Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Uptown Update Exclusive: Alderman Shiller's Daily Schedule

Uptown Update has gained exclusive access to Alderman Helen Shiller’s daily calendar for today, Tuesday, April 1st. This rare glimpse into the daily activities of the 46th Ward leader may be surprising to some Uptown residents, but the activities below show a community leader dedicated to improving life for all residents of the ward.

7:30 a.m. Alderman Shiller leaves her home in the northern part of the ward on foot, stopping at Starbucks at Lawrence and Broadway to pick up a cup of coffee and chat with her fellow Starbucks patrons.

8:00 a.m. Arrives at the office and spends the next hour reading and personally responding to constituents’ email. Alderman Shiller finds she can best find out what her fellow residents’ concerns are by reading to emails, and making policy decisions based on what her residents and the block clubs tell her.

9:00 a.m. Ward staff meeting with Denise Davis and the rest of her staff. Based on her daily walk from her home to the ward office, Alderman Shiller realized that there are a few burned out streetlights that she wants fixed ASAP. She asks Denise for an update on the rehabilitation of the Wilson L station. Denise says she will call Ron Huberman, President of the CTA, and ask for an update about how soon a community meeting can be held to discuss the plans to restore the station to its former glory.

10:30 a.m. Meeting with Joyce Dugan of Uptown United and Christie Hahn, the new Executive Director of Business Partners, on how to best encourage business development. Alderman Shiller will express her desire for more sidewalks cafés in the ward as she thinks pedestrian-friendly development is the key to a prosperous ward. Alderman Shiller tells Joyce and Christie that the organizations should work closely together on how to best approach businesses to fill some of the vacant store front in the 4500 and 4600 blocks of Broadway.

12:00 p.m. Lunch with Cindi Anderson, of Uptown Chicago Commission, at Alma Pita, to discuss the agenda for tonight’s community meeting. Alderman Shiller will tell Cindi how glad she is to have so many interested and active residents in her ward who want to make the neighborhood better for all residents.

2:00 p.m. Alderman Shiller walks down Broadway to Alderman Mary Ann Smith’s office for their monthly meeting on how to improve the Uptown Entertainment District. Alderman Shiller wants the see the developments around Lawrence and Broadway to spread south to the 4600 block of Broadway. Alderman Smith updates Alderman Shiller on the current proposed plans for the Uptown Theatre. Alderman Shiller suggests that some of the 46th ward alderman funds are used for an urban planner to assess a four block radius of the theatre redevelopment so that retail, parking and transportation needs are addressed as a whole rather than piecemeal. Alderman Smith agrees, and they set the date for their next meeting to include an urban planning firm.

3:30 p.m. Based on feedback from residents, Alderman Shiller calls the new police commander of the 23rd district to see how the gang reduction strategies are working for the area around Wilson and Sheridan. Alderman Shiller tells the new commander that she is more than happy to use aldermanic funds for additional blue light cameras in her ward if that will reduce the gang activity and drug dealing that residents are reporting.

6:30 p.m. Alderman Shiller will head over to Crew for a community forum, co-sponsored by Uptown Chicago Commission and Uptown Neighborhood Council about how to improve the safety of the neighborhood and other resident concerns. Alderman Shiller plans to start the meeting off with a status update on the Wilson Yard project. After a ten minute presentation with detailed rendering of the project, Alderman Shiller will tell the audience that after meetings with block club presidents, she is working with Peter Holsten to change the low income component of the project to a true mixed income building, with homeownership both at market rate and through the CPAN program. Alderman Shiller recommends that the Wilson Yard Task Force reconvenes to discusses the recent changes to the plans. Residents ask Alderman Shiller questions on a variety of different topics, and she answers them to the best of her ability. For those she doesn’t have the answer, Chief of Staff Denise Davis is present to take detailed notes to follow-up with the residents who asked the unanswered questions.

8:30 p.m. Alderman Shiller will walk back to her home, proud of what she accomplished today, and is thankful that tomorrow is April 2nd, and that she can go back to a normal routine and avoid answering constituent’s concerns for another year.


  1. Is this an April Fool's Day joke?

  2. You SERIOUSLY have to ask?

  3. More like wake and bake at 8AM. Then a noon hit with her bong buddies at Smoke Dreams

  4. You forgot

    9:00 p.m.: Lay out outfit for tomorrow's ribbon cutting ceremony at the Northside Community Workforce Development Center. It's been almost 20 years in the making but with the economy turning, there is no better time than now for it to be opening. Hmmm...maybe I should wear flats. It is going to be a long day with all of the "thanks" I'll have to give to the national think tanks, non-profits, and big ticket donors like the Pritzkers and the Gates'. I am getting nervous now about my speech in front of all of those people who will come to learn from us how to develop an integrated vocational resource for people who are unemployed or need skills rehabilitation. I am just not sure how to talk about how I realized that more needs to be done besides providing subsistence-level food and housing. I guess it was when I stopped being so narcissistic and began to hear it when so many said, "we deserve quality programs that produce results and we want a commitment from the City and the region to stop ignoring their duty...and their own people who end up here."

