You watched Bill Clinton so I didn’t have to. I went to hear Juanita Irizarry and Jessica Disu.


Don’t mess with Juanita Irizarry.

It was another The Girl Talk at The Hideout, a north side bar and crazy political salon. It is where the notable Chicago journalists Ben Joravsky and Mick Dumke hold their First Tuesdays.

The Girl Talk is hosted by Jen Sabella, an editor at DNAinfo, and Erika Wozniak, an award winning CPS teacher and union activist.

It is interesting women on stage, talking. Guys are welcome to come and listen.

What a concept.

The guests last night were Juanita Irizarry, Executive Director of Friends of the Parks and Jessica Disu, also known as FM Supreme, a Chicago poet, artist and activist.

This was a great show, great talk and a great mix.

It was Juanita, who is fighting the rich and the powerful to preserve what we have while Jessica takes on the same forces to get us to rethink what is possible.

Jessica thinks we need to reconceptualize the police. She wants to do away with policing as we know it. She says we spend $4 million a day in Chicago on policing. She asks how is that working for us, especially for Black and Brown people.

Juanita Irizarry became Executive Director of Friends of the Parks after the Lucas Museum law suit was in progress. The suit successfully led to stopping the Lucas Museum from putting its ugly collection of Norman Rockwell paintings and Star Wars memorabilia on our Lakefront.

Lucas refused to even consider putting his thing across Lakeshore Drive where it wouldn’t impact our public space.

Once the Latina from Humboldt Park and Logan Square took the job as Executive Director she became the face of protecting the City’s lakefront legacy from the arrogant and powerful.

She also became the target of hateful attacks. Father Michael Pfleger compared her to a gangbanger.

There must be something in the water of our city that produces tough women like Juanita and CTU President Karen Lewis, women who are willing to take on the Mayor, his minions and their rich and powerful backers.

Irizarry’s background is in urban planning. A few years ago she ran for 26th Ward Alderman against Roberto Maldonado and lost.

The 26th Ward’s northern boundary is two blocks south of my house. It is part of a crazy quilt ward map that divides our neighborhood into at least four different wards. The chopping up of our community was aimed at reducing the influence of progressives on the northwest side. Instead the number of elected progressives has increased.

Juanita won’t say if she will run for alderman again.

I’ll let you know when we have the fund raiser.

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