CPS School Budgets


On Monday, July 13, 2015, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) released preliminary spending plans for the 2015-2016 school year. Many schools face significant budget cups. We made a simple [news app to let users explore how different school budgets changed](http://apps.chicagotribune.com/news/local/cps_school_budgets/).

Additional coverage:

* [CPS Budget: Deep Cuts For Neighborhood Schools, Cash Infusion For Charters](http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20150713/loop/cps-student-budgeting-holds-steady-but-schools-will-feel-pinch) (DNAinfo Chicago)
* [Chicago Public Schools’ budgets spend $500 million district doesn’t have](http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-chicago-public-schools-budgets-20150713-story.html)

Tribune analysis: Cops who pile up complaints routinely escape discipline

Activists bearing posters of Mayor Rahm Emanuel and police Superintendent Garry McCarthy protest police treatment of residents during a demonstration in front of the mayor’s City Hall office in February 2015. (Nancy Stone, Chicago Tribune)

This is a story that Jeremy Gorner and I wrote from police complaint data that Gorner got from an FOI request. Read the story, Tribune analysis: Cops who pile up complaints routinely escape discipline

New address, same concerns

I contributed a bit of reporting to this story written by Ian Fullerton.  It was originally published in Skyline on September 29, 2010.  I covered the closing of the original location of Pie Hole Pizza Joint for the Medill News Service in May 2010.

New address, same concerns
Pie Hole Pizza Joint gets chilly welcome from new neighbors
09/29/2010 10:00 PM
By IAN FULLERTON, Contributing Reporter


Doug Brandt never expected that his pizza shop would become a refuge for the city’s gay black youth. But now that it has, he’d like to keep it that way, despite the protests of some Boystown residents and local businesses.

Brandt is the owner of the Pie Hole Pizza Joint, a popular Lakeview restaurant soon to be reopened at 3477 N. Broadway.

Pie Hole previously had sat for years at the corner of Roscoe and Halsted, in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer mecca known as Boystown. Brandt, a 39-year-old marketing major from Iowa with experience in sales, bought the struggling pizza joint in early 2007, with the hopes of revitalizing the shop through smart, often sexually charged advertising and innovations such as “drag delivery,” which is exactly what it sounds like.

Tired of catering to the late night set, Brandt looked to target the early evening dinner crowd, the not-yet-too-drunk demographic that seemed a better fit for the 15-seat restaurant. And so Pie Hole started running a weekly karaoke night, which caught on. Soon after, the shop started hosting open mic nights, aptly titled “Soul at the Hole.”

The events quickly attracted a younger following — vocalists, spoken-word artists, musicians and a variety of other performers, mostly high school and college-age youth from all parts the city — who flocked to Pie Hole once a week to take to the stage.

“It wasn’t a huge money maker,” said Brandt. “It was just a really cool, chill night with amazing talent.”

And while the open mic and karaoke drew a wide array of participants and spectators, it soon became clear that Pie Hole’s customer-base was rooted in the cluster of LGBTQ African-American youth who came from around the city to Boystown.

Population estimates compiled by the Metro Chicago Information Center, based on data from EASI, Inc., a demographic research company, show that African Americans make up only about 5 percent of the population of Lake View, the community area that includes Boystown.

These same statistics show 12- to 17-year-olds make up the smallest age segment. Together with 18 to 24 year olds, they make up about 17 percent of the community area’s population, which is still less than half of the percentage of 25 to 34 year-olds, the group that dominates the neighborhood.

These numbers may come as a surprise to anyone strolling on the main drag of Boystown around Halsted and Belmont, where African-American youths gather in droves, not in the bars and clubs, but on the streets.

The city’s young LBGTQ African-American population from elsewhere in the city is attracted to Boystown in part because of the protection that the neighborhood provides, said Ryan Erickson, a community relations and outreach manager at the Center on Halsted.

“It’s one of the most prominent places in the city where you don’t have to really worry about how you’re sexual orientation is going to be received,” he said. “I think that certainly offers a degree of security.”

A few months after opening Pie Hole, Brandt had started to volunteer at the recently opened Center on Halsted, a community center for LGBTQ persons based in Boystown. At the Center, Brandt took a training course and was assigned to the youth program, where he mentored a young man.

