Chicago's 20th Ward Alderman

Willie B. Cochran

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Protecting the Smoke Free Illinois Act

posted Dec 8, 2011, 6:57 PM by Chicago's 20th Ward

On October 24th, Alderman Willie B Cochran voted against an ordinance presented by Alderman Cappelman to amend sections 7-32-010 and 7-32-035 of the municipal code by regulating common smoking rooms in healthcare and long-term facilities. The ordinance would’ve created an exemption to Chicago’s smoke-free regulations established in 2007 via the Smoke Free Illinois Act.

According to the American Cancer Society, the proposed Chicago ordinance allowing smoking rooms in nursing homes would threaten the health of some of our city’s most vulnerable residents, nursing home staff and fire-safety personnel; and exacerbate the economic strain on our city’s limited resources by necessitating further regulatory oversight of nursing home facilities. To contain drifting smoke and related chemicals, supporters contend, the ordinance would prohibit smoke from infiltrating other areas of the nursing home.

Although proponents argue that nursing home residents living with mental illness should receive special consideration and permission to smoke as part of their treatment, the opposition say the ordinance would be a setback for Chicago’s public health and that no such filtration system even exist.

Alderman Cochran was personally thanked by Kim Chelpaty, Senior Health Initiatives Representative for the Chicago Region Illinois Division of the American Cancer Society, Inc. for supporting the health and well-being of tens of thousands of people living and working in nursing homes across the city.

 

The Clear History of Involvement and Commitment to the 20th Ward by Willie B. Cochran

posted Jan 27, 2011, 1:55 AM by Chicago's 20th Ward   [ updated Jan 27, 2011, 2:08 AM ]

1977

CPD, assigned as a patrol beat officer and Sergeant in the 20th ward (12 yrs.)

1980

1ST home in woodlawn  (6245 S. Langley ) 

1981

2nd home in Woodlawn (6118 Woodlawn) Gut Rehab

1982-2011

Moved into current home

1984

Block Club organizing  

1985       

Block Club President (85-95) 

1985- 1992          

Board member of Covenant Development. Corporation  - restored 60 units of housing and built 6 new homes.  

1995                   

Invested in a new Laundromat in Woodlawn 

1988-2003      

Board member, Woodlawn Preservation and Investment Corporation (WPIC), restored 

750 units of housing, Built new market rate and affordable housing.  Commercial strip operator 

2003- 05            

Organized the New Communities Program, implemented a Quality of Life Program that included a written Plan that serves as a road map for community revitalization. 

2003-07              

Local School Council Member

2007                     

Elected Alderman      

Advocated for and Saved Mental Clinics from closing

Collaborated with  U of C and the CARA Program to establish an employment center in Woodlawn. 

Organized   Washington Park Consortium, a NCP Quality of Life Program.  Youth Programs, Music Programs, Sports Programs, Social Centers

Organized and Implemented two (2) Tax Incremental Financing Districts that will help spur development in provide resources to stakeholders.  

Organized with advocates, HUD and the City of Chicago, the sell and acquisition of Grove Park Apartments.  Making way for a total turnaround of a troubled housing development.  Replacing it with new mixed income housing and new commercial development and a Squash Court with meeting rooms.         

Facilitated development in Washington Park, Englewood, Back of Yards & Woodlawn that includes, housing, a grocery store, strip malls and a Medical Clinics that provides quality healthcare to uninsured.  

Department of Water Management 2010-2008 Capital Improvements

posted May 13, 2010, 8:39 AM by Chicago's 20th Ward

2010

S Wabash Ave - E Marquette Road to E 69th Street
1253 feet of 8-inch diameter water main

E 68th Street - S Wabash Avenue to S Michigan Avenue
427 feet of 8-inch diameter water main

2009

W 54th Place - S Morgan to S Halsted
1345 feet of 8-inch diameter water main

S Evans Avenue - E 63rd Street to E 65th Street
1405 feet of 8-inch diameter water main

W 48th Street - S Racine Avenue to S Morgan Street
1313 feet of 8-inch diameter water main

2008

S Champlain Avenue - E 63rd Street to E 65th Street
1421 feet of 8-inch diameter water main

S St Lawrence Avenue - E 67th Street to E 69th Street
1262 feet of 8-inch diameter water main

S Lafayette Avenue - W 60th Street to W 61st Street
793 feet of 8-inch diameter water main

W 60th Street - S Lafayette Avenue to S Perry Avenue
325 feet of 8-inch diameter water main

E 60th Street - S State Street to S Wabash Avenue
445 feet of 8-inch diameter water main

S Wabash Avenue - E 59th Street to E 63rd Street
1293 feet of 8-inch diameter water main

S Evans Avenue - E 67th Street to E 69th Street
1301 feet of 8-inch diameter water main

S King Drive - E Garfield Boulevard to E 57th Street
1242 feet of 8-inch diameter water main

Daley's street-sweeping plan creates dust-up

posted Apr 8, 2010, 9:46 AM by Chicago's 20th Ward

Mayor Richard Daley envisions efficiency in cutting the city's street-sweeping force, but restive City Council members see only the further erosion of control in their wards before they face voters next year.

