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Monday letters: Build near transit and people will come

It’s no coincidence that as Chicago has grown away from our transit system, we’ve also lost population — even in neighborhoods like Lincoln Park. We must reverse this troubling trend, not only to shake the stigma of a shrinking city, but because more people means more tax revenue to support our city’s services and infrastructure.

If we do it right by developing near transit, we can achieve this growth without adding to our city’s traffic congestion or losing more valuable space to parking. And we can make it easier for people to live within reach of jobs, retail and good schools.

On Sept. 24, the Chicago City Council voted to update an ordinance that already has helped spur eight successful developments near transit, including one at the corner of Milwaukee, Division and Ashland in West Town with zero parking for 99 residential units. The updated ordinance will build on this success by expanding the qualifying distance from a transit station, eliminating parking requirements for some developments and by allowing more units in developments that have affordable housing on site.

The Metropolitan Planning Council estimates the changes will create space for up to 100,000 new residents in Chicago and generate $450 million in new retail sales and $200 million in property, sales and transfer taxes every year.

Development near transit helped double Chicago’s downtown population between 2000 and 2010 — even as the city as a whole lost population. We applaud the City Council and Mayor Rahm Emanuel for an ordinance that helps secure Chicago’s future as a growing city with opportunities for all.

MarySue Barrett, president

Metropolitan Planning Council

SEND LETTERS TO: letters@suntimes.com. Please include your neighborhood or hometown and a phone number for verification purposes.

No trust left in state’s attorney’s office

Anita Alvarez is saying she is appalled, livid and outraged that an assistant Cook County state’s attorney allegedly falsified testimony involving a witness interview in a criminal case. Well, now she knows how all the people familiar with the David Koschman case feel about her, Richard Devine and Darren O’Brien, among others, for circumventing the homicide investigation of R.J. Vanecko.

Richard Pacer, Lincoln Square

Cool it on perks, pay for school administrators

When hiring an administrator, public bodies like the College of DuPage need to keep in mind that, by definition, there can be only one person the entire world who is the “best” at something. But there are also hundreds of others who can still do the job very well and at less cost to the taxpayers.

The outrageous demands of school superintendents and other chief operating officers of public bodies need to be resisted. Someone else who can do the job well will always be willing to take it without expecting to being able to reserve their high salary for walking-around money because the taxpayers are paying all of their living expenses and pension share as perks in a very one-sided contract.

Gov. Rauner has just signed legislation sponsored by Rep. Jeanne Ives that wisely puts some limits on excesses by community colleges. It should be extended to apply to all 7,000 schools and other public bodies in Illinois too.

All elected officials need to ask themselves when setting compensation for their administrators whether the, say, president of their two-year junior college and trade school, or local school superintendent, has more responsibility than the governor of the entire state. The answer is obviously that the governor has much more responsibility so the governor’s compensation should serve as a cap on what the taxpayers pay local administrators.

Instead of falling in love with a particular applicant, they should instead invite a handful of the many applicants acknowledged as being able to do the job well to submit a bid on it. Lowest-cost package wins.

Stan Zegel, Winfield

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