“It felt kind of cool,” said Brandt. “It kind of clicked that this could be the cause for Pie Hole; this could be the thing where we could say ‘yes, we give back to the community.’”

The restaurant began donating pizzas to youth organizations such as the Broadway Youth Center and the South Side-based Youth Pride Services, while inviting kids from the programs to hang out at the shop.

“It quickly became apparent that a lot of the kids didn’t have a place to go,” he said.

As the popularity of the performances at Pie Hole grew, so too did the crowds. The atmosphere at times shifted from a sit-down pizza joint to that of a standing-room club, with groups sometimes pouring out on to the sidewalk in front of the restaurant.

What followed was inevitable. Nearby residents, businesses — and sometimes Brandt himself — began calling 911 to complain of noise disturbances, loitering and fights outside the shop and in the neighboring alley.

Brandt hired some of the teens to act as security guards at the events, a service that further drained his pockets, but the performance nights became more financially unfeasible, as most of the audience wasn’t buying anything.

“It got to the point where I was paying $400 or $500 to have karaoke night, but I wasn’t making that back,” he said. Eventually Brandt had to shut down the karaoke, a decision that came down hard on the teens who frequented the event.

In May 2009, Brandt’s lease on the property expired, without an option to renew.

To memorialize the closing of the hangout, teens from the Youth Pride Services program put on a drum-line performance outside of the shop, a final hurrah that drew sneers from a few neighbors who didn’t appreciate the evening procession, Brandt said.

But while he realized he couldn’t keep the shop at Roscoe and Halsted, Brandt knew that he wanted to keep Pie Hole alive somewhere. He started to look for a new location, preferably one with a layout that would allow him to better supervise the audiences and keep out non-paying customers. The location on Broadway fit that need, he said.

Situated between a Save Rite pharmacy and a laundromat, the space, though only a few blocks away from the old shop, is in a markedly different environment.

Brandt learned this the hard way when, two weeks ago, he received an e-mail — not sent to him directly, but on which he was copied — regarding the reopening of his business in the more residential part of Boystown.

The e-mail, sent by the resident group Belmont Harbor Neighbors to Alderman Helen Shiller (46th), described community concerns that the relocation of Pie Hole to its new location might be an unsettling prospect, referencing the 911 calls made at the Roscoe spot.

“Belmont Harbor neighbors believes that behaviors should be confronted or stopped,” the letter read, “not shifted away from the Halsted entertainment strip to a more residential strip within the BHN boundaries.”

The author urged to Shiller to invite Brandt and the building’s landlord to appear before the group’s board of directors to present a business plan for the new Pie Hole, and to discuss how they intended “to prevent a recurrence of problems as experienced at the previous location.”

The following week, Brandt made his presentation to a group of about 20 people, mostly business owners. Among other questions, he said, they asked him what he would do if lines of customers formed outside of his shop.

“I hope I have a line down the block and around the corner 24 hours a day,” Brandt said, recalling the meeting.

A few days later, Brandt received another e-mail — again, not addressing him directly — from the president of a homeowner’s association at a nearby building.

“We don’t need or want bad actors in our residential area,” the letter read. “We are sure that our neighbors, including business owners feel the same.”

Brandt said he understood that people would have concerns about a late-night establishment, but recognized that a few vocal opponents made up a small minority of the neighborhood.

“We’re in a position to reopen, which is good for the economy and good for the neighborhood,” he said. “We’re employing people, putting out a product and giving options to the neighborhood.”

Brandt said he expected Pie Hole to retain its clientele, and promised that the open mic nights would also return, though not immediately.

The shop’s Facebook page, which boasts 1,763 followers, displays daily comments from friends and residents hailing the shops return.

“I think we’re going to pick up right where we left off,” said Brandt.

The reopening of Pie Hole Pizza Joint at 3477 N. Broadway is slated for Oct. 1.

Got the numbers

At a time when little boxes inviting users to “retweet” or “like” a web page are everywhere, their absence is noticeable on the pages of organizations seeking tougher enforcement of immigration laws and a reduction in immigration levels.

National organizations like Numbers USA have active presences on social media websites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube but social media isn’t necessarily their focus on the web.

“A lot of the social media, I find to be sort of circular – a lot of people talking to each other,” Numbers USA Executive Director Roy Beck said. “What we try to do is not waste our members time talking to each other but get them talking directly to congress.”

