Friday, April 4, 2008

Medill Students Cover Labor Ready

Dear Alderman Shiller,
Please watch this video. You may remember it as the "Labor Ready" story you refused to comment on. If you choose not watch, we hope that the "couple of people tooling around, checking the blogs" in your office find the time.
Sincerely Yours,
Uptown Update and the Citizens of Uptown

Update: The folks at have revamped their website with a lot of new information for residents. There is also a link for you to use to make donations to support their fight.


  1. Matt Albucher-
    I predict big things for you in the future if you keep digging for the truth like you did in this story. Our community appreciates it, I'm sure Helen does not.

  2. WOW! Great story, though it's rather sad that Shiller didn't go on camera to give her side of this. Why is it always the same with her- "not around for comment." If this is something that she strongly believes in- why the hell not go on camera to explain "why it's good for the community."
    What a bloody coward.

  3. Matt,

    I am so impressed with your work. As a neighbor in the Uptown Area I want to thank you for finding the truth and reporting on it. I am sure Helen would love to meet with you on camera to explain the “misunderstanding.”

  4. Very well done, but in the future, don't tilt your head as much, it was starting to freak me out. I started tilting my head to make it straight.

    Have you forwarded this on to more mainstream media? I know they typically just brush over it, but each piece of well put together journalism helps our case in getting someone to listen.

  5. Why am I not surprised that the letters of support had identical wording? The Shiller Poseurs were at work again fronting themselves to the outside world as the voice of the community.

    When will our real voices get heard?

  6. Oh C'mon are guys are so paranoid about labor ready like you are paranoid of the non -existent Al Queda...

    Essieintially those against labor ready are conservatives and most probably burdened by suburban racist attitudes.

    This is the City. Those who are so afraid that a sex offender was hired in Some other city might be hired by labor ready are quite paranoid.

    Suburban American attitudes are creeping into the city as a whole and now Uptown in particular.

  7. The objections to Labor Ready aren't just about the danger of child predators, but that's a concern.

    It's also about Uptown retail corridors and the appropriate businesses to keep them blighted or helping them flourish.

    It's also about yet another multi-million dollar company coming in to "help" the very poor and exploiting the hell out of them. They need real jobs, not band-aids.

    BTW, nice job of changing the focus and hijacking the thread. (Bringing up Al Queda? Racism? Really!?) Divide and deflect. Wonder where you learned that?

    Oh, and I've never lived a day in the suburbs. The difference is, in the suburbs, no one thinks there are ever any bad guys around. Here in Uptown, we KNOW they're here.

    Do some research. Put "sex offender" in the little search box at the top of the blog and read all about the number of sex offenders in Uptown. How our kids are approached on the way to school (two in the past month). How a male prostitute raped and murdered a neighborhood kid.

  8. "non -existent Al Queda..."

    Dude ...


  9. A few handy reference facts:

    You have to be arrested three times for exposing yourself before you are placed on the sex offender registry. Think how many times people do this before they get arrested. Multiply that by three.

    There are 100,000 sex offenders whose whereabouts are unknown. They should be registered but they have skipped out & it is only by accident that many of them are found.

    If Labor Ready checks their workers against the Illinois sex offender registry, that is a good start. However, if we suddenly have a bunch of adults hanging around outside their office (when we do not have that problem in that location now) it will create conditions conducive for someone to keep an eye on which kids walk to school alone and which kids play with siblings around the Boys & Girls Club unsupervised.

    This is Uptown. People loiter about. It happens. Further, Labor Ready's business plan will have built-in loitering in that people will have to wait outside for them to open back up on Saturdays to get their checks.

    Is this the only flippin' place in Chicago they can open up? No. So why not put it someplace that is not in the middle of a spot where urban kids attend activities and socialize? Can't we at least attempt to create some kid-safe zones where kids' priorities take precedence?

  10. You have to be arrested three times for exposing yourself before you are placed on the sex offender registry. Think how many times people do this before they get arrested. Multiply that by three.

    I actually don't mind that. I have a feeling that most indecent exposure arrests are more of the drunk and peeing in an alley variety, than the trench coat wearing flash and run variety.

