On Wednesday, we incorrectly tweeted that aldermen approved the $29 million dollar sale of City Colleges’ former Malcolm X campus site. But the story behind what actually happened is more interesting.
Aldertrack has learned that the land sale never made it to the floor, because two freshman aldermen–Ald. Raymond Lopez (15) and Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36)–threatened to use parliamentary procedure to block the item from a vote, because they want to hold City Colleges’ feet to the fire over minority hiring.
At Monday’s Housing Committee meeting, the project received unanimous approval by voice vote, and Committee Chairman Joe Moore announced before adjourning that, “All eight of these [agenda] items will be reported out at the City Council meeting on Wednesday.”
But it stopped there. “I believe it was some type of issue related to the City Colleges, and I don’t know the full track of it,” Bob Fuller, a legislative aide for the committee told Aldertrack. Rather than have the matter deferred and published, Ald. Moore opted to hold the issue in committee until Ald. Lopez and Villegas received the information they requested, Fuller said.
Ald. Villegas confirmed with Aldertrack that he and Ald. Lopez previously requested data on Latino hiring and contracts at City Colleges’, but haven’t been satisfied with, among other issues, “the lack of a plan for diversity and parity.”
“The only reason why there’s been growth at City Colleges is because of the Latino community. 28% of Malcolm X students are Latino, enough to designate it as a Hispanic institution now,” he said.
Villegas has introduced a resolution Wednesday urging City Colleges to “hire Hispanic professors and staff, reflective of the student population.” City Clerk Susana Mendoza is listed as the sole co-sponsor. He asked the issue be referred to the Committee on Workforce Development and Audit because the Education Committee, which normally hears City Colleges-related issues, is still without a chair. After City Colleges “stalled and delayed” giving statistics to Villegas, the resolution says, “City Colleges produced data that seems suspicious to Alderman Villegas and the Latino Caucus of the Chicago City Council.”
Villegas says citywide, the message he’s receiving is “Latinos need not apply.”
Ald. Walter Burnett (27), whose ward includes the Malcolm X site, told Aldertrack he doesn’t understand why they’re using the land sale as “leverage,” because City Colleges no longer owns the property, the city does, and argued they’re just preventing the city from making money and hurting the Blackhawks and Rush.
The Rush portion of the 11-acre site is slated to sell for $17.5 million, of which $1.8 million will pay for education, scholarships, research, and health and wellness programs for the community. The negotiated sale price for the Blackhawks portion is $11.7 million. $3 million is dedicated to community hockey training programs, fitness and nutritional programs and group events.
A representative for the Blackhawks said, “This is a procedural matter between the city and City Colleges, not the Chicago Blackhawks. We are moving forward with our timeline in accordance with our processes.” The Mayor’s office told Aldertrack they expect the sale to pass City Council next month.