October Media Tips - Metropolitan Planning Council

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October Media Tips

Roundtable Series to Feature Property Taxes, Transportation, Media

MPC knows how important it is to bring people to the table to discuss the Chicago metropolitan region’s most pressing concerns. In that tradition, the Council is pleased to announce the 2004 Fall Roundtable Series, which features three distinct sessions focused on property tax reform, ground transportation around O’Hare, and media coverage of regional issues.

At each roundtable, a panel of speakers will present their thoughts on current issues, followed by a moderated question-and-answer session. Lunch will be served.

“The Fall Roundtable Series is designed to offer insider perspectives,” said Peter Skosey, MPC vice president of external relations. “Public officials, business leaders, residents, and schools are feeling the squeeze from mounting local property taxes in Illinois, and participants in the first roundtable will learn why now is the time to reform Illinois’ tax system. In the second roundtable, the audience will hear about critical plans to improve ground transportation around O’Hare, which are often overshadowed by the airport’s expansion. And, in what’s sure to be a rousing finale to our fall series, three of the Chicago area’s finest journalists will give ‘the inside scoop’ on how and why they cover the stories they do, and those they don’t.”

“Settling the Bill: Or, Why Property Tax Reform is Needed Now” takes place Wednesday, Oct. 27, noon to 1:30 p.m., Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw LLP, 190 S. LaSalle St., 39th Floor, Room 1, 2, 3 west, Chicago.

“Preparing for Take-Off: A Discussion of Ground Transportation Around O’Hare” will be held Thursday, Oct. 28, noon to 1:30 p.m., Beau Jolie, 9950 W. Lawrence Ave., Schiller Park, Ill.

“Reading Between the Lines: The Inside Scoop on Media Coverage of Regional Issues” takes place Friday, Nov. 5, noon to 1:30 p.m., Harris Bank, 111 W. Monroe St., 20 th Floor, Room 20C, Chicago.

To register for the roundtables, please call 312-863-6011 or visit www.metroplanning.org/calendar.asp. The cost for each roundtable is $12 for MPC members, $25 for nonmembers. Media may attend free of charge, but a reservation is appreciated in order to plan for lunch.

MPC Contact: Peter Skosey, Vice President of External Relations
312.863.6004 or pskosey@metroplanning.org

Carbondale School District Suffering From School Funding Woes

A+ Illinois is spotlighting schools across the state forced to make unacceptable choices that harm children due to Illinois’ outmoded, property tax-dependent school funding system.

Carbondale Elementary School District 95 in downstate Carbondale, Ill., is doing its best to maintain fiscal responsibility. It balanced its $21.5 million budget the past two years and plans to balance it again this year. In the face of increasing reliance on an ever-weakening property tax base, rising enrollments, and a spike in special education needs, how does the district do it?

Not without significant pain – they do not fill positions made vacant by retirees, they siphon funds formerly used for important programs such as summer school, and they sell school buildings, crowding students and teachers into inadequate space.

“It’s not just inner-suburban schools that are in crisis,” said MarySue Barrett, president of MPC, a member of the A+ Illinois campaign for statewide education reform. “In fact, 80 percent of schools across the state are deficit spending, in communities rich and poor, rural, suburban and urban. Even in districts that have balanced their budgets, such as Carbondale Elementary School District 95, they are doing it by depriving their students of the best education possible.”

Carbondale Elementary School District Superintendent Elizabeth I. Lewin agrees, noting that her district is further penalized for its fiscal responsibility because it is not seen as being as needy as some other schools. Therefore, the district does not win the competitive private and government grants that are increasingly vital for schools districts to provide student services.

To ensure that Carbondale children start receiving the education they deserve, Lewin and Carbondale Elementary SD 95 have signed on as members of A+ Illinois. The campaign urges state leaders to make the tough decisions necessary to ensure that every child in Illinois receives the best education possible. To learn more about A+ Illinois, visit www.aplusillinois.org.