    I do not advocate peeing in an alley under any circumstances, but if someone at 4:30am, with no place open, the bar closed, and the only other option is to wet their pants, well they will use the alley.

    Does this person deserve to be put on a sex offender registry for the rest of their life and let people know when they move in?

    It is not sexual offenders we should be worried about, it is sexual predators.

    I fully agree Labor Ready would be much more suitable over on Ravenswood as posted in this blog, but be careful not to fall into the all people on the sex offenders list are predators.


  12. I hear ya 4:35, but I think that if you've been arrested for urinating outside two times and you just can't manage to find a proper bathroom that third time and you get yourself on the sex offender list...what does society really owe you? How many chances do we have to give people to manage one of the most basic aspects of living in a civil society?

    As a female, I have never urinated outside even though I have given birth and it is harder to hold it than before. I understand that sometimes people just have to go but really now...doing it so many times that you get arrested over and over again?

    Gentlemen, keep it in your pants!

  13. Labor Ready is good in that it give a person money for an honest days work.

    Better then them committing crimes.

    This is a very racist sight and really wants Uptown to be another Schaumberg.

    I say move to the burbs or Fargo ND.

    Even James Capplemen isn't 100 percent against social services and the poor.

    Helen couldn't be happier for the Uptown Update by trying to make her look so bad and blaming her for things she has no control over.

    Keep it up.

    Why don't you get a real job in news and do some real reporting and catch her up really if you can.

    I bet even Barack Obama would endorse her.

  14. I seem to be following you through the blog, anon 2:24.

    YOU are the one who is on the wrong side of the issues. A lot of the people who will be coming to Labor Ready ALREADY do an honest days work the problem is that they are not being paid AN HONEST DAYS PAY! They are trapped doing dead-end work that doesn't pay them enough to live off and damages their health. It is demoralizing and cruel and so many of us won't stand by as a company is brought in to say they are going to help people while they skim the money off the top.

    READ UP! If you want to call people a bunch of racists...READ UP on who is actually profiting off of these workers.

  15. Barack Obama wouldn't endorse her. I know his wife and she is involved in work that actually helps people, not pimps them out to the lowest bidder.

  16. "This is a very racist sight and really wants Uptown to be another Schaumberg."

    Thanks for summarily passing judgment on this site while you at the same time claim that it is better for people to be 'put to work' than to be out committing crimes.

    Praytell, just who might be the one operating with all stereotypes a-blazin? If you think people are out there committing crimes because no one ever gave them an opportunity to bring home less than minimum wage after a day of work, then YOU must be from Schaumberg.

    We want Uptown to be Uptown. We don't want it to be a place where wealthier people are merely tolerated so that a bunch of holier-than-thou do-gooders can playact at being the saviors of the poor.

  17. I think its pretty obvious and that someone has instructed folks to flood this blog with opposing comments, no matter how idiotic they are. The "racist" remarks are a total cop out. Come up with something better next time. Its like grasping at straws.

  18. To everyone claiming that those of us who oppose LR are racist, I invite you to supply figures that show the racial breakdown of people that LR places. Without those numbers, you are equally racist, since you assume that a majority of LR people are minorities.

  19. And WHERE ARE THE JESUS PEOPLE?!! I know at least one of them spends time on the web but why has that Uptown organization been silent on the question of Labor Ready? Most of my beliefs about everyone's right to work in dignity come from the Catholic tradition, but the Bible is the Bible. How can these people stand by and watch our local alderman invite a multinational corporation to come in and exploit the least of us? Why are there no vigorous defenses as to the holiness of this zoning exception? Why are there no vigorous defenses of the justice in all of this? Because none can be made.

    Everyone is silent. No one will defend this. The only thing people will do is point a finger to call others racists and haters of the poor.

  20. So, come ye, come ye, Christians and Social Activists...Marxists, Neo-Marxists and Ex-Marxists...defenders of justice...those who give voice to the voiceless...

    Tell us why a man should work side-by-side all day with another man but receive less pay for the same work? Tell us why a TrueBlue stock owner in Berlin should profit off of the sweat of the brow of a single mother in Uptown. Tell us why! Tell us why!

  21. c'mon people. can anyone of these applicants really be any worse than the people who work at city hall?