Beck said his organization uses social media tools such as Twitter and Facebook to drive people to the organization’s website where they can take direct action on immigration issues.

“Our strength has been direct action to Congress. Congress makes the laws,” Jim Robb said. Robb is the vice president of operations of Numbers USA. He said the organization has used new technologies since it was founded as an Internet-based organization in 1996.

Beck cited the defeat of a 2007 version of the DREAM Act, proposed legislation that would provide a path to citizenship for some undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children, as a situation where the organization’s web site allowed people to respond quickly in the debate over immigration.

Both Beck and Robb touted their organization’s web-based faxing applications which makes it easy for people to contact their elected officials, even if they don’t know the name or contact information of their elected official. Robb said Numbers USA was the first advocacy organization to have such a faxing application, now a technology widely-used by advocacy organizations, when they developed it in the late 1990s.

According to Robb, members using the organization’s fax system have sent over 6 million faxes to elected officials in Washington, D.C.

Robb said his organization continues to adapt as new technologies become available. Numbers USA started by sending action alerts to their constituents by e-mail. Later they developed a Windows application that would pop-up alerts on a user’s desktop, a way of compelling people to take action without having to even check their e-mail. Robb said broader use of text messaging and mobile device applications are in development.

Ira Mehlman is the national media director of Federation for American Immigration Reform, an organization formed before widespread use of the Internet. Mehlman said his organization began using Internet social media only recently but that using a combination of media was important for getting people to react to immigration issues.

“As media is becoming more diverse, you have to be able to use all the available technologies to reach your widest possible audience,” Mehlman said, “The little old lady who listens to talk radio, you might not be able to reach her through Twitter and vice-versa: the 22-year-old you can reach on Twitter might not be listening to talk radio.”

Mehlman said new technologies are important ways for people to be engaged in the democratic process. “200 and some odd years ago it was a very small population,” Mehlman said, “People could be in the village square and discuss things. This essentially provides these opportunities in the modern age when we’re a much larger country.”

Robb also said he views Numbers USA’s web site and use of social media accounts in a democratic context calling them “a national water cooler.” He said the organization’s online presence is now being used to organize members by congressional districts. This, Robb said, helps localize the organization’s broad web resources which many local organizations are unable to replicate.

Unlike the office water cooler, however, the focus of the organization’s efforts to organize members by congressional district is action, not discourse, Robb said.

“We’re not informationally oriented, we’re action oriented,” he said.

Members can use the organization’s site to compare notes and report back on actions, Robb said, adding that, in the last two months, members had logged more than 7,000 visits to local congressional offices.

Robb said the goal of developing new technologies is to decrease the response time to immigration issues. A rally, he said, can take weeks to organize, but people can respond electronically in a matter of minutes.

However, Robb said, people, not technology, are his organization’s key asset.

“The big thing we’ve got though is a willing army,” Robb said, “There’s no magic technology that us or anybody else can use that can make up for not having people. You’ve got to have voters and we’ve got them.”

Not everyone engaged in the immigration debate’s view of the Internet is as action-oriented. Steven Camarota is the Director of Research at the Center for Immigration Studies, a research organization whose analysis typically recommends reducing levels of immigration to the United States. He said he would like to see a more careful and informed debate about immigration. Advocacy groups calling for people to take action on immigration issues, Camarota said, sometimes run the risk of polarizing the debate instead of informing it.

“It’s hard to take a complex debate and boil it down to just a few things,” Camarota said.

While the center has social media accounts, Camarota said they aren’t widely used by the organization. He said he didn’t know how social media, which often favors large numbers of short messages, has affected the ability to have a nuanced discourse about immigration but hoped it could inform the debate by pointing people to new research.

“The Internet allows you to be a real expert if you want to take the time,” he said.

Union leaders and alderman among 32 arrested at immigration rally

It all went as planned.

After warning protesters who were sitting in front of the doors of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement offices three times, an officer told the activists to stand and that they were being arrested.

Thirty-two protesters who represented unions and immigration rights groups were lined up and led inside the building for processing.

The staged act of civil disobedience, with planned arrests, camera crews and trash bags emblazoned with dollar signs meant to symbolize the cost of current immigration policy, stood in stark contrast to the tangible fear of deportation of those in the U.S. without documents.

“We need comprehensive immigration reform,” said Keith Kelleher, president of Service Employees International Union Health Care Illinois-Indiana, and one of those arrested, as he was being led into the building.

