Notice prompts protest at MAC

By SAM CHOLKE
Staff Writer
Tensions boiled over last week over relocating tenants from the Sutherland Apartments.
About 40 people from the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization picketed in front of new owner MAC Property Management’s 53rd Street office on Aug. 20 calling for better treatment of the 43 households being relocated from the apartment building at 4659 S. Drexel Ave.
“It is clear that MAC Properties values profit over people,” said Jitu Brown of KOCO. The residents are being “treated like animals,” he said.
KOCO and MAC parent company Antheus Capital have been in negotiations over what services would be extended to residents since the building was purchased on July 29 from Heartland Housing and all residents were told their leases would not be renewed.
At the beginning of last week, KOCO and Antheus continued to negotiate benefits for residents moving out of the dilapidated apartment building. Residents have been promised their first month rent and security deposit and moving expenses will be paid. They will also receive financial assistance for up to 12 months if they cannot find an apartment at an equal or cheaper rent.
On Aug. 17, Antheus gave residents a five-day eviction notice and negotiations stopped and the dialogue has turned bitter.
The eviction notice is a “scare tactic,” Brown said. “Their main purpose is clearing the building like the tenants are cattle.”
Antheus Capital said it issued the eviction notices because only three of the 43 households has paid August rent.
“The entire relationship with the tenants is based on us providing housing for them paying rent,” said Peter Cassel, director of community development for Antheus Capital and MAC Property Management.
Cassel said discussions had been productive up until the protest and Antheus had offered additional benefits to residents the day before the protest.
“We were in dialogue and they chose to end that dialogue and protest,” Cassel said. “At this point, I have no interest in meeting with KOCO.”
On Aug. 19, Antheus had agreed to refund August rent to tenants after they moved out and would clear up any damage to residents’ credit score from the eviction notice.
“We will also provide personalized letters and/or personal telephone calls detailing the circumstance of this filing for you to share with future landlords or other creditors,” Cassel says in an Aug. 19 letter to tenants.
At the protest, Brown said residents did not have faith Antheus would follow up on its promises after the residents have moved out. He also said Antheus has not gone far enough in guaranteeing residents the right to come back to the building once the rehab is complete.
“The only reason I want to come back is it’s a historic arts location to me,” said resident Leroy Bowers, who also sits on the programming board for the building’s historic ballroom.
Bowers was one of only a few residents to turn out for the protest. KOCO said residents were afraid to openly challenge Antheus.
Applications from former residents will be given a priority, but Antheus will not reserve any units, according to Cassel.
“If I can get a resident back for free because they want to come back, that’s very valuable,” Cassel said. “Among the things I can’t do is hold space and wait for Sutherland residents to come back.”
Sutherland residents at the protest said in the back and forth between Antheus and KOCO they were now confused what their responsibilities were and what offers remained on the table.
“Do I pay rent or do I move?” Bowers said.
Cassel said all services and benefits Antheus had agreed to as of Aug. 19 remain available to tenants.
For KOCO, the fight on behalf of the residents is not over.
“This is just the beginning,” Brown said. “We can make MAC’s lives very miserable.”
Cassel said Antheus and MAC would no longer meet with KOCO.
“Right now, we are glad to speak with tenants,” Cassel said.
s.cholke@hpherald.com
Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

New day at Neighborhood Club

The Hyde Park Neighborhood Club, 5480 S. Kenwood Ave., is narrowing its focus and rewriting its mission in an effort to remake its image and build its bank.
Already known for its many popular children’s programs, like the Tot Lot, which looks after youngsters during the day, the century-old community center is now exclusively developing programs surrounding young people, according to Neighborhood Club Executive Director Jennifer Bosch.
“[We are] serving only youth from here on out,” Bosch said, adding that programming will include activities for whole families based on the needs of children.
The move necessitates the elimination of many programs for senior citizens, including the Golden Diners program, which provides meals for seniors at a modest cost. That program will be phased out as of Sept. 24. Though the club is seeking out a new location for the meals, it has thus far come up short.
“We are looking diligently for new locations,” Bosch said.
While revamping the club and adding programming would have squeezed the seniors out anyway, Bosch said state law related to a new daycare center being built in the club meant adults coming to the center would have to pass background checks and other processing, making keeping programs unrelated to youth impractical.
In addition, the programs have, on their own, been petering out, Bosch said.
“For the past few years, participation has been diminishing,” Bosch said.
The new rules also mean daytime meeting space will also have to be youth-oriented, meaning regular meeting space for community groups will no longer be available. Large community meetings, however, will still be possible in the club’s gym, Bosch said.
The club will be adding programming for children up to five years old and swelling the total number of youth who can be served at existing programs, according to Bosch. A new literacy program, healthy cooking classes for entire families and other health-related programs are all part of the clubs revamped mission, which focuses on health and young people, according to Bosch.
Bosch characterized the decision as a life-or-death one for the club, saying since she became executive director just more than two years ago, she and the board had been mulling the question “are we going to close the organization or are we going to find a future?”
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

