Saturday, May 31, 2008

Ald. Shiller Tells Lakefront Condo Owners About Wilson Yard, Or Not


Wilson Yard Project

“In the last newsletter we provided you with some information about the plans for the new Wilson Yard Project. This neighborhood revitalization project will take place from Montrose to Wilson Ave. along Broadway. We are told that the construction on the Target store will begin on May 1 where they will be digging to create a foundation for the underground garage. In addition to Target, there will be 25,000 sq. ft. for another retail store (yet unnamed). There will be other small businesses along Broadway. Also, new residential areas will be created which include approximately 75-85 two-three bedroom rental units and approximately 90-95 senior rental units. This "is a completely green development, with green roofs, and the largest rental building of its kind with a built-in recycling process." Finally, the El station at Wilson Ave will be redeveloped. The proposed deadline for the entire project is early 2010.”


This “From the Alderman’s Office” announcement appeared this month in a newsletter of a 46th Ward luxury high-rise. It is Alderman Helen Shiller’s update on the progress of the Wilson Yard Project to a condo association that houses many seniors.

When people question how Shiller gets re-elected, one need only look at this example of her Public Relations Machine in action. Notice:

1. While baiting these seniors with promises of future senior housing, she purposely neglects to tell them that this new rental housing is government-subsidized, low-income project housing 100% reserved for the poorest of the poor. They are left to presume that they are getting a new Hallmark when they are really getting a new Cabrini Green. And, she’s certainly not providing them related information on how to get on the subsidized housing waiting list as required to move into these buildings because that might tip her hand.

2. While stressing future proposed development deadlines, she omits to tell them that the project has missed every deadline, is in serious financial trouble, and that nothing has been built in 8 years with $52 million, all of which makes the project’s future questionable. There is no mention that the project has lost its financial backers and the city had to step in and raise the TIF contribution percentage from the standard 20% to 35%, the highest subsidy in the history of the TIF program. In fact, the Target store May 1 construction start date mentioned in the condo newsletter was missed by the newsletter date.

3. The alderman suggests that another 25,000 ft store is committed – just unnamed – and that other retail businesses are locating there. Yet, no evidence of any for-profit business presence has been obtained by any FOIA requests.

4. The alderman stresses her favorite campaign issues “Green, Green, Green” “Recycle, Recycle, Recycle.” These are nice, warm and fuzzy issues that have little downside potential and which allow her to talk about something other than Uptown’s serious, substantive issues such as a student being murdered in front of her Aldermanic Office, kids being shot dead in front of Weiss Hospital, a women being shot in Clarendon Park, cars being stolen all over the neighborhood, attempted child kidnappings, sex offenders, housing ordinance violations, zoning, housing density, and so forth.

5. Notice, the alderman refuses to speak to block clubs, CAPS, and community leaders about crime, zoning, and other serious issues or to update her website with critical information, but she does take the time and effort to send targeted misinformation and omissions to those on the Lakefront and South end of the Ward. It is clear that this is Public Relations correspondence to targeted voters.


  1. What a joke. It's as if a reality TV show is being filmed right in front of us - called "Chicago Politics for Dummies!"

  2. I truly believe the misguided current plan is collapsing from greed, abuse of power, and lack of vision.

    Perhaps we can start envisioning what Wilson Yard is supposed to become for our community.

    It is the heart of Uptown's dismal retail area. It can and will become a street lined with shops, cafes, public market perhaps, the truly revives these wonderful wide sidewalks with people strolling, sitting at a cafe, bringing their kids to a Saturday music event.

    This is what the Wilson Yard can and will become.

  3. Just a curiousity, does anyone know what her salary is?

  4. Well over $100K a year Brandon.

  5. 100K Oh my god! Look for me to be running in a few years.

  6. For six to eight months after the election, Shiller continued to place her Wilson Yard campaign flyer in the North Community Bank lobby at 3800 North Broadway.

    It was that flyer, which contained the architectural drawings with the streetside entrances to Aldi's that never existed and the Aldi's windows that never existed and all sorts of features that never would exist.

    Yet, she kept on telling those Lakeview folks those lies. And they just gulp them down.

  7. I hope whoever sent this to Uptown Update is somehow able to set the record straight with the residents of that high rise. It's this kind of misinformation that led to Shiller doing so well in the southern portion of the ward last election. The majority of residents in that area literally have no idea what's going on in Uptown and get most of their "information" from Shiller-controlled channels.

  8. Please don't make or state silly assumptions about the people who live in the south end of the area. We're in the south and can assure you that we don't get our info from nor do we believe the alderman's publications...UU and other sources inform us of what is truly going on. As life long Chicagoans and a tax payers - living south of Wilson Avenue or east of Sheridan doesn't make us oblivious or unable to vote for the best candidate.

  9. When I lived in a high-rise in Buena Park, I never saw anything like I do now. It's easy in a high-rise to have it be your whole universe. I voted for Shiller a few times, because, hey, life was good, our streets were clean, and she showed up in our building every four years to tell us what a good alderman she'd been by getting the city to open up the park for overnight parking (the major issue for most of us).

