Despite protest, ICC allows Chicago area gas companies to hike rates

By Bethel Habte

Despite a visible and vocal opposition at a public hearing Wednesday, the Illinois Commerce Commission granted two major area gas companies rate increases after Jan. 28, by a vote of 3 to 1.

After reviewing Peoples Gas’s request to increase natural gas delivery system rates by $129 million, the commission approved a $74.8 million hike. North Shore Gas originally requested a $7.1 million increase, but the commission approved a $3.7 million increase. Continue reading

City aldermen call for hearing on affordable housing ordinance

By Stephanie Choporis

Chicago aldermen and representatives for the Chicago Housing Initiative are pushing for a February hearing to discuss an affordable housing ordinance before next month’s election.

At least four aldermen and more than 35 Chicago Housing Initiative representatives gathered for a press conference Wednesday morning at City Hall and criticized Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Ald. Ray Suarez (31st), who is also the chairman for the city’s committee on housing and real estate, for refraining from scheduling a hearing on the Keeping the Promise ordinanceContinue reading

The ‘Poverty Effect’ on Chicago Public School students

By Melissa Enaje

For the first time in history, more than half of public school students in the United States live in low-income households, according to a report from the Southern Education Foundation. Families with incomes at or below the federal poverty level struggle daily to make ends meet, even if they work. And that poverty greatly affects young peoples’ performance in school.

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Initial Jobless Claims Down, Continuing Claims Up

By Lucy Ren

Initial jobless claims for the week ended Jan. 17 declined 10,000 from the previous week’s level, but the four-week moving average increased by 2.2 percent, and continuing claims for the week ended Jan.10 also increased.

The four-week moving average rose by 6,500 to 306,500 for the week ended on Jan.17. Continuing claims increased by 0.6 percent to 2.44 million. Continue reading

Revving up your winter run for safety

By Shanley Chien

As temperatures drop, so do the number of people running outdoors. People increasingly move their workouts to the gyms or other safe havens from Chiberia, but dedicated runners willing to brave freezing temperatures to clock in the miles should consider a few extra safety tips.

Liliana Zecker, associate professor of language and literacy at DePaul University and an avid Evanston runner, refuses to let cold temperatures prevent her from doing what she loves. Continue reading

Chicago startups aim to make impact on social issues

By Laura Furr

Chicago’s premiere social entrepreneurship program, Impact Engine, on Wednesday unveiled its new crop of startups aimed at resolving issues from student safety to the demand for recycled electricity.

For the third time since 2012, the 16-week accelerator program, partnered with the city’s tech-incubator, 1871, mentored entrepreneurs driven to create social change and a profit at the same time.

Jessica Droste Yagan, the program’s new CEO, said since Impact Engine’s start it has graduated 15 companies, which have earned $2.5 million in revenue.

“Impact investing is a real thing. It has a presence in Chicago,” Yagan told 275 community members and investors who had gathered. “We have really built a sizeable and energizable community.”

Community members and investors at Wednesday’s demo day said they felt this energy.
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City Council acts to limit pet coke storage in Chicago

By Sarah Kramer

The Chicago City Council acted Wednesday to limit the amount of petroleum coke entering the city and set daily storage limits on the Southeast Side facilities. The ordinance calls for these limits to be set by the City Council by March 31.

“Passing this ordinance is the new step in our continuing process to make clear that no one gets to make profits at the expense of the health, welfare and quality of life of Chicagoans,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel in a statement.

Petroleum coke, commonly referred to as pet coke, is a byproduct of the oil refining process. KCBX Terminals Co. currently operates two storage facilities in Chicago: the North Terminal, between 100th and 106th streets, and the South Terminal, between 108th and 112th streets. Both terminals sit on the banks of the Calumet River.
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Emanuel proposes to transfer parkland for Obama library

By Margaret Anderson

Mayor Rahm Emanuel unveiled an ordinance Wednesday to provide land for the University of Chicago’s presidential library bid, despite protests from South Side residents who say the university should not get the library if it remains unwilling to open an adult level-one trauma center.

The ordinance brings the university one step closer to housing the library by strengthening its bid. It also comes in the wake of an Illinois Department of Public Health feasibility study released Jan. 2 that evaluated the capability of five South Side hospitals to open a trauma center.

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Artist Penny Pinch brings the street indoors

By Rachel White

Many artists limit themselves to a canvas to express their creativity, but for Chicago-based street artists, the city is their canvas. Local artist Penny Pinch is bringing his street art indoors at Galerie F in Logan Square.

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VIDEO: Blind chef Laura Martinez opens restaurant

By Joe Musso

Ever had trouble dicing an onion or getting your steak to the perfect medium rare?  Now close your eyes and give it a shot.  That gives you an idea of the challenges blind chef Laura Martinez has in her job. But slice and dice she does, and fast. And she is now living her dream on the near north side.

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