Best Practices - Vol. IV

Mayor Richard M. Daley

Emerging Technologies Program to Create Jobs

In the continuing search for new jobs and expanded business opportunities, Mayor Richard M. Daley has developed an Emerging Technologies Program, an initiative which assists in bringing technological innovations from the research lab to the marketplace.

Through the Mayor's Office of Employment and Training, partnerships have been created among businesses, industry groups, academic and national laboratories. The projects integrate many urban agendas. One example, utilizing technology developed by Argonne National Laboratory, involves training community residents in lead abatement technologies and energy efficiency renovation of older properties, leading to local job creation.

The lead abatement and asbestos removal program is an innovative job creation strategy. Much of the building stock in Chicago suffers from the inclusion of lead and/or asbestos in the structure. Many of the Chicago Housing Authority's and Chicago Public Schools' buildings also have lead and/or asbestos problems. With new laws and ordinances concerning the removal of these harmful materials, the industry requires trained workers to complete the necessary jobs. A number of curricula are under consideration. Since employers are interested in workers with skills in a variety of areas, additional construction methods that foster energy efficiency will also be taught. As a result, workers trained in asbestos removal and lead abatement combined with other construction skills that move toward greater energy efficiency and conservation will be in demand.

Cost-sharing partners include both the public and private sectors. The partners are the Chicago Departments of Public Health and Housing, the Chicago Housing Authority, Chicago Public Schools and the Community College system. Redevelopment corporations as well as not-for-profit organizations are also involved.

Another example of emerging technology and niche market development, with resulting jobs, involves a pioneering effort to convert waste cooking oil into biodiesel fuel, a clean-burning alternative to petroleum. Columbus Foods Company, a Chicago shortening and oil company, is in the process of building a new facility on a "brownfields" site where used cooking oil from fast food and industrial frying operations will be collected, processed and blended with fresh soybean oil to produce biodiesel. The project will help to develop a commercial industry benefiting both urban and rural economies. Locally, it will supply over 120 jobs, while the potential exists for the creation of thousands of jobs nationally.

The million dollar-plus project is a collaborative effort among Columbus Foods (the major private investor), the City of Chicago, the U.S. Department of Energy/National Renewal Energy Laboratory, the Illinois Soybean Association, the National Biodiesel Board and the Fats and Protein Research Foundation. Other local partners include the Institute of Gas Technology, which will manage the project, the Energy Resources Center of the University of Illinois at Chicago, which is involved in monitoring and data collection, and American Sightseeing Tours Company, which will provide buses for testing.

The interest in biodiesel fuel is being driven by its ability to displace imported fuels, which contribute to trade deficits and concern for national security, coupled with biodiesel's ability to reduce soot and other pollutants in exhaust gases. Although biodiesel has several advantages, it currently sells at approximately twice the price of petroleum. It is anticipated, however, that the price of biodiesel made with reclaimed cooking oils will be more in line with that of petroleum diesel.

Contact: Mayor's Office of Employment and Training, (312) 744-7700

Chicago Public Schools Promotion Policy/Summer Bridge/Transition High Schools

In July 1995, when the Chicago School Reform Board of Trustees assumed leadership of the Chicago Public School system, they encountered a system which routinely practiced social promotion, had no clearly defined standards for promotion, and had a high school dropout rate of more than 40 percent. In March 1995, the Board instituted a new promotion policy which established standards for promotion, including performance on nationally normed standardized tests of achievement, classroom grades, and attendance. These are implemented at the third, sixth, eighth, and ninth grades. Students who fail to meet minimum criteria are required to attend a summer bridge program. At the conclusion of the summer program the students are retested. Those who are successful are promoted. Those who fail to meet exit criteria are retained. Eighth graders who fail to meet promotion criteria are assigned to transition sites which provide one semester of remediation, after which they are tested again. Those who are successful begin taking an extended-day high school curriculum which allows them to earn 5.25 high school credits in eight months. In September of the following year they are promoted to high school as 10th graders.

The effect of the promotion policy has been positive. Standardized test scores for ninth graders have risen dramatically, and similar gains are predicted for elementary students. With the new standards there has developed a new commitment to success by students, teachers, and parents. Beginning next year, no student will enter high school unless they are performing at least at the seventh grade level. With higher expectations, Chicago anticipates better performance, and ultimately a decrease in the high school drop-out rate. This will be accomplished at no additional cost to the taxpayers, since the entire program has been effected by redistributing existing funds.

