Thursday, February 14, 2008

Reminder: Be There Or Be Square

The Zoning Board Hearing for Labor Ready Variance is Friday, February 15. We need your support.

The zoning meeting for Labor Ready's variance is scheduled for Friday, February 15 at 9am in City Hall.

We're hoping to get as many people as possible to attend and show their support on this issue. Attendees to the hearing can sit in the gallery. Please look for a few of your neighbors wearing orange. They will have buttons for you to wear and we should like our supporters to sit together in the gallery.

City Hall
City Council Chambers, 2nd Floor
121 N. La Salle St.
Chicago, IL 60602


  1. can someone post an update as soon as there's news? i'm dying over here!

  2. I do not live, but looking to, in Uptown. I have noticed in my short time on this board (two months) that meetings are posted on this site but only sometimes recapped. Is this a sign of a good board in a ward that does not participate. Example - TIF abuse meeting and this one. Granted it was to day, but I know there are many more that are never recapped.

  3. anon, often times it is hard for us to attend meetings in our ward because the alderman does not give much notice, and she usually holds meetings at times we cannot attend (i.e. normal working hours).

    The good thing about Uptown is that your neighbors really do care and are working very hard to make it a better place. I have never regretted moving here.

  4. I'm with ltn318. I'm looking for an update! I checked for an update but they didn't have anything up yet. Anybody have information?

    Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?

  5. Timely updates are as important as knowing there was a meeting. Where's the update, Uptown Update?

  6. I'll let people who understood more than I did post later, but a quick review.

    The hearing on Labor Ready was the last one on the agenda and went for about an hour, I think. It finished (probably) after 1 p.m. (My clock is in my cell phone and I didn't want to keep it on during the hearing.)

    It was well-attended. I'd guess 75 people from the community, as well as a reporter from the Star News and one other reporter (possibly from the Trib).

    The testimony on both sides seemed scattered at times. Several speakers who opposed Labor Ready drew applause. The crowd was reprimanded several times for scoffing at untrue statements Labor Ready's representatives made.

    Bottom line: the board will take it under advisement and have a decision in several weeks. My gut feeling is that they will approve LR's application with conditions for safety.

    I think it definitely could have gone better. One of the hearing judges was extremely combatative with community members making statements, which was intimidating. Both sides' representatives were reprimanded several times for not going by the board's procedures for when to speak.

    Ald. Shiller was there and refused to address the committee until the very end, even though they called on her several times. At the end, the woman who seemed to be the main spokesperson for the committee thanked Helen for "continuing to put yourself on the hot seat." You can take that as you will -- I took it as a vote in Helen's favor.

  7. Thanks for the update. Any idea who the judges on the hearing panel were?

  8. No clue. Only three of the five were present, but they said in case they were split, copies of any exhibits and a transcript of the record would go to the two absent members.

    I know there were people there who had a lot more to do with the proceedings and knew a lot more than I do, so I'll leave it to them to fill in the blanks I've missed.

  9. Just got back from the hearing meeting.

    It appears that the ZBA will approve LR.

    Almost 50 people showed up to the meeting. Unfortunately, few community members were heard.

    One of the local residents will post a more in-depth re-cap of the meeting on

  10. I spoke to a friend who attended this session. The decision will be made after the missing two members read through the lengthy transcripts. Fat chance of that happening.

    If you want to keep the pressure on this matter, bombard Daley's office with letters.

  11. When Cornerstone requested a zoning variance to put in Sylvia Center, it was passed with several conditions.

    The problem was that there was no process in place to require them to follow the conditions placed on them. The head of the Dept. of Human Services told me that it was simply not possible to enforce.

    My question is this: What would be different that would allow the enforcement of any restrictions placed on Labor Ready? ... or, is this just another little game to silently pacify the community again?

  12. Helen Shiller said today that any provisions will be enforceable because LR is overseen by the state department of commerce or something? If we have any lawyers out there---please weigh in. She seemed to indicate that if a business has conditions written into how they can operate (security cameras, etc.) then that is more enforceable.

  13. I also would like to say it is time to form a group of people to start a plan to get Ms Shiller out. Citizens against Shiller! I would devote my time and resources to helping a new candidate for sure!

  14. The rumor is, that Shiller is going to retire at the end of her term! Can we start a group to get her out now?!?!

  15. The state has little or no resources to enforce locally. They often rely on local police to enforce state laws and as we all know our local police prefer to play politics much more than to perform their duty. And they always cover by saying they don't see - THEY JUST DON'T SEE what is going because they are so busy, BUSY, BUSY fighting those gangs that mostly moved out of the neighborhood years ago.