Instead of one sweeper for each of Chicago's 50 wards that's largely at the disposal of each alderman, Daley wants 33 sweepers to scrub equal-sized portions of the city.

Many aldermen bashed the mayor's plan Tuesday, when they gathered to shoot the breeze after a committee meeting. Mostly, they fretted that yet more power will be centralized under Daley when they're the ones held responsible for the condition of local streets.

"Some wards need more work; mine is one of them," said Ald. Willie Cochran, 20th, who said he often dispatches the sweeper to messy areas brought to his attention by residents of his South Side ward. "I want to keep control of that sweeper."

Other aldermen said it's a significant change that could upset their constituents less than a year before elections are held for all 50 City Council seats and the mayor's office. In Chicago, an alderman's ability to deliver services -- whether it's a new garbage bin, a tree trim or graffiti removal -- can go a long way toward success at the polls.

But during Daley's tenure, City Hall has consolidated many services, a trend accelerated in the late 1990s when the mayor created the 311 non-emergency call center.

In recent years, aldermen have squawked when they perceived that Daley's actions would anger their residents, even as tight budgets have stretched services thin at City Hall and across the city.

City Council members restored funding for the popular jumping-jack program, which provides trampoline-like contraptions for children at neighborhood events. Aldermen protested, and prevailed, when Daley slowed side-street plowing to save money. And they have balked at Daley's proposal to allow his inspector general to investigate aldermen.

But Daley said the street-sweeping plan, announced to aldermen Monday by Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Thomas Byrne in private sessions, would increase efficiency across the city while also saving money.

"If this side is one ward -- of the street -- and that's the other side, we can only street clean one side one day and the other the other day," Daley said. "Now you clean both at the same time."

Under the new system, streets in wards that are geographically smaller would get swept less often than they are now, while streets in larger wards would be cleaned more often.

But sweeping would be done more equally across the city, with each street swept on average once every seven weeks, said Matt Smith, department spokesman. In any given day, the sweepers will cover 198 miles, rather than the 200 miles a day now swept.

Daley said sweepers would still respond to requests for special attention made by ward superintendents, who work for streets and sanitation but report to aldermen.

The remaining 17 street sweepers would be kept in reserve, in case others broke down, to ensure 33 are on the streets at all times, Smith said. Drivers now assigned to sweeping would be shifted to garbage collection, where drivers sometimes fall short as Byrne continues to address a large number of workers who are out sick, on disability or otherwise not on the job, Smith said.

But aldermen, for the most part, are more worried about their new role after the changes.

"Planning is a major part of whatever you do," said Ald. Ed Smith, 28th. "Who sits down and plans, makes sure everybody is consulted in this process? You don't want to get planned out of the process. That's what we're very concerned about."

--Hal Dardick and John Byrne

From Chicago Breaking News Center, March 23, 2010.

TWO cleans up, employs, and empowers

posted Feb 19, 2010, 12:13 PM by Chicago's 20th Ward

Alderman Cochran is committed to employing ex-offenders and others who find it difficult to seek jobs. Recently we received a copy of the TWO newsletter that described a great program putting hard to employ, unemployed, and underemployed Woodlawn residents to work. This following is an excerpt from their newsletter.

The Woodlawn Organization was one of four organizations to be warded the grant from the Department of Family and Support Services to host the Neighborhood Clean-up Program. Workers from TWO's Neighborhood Clean-up Program can be found picking up trash, pruning trees, or shoveling snow in virtually any high traffic area on Chicago's South Side. The goal of the program is provide paid employment to individuals who are hard to employ, under-employed or unemployed. TWO has the privilege of being the only agency to receive the neighborhood clean-up grant on the South Side, and their hard work has not gone unnoticed.

Crew members are given case management, substance abuse counseling if needed, and academic support twice a week.

Within the 22 employees, some are ex-offenders who have recently been released from prison, or have been out for some years. The crews are split into two groups. Program Director Warren Beard stated: "Some of them  have given testimonies that if it weren't for this job, they may have ended up back on the streets or in prison." In addition to being provided with employment and job and life-skills training, two crew members recently had the opportunity to be interviewed by Mark Mardell of BBC news. They gave their opinions about President Obama's first year in office, and how his stimulus plan has affected them and other Americans in similar situations.