  22. Michael James, owner of the Heartland Cafe, once recalled that he saw a flyer at Berkeley asking people get involved to "build the interracial movement for the poor." He said seeing that flyer was like "a gift from the Gods."

    Well, what the hell happened? Did 35 years go by and suddenly it is ok for global labor exploiters to extract surplus labor from the poor? Suddenly it is ok to turn your back if speaking up against an injustice will hurt your buddies who have fought long and hard to be able to rule with an iron fist?

    All you aging hippies are a bunch of frauds. From my generational standpoint, it just looks to me like all you wanted to do was smoke "grass" and get laid. And it is still all talk and no action.

  23. It has become obvious that Helen does not nor she will ever listen to what people in the ward have to say. She can do whatever she wants and no one can do anything about it. We moved here 5 years ago and because of her politics the ward has gonne downhill. On that note we decided to move to another neighborhood. Two more couples that moved here around the same time are in the process of doing the same thing.For anyone reading this blog just be aware. This is not the place to either raise a family or start a business. Helen i hope you are proud.

  24. To anonymous (April 5, 2:24) and your comment that "not even James Cappleman isn't 100% against social services and the poor."

    What I found when I was campaigning for alderman last year is that most residents have a genuine concern for people living in poverty. I also believe most of us have nothing against well-run social services. Housing that utilizes public money should be grounded in the use of best practices. Same with social services. With our limited resources, a reliance on the use of best practices also makes fiduciary sense.

    People who know me know that I believe in a balance. We have a diverse neighborhood so we should have diverse housing, diverse retail, and diverse services. We don't have that right now and those disagreeing with this should walk down N. Broadway or N. Sheridan to see for themselves.

    Labor Ready concerns me because it's not based on the use of best practices to help the chronically unemployed change their lives and get out of poverty. Quick fixes don't work.

    However, what most concerns me was that Ald. Shiller ignored the feedback from the local school, the Boys & Girls Club, the nearby senior housing, the block clubs, the local residents, and Uptown United. It appeared early on that she had already made her decision and that was final.

    Ald. Shiller and a few reporters still hang onto this misperception that Uptown's polarization is based on angry NIMBY residents, as if only angry NIMBY people are drawn to live in Uptown. We're seeing a community with some angry (and now organized) residents who will not give up the notion that democracy lives on, even in Uptown where we don't have to believe anyone, including those living in poverty, deserves low standards.

    We will be heard.

  25. I didn't vote for James because I live in the 48th ward but what he says about democracy and socially responsible public policy is broadly shared throughout the 46th and 48th wards. I am sorry that I didn't do anything in the last election to help get out the vote for change in my neighboring ward. But I can promise you in the next election, there will be ONE Uptown united around the principles he speaks of and not this cronyism and hatred that marks its leadership now.

  26. Why am I so opposed to Labor Ready coming to my neighborhood?

    Because the Uptown community is already struggling under the weight of all these so-called social service agencies.

    Uptown is the social service agency capital in Chicago, we've got over 80 of them.

    If they were doing a good job, then why are our streets filled with people drinking, peeing, and passed out?

    It they were doing such a good job, why are there large groups of people congregating in from of these places smoking, drinking and hanging out?

    If the quality of these social service agencies were actually helping the drug addicts, the drunks, the mentally ill, Uptown would be Nirvana.

    Bringing more and more of these poorly run places is not the answer to truly helping those who need help.

  27. Dear Uptown Update:

    In light of the recent ZBA ruling, we have re-vamped our website to provide the community with an
    account of what happened, why it was so wrong and why plan to continue fighting. We are strongly considering further legal action and we are in the middle of tallying up the pledges of people who will support us. We are far along towards our goal, but we need one final push before we have enough money for our legal fund. We hope that Uptowners will join us in our fight to STOP LABOR READY!

    There are three reasons to join us:

    1)The McCutcheon Local School Council and advocates for the McCormick Boys & Girls Club, the Buttercup Playlot, the local block clubs and the senior residences were ignored when all they were trying to do was protect and promote the child-friendly and pedestrian friendly nature of the block.

    2)Uptown United, Uptown Chicago Commission and Business Parters, the Chamber of Uptown were ignored when all they were trying to do is advocate for a high quality retail environment and socially responsible solutions for unemployed and underemployed.

