Thursday, April 17, 2008

Community Process Needs To Be Reopened In Wilson Yard

Let Their Voices Be Heard
Our Views: News-Star, April 17, 2008

Last week, the Chicago City Council voted to increase the subsidy for the Wilson Yard TIF to $52 million.

The increase marks the second time within the past year that the city's public tax subsidy has been increased. Beset by construction delays, Wilson Yard has stalled, heightening Uptown residents' frustration.

Elected officials and the project's developer maintain that the increased public funds for the project are necessary because of skyrocketing construction and other unforeseen costs.

Local community leaders have criticized the project plan since it was first floated before residents in 2004. Since the last open community meeting, a movie multiplex has dropped out of the project.

The project's anchor — Target — also has yet to make a public announcement that it is coming to Uptown. Target's silence has fueled neighborhood rumors that the retail giant has backed out of the project.

Despite residents' protestations, both the developer and alderman insist that Target is still part of Wilson Yard's big picture. Yet both have refused to produce a signed letter of intent or contract from Target stating that is coming to Wilson Yard, citing "confidentiality."

Now, some community leaders and residents are calling for the current Wilson Yard plan to be scratched and start anew.

We certainly don't go that far, though this project has been a failure of urban planning from the start. However, clearly we believe that residents and community leaders deserve a clearer explanation as to the current status of the project and its public funding. Target also needs to come clean as to whether it plans to remain part of the Uptown project.

While we can appreciate the confidentiality of certain business agreements, the developer needs to understand how this simply fuels residents' skepticism that the project will ever be completed.

In the words of one Uptown resident who asks, "For something that is sucking up so much public tax money, why is there so much confidentiality?"

Community residents deserve to have their voices heard so they are not surprised by the final outcome of a project that stands to be a gateway to the Uptown neighborhood for decades to come.

Uptown residents' voices deserve and need to be heard.


  1. Ald. Shiller says over and over again that there was already a community process and there are just a few "disgruntled" residents who are complaining because they didn't get their way.

    If the process was as open and clear as she claims it was, why were all of us surprised when Aldi's was placed backwards in its new location? I want to hear from one (just one) certified urban planner who states that placing the entrance to Aldi's in the back is a good idea to promote foot traffic. Current Chicago Zoning guidelines don't even allow it.

    The controversy about the community process used with Labor Ready sounds strikingly similar to what happened in WY, and perhaps that's not a coincidence. The good news is that I see the tide turning; not just here, but in other wards. We're also seeing community residents in the 42nd and 43rd Wards make noise about not being included in decisions that directly affect them. I'm hoping that a tipping point comes soon where all members of City Council take more seriously the need to involve their constituents in matters that directly affect them. If they don't, they risk getting booted out of office.

    2011 can't come soon enough!

  2. Not to mention the 36th ward. See today's Tribune online edition.,1,2110283.column

  3. "I would rather die on my feet than live on my knees"

    Come on people it's time to fight for ourselves instead of bowing to Shiller/Daley and their cronies.

    These our our tax $$ this is our neighborhood, we need to be loud and let everyone know that our voices haven't been heard. No matter what Shiller claims.

  4. And the likely response from Ald. Shiller (based on every other issue the community's concerned with):

    "Ald. Shiller's office did not return calls for comment."

  5. If there was any type of Target Wilson Yard "contract" Holsten's attorneys would certainly have recorded it with the County and it would be available through the Freedom of Information Act. Perhaps someone could look into this.

  6. Are you ready to support legal action on Wilson Yard?

    $52 million of taxpayers' money.
    No public process.
    No public input.

    You simply have no voice without legal action.

  7. I want 52 million free dollars!!Someone has got to be receiving a million dollar kick back somewhere in the process. ie Tony Rezko

    Smells fishy.

  8. You just had community process in the last Alderman election and HS won so obviously most people agree with her in ward.

    That's our system. There is an election and you vote.

  9. Obviously you are extremely naive about how election run in Chicago, too.

  10. "You just had community process in the last Alderman election and HS won so obviously most people agree with her in ward.

    That's our system. There is an election and you vote."

    You are kidding me, right? What is this, a contest of dictators, and whoever wins has free license to ignore the community until the next election? No, I'm sorry, the election merely determines who is entrusted to lead us. It doesn't rubberstamp them as the decider of all things for Uptown or negate the importances of other voices. Some of you really ought to go back and restudy your political philosophy. What you are describing isn't democracy, even if there's a camoflage of elections. How shocking a neighborhood expects its elected leaders to listen to the neighborhood when coming to decisions about how to represent the neighborhood.

