Friday, March 14, 2008

'Shiller Could Not Be Reached For Comment'

By Fran Spielman, Chicago Sun-Times
Photo Courtesy Dom Najolia

Tiny plastic bags used to sell small quantities of heroin, crack cocaine, marijuana and other types of drugs may not be banned in Chicago after all.

Ald. Freddrenna Lyle (6th) said Thursday she joined her colleague, Ald. Helen Shiller (46th), in sandbagging the plastic bag ban at this week's City Council meeting because it would "criminalize legal conduct."

"I've seen these little, bitty, tiny plastic bags. You know they're selling crack cocaine in it. But we've got enough laws we can't enforce. We don't want to make any more or criminalize legal conduct."

Shiller could not be reached for comment.

Ald. Ed Smith (28th), Health Committee chairman, said he held the matter in committee because some of his colleagues have reservations and want another hearing to air those concerns.

"Drugs are handled and passed along in other [containers], rather than just a particular bag, and they had some concerns about that," Smith said.

Asked if he still supported the ban, Smith said, "Oh, sure. I do. Any measure -- whether it's minuscule or whatever -- that can make a dent on the drug activity, we need to do it because it is killing this country. Not only the young people."

Ald. Robert Fioretti (2nd), sponsor of the plastic bag ban, which has been the subject of nationwide ridicule, could not be reached for comment.

Last week, Fioretti convinced the Health Committee to ban possession of "self-sealing plastic bags under two inches in either height or width" after picking up 15 of the bags on a recent Sunday afternoon stroll through a West Side park.


  1. She just does not want to change her habits. Three figure salary and she cannot find another cantainer for her hippie buds. I think she may still call it "grass"

  2. Guess it all depends on the size of the bag, doesn't it? Hizzoner wants to ban the plastic grocery bags.

    Which ain't a bad idea, actually.

    Still, I'm with anon, we shouldn't ban the crack-baggies since little girls use them for beads?


  3. Pigeon droppings and now plastic baggies. Good thing her priorities are in order.

  4. Actually, I travel a lot and use these small bags, that you can buy at the drugstore, to store my prescription medications. I take several pills 2x a day, along with a vitamin, etc. Before I go on a trip I fill 2 bags a day. That way I remember to take everything and don't have to carry all the prescription bottles with me.

  5. Right. But that's not your only option for carrying your prescriptions, is it?

    Considering that ne'er-do-wells use those same baggies for their illicit needs, would you be put out, terribly, if those bags were removed from the shelves?

    I would tend to agree with Smith that anything which could hamper the selling of drugs, without damaging the common good, isn't a bad thing.

    The fact that Shiller sees the need to conveniently transport beads overshadowing the need to toss roadblocks at crack dealers puts her rational into question.

    The fact that she couldn't be reached for comment (once again) pulls her attitude into question, as well (obviously).

  6. Shiller is right. I've got all sorts beads, buttons, jewelry, and hardware (nuts/bolts) sitting in my home in those tiny bags right now. The whole idea to ban them is loony. Drugs are already illegal, so this law isn't needed to go after dealers. The point is to go after the stores providing those dealers with supplies, which will only waste resources -- it's not going to stop a single drug deal from happening. They'll probably just use bigger bags. Can't add up to much of a markup...

    Spray paint is banned in this city. That's why there's no graffiti here. And why I was just fine with having to go through the hassle of obtaining some from outside of the city (I don't drive, BTW) when I had a legitimate use for it recently...

  7. Good Lord! I'm so happy that the City Council keeps voting itself pay raises so they can discuss such high-minded topics, and ignore silly issues like why our taxes are so high and stuff.

  8. Agreed that banning the packaging for drugs won't eliminate the fact that drugs are sold, but why would you go out of your way to PRESERVE the way they're transported?

  9. I am actually shocked that the super liberal Shiller is actually not supporting more laws! I wonder if she was referencing the pigeon poop law that is not enforced.

