Meeting Minutes ~ January 11, 2023

January General Meeting Minutes

Wednesday, January 11 at 7:00pm

Call to Order: Nan Parson

Time: 7:10 pm

Welcome

Nan Parson welcomed those in attendance and remarked that this is the 6th anniversary of the forming of Action Ridge.

Review of 2022 actions taken in our areas of interest

Affordable Housing – Kristin Berg

The goal of the group is to address the need for Affordable Housing in the City, primarily adopting a serious AH plan and implementing the state Affordable Housing Planning and Appeals Act that mandates all municipalities to have 10% or more of its housing stock be affordable. Wording regarding ways to encourage the development of more Affordable Housing needs to be added to the new Comprehensive Plan.

Though this issue has not garnered much support from City leadership in the past, there have been changes in the Council membership and P& Z leadership as well as several staff changes which may bode well for the development of more Affordable Housing. Some leaders are now using language that indicates possible support for other housing options.

The group members have developed a petition for social service agencies to consider in support of AH and supportive housing. In addition, other persuasive materials including Housing Facts, PR Salaries table, Housing Authority information, and an infographics piece are ready for distribution and social media sharing. The group is collecting personal stories regarding the need for more affordable housing from current residents and those who work here and wish to live here as well.

Kristin and Nan have met with City and P&Z leadership as well as new aldermen to offer us as a resource for their considerations on these issues.

Education – Ginger Pennington

At the November D 64 board meeting a small group protested the actions of the Superintendent and his hiring of a diversity and inclusion consultant. The group requested his termination, indicating that their perceived concentration on equity and racism was not appropriate. Some of these members also objected to some reading materials in the schools and public library. The group also criticized cancellation of the traditional school Holiday Sing. Actually, the Holiday Sing did take place.

At the December board meeting a large group supported the Superintendent and encouraged reasonable dialogue and education about the issues which concerned parents.

Several board positions will be on the spring ballot. Members are encouraged to become informed about candidates in the future as the LWVPR and Action Ridge plan candidate forums.

Environment – Jeanne Wells

Tim Milburn, Action Ridge Environmental Area of Interest lead and member of the Sierra Club is a wonderful resource for all environmental considerations-solar power, electric vehicles, especially.

SWANCC is also a wonderful resource for recycling information.

There is also some interest in banning leaf blowers.

There are door to door sales-persons selling insect elimination services. It must be noted that they also kill pollinators and should be discouraged.

The topic for Green Drinks this month will be the Tree Programs in PR, Blue Island and Homewood.  It will take place on Tuesday, January 17, 7:00 at Beer on the Wall. Jarid Perrin,  PR Urban Forester, and guests from Blue Island and Homewood will present.  The group will discuss increasing the tree canopy and selling trees to private property owners.

Gun Violence Prevention – Maureen McInerney and Noreen Gayford

Illinois has become the 9th state to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

The age limit stays at 18 for weapon purchases instead of a proposed change to raise it to age 21.

All Democrats voted “yes” in support of the Assault Weapon Ban.  One Republican, Jim Durkin, also voted “yes”.  All other Republicans voted “no”.

Some counties and congress members announced that they would refuse to obey the law.  However, the Governor said that the law will be enforced statewide.

GPAC hopes to encourage other Midwest states to consider similar action.

Policing and Criminal Justice Alissa Goldwasser

Alissa gave an overview of the committee’s work over 2022

  • January and February – Alissa and others investigated and weighed in on the PRPD decision to contract with Lexipol.  The City did sign a contract with Lexipol.
  • April – The Student Resource Officer report needed to be more in depth.
  • July – Coffee with the Chief took place with mental health being the topic. The City social worker, Geri Silic, participated.  We learned about her role with the PRPD and particularly discussed the incident in which a Chicago Policeman physically restrained a 14-year-old boy of Puerto Rican descent.
  • August – Coffee with the Chief.  Youth disturbances in the Uptown area were discussed and AR contributed to work on a forum for addressing youth issues.
  • September – The SRO report was now more comprehensive, and the City acknowledged it’s improvement.  Work still needs to be done.
  • October – Ride-along with the traffic officer, CWC equity in traffic stops (continued data tracking.)
  • December – Coffee with the Chief. Implementation of the Safe-T-Act was the topic of discussion. The abolishment of bail bond is now on hold due to a lawsuit, which is pending.  Otherwise, the full law went into effect on January 1st.