A+ Illinois Contact: Bindu Batchu , Campaign Manager, A+ Illinois
312.863.6014 or bbatchu@metroplanning.org

Contact: Elizabeth I. Lewin, Superintendent, Carbondale Elementary School District 95
618.457.3591 or llewin@midwest.net

Campaign for Sensible Growth Co-Sponsors Second Annual Partners in Planning Conference

Across the state, rapid growth is putting pressure on government and community leaders to encourage development that not only strengthens the economy, but that also provides quality lifestyles for Illinois residents while protecting natural resources. It’s a tall order, and most would tell you that they can use all the help they can get to plan their growth.

That’s why the Campaign for Sensible Growth, along with the Illinois Association of County Board Members and Commissioners, Illinois Association of Regional Councils, Illinois Association of County Zoning Officials, and Illinois Association of Resource Conservation & Development Areas will co-sponsor “Building Better Communities,” the second annual Partners in Planning Conference, Oct. 27 and 28 in Peoria, Ill. The conference will feature sessions on stormwater management, impact fees, Geographic Information Systems and more, as well as keynote addresses by U.S. Rep. Ray LaHood (R-Peoria) and Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn.

More than 200 people attended last year’s conference, and event organizers expect an even bigger turnout this year. “The fact that so many state leaders attend this conference points not only to the quality of ideas being discussed, but also to the fact that growth is putting pressure on communities across the state, not just in northeastern Illinois,” said Ellen Shubart, manager, the Campaign for Sensible Growth.

The conference kicks of with a reception Wednesday, Oct. 27, at the Holiday Inn City Centre, 500 Hamilton Blvd. , Peoria , Ill. On Thursday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m, there is a full day of sessions. Visit the Campaign’s Web site, www.growingsensibly.org, for more information or to register.

Campaign Contact: Ellen Shubart, Manager, Campaign for Sensible Growth
312.863.6009 or eshubart@metroplanning.org

Contact: Kelly Murray, Executive Director, Illinois Association of County Board Members and Commissioners
217.528.5331 or iacbm@msn.com

Chicago Renames Park to Honor MPC’s First Executive Director

The Metropolitan Planning Council is pleased to announce that the Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners voted on Oct. 13, 2004 to rename city Park #316, located at 2914 N. Leavitt St., in honor of MPC’s first executive director – and the first director of the Chicago Housing Authority – Elizabeth Wood.

Wood truly was a visionary. She pioneered the rehabilitation of the city’s slums during the 1930s and became the first in a long line of bold leaders who shaped the Council – then called the Metropolitan Housing Council – as one of the region’s most effective nonprofit planning groups.

By 1937, only three years after its incorporation, the Metropolitan Housing Council influenced passage of the Illinois Housing Cooperation Act of 1937, which led to the establishment of the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA). Wood, by then a legend among housing activists, was tapped in 1937 to become the CHA’s first executive secretary, its top administrator.

Wood would serve in that role for 17 years until 1953. During her tenure, more than 60,000 Chicagoans would leave the slums and relocate to new, affordable public housing units. She also worked closely with the Chicago Park District to develop city parks to serve CHA residents.

Wood resigned from the CHA in 1953 after the authority and aldermen resisted her plan to scatter integrated public housing units throughout the city. In the wake of Wood's resignation, the CHA would spend some 30 years constructing high-rise units, which Wood vehemently denounced. Today, MPC’s housing staff works to support the CHA’s “Plan for Transformation,” which is changing the face of public housing through new mixed-income communities.

“Elizabeth Wood was ahead of her time and understood that healthy communities need more than simply decent housing to thrive,” said Ann Armstrong, MPC development director and resident historian. “She was characterized as ‘no-nonsense’ and a ‘fighter.’ It is our sincerest hope that, through the Park District’s recognition of Elizabeth Wood, generations of Chicagoans will come to know her as one of the city’s most effective housing reformers.”

MPC Contact: Ann Armstrong , Development Director
312.863.6010 or aarmstrong@metroplanning.org

Contact: Lydia Hall, Communications Officer, Chicago Park District
312.742.4791 or lydia.hall@chicagoparkdistrict.com

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