New school’s policies confuse

By DASCHELL M. PHILLIPS
Staff Writer
Dionne Terry, the parent of three children who dropped out of the Chicago Public School system, was excited when she heard the news about Little Black Pearl and Prologue Alternative School’s plans to open the Joshua Johnston School of the Arts this fall but was soon disheartened by the news that her children did not qualify for the program.
Terry, who is a Bronzeville resident, said she is looking for a school for her 19-year-old son, who has a learning disability and attended Meridian High School in Mounds, Ill., before coming back to Chicago; her 18-year-old daughter, who attended U. of C. Woodlawn Charter but dropped out once she got pregnant; and her 16-year-old son, who she pulled out of Dyett and then Bowen high schools because he was continuously confronted and assaulted when traveling to and from school.
Because Prologue is an alternative school and the Little Black Pearl has a long history of providing arts programs to alternative schools, both institutions have received calls from parents whose children have dropped out but want to attend Joshua Johnston.
“Joshua Johnston is not an alternative school. It is a charter school,” said Monica Haslip, executive director of Little Black Pearl at 1960 E. 47th St., which is where the school will be located until a larger school building is found.
Terry and the other parents who have called were challenged by the fact that their school-aged children could not apply for the program.
“My teens are well-versed in visual arts and drawing and have dreams of attending college to get into the field of art, music and media,” Terry said. “They were crushed to learn this program was for those who hadn’t left their primary school yet.”
Joshua Johnston, which is named after the first known African American slave to become an artist, will serve youth between the ages of 16 and 21 who are at risk of dropping out of school. The school will focus on fine arts and design, academics and entreprenurial education.
“Joshua Johnston will target students who are academically behind their graduating cohorts and have truancy problems,” said Nancy Jackson, executive director of Prologue, who said she has been referring parents of dropouts that call in about the charter school to Prologue’s alternative schools.
Jackson said the Joshua Johnston has received referrals of students who would be good fits for the school from 10 high schools on the South Side including Kenwood Academy and will consider applicants from all over the city.
For questions about applying to Joshua Johnston, call Doris Campbell at 773-935-9925.
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Norman Bolden returns to campaign trail

By SAM CHOLKE
Staff Writer
Room 43 owner Norman Bolden announced on Tuesday he will run for alderman of the 4th Ward next year.
“I am a connector — I can effectively bring people together,” Bolden said in an interview before his campaign kickoff.
Bolden is the third candidate to announce a run for the alderman’s position next year. In recent months, George Rumsey, president of the Computer Resource Center and former president of the Hyde Park  Kenwood Community Conference, said he intends to run. State rep. Will Burns (D-26) has also said he will seek the seat.
Burns will likely be the interim successor to current alderman, Toni Preckwinkle, if she wins her bid for Cook County Board president. Preckwinkle said she has put Burns’ name forward to Mayor Richard M. Daley as a possible appointment to finish her term.
Bolden said he is the only candidate with his finger on the pulse of all of the 4th Ward, which covers portions of the Oakland, Douglas, Kenwood and Hyde Park neighborhoods. “I’m not sure if the others can say that and say it with vigor and passion,” he said.
Bolden said his campaign’s first step will be collecting enough signatures from registered voters in the ward to get his name on the ballot.
As of Herald press time, he planned to make his official announcement Tuesday at Room 43, 1041 E. 43rd St.
Bolden ran for the 4th Ward alderman seat in 2003 and 2007.
s.cholke@hpherald.com
Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Humanities back in HP

The Chicago Humanties Festival is returning this fall and will once again begin with a one-day event highlight this year’s theme in Hyde Park.
On Sunday, Oct. 24, the festival will present its Hyde Park Day, showcasing 12 programs across the neighborhood featuring events related to this year’s theme, “The Body.” Events include a discussion by University of Chicago Dr. Eric Whitaker, a special viewing of rare medical texts, a human rights discussion, a debate between political artist Tania Bruguera and Renaissance Society curator Hamza Walker and a talk about how mummies are made.
Tickets for the various events in Hyde Park and during the festival’s Nov. 2-14 schedule are available beginning Tuesday, Sept 17. Call 312-494-9509 for more information.

