(From the campaign of Cuahutemoc Morfin)Â
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Â In wake of Tribune investigation, Morfin and Perez ElementaryÂ parents demand change in Pilsen
Chicago, IL – A day after the Chicago Tribune reported finding dangerously high levels of toxic lead in the air outside of a Pilsen elementary school, aldermanic candidate Cuahutemoc Morfin called on incumbent Ald. Danny Solis to return the nearly $70,000 in campaign contributions he has taken from the three highest lead emitters in the area.
â€œWe are witnessing a pattern emerging with with Ald. Solis,â€ said Morfin, a small business owner and community activist, at a press conference outside of Perez Elementary School on Saturday morning. â€œTime and time again heâ€™s taken major campaign contributions from these polluters, and in exchange, he has looked the other way while theyâ€™ve poisoned our air and made us sick.â€
Solis has taken $8,200 in contributions from H. Kramer, a metal smelter in the 25th Ward that, the Tribune reports, is the top lead emitter in the area. Solis has taken an additional $6,500 from H. Kramer Executive Vice President R. K. Weil. The second and third highest lead emitters in the area, respectively, are the Crawford and Fisk Coal Plants, owned by Midwest Generation, from which Solis has taken another $54,000.
Morfin said Ald. Solis â€œhas made it clear. Heâ€™s willing to sell off the health of his constituents to the highest bidder.â€ He called on Solis to return the $70,000 to Midwest Generation and H. Kramer and to â€œget tough on these polluters.â€ But, he said, â€œwe already know he probably wonâ€™t bite the hand that feeds him.â€
Guillermina Sandoval, whose two young children have tested positive for lead poisoning and childhood asthma, was also present at the press conference. â€œItâ€™s appalling to know that we have a leader who is not standing by the community, who is endangering everyone. Especially now, as a parent, Iâ€™m appalled,â€ she said. â€œItâ€™s time for a change.â€
Jackson Potter, Staff Coordinator at the Chicago Teachers Union, said the union chose to endorse Morfin â€œbecause of his advocacy and concern displayed over many years for the children, parents and teachers of this community and this ward.â€
â€œOur society should be judged on how it treats its most vulnerable, and by that standard, Solis has failed miserably at displaying the kind of leadership necessary to ensure the safety and well-being of the families that live in this ward,â€ said Potter. â€œ[Solis’] buddies who are paying his campaign money own these factories. Thatâ€™s unacceptable and it has to end today.â€
Dr. Quentin Young, nationally-renowned public health expert and Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board Chairman, said the presence of lead â€œdamages, first and foremost, our kids, because of the stage of life theyâ€™re in.â€ Young said he was glad to see environmental health issues front and center in the 25th Ward election.
Of Morfin, Young said, â€œIâ€™m very proud to be at his side, and I hope very much he has a successful victory. Itâ€™ll make a huge difference in the way the city approaches the issue of contamination and pollution and the environment.â€
To learn more about the Morfin campaign for alderman, please visit http://morfinfor25thward.com/.