Pilsen residents need change
02/16/2011 10:00 PM
The residents of Pilsen face many challenges. Many residents are undocumented immigrants. The majority of residents are working class and many are low-wage workers who have been hit hard by the current economic crisis. Their health has been adversely effected by pollution from the Fisk coal fired power plant on Cermak. Longtime residents are being pushed out of the neighborhood by rising property taxes, home prices and rents.
For all these reasons and more, Pilsen residents are desperate for change. That change will not come if Danny Solis’ 15-year tenure as alderman is extended for another four on February 22nd.
For example, the Chicago Clean Power Ordinance would require Midwest Generation to reduce the pollution produced by the Fisk and Crawford coal fired power plants by roughly 90 percent. Solis opposes the ordinance while both of Solis’ opponents in the race, Cuahutémoc “Temoc” Morfin and Ambrosio Medrano Jr. support the ordinance.
Solis voted against the Big Box Living Wage Ordinance which would have dramatically improved the lives of low-wage workers in the ward. Not surprisingly, unions consider Solis one of their biggest opponents on the Chicago City Council. Morfin has the support of the Chicago Teachers Union, the largest and most progressive union in Chicago. Medrano has the backing of the Services Employees International Union.
Solis has tried to present himself as of late as an advocate for undocumented immigrants. But his contributions to the immigrant rights struggle have been symbolic at best; unlike Morfin who has been an active participant in the immigrant’s rights movement for many years. Solis has also angered the Whittier School Parents Committee which feels the Alderman was reluctant to assist them in their struggle to save a field house on school grounds. Morfin was an early ally of the Whittier parents and played a major role in the expansion of Juarez High School.
Perhaps Solis’ greatest failing is his closeness to real estate developers in the ward and his lack of concern over the growing gentrification of the neighborhood. During his 15-year tenure as Alderman, Solis has demonstrated little concern for those displaced by gentrification and has expressed support for high end, high cost housing developments. Morfin has been active in efforts to combat gentrification in Pilsen for almost a decade, supporting such efforts as Pilsen Alliance’s down-zoning proposal and the attempt to create a zoning advisory board.
The people of the 25th Ward are desperate for change. On February 22nd, they will have the opportunity to turn that desire for change into reality.
Jerry Mead-Lucero is a 25th Ward Committeeman for the Green Party.