  11. No not naive I just understand the system in Chicago.

    You all could get more of a voice if you would work with in the system instead of trying to be renegades.

    Try to get a job in Corporate America not work with in the system and corp culture. You won't last long.

    The time to win is at election time and remember the only oversight on these hacks in Crook County is the Feds.

    Until you get Springfield to change laws there is nothing you can do.

    Besides from what I see no one in Uptown is ever happy. You want businesses, then don't want this or that kind of business.

    They sell liquore at a 711 we don't want that. Wild Pug is a gay bar we don't want that.

    I live in Uptown and that is what I spend my money in other neighborhoods you are never happy with things. All you do is complain about everything.

    So why waste your time and effort on frutile attempts.

    The power you all have is if you don't like Uptown you can just move or spend you hard earned money somewhere else.

    I will spend my gay dollars in Boystown where they all seem to be happy the str8's and the gays.

  12. Thank you anon 3:06 for a gentle reminder that bitchin' breeds more bitchin'.

    I understand the intense frustration Uptowners feel.

    I remain hopeful that people can stop complaining and start getting involved to change things for the better.

    I'm really really serious about a lawsuit to give the public a say in making Wilson Yard what was promised in the TIF, "A vibrant and cohesive mixed-use, mixed-income development."

    The mismanagement on this project is a catastrophic nightmare and we have to stop it.

  13. And exactly what kind of law suit would that be?

  14. There is no lawsuit you can make work frankly, because crook county judges would throw it out.

    Same thing with the Labor Ready issues.

    Certain people control this town and there is nothign you can do about unless you work with in the system we have.

    Voting them out is the only thing you can do.

  15. if the republicans were smart. doubtful. (read: dyed in the wool democrat's bias)

    if they were smart, they would be all over WY as an example of what can happen when tax and spend liberals are in charge. (their words, not mine.)

    the eye popping affordable housing unit prices and the biggest TIF in the history of the US would make even the most extreme lefty cringe. just think how many more people could have been assisted with housing or other social services had this $150,000,000.00 not been so poorly managed.

    the wilson yard project could end up hurting Obama or Clinton's presidential chances if it ever became a national issue. (assuming the republicans were savvy enough to capitalize on it) Is the biggest TIF in the history of the US in a big city like chicago newsworthy nationally?

    just think if unicef were to price out how many people could be fed, bought shoes, given immunizations, taught to read, etc. etc.

    $150,000,000.00 in funds for the poor would help an astronomical number of people in a 3rd world country. in uptown it will help just 180 or so.

    republicans could easily say mccain would invest that money to rebuild the economy rather than just piss it away in a "you lucky son of a gun you got a free $400,000.00 apartment to stay in practically rent free. by the way good luck getting out of your garage because of the gridlock caused by bad traffic planning" lottery.

  16. Whoa? Really?

    The Wilson Yard TIF is the biggest in U.S. history?

    And Helen "That's not my reality" Shiller's in charge of the money?

    Oh. My. Stars.

  17. That is why this city needs term limits for public officials. They forget they are public servants. I mean Shiller is a career alderman. Talk about you lack of ambition, what a loser, she's held the same position for twenty years. Same goes for Daley, move on advance in your careers. I would go insane if I held the same position for 20 years.

    "I would rather die on my feet than live on my knees" - Pablo

  18. Is that you, Mr. Neruda? I am lovin' all of the names people are posting under.

    As for this comment:
    the eye popping affordable housing unit prices and the biggest TIF in the history of the US would make even the most extreme lefty cringe. just think how many more people could have been assisted with housing or other social services had this $150,000,000.00 not been so poorly managed.

    That is exactly how I feel. It is not going to accomplish enough of what it should accomplish given the price tag and then the City, under financial pressure, will say something like "well, we just spent all of that money to shove more affordable housing into Uptown so we can't do anything else right now." All the while, poorer neighborhoods will continue to suffer and wealthier parts of the region will still neglect their own responsibilities. It is the same old irresponsible and corrupt stuff that just happens to produce some marginal benefits every now and again so that they can all stand there and cut their ribbons and say they have done something.

    If it is possible to be a lefty and a fiscal conservative, I guess that is me---especially when it comes to local politics.

  19. 150 million is not what a 150 million used to be just remember big numbers are all relative.

  20. Well, $150 million into a project that has huge urban planning flaws should have everyone concerned. That does concern you, doesn't it?

  21. I'm surprised to see that some of you are "getting it" finally about the Wilson Yard debacle...a lawsuit about THIS instead of against Labor Ready is a far more productive purpose for fundraising (see my entry this morning in that particular topic).

