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The [Monday] Papers

Inbox:

AUTONOMOUS TENANTS UNION ANNOUNCES INDUCTEES TO COVID-19 LANDLORD WALL OF SHAME
Signees of Mayor Lightfoot's "solidarity pledge" and some of the biggest and most well-connected players on the Chicagoland real estate scene among the dishonored

CHICAGO - Nine Chicagoland property management companies, together responsible for at least 94 eviction filings since March 13th, have been selected by Autonomous Tenants Union (ATU) as the inaugural class of the COVID-19 Landlord Wall of Shame:

MICHAEL TOLLIVER/DAVID PEZZOLA of Atlas Asset Management/Icarus Properties; STUART HANDLER of TLC Management; ELZIE HIGGINBOTTOM of East Lake Management; AL BELMONTE of Wesley Realty Group; MARTY MAX of MLC Properties and Management; JEFFREY CAGAN of Cagan Management Group; ELI UNGAR of MAC Properties; and ADRIAN TUDOR of Medallion Property Management.

Today's inductees include industry leaders and prominent members of the Chicago Apartment Association, Chicago Association of Realtors, and Neighborhood Building Owners Alliance. Representatives of these three landlord associations appeared last week with Mayor Lightfoot to tout the signing of a "solidarity pledge" that was purported to represent an "effort to provide relief to beleaguered tenants" affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pledge, which the mayor's office falsely claimed included the participation of tenants groups, was roundly condemned by Chicago's leading tenant organizations and groups like Chicago Teachers Union and Access Living as a PR stunt meant to undermine efforts at producing real relief for renters.

"The Chicago Housing Solidarity Pledge is about compassion and flexibility," said Department of Housing Commissioner Marisa Novara at the April 29th press event - but notably, it is not about accountability or enforceability.

The landlord associations' party to the pledge in fact lobbied in concert just days before to kill Ald. Matt Martin's modest tenant relief bill, an ordinance that would have merely codified into law the extended payment window and negotiation process that are supposed principles of the pledge.

Unsurprisingly, its signatories have continued to file evictions with impunity.

On Monday, reporters can also look out for State Rep. Delia Ramirez's emergency housing legislation including rental cancellation, as well as Chicago Democratic Socialists of America and Lift the Ban Coalition's breakdown of the financial ties between city lawmakers and real estate interests.

ATU, in concert with partners in the Lift The Ban and Right to Recovery coalitions, have consistently demanded real tenant relief in the form of rent and mortgage cancellations, a freeze on eviction filings, the housing of houseless Chicagoans, and automatic lease extensions for as long as the COVID-19 crisis endures.

A petition articulating these demands garnered over 17,000 signatures. Gov. J.B. Pritzker acceded to one of these demands on April 23rd, issuing an Executive Order making it illegal to "commence a residential eviction action" against tenants who do not pose an imminent public safety risk. In spite of this, public Cook County Circuit Court records indicate that evictions filings have continued.

However, Mayor Lightfoot and Governor Pritzker have consistently cited a state law, the Rent Control Preemption Act of 1997, as limiting their ability to act on rent cancellation. After weeks of denying his legal authority to temporarily lift the ban using his Emergency Executive Powers, Pritzker appeared to backtrack on May 2nd, instead justifying his inaction by claiming "it would be a very temporary thing that would have very little effect."

The reality is that a temporary lifting of the ban would allow for desperately needed rent cancellation for the months in which renters have gone without income due to COVID-19. Under the current executive orders and non-binding pledges, tenants are still explicitly expected to pay back all rent debt they accumulate while out of work responsibly adhering to the stay-at-home order. Because of this lack of political will, once the emergency ends, working class people will be hit with a hammer of piled up rent debt and Chicago will see a flood of displacement as the courts begin to process the eviction backlog that has been created by landlords like those dishonored today in the Wall of Shame.

Whew. Now on to the Inaugural COVID-19 Landlord Wall Of Shame Inductees.

MICHAEL TOLLIVER/DAVID PEZZOLA of Atlas Asset Management/Icarus Properties. 26 evictions filed . . . Tolliver named "#1 producing broker of commercial real estate for multifamily transactions" in 2017 by the Chicago Association of Realtors.

STUART HANDLER of TLC Management. 24 evictions filed . . . Vice President of the Chicago Apartment Association, has twice served as their president, spent time on their Executive Committee, and chaired their Legislative Committee . . . CAA is a major donor to Ald. Brendan Reilly, who killed Ald. Matt Martin's renter relief ordinance.

ELZIE HIGGINBOTTOM of East Lake Management. 9 evictions filed . . . Chicago Association of Realtors Hall of Famer and one of Chicago's most notorious, and notoriously well-connected, slumlords. The Chicago Tribune has described him as "one of the city's biggest and most heavily subsidized landlords . . . an opportunist who grew rich while neglecting his low-income tenants."