“Our brothers and sisters in our unions and in the community are being deported every day and we need to stop it. That’s why I’m getting arrested.”

The arrests followed a rally at Federal Plaza and a march from the plaza to the ICE offices. The event was organized by the Labor Committee on Immigrant Worker Rights, an organization that represents a number of unions throughout the Chicago area.

Kelleher said employers who take advantage of immigrant labor by lowering wages cause lower wages for all workers.

“We cannot fix this economy as long as 12 million workers are forced to live in the shadows and subject to exploitation,” Eliseo Medina, executive vice president of SEIU, said. “All workers deserve to have the same rights and responsibilities.”

Medina called on Republican lawmakers to join efforts to craft comprehensive immigration reform legislation.

Jean Cusack came to the protest from Milwaukee with a group named Voces de La Frontera.

On her back was a photograph of Omar Damian Ortega, a Milwaukee man Cusack said was an undocumented worker detained and facing deportation after he tried to seek worker’s compensation for an on-the-job back injury.

Cusack said she wants to see immigration reform that allows a path to legalization for workers.  “The process is impossible,” Cusack said.

Among the arrested was Ald. George Cardenas(12th). In a speech at the rally, Cardenas said there needed to be unity between Americans across immigration status.

“We will not have tranquility in this nation unless we are all united, unless we are all allowed to pursue liberty and happiness,” he said.

Cardenas, himself an immigrant, said immigrants and other Americans were tied by a common bond.

“We share your values, we share your work ethic, we share your self reliance,” he said. “Your dream is our dream and your future is our future.”

This story was originally published May 25, 2010 on Medill Reports Chicago.

Rogers Park family fights to ward off eviction

Carol Vialdores and her children really need to not get evicted.

“If I’m out of here, I’m going to be struggling,” Vialdores said this week.

On Thursday Vialdores is scheduled to appear in eviction court where a jury is expected to decide whether her family will be able to stay in their Rogers Park apartment. If the court rules that she should be evicted, Vialdores’ housing options will be severely limited.

“Evictions are incredibly disruptive, catastrophic events in people’s lives,” Keeanga Taylor, a Northwestern University graduate student working with the Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign, said at a rally Monday. “Your kids are uprooted from their school. An eviction goes on your record, which makes it almost impossible or at least very difficult to find alternative housing.”

Vialdores and the other residents of Northpoint Apartments, which comprises more than 100 units across multiple buildings, have some or all of their market-rate rent paid through a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development program. If Vialdores is evicted, she said, she will be ineligible for other subsidized housing.

At the rally, Vialdores said she would likely have to stay in a shelter if she was evicted.

Vialdores’ eviction is not over unpaid rent.  Northpoint’s management declined to comment about the eviction. Their parent company AIMCO, a Denver real estate investment company, provided a statement citing several reasons for terminating Vialdores’ lease: non-leaseholders living in the apartment, verbal abuse and threats by Vialdores against staff, and leaving one of her children unattended, leading to a fire in the apartment.

Vialdores said only she and her children have lived in the apartment, though the father of two of her children had sometimes stayed at the apartment to help with childcare. Vialdores acknowledged arguing with a Northpoint employee but said she did not threaten her. As for the fire, Vialdores said her young son accidentally started it, but the child was not unattended. His father was with him in the apartment at the time of the fire, she said.

Trying to prevent Vialdores’ eviction and raise awareness of other Northpoint tenants’ concerns, Vialdores, neighbors, and anti-eviction advocates converged at HUD’s Chicago office for a rally and to deliver several hundred petition signatures calling for Edward Hinsberger, a Chicago HUD director, to halt the eviction.

“It went about as well as we could have expected,” Holly Krig, an anti-eviction campaign volunteer said of a 25-minute meeting with Vialdores and Hinsberger. Krig said Hinsberger agreed to convince Illinois Housing Development Authority officials to meet with Northpoint’s management to discuss tenant concerns, but made no commitments to intervene in Vialdores’ eviction. IHDA is an organization that finances and oversees affordable housing development, including Northpoint.

Erica Bledsoe
Erica Bledsoe (right) holds a sign with photos protesters said showed North Point management's failure to maintain some apartments. Bledsoe successfully fought her own eviction from North Point in 2009.

