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Matthew Blake

Dart presses for municipal auditing power despite Preckwinkle opposition

A novel plan to give Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart broad audit authority over troubled suburbs has been met with opposition by Cook County Board President Tony Preckwinkle. But a Dart spokeswoman said Thursday that the sheriff is “absolutely” still working with state and county officials to obtain audit powers over suburban governments.

Special taxing dollars for Swedish Covenant advance

The Chicago Community Development Commission on Tuesday approved providing $4.6 million in Tax Increment Financing money to Swedish Covenant Hospital on the city's Northwest Side for the construction of a women’s health center and renovations of emergency facilities.

At last month’s CDC meeting, commissioners green lighted the creation of the Foster/California TIF district, a special property taxing area concocted solely to generate funds to cover improvements of the 128 year-old nonprofit hospital.

Quinn’s tech chief speaks on state’s open data portal

Gov. Pat Quinn’s technology chief claimed Monday that the Quinn administration has made great strides in both disseminating more government data to the public and using such data for practical purposes.

Sean Vinck, who has been Quinn’s chief information officer since February 2011, used a City Club of Chicago talk on Monday to showcase how a state government notorious for ethical lapses uses technology to create more transparency.


Water District sees money in its waste

The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District is eying a plan to turn waste from its water treatment plants into biogas energy and revenue for the agency.

Agency Executive Director David St. Pierre noted at a MWRD Board meeting on Thursday that the agency is on the verge of getting state permission to convert recycled waste into renewable resources, and then sell its product on the open market.

Emanuel doesn’t say how to pay for Soldier Field build-up

Mayor Rahm Emanuel declined Wednesday to provide any financial costs for a plan the mayor floated Tuesday to expand Soldier Field by 5,000 seats.

Emanuel told reporters that he is first “asking a more fundamental question, ‘Does [expansion] make sense?’” before examining costs. “How we’re going to finance it is a whole other question and we’re not going to get into [it] yet,” he said after Wednesday’s City Council meeting.


City panel advances McCormick hotel plan

The City Council Finance Committee on Tuesday approved routing $55 million in Tax Increment Financing to a new McCormick Place hotel as the city and the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority shift the plans of their major convention center remake.

Under the revamped McCormick Place plan, which officials from the administration of Mayor Rahm Emanuel first floated in late January, the city will use the $55 million in TIF money to build the hotel instead of putting it toward the construction of a new DePaul University basketball stadium.

City Council, Illinois US senators wage dispute on Eliot Ness legacy

Acknowledging that “it’s not the most important thing that we’re going to talk about,” Alderman Ed Burke (14th) lead the charge Friday for a City Council resolution opposing a federal plan to name a building after Eliot Ness.

The City Council Committee on Public Safety adopted a resolution opposing a federal measure sponsored by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) to name the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms headquarters in Washington, D.C. after Ness.

Zoning committee adds strip club regulations

The City Council Zoning Committee green lighted Thursday changes to city law governing strip clubs, adult bookstores, and adult movie spots, effectively adding legal hurdles for any prospective strip club in the city.

According to Alderman Scott Waguespack (32nd), the ordinance's sponsor, the measure prevents an “adult bookstore, motion picture theater, or other type of establishment” from “transforming themselves” into strip clubs.

Land swap advances Jones Prep sports field, new public housing at Cabrini site

A City Council committee moved forward on Tuesday a land swap that will give Jones College Prep a track and artificial turf field, while at the same time providing public housing to former Cabrini-Green residents.

Infrastructure Trust turns attention to LED streetlights, compressed natural gas

On the heels of the Chicago City Council’s approval of the organization’s first project in January, the Chicago Infrastructure Trust is now drawing up plans for public-private partnerships to bring LED streetlights as well as compressed natural gas vehicles and fueling spots to the city.