Monday, March 24, 2008

Lively Discussion At Truman College Meeting

We are still hearing from residents who attended tonight's Truman College meeting regarding the planned parking garage using $10 million dollars of TIF funding. The meeting started out as a show-and-tell of sorts with Truman faculty and architects giving their take on the parking garage and why it is desperately needed.

CTA president Ron Huberman was even on hand to blow residents' minds with a plan for more retail and perhaps even a new L station at Montrose. We won't hold our breath on that one. We do ask for clarification on that from residents who were at the meeting.

One vocal resident who had the crowd nodding in agreement brought up the fact that this use of TIF dollars does not even fall into the category of what it was designed to be used for. No clear clarification on this point was given. Other residents questioned why non-Truman students whose tax dollars will pay for this lot have to pay themselves to park.

Overall, more questions were raised than answered, and the meeting did draw to an abrupt close when the questions became more heated. We invite others to share their perspective of tonight's meeting.

If anyone is interested in seeing the specs, as shown in a PowerPoint presentation, you can see them by clicking on these links: Site Map, Landscape Plan, Project Design 1, Project Design 2, and Project Design 3.

Update: A meeting attendee just sent in this video showing Alderman Shiller responding to a tough question from a resident. It's short, but it gives you an idea of the type of "answers" attendees heard the entire evening. If any other residents have videos, upload them to You-Tube and send us the link.

Update: Check out the FAQs handed out the Truman Meeting yesterday.


  1. I was there for most of it. I know it's just talk so far, but was impressed by Huberman's too brief discussion of the CTA's plans for its property between Montrose and Lawrence and his blunt admission that Wilson near the el stop is a blight on the neighbrhood that needs to be changed.

    Also, the proposed garage/building doesn't look terrible at all to me. The setback on Racine is approx 120' under the current plas. They didn't say what Sunnyside's was but unforunately it looks like closer to 10' to my eye :(

    Overall, I haven't decided whether the building is good, bad, or neutral for the area. What do others think?

  2. Very upset to learn that proposed use of garage will be as a park-and-drive location for the CTA. Thus people will be able to drive there to park and then hop on the El to go the rest of the way of their commute.

    When challenged, Shiller tried to say this was so that poor Truman students could make it to their jobs. An astute resident pointed out that more likely it would be so that CUBS fans could make it to the game.

    Another questioned why we need to make parking for not only those that attend school in the neighborhood but those that have no connection to the neighborhood when parking was in such short supply to those that live here.

    Shiller suggest a (FOR PAY OF COURSE) daily permit street parking plan for residents. BITCH.

    BTW. The parking for Truman students will be 100% free.

  3. Building will be 7 stories tall. Architects stated that they cannot build underground because of high water table.

    Astute observer pointed out that Wilson Yard will have an underground parking garage. Come to think of it, Truman College already has an underground parking garage.

    Architect responded that the water table varies from site to site and was 6-12 feet behind Truman College. Not sure I'm buying that one.

  4. CTA is proposing moving Wilson stop futher north. Damn. How much further north can it go? They already are only 2 blocks from the Lawrence El. And its a pretty long truck going 6/12 blockc south to the Sheridan El.

    There used to be a Buena El stop between that was removed so what is the sense of this? Huberman said it was to free up development space at the Wilson Yard site but that is a stupid reason to make thousands of persons at the Lakefront and Buena Park not ride the El because it is too far away.

  5. They're not talking about moving the Wilson EL stop north - they want to move it south to Montrose. If you think about it, this makes a lot of sense, as the Lawrence and Wilson stops are pretty close, while Wilson and Sheridan are pretty far.

  6. I will post more in a few minutes but the good news is that it appears Shiler (or someone) reads UU because otherwise I am not sure what purpose the Department of Planning guy was supposed to serve. They get their chance to weigh in a bit later in the process. Clearly he was there to dodge TIF bullets for Helen. (Although she did quite well for herself in trying to redirect the conversation away from the TIF issue by saying that the purpose of Truman College is to give people an opportunity to improve their lives.) A subtle, but not unexpected attempt to imply that people opposing this are bad because they are trying to take opportunities away from people who need them...

