Chicago news roundup: Lightfoot disputes environmental racism claims from Biden administration, Sen. Emil Jones pleads not guilty and more

A few dozen protesters rally outside City Hall, Feb. 23, 2021, demanding that the city stop the relocation of a General Iron metal shredding plant to the Southeast Side of Chicago.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Good afternoon. Here’s the latest news you need to know in Chicago. It’s about a five-minute read that will brief you on today’s biggest stories.

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Lightfoot to Biden administration on environmental racism claims: See you in court

Amping up her fight with the Biden administration, Mayor Lori Lightfoot is trying to discredit a federal finding that the city has been violating the civil rights of its residents through policies that amount to environmental racism.

Millions of dollars a year in federal funding that helps provide a lifeline for vulnerable Chicagoans — money that comes from the Department of Housing and Urban Development — could dry up if Lightfoot doesn’t back down.

The dispute involving the Democrat mayor and Democrat president’s administration is over the findings in July of a federal civil rights investigation concluding that Chicago zoning, planning and land-use policies have long been discriminatory.

That investigation was prompted by a complaint filed with HUD in 2020 related to the then-proposed move of General Iron’s automobile-shredding operation from heavily white, wealthy Lincoln Park to a Latino-majority Southeast Side community surrounded by largely Black neighborhoods. It was a plan Lightfoot’s administration helped steer.

The proposed opening of a scrap-metal operation at East 116th Street along the Calumet River led to protests, including a hunger strike, as some South Side residents complained that they can’t take any more pollution in an area where the air quality already is poor.

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In a letter to HUD responding to its July report, Lightfoot’s law department called the agency’s findings “a fundamentally flawed factual and legal analysis.” Asking HUD to reconsider its findings, City Hall lawyers told federal officials “the city is confident that it would prevail against enforcement in a court proceeding.”

Any municipality that gets funding from HUD has to agree to follow federal law and to not discriminate against its residents.

City Hall denies that its policies are discriminatory and, in the recent letter to the agency, pointed out that it ultimately denied a permit that the relocated General Iron needs.

A HUD spokeswoman says the agency will “seek to resolve these matters as quickly as possible. . . If a voluntary resolution can’t be reached, HUD may initiate administrative proceedings or refer this matter to the U.S. Department of Justice for enforcement.”

And Lightfoot’s fight with HUD could grow even larger in the …read more

Source:: Chicago Sun Times

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