    It wasn't until I moved to Truman Square and got out of the high-rise that I started to see things differently.

    This is only my experience; I can't speak for anyone else. It took moving to "ground zero" (because I wanted to own a home and this is where I could afford one) for me to have a change of heart. My admiration to those who live "south" and see the big picture. I certainly didn't. The alderman lost this one-time supporter.

  10. 10:16, explain to me why Shiller won the southern portion of the ward? On her merits?!?

  11. Real easy breakdown on how the ward voted.

    Lakefront highrises went slightly for Shiller.

    Condo low rise away from the lakefront generally went for the Cappelmaniac whether north or south of Irving Park.

    There was a rough split in the precincts as to winner. I am too lazy to look it up.

    Subsidized housing and JPUSA went overwhelmingly for Shiller.

    Interesting factoid: it seems if you look into elections past the highrise areas always support the "establishment" candidate. In the distant past that included Shiller opponents. Since then she has become the "establishment" candidate.

    Tune in to the internet for 2011 elections results. All Hail Saint Helen of Uptown and Lakeview. Selling her soul to the machine in 2003. Gotta keep that big paycheck coming in.

  12. Anon 10:16 in the southern end is a rarity that reads UU for info. I could be wrong because this blog gets too many hits to make me think just Uptown folks are reading this.

    The press on the most part still see the the northern end of the ward as the really mean & disgruntled NIMBYs as do some Lakeview residents. That seems to be changing though and the News Star is letting her have it. I don't think she has a snowball's chance in hell in 2011. If a good candidate ran against Daley, Helen would lose by a landslide.

  13. I think there should be a coordinated effort by EVERY block club to invite her to speak in the month of July. And everyone she refuses should be widely publicized.

  14. I agree that not everyone on the Lakeview South end or Lakefront is unaware of Ald. Helen Shiller's abusive treatment of her Uptown constituents but many are.

    And this news release from her office demonstrates the rosy and inaccurate picture she paints for them. For those that don't follow politics, Shiller's targeted and self-serving Public Relations press releases, disseminated via condo boards, become all they know of this alderman.

    These press releases sent to Lakeview are not the same news releases that she sends to her low income housing constituents in Uptown that say that Helen Shiller is protecting them from racist, gentriying condo owners!

  15. Hey Lakefront Condo Owner... if you have a copy of any of those she sends to public housing, please copy and share with the rest of us. I am very curious what is said...

  16. If I read this correctly, there is an Alderman.....And an Assistant.

    Cool. But wait - there is also an Aide.

    And a Staff-Assistant.

    And a Sergeant-At-Arms (how ironic is THAT name?)

    And an Assistant Sergeant-At-Arms.

    And another Assistant Sergeant-At-Arms.

    And another Assistant Sergeant-At-Arms.

    And another Assistant Sergeant-At-Arms.

    And another Assistant Sergeant-At-Arms.


  17. if cappleman's camp has funds left from the campaign, they should think of putting out a flyer to these same buildings that provides real info on the project and calls out the lies of shiller

  18. Yes it would be great is Cappleman would keep running for 2012.

    It's laughable!

    I hope we have a alternative between Cappleman and Shiller.

    We don't need any more social workers in office in Uptown.

  19. 12:21: Calling Shiller a social worker is an insult to social workers everywhere. She follows no clear plan for what she does other than her own homegrown & incoherent ideology. She defies all conventions but I am humored by the comparisons to both Castro and Bush, though! Has anyone ever heard of one person being compared to both men and there still being a kernel of truth in it??! LOL

    It really makes me fear for Uptown that the Shilleristas were able to paint a former Franciscan and a social worker (who co-founded a homeless shelter) as evil. Any sense of fairness and morality should have caused them to pick another way to campaign against him. After 20 years of "service" to the ward, she should have been able to run a purely positive campaign by pointing to her years of good works. Of course in politics you've got to work with your strengths. Those guys certainly know how to whip up fear and hatred and channel it toward votes on election day.

    Personally, I like James Cappleman and I really commend him for staying on the hot seat when he could otherwise retreat into private life. It will be interesting to see, though, if voters become so upset with the state of affairs around here and if they decide they want someone who is very anti-Daley and very conservative on the social issues. While I would personally like to see true progressive politics in this ward, it is not unreasonable to think that the ward might swing to the right in the next election. What a final statement on Shiller's self-proclaimed "balanced approach" that would be!

  20. hs is a democrat, tom not so sharp is the democrat comittee man for her, rich daley is a democrat, jan (I married a felon) is a democrat, todd (all my friends are "public Servants") is a democrat - you get what you vote for - corruption,
    wait til your 2nd installment tax bills come - maybe you all will wake up and decide that there needs to be some checks and balances -

  21. I agree. Cappleman is too nice. We need someone that is more pro-development to run next time.

  22. What does a committee man do (Tom Sharp)? What does a sergeant-at-arms do? What does an assistant sergeant-at-arms do? Does anyone know? All I know is that whenever I call that office, they are quite incapable of giving productive answers and nothing changