a 100% per member per month (PMPM) federal match payment for each member enrolled in CountyCare. Revenues from the program have helped the County cut down its tax allocation to CCHHS by tens of millions this fiscal year.

Smith tells Aldertrack the Department has “retained a consultant to facilitate new contracts with insurance companies, including managed care entities.”

Patton says the contract with that consultant includes a two year window, which she says is too long to get into straightforward agreements with local insurers like Blue Cross Blue Shield, Aetna, and Illini Health. With the recent focus on policing and mental health in the wake of Quintonio Legrier’s death at the hands of Chicago police, Patton thinks the political will might be enough “for the mayor to put a little bit of money into mental health instead of [policing].”


“Keeping The Promise” Ordinance To Get Subject Matter Hearing In February
by: A.D. Quig – ad@aldertrack.com

A Chicago Housing Authority reform ordinance is getting a subject matter hearing, but no vote, in the Housing and Real Estate Committee February 17th. The ‘Keeping the Promise’ Ordinance, which calls for tighter Council oversight of the Chicago Housing Authority, has been sitting in the doldrums for months, but was the subject of a BGA profile over the weekend. Staff for Ald. Joe Moore (49) sent out a notice on the hearing midday Monday.

Moore, the chair of City Council’s Committee on Housing and Real Estate, and once a sponsor of the ordinance, has been under pressure from the Chicago Housing Initiative to hold a hearing since the summer, when the ordinance was re-introduced. The group accused Moore in September of delaying the hearing and backtracking on his support, which he denied at the time. He told BGA he no longer supports the ordinance because it would have “unintended consequences.”

Leah Levinger, Executive Director of the Chicago Housing Initiative says the organization has plans to demonstrate outside Ald. Pat Dowell (3) and Ald. Gregory Mitchell's (7) offices today for their "failure to sign on to the Keeping the Promise Ordinance despite repeated approaches over the last 12-24 months." 

In a Facebook post, Ald. Joe Moreno (1), the ordinance’s chief sponsor, said he’s “proud to lead this effort and I will keep working hard to increase access to affordable housing opportunities in my ward and throughout Chicago.”

Moreno blasted Ald. Scott Waguespack (32) at last week’s Plan Commission hearing for not pressing developers to include on-site affordable housing at a new residential building. The development group opted to pay an in-lieu fee to the city. Ald. Waguespack was not at the meeting.

The ordinance calls for quarterly reports from the CHA on several items, including accumulated unspent revenue, progress reports on replacement public housing units, and updates on the Housing Choice Voucher Funding utilization rate. The ordinance also includes a provision for one-for-one replacement of affordable housing units that are demolished or converted to another use, and suspension of the use of city funds until CHA effectively uses its Housing Choice Voucher revenue and increases its commitment to mobility counseling for those voucher holders.

Ward Reports
  • Ald. Joe Moreno (1) says on Feb 3, CHA officials will "unveil the proposed Master Plan vision for Phase I of the revitalization of the historic Lathrop Homes."
  • Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6) shared 60 ways to help your community. 
  • Ald. Anthony Beale (9) says Pullman restoration plans are moving quick.  
  • Ald. Sue Sadlowski Garza (10) is holding a wine and canvas fundraiser
  • Ald. Raymond Lopez (15) stood with Ald. Michelle Harris (8) and Ald. Matt O'Shea (19) during Mayor Emanuel's homebuyer assistance program announcement. He says it "will help make homeownership possible for working families and individuals by providing support for down payment and closing costs."
  • Ald. David Moore (17) shared this Trib story, saying that's why he and Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36) are pushing their Equal Access Ordinance: "Everyone knows what's happening, but in the words of Sean Connery's character in the Untouchable's movie: 'What Are You Prepared To Do!'"
  • Ald. Michael Scott (24) is holding a community meeting Thursday at Greater Open Door Church. 
  • Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. (27) is holding a Tax Increment Finance Neighborhood Improvement Program (TIF-NIP) community meeting
  • Ald. Chris Taliaferro's (29) State of the Ward is Wednesday. 
  • Ald. Ariel Reboyras (30) shared a CPD recruitment event at Riis park. 
  • Ald. Scott Waguespack (32) tweeted about CPS' bond issuance, AFSCME's Kim Foxx endorsement, and BBB.  
  • Ald. Deb Mell (33) is holding a CPD recruitment event today.
  • Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36) is holding a hearing on an affordable apartment development today.  
  • Ald. James Cappleman (46) shared this addiction stat and said "Many with addictions are also self medicating to address symptoms of mental illness. We save $ by offering treatment." 
  • Ald. Joe Moore (49) shared a picture of Chicago Fire filming in the ward. 
  • City Treasurer Kurt Summers was invited to testify on M/WBE issues by Sen. Jacqueline Y. Collins: "We need fairness in lending to our small businesses as well as women and minority-owned firms."

Chicago Political News

Emanuel releases texts for first time amid scrutiny [Tribune]

Emanuel defends $350-an-hour police consulting contract [Tribune]
Emanuel defends $350-an-hour fee for Charles Ramsey [Sun Times]
Emanuel Defends High Price For New Chicago Police Advisor Charles Ramsey [WBBM]

Quintonio LeGrier called 911 three times before a Chicago cop shot him [Tribune]
Quintonio LeGrier's 911 Calls Released: 'Can You Please Send the Police?' [DNA Info]
Listen: 911 Calls From Night Of Quintonio Legrier Shooting Released [ABC7]

Cullerton says school funding formula unfair and the 'crisis of our time' [Tribune]
Rauner is bad for business, Cullerton says [Crain's]
Cullerton: Rauner pension deal likely, but school funding needs 'turnaround' [Sun Times]
Cullerton Strikes Deal with Rauner [Chicago Tonight]

City launches new mortgage aid program [Crain's]`

Chicago's Crisis-Management Challenges [Chicago Tonight] - Roundtable with Jill Allread, CEO of PR firm PCI; media and political consultant Delmarie Cobb; and James Shein, professor of strategy and Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management.

Defense in red light camera trial suggests bribes went to powerful politicians [Tribune]
Ex-City Hall insider world-class bribe taker: feds [Sun Times]

Former CPS CEO Byrd-Bennett Continues to Cooperate in Case Against Co-Defendants [NBC5]

CHA to Unveil Lathrop Homes Master Plan [DNA Info]

Clybourn Corridor closing the gap with Mag Mile [Crain's] - Almost as much retail space.

Young, Black & Out of Work: Study Explores Unemployment Crisis in Chicago [DNA Info]
This report on young minority joblessness is worse than you think [Crain's]

87,000 residents could be affected by 5 new O'Hare night flight paths [Sun Times]

With Big Changes Coming, Washington Park Sets Meeting to Debate its Future [DNA Info]


Chicago Tribune Editorial: Rauner, Cullerton and a pension deal: Can this marriage be saved?

Brown: Cullerton links Chicago school funding fix to other needy districts

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