Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Shiller Talks CTA, Budget, Wilson Yard, With Businesses

By Lorraine Swanson
Pioneer Press News-Star

Alderman Helen Shiller had lots to say about the 46th Ward's side of Uptown at a business luncheon hosted by Uptown United on Nov. 8.
Shiller, who voted yes to approving all key elements of the city's $5.9 billion spending plan, including an $86 million property tax hike at last week's City Council meeting, kicked off the luncheon by talking about the 2008 budget.
Asking the business audience gathered at The Spot at 4437 N. Broadway, what they would like to see cut from the budget, an audience member stated "corruption."
"Other than that response that doesn't have a response to it, it's an important one so I'm actually glad that you said it," Shiller said.
Shiller explained that the costs related to corruption stemming from political hiring and inappropriate police activity, plus the three new city departments created to deal with corruption, drove up expenses in the city's 2008 budget.
"I confess the really messy importance of the responsibility that (the City Council) had for this budget," Shiller said. "What we have in front of us and what we have presented, in addition to the things that people want and nobody has told me what else concretely, because I agree that we want to get rid of corruption, but that means you have to create ways to do it."
Shiller said that more than 70 percent of the city's budget is tied up in salaries and entitlements, leaving little else for city services.
"(The city) has a rule that we're not eliminating vacancies in the police, fire and (Office of Emergency Communications) even though some think those could be rearranged and organized," Shiller said. "We're not in a position to start cutting those because there is a very strong point of view that people want to have the best public safety possible."
She cautioned that the budget shortfall opened the door to other types of fees and taxes.
"It is a popular feeling that property taxes are onerous for a good reason," the alderman explained. "But the other fees in many ways are more expensive if you were to prorate them out on a monthly basis, but they're more hidden and people don't feel as strongly about them."
Included in the city's 2008 budget, Shiller said, are 20 to 30 traffic light cameras to catch cars that speed through intersections.
"I don't know where they're going, but there's now going to be a $100 fine instead of a $90 fine," Shiller said. "I would strongly recommend to everybody in this room because part of the reason (the city) is doing this actually is to create safer streets, and if we create safer streets we'll save money. So I feel fine telling you don't get the fine, just don't go through a yellow light."
Asked about the Wilson Avenue CTA Station, Shiller acknowledged that while the station was never part of the Wilson Yard TIF redevelopment plan, TIF money is being set aside "informally" if the CTA doesn't have the capital dollars to pay for the station.
"We can at least leverage TIF dollars for federal monies that the CTA can no longer leverage because the state has been requiring that it pay off that money every year, and unless (the debt) is restructured, it's not going to change," Shiller said.
The audience also quizzed Shiller about Wilson Yard and when community residents can expect to see the next phase of construction to begin now that the new Aldi's has been built.
"The last thing I was told, which was very recently, was that ground will be broken by the end of this year," Shiller said. "Contrary to rumor there has been no change. Everything I said, I said a zillion times, and I'm not going to say it a zillion times again."
Shiller said that the next phase of construction planned for Wilson Yard is a "parking tub" which will serve as a foundation for the development's parking structure.
"I'm hesitant to give any more details because as you know they obviously changed a lot over the years," Shiller said. "The details of the project haven't changed but the timing is a little elusive as you know, but there is constant progress."


  1. She is such a waste and an poor excuse for an elected official.

    She is full of bunk.

    Term Limits and vote the incumbents out.

  2. After reading this, all we can say is, "HUH?"

  3. After reading Mark Brown's article about how much of our property taxes are truly diverted into TIF's, it makes me sick that Shiller is unclear as to when WY will actually break ground.

    It also makes me sick to think how much of property taxes have been set aside to a project that has no direction, no vision, and the only definite is low income housing.

  4. the details obviously changed or the details haven't changed?

    my head hurts

  5. I bet she doesn't finish this full term and then she has Daley appoint who she wants to be Alderman for the remainder of her term.

  6. Yeah - she'll "appoint" her son Brendan. God help us all...

  7. Brenden might be better than her. LOL, could it get worse?

  8. Bad is good.

    War is Peace.

    Pirate is hungry.

    Gobble gobble.

    I do like the line about TIF funds being set aside "informally" for the Wilson El stop.

    Gobble gobble.

    Why spend money on an EL station when tax dollars can be used to make private developers rich by building or renovating low income housing in an area with thousands of units of such housing already.



    Oh, I forgot it served the alderbeasts personal agenda and she gets nice campaign contributions from some of the parties involved.