    This is EXACTLY the rhetoric she will use in the upcoming hearings. Since I know she likes a good fight, I can't believe that she doesn't bore HERSELF with that tired old routine by now. When you are in a position of power, live a little!! Try out some new rhetoric! You've got very little to lose, Helen!

  7. They told us that reps from Inspiration Corporation and Jump UP were there to discuss community hiring for the project. It would be intriguing of someone could quickly craft a construction trades program (maybe for the ex-offenders Heartland is working with?)in time to get them hired on (hopefully at prevailing wages)for the construction. I hope something like this could be developed quickly (they are set to begin construction in the summer).

    Although they didn't speak, it seems that Inspiration is all about Shiller. What do we know about them?

  8. Huberman's mention of the blight and CTA's plans to rehab the 4600 & 4700 block of Broadway was good news. There is suppose to be public input into this, which concerns me given Helen's track record of ignoring community involvement.

    People in the audience expressed a little surprise about this being the second public meeting for this proposal, with the first being last July. I don't recall this meeting, but Helen swears to it. I spoke with someone who attended the Wilson Yard Task Force's last meeting (June 2007) and this person didn't know about it either.

    One very vocal woman spoke of the listed items that were considered blighted in order to be made a TIF and expressed serious concerns that this proposal did nothing to address any of those listed concerns. Helen defended it because the proposal would help poor students, but it wasn't clear how doing this addresses blight in the area. Someone mentioned the need to address a rehabbed L stop first and it appeared many in the audience agreed.

    There was mixed information about the number of people who drive to Truman (77% and 50% were quoted). Again, it was expressed that more was needed to encourage people to take the L.

    200 parking spots were to be set aside for people driving into the area to take the train. It was then stated by someone that this would make it a nightmare during Cubs season with people parking their cars there in order to make their way to Wrigley Field. They said with that, the traffic from people going to the park in the summer, along with the traffic from Truman and Target, it would be a disaster.

    Anyway, Helen did her walking and pacing while people were talking and you could tell she was upset with people asking difficult questions.

    One person didn't understand why students couldn't pay for parking, but it was later clarified that it was likely students would be (I don't think they know that yet), but per Helen, students who were not going to school for credits, but were getting adult education could not be charged for parking.

    Okay Hugh, do you know if this is true. Helen swears it's state law but I tend not to believe her these days.

  9. I may have misheard, but what I got from Ron Huberman's message was that there were two potential El projects: one to move the blighted Wilson stop slightly north, the other to build a new station around Montrose. Did anyone else get that impression?

  10. All the traffic for the Truman garage will be routed down Wilson to turn south down Racine to reach the garage entrance. I'm sure the wall-to-wall senior citizen, disabled, and mentally-ill housing complexes that line Wilson, which functions as our "Main Street", won't mind.

    Meanwhile, Recine will become a One-Way heading Northbound from Wilson to Lawrence for Fire Engines to use instead of Wilson. I'm sure St. Margaret Manor Nursing Home at 4621 N. Racine will love that.

    But, hey, look at the bright side. If St. Margarets's get pissed off at Shiller, maybe the Margaret Manor nurses won't Vote-theRope their mentally ill patients into the voting booths and "assist" them to vote Shiller into office any more!

  11. Seven stories is too tall. This area is too dense. It is out of keeping with the historic nature of the homes in that area and the low slung modern design of the college.

    Besides, it really disrepects the cemetary to have a parking garage overlook it. I'm sure that is not what Daniel Burnham had in mind when he and the other multi-millionaire founders of Chicago placed their graves out their.

    Oh, but I'm sure Shiller would take secret delight in fouling that too.

  12. You don't think the "State Law" to allow Adult Education class members is Blago's new "Seniors Ride For Free" law do you?

    Not that it's like helen to mince her words or anything.

  13. I thought Huberman was very clear that any possible train station move would be from Wilson to Montrose. The only reference to stuff north of Wilson was his discussion of developing CTA owned property in ways that help the community.

    And if you think about it, the notion of moving it north is ridiculous - it's like three blocks from the Lawrence station right now, while the distance between Wilson and Sheridan stops is easily double that. So moving the station to Montrose makes perfect sense. Which means we'll probably be stuck with the Wilson stop forever.

  14. They mentioned that they had an earlier meeting but that few attended but that this time they responded to community complains and at it at a time that people could attend.

  15. There was no response to the question about whether the zoning for this is already in place. (apparently not since people are getting letters)

    There was no response to the question about whether the decision to use $10 million of community TIF money to fund the project was finalized (or how.)

    Our TIF project Manager was there and he's a fricken bowl of jello. Wiggely Squiggely.

  16. Here are some notes. I have more but to include everything will just create one gigantic post.

    The Truman staff were very pleasant, seemed genuinely interested in community feedback and more than once commented that the purpose of these meetings was to incorporate community response into their plans. Thank you, staff of Truman College.

    For example, when we raised the issue of the 200 park and ride spots (which would clearly benefit non-Uptown residents), the president of the college said, "We will bring your issues to the CTA."

    However Helen jumped right in and pointed out that the park n ride agreement is what the CTA got for giving up land so that was not on the table for renegotiation. Then she went on to talk about how the park and ride option is also there for these students who must work to put themselves thru school. And, we can't make it more expensive for them in order to discourage parking because "you don't want to make it so that they can't afford to go to college."

    On the first issue, of course, her reasoning is TOTALLY illogical. Yes, most of Truman students are working themselves through school, and because of jobs and childcare, driving makes a lot of sense for them. However, these students are not going to park n ride! They will park, attend classes and then go off to other responsibilities. Or, they will attend to other responsibilities during the day and then come to Truman in the evenings. Helen made up this cockamamie scenario about students parking at the school and then leaving to go work or whatever and coming back only to shoehorn in some sympathy so that the CUBS parking couldn't be questioned.

    The fact of the matter is that this new plan makes it easy for some guy from Winnetka to drive down LSD, get off at Wilson, park his car for a song and then take the EL a couple of blocks and then come back and leave. Uptown becomes nothing more than a parking destination. The action is very clearly "someplace else" because we are not using our TIF money to create things that would make Uptown the destination. How many jobs are going to be created by a parking garage? How much tax revenue will come into this zone over the remaining years after having spent $10 million dollars in the early phase on this?

  17. There was a land swap that took place between the CTA (or Wilson Yards) and the College. I wonder what they valued that land at?

  18. When they talked about entrances to the garage one guy said, "But the entrance to the Target will still be on Broadway, right?" and everyone laughed.

    That is what a joke the likelihood of ever seeing a Target development has become to people (and students) around here.

    I wonder what Shiller and the Dept of Planning TIF Manager felt like when that happened? Of have they no shame?

  19. Wonder who the State Rep or Senator was who went after the state funding portion and neglected to inform his/her constituents?

  20. Ray (TURNCOAT) Mindock was there groveling at the Shillerbeast's feet.

  21. In reference to 9:47, you've got a few of your facts jumbled. FT students at Truman get a u-pass, paid thru their student fees, which allows them to ride the CTA (reduced or free, i dunno.) She stated that the significant portion of "adult ed" students who go there cannot get a U-pass because, by state law, they are not allowed to pay student fees. Thus, you can't entice them to ride the el with reduced fares because there is no mechanism to deliver this benefit to them.

    She said many presidents had been trying to resolve this situation for years. I tend to believe Helen on this one. It is pretty clear when she is not telling the truth. When she lies to you, she just comes up with a blunt-force statement and forces the conversation in a different direction by somehow insulting you. (you're off topic, you are a racist, you are ignorant, etc.) When she is dealing in half-truths she usually goes through an elaborate discussion of irrelevant minutiae to show how smart she is. If you are not wise to this game, you get lost in the details and how this all relates to the issue at hand because you start questioning the veracity of this new set of facts. She creates a verbal hall of mirrors in which you twist and turn trying to avoid her traps but now you are working your way out of new traps and not the original one you were so pissed off about.

  22. The dept of planning guy said the Wilson Yard TIF was a "Conservation TIF" --- what does that mean?

  23. where does helen live? roundabouts?

  24. When Helen was questioned on the appropriateness of TIF money for this project, she said that there was a reform act which clearly stated that TIF requirements clearly encourage "affordability in housing" and money being spent on education. She said something about these having the highest values. Now, I am no TIF expert but I thought they were designed to encourage economic development?? Affordable housing and education, while very important to communities, do not need to rely on TIF funds. They are routine and expected costs of government. You don't need to create special tax districts to fund them...unless you are after a clever work-around to get new programs completed faster or to move these concerns up the funding priority list.

  25. I am so disgusted by what is happening in Uptown. If everyone would take a step back for a minute and consider the brute facts, it would be so much easier to see what is going down and why people are so angry around here.

    Why is it necessary for all involved in this process to keep reiterating the community needs and benefits in this process?? Over and over we hear that getting Truman cars off the streets is what the community needs and wants.

    If that is our public interest, then why is necessary to keep reminding us?!! If we can't remember our interest or we don't agree with it, then perhaps it is not because we are morons but BECAUSE OUR COMMUNITY INTEREST IS ACTUALLY SOMETHING ELSE!

    Where in this process are we actually allowed to say what our interest is and what we want and that we deserve to have it met? The answer is never because the deal for the CTA and for Truman have already been hatched. Shiller gets to please the CTA, Daley, the City Council, and the City Colleges by solving some of their problems. The CTA gets a northside park n ride and Daley/the Council and the City Colleges don't have to come up with money out of other coffers to pay for a capital improvement.

    Everyone wins except the local residents of Uptown who are asking for things like proactive sewer maintenance for goodness sake!

  26. So ...? At a time when everyone is concerned about rising gas prices, and Shiller herself has made some comments about the Iraq war being about oil ... we're going to build a brand new structure, using TIF money, right across the street from a crumbling mass transit stop?

    I thought one of the major concerns of this country (and a marketing point for the CTA) was to move AWAY from the use of cars, not encourage it.

    Has anyone inquired as to the ecological impact of adding more dinosaur burners into our community?

    Not to mention the amount of revenue the struggling CTA will lose.

    As for the comment about Daniel Burhman ..., he'd be openly weeping if he were to see what Helen is pushing forth upon the people of Chicago. Luckily, he's dead and buried so we can't all hear him spinning in his grave.

    I've said it before, and I'll say it again, the spirit that built and rebuilt Chicago has had its blood sucked dry by the likes of Helen Shiller and her merry band of incompetent boot-lickers.

    Our new city motto should be:

    Chicago - we're catching up to Detroit as fast as we can!

    Thanks Helen.

    And thanks to Ron, as well. If he doesn't break some ground on a revamped Wilson stop, or some acceptable rendition thereof within the next 12 months, he will prove himself no better than the conniving b*stard who picked him for his job.

    It's nice that he admits the blight of the Wilson stop. It's beyond unacceptable that more than a year after the revamping of other stops, Wilson (and Lawrence for that matter) are still festering pits that continue to discourage people to come into this neighborhood.

    If the stop weren't such a p*sshole, maybe the parking during concerts and such wouldn't be the disaster that it is.

    I still wonder why a perfectly good Addison Brown line stop was more deserving of a redo than Wilson. Oh, wait .. it's south of Irving, that's why.

    Sorry for the rant, but I don't like the idea of a community being sold out to a bunch of rank amateur politicians, who couldn't possibly get work in the private sector trying to tell me they know what's best while the buildings collapse around them.

    Hey, Helen ... since I know you or one of your flying monkeys read this: Don't shove a pole up my a** and then tell me you're helping me with my posture.

  27. So who was the woman that looked like Linda Carter with the camera that was filming most of the meeting?

  28. So, I live in the 48th ward and went to the meeting for solidarinosc with my fellow Uptowners. I have never gotten on at the Wilson el stop but that station was so unwelcoming that I decided to walk home! Don't tell me that our el stations are not a main reason why outsiders only swoop in to go to concerts (or the odd restaurant) and then swoop back out via the cars or taxis that took them here.

    I totally "get" that Shiller thinks we have a safe neighborhood that may not be pretty but that has room for all kinds of people. Fine. However, there takes a certain amount of critical mass in order to support the amount of commercial space that we have. That means both encouraging more pedestrian foot traffic by local residents and encouraging others to come here and walk around going to various attractions as well.

  29. Don't answer that last question, anyone. The video on this page was clearly taken by the "woman who looked like Linda Carter." If you wanted to know so bad, you should have gone up and introduced yourself.

  30. To 11:40pm- no need to be nasty! I was just happy to see it. Thats all. I'm not a Shiller person if that's what you think.

  31. Sorry. I definitely thought you were a Shillerista. I was just trying to protect someone who had done something helpful for people who couldn't go.

    I haven't always been this nasty and paranoid, but then again I haven't always lived in Uptown.

  32. So what do we do about this? There are two more opportunities for community input before it passes. Unfortunately, these little Q & A sessions don't accomplish anything except allow Helen to say (truthfully!) that she held community meetings.

    We need a TIF taskforce or something here. We also need to band together with other TIF reformers around town. All of this "listen to the community because you should" stuff is falling on deaf ears. We need to move past it, face the fact that there is no such thing as community input in Uptown and just get tactical.

    The more we hound her in meetings with our (justifiable) anger, the more she gets to slip into the victim role the fits her personality like a glove.

  33. Maybe it was all smoke and mirrors, but I got a little fangrrrl chill when Huberman said so matter-of-factly that the Wilson el was a blight on the community and needed better retail.

    OMG! I think that's the first time EVER since I've been in Uptown that a Power That Be has stated what we all know to be true. I felt acknowledged. Validated. Warm fuzzies, even. Wow, we didn't get called names or accused of an -ism!

    Alderman Shiller, are you taking notes? THIS is how to get a community behind you. You wouldn't always have to play teacher scolding the naughty residents at community meetings if you ever, EVER acknowledged that we might have the right to have opinions. If you occasionally listened (gasp!) or agreed (horrors!) with us, the anger and impotence we feel would be dialed back exponentially.

    Can you learn from this? Are you even willing to try?

  34. There is no law that says that Adult students cannot get the reduced fare bus pass. I know I was an adult student starting at age 45 for the past five years.

    The issue is that to get the reduced fare bus pass one has to take a certain level class load. Most night schoool students who go park time don't take enough classes to meet the requirement.

    But note, if they are working they have money to pay for a regular CTA pass. If this seem unfair, Blago and Ron Hubermann can make this the next great giveaway instead of taking $10 mill out of the Uptown TIF just for Truman night students when this is a citywide issue.

  35. These little Q&A's aren't meant to accomplish anything. That is why those in charge of them stage them as they do.

    They talk. They take the questions on little sheets of paper. They read the questions they choose off the little sheets of paper. They answer the questions as they choose.

    You get to sit there watching.
    No interaction unless you can break the barrier. Any attempt to do so, is immediately offloaded by saying, "Speak to the person in charge after the meeting," and the person in charge leasves before the meeting ends. (Ron Hubermann)

    This is exactly the way the city attempts to run all its public meetings. They prefer to relegate you to passive observer mode.

  36. I'm still shocked that they are providing this parking to students and faculty absolutely free.

    That is just ridiculous. No one provides free parking when they wish to encourage public transit use.

  37. Shiller said she had a right to use TIF money for the parking garage (instead of fixing our TIF blight items) because education was one of Illinois's TIF law's special exceptions for which TIF funds could also be used.

    How many students have been educated by a parking garage?

  38. Re: CTA's new "blow our minds" plans for the Wilson Station, I'd be happy right now if they'd honor their contract obligations under the Challenger Park agreement. We'been waiting 15 years for them to put up the track shields that they agreed to WAY BACK THEN for a CUBS contract THAT RENEWS IN PERPETUITY. ISN'T IT ABOUT TIME?????

  39. So, if I'm reading the posts correctly, in order to get into my alley during the summer months, I can either sit in the long line of traffic waiting to get into the parking garage for a Cubs game (on Wilson) or wait in the long line of traffic going to Montrose harbor? Or I could go down Sunnyside, oh wait, I can't because we have the wonderful Sunnyside Mall so that all the gang bangers have a place to hang out.

    The previous poster is correct about U-pass and classload. I am a Loyola grad student, here are their rules:

  40. I'd be VERY skeptical of Huberman's statements regarding redeveloping CTA properties along Broadway. Yeah, moving the Wilson stop to Montrose makes sense, but he did say "we are working with the alderman" on the other properties. That right there is scary. I am sure he will do whatever Shiller and Daley want him to. You can look forward to more social services on Broadway!

  41. "I'm still shocked that they are providing this parking to students and faculty absolutely free."

    Yes. I think what we need to do is find a finance expert who can figure out how they can loan the $10 million by using the parking lot as a revenue stream. Hell, sell the rights to the garage to Wall Street like every other darn thing around here. The money can be found other places than from our TIF.

    When we asked Truman what their justification for using TIF money was, the president (or the head of city colleges) said (not verbatim quote):

    "We believe that using the TIF money makes sense because we are serving the students and residents. It is a 'shared facility' for the CTA and for the community. And, we are committing $30 million dollars."

    In the real world, you can't get your neighbors to pay for your kitchen remodel just because you invite them over for dinner once a year. If you want to create something new and better for yourself, then you have to find a way to pay for it yourself.

  42. "...but he did say 'we are working with the alderman' on the other properties. That right there is scary. I am sure he will do whatever Shiller and Daley want him to."

    You've got that right. This just shows how clueless they are about what is happening in Uptown and why there is all of this opposition. How could he actually think that we would be comforted by another round of grand plans shoved on us and another cycle of faux community input??


    Why is this so flippin' hard for outsiders to understand???!!!

    Even Helen understands this. The problem is that her answer to our plea is "NO."

  43. This parking garage is too big. It's too tall for this historic area of small three flats. It's too tall for the low-slung two story Truman College buildings.
    7 stories of parking garage is too tall to tower over the El tracks and neighboring historic cemetary.

    It's just too tall for this neighborhood.

    Where is the green space and setbacks? What little open space surrounding Truman College will now disappear. The concourse will become a garage driveway. The tennis courts, which have been illegally used for parking, will have a few trees and then this towering structure casting shadows over two flats.

    If they used a giant shoe horn they couldn't fit more onto that sqaure footage.

  44. So nice of them to bring it for community review on March 24, 2008 when construction begins Spring 2008. Hey, wasn't the first day of Spring already three days ago?

  45. The putz standing behind Shiller is our community's Dept of Planning guy, Donald Hohenadel. He has been assigned to our Ward for years, even predating the Wilson TIF and the lack of quality of his work clearly shows. He's help make it the fine mess it is today.

  46. The man who gave the presentation gave this name to get more information:

    Clifton Daniel - (just a public relations guy for Truman College)

    He can give you the names of the technical people who were there.

  47. I googled Don Hohenadel. Although I didn't come up with much about him, I did yield this quote from a REST staff member:

    “We’re already seeing a little bit of what I’ve heard some people call the ‘dumbbell effect,’” Fiedler said. “That is, (development) actually doesn’t benefit some of the middle class folks, that it brings more affluent people into the area while, at the same time, ironically, sometimes pricing out people who have lived here for decades.”

    This is really an astute comment and makes me hopeful that we can reach around Shiller's divisions and get some responsible planning done around here. Without measures that help middle class families to live here, it is highly likely that all we will get is very high income people and very poor people. In order to keep these middle and lower-middle class families, you need to have good public schools (because they can't afford to opt-out and send their kids to private) and you need to keep the focus on things like pedestrian safety and community-funded resources because these folks have fewer of their own dollars to purchase amenities privately. Between the overall economic trend of inequality and the kind of planning we are doing here, we are headed EXACTLY toward this dumbbell community he describes.

    I know a very wonderful family who rented here for years but was locked out of homeownership because of rising prices and because they were not willing to send their kids to the local schools. What did they do? They saved up money for years and then moved to a run-down suburb where they could afford a home and could send their kids to school. There are countless families who have run through this cycle.

  48. "Clifton Daniel - (just a public relations guy for Truman College)"

    And, not so incidentally, the grandson of Harry S Truman, after whom the college is named. He -- and all the Truman people -- were very pleasant and cordial.

    If you want information or have questions, you can email them to:

  49. "The parking for Truman students will be 100% free."


    this is unusual for higher education, unheard-of for urban higher education

  50. "Helen [Shiller] ... pointed out that the park n ride agreement is what the CTA got for giving up land so that was not on the table for renegotiation."

    where is this agreement documented?

