Protesters Say Game On for IOC Visit

Kenwood Oakland Community Organization vows to disrupt IOC visit

Following word that the police union has called for pickets at City Hall next week, at least one Chicago community organization, angry over what they say is a failure to guarantee jobs and housing in writing for the 2016 Olympics, vowed today to follow through with threats to disrupt the visit of the International Olympic Committee next week. 
Various groups had been demanding a community benefits agreement for the games by the time the IOC inspection team arrived.
"Oh yeah, definitely we're gearing up for next week now," said Rod Wilson, of the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization.  "We were told it would be signed by today by both parties and the city has not signed the document yet.  And we're getting ready for next week." 
There was movement today at City Hall.  After some minority aldermen initially balked at adoption of an actual ordinance dealing with minority hiring and housing surrounding the proposed games, eventually all came around and the measure was overwhelmingly adopted by the City Council Finance Committee.

The ordinance sets a goal of 30 percent low-income housing in the Olympic Village after the games, and describes an ambitious plan described as a "scorecard" for minority hiring.

After a group of minority aldermen refused to go along with the stated goal of 25 percent of contracts for minorities and 5 percent for women, sponsors agreed, at the last minute, to change those benchmarks to 30 and 10.

The community groups vowing next week's protest had been demanding 50 percent minority hiring.

Hesitation on the part of some aldermen delayed the meeting for over an hour.

Alderman Ed Smith said had the changes not been made, fully 14 aldermen were prepared to vote against the ordinance.

"This may not be a perfect document, these may not be the goals they (some community groups) wanted to incorporate," said Alderman Fredrenna Lyle. "But we established a floor and we are going to continue to work with Chicago 2016 to see how we can exceed that floor."

"It is a wonderful document," said Lyle. "It is a good document and something we can be proud of."

"I said before I wasn't a cheerleader for the Olympics," said alderman Pat Dowell. "I'm feeling a lot better about that today."

Even Smith, who had demanded today's changes, urged community activists not to disrupt the visit of the IOC. 

"I think they ought to be cooperative enough to sit down and talk about it, without protesting," he said.

But Kenwood-Oakland chief Jay Travis said her organization had been more than patient. 

"We're definitely disappointed," she said.  "We're down to the wire, and we haven't seen a good faith effort."

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