  10. I actually agree for once. It's just another law to enforce that really wouldn't have much impact. I can already see some grandma smuggling in the little bags from Evanston for her craft projects, somehow getting caught, then going to court and tying up the court system more. Seriously though. Outlaw the small baggies and something else will be found as a container. Balloons perhaps. It's not going to stop the drug dealing and does nothing to cut into the hierarchy of the gangs which is the real problem. The people selling the drugs are pretty much "nobodys" in their gangs anyway. Anyone ever watch Gangland on History Channel? This is really all just politics instead of tackling more important issues. You know. Like a new set of raises. hehee

  11. Shiller is the main force behind the drug problem in the uptown area. She and her family are the uptown Mafia gang.

    These plastic bags are not the only thing you can carry beads or prescription meds in. If they were to be banned, you're telling me you couldn't find another container to put your beads or meds in? Give me a break.

  12. Hele Shiller would never vote against this because the drug dealers in the neighborhood keep her in office. Have you ever wondered who all the passers are on election day?

    There is so much crack going thru our neighborhood and a great amount is being transported via baggies, which can be quickly swallowed.

    Banning spray paint in the city didn't stop graffiti but it made a huge dent in it. Sorry, crafters, there are plenty of other ways to store your supplies than using tiny bags whose main use is to transport crack cocaine.

  13. These plastic bags are not the only thing you can carry beads or prescription meds in. If they were to be banned, you're telling me you couldn't find another container to put your beads or meds in? Give me a break.

    That logic is dangerous. If an item, by itself, has many legitimate, legal uses, it should not be made unlawful to have it due to possible illegal uses. Why should I be made to change my habits because some idiot is using something for an illegal act? Also, why should a company be denied selling their product because of criminals using their product in their dealings?

    Should Bic have to discontinue White-Out because kids can huff it? You can just use a pencil, so whats the big deal?

    For the record I think the spray paint ban is ridiculous as well.

  14. Some good points have been made that I hadn't thought of. Still, besides beads and drugs, what other things can these baggies be used for?

    Of course, by the logic of the ban, one could make the argument that ziplocs should be banned as well.

    I guess my disgust at the crack culture is over-riding my normal logic.

    As for Shiller, if she's cool with working next door to a smoke shop (re: drug paraphernalia outlet), her sandbagging this issue shouldn't come as a surprise.

  15. Banning spray paint in the city didn't stop graffiti but it made a huge dent in it. Sorry, crafters, there are plenty of other ways to store your supplies than using tiny bags whose main use is to transport crack cocaine.

    Honestly, you don't think they wouldn't just get them from another town or just use the next size up? This law is just to make the politicians look like they are doing something, instead of ACTUALLY DOING SOMETHING.

    I am not a member of a Gang/Tactical Unit or even an officer, so I am the first to admit that busting these people is harder than it sounds. But I have sat through CAPS meetings and they fully admit that they know who the guys are, so how do they keep getting back on the street?

    There has to be some sort of surveillance that they can perform to have hard evidence when they approach them. And I am not talking about stationary cameras with big blue lights. At the meetings, the residents talk about being able to watch deals go down in plain view, why not document it? Grab your camera and start shooting. What does it take to get convictions, sentences and deterrence?

  16. I'm catching some common themes in Shiller's way of thinking. Is anyone else?

    1. Crime doesn't exist or is minimal in Uptown.
    2. Addressing crime is picking on someone who doesn't deserve to be picked on, be it related to the One Strike Law, panhandling, selling wares on the sidewalk, loitering,U-Haul situation, etc.

    She's out of touch with her constituents and that's a problem. I'm glad the press is starting to pick up with how out of touch she is with us. I've grown tired of all the people living outside the ward who view her as the poor people's heroin, I mean heroine.

  17. Tha bags these punks are using to transport crack are so small that they fit in their mouths. Would it be so difficult to request a minimum size for these things?

    I would love to see one of my local drug dealers trying to stuff a Glad Sandwich bag in his mouth.

  18. If we ban the baggies won't the head shops (like the one next door to Shiller's office) need to go next? Uptown is the only place in the city where you can buy a bong and visit your alderman in the same block.

  19. You mean the Office of Blight

  20. The ne'er-do-wells would not be put out, for one second, if these bags are removed from the shelves. They will adapt, but our lives will be even more restricted. This idea is even more ridiculous than the foie gras ban.

  21. For everyone saying things like

    "These plastic bags are not the only thing you can carry beads or prescription meds in. If they were to be banned, you're telling me you couldn't find another container to put your beads or meds in? Give me a break."

    Sure I could -- this is the main reason the whole idea is ludicrous, and it's the reason it's rightly being ridiculed by the rest of the nation. If I can find another container for small items, crack dealers can find another container for their crack just as easily. Most likely a bag that is just slightly larger than 2"...

    Not that they'd have to -- supposedly this law would only apply if it's reasonably apparent that the bags are / are about to be used for drugs. This just moves the bags out of head shops, and moves crack dealers into craft stores, where they will claim to be working on very large beading projects. If they're not banned altogether, the whole thing is worthless.

    In any case, the bags are being sold because there is a demand for them, and the fact that the demand is being met is not the problem. That's just how things work. The problem is that there's a demand for itty bitty bags to put drugs in in the first place. THAT'S what needs to be fixed. Anything that doesn't address that issue isn't going to have much effect.

    And yes, the spray paint ban put a small dent in spray-painted graffiti. But from what I've read, other sorts of graffiti increased. I'm not impressed.

  22. On a somewhat unrelated note, it seems that some of you blindly follow the faulty logic that any position Shiller takes is automatically the wrong one. Yes, there's a high probability, but she's spot on as far as this issue goes.

  23. Even a broken clock is correct twice a day.

    I happen to think Shiller is right on this issue; although, I suspect her reasoning is different than mine.

  24. I am not inclined to say that every decision Helen makes is destined to be wrong. I would say there's a pattern of behavior that ignores input from residents, involves a lack of transparency, and pits people against one another. Because of that, people are, and should be, more cautious with accepting a decision she's made.

    I don't believe she has the know how to get out of this predicament that she keeps finding herself in. One would think she would have some capacity to learn from her mistakes, but she doesn't.

  25. Even a broken clock is correct twice a day. Is that an old Irish aphorism-IP? :)

    I have an idea: why don't we agree to support Shiller on this one. Let's show those yahoos down at City Hall what REAL support in Uptown looks like because they clearly cannot tell the difference between true support and the fake stuff she trumps up when she wants to show community input. I mean, it has probably been a long time (never?) since they have seen true residents backing her on anything. It would be a nice change of pace to be for something where she wouldn't play any dirty tricks and we could all go home singing cumbayah.

  26. With the drug sales on my street, hell no! I want a street with less drug trafficking. It doesn't have to be no drug trafficking, just less.

    Making it just a little inconvenient for bead hobbiests is worth it if it prevents getting someone killed. I only wish we had as many bead lovers as crack heads but we don't. They are probably outnumbered 100 to 1.

    I also don't buy the bull about storing meds in baggies. There are numerous alternatives to containers for medications. That's another lame excuse.

  27. For all of you who think it's so easy to travel with medication, try traveling for a week when you have to take 6-8 pills twice a day. Tell me how I should separate them and put them in a carryon.
    Obviously it's those of you that don't have to deal with this that think it's so easy.
    While we're taking the small bags away, let's take cars away from everyone too so that the drug dealers can't make their pickups, drops off, and quick getaways!

    As others have mentioned, the dealers will find other ways to store their drugs, so the only ones that end up inconvenienced are the people using them for legitmate purposes.

    THINK THIS THROUGH PEOPLE!!! If it were that easy, don't you think it would have been done in many cities long ago.

    It will not get one more drug dealer off the streets nor stop the trade on YOUR corner. They are clever and will find a way around it.

    This type of thinking is like those that blindly agreed and followed Bush into the messes our country is in now.

    Finally, let me ask you this, has the cell phone ban stopped people from using them in their cars? - NO. As a matter of fact, I see more people using their cellphone now, than before. But now, they hold them out in front of them and use the speakerphone to talk. I'm not sure that solves the problem of focusing on driving.

    The "baggie ban" will be just as useless against the drug dealers and only inconveniencing innocent people.

  28. It's wonderful that the FEW times she shows up to cast a vote, it's for things as important as plastic baggies and pigeon droppings. She really has her residents' best interests at heart.

  29. Don't forget her chicken coop legislation as well, that was another doozy.

  30. Wake me up in February 2011 please.

  31. Nero fiddled while Rome burned.

    Helen Shiller legislates chickens while Uptown had eight murders in past year.