Visit our Community Office at 1518 E 63rd Street to ask how you can contribute to our ongoing Circle of HOPE.

Track and field new summertime recreation option for Chicago youth

posted Jan 8, 2010, 7:47 AM by Chicago's 20th Ward

Published in Chicago Tribune, May 12, 2009

Children in at least 17 Chicago wards will have track and field clubs as a new summer recreation option, city officials announced today.

The new program is part of a city push to provide activities to keep children out of trouble this summer.

"There are still thousands of openings in the summer programs so I want to ask every parent or guardian to accept your responsibility and help us fill those empty slots," said Daley today, standing on a track in Jackson Park.

The track program, which sponsors hope to expand across the city, is expected to start in 17 wards and run between June 21 to July 25, said Ald. Willie Cochran (20th). 

Each team will require volunteers and coaches to mentor between 60 to 100 children ages 8 to 14. The cost of each track team, around $5,000, will come from a mix of public and private support, including an organization called World Sport Chicago. That group works with the city's 2016 Summer Olympics bid team to promote sports among young people.

Cochran said the money will be spent on transportation, uniforms, equipment and snacks. He said interested parents should call their alderman's office to find out if the program is going on in their ward.

The different track teams could end up competing against each other, and also organizers are hoping to get former Olympians' help in coaching the children.

"Chicago used to be one of the best track and field programs in the nation," Cochran said, referring to sprinter and former congressman Ralph Metcalfe and others.

Daley also highlighted the city's summer jobs program. About 19,000 teens will get paid summer work and the mayor said the deadline to apply has been extended to June 19.

Teens and parents can find out about the job program at youthreadychicago.org.

Cochran fields concerns on community garden

posted Nov 13, 2009, 10:31 AM by Chicago's 20th Ward

Cochran held the meeting in order to hear the community’s reaction to the garden closure, which makes room for staging construction for the Chicago Theological Seminary at 61st Street and Dorchester Avenue.

20th Ward Alderman Willie Cochran said he would form committees to discuss the future of community gardens in Woodlawn at a community meeting in Carnegie Elementary School Thursday, responding to concerns over the closing of the 61st Street Garden. The University remains committed to its decision to close the garden.

Cochran held the meeting in order to hear the community’s reaction to the garden closure, which makes room for staging construction for the Chicago Theological Seminary at 61st Street and Dorchester Avenue. He offered city-owned land on the nearby corner of 62nd Street and Dorchester Avenue for a permanent garden.

“If this garden subject is what has gotten us here today, let that be one of the things that we take away,” he said. “What I see, here, for me, is an opportunity to build a coalition where we’ve never seen it before.”

Closing the garden is the only safe and efficient option, Associate Vice President for the Office of Civic Engagement Sonya Malunda said, adding the University is aware and appreciative of the the garden’s positive impact on the community.

“How can we create a grand vision that brings communities together?” she asked.

Malunda was joined by Arnold Randall, vice president for civic engagement, and Rudy Nimocks, director of community partnerships. Over 150 people attended the meeting, including at least a dozen University students.

The University announced the decision in April, and the garden officially closed on October 30, but gardeners and community members hope the University will reconsider. Cochran said he will create committees to discuss the future of the 61st Street Garden and potential new gardens in the neighborhood.

He conceded that the meeting should have been held earlier to allow more time for discussion, but said the community should keep up its momentum to ensure its voice is heard by the University—concerning both community gardens and other neighborhood issues.

Jack Spicer, garden manager, demanded an open-ended discussion with the University brokered by Cochran, instead of an announcement of already-made decisions.

Malunda said she didn’t want people to invest more time and energy in trying to negotiate a compromise when the decision would not change. “I don’t want to mislead anyone at this meeting, with all due respect,” she said.  She added that the University has now offered to buy new topsoil for relocating the garden, in addition to its previous offer to move the garden’s current topsoil.

Cochran said he wants to put at least 600 more plots in Woodlawn over the next two years, pointing out that permanent plots on land controlled by the ward would establish a strong foundation for urban gardening in the neighborhood. Cochran encouraged attendees to consider future plans for community gardening in Woodlawn, instead of focusing on the University’s decision.

“We take our happiness with us. If we focus on one place, we lose ourselves,” he said.

Brandon Johnson, executive director for the Washington Park Consortium, also encouraged attendees to get involved in the park’s community garden planning process, as did a representative from a community garden in Jackson Park. 

