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Embracing Lincoln Yards development is essential to Chicago’s growth

A rendering for a skate park at Lincoln Yards, the sprawling proposed Sterling Bay development. | Provided photo

Since they were announced, Lincoln Yards and “The 78” have dominated headlines in Chicago and sparked a conversation about the future of our city.

But these two projects are only a portion of an estimated $26 billion in pending development plans for the region, not including such large-scale projects as One Central that have yet to release public estimates.

With the financing for both developments approved by City Council and Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot, who takes office next month, now is the time to look at what is ahead for Chicago’s growth.

The strong lineup of projects in the works includes: O’Hare’s $8.5 billion expansion, Lake Shore East’s $4 billion proposal, Vista Tower’s $1 billion project, the Union Station redevelopment project estimated at $1 billion, and the Obama Presidential Library estimated at $500 million.

While some have looked to slow the pace of the city’s progress, Chicago should embrace and continue to support such investment in new development.

These projects are a valuable investment in our communities, as they support new and existing jobs in the construction and contracting industry — jobs that are filled by local workers who reside all over the Chicago area. These jobs are also vital for the city’s long-term economic health, generating new tax revenue, economic activity for the city, and keeping Chicago on the national and global stage.

With the number of projects planned for the next several years, there is a need for a strong, skilled work force. The Chicagoland Associated General Contractors is partnering with other industry organizations to ensure that the labor force is trained and ready to meet that demand.

We look forward to working with Lightfoot and the incoming City Council to advocate for our communities and for the value of continued development in our city.

Daniel McLaughlin,

Executive director, Chicagoland Associated General Contractors

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Inspector general crucial for MWRD transparency

When it comes to spending taxpayer money, I’ve long said that two sets of eyes are better than one.

Last Thursday, my fellow Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) Board members endorsed this idea, voting in favor of transparency and good governance by passing a measure authorizing an independent inspector general. This measure requires full board cooperation, and I’m pleased to see this measure earn the wholehearted support of my colleagues.

When I started the push for independent oversight of the MWRD in May 2017, I had no specific concerns about corruption or mismanagement. In fact, the district was one of only a few public agencies in Illinois boasting an AAA bond rating and on-track pension funding, which it still enjoys today.

I began pushing for an inspector general two years ago because I feel that independent oversight is a crucial component to help ensure good government, even in well-run and respected agencies like the MWRD. I believe public agencies have a responsibility to lead in transparency, which is why I also instituted a policy of live-streaming board meetings, so that the public could easily see how we’re working for them.

It’s been a long, multi-year road getting to this point and I’m proud that this measure has passed. But the journey is not quite over yet, as the measure now heads to the Cook County Board for approval. I strongly encourage the Cook County Board to vote in favor, choosing transparency and good governance.

Mariyana Spyropoulos

Commissioner and former president of the MWRD

Gov. Pritzker: Focus on Illinois, not 2020 election

Gov. J.B. Pritzker, it’s so nice to know that in the little time you’ve spent in office you’ve managed to clear up all of Illinois’ problems and now you can focus your efforts on the 2020 presidential election.

Last I looked, this state is dead broke with no possible way of paying back incurred debt.

If I want to travel our highways, I can die by a collapsing infrastructure or get shot in a drive-by. Businesses and residents are leaving this state in droves because of the political climate. Let’s not even consider the shooting gallery known as Chicago.

In the words of my father, ”Why don’t you worry about your own mess before you start sticking your nose in someone else’s.”

There’s enough work to do in this state to keep you busy for a long time.

James Werner, Joliet