    Helen Shiller concerns herself with beaders' plastic bags as Wilson Yard lies vacant, gobbling up more and more millions of dollars, while the TIF money goes for college parking and low-income housing that will not improve the blighted retail conditions the TIF was created to address.

    Helen Shiller "could not be reached for comment" by the press or her constituents for the umpteenth time.

    Helen Shiller's staff refers to taxpayers who finance Helen's pet projects, and her very salary, as "bad apples" because we want transparency in Helen's office and a voice in our community.

    It's not about whether or not plastic bags are good or bad, folks. It's about the glaring failure of our paid representative to, well, represent us.

  32. While my comments should not be taken as a defense of either Shiller's political positions or style of governance, I thought I would offer what I believe to be her true perspective on the issue.
    If I am wrong, sorry. People putting words in her mouth could be avoided if she could be "reached for comment."

    As most well know, she is inclined to view the police as instruments of the rich and powerful as they seek to further dominate the most marginalized members of society. A little baggie is just one more thing that a cop could plant on a kid (or legitimately add to the violations). We have seen the unequal effects of crack convictions vs. cocaine convictions. Also, when wealthier people are busted with a any kind of drugs they can afford a lawyer to help get them off or reduce the time. Poor people don't have the same options. My guess is that the people fighting against the ban see it as just another way to trap people who are already in a bad situation. As some people have mentioned on this message board, it is punitive without the benefit actually addressing the problem.

  33. I haven't done any formal polls, but I'm guessing that most residents are concerned about the drug dealing going on in and around their neighborhood. Yes, cocaine use is more prevalent among those with money and crack use is more prevalent among those with little money.

    I just don't want to see drug dealing on my street and most of what I see on my street is probably crack. Whatever can curtail what I see on the street is fine with me and I'm thinking not allowing the sale of small baggies might do it. Honestly, I don't think any of my neighbors, rich or poor, want to see drug dealing on the street.

    I do agree with you about Helen's perception of addressing crime. It would be nice if she could admit it and show a little honesty and integrity with how she really thinks, but I don't think we'll see that from Helen.

  34. She'll keep talking about beads because really stating her position would force her to openly side with the people who share that perspective about the police. Therein lies the political conundrum: if she discusses her true ideas she would certainly be hounded by her lake front home owners as well as a number of other residents who would say "ok we don't want to make more troubles for these young kids but what are you doing to stop the drug problem?" No one wants the effects of drugs and violence in their community.

  35. People who mention the inconvenience of not having these small baggies for their medications probably don't have a lot of drug dealing on their street either.

    I'm thinking your difficulty of handling pills when you happen to be traveling are rather light when compared to the drug trafficking that occurs every day, including the days when you are traveling.

  36. Well what do you all think SHE uses to carry her 8ball in?

  37. What is with the magic 8-ball comments? Is there an inside joke that I am not privvy to? Please, cool, kids tell me too!

  38. An 8 ball is 1/8 of an ounce of cocaine.

  39. Oh. So disappointing. I thought I was in for some juicy gossip that Helen Shiller made all her decisions using a trusty magic 8 ball. The prospect of such a story was oddly comforting to me.

  40. Uh oh, I agree with Helen Shiller. This is a weird day for me.

    Honestly, isn't it the drugs in the bag that are the problem? I mean, if these guys can ship thousands of tons of drugs over the border, do you really think they're going to be stonewalled by a requirement that they find new packaging?

    This is the same thing as the silly cold medicine laws that supposedly limit meth production even though most meth is made in large quatities in Mexico. But we need to "do something" even if that something has no effect and inconviences the rest of us who follow the law and happen to wake up at 3am with a horrible cold and no Nyquil in the house.

  41. Beg to differ, bucko. There have been several meth labs busted right here in River City. the cold medicine laws might seem frivolous to you but I consider it a small price to pay for the inconvenience.

    Remember the scandal of the Howard Brown Health Center employee and his arrest for posession and intent to distribute meth?

  42. congrats windycity and others. until the city votes on the baggies you will be anointed a non-racist. the bad news is that you may turn into one if you don't agree with her next vote.

  43. wow, another useless piece of legislation......

    YOU are on crack if you think banning a certain size bag will influence crackheadz.

    hate to break it to you but drugs are here to stay....legalize'em, tax'em and use the money for education and community development.