Attendees suggested alternate possiblities for staging the construction of the Seminary, including using land at the corner of 61st Street and Woodlawn Avenue that previously had greenery, but has remained empty since the University put plans for the space on hold.  Malunda replied that the University promised the neighbors of that space they would no longer stage any construction there.

Malunda did not answer questions on whether construction options might be analyzed by a neutral construction planning company, if the staging process might take place on city-owned land at 62nd Street and Dorchester Avenue, or if the garden closure could be postponed for a month to allow more time for discussion. She stressed that the current plan was chosen for its safety and practicality, and that the University hopes to continue working with the residents  of Woodlawn.

Woodlawn resident Quentin Young (X ’44), who has lived in the neighborhood his whole life, said the University’s decision reinforced its decades-long conflict with the community.  “This is a rare good chance to get some solidarity, which you need,” he said.  “It’s damn foolish and arrogant that they don’t see it.”

Community Meeting on October 24

posted Nov 9, 2009, 9:49 AM by Chicago's 20th Ward

Police Superintendent Jody Weis, along with State Representative Ken Dunkin and a representative from Senator Roland Burris' office, addressed us at the October 24 community meeting. We then a fruitful and positive discussion about safety in the 20th Ward. The discussion ranged from poor police response time to parenting classes.

20th Ward Community Meeting on October 24


Chicago Church Takes on Motel

posted Oct 20, 2009, 9:40 AM by Chicago's 20th Ward

A Chicago church congregation wants to eradicate drugs, crime and prostitution in its West Woodlawn neighborhood. New Beginnings Church members are targeting a motel that’s directly across the street from the church. They say the seedy, run-down-looking motel is a haven for drug dealers and johns. Every weekend the pastor leads a protest in front of the Super Motel.

On a dark, drizzly Friday night, 30 or so congregants from New Beginnings Church stand in the middle of the street on 66th and King Drive. They’ve been here every Friday and Saturday night since August.

They wear orange T-shirts, some men with flashlights have the girth of nightclub bouncers and children dance to contemporary gospel music blaring from speakers hooked to bright streetlights. The protest has the energy of a block party that’s celebrating well past sunset.

The "Shut ‘Em Down Campaign" aims to stop the alleged drug dealing and prostitution at Super Motel directly across the street. Volunteers pass out flyers to cars driving down King Drive.

Lolita Kellogg is a substance abuse and HIV counselor who attends New Beginnings. She hasn’t missed a weekend protest.

KELLOGG: I’ve seen people walk up to this hotel, go to the room directly across here. Knock on the door, step in for a minute and come back out. That’s drug sales. Just last weekend a car drove in with a young lady and a guy. Went in the room. In there half hour at the most. Came right back out.

This strip of has long been associated with prostitution. In September, there were five prostitution arrests on 65th and King Drive.

BROOKS: We believe that, as a church, we’re supposed to help change the community. I think a lot of times churches do a lot of complaining but they don’t get involved in changing.

Corey Brooks is the pastor at New Beginnings. The church used to be a roller-skating rink. Brooks remodeled the space and moved in two and a half years ago.

Brooks says the tipping point on crime for the church came this summer.

BROOKS: There was a young man that was chased out of the hotel on a Sunday morning half naked and he was chased right into our doorways right before church. And these young guys beat him severely and we had to call an ambulance it was really a mess.

Brooks says after that incident, the church agreed that a weekly protest to call attention to the motel was the way to go. He says one prostitute approached him about getting help and the church paid for her drug rehab visit.

BROOKS: If a person chooses to use the hotel, as disgusting as we think that hotel may be, we don’t try to stop them or prohibit them or harass them. Their prerogative it’s a free country. If they choose to use it, that’s there choice. All we try to do is pass out flyers so if they happen to get a flyer when they come by, so be it. We still believe in being as loving as possible.

The Super Motel owner is Veenod Patel. Patel has owned Super Motel since August 1998. He co-owns another hotel in Homewood and he lives in Glenview, Illinois. Patel says he never looks into the personal business of his clientele.

PATEL: That is not my business to identify who is the drug dealer or who is the criminal. When customers check in, they have a legal ID and we have to honor them.

Patel says he doesn’t experience any problems from motel customers and the police don’t bother him.

The Chicago Police Department declined to comment for this story.

Patel says he feels unfairly singled out by the church. He says he wants to sell the church his motel, if anything to get the pastor off of his back. But an interested Pastor Brooks says the asking price of $1.5 million is too much. Patel says that’s the final price.

From Chicago Public Radio.

2009 Back to School Picnic

posted Oct 16, 2009, 9:41 AM by Chicago's 20th Ward

2009 Back to School Picnic


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