    The problem with Wilson Yard is the total absence of accountability. It all started with Shiller bussing in STUDENTS from the UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO to participate in her "planning charettes" (which might have been better labeled "planning charades"). She has always wanted to concentrate more low-income housing here, because that is the ignorant power base she has been able to manipulate and control over the years to run her grand social experiment...and she's wanted to stick it to the average people who put their necks out to finance their own homes here, because she views us as "bourgeois scum". So her plan from the beginning was to get her public housing built on the backs of the people she can't control...and she brought in people from outside of the TIF district (who don't pay taxes and don't have to live here) to tilt the "planning process" in her favor. She *used* that "community planning process" for cover, to say she did it, when she had already pre-ordained the outcome. And she never had any interest to begin with in having a cinema complex or retail was simply a way to dangle something she knew we wanted in order to get enough support for moving ahead beyond the point where the MONEY would be coming in (which she would control) and the ever-shifting plan would be approved...then she would be in total control with no turning back. Here we are, people. Urban planners were never involved. Community needs were never taken into account. A vibrant, self-sustaining urban neighborhood's future--and the movement of people from dependence to proud self-reliance--has never been Shiller's goal: she's trapped in the Stalin-Castro-Mao mindset of "Mother Shiller knows what's good for the do what she says before she sends you to internal exile in her re-education center...."

    Shiller and her ilk will not understand or accept the concept of democracy until a lawsuit shuts her down...or until she gets to contemplate the concept while cleaning toilets in service of her people in a Federal prison. The question is what will YOU do to stand up for yourselves and your neighbors to see that OUR neighborhood *IS* OUR neighborhood, and comports to a vision of it serving the needs of us all? Will you keep sitting on your butts grumbling, or will you help to get legal action going to protect tax dollars for valid uses...or help to get this debacle into the public eye for a REAL debate?

  22. Do you have the names of the U of C students from the charettes? I am an alumnus and I can get in contact with them. The principles of a mixed-use development are widely supported but the exquisitely poor public policy that this is becoming is not.

    If you want people to write in letters or provide some sound urban planning critiques on WY, these communities will help. What do you want?

  23. We HAVE written letters until we were blue in the face. We wrote letters to the CDC, we wrote letters to the Illinois Dept. Of Housing funding the housing project. We presented a petition with 2500 signatures to the Dept of Planning, Mayor Daley and Shiller. We’ve had two rallys with attendance topping the 200 mark. We’ve contacted urban planners and one said the project “was a future slum for Uptown”. There is nothing more left but a lawsuit and I’m all for it. I’ll support it with both money and time.

  24. You can't stop Wilson Yard or Labor Ready all you can do is get out the word to vote and vote her out in 2012.

    And the more you try to throw her under the bus the more she will succeed.

    All the negative stuff people say actually helps her and turns a lot of people off. You attack her on every front certainly HS has some good in her also you attack her son. If I was alderman I won't listen to any of you either if you were constantly attacking me and saying I am corrupt etc and bad mouthing my family. There is a big difference between being unethical and illegal and it's a fine line.

    If anything everyone should just let time work on your side and see if WY actually happens.

    Also you need to find viable candidates run against her not just one other candidate.

    Frankly, I am not sure there was a true alternative to Shiller in the last election. You need someone to run against her that has the Chicago way backing.

    You want to change things donate a lot of money to Daley and gain access and go talk to him about our Alderman.

    Work with in the system to find an alternative that will get backing against her in the next election.

    Frankly, a lot of these posters on her are more scary to me than the real low income and crazies in Uptown.

    No matter what all you do is spew hate and divid Uptown.

    Also I have an issue with a guy running/gunning for 2012 in '08.

    One thing is this ward is way more divided than any other one in Chicago.

  25. Anon 2:29. You've made these comments at various turns on this blog and people have responded yet you still keep coming back with them. I think you are misreading the situation in Uptown and what is being said on this blog. Here are a few comments:

    1) you are right that in this town getting in with the machine helps. Most of us know that. But we also know that Shiller won by about 700 votes. Daley has to know that too. He is a political animal and our grousing around making noise should make it clear to any political animal that he is backing a lame duck. If he continues to do so then he is going to face a growing northside movement that will increasingly point its finger at the Daley machine. I guess I am a typical northside liberal but we've got a lot of nonsense going on around here. If we can't get better government out of the dem machine we are going to have to find it somehow.

    2) stop with the "spewing hate" business. If I get called a racist elitist bigot one more time just for sticking up for my civil liberties I am going to lose it. There are so many of us looking for balance, transparency, honesty, responsible spending and something that passes for equitable civic life here in Uptown. What we've got ain't it. We don't have time to "spew hate" because there is much more serious business to attend to. Shiller is a political figure. If she can't deal with criticism she shouldn't be in political office.

    3) the divisions in this ward come from poor leadership and aggressive political tactics on the part of the "powers"---not the other way around. People on this blog have pointed to the instances over and over again and there is no use recounting them again now. You are on the Kool-Aid.

    4) and as for the "issue" that you have with someone purportedly "running" for an '12 election in '08, I don't think that is the case. This isn't about winning an election. We all have jobs and careers. We just want to live and thrive in Uptown and see it be all it can be. Are we all (former candidates included)just supposed to snooze in between elections? Since I am in the 48th ward, I can't even vote for whomever would replace Shiller anyway. All I know is that I sure as hell want someone else in there who can run things better than they are being run now. I no longer have the luxury of just paying attention to what is happening in my ward. I have to be active & help my neighbors too.

    Finally, why are you so invested in Shiller and her family's feelings and kissing a** to Daley? Last time I checked we are no longer to bow down before our feudal masters. The people are Uptown, the people are Chicago and the people are America. My ancestors fought for democracy in this country and I will fight to keep it.

  26. We have to fight because the future of our neighborhood is in the hands of an alderman. An alderman is just like a supermodel:

    1)They're stupid
    2)They have huge egos
    3)Their jobs are easy
    4)They're way over paid
    5)They're out of touch with reality and the average human being

  27. One more thing. Look at the developments going on in the ward up where Shiller lives(as close to being out of the ward as you can be). There is a stark contrast between condos like Rainbow Village, and the slums she's trying to put in around us. She doesn't want this urban planning nightmare near her home base, so why should those of us in the southern part of the ward suffer.

  28. Pablo, aldermen are like supermodels? Not if they’re doing their job right. Truth is, the job of alderman, done properly, is demanding, difficult and requires a well-tuned ear for what’s happening in the Ward. We haven’t had an Alderman of that stripe in many moons. David Orr who preceded Joe Moore comes to mind and Kathy Osterman, who preceded Mary Ann Smith, but let’s face it, Chicago politics have been practically moribund since Harold.

  29. Oh, just a footnote . . . the Wilson Yard TIF is not the biggest TIF in U.S. history. It's not even the biggest in Chicago history.

    That dubious distinction goes to the Central Loop TIF district or maybe the LaSalle Central TIF. It's close.

  30. I don't care which side of the fence you are on but all people deserve respect period even if you differ with their opinion on things.

    Personal attacks don't get you anywhere.

    I think it's funny you spend so much time complaining about Shiller seems like a waste of time and miserable way to live. I have to wonder if there isn't something more productive you could be doing with your time.

  31. all people deserve respect period even if you differ with their opinion on things.

    Helloooo....this is WHY many of us complain about Shiller! I am a law-abiding, conscientious, all-around nice person if I may toot my own horn here a bit. I am also a "bleeding heart" when it comes to social justice issues. How on earth can it be possible that I am vehemently against a lot of what is going down here in Uptown?? It is because the hypocrisy is so thick you can cut it with a knife.

    And thank you for the suggestion that I take up something "more productive" to do with my time. However, I find fighting for a healthy community to be just about one of the best ways I can think of to spend my time.

  32. A hallmark of the trolls who invade this blog's comments section is that they all ask in some shape or form for people to be silent, not voice concerns, and to just wait for the next election. In short, they don't want anyone to stand up.

  33. As far as Shiller goes, she gets respect when respect is given, which will never happen.

    And the rest of these so called "hard working" aldermen, it must be real hard to kiss Daley's ass and vote 50-0 every year on his budget.

    Not a one of them called Shiller out for her recent no votes. Nobody rocks the boat, what good is a city council without differing opinions. It's no good, just corrupt.

    Shiller will go down in history as the great polarizer.

    With the diversity here there's a lot of resources to bring us together, but our leadership doen't want that because that would end her reign of terror, because the less fortunate would realize we don't hate them.

    Sounds like a lot of you need to get a clue.

  34. Has anyone filed a FOIA request for the Wilson Yard taskforce meeting minutes? Who are all the members of the WIlson Yard Taskforce? I don't see all the local block clubs in or near the TIF represented but I do see block clubs way up on Carmen and Winona.

