CHICAGO, IL – When the city announced this week that a nonprofit organization had been granted permission to sell Asian kale salad and other “healthy, local food” out of repurposed newsstands downtown, Mayor Rahm Emanuel heralded the agreement as evidence of his commitment to create jobs by allowing businesses to innovate.
But an activist who has been working unsuccessfully for years to get the city to allow food carts to sell tamales and other humble snacks throughout Chicago neighborhoods greeted the business permit — granted to e.a.t. spots — as an example of the Emanuel administration playing favorites with an upstart business serving upscale food while working-class entrepreneurs can’t get City Hall to act.
Beth Kregor, director of the University of Chicago’s Institute for Justice Clinic on Entrepreneurship, said she was struck by the optics of e.a.t. spots getting the go-ahead to sell items like tofu scramble wraps and gluten-free muffins at four shuttered newsstands that the city said were “located throughout the central business district.”
If it investigated by the media I am sure we will find out its another typical Emanuel pay toplay deal. His only loyalty is to the almighty dollar. The only reason he has been against foood trucks is to protect his donors.He has given miilions of tax dollars to contributors and thats all he…
Meanwhile, Kregor said, independent cart operators in neighborhoods like Little Village still have to worry they will get ticketed or even arrested because it is illegal for them to sell corn and cut-up fruit.
“It’s astounding that this very traditional business that’s really pulsing at the heart of many of our communities remains outlawed,” Kregor said.
Ald. Roberto Maldonado, 26th, introduced an ordinance in May to license food carts, saying the vendors now found all over his Northwest Side ward are desperate to come into compliance so they don’t have to constantly worry about getting hassled by police.
“Why shouldn’t we embrace this entrepreneurship that’s been going on in Chicago for decades?” Maldonado said at the time.
Maldonado’s proposal, which would require cart operators to pay a $100 annual licensing fee and prepare food in licensed kitchens, has not received a City Council hearing. Maldonado said calling e.a.t. spots an emerging business is “a stretch,” but that he thinks it means his own plan has a good chance of success. He said he expects to get a hearing soon on his food cart ordinance soon “so that we can bring these businesses out of the shadows.”
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