    3)The ZBA's decision to grant Labor Ready the special use is subject to administrative review in the Circuit Court of Cook County. Under the law, opponents of a special use are entitled to substantive and procedural due process before the ZBA. Our lawyers are still reviewing the record before the ZBA, but it is believed that the hearing and the ruling are subject to attack. All stakeholders deserve to be included in important decisions facing our community.

    Thank you for your interest.


  28. The day labor will fail on its own. Look around and tell me if they will get enough cutomers. Uptowners looking to make a buck can go to many many other aves, that yes the Ald has created and is blind to.You need cutomers to sustain a biz.why work when I can hang out live off the system, spit, drink and pee in public.

  29. "The day labor will fail on its own."

    Like hell it will. There are so many people living off nothing around here. The place is going to be a gold mine. All it takes is for a few people to decide to work for them a few days a month out of the great many people living on nothing around here.

    Think of all of the festivals that they can send people out to clean up after. Wrigley Field alone will make them a mint. And, if the Olympics comes...well, think about how many people can be sent to do crap work for that. Labor Ready will be like an oil rig. We've got a resource here and they will suck Uptown dry of people labor. They will be successful here and that is precisely the problem. I wish I could lose my morals because I think the stock holders will make out well in the next 5 years.

  30. Just to clarify a gross misstatement by "against scarlet letters" in an earlier post. I am a veteran police officer, and I can tell you emphatically that urinating in public at 4 am does NOT put you on registered sex offender status. I am also a parent, and live in Uptown, and am concerned about this issue.

    Registered sex offenders got that way because they are sexual predators, not because of some cruel and unjust social system. It is extremely difficult to get anyone convicted of a felony, and that's the critera for placing someone on registered sex offender status.

  31. "The day labor will fail on its own."

    thanks for the call to inaction

  32. "So, come ye, come ye, Christians and Social Activists...Marxists, Neo-Marxists and Ex-Marxists...defenders of justice...those who give voice to the voiceless..."

    Apparently, these people never spend any time on the internet. Silent! Silent! Silent!

    Wonder why?

  33. Matt,

    This is a very well covered story-- very professional.

  34. So, I was thinkin' all you people who claim to be the voice of the voiceless yet are willing to pimp them out to the lowest bidder when your schemes have failed...

    Let's say that wealthier Uptown residents go out and buy a lot of stock in Labor Ready (TBI). They are trading around $13 a share and just reported a 12% increase in revenue for Q1. Their 52 week high was about $29. If they can return to that high sometime this year, investors would stand to make $15-$16 a share off the stock. Not bad for sitting on your rump and letting some homeless guy in Uptown sweat it out all day for minimum wage (even less if you factor in the waiting and traveling time he doesn't get paid for).

    Depending on the stock's usual fluctuation and how many shares I would have, it might be possible for me to make more off TBI stock in one day or one week than what that poor guy would make after doing all of the work!

    I could pass him by on the way to work in the morning and say, "thanks for making my money work for me dude...but I guess it sorta sucks to be you!"

    Is this scenario at all morally repugnant to those of you who are fighting tooth and nail to get them here? It is to me and that is why I don't think they have a place in our community. But, hey, I am just a selfish yuppie or whatever you guys call people like me these days.

  35. Matt, nice job covering this story. I sent the link around to a number of people in the neighborhood -- keep up the great work.

  36. Matt-
    It's great that you covered the issues of Labor ready. As an uptown resident, I want to thank you for your effort. Please continue your work in Uptown.

  37. Matt, as an NU alum, I'm very proud to see that Medill is still turning out quality students. This piece on Labor Ready is excellent and will (or, at least, should) benefit the community. As for Shiller not being around to comment, she never is. Nor does she seem to ever take into account the wishes of her constituency. The only way the community's actual voice will be heard is if Shiller is not longer in office. In the next election, PLEASE VOTE AGAINST SHILLER.

  38. Latin School students get to play soccer on a $2 million field on city land. McCutcheon School students get to walk by men lined up at a day labor agency on their way to-and-from school.

    Guess which school has the largest percentage of homeless students, immigrant students and students of color?

  39. Guess which school is being helped by the Mayor and guess which school is being silenced by him?