  35. You guys are funny! Do you have day jobs? Apparently you don't want the people who would be working at that Target to have any. You keep mentioning cost and insinuate that your negative views are generally shared across the ward. You are wrong in many cases, let me assure you. I figured you'd be happy that SOMETHING was going there!

    Have fun complaining instead of acting guys! That's the REAL way to make change, after all! LOL!

  36. We are in the process of creating critical mass. The fact that you check into this blog suggests that you sense this too.

    Your assumption that we would be happy SOMETHING is going in there just shows how out of touch you are with us "bad apples." We know you hate us and we're just not going to take it any more. You had a chance to create a good community in Uptown---a place for EVERYONE. You blew it. Move over.

  37. Has anyone here offered a viable alternative solution to this issue? Lots of negativity and finger-pointing, but little in the way of 'Here's another way to do it and it's better because....'. Sounds like talk radio to me.

    Also, 'Troll' doesn't much sound like intelligent discourse... Is that the way you'd negotiate a compromise, by name calling? Good thing no one here is on the council or the Wilson Yard would be the 'Wilson Void' forever....

  38. BTW, I'm not a hater :) Just like to see all sides of the argument! The blog is interesting, I'll tell you that, and it's good that opinions can be freely expressed here (open blogs are good).

    Maybe I'm out of touch with your side, but I'm just as out of touch with your apparent 'opponent'. Where do us middle of the road working people go? I think this issue is mainly one of communication. Wouldn't it be nice if there was a place where all these opinions were consolidated, from ALL sides (yes, there are sides more than for or against)! Politics is ill prepared for the information age, and sites like this do help (though they tend to polarize as much as they bind).

    Anyway, I don't want to be the blog's negative nelly(or positive, depending on which way you lean), but your ideas would be better received if you kept things civil.

    BTW, the 'day job' comment was out of line, and for that I do apologize. Enjoy the dabate!

  39. "a viable alternative solution"?

    There are many viable alternative solutions that could be proposed but are nearly impossible to implement when the city counsel just upped the funding without substantive debate and the powers-that-be are dug in. With no power and no access to alternative funds it is awfully hard to offer up "a viable solution." And guys like you know that. So, don't ask us to come up with a viable solution. That was your job when you kicked all of the reasonable dissenting opinions out of the planning process.

  40. Just saw your post, anon 10:32. You ask, "where do us middle of the road working people go? I think this issue is mainly one of communication."

    I used to think that & I used to be just like you. And, in every other part of my life I exhibit classic middle-child syndrome and try to work for peace and balance. What is happening in Uptown has turned me into a fightin' dog. I still aim for peace, but I don't keep my hopes up. My guess is that people like you (and like I was) either become fighting dogs like me or they throw their hands up and move or just try to ignore it as best they can. I don't blame anyone for how they resolve the problem, but I hope that you might become yet another person to stand with the growing number of us who have had enough.

  41. Bottom Line is Wilson Yard is a done deal, hear that done deal and out of anyones control but the City of Chicago/City Council/Shiller/Daley.

    You can't stop it no matter what you do so you might as well put your efforts to better work on other things.

    Same is true for Labor Ready, done deal. You won't be able to stop it.

  42. Labor Ready is not a done deal unless Mayor Daley is willing to go to the mat for it. If he were to, which I doubt, there would be a lot of political fallout. It wouldn't be worth it.

  43. I would believe you more if you can tell me a single one of Helen's self-proclaimed "done deals" that's come to pass.

    To me, telling me something's a "done deal" means that someone's nervous and wants the community to shut up.

  44. yes i am so nervous whether Labor Ready comes or not

    i could care less either way

    Can't be any worse than the SL Pantry.

  45. The way to win is to do what many of us are already doing now. We're joining our block clubs; we're getting others to join the block clubs; we're finding all kinds of ways to expand our reach to others from all walks of life.

    We're forging connections with other like-minded people & organizations, including some 48th Ward residents living on the borders of the 46th Ward. Some of us may have grown tired but there's a growing number of us who are more determined than ever. We're creating websites, blogs; we're filing lawsuits; we're making noise.

    I was outspent 3 to 1 and made Ald. Shiller spend twice what she spent in the prior election, yet she barely squeaked by.
    I think we're going in the right direction and I feel more energy than ever.

  46. What lawsuit is being filed?

    Who's filing it?

  47. A lawsuit is in the process of being filed to stop Labor Ready from coming in. That was the whole purpose of the fundraiser at Nick's.

  48. So do tell more about the lawsuit.

    Who are the plantiff's

    Who is the defendents?

    I am curious how these lawsuits work, can we do one for Wilson Yard.

    What lawyer is taking the case?

    How do I get involved?