    There is no enforcement up here of state laws. If there were, we wouldn't have junk trucks on the street that can't begin to pass state inspection, a "missing" child sex predator working across from a school at the pancake house two blocks north of our police station, and a TIF that doesn't spend any money to cure its blight conditions.

  16. it's time to get the unions involved to help out. They have a lot of say at city hall.

  17. Well I think it is important to try to find a good candidate that will undo many of the problems Ms. Shiller has created. It wouldnt hurt to start looking.

  18. We'll have a re-cap of the meeting under "Latest News" in a few minutes. If anyone disagrees with the account or has something to add, please feel free.

    We live for thoughtful, open discussion.

  19. No offence, but didn't we just try this? I seem to recall an election not too long ago and that would have been the time to start a campaign to get her out - and we did but it didn't work. I heard the rumor too: she will retire before her term is up and appoint her son. It seems as though all our efforts to get her to change her ways fail. It also seems as though there are a lot of people in the 48th ward that are affected by her decisions because she has that one little finger of Sheridan going up into the 48th. However the people of the 48th are unable to act on election night. I propose that this problem stems from deeper political fundamentals, primarily the way the Ward system works today. Schiller will continue to push undesirable community elements to the borders of her Ward, keeping her constituents happy and thus getting re-elected, because she can. And she knows no other Alderman (Smith) will protest because they maintain the policy that every other alderman maintains: it's not in their Ward. As long as we, the voters, accept this policy, nothing will change.

  20. James Cappleman ran against Ms. Schiller in the last election and came within 700 votes or so and Ms. Schiller spent over four times the amount of money and Mayor Daley helped campaign for her. Her days are definitely numbered. Episodes like the one today will mobilize many of the 700 needed to vote in the next election.

  21. This is a link to the wrap-up on the page:


  22. I'm disappointed but not surprised that a number of organizations involved in the discussion with Labor Ready neglected to realize that local residents and block clubs were not included in any of the decision making. Uptown United, Heartland Alliance, Inspiration Cafe, and ONE knew that we should have been involved but remained silent. They also had to know that Shiller has a strong reputation of not getting community input. No one stopped them from asking why input from the residents had not occurred.

    All of this makes these social services and Uptown United look bad and they wonder why people diss social services around here.

  23. You know, I am just devastated that Inspiration Cafe, Heartland Alliance and ONE have been backing Labor Ready all along but not one of these organizations felt it necessary to talk about what was going on with the community. Who on this message board knows anyone at these organizations? We have GOT to start talking to each other in Uptown. There is a lot of consensus on a lot of issues but people don't even know it because there is so much back room dealing and secrecy. There will be a lot less hostility and more progress if we can work together on issues where there is common ground.

  24. O.N.E. is using the poor for financial gain. They are ripping off the hood.

  25. ONE is ripping off the hood because it let the bottom feeders come in to cash in?

  26. Now you understand why 48th Ward Ald Mary Ann Smith ported funds from the Lawrence Avenue TIF to the 46th Ward TIF to renovate the Leland Hotel, including new offices for ONE.

    Mary Ann ported ONE into the 46th Ward Thanks Mary Ann.

  27. O.N.E. and SHiller have been locked at the groin since the old days of Shiller's Heart of Uptown Coalition. O.N.E. is her surrogate that gets rolled out to be the "block club" that represents the community in all these types of hearings. Don't you remember the election when ONE supposedly represented the community to the media? WTTW even fell for it, again.

    Remember? O.N.E. has never planted a tree. They are an activist group with a single focus agenda to not have open communities but rather to concentrate poor people in certain neighborhoods so that they can exercise political control over them and their issues. And that is Helen's agenda also.

    And, it fits Daley's agenda of maximizing his electibility and all keeping all aldermen happy by keeping Chicago one of the most segregated cities in the U.S. We're fighting City Hall folks. That's why the Dept of Planning made it's finding too. There is a symbiotic relationship between Shiller and the Mayor that is being played out.

  28. Well, what do we do now? Is there a legal case to be made? Do we get down and dirty and make this an onerous environment for Labor Ready? Would that be unjust to workers on some level? Do we boycott organizations like Inspiration Cafe until the WHOLE community starts getting a say in local affairs? Would this be unjust to the poor? Is it necessary in order to remind activist non-profits that their supporters and difficult residents are sometimes on in the same?

    On the one hand, someone could interpret what happened as the neighbors being deftly outmaneuvered by an Alderman and her social service supporters who have been fighting this "not one more thing" argument in Uptown for 30 years. On the other hand, you have a group of local residents (some of whom actually were never adequately notified)who were left to fight and defend themselves against closed-door deals, aldermanic perogative, a large corporation with big $$$ and citywide interests that are all for having a ready and reserve pool of low-wage low-skill workers near the Loop that can be dispatched to clean up after Cubs Games and City functions. Yes---the City does use day laborers and pays them much much less than FT parks district folks. It is just budget economics at work folks, but also institutional racism that keeps this system humming.