Monday was not the first time that activists sought to get HUD to halt the eviction of a Northpoint tenant. Last year activists were able to compel the department to prevent the eviction of Erica Bledsoe.

Bledsoe had moved to Northpoint to help care for her nephew and nieces when Bledsoe’s mother, the children’s custodial grandmother, fell ill and later died. Although Bledsoe’s mother and the children were on the Northpoint lease, Erica was not and the apartment management tried to evict her.

After HUD’s intervention, Erica was able to sign a lease and remain in the apartment. Erica’s victory, in part, convinced Vialdores to challenge her own eviction.

In the Vialdores case, conflict with Northpoint’s management began over maintenance issues. “I don’t want to tell them something’s wrong because there’s always an argument,” she said.

At Monday’s rally, Northpoint residents said their rocky relationship with management makes them feel particularly vulnerable to eviction. “I think it’s shocking how little accountability there is in this situation,” Krig, the anti-eviction campaign volunteer, said in an interview after the rally.  “Private management companies have a lot of power over whether or not people have a home or whether they can have a home in the future.”

This was originally published as “Being thrown out of your home is almost the least-worst part of being evicted at Medill Reports Chicago” on May 5, 2010.

Taking the hard out of hardware: Project works to connect people to the internet

Update 7/2/2010: Free Geek Chicago’s training classes have started. See their education page for details.

Education has always been an important part of FreeGeek Chicago’s mission, but the project hasn’t had a systematic teaching program. Until now. Volunteers are converting part of the project’s Logan Square basement workshop into a classroom in preparation for classes focusing on practical computing.

This story was originally published on April 28, 2010 on Medill Reports Chicago.

Categorized as Reporting

Foundation, politicians support housing proposals at Rogers Park meeting

Community members filled the pews at Rogers Park Presbyterian Church Sunday, but not for a worship service, though people passing by the church might not have been able to tell the difference.

“If you are moved to say ‘Amen’ or to clap, please don’t hold back,” said  the Rev. Debbie Paton, pastor of the church.  “Do not sit on your hands.  They were made for celebration and that is the first rule of this meeting.”

She chaired a meeting about proposals aimed at combating the loss of affordable rental housing in Rogers Park and the impact of foreclosure on neighborhoods.  The meeting was sponsored by two community organizations and brought together residents, clergy, politicians and foundation representatives to build support for the proposals.

“I can’t begin to tell you,” Rogers Park resident Arletha Gary, who attended the meeting, said when asked about the number of people she knew who had moved from Rogers Park because of disappearing affordable housing.

Gary said that in the more than 20 years she had lived in the neighborhood, she has seen housing costs rise and subsidized apartments turned into condominiums, forcing many neighborhood residents to move  to the west and north and even as far as Englewood.

Speaking from the pulpit in support of a proposed rental improvement fund, Brian White, executive director of Lakeside CDC, expressed similar concerns: “Simply put, we need affordable rental housing in our community.”

“Amen,” the audience replied.

White said the neighborhood lost more than 3,600 rental units during the peak of the recent housing boom.

“Families were uprooted and pushed from one spot to another or else pushed out of the community altogether,” White said.  “Much of the remaining affordable rental housing is in buildings which need repair to make them livable and cost-effective.”

The rental improvement fund proposal would establish a new TIF district–where a portion of property taxes are diverted to fund grants for landlords to make improvements to multi-family rental housing. Landlords would receive grants of up to $350,000 on the condition that they maintain rents at affordable levels for 10 years.

The next step for the proposal is an eligibility study, required by the state law before establishing a new TIF district.  While the city has sanctioned the study, White said, outside funding is necessary.

Mijo Vodopic, program officer for the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, said the foundation was interested in a continued dialogue about the rental improvement fund, but stopped short of  committing funds to move the proposal forward.

“We were very encouraged to have the rental improvement fund brought to our attention,” Vodopic said, noting that the idea originated from community organizations with an understanding of the neighborhood’s housing needs.

Vodopic said the foundation looks forward to a full proposal from the improvement fund’s organizers.

“What happens when a couple of homes on just one block go into foreclosure?” Pam Riedy, a Northside POWER leader who spoke at the meeting, asked.  “We see our community struggle to maintain their roots while we are forced to uproot and transition into a new neighborhood.”

“Do you ever get the feeling that banks got bailed out and we got sold out?” Riedy asked the the audience.

“Banks got bailed out, we got sold out!” voices responsed.

After the meeting, Riedy linked foreclosure and affordable housing, saying that owners of smaller rental properties offering affordable rents are much more vulnerable to factors such as the loss of a tenant.  If these factors lead to the landlord entering foreclosure, affordable housing could be lost.

Supporters of measures designed to alleviate the impact of foreclosure on communities found support from Illinois State Senator Heather Steans and Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin at the meeting.  Both politicians said they would support state legislation that provided for foreclosure outreach, mediation and vacant property maintenance.

The proposed foreclosure legislation includes a $1,000 fee, paid by the seller of a foreclosed property, that would fund outreach and mediation programs similar to a Cook County program that started April 12.  Authorization of local governments to hold owners, trustees, and mortgage-holders responsible for maintaining and securing vacant properties is also a part of the proposed legislation.

Riedy said lawmakers in Springfield are circulating  drafts of legislation containing the provisions supported by Northside POWER, but to her knowledge, none had been introduced.

Even if legislators don’t get to the foreclosure proposals until the fall, Riedy said, supporters would still push for the legislation.   “We are going to be knocking on doors all summer,” she said.

Read more about the Proposed 49th Ward Rental Improvement Fund.

Originally published April 20, 2010 as “Foundation, politicians support housing proposals at Rogers Park meeting” at Medill Reports.

Asian-American groups weigh in on state redistricting process

Asian-American groups are pleased with Illinois Senate approval of a constitutional amendment to change a redistricting process that has split the community’s political power. But they haven’t stopped their advocacy yet.

Group representatives had testified Monday in Springfield  before the State Senate Redistricting Committee, which  passed the proposed measure Monday, and the full Senate approved the amendment Wednesday.

CW Chan, chairman of the Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community who testified before the committee, said he endorsed the measure, championed by State Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago), because it included language protecting the interests of minority communities.

The amendment, if approved by state referendum, would “provide racial and language minorities who constitute less than a voting-age majority of a district with an opportunity to control or substantially influence the outcome of an election.”

Chan said the expanding Chinese-American community that now includes 59 contiguous precincts on the city’s Near South Side has been particularly hard hit by past redistricting.  While community organizing efforts increased the number of registered voters from 2,000 to 6,000 in the past 10 years, Chan said, the political power of these voters has been diluted by redistricting.

“We’re scattered all over the place,” Chan said, “We would like all of these voters to be included in the same district.”

Rebecca Shi, a community organizer with the Chinese American Service League, said the Chinese-American community in the Chinatown, Bridgeport and McKinley Park neighborhoods is split between four city wards, four state representative districts, three state senate districts and three U.S. congressional districts.  As a result, Shi said, elected officials can’t be held accountable.

“Any problem that we face, we have to go to multiple legislators,” Chan said. He cited an overcrowded public library, a shortage of recreational facilities and long waiting lists for subsidized housing as community concerns that had been neglected by elected officials.

Ami Gandhi, legal director of the Asian American Institute, also testified about  her concerns with the current redistricting process and its impact on Chicago’s Asian-American community.  The process, Gandhi said, “lends itself to politicians picking their voters rather than voters picking their representatives.”

While the institute is still evaluating the ramifications of the Senate measure, Gandhi said, “It is definitely a step in the right direction for minority voting rights.”

Gandhi said the institute is advocating for redistricting reforms that would include greater protection for minority communities that make up less than 50 percent of an area to elect the candidate of their choice.  The institute would also like to see more  hearings about proposed maps to allow more community input on the redistricting process, Gandhi said.  Removing a requirement that two state house districts be nested in a senate district would give map drawers greater flexibility to reflect the needs of communities, she said.

Gandhi said the institute was working with non-Asian-American communities to ensure that redistricting changes that would benefit Asian-Americans  would not harm other communities.  Still, she said, Asian-American communities may have different needs than other groups who share political districts, citing the need for multilingual and culturally relevant social services as an example.

Chan said a meeting with Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan was planned for Saturday to encourage House passage. Chan said his goal was to help the legislature know about his community’s situation: “Recognizing the problem is the first step to rectifying it.”

Read the text of the state redistricting amendment

Originally published April 15, 2010 as “Asian-American groups weigh in on state redistricting process” at Medill Reports.