Alissa has been maintaining a database of all PR traffic arrests for a few years, considering age, gender, location patterns.  The sample size is too small to draw firm conclusions. However, she has noted a possible bias toward stopping a greater number of people of color than white drivers.  She is willing to share this data.

Alissa was invited to attend a pilot program called Managing Bias Training which is being conducted by the PRPD.  She will attend with several police officers.

Voting and Elections – Chris Parson

Ranked Choice Voting -The Progressive Reform Network is requesting that we sign their petition to demand ranked-choice voting be adopted locally and statewide. This method eliminates expensive run-offs and creates kinder, more cooperative campaigns because a candidate might have to rely on voter’s 2nd or 3rd choices in order to win. It eliminates the need for spoiler candidates. Link for petition:

https://actionnetwork.org/forms/sign-on-demand-ranked-choice-voting

Pat Lofthouse will make an appearance before the City Council soon to propose consideration.

More than 200 high school students were registered to vote before the election. Efforts will continue before the local election in the spring.

LWVPR and Action Ridge will present forums prior to the election.

Concluding Remarks

Liz Swanson commented on the 6th anniversary of Action Ridge and shared that she had felt isolated before Action Ridge was established and wasn’t certain of community support for her beliefs.  She commended Action Ridge for bringing together like-minded residents so that there was support for more progressive causes.  She commented that we are building a more “beloved community” among our members and city-wide and that this feels very positive.

When Action Ridge started, there were questions about “who are we?” and “how do we support each other?”.  She continued that there were sometimes disappointments but also eventual successes.  One concern was how to continue during COVID19 and deal with the technology challenges of Zooming.  The result of the determination to continue is a caring, effective organization with more to come in the future.

Mailchimp – Liz Swanson

Liz thanked the group for reading the weekly emails and asked for suggestions for additions and changes to those emails.  She said that we could consider a different host platform, though Mailchimp is easy to use.  Links help shorten the entries. She also asked members to submit information prior to Tuesday when the draft is prepared.  She could use a support person to assist whenever she’s absent.  She thanked Kate Kerin for substituting while she was on vacation overseas this spring. With more time, now that she is retired, she will explore other features of Mailchimp, stats, etc

Membership – Kate Kerin

The goal is to increase membership and update members areas of interest.  Marilyn Novak and Jane Curry have volunteered to help with Membership efforts.

Book Discussion – Karen Bank-Lubicz

The next discussion will take place on January 25 at 7:00.  The current book is “My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Mending of our Bodies and Hearts” by Resmaa Menakem.  We have had very educational readings and discussions.

We may consider shorter or less intense selections; perhaps a series of selections to encourage new participants.

Communication – Nan Parson

A Maine East intern will soon be available to assist with the website.  Kristin made a suggestion for the website- tabs for resources so they are easier to locate.

Martin Luther King Jr Day Event – 1/16 Nan Parson

Join the Institute for Nonviolence Chicago for a two hour introduction to Building the Beloved Community using Dr. King’s Principles and Steps of Nonviolence and assemble toiletry packs for participants and neighbors in need.

A few of us are leaving from Park Ridge and will carpool. If you are interested, email Liz or Nan at actionridge2017@gmail.com.

Presentation of Slate and Vote

Chris Parson made the motion to close nominations at this time and to accept the presented slate, seconded by Kate Kerin, approved by unanimous voice vote.  The slate was adopted and is shown in full below:

Adjournment 8:44 pm

Respectfully Submitted

Kathy Rolsing

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