  29. Cory M,
    Go back to bed and stop playing on the "internets."

  30. Fifteen years ago I was pro bono'd out to design Chicago's low income housing tax credit shelter program. Having just moved to Uptown, I asked a key leader of the low income housing industry what the heck was going on in Uptown. He gave me some very good insight, which has remained true for nearly 15 years.

    He told me that Uptown was a community that was not being allowed to function as a community. He said that the people that lived here really had no say in what happened in their community because it was being used by the state and the city for their purposes, not related to the welfare of this community. Then he said that the non-profit industry considered this their base and had no intention of relinquishing control to locals. It was like the proverbial corporate-owned town.

    His suggestion was to debunk the posers, who pretend to represent this community but really represent their own interests. He also suggested that the fractionalization along racial and economic lines was intentional and to stop playing into that game. He noted that this community lacked a voice because the communication channels were either owned by the alderman; or not interested in this community; or biased toward fitting every story into a pre-existing narrative. It seems like this blog is changing this last problem.

    So, take this chance to debunk the posers. ONE is not the voice of this community and does not represent this community. Never was. Never will. It has it's own agenda and doing what is best for this commumity, rich /middle-class AND POOR, is not it's primary concern.

  31. The above post should be required reading for every new and existing resident of Uptown. That pretty much sums it up!

  32. Again this is all nice and I am glad to see increased participation. Shiller sat there unitil the end because she has the help higher power (Daley) pushing her agenda. Daley needs her to clean up his city below Irving Park road. I hate to say it, but I am not participating anymore as I realize this is the case. Sorry just worn down and getting out. She will not retire until she get Cabrini North to breakground. She then say that she was a fighter for the lil person when the actually honor her as then next scum slumlord alderman. She is a rich hippie, which still works in the Demoratic machine that is Chicago.

  33. Looking at the Tribune's Friday Metro section, you see a photo of Shiller and Daley standing together.

    Examining that photo, both show no interest in their jobs the way the citizens want them too.

  34. The "us versus them" tactic has always been used to divide and separate. It worked for many years until many of us in the community started to tell the truth that people from all different ethnic and economic backgrounds want a safe, diverse, and vibrant community. When we took that approach to the press and to city counsel & zoning meetings, our voices began to get needed attention, something that had been denied us for many years.

    This week for the very first time in Helen Shiller's history as alderman, an editorial in a local newspaper called her on her polarizing tactics when it stated, "Once again a silent alderman has played both long-time residents and those new to Uptown against the neighborhood's complex socio-economic problems."

    Let's keep insisting on appropriate standards for our community.

  35. James writes "The "us versus them" tactic has always been used to divide and separate."

    This is true but it hardly a tactic exclusive to Helen. I've lived in Uptown forever and I've seen cycle after cycle of new residents play out a similar strategy.

    Instead of imagining the 46th Ward as a place without Helen, how about we think about it as a place with certain qualities and features.

    I'd like us to be FOR something and each other instead of just being AGAINST Helen. There is a long history in Uptown of antithetical politics. My problem with it is it bespeaks a lack of vision and, no matter what Helen's faults may be, renders us too small and mean to make a real difference.

  36. Seeking a safe, diverse, and vibrant community is the "for" we need for this community. We walk the talk when we participate in our block clubs and our local CAPS meetings.

  37. Hey, it's a start and it beats complaining.

  38. Let's get back to the DEBUNK THE POSERS who have their own agendas. The SOCIAL SERVICE AGENCIES who have their own agendas and don't give a damn about is this good for the community?

    Uptown has 80+ social service agencies. They are the #1 business in Uptown. How do we began to crack this rotten egg that serves no one? ONE, Voice of the People, Jesus People. What actions can we take?

  39. I'm really shocked by all this. I am on the board of an entity in Uptown. While we were discussing this issue, we were told that the social service agencies were opposed as well, since day labor is not seen as a positive assistance for the poor. I really thought everyone was on the same page.

    Then I hear how at the hearing there is a plan in place to work with the agencies to assist the day labor organization. It sounds like some serious back room politics went on. The social service agencies either got called on the carpet by the alderman or they were given some promises of additional funds etc., to get them in on the plan.

    The community is left out in the cold. How about a protest march in front of the alderman's office. They did one recently in Lincoln Square to bring attention to the large eminent domain plan backed by the alderman there. It seemed to have some positive effect.