Humanities back in HP
The Chicago Humanties Festival is returning this fall and will once again begin with a one-day event highlight this year’s theme in Hyde Park.On Sunday, Oct. 24, the festival will present its Hyde Park Day, showcasing 12 programs across the neighborhood featuring events related to this year’s theme, “The Body.” Events include a discussion by University of Chicago Dr. Eric Whitaker, a special viewing of rare medical texts, a human rights discussion, a debate between political artist Tania Bruguera and Renaissance Society curator Hamza Walker and a talk about how mummies are made.Tickets for the various events in Hyde Park and during the festival’s Nov. 2-14 schedule are available beginning Tuesday, Sept 17. Call 312-494-9509 for more information.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Suzuki Institute holding auditions

The Hyde Park Suzuki Institute College Bound Conservatory is holding auditions for pianists, violinists, violists and cellists for its 2010-2011 season. Audition applications are due by Sept. 17 and auditions will take place between 8:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Sept. 25.
You must complete and submit an application to be scheduled for an audition time. Students will be allowed to warm-up prior to their audition time.  No food will be provided, bring a snack or lunch if you are scheduled for an early audition.  Parents and guardians, siblings and friends will not be allowed in the audition. Accompanists are not required.
For more information, call 773-643-1388.

Suzuki Institute holding auditions
The Hyde Park Suzuki Institute College Bound Conservatory is holding auditions for pianists, violinists, violists and cellists for its 2010-2011 season. Audition applications are due by Sept. 17 and auditions will take place between 8:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Sept. 25. You must complete and submit an application to be scheduled for an audition time. Students will be allowed to warm-up prior to their audition time.  No food will be provided, bring a snack or lunch if you are scheduled for an early audition.  Parents and guardians, siblings and friends will not be allowed in the audition. Accompanists are not required.For more information, call 773-643-1388.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Local pols work to get out vote

By SAM CHOLKE
Staff Writer
Democratic candidates for elected office tried to fire up South Side residents on Aug. 10 with dour predictions of what a Republican controlled Illinois government would look like.
“There’s something shady with Brady,” said Governor Pat Quinn about his Republican challenger in the governor’s race, state Sen. Bill Brady (R-44). “We’ve got to stick with the party of working people, of everyday people, of Barack Obama.”
Quinn joined Democratic hopefuls Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th), the candidate for Cook County Board president; Illinois Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, candidate for the U.S. Senate; state representatives Esther Golar (D-6) and Will Burns (D-26), who are seeking re-election, at the Charles Hayes Family Investment Center in an early election season push to get out the vote.
“You all are out on a beautiful August evening listening to people talk about an election three months away. I’m not worried about the people in this room,” said Burns, who represents the north side of Hyde Park and Kenwood.
All sitting politicians, candidates admitted the state is in rough shape — but not as bad as it would be if Republicans came to power.
“The lives of our community is a political game down in Springfield,” Burns said. “The Republican Party is betting on, praying, we stay home on election day — they’re already measuring the drapes.”
Candidates advised that voting on election day was the least residents could do for their Kenwood neighbor, President Barack Obama.
“The Republicans would like nothing better than to take Barack’s senate seat,” Preckwinkle said. “We need to support Democrats up and down the ticket. The Republicans would like to take the governorship of the president’s home state — they want to embarrass him.”
The crowd of roughly 60 was slow to warm up to candidates, but applauded both Preckwinkle’s disparagement of Republicans and her vow to clean up after her own party at the county.
“I’m not on a revenge kick. I’m not going to be looking for heads to chop off,” she said about her campaign pledge to clean up a county government that the crowd described as “cancerous with corruption and bad management.”
“The principle challenge of government is finding good people to do the work,” Preckwinkle said.
The crowd was cool towards Giannoulias, except when he criticized his opponent, Republican Congressman Mark Kirk. The candidate’s stories about his immigrant parents and his plans to create jobs in Washington were met with a few nods from the crowd. But it was descriptions of Kirk as “bought and paid for by Washington lobbyists” that drew applause, a sign that campaigns this election cycle could become bruising battles as the Nov. 4 election approaches.
s.cholke@hpherald.com
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment