February 2005 Media Tips - Metropolitan Planning Council

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February 2005 Media Tips

Roundtables to Feature Sensible Growth, Housing, and Bus Rapid Transit

During its more than 70-year history, MPC has played host to thousands of “meetings of the minds,” where solutions to northeastern Illinois’ most pressing concerns begin to percolate. In that tradition, the Council is pleased to announce the 2005 Spring Roundtable Series, which features three distinct sessions focused on sustainable development, workforce housing, and bus rapid transit. At each roundtable, a panel of speakers will present their thoughts on the topic, followed by a moderated question-and-answer session. Lunch will be served. The 2005 Winter Roundtable Series features the following sessions:

  • “Making It Work: Implementing Sustainable Development,” co-sponsored with ULI Chicago, Tuesday, March 8, noon to 2:00 p.m., Prairie Center for the Arts, 201 Schaumburg Ct., Schaumburg, Ill.
  • “Breaking New Ground: Understanding Illinois’ Comprehensive Housing Plan,” Monday, March 14, noon to 1:30 p.m., Gardner Carton & Douglas LLP, 191 Wacker Dr., 37 th Floor, Chicago.
  • “Get on the Bus: What We Can Learn from Curitiba, Brazil,” Thursday, March 17, noon to 1:30 p.m., Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw LLP, 190 S. LaSalle St., 39 th floor reception, Chicago.

Media may attend free of charge, but a reservation is appreciated to plan for lunch. For more details, including information on standard registration and costs, please visit www.metroplanning.org/calendar.asp.

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

Mayor Lauds Employer-Assisted Housing for Boosting CHA Communities

The new mixed-income communities at the heart of the Chicago Housing Authority’s (CHA) Plan for Transformation are getting a boost, as 13 businesses located near these developments are providing down-payment funds to employees who purchase homes in these neighborhoods.

In a significant expansion of employer-assisted housing (EAH) in Chicago, six employers – Charter One, MB Financial, MB Real Estate, Bank One (under new management), Draper and Kramer, and the Walsh Group – announced plans to launch EAH programs in connection with the CHA’s mixed-income communities, joining seven others. EAH also earned the backing of Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, who held a meeting in February with representatives of nearly 100 businesses to encourage their participation in the program. The city views EAH as a mechanism to promote neighborhood revitalization, particularly in areas where the CHA’s former high-rise developments are being replaced by mixed-income communities.

“Working together, we can help promote wonderful mixed-income communities that both enhance the lives of residents while helping companies prosper,” said Jack Markowski, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Housing. “We have been working and will continue to work with employers to help them identify housing opportunities for their employees because we want to encourage a live-near-work environment in the city.”

Chicago’s endorsement of EAH resonates with the state’s support for the program. The State of Illinois provides incentives for companies to create EAH programs by offering tax credits to the companies and matching funds to employees who receive employer assistance.

MPC contact: Robin Snyderman, Housing Director
312.863.6007 or rsnyderman@metroplanning.org
Contact: Molly Sullivan, Director, City of Chicago Department of Housing 312.742.0595 or mollysullivan@cityofchicago.org

A+ Illinois: Gov’s Budget Does Little to Help Public Schools, Property Taxpayers

While Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich admitted in his budget address that the state's school-funding system places far too great a burden on property taxpayers, he failed to provide a solution to the problem, according to the A+ Illinois campaign for statewide education-funding and tax reform.

In fact, the governor set aside a miserly $140 million for education, the least amount he’s earmarked for Illinois’ two million schoolchildren since taking office – and nowhere near what is needed to meet his own pledge to raise Illinois’ per-pupil education-spending amount by $1,000 over the course of his term. More alarming is that these funds are to be drawn from surpluses of other funds dedicated to important state initiatives. This system “robs from Peter to pay Paul,” and presupposes that these dedicated funds will continue to run surpluses in coming years.

A+ Illinois is urging school-funding and tax reform proponents to speak up for meaningful change at House Speaker Michael J. Madigan’s public hearings on state finances and the budget. The hearings provide a platform for supporters to tell state representatives how Illinois ’ fiscal state is affecting their own communities, families, and children. A+ Illinois will provide supporters with speaking points upon request. To find the nearest public hearing, visit www.aplusillinois.org/calendar/calendar.asp .

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

Contact: Dennis Vercler, Director of News & Communications, Illinois Farm Bureau
309.557.2236 or dvercler@ilfb.org

Business Leaders for Transportation Supports IDOT’s Increased Focus on Freight

The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) has created the new Division of Public and Intermodal Transportation (DPIT), charged with streamlining multimodal transportation coordination to more safely and efficiently move freight and people in northeastern Illinois.

Business Leaders for Transportation – a coalition of Chicago-area employers who support improved transportation planning and funding, and a lead voice advocating that IDOT make this organizational shift – applauds the department for establishing DPIT. The coalition, of which MPC is a co-leader, also welcomes Jason Tai, former chief of staff for U.S. Rep. William Lipinski, as the new DPIT director.

“By establishing this division, IDOT took the first step toward ensuring that Illinois, the nation’s transportation hub, has the capacity to handle a projected 100 percent increase in freight traffic by 2020,” said Natashia Holmes, MPC senior transportation associate. “This strategic restructuring reflects IDOT’s increasing emphasis on exploring new and innovative solutions to address this projected increase proactively – today, instead of tomorrow, when it will be too late.”

In particular, as part of its responsibilities, DPIT will serve as the lead agency responsible for implementing the Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency (CREATE) Program. The nationally recognized CREATE is a $1.5 billion rail infrastructure improvement plan for northeastern Illinois that MPC and Business Leaders for Transportation strongly support.

MPC Contact: Natashia Holmes, Senior Transportation Associate
312.863.6022 or nholmes@metroplanning.org

Contact: Matt Vanover, communications manager, Illinois Department of Transportation
217.558.0517 or matt_vanover@cms.state.il.us

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