Coordinating the Response to Domestic Violence

In 1995, Chicago police responded to nearly 153,000 domestic violence related calls for service, an average of 419 calls per day. Nearly eight percent of homicides are domestic violence related. To ensure an effective response to the plague of domestic violence, a number of programmatic elements must be planned and implemented. Many of these elements are already in place in Chicago. Under Mayor Daley's leadership, the City has recently undertaken a number of significant additional steps to coordinate and direct the growing governmental and community response to the problem.

Domestic violence cases have become a priority for police and prosecutors. Concurrent with new statutes regarding domestic violence, in 1986 the Chicago Police Department published clear general orders stating what officers must do to enforce the law and to protect victims. In 1994 the Police Department developed a comprehensive roll call training program on domestic violence. Over the course of a seven-week period, this training was presented to all field personnel by specially trained sergeants. The City of Chicago does have a dedicated misdemeanor domestic violence court staffed by specially trained prosecutors of the Office of the State's Attorney and specially trained advocates from a domestic violence service organization. Orders of Protection are issued in conjuction with criminal charges, often allowing for the victim to have exclusive possession of the residence, pursuant to provisions of Illinois law. Other government agencies such as the Cook County Sheriff's office and the Clerk of the Court's Office also have their own separate responsibilities to perform.

With these basic building blocks in place, the City's next step was to forge a new and focused partnership among those people directly involved in addressing domestic violence as well as to ensure coordination of those efforts. The Chicago Police Department and other departments of the City of Chicago continue to implement proactive strategies designed to reduce both new and repeat domestic violence crime in Chicago. A grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Policing Services, provided an important resource to further this goal. Enhancing current domestic violence initiatives, the grant will be used to expedite further organizational change in City government and the Police Department. These changes will improve the quality and effectiveness of the City's response to the serious problem of domestic violence. The following results from this effort have already materialized, or are anticipated:

  1. Creation of Mayor Daley's Domestic Violence Advocacy Coordinating Council: a cohesive team of police officials; City, county and state agencies; and community advocacy representatives, all organized around the single goal of reducing domestic violence.

  2. Improved analysis and mapping of locations where the potential for escalating domestic violence exists. This information improves victim referrals by police officers, provides more timely intervention and prevention services for victims, targets repeat offenders, and increases officer safety.

  3. Establishment of a uniform intervention and referral strategy in all 25 police districts.

  4. Linking beat officers in all 25 districts with community based service providers. Together, they use the community policing problem solving model to address families at risk in their communities.

In January 1997 Mayor Daley appointed Leslie Landis, a nationally recognized expert on the issue, as the City of Chicago's Domestic Violence Project Manager. Working out of the Office of the Mayor, the Project Manager chairs the Mayor's Domestic Violence Advocacy Coordinating Council and coordinates the provision of domestic violence services in the City. The Project Manager is responsible for coordinating the response of city agencies to domestic violence, coordinating with other government and private agencies at the county and state levels, identifying and communicating with domestic violence service providers and interest groups, assisting with public education, and monitoring service availability citywide.

In March 1997, the Mayor's Domestic Violence Coordinating Council (DVACC) was established. The Council is providing advice on the development of a uniform city-wide intervention and referral strategy and on the service needs of domestic violence victims in Chicago. The DVACC is advocating with state, federal and local funding sources to ensure that needed services are made available, is encouraging the coordination of services across systems, and is addressing policy issues within systems that affect the effective delivery of services to victims and abusers. Further, the DVACC is evaluating and monitoring the adequacy and effectiveness of current laws and rules. The DVACC is also examining the scope, availability and capacity of intervention services, identifying systematic obstacles, and making recommendations resulting in the reduction of domestic violence.

The Council is chaired by the City's Domestic Violence Project Manager. Other members include advocates representing various victims' perspectives, representatives from the Patrol and Detective Divisions of the Police Department, representatives from the City's Departments of Human Services and Public Health, a researcher specializing in domestic violence, representatives from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (child protection agency), the Cook County State's Attorney's Office, and the Metropolitan Chicago Health Care Council.

The coordination of the delivery of intervention service to victims is the linchpin in a successful community approach to reducing domestic violence incidents. It is critical that beat officers are familiar with the community based service providers available on their beat and are confident that these agencies provide quality service to the victims referred by the officers. Similarly, community service providers need to feel confident that police officers are responding appropriately and treating domestic violence incidents as serious crimes.

To ensure that this level of coordination and communication occurs, five Area Service Liaisons, who are community based service providers, facilitate the implementation of a coordinated referral effort between police at the beat level and victim service providers.

Contact: Leslie Landis, Office of the Mayor, (312) 747-9971

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The United States Conference of Mayors

J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
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