MARTY MAX of MLC Properties and Management. 8 evictions filed . . . Vice President of the Neighborhood Building Owners Alliance, a solidarity pledge signatory.

AL BELMONTE of Wesley Realty Group. 9 evictions filed . . . past chairman and member of the Evanston Plan Commission, member of the Evanston Zoning Commission, the Evanston Historical Society, the Evanston Chamber of Commerce, Evanston Property Owners Association, the Rogers Park Builders Group and Housing Options.

JEFFREY CAGAN of Cagan Management Group. 7 evictions filed . . . member of the board of the National Multifamily Housing Council, a massive real estate industry lobbying and public relations group which in 2020 has 204 incumbent Representatives and 29 Senators evenly spanning both parties, including 13 of 18 from Illinois.

ELI UNGAR of MAC Properties. 6 evictions filed . . . made the news for including non-disclosure agreements as a precondition to negotiation with tenants in need.

ADRIAN TUDOR of Medallion Property Management. 5 evictions filed . . . as owner of Medallion Leasing, once racked up a staggering $4.3 million in fines for running a fleet of illegally salvaged vehicles . . . was once forced to sign a building over to the city as part of a settlement after being sued for a host of code violations.

There you have it, Today's Worst People In Chicago, courtesy of the Autonomous Tenants Union.

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Preventing Pandemics
"SARS, Ebola and now SARS-CoV-2: all three of these highly infectious viruses have caused global panic since 2002 - and all three of them jumped to humans from wild animals that live in dense tropical forests," Scientific American notes.

Huh, that sounds familiar.

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COVID-19 In CPS
"Classes might be canceled for Chicago Public Schools students, yet many people are still working in the buildings," CBS2 Chicago reports. "[M]any of those essential workers are testing positive for COVID-19 too.

"It's not clear where the workers contracted the virus. But since the doors closed at schools statewide, 75 active CPS employees and vendors are positive."

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Inbox:

Cook County Jail & IDOC Refuse To Distribute Hundreds Of Masks Made For Detainees

CHICAGO - Two Chicago abolitionist groups, Love & Protect and Moms United Against Violence & Incarceration (MUAVI), seek to deliver hundreds of masks to Cook County Jail and women's Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) facilities for use by detainees, incarcerated people and staff.

So far, over 1,500 masks have been made and delivered to Cook County Jail, Logan Correctional Center, and Decatur Correctional Center. The groups received permission from these facilities to send in CDC-approved fabric masks.

Now, Love & Protect and MUAVI are hearing from both incarcerated people and administrative staff that their handmade and store-bought masks are not making it into the hands of people incarcerated at Logan Correctional Center, the state's largest women's prison and Cook County Jail.

So far, over 400 detainees at Cook County Jail have contracted the virus, 6 have died and over 150 incarcerated individuals in IDOC have tested positive for COVID-19. The virus is clearly spreading quickly, and the decision to deny people masks is further endangering their lives.

Love & Protect is a volunteer-run prison abolitionist collective that centers the needs of women, trans, and non-binary people of color who are incarcerated for surviving violence through self-defense. MUAVI is also a local prison abolitionist group that organizes mutual support and participatory defense in solidarity with mothers who have suffered criminalization and separation from their kids. The two groups have been working alongside many organizations in the Chicagoland area such as Black & Pink Chicago, Prison + Neighborhood Art Project and others, through a coalition called Free the People Coalition, to respond to the COVID-19 crisis in prisons and the Cook County Jail.

"Prisons and jails are unsafe for humans in any circumstances, but they are especially lethal in the face of a pandemic," said Sangi Ravichandran, an organizer with Love & Protect. "The only safe option for people inside is to be freed so they can follow social distancing and safety guidelines with their families and communities."

Until people are freed, it's essential to keep them as safe as possible. Prisons and jails should be supplying masks to reduce the spread. Instead, even masks supplied by volunteer groups are being blocked from entering prisons.

The state must offer clemency and release to many more people in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, those who remain behind bars should be granted the means to follow basic health and safety guidelines recommended by the CDC.

"We demand that IDOC and CCJ allow people to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) throughout the facilities," said Holly Krig, MUAVI's director of organizing. "We also demand release as the best protection for incarcerated people, staff, and the communities to which people will return, and most people do come home again. The demand for PPE and release are inseparable."

See also:

* The Source: Wife Of Dead Cook County Jail Inmate Says 132 Of Her Calls To Warn Officials About Coronavirus Conditions Went Unanswered.

* Chicago Reporter: Inside Division 16, Cook County Jail's COVID-19 Positive Detainees Say They're Waiting To Die.

* Tribune: Frustration Reigns Amid Efforts To Get Youths Out Of Cook County's Juvenile Detention Center Before Virus Hits.

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And:

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Plus:

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The blood of Jesus?

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A sampling of the delight and disgust you can find @BeachwoodReport.

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The Beachwood Q-Tip Line: Squeeze it.



Permalink

Posted on May 4, 2020


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