Green Drops Out of Mayor’s Race, ATU Accuses Building Management Co of Violating Tenants Rights, New Laws Take Effect – TODAY 01-02-19

Ja’Mal Green Drops Out of Race for Chicago Mayor

Activist Ja’Mal Green announced Monday he would no longer continue his bid for mayor of Chicago. Green, 23, was one of the youngest candidates in an extremely crowded field running to replace Rahm Emanuel.

Green, who had his petition signatures challenged by businessman Willie Wilson, blamed both Wilson and the costly and time-consuming process of surviving a challenge.

“My desire to be a voice for the people was no match for Willie Wilson’s dirty dollars,” said Green at a press conference, according to CBS.

In order to appear on the ballot, candidates for mayor in Chicago must have 12,500 valid signatures. While more well-known and well-funded candidates with larger operations are able to hand in as many as three or four times the required amount, candidates with less available resources are often unable to survive a challenge.

“It’s not even about the 12,500 signatures,” Green said, according to WBEZ. “It’s about you having manpower to have people down here at the Board of Elections for 11 hours a day. It’s about having tens of thousands of dollars to pay lawyers to continue to go to court and continue fighting for you. This process is not fair for the regular person.”

By comparison, New York City only requires 3,750 signatures and Los Angeles only requires 1,000.

Wilson defended his challenge to Green’s signatures. “This is a big boy’s game, and you’ve got to have something to come to the table with,” Wilson said. “Otherwise, you get left out.”

Green hasn’t decided who, if anyone, he might endorse for mayor, but said he would continue to stay active in Chicago politics.

“I will not stop trying to make this city safe for all, making sure every community has economic development, making sure schools in Englewood are just as good as schools in Ravenswood. That police officers are held accountable when they do wrong and even rewarded when they do right,” Green said.

So far, a dozen candidates will appear on the ballot in February, while five others are still facing challenges to their signatures.

Autonomous Tenants Union Accuses Building Management Company of Violating Tenants Rights

Tenants who live in an Albany Park building near Kimball and Lawrence have accused the property management company who owns their building of allegedly violating their rights. 

On Tuesday, the Autonomous Tenants Union, a community organization representing the tenants, tweeted a photo of a thermostat showing the building temperature at 64.9 degrees, along with a photo of a darkened stairwell.

Whether or not the loss of heat was intentional or due to a malfunction was not clear, and no evidence of any kind of intentional tampering was made available.

The loss of heat came a week after the group, along with tenants from the property, held a press conference outside the building accusing the management company, Stark Chicago, of “abuse and harassment.” The union has been negotiating with the company’s owner Charles “Chuck” Westphal, who they say has been attempting to unjustly evict residents during a gut-rehab of the building after the company purchased the property in January of 2018. The union also says Stark has failed to address issues such as bad electrical wiring, broken smoke detectors, bugs and mice, leaky pipes, and mold.

Members of the Autonomous Tenants Union and building residents pose for a photo after a press conference alleging their rights have been violated. Photo by Aaron Cynic.

“My clients have suffered greatly because of the conditions in this building,” said Kevin Cruz, a lawyer representing the group at a press conference on Friday. Cruz said the gut-rehab of the property has had “an adverse effect” on his clients health and safety. Both Cruz and the ATU have said that the building’s rehab and treatment of current low-income and elderly tenants is another example of a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood.

“They don’t care about these tenants. All they want is for them to leave so that they can renovate these buildings and make a quick buck off people who move in and pay twice what these people pay,” Cruz said.

Update (12:39pm): A representative from the ATU said the shutoff was most likely due to a circuit breaker malfunction, and that someone was sent to the breaker room about 7 hours after reaching out to the management company. The group tweeted the heat was back on in the building early Wednesday afternoon.

Stark Chicago did not immediately respond to requests for comment, but we will update the story if further information becomes available.

More than 250 New Laws to Take Effect in Illinois

More than 250 new laws will take effect in Illinois as of January 1st, including laws regarding guns, opioids, car seats, wages, and school safety.

Among the new laws include several regulating guns. Senate Bill 3256 takes effect, which mandates a 72-hour waiting period on all firearms. Additionally, HB2354 take effect, which allows either family members or law enforcement to petition a court to issue search warrants for the seizure of weapons from individuals considered to be a threat to themselves or others.

The Illinois State Capitol in Springfield. Photo by Aaron Cynic.

Several laws meant to curb the opioid epidemic also go into effect. Those with a license to prescribe opioids now must take a three-hour education course on safe opioid-use practices before having their licenses renewed. Insurance companies also will now be unable to require prior notification of certain types of substance abuse treatment. Additionally, Illinois’ Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, part of the Department of Human Services has been renamed the Division of Substance Use Prevention and Recovery.

In the workplace, employers are now required to reimburse employees if they use a personal cell phone on the job. An amendment to an existing law makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against African-American employees by paying them lower wages.

In schools, licensed personnel and administrators who work with K-12 students must take a course every two years to help them identify the warning signs of mental illness and suicidal behavior. Another bill requires active shooter drills to take place within 90 days of the start of the school year.

Recommended Reads

How solitary confinement drove a young inmate to the brink of insanity – Jeff Coen and Stacy St. Clair/Chicago Tribune

Forgotten black Marines face another indignity: loss of South Side chapter hall – Evan F. Moore/Sun-Times

Aaron Cynic
Aaron Cynic