  5. Does anyone have a single example of a positive thing that Shiller has done in the last 20 years that everyone agrees on. It seems to me she just comes up with bad idea after bad idea and does everything she can to make it look like she listens to the public when in fact she actually makes it incredibly difficult for the public to be part of any decision making process.

    In the 10 or so months I have been reading anything regarding the 46th ward, I can't think of a single positive article or discussion on the woman.

  6. 6:00 Arrive at community meeting 1/2 hour early, take opportunity to take the temperature of the ward, mingle and take informal, one-on-one questions and comments, hear things constituents might not want to say in a large group, perhaps help diffuse some potential hostility

  7. Good point, Hugh. Uptown always feels as if it is going to ignite! Some politicians are very skilled at creating a temperate climate and figuring out ways for people to walk away somewhat satisfied with the process, even if they didn't get what they wanted. People can be reasonable when given the opportunity.

  8. You forgot who and what she comes home to at the end of the day.

    Alderman Shiller comes home to her husband, IrishPirate, where they drink diet coke and eat healthy food.

    She finishes her day watching episodes of "The Wire" where they cheer for the cops over the criminals and then leave comments on "National Review" bemoaning the death of William F. Buckley and the loss of public speaking skills nationally.

  9. "I can't think of a single positive article or discussion on the woman."

    I have been genuinely looking for something too. I think the problem is that she is always unavailable for comment and if anyone ever tried to do a balanced and serious story about one of her projects, it wouldn't come out good. Yes, she fights for affordable housing, but HER way...it is not like the national advocates are making recommendations for the kind of stuff she supports (Cage Hotels? Concentrated Mid-rise Low-income Housing?) She is not taking best practices and trying to implement them here. There would be a hell of a lot more people supporting her (me included actually) if she pursued socially responsible public works projects.

  10. Positive? Well, I've never seen her pick her nose.

  11. Hey 9:23- leave us hard working "wake & bakers" alone. And what's so wrong with the Smoke Dreams Store??? Would you rather see an empty store front?!

  12. You know, I have never smoked pot and I am starting to think I would like living in Uptown a hell of a lot more if I did. I imagine that it would soften the edges a bit?

  13. To 6pm- yes it would soften the edges, but then again that works for me-it just might not work for you. Though it wont hurt to try! LOL!
    There are moments I could be so high that it still doesn't curve my anger to the stupid things I see in Uptown on a daily basis.

  14. Oh, then for the meantime I will just stick to becoming a wasp-y alcoholic. But, it is sooo cliche sitting here drinking my port...I feel like since I live in Uptown I should be a bit edgier with my sins. -- Anonymous 6:00

  15. Okay, I can think of something positive that Alderman Shiller did. No slings and arrows, please.

    Some background: Family Dollar on Broadway was the worst neighbor I've ever had.

    Examples: They told the police that locking their back gate was against the law. (The police were all like, "We're the police, we know what's against the law. You're wrong.") Because of their reluctance to secure their property, we neighbors were treated to much lovely behavior in that unlocked alcove: crack smoking, gangs dealing drugs, prostitution, urination, public drinking, and winos sleeping it off. This went on for years. Years! Even though we worked diligently with the police and CAPS.

    Then Family Dollar decided to skimp on garbage pickup. They also refused to chain their dumpsters closed. This is what our block looked like nearly every day. Note that this is the public sidewalk, even if it looks like a ghetto alley:

    Photo 1

    Photo 2

    Photo 3

    Photo 4

    We made, literally, hundreds of calls to Family Dollar, to everyone from the store manager to the corporate offices. Nothing helped.

    My neighbor prevailed on Alderman Shiller. She, several neighbors, and the regional manager from Family Dollar had a meeting. And -- with a couple slips -- things have been fine ever since. I have to admit that it was the meeting with the alderman that did the trick.

    If Alderman Shiller did more hands-on, community-helpful things like this, I believe the animosity shown by those whom her staff calls "bad apples" would be greatly reduced.

    I don't know if she gets personally involved now like she did with Family Dollar. As much as I dislike how the whole Wilson Yard thing is being handled, I appreciate that it was her intervention that finally got our Family Dollar nightmare resolved.

  16. Well, that is great Truman! That is exactly what an alderman should be helping with...regularly...in partnership with residents...because it signals our environment and our neighborhood are worth it and by extension that the people in it are worth it.

  17. Where was her 46th Ward Streets and Sanitation Ward Superintendent Don Nowatny with his Dumpster Task Force and citation book for the years and years this was going on? Sleeping out by the Montrose Harbor bait house again?

  18. Don and S&S worked on it with us. They were great. Mr. Williams, an inspector, came out every single time we called. S&S fined Family Dollar repeatedly. But -- for whatever reason -- Family Dollar opted to pay fines rather than remedy the situation.

    S&S couldn't FORCE them to put the chains on their dumpsters. That decision came only after the meeting with the alderman.

    Believe me, it was a flippin' nightmare that went on for years. I can't even count the number of City people and residents who got involved at one time or another, until it finally got solved.

  19. Helen also returns News-Star's phone calls.

  20. I'm personally delighted that Helen helped resolve the situation and did her friggin job. Can you imagine it taking 2 years to resolve this in another ward? I don't think so.

  21. Anyone else have her knock on your door on a Sunday morning to ask you to vote for her? who does that.