  40. If you are interested in being a part of forthcoming actions to STOP LABOR READY, please send your contact information to If you were at the hearing and gave us your contact information, there is no need to resubmit it.

    We will also take the space in this post to note that Cory Muldoon of ONE contacted Stop Labor Ready early on to inquire "who are you" when we were using the tagline "Workers are Not Disposable" for STOP LABOR READY. Since we believed at the time that the nonprofits were conflicted about Labor Ready (because doing day labor is NOT a reliable pathway out of poverty), we sent him an earnest note in response looking to start a conversation about what could be done that would responsibly balance worker needs with neighborhood effects. We never got a response. At the time, we thought that it was because ONE was divided on this issue. Now, it is clear that they just wanted to know "who we were." There was never any intent to attempt a discussion.

    So, if you are for being part of a group of people who want to actually engage with the issues and which will try to consider them in terms of ALL community members (homeless, low-income, immigrant, middle-class, children, seniors, effect on natural environment, etc.) please give us your contact information and as we re-group. We will include you.

    If you are a troll, don't abuse us and insult us anymore. We won't take it.

  41. I'm sorry you had your trust violated, but I hope you have learned a valuable lesson about the social service organizations in the area and the people they employ.

    You thought you were having a sincere dialogue with Cory Muldoon of ONE and instead you got burned. I hope you got a chance to talk to him on Friday as he was sitting in the council chambers with the Labor Ready folks.

    I hope you keep this experience in mind the next time you are contacted by any other social service organization who tries to convince you that Labor Ready is a good fit for the neighborhood.

  42. I hope you got a chance to talk to him on Friday as he was sitting in the council chambers with the Labor Ready folks.

    And laughing and joking with Scary Marc Kaplan of Couraj. Never a good sign. I think I smelled sulphur.

    (Or it could have just been Brendan Shiller, doing his best imitation of solidarity with the oppressed by looking and smelling like he just came off Lower Wacker Drive. Definitely not dressed as Yuppie Lawyer Boy Who Spends 10 Grand To Enter Gambling Tournaments.)

  43. To anonymous on Feb 15, 5:17 pm: Can I please be the vice president of Citizens Against Shiller??

  44. Yes. As the saying goes, "fool me once, shame on you...fool me twice...shame on me." We had attempted to engender a broad, public coalition of residents and social service agencies to discuss the issues. We made an attempt to provide people with accurate and balanced information that people could use as tools to learn more and to get involved using their own talents and interests.

    Given that Shiller pulled a fast O.N.E on us, we now see that such an approach was not appropriate for the situation. So, open public discussion which attempts to use the most accurate facts and which endeavors to respect a variety of viewpoints is not how the powers want to play it.

    We get it now and the gloves are off.

    As we regroup in order to pursue the next steps, you can still count on us to provide accurate information grounded in facts. However, it is now clear that we are fighting to have a racially and socioeconomically mixed neighborhood where ALL people are able to have a voice in their own affairs and a seat at the table. It is clear that the powers that be are not interested in allowing this to happen. We're done with that.

  45. Stop Labor Ready's mistake was wanting to strike up a deal. That approach has never worked before. Did you check with other groups who have had to face Helen and try to learn from them?

    It's to your advantage to unite with other groups that all want the same thing and learn from one another.

  46. You're saying that Helen and the Shilleristas play dirty pool?

    Say it ain't so!

    Of course, when you take the gloves off, you'll get all the "You're so mean, you rich condo owners! Gentrification, blah, blah, blah, all you care about is property values, blather, blather, blather."

    Hal Shipman was spot on, but don't let the "you had your chance and blew it" message stop you from organizing a march, calling out the media, and bloodying Helen's nose a bit.

    Think of every issue as a heavyweight title fight, not a nice discussion of the issues resulting in happy compromise, because that will never happen.

    This is also what pisses us off about Barack Obama. He has this work-across-party-lines and end-the-divisiness line of bullshit that is so incredibly naive and manipulative.

    Until the opposition knows you can stand toe to toe, take a punch, and open up a can of whoopass yourself, you'll find yourselves coming up short every time.

    Now, we'll sit back and watch as comments come through that say we lost the election for James by turning off voters. Hi JP.

  47. "Stop Labor Ready's mistake was wanting to strike up a deal."

    Beg to differ with this poster. Our group was called STOP Labor Ready because the only "deal" was for Labor Ready to not locate in Uptown. There was and is no compromise position.

    The attempt at bringing together different parts of this community who could work together on this issue was because 1) that is what a community should do and 2) because there is a lot in this foolish plan which people of varying perspectives can oppose.