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Weiss hosts 46th ward Town Hall Meeting with Alderman James Cappleman (part II)

Alderman Cappleman spoke at a Town Hall meeting held at Weiss.Read what Alderman Cappleman said regarding ward development in part I.

Roughly 150 people attended the 46th ward Town Hall Meeting on August 23 in the Weiss Auditorium to hear Alderman James Cappleman speak. In this half of our two-part coverage, we look at what Cappleman said regarding public safety and city legislation.

“We wanted to host this meeting because it’s very important to Weiss to be integrated in our community,” said Caren Perlmuter, vice president of community outreach and geriatric services at Weiss. “We want to understand the feelings and issues of our neighbors.”

One of the major issues facing the 46th ward? Crime. Some residents have more than 300 arrests to their name, Cappleman said. “It’s a small number of individuals causing most crimes, so we’re focusing on them.”

He has met with the police superintendant and said, “We’re developing a process to identify people with over 20 arrests and then exploring various options needed to bring this situation under control.”

Police are looking at areas of high crime near businesses and residences to try to understand and implement measures the community can take to increase safety. Already those measures include encouraging businesses to keep their windows clear so employees can monitor outside activity and switching basketball courts from outdoors to indoors.

“The Park District told me they were in the process of removing all basketball hoops in play lots because of gang problems, and a number of police officers also asked me to have them removed,” Cappleman said.

He studied basketball courts without violence and observed two common traits:

  • The basketball courts tended to be in enclosed gymnasiums where it was easier to supervise.
  • Supervised basketball was divided among different age groups (11 to 12 year olds, 13 to 17 year olds and adults).

Cappleman said the divisions “made it more difficult for older gang members to recruit younger children to do their drug transactions for them.”

To assist in lowering the ward’s crime rate as well as to help residents find and access the resources they need, Cappleman hired a social work intern in late August. The intern identifies areas with high rates of loitering, people sleeping on benches and domestic violence. She then coordinates with the surrounding social services, police and community to help those populations.

He also addressed the city’s rumored plans of casinos, including one at McCormick Place.

“I don’t like or support gambling,” Cappleman said. However, “Our mayor has made strong suggestions that profits from gambling will also be used to help remodel the Red Line. I am requesting more information from the city to help me make an informed decision, and more information might help you decide where you stand.”

With 20 minutes left of the meeting, Cappleman opened the floor to questions. Throughout the meeting, people submitted their questions on pieces of note paper, which aides then collected.

“What are your thoughts about the Urban Farming Ordinance?” one resident asked.

“I love it,” Cappleman said. “The whole sense of gardening is changing, and it’s encouraging that where people used to plant flowers, they’re now planting vegetables.” He added that the ordinance needs a few tweaks, but that he is excited about it.

Perlmuter said the event went very well. “People asked a lot of good questions,” she said. To read more from the question-and-answer period, visit Cappleman’s website for minutes from the meeting.

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