Wednesday, October 17, 2007

And You Thought The Government Had Pricey Toilet Seats

Another "Uptown Update" reader writes in:

"Have fun with this one...oh how Wilson Yard's lovely landscaped Aldi's socked it to the taxpayers..."

The attached picture shows the landscaping for Wilson Yard Phase I (moving and rebuilding an Aldi grocery store). The cost of the landscape architect was $19,190. Couldn't a fifth grader have done an equal or better job? I did some price checking on what this landscaping would cost:

Knock-out roses $15 each, 50 plants, Total $750

Labor for planting $250

Total Cost $1,000

Total bill for landscaping $19,190

Profit $18,190

The memories, priceless


  1. The reader goes on to say:

    "Thank you Mark Brown and Commissioner Quigley for exposing the alarming TIF debacle (Chicago's 'hidden tax increase', 10/11/07). Not only are citizens losing significant tax dollars because of this program, TIFs are a blackhole of unchecked poorly managed spending. Once the TIF is approved all spending is at the discretion of the developer and alderman and friends of both are rewarded well. The Wilson Yard TIF in the Uptown Community is a prime example of careless spending. This is allowed to happen because there are no checks and balances and when the project is over budget the developer just goes back to the trough (city council) and receives additional funds as documented in the additional $15M granted by City Council on June 1, 2007 for the Wilson Yard TIF. This project is being developed on the largest piece of undeveloped land along the lake between downtown and Evanston. If a private developer had been allowed to develop it there would be money going into the city coffers instead of out. Multiply this scenario 140 times (number of Chicago TIF's) through out the city and you have an easy explanation for why the city budget is in the mess it's in. By the way the developer's profit for this phase was 1.5M and after all phases are complete the developer is guaranteed a profit of 3.8M over and above his fees of 6.7M."

  2. I'd love to see someone bring this up at Helen Shiller's $20/ticket lunch next month. Is there any plausible defense for how much they paid for this? $19,180 seems absolutely ridiculous. Are there other services in that bill that perhaps haven't been rendered yet?

  3. Does anyone know the name of the firm that did this planting. I want to check Shiller's D-2's to check how much the firm/owner contributed to her campaign.

  4. By the time all the cash was paid under the table to all the Alderman, City Officials and others it would really cut in to the profit. Not to mention the campaign contributions.

    Remember "Chicago Works"

  5. Someone over at BPN made a valid point. Where did this info come from?

    Inquiring buccaneers want to know.

  6. If you haven't done so yet, I would encourage people to look at the Center on Halsted's Whole Foods in the 44th Ward. Look what they did to encourage foot traffic. Notice the storefront windows. Notice the planting. Notice the lighting. Now notice the people. It's still relatively new, but this development in the 44th Ward started out with lots of foot traffic and its design encouraged it.

    Now look at the new Aldi. Yes, it's in a different neighborhood, but look at their attemt to encourage more foot traffic. Notice how empty the area is. Honestly, I can barely tell Aldi's is open.

    I believe a child in elementary school could quickly point out which area is more inviting to the public. Why can't Ald. Shiller?

    As far as the price of the landscaping. I'd like to know as well. Our tax dollars go to this, and as with many TIFs, there is little financial accountability.

  7. The cost information was sent to Uptown Update anonymously and we regret that we do not know the exact source. We will try to find out where the sender got this information and post it.

  8. According to the source, the information was listed in the last Wilson Yard financial document issued June 2007 (2005 expenses). All TIFs has these financial statements every year.

  9. I wonder if the payment when to Terry Teele, Mayor Daley's former city hall right hand man? He used to live in Buena Park at Sheridan and Irving, was booted out of city govt after he and his brother were involved in obtaining undisclosed loans from a Taylor street activist/businessman, and now is a key figure at Christy Webber landscaping. I see Christy Webber doing the landscaping (if you can call it that) at the fenced in water facility at the Southwest corner of Wilson and Marine. And, Terry (along with Cristy Webber's) kicked money into Helen's last campaign. Curiously he had his Shiller campaign contribution refunded back to him (per her D-2's) probably in response to the bad comments he generated on What the Helen. His political ties are to the Jerry Joyce democratic organization that runs the Mayor's campaign.

  10. Coincidentally (or not.. I'm betting not) Deb Mell (daughter of Alderman Mell, sister-in-law of the governor) works for Christy Mell.

  11. Regarding the post on October 22. I say no, this blogger seems to have something against Terry Teele and Christy Webber Landscapes. Also, from my education, a source that has mis-spelled words and improper grammar should not be taken as credible.

  12. Hi there Christy Webber here.

    Didn't do the Aldi landscaping and I think there is a green roof on that store so get your facts straight. However we did do the Center on Halsted. I donated all the labor and plantings for the ground level and the roof deck so I appreciate the good comments. The landscape architechure was donated by Craig Bergman and all of the soil for the roof by Moore Landscapes. What a wonderful collaboration by all us HOMO's!!ha

    As far as the labor goes for Aldi's landscaping if it is in a TIF district landscapers have to pay their people (by law) the prevailing wage, that is $31 per hour plus about $8 in fringe, do the math and you can see the persons comments are off a little, or alot I should say including the green roof. Plus anyone who works on TIF jobs is highly monotored by certified payroll, strict GC reporting, nursery pick lists and on and on so kick backs or lining pockets is absolutely ridiculous.

    Half the time you are lucky you make it out with any profit on these jobs or any other large scale construction project as a subcontractor.

    But that is super boring and it's more fun to make shit up so you can make people look bad.

    Oh and I did win a contract as the lowest responsible bidder for maintaining all the city's water plants. So if you see my people not working hard for your tax dollar I would be very interested in hearing about that rather than the unfounded gossip I read today!