Race, poverty and politics: Unemployment down; Chicago to invest in homeless outreach; Preckwinkle still supports drug law changes

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has announced that his administration will pump $2.5 million into homeless services in Chicago. "Plan 2.0", as it is being called, will see the city invest in outreach services, job preparation and placement opportunities, as well as supportive housing. The money comes from "existing city funds," and will come at "no additional cost to taxpayers," according to a press release.

Chicago-area unemployment dropped in July, according to the Illinois Department of Employment Security. Unemployment in Chicagoland was down to 9.2 percent in July, from 10.8 percent in June.

About half of city workers have joined Mayor Emanuel's municipal wellness program, which is aimed at saving the city $20 million in health care costs. Employees have the option of joining Emanuel's "Wellness program", or seeing a $50 increase in their health care premium. Annually, $500 million is spent on health care for city workers, about 10 percent of the city's budget. What's more, four percent of the city's workforce makes up 60 percent of that annual expense.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle is refusing to change her position against revamping drug laws, especially as they relate to possession of small amounts of marijuana. She reiterated this position Wednesday, a day after stating that the late former President Ronald Reagan "deserves a special place in hell" for his role in the war on drugs. She later said she regretted making that comment, but maintains the war on drugs has had disproportionately negative impacts on minorities.

Chicago's seven city colleges will offer discounted online college courses as part of Mayor Emanuel's "College-to-Careers" program. The program will allow students to earn online Bachelor's degrees while paying only a portion of the tuition. The discounted courses are being offered for nursing, transportation and logistics, health care, aviation, information technology, hospitality and professional services.

At last week's special session in Spingfield, lawmakers failed to do anything about pension reform, but the House did vote to expel indicted 10th District state Rep. Derrick Smith.

© Community Renewal Society 2012

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    An appeal to all Prohibitionists:

    Most of us know that individuals who use illegal drugs are going to get high—no matter what, so why do you not prefer they acquire them in stores that check IDs and pay taxes? Gifting the market in narcotics to ruthless criminals, foreign terrorists, and corrupt law enforcement officials is seriously compromising our future.

    Why do you wish to continue with a policy that has proven itself to be a poison in the veins of our once so "proud & free" nation? Even if you cannot bear the thought of people using drugs, there is absolutely nothing you, or any government, can do to stop them. We have spent 40 years and trillions of dollars on this dangerous farce; Prohibition will not suddenly and miraculously start showing different results. Do you actually believe you may personally have something to lose If we were to begin basing our drug policy on science & logic instead of ignorance, hate and lies?

    Maybe you're a police officer, a prison guard, or a local/national politician. Possibly you're scared of losing employment, overtime pay, the many kickbacks, and those regular fat bribes. But what good will any of that do you once our society has followed Mexico over the dystopian abyss of dismembered bodies, vats of acid, and marauding thugs carrying gold-plated AK-47s with leopard-skinned gunstocks?

    Kindly allow us to forgo the next level of your sycophantic prohibition-engendered mayhem.

    Prohibition prevents regulation: legalize, regulate, and tax!

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