Saturday, March 8, 2008

Meanwhile, On The 46th Ward Website...

There is a lot of important "stuff" on the 46th Ward website. Not much else going on in Uptown besides the Chicago Public Library getting a new website, Earth Day being everyday, National Consumer Protection Week, and "Earth Hour" on March 29. At least that's according to our Alderman.


  1. Yet, she manages to have enough tech savy to have her LWV speeches still available on YouTube from a year old debate at which she and everyone present agree not to videotape.

    We're not alone in being ignored. She continues to flagrantly use web video technology to kick the League of Women Voters and their hosted debate rules in the teeth.

    But she can't type a note or scan a council document to load onto her website to inform her constituents using that annual $675,000 taxpayer funding allotted to pay her aldermanic salaries and office expenses? Come on, lady.....

  2. I don't get it. I don't think Helen really means to be so awful, but the flagrant lack of communication, refusal to obtain community input, and lack of transparency is making her look like an idiot. Is she really that out of touch or is there something else that I just don't see?

  3. Stemming from the lack of communication, I think the problem lies in that she doesn't really understand what her constituents need and want.

    Her ideology and the social service agencies tell her what poor residents want, but it isn't always correct. Although some of her decisions are the "right" ones for that constituency, there are a lot of bad ones that are based on mere anecdotal evidence and opinion. It is a huge responsibility to be the "voice of the voiceless" and there are no "checks" to make sure that they are getting it right here. (And she ignores it when likeminded people dare to question her opinions.) In addition, no one ever acknowledges that just because you are poor it doesn't mean that you don't want some of the same things that wealthier residents want (clean streets, maintained public transportation, less crime, good public schools, more ways to get daily necessities, etc.)

    As for wealthier residents, my opinion is that she just views them as a bunch of opportunists that have come in to take advantage of apartments that should be saved for the poor. They should take what they get because they have chosen to move to a place that was all about something else. What she forgets, though, is that middle class residents have always been here and that sometimes people move into a neighborhood because they are young and don't have much money but that financial situation often improves with age. It is the developers who "speculate" but residents are mostly looking for a place to call home. It is like she can't stop the development so she just takes it out on the residents. It is so unfortunate that she choses not to recognize that many (most?) of us want to live in a diverse urban neighborhood and that we understand that poor, homeless and mentally ill people are part of that package. However, we do have a right to question how things are being managed.

    In short, she is fighting a war in which the conditions have changed over time. She is actually a rather gentle person who (I believe) wants to do the right thing in her life. But in her role as an alderman she has chosen to supplement her activist tactics with the power of that office (rather than acting as a public servant to the entire ward.) She seems to be completely unbothered by the fact that she has turned into "the man"...the powerful authority that she fought back in the day. The ends justify the means for her. Great leaders don't resort to that route---they maintain their core principles while still fighting for their goals. In a democratic society, we as citizens shouldn't be faulted for seeking that kind of leadership and representation.

  4. Or she could be a former idealogue who devolved into a complete hack as a way to survive machine politics in Chicago. The scary thing is that this could be true and Shiller might not even realize it. It is so incredibly easy for a politician - any politician - to lose perspective...

  5. Or it could be as simple as you are the minority in Uptown and she refuses to listen to your negative comments about her.

    It would be like me calling my manager at work names such as managerbeast etc.

    If it's between her and JC next time after reading all these blogs I will probably vote for Shiller.

    You do a disservice to the whole neighborhood by slamming her and spreading hate about her.

    And her office always returns my calls and emails me back, it may not be right away but then my issues are not that big in the first place.

    And I think Uptown's issues are not black and white and cut and dried. Things aren't as simple as you make them to be.

  6. You are blind. You should look back and see who started the hate and continues to keep her ward tactically divided. We are not working for the tax payers. She is. Open your eyes. Sad you will continue to vote for anti-progress. You know that your leader Shiller has stated that people should move it they do not like it here. That goes for you also. See ya. I hear Cuba is nice and run like Uptown. Send a post card

  7. I'm glad you're voting. I voted last time too.

    I have a quick question, though:
    You make a decision to vote for a particular candidate based on blogs of people talking bad about a particular candidate? Wouldn't it make more sense to base it on the two people running instead?

