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Chicago Sun-Times Opinion This Week
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With community protests, a hunger strike and intervention by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Mayor Lori Lightfoot is now asking a question she could have posed from the start: Is a metal scrapping facility needed in an area of the city already overburdened with a host of environmental issues?
The shove from the feds is appreciated as a “cumulative impact” city ordinance could come out of this, possibly by the end of the year. Lightfoot could have led on the issue of General Iron very early on. It’s not too late, the Editorial Board writes.
A few days following our editorial, Sun-Times readers Olga Bautista and Christina Harris wrote a joint Letter to the Editor saying stopping General Iron is just the start to fixing environmental problems on the Southeast Side. After decades of fighting to prevent new pollution sources and clean up existing sources, the Southeast Side deserves no less, they write.
In Commentary, columnist Phil Kadner writes about elected school boards, a subject he has covered for about 30 years. It’s a topic that involves two things precious to many Americans — their children and their money — so, they ought to care, right? Kadner writes that most people don’t know anything about the candidates running for school board and fewer care about the daily business of running the schools.
— Ismael Pérez, editorial board member

Nelly Martinez attends a November 2020 protest to demand Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot deny the final permit that will allow General Iron to move from Lincoln Park, a mostly white neighborhood, to the Southeast Side, which has a mostly Latino population. Pat Nabong | Sun-Times
Nelly Martinez attends a November 2020 protest to demand Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot deny the final permit that will allow General Iron to move from Lincoln Park, a mostly white neighborhood, to the Southeast Side, which has a mostly Latino population. Pat Nabong | Sun-Times
It’s mystifying to us why Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who campaigned on a promise to treat all neighborhoods with fairness and equity, would even consider allowing known polluter General Iron to set up shop on the Southeast Side.
But after community protests, a hunger strike and intervention by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the mayor is now asking a question she could have posed from jump: Is a metal scrapping facility needed in an area of the city already overburdened with a host of environmental issues?
Lightfoot announced last week that the city’s health department will explore whether the cumulative impact of pollution in an area can be considered a factor in whether to approve an industrial operation moving to a community — particularly neighborhoods of color that are already heavily impacted.
A “cumulative impact” city ordinance could come out of this, possibly by the end of the year, Lightfoot said.
That’s a good sign of a better city approach to General Iron, though we’ll have to wait on the particulars as the new law comes together.
The Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board is the opinion voice of the hardest-working newspaper in America. It is headed by editorial page editor Tom McNamee and includes Thomas FrisbieLorraine ForteLee BeyIsmael Pérez and Mary Mitchell as members.
What others have to say
Phil Kadner on elected school boards:
Only 16% of eligible voters traditionally turn out for suburban school board elections, even though 67% of their property tax bill is used to fund their local public schools.
More editorials we published this week
Good riddance to a bad Illinois law that punishes people for being HIV-positive
Mayor Lori Lightfoot raises the right point about diversity in Chicago journalism — but in the wrong way
In your words
“While we are pleased that Mayor Lori Lightfoot and U.S. EPA Administrator Michael Regan finally listened to community members who fought to stop the General Iron project, the proposed facility is the most recent in a long line of environmental injustices along the Calumet River that need to be addressed.”
Olga Bautista, Southeast Side resident, community planning manager, Alliance for the Great Lakes
— Christina Harris, director of land use and planning, Metropolitan Planning Council
Every day we publish submissions from Chicago Sun-Times readers weighing in on issues facing the city and its residents. Send letters to letters@suntimes.com or reply to this email to share your perspective.
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Chicago Sun-Times Opinion This Week

A weekly overview of opinions, analysis and commentary on issues affecting Chicago, Illinois and our nation by outside contributors, Sun-Times readers and the CST Editorial Board.

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