Thursday, February 14, 2008

Not In My Backyard?

Uptown Needs To Do Better For Jobless Residents
News-Star Our Views

Once again a silent alderman has played both long-time residents and those new to Uptown against the neighborhood's complex socio-economic problems.

Alderman Helen Shiller's has shown a lack of transparency in not seeking community input from all Uptown residents and only notifying a few of a proposed special-use zoning variance to locate a day labor agency in the 46th Ward. In doing so she has placed the neighborhood's most vulnerable residents in the middle-children and adults who are most desperately in need of full-time, permanent jobs.

This is more than a simplified argument of "not in my back yard." It's about putting a Band-Aid on Uptown's legion of chronically unemployed residents. Offering temporary jobs for pennies a day does not put the neighborhood's homeless and chronically unemployed on the path to living-wage jobs and permanent housing.

While we agree that a majority of those individuals who will use Labor Ready for temporary employment are hardworking individuals looking for an honest day's work, Labor Ready has not done enough to establish how it intends to address potential problems arising from loitering and a lack of background checks to weed out criminal elements, save for a "self administered behavioral survey."

The location of a day labor agency in a largely residential neighborhood near child-centered facilities and a burgeoning commercial district presents too many potential problems that may endanger the safety of children as well as deter retail and commercial investment along the 4800 block of Sheridan Road.

We encourage Labor Ready to consider a location in an industrial corridor near public transportation and away from homes and schools, and ask that the surrounding business community assist Labor Ready in finding such a location.

We also believe that Uptown's public and private interests can do better to make a more concerted effort to assist those residents who for what ever reason, be it substance abuse or a wrong turn on the side of law, access proven and well-supervised job training and job placement programs.

Finally, we urge the Chicago Zoning Board of Appeals to listen respectfully and carefully to the concerns of residents on both sides of the argument, and not let the sound of a rubber stamp reverberate through City Hall out of "aldermanic courtesy."


  1. This is why we need community newspapers. What a powerful editorial they put out this week. Well done to the Chicago Journal for bringing the aldermanic power grab to the attention of your readers.

  2. As the new publisher said, the new News Star wants to be the voice for our area. They need letters to the editor, they need advertising, they need subscribers. Please help support the paper so we don't lose it, as we nearly did just last month.

  3. The day labor will be approved by the city. Daley has to move cetain elements of city life out of his city. Remember, his city ends at Irving Park Road. There is an overall plan that Daley and Shiller are a part of without any communication to us. He wants to move homeless, displaced Cabrini, mentally ill and jobless folks out of downtown. It is very well know by all the Alderman and city officials that Shiller will take all of it on. Daley dows not care that she does not listen to the taxpayers of the Uptown - He does not care, he has a plan.

  4. Given my experience with what is happening, I tend to agree with what the previous poster said. This is bad on so many levels. For anyone not engaged yet---please get involved.

  5. Pictures are often more effective than words. Through Google Earth, someone may be able to get an overhead picture of the area, clearly mark the proposed location, the school, and the boys & girls club to use at tomorrow's meeting. This way, we could show, rather than tell, the zoning commission how this impacts the children in our neighborhood.

  6. We will have maps, we will hit a variety of points. What we are up against at this point is the fact that what an alderman wants in their ward---an alderman gets. After many years of fighting, Shiller has used the Chicago-style politics to pursue her own agenda. She uses the very instrument that she fought "back in the day" to get what SHE wants. No one is interested in stopping her from doing this because it challenges the overall system. On the broadest level, I agree with her concern for the poor and the voiceless. But, she is VERY wrong on this issue and it is hypocritical to say you are a champion of the voiceless while you squash any reasonable discussion or debate. That is tyrannical---not democratic--rule. She does this over and over again.

  7. "To me, what's important in life is people. That's what motivates me-seeing potential destroyed is really what gets me going. It makes me want to grab that situation and turn it upside down. I have no problem saying that someone's survival is more important than someone's greed."

    That is a quote from Helen Shiller in 1996. The community will lose tomorrow at the zoning meeting---mark my "anonymous" words. She is bringing a greedy, life-sucking multinational corporation to Uptown and the 48th ward's communal spirit of survival will be squashed. This is such an egregious abuse of power but she didn't have the courage to do it to her own constituents. If we are going to get no say, then at least put a soup kitchen there or something that will actually help people rather than making some bourgeois capitalist pigs even fatter!

  8. "I have no problem saying that someone's survival is more important than someone's greed."

    Perhaps the real greed we're seeing is in the proof of the money her campaign received from Labor Ready and her blind desire to be a pretend advocate for the poor. Her low standards for the poor do not make her an advocate; it makes her yet another victimizer. Shame, shame, shame.