Mayor Rahm Emanuel's message of safe streets, sound
schools and stable finances was the focus of Federation's Government Affairs
Committee Oct. 15 meeting.
Speaking to a packed room, Deputy Mayor
Steven Koch said "the time to deal with the economic health of this city is
right now." Although charged with overseeing the city's finances, Koch's
approach to the economic health of the city is a holistic one. "Economic success
relies on human capital, not only for companies to relocate and stay here, but
for the employees that work for these companies to stay here and make a life
here as well," he said.
The more economic opportunity provided in
neighborhoods in need of economic growth, such as Whole Foods in Englewood and
Method in Pullman, the more safer streets and safer schools become possible.
Koch (who is a former board chairman of Federation affiliate Sinai Health
System) stressed the importance of a constant dialogue between newly relocated
companies and the city in order to ensure newer companies remain in Chicago for
generations to come.
Felicia Davis, Director of the Mayor' Office of
Public Engagement, also joined the conversation and weighed in on issues of
public safety in Chicago. Although the Mayor's Office reports that the murder
rate has decreased from 954 murders in 1994 to just over 400 in 2012, Davis said
she is by no means implying that the city is comfortable with where things
"Part of increasing public safety in Chicago is about
changing the dialogue and viewing public safety through a different lens," she
said. For example, it's about working with city departments to repair potholes,
broken lights, and remove litter in a timely fashion. Public safety is not just
the Whole Foods and the Methods coming to outlying neighborhoods in need, but
also about sustaining and creating small businesses far south on
79th Street to far north on Wilson Avenue; and bringing the Chicago
Public Schools on board to create more after-school programs; and
restorative-justice programs to provide wrap-around services for families
affected by violence.
With this holistic approach in mind, the city
currently is in budget negotiations and will present the budget to the City
Council by the end of October.
The last guest speaker, Paul Berrini,
from Sinai Health System, spoke to members about the first two weeks of the roll
out of the Affordable Care Act.
As strategy and planning specialist,
Berrini is responsible for overseeing the implementation process for patients at
Sinai. Mount Sinai Hospital, which recently merged with Holy Cross Hospital,
serves patients from 27 ZIP codes in the most underserved and poorest
communities on the South and West Sides of the city. Of the 1.5 million people
in need of care, 300, 000 are uninsured. Sinai received both federal and state
grants to educate its patients about the new health-care system.
people that walk through our doors seek health insurance on the market exchange,
rather than through Medicaid," Berrini said. "It's about a 60/40 split." Acting
as federally subsided "navigators," Sinai staff now must explain to the
uninsured how to access health care, and also reach out to uninsured in the
community and be available to help customers navigate the process.
of the effort, Sinai has done extensive outreach to police and fire departments
in the area to promote the new program. Computers are available on-site to
ensure each uninsured patient can register upon entering the hospital.