Race and poverty roundup: Woodlawn MHC victory; activists occupy office to protest DHS cuts; and more...

The fight to save the Woodlawn Mental Health Clinic appears to have its first victory. According to Mark Cassello, a Huffington Post contributor, the Emanuel administration has offered to keep the Woodlawn Adult Health Center open. The center would be staffed with two therapists and no psychologists. The announcement comes after ongoing demonstrations at the Woodlawn facility saw a second round of arrests on Monday night, with ten people being removed from the vacant lot across the street where protesters have camped out to protest the planned cuts. Representatives from the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates visited the protest Thursday morning to express their solidarity with the group, reported the Huffington Post. Monday is the deadline set by the city for all six of the planned mental health center closures to be complete.

The closing of state and city social service facilities continued to bring people out onto the streets this week. On Tuesday, more than 20 protesters against the consolidation of Department of Human Services offices occupied the office of Malcolm Weems, the Director of Central Management Services, according to the Northside Action for Justice. Central Management Services is the agency that picks locations for Department of Human Services offices. “The people we serve should not suffer to pay for tax breaks to the rich,” Dean Maloupolos, a steward of AFSCME local 2858, was quoted as saying in a news release.

The violence in some areas of Chicago is so bad that students are afraid to leave their schools and wait outside for the bus. But a new initiative aims to keep the students inside for as long as possible – by installing a bus tracking monitor that allows students to only go outside when they know a bus is coming. Thirty-five schools in the city, which have some of the highest incidents of assault and robberies, will have bus monitors installed.

And it may be with good reason – police discovered a man who had been shot to death a block away from a Southwest Side school. Also this week, a 12-year-old girl was injured in a shooting on Chicago’s South Side Monday. The girl was outside the 7700 block of South Philips when she was caught in front of the shooter’s target. Not including the young girl, Chicago saw one fatal shooting and 6 injuries in a 12-hour stretch of gun violence across the city.

In the latest chapter of the local austerity chronicles, Illinois is considering charging for school bus rides. The State Board of Education could introduce legislation in the next week that would either eliminate the buses, or charge students for riding. According to the Sun-Times, the Illinois Association of School Boards said transportation funding has been slashed 42 percent since 2010. This doesn’t look good for the Chicago students whose neighborhood violence makes them afraid to even wait for a ride outside–and that’s when they know it’s coming.

Cuts to Medicaid proposed by Gov. Quinn this week, to be paid for, in part, by a hike in the cigarette tax, would eliminate dental care for adults using the service and place additional limits on eligibility, among other changes. A budgetary crisis and a backlog of unpaid bills to providers have forced the state to go into crisis mode to cut costs, said Quinn when introducing the proposed cuts.

A recent report by the Associated Press found that 53 percent of college graduates under the age of 25 are unemployed or work in a job that doesn’t require a bachelor’s degree. The numbers were based on an analysis of government data.

The Social Security pot is is expected to run dry by 2033, three years earlier than previous projections. A weak economy – like the one keeping more than half of college graduates under 25 under-employed or unemployed – coupled with more baby boomer retirements are expected to use the remaining money from the fund. Medicare is still expected to run out in 2024.

The endorsement of the May 20 march against NATO earlier this month by Rev. Jesse Jackson, along with support from Rev. Phil Blackwell, National Nurses United and members of the Service Employees International Union, represents the latest stage in the collaboration with anti-war and anti-poverty groups, and builds on the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.


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