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Elected Officials Talk Topics At Today’s ‘State Of Edgewater’ Event


Toni Preckwinkle, president of the Cook County Board

A total of six local and state legislators addressed a number of topics at the annual State of Edgewater presentation held Tuesday morning at The Breakers at Edgewater Beach.

“It’s an exciting time to be in Edgewater,” 48th Ward Ald. Harry Osterman said, adding that businesses are opening and expanding, people are looking to create more housing and more people are being encouraged to spend their money locally.

Additionally, local public and parochial schools are one more reason families are choosing to remain in the area. The Chicago arts community is seeing growth, too. The Chicago Filmmakers, for instance, will take over a vacant firehouse on Ridge Avenue, he said.

Yet Edgewater needs to reduce its crime, Osterman said, adding that he met with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Monday to talk about violence along the lakefront.

“Violence in Uptown affects violence in Rogers Park,” he said. “We have to deal with it on a regional basis.”

“We cannot have great businesses” if people are afraid to go down the street, Osterman told the audience. “That’s something that we have to collectively take on, in a number of different ways.”

This means getting people outside as part of Osterman’s Summer Nights program, which promotes free, safe and positive events. Among the events listed on the alderman’s Summer Nights portion of his website this month include Taste of Bryn Mawr and Circus Fun with CircEsteem. For more information, visit www.48thward.org.

Additionally, Osterman said another way to reduce crime is by investing in youth. Youth Guidance’s Becoming a Man (B.A.M.) program is a dropout and violence prevention program for at-risk male students in grades 7-12, according to the program’s website. It offers in-school programming and, at times, after-school sports to develop social-cognitive skills that strongly correlate with reductions in violent and anti-social behavior.

Making sure kids have a positive alternative is good for the community, Osterman added.


State Reps Steans, Harris and Cassidy

Toni Preckwinkle, president of the Cook County Board, said more people in Edgewater will have access to a full spectrum of behavioral health services now that the Community Counseling Centers of Chicago (C4) will remain open. A total of 250 C4 employees will be able to keep their jobs, too.

The nonprofit behavioral health provider in Uptown was slated to close its doors by the end of May because of billing issues. It is now able to remain open because of an agreement with CountyCare, a Medicaid health plan sponsored by the Cook County Health & Hospitals System, C4’s website said.

Meanwhile, Preckwinkle also told the audience about the Chicago Anchors for a Strong Economy (CASE) program that encourages Chicago’s leading institutions to support local small business growth in their neighborhoods.

Other legislators who spoke at the event organized by the Edgewater Chamber of Commerce were Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer; 7th District State Sen. Heather Steans; 14th District State Rep. Kelly Cassidy; and 13th District State Rep. Greg Harris.

Gainer talked, among other things, about workforce development, training gaps and apprenticeships. She told audience members that property taxes in Lakeview Township will be released soon.

Steans, Cassidy and Harris gave an update on issues in Springfield, Illinois.

Steans said the state needs its finances to be balanced, stable and predictable, and that there needs to be more cooperation between Democrats who control the General Assembly and Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.

Cassidy focused her comments on criminal justice, saying the state needs to restore funding for CeaseFire, an anti-violence program. She also touted a uniform civil enforcement policy for low-level marijuana possession, and the legislature’s passing of a bill that will ban conversion therapy for GLBT youth. Rauner has yet to sign that bill.

Harris reminded the audience that June 1 was the one-year anniversary that gay marriage became legal in Illinois. He said Illinois made that a law through the political process, not through the courts.


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