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Different ways of addressing violence across the state

Wednesday, Dec 7, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Crain’s

Fixing up abandoned homes can help reduce the gun violence plaguing U.S. cities, including Chicago, according to a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The authors found that areas with full remediation, which includes installing functioning doors and windows and clearing away trash and weeds, showed significant reductions in gun assaults (down 13%), weapons violations (down 8.4%) and shootings (down 7%). […]

In long-disinvested neighborhoods where abandoned houses are numerous, “the neighbors know that nobody cares about this place and all your illicit things can go down in there,” said Kanoya Ali, housing coordinator for Chicago CRED, the gun violence-reduction program co-founded by former U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

“In today’s lingo, they’re called trap houses,” Ali said. “You hide your guns in there. You do drugs in there, prostitution. Runaways think they can survive in an abandoned house.”

The study is here.

* Sobering news from Rockford

The number of domestic violence cases continues to rise annually in Rockford.

A group at Court Street United Methodist Church, 215 N Court St., is responding to the mayor’s public call to action, trying to let people know that there are resources out there if they are in need of help. […]

The solution is something that Rockford leaders are focusing on right now. Nearly 40% of the city’s violent crime comes from domestic violence. Counselors said that the number should actually be higher, considering that survivors will endure six to eight incidents of abuse on average before seeking help.


Rockford leaders partner with several area organizations on programs to reduce crime across the area and make the forest city a better place to live.

The city of Rockford shared a list of programs it’s launched that are geared towards reducing violent crime. I spoke with leaders behind those initiatives to find out how they plan to make Rockford a better place to live.

“It’s for individuals who’ve been released from parole or probation and are deemed as high risk by evidence of a risk that needs assessment,” said Mirlana Dokken, the chairman’s office criminal justice initiative director.

Between October 2021 and October 2022, violent crimes in Rockford dropped 4% - the number of shots fired calls fell 11%. Dokken credits that reduction to programs like Project Safe Neighborhood.

* Peoria

The Peoria Friendship House of Christian Service is reviving a program to help divert young people with misdemeanors away from violence.

The Peoria Peacekeepers Network is a restorative justice program bringing together young offenders with victims, family and community stakeholders to develop a plan to change their path.

“It’s important because, most of the time, they just get a slap on the wrist and this starts a file, it starts a caseload of things they actually have occurred or been involved in,” said Marcellus Sommerville, CEO of the Friendship House. “Usually, when they turn 18 they have a long list, a laundry list of minor offenses but it gets all reviewed and calculated. It’s in the judge’s hands, whereas this program is going to help erase some of those wrongs.”

Somerville says the program is a volunteer program, which means the youth participating have to admit fault. After the admission, they can be referred to the program by the Peoria Police Department or Peoria Public Schools. There is a limited number of offenses that apply for the program, like theft, property damage, disorderly conduct and drug possession.

“We could take on more in terms of higher level offenses,” said Sommerville. “But we’re currently in the state where we want to have minor offenses.”

After the referral, Sommerville says the victim and offender, as well as family and community representatives, are brought together at a meeting called the “peace circle.”

“It’s more like peer pressure, positive peer pressure on the person that’s offended,” said Sommerville. “Helping them better understand mentally what occurred during that process and how can we support both parties and help them come through the situation.”

* Carbondale

A needs assessment report produced by researchers at Southern Illinois University Carbondale has been completed and will assist city leaders as they determine how to direct resources to areas in the city most impacted by gun violence and employ evidence-based solutions.

The report provided an analysis of the nature of gun violence in Carbondale and offers recommendations for prevention and intervention initiatives.

Key findings include rising police calls, gun violence being concentrated in small areas and that a significant amount of gun-related incidents in Carbondale stem from a small number of repeat offenders involved in ongoing mutual conflicts.

“The findings didn’t catch us completely by surprise but did give us the data to create immediate and long-term strategies while also reinforcing strategies already in place,” Carbondale City Manager Gary Williams said.

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RTA put temporary federal bailout money into its base spending, and now it faces a huge fiscal cliff

Wednesday, Dec 7, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Greg Hinz

By 2026, when federal COVID-relief funds that keep transit running at near-normal levels is set to expire, the operating agencies will be short $730 million a year, roughly 20% of total operating costs, the RTA says.

“If no action is taken, the (operating) agencies and their boards will be faced with difficult choices to cut service, raise fares, or both,” the report continues. “Actions to dramatically cut operating costs could include instituting major layoffs, route or line eliminations, service cuts, station closures, cancellation of capital improvement projects, and other drastic measures that will further damage our transit system and cause massive disruptions to the region’s economy, workforce, and communities.”

Rather than do that, the region should look to increased aid, possibly from the federal government but more likely from sources the state would have to approve. Among them: higher taxes on sales, motor fuels or both; extending the existing RTA sales tax to cover more services; a 5% boost in tolls on the Illinois Tollway; and, more long term, a congestion tax or tax on miles driven.

Such proposals likely will face stiff resistance, even from an Illinois General Assembly in which Democrats have a supermajority of seats in both the House and Senate. Past efforts to impose and expand the current RTA sales tax took years of hard politicking by advocates, and were enacted only with strong support from downtown Chicago businesses whose employees now work from home far more than they did prior to the pandemic.

How did this happen?

* Yvette Shields

The RTA’s service boards received a $3.5 billion federal pandemic lifeline that has plugged budget gaps since 2020. Relief will help balance budgets through 2025 with $1.4 billion from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES Act; $500 million from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act known as CRRSAA; and more than $1.5 billion from the American Rescue Plan Act.

The projected $730 million budget gap that results in 2026 if service levels are held steady is projected under 10-year financial planning estimates reviewed by agency officials who worked with Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning.

The full report is here.

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Morning briefing

Wednesday, Dec 7, 2022 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* What do you guys think of this takeaway from a Republican legislator?…

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Open thread

Wednesday, Dec 7, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* What’s up today?

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Wednesday, Dec 7, 2022 - Posted by Isabel Miller

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* Different ways of addressing violence across the state
* RTA put temporary federal bailout money into its base spending, and now it faces a huge fiscal cliff
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