    I think I follow the available WY documentation as closely as anyone, and this is the 1st I've heard of this

    anyone else heard this one?

    how is the community responsible for undocumented secret side deals Shiller made in our behalf years ago?

    I wonder what else is out there we don't know about

  51. The dept of planning guy said the Wilson Yard TIF was a "Conservation TIF" --- what does that mean?

    A conservation TIF is a TIF designed not to address blight but to PREVENT an area from BECOMING blighted. It is popular with the city because it has a lower threshold of required findings to establish.

  52. CTA's new "blow our minds" plans for the Wilson Station

    what was Huberman doing there?

    this is really crass, deliberately mixing in people's minds unfunded vapor with a current $10M proposal that is in fact only vaguely related by an accident of geography

  53. " ... the listed items that were considered blighted in order to be made a TIF and expressed serious concerns that this proposal did nothing to address any of those listed concerns. Helen defended it because the proposal would help poor students, but it wasn't clear how doing this addresses blight in the area."

    for me this is the central issue

    priorities, and PROCESS in prioritization

    how did a CTA park n ride in the heart of Uptown become a community priority?

    how did convenient free parking for Truman students bubble to the top of the list?

    opportunity costs: what will not get done because we are doing this?

    how did Chicago's TIF program evolve into a general fund?

  54. on the topic of Helen pleading "it's legal" I think she is unfortunately technically correct, but of course it is a rather weak argument in favor of the proposal but apparently preferable to her to arguing the merits

    the 1st choice for TIF dollars has to be projects that will contribute to the property tax base, a public/college parking garage never will

    TIF used on exempt properties in Chicago is relatively rare but not unprecedented:

    * Loyola U slapped a TIF on surrounding east Rogers Park to re-hab buildings inside their Lake Shore Campus

    * TIF contributed to Simeon High School

    TIF projects with public benefits are extremely rare, but we are hearing more about them lately from the City as we move into the era of TIF expiration. The City is putting a kinder, gentler face on TIF in advance of the impending expiration of the City's oldest and most lucrative TIF, the Central Loop TIF. It's "TIF: For the Children!"

    is this the best use of scarce resources? i don't think so.

  55. Right on Hugh 12:26. Those are the issues. However, they won't get addressed because of their "technically correct" interpretation. Shiller and the Dept of Planning have been working hard to bolster their case. What can normal citizens do against this TIF abuse? There are no checks and balances and once it gets reformed, the money will be gone.

    One bit if clarification for you...the CTA got the park n ride spots because they gave up a little sliver of land abutting Truman in order for them to build the structure. In return, they get the park n ride. It was my understand that it had nothing to do with Wilson Yard.

  56. Did you notice Ron Huberman left right after he gave his speech? Shiller only wanted him there as a distraction. Ooohhh, new "development" on Broadway? Oh my! I wouldn't hold my breath for anything good - or at least anything good while Shiller remains in office.

    I have a good deal of respect for Ron and what he has done for the CTA, but I am afraid he is just as big of a pawn in his own neighborhood like rest of the city officials.

  57. "Shiller only wanted him there as a distraction. Ooohhh, new "development" on Broadway?"

    I have repeated this sentiments many times on this blog. Don't get distracted by the candy. The things you want won't happen by magic. You have to get involved and fight for what you want. And, even this isn't enough given Shiller's exclusionary maneuvers.

  58. Re: Conservation TIF Q:

    The first step in establishing a TIF district is determining whether it is eligible under the guidelines set forth by State law. In general, the State law allows a municipality to create a TIF if the area is either blighted or in danger of becoming blighted. This second type of TIF is often referred to as a "conservation TIF."

    Wilson Yard is a Conservation TIF, not a Blight TIF. This was determined by the TIF study performed by S.B. Friedman Co. (yep, the same ones that gave Shiller the campaign contribution.)

    In the TIF study a factor analysis is performed. To be a Blight TIF many blight factors must be found. They couldn't find them at Wilson Yards.

    To be a Conservation TIF, first > 50% of the buildings must be over 35 years old. In our TIF area 85% of TAX PAYING BUILDINGS ONLY were > 35 years old.