    A big WIN for everyone, except the neighbors and the taxpayers.

  9. Who talks like this? Those qoutes can't be right! None of it makes any sense. The thing is that for something to work than that (something) has to be formed into a cohesive (sentence) resembling something that everybody knows is that relationship to whatever is out there.

  10. "Other than that response that doesn't have a response to it, it's an important one so I'm actually glad that you said it," Shiller said.

    So, if the response that she was glad someone said doesn't have a response to it ...



    "I confess the really messy importance of the responsibility that (the City Council) had for this budget," Shiller said. "What we have in front of us and what we have presented, in addition to the things that people want and nobody has told me what else concretely, because I agree that we want to get rid of corruption, but that means you have to create ways to do it."

    Building more government into a corrupted government to eliminate the corruption living within isn't an answer. It's a one way ticket to hell.

    Who is this woman?

    And, seriously, what are the recall options available to her constituents?

  11. She who speaks in circles goes nowhere - hence Wilson Yard. Top managment of any company is a direct reflection of the company itself. Look around Uptown and you will see a direct reflection of its managment style - Lack of progressive thinking and goals. "Circles"

  12. I have to give it to her... she wants to be a good communicator. The problem is that no one can be a good communicator and remain adamant about hiding information from the public. Thus, the words we get from Ald. Shiller are nothing but "circle talk" or what is now often referred to as "Shiller-speak".

    The public wants to hear more about accountability, and we'll get that from her when there are open meetings in the early evening hours, when minutes from those meetings are available, when a task force is allowed to be a task force, when the City Council allows for the Inspector General to investigate Aldermen and their staff, when there is more transparency & accountability with TIFs, when there is campaign reform, and when there is zoning reform that prevents any of the "pay to play" dynamics that many of us know already exists.

    Until that time comes, we will have circle talk. Shame on us if we allow her to get by with it.

  13. When's her next day time meeting, and/or, how does one find out when it will be?

    I'll be more than happy to show up and hold her feet to the fire.

    Or, rather, prepare myself for her inevitable corporate back-speak excuse as to why she refuses to answer whatever question I may have asked.

    Even if that's asking for the time.

  14. Make your own meeting. That is, use the Illinois open meetings act to insert yourself into these "private" discussions she is having with the Dept of Planning, the Wilson Taskforce, etc. As an elected official all her meetings are open unless they fall into an exception specified in Illinois law.

  15. The exception...Bad Apples.

  16. I would like to hear more about what she chose to wear to this event and how her hair was styled.

  17. Do Turkeys have arm flaps???

  18. we got what we deserved - people did not get out and vote for a better candidate - foolish sheep called democrats voted blindly for little rich (he is going to look good in stripes) hs has always been a liar and cheat she has never been "principled" and she has never been honest, why do you expect her to be honest now? Did you vote? Did you get your neighbor to vote?

  19. shiller is only taking her cue from her mentor Daley - Daley does the same thing - if you never talk in complete sentences - noun, verb, predicate - then you never actually say anything and so you never say anything you can be held accountable for

  20. Where is the Wilson Yard plan now? Is it all low income housing? I guess I just don't understand why Uptown is the epicenter for this kind of urban planing.

    Why would anyone in their right mind build more low income housing in an already over saturated area? Are the other low income units doing that well in turning around peoples lives? I wonder how many of the residents that get assisted living are actually doing well for themselves, so well in fact that they are able to move on to bigger better things and step aside for others who want to get their lives on track. After all it is supposed to be a temporary solution right?

    I understand that some people need help, that you have to start somewhere, but I don't understand why our society goes out of our way to support those who give up on themselves and their communities.

    I have no problem with helping others, I do think that some low income housing can help those in need. I do think it needs to be spread out more; not so damn clustered.

    There is already a major problem with gangs up and down Sunnyside; yes they have been directly linked to low income housing units in the area. If you put more low income housing on Broadway and Montrose you might as well start handing out bullet proof vests to all the residents in the area.

    I personally would love to see some shopping in that area. Trader Joes would be amazing. A movie theater would be pretty nice. Anything but another low income high rise. They just do not work.

    Where are the documents that explain were Wilson Yard is currently at? Why has Shiller not updated the progress of WY on her website? The info is a year old for crying out loud. If Target did drop out than are they looking for a replacement? If not than why? I think this community needs some real up to date answers. I am so sick of political spin and speeches that do not answer the question but dance around them.

    The community should be disgusted if construction starts without real answers. The less we know the easier it will be to get away with their agenda.