    I don't recall Cappleman slamming her, but I do recall Shiller saying some untrue things about him. What gives?

  8. Hey anonymous 2:22, when an argument has absolutely no leg to stand on, it's easy to poke holes in it. That was a slam dunk just curious.


    I'm glad she returns your calls. She doesn't return mine and I'm thinking I'm not the only one out there, thus the unpopularity, wouldn't you think or are all these mean bad people just picking on poor Helen for no reason at all?

    Anonymous 2:22, you can try again, but I wouldn't base an argument on such a faulty premise next time.

  9. Alderbeast.




    Gee I feel better now. Actually my back hurts from wrasslin' gators at the Lincoln Park Zoo.

  10. As a new resident of Uptown, I voted too. I was really disappointed by Ald. Shiller's rudeness at the debate, and the busing in of her many rude, jeering supporters. While the blogging can be rude, it does seem as if many critiques of what is going on in Uptown meet with endless arguments along the 'us vs. them' line. I support working poor and people who may not have as much as I do, yet wish to behave like good citizens and community members. I think we all just are sick of crime and the lack of any support in fighting it.

    I have contacted the Alderman's office in the past and gotten info on things like recycling rebates, but never any answers to letters expressing concern over crime.

  11. Reality Chick.
    Don't confuse the comments made by me or others with James Capplemann. I had nothing to do with James Capplemann's campaign.

    Don't confuse the comments made by me or others with whoever the man/woman/beast who hosts this website. I have no idea who he/she/it is.

    These blog comments belong to the person who posts them, not someone who ran for office last year before this blog existed or someone who is the tech weenie who is nice enough to provide this forum.

    I speak for myself here.

  12. Anon 10:30, the flaw with the "Helen doesn't mean to be mean" theory is that her indifference and hostility is targeted only to certain constituents. And I don't mean to just gentrifiers, or condo owners, or developers. I mean it is targeted to subsets of those demographics.

    She kisses ass to the condo boards south of Irving Park while targeting hatred and leading protests against condo owners North of Irving Park.

    She kisses ass to the Lakeview Citizen Council and refuses to even meet with the 12-15 block clubs and community organizations North of the Irving Park dividing line.

    She kisses ass to those wanting zoning changes to improve their neighborhood or resist change in their neighborhood South of Irving Park and refuses to even disclose that zoning changes are in the works for those living North of the Irving Park dividing line.

    It's not that people can't see Helen Shiller's CHARACTERS (emphasis on the plural). It's that she is two-faced and always has been in how she operates and spins her media image in this ward.

    That is why she isn't trusted.

    That is why, despite her "diveristy" spin, we never have had a truly diverse community. We have a rich and segregated Southern half next to a ghetto Northern Half.

    And after twenty years in office, she is the one who made it that way.

  13. If reality chick's last post was in reference to Anon 10:32 (that is me) I agree with you. I just wrote a long message and didn't want to point all of that out as well. I wasn't really trying to make a "she doesn't mean to be mean" kind of argument. I was more trying to say that since she has been unsuccessful in turning her role as an alderman into broader-based changes for the poor City-wide, she is content to duke it out in a portion of her ward where she can control the context and "win" over and over again.

    And to Anon 2:22---("I think Uptown's issues are not black and white and cut and dried. Things aren't as simple as you make them to be.")---Shiller herself is most guilty of framing debates simply in terms of race & class. Frankly, that disgusts me because there are some really wonderful, open-hearted and open-minded people in Uptown who are constantly being called racists and elitists because they dare reintroduce complexity back into discussions and because they demand accountability. And, people don't call her "alderbeast" to her face. Most people try to act civilly and to get involved constructively but it is hard when you are constantly in the dark and frequently get snookered by underhanded maneuvers.

  14. Leave Helen alone!!!! I mean it!!!!

  15. This blog dialogue has disintegrated into the muck that keeps this community at odds with one another. This makes the alderman very happy.

    When you put your attention on being nasty, with lots of name calling and figthing, you keep getting more of the same.

    New magnet school? Wilson streetscaping and new shops? A restored Uptown Theatre? What are you doing to make this happen?