    Next at least 3 of 17 other blight factors must be found. At Wilson Yards S.B. Friedman found:
    1. Inadequate Utilities: 24/34 blocks have sewers and water mains that are inadequate or overdue for replacement for insufficient capacity for modern standard or > 100 years old.
    (So why aren't those collapsing sewers mains East of Broadway being dug up and replaced to eliminate this blight, you ask?

    2. Lack of Growth of Equalized Tax Value (which can only come from TAXABLE PROPERTIES)
    (So how can you eliminate this blight by spending all the TIF money on non-profits you ask???)

    3. Presence of Structures below minimum code standards
    Here Helen's dirty past caught up with her. They found only 30 documented building code violations per year in the Wilson TIF area. (There are probably that many in the Wilson Men's CLub this day.) But not to worry, lying with statistics kicked in to make this appear to be a large percentage of properties!!!!

    4. Deterioration - This factor used many of the same data as the preceding factor but also found blight in bad rainspouts and gutters, roof leaks, and CITY SIDEWALKS, ALLEYS, PARKWAYS, CURBS! HEY, I swear I get Shiller campaign literature saying she paves miles of streets & alleys, lays miles of sidewalks, fixes parkways! Does this not contradict???

    Oh well. By pulling and stretching Mr. Friedman found 2 strong factors and 2 very wobbly ones to get Wilson Yards enough blight factors to issue his esteemed opinion that Wilson Yards was a Conservation District.

    Then Shiller and Planning's Don Hohenadel tossed the study into the Lake, claimed that they did not have to spend the TIF funds to cure the identified blight, and spent the money on her buddies.

    P.S. Today they are doing another patch job on the sewer that ate the cab at Wilson and Sheridan.

  59. If this TIF funding is being spent on "education," wouldn't spending the $10M toward a renovation of the deteriorating academic facilities at Truman College be a more effective use?

    Did anyone bring this up at the meeting?

  60. We did in a way, editor. We said "If you are growing, then shouldn't the first priority be classrooms for students?" The answer was that moving the student services into this new building would free up space that could then be turned into classrooms. Clearly, we have a 2 phase project going on here. One might even argue that by getting the $10 million off for the parking they can now spend it on classroom re-habs.

    As worthy as it may be, there is just no getting around that this is a capital improvement project that the City Colleges should otherwise have to find a way to fund themselves.

    One might even argue that they are attempting to move into the lucrative non-degree educational market and that these amenities will help them to attract students. This will be a positive income stream for Truman going forward but it will not improve the property tax base for the local area.

  61. With regard to future non-degree courses and programs, they have a lot of improving to do other than building a parking garage.

    I have a degree from an Ivy League university and I wanted to pick up a basic course that I never took as an undergrad. I stood in line for 1/2 of a work day going back and forth from different offices and finally was told that I had to take an entrance exam just to pick up this course. They said I had to take the test to prove that I was literate enough to take part in the class---even though I already had a bachelor's degree. So, I took the hour long test. I got an email later telling me that I passed. When I came to campus to start the class someone then casually mentioned that I never needed to take the test because I already had a degree! Duh! Why did they waste 1/2 of a work day then??? The class itself was very poor and I dropped it 1/2 way through.

    I will not be taking any classes at Truman when there are so many other alternatives either in the private sector or through other universities in the area.

  62. This is not the first park and drive location for the CTA in Uptown. Virtually all of Marine Drive operates in that capacity from 7:00 on each morning. The only difference is that this parking structure will feed the El while the existing system no one admits exists feeds the bus system.

  63. I cannot believe the audacity of the CTA building park and drive capacity to service persons from outside our neighborhood when they have ignored us and our needs for so long.

    It's not enough that they ignore us, they have to use us to serve others also? Jerks!!!

  64. Well, maybe if Cubs fans from Winnetka have to take the Wilson EL stop we will finally get some improvements. No one listens when Uptown residents ask for things to be maintained.

  65. " ... there is just no getting around that this is a capital improvement project that the City Colleges should otherwise have to find a way to fund themselves."

    exactly, and that "otherwise" process would include checks & balances, public hearings, vetting, weighing against alternatives, considering other priorities and opportunity costs, etc.

    all the good things we expect from a functioning government

    TIF in Chicago has evolved into e general purpose, fast-track capital fund, minus process

    TIF projects are sprung on us whole hog