    You must be the change you want to see in the world. Ghandi

  16. Anon 8:55: with the exception of IrishPirate's comments and the bit about Cuba, the majority of this string has been very civil. Don't mischaracterize factual critiques of Alderman Shiller with being "nasty." Although I do other things in this community, I am attracted to this message board because I find out what is going on and I can communicate what I know and what I think about it. Believe me...if Helen Shiller were merely a leftist radical fighting the good fight AGAINST the democratic machine and abuses of power, I would want to help her out at every turn. Unfortunately, the facts just don't support that interpretation of her work.

    And, I cut the few people who do the name calling some slack. If they have lived around here for a while, the laughing probably keeps them from crying. I know it does for me because I deeply care about what is happening to this community.

  17. Keep it up folks. I'm learning alot. And I'm someone who thought I already knew what was going on.

    If there weren't so much muck in the neighborhood there wouldn't be so much muck to rake. Don't blame those who slog through the swamp to trying to find the truth to what's going on under all this community dirt. We didn't create this mess.

    We need to clean up the neighborhood, not put a muzzle on people taking about the SH#* going on in it.

  18. To C. Crocker... You So Bad!!!

  19. I came across this interesting quote from a psychologist who works with/studies politicians. She was asked to comment on the Eliot Spitzer mess by the AP.

    "In order to be in such a high-profile position, you have to believe that what you are doing is innately right," said Renana Brooks, of Washington, D.C. "Anything that isn't right, you may blot out. You can't be tortured by guilt or indifference. It's just virtually impossible to function at this high a level without limiting the amount of introspection you can do."

    Its actually remarkable that Shiller has served this long in Chicago politics and hasn't had an official scandal. For that I really do commend her. (Of course, I don't rule out that one might be in the works!!!) Anyway, the idea that politicians might have to limit introspection in order to get stuff done was an interesting idea I thought I would share.

  20. Perhaps one of the reasons for no scandal is because she supports that the City Inspector must not be able to investigate alderpersons for allegations of fraud and abuse. Many developers have privately complained that she privately uses extortion when developments occur. Even the amount of what is extorted is kept quiet by the developers.

    Alderpersons certainly must vote their conscience and I imagine it might be natural to block out criticism on some level. There is a running mantra from many in the community of people wanting more community input, more transparency, and the use of standards. The other wards seem to have alot of that. There's no reason Shiller can't incorporate that into the ways she governs. For Christ's sake, there's no active zoning committee but I imagine one will suddenly appear 6 months before the election again.

  21. to: 5:42 AM

    Prove it.

    There is a fine line between being corrupt and doing something illegal.

  22. What's the fine line between doing something corrupt or illegal? Aren't they both suppose to be bad?

  23. The 46th ward website appears to have been updated. However, on a quick glance I did not notice Truman parking info.

  24. Wow, there is now info on cooking classes and recycling meetings. Great info! Lord forbid something Wilson Yard related or Truman Parking Garage related is posted.

  25. Just checked out the 46th ward website. "Class participants will learn how to cook healthy, tasty, economical recipes using fresh foods purchased at their LOCAL CORNER STORES OR LIQUOR STORES." This assistance in helping people to create nutritious meals using what is available in the neighborhood is a new trend in the anti-hunger movement. However, Uptown is one of the few poor neighborhoods which actually is NOT a "food desert." Unlike some neighborhoods on the south and west sides, the food IS here. In Uptown, the problem is that subgroups of people can't get to the grocery stores for fresh fruits and veggies frequently enough (i.e. seniors) and/or they can't afford what they need and want when they are able to get to the stores. And even though there are a number of food pantries here which can supplement people's food budgets, you never know what you can get from month to month. Although the intentions behind this program are good ones, this is just another example of a "one-sized fits all approach." Why are we teaching people in Uptown to deal with the least nutritious options available to them? No one in Uptown should be relying on corner stores and liquor stores to feed themselves when food is here. Why don't we actually deal with the fact that amidst all of the resources there are still people who can't purchase the fruits and vegetables they need in order to maintain a healthy diet. True leadership on this issue would be changing the conditions---not changing the behavior of the people to fit the conditions.

  26. hey saskia,

    I'm a Truman student writing an article about the Food and Liquor Project and I could use some varying views on it. If you wouldn't mind, could I email interview you?

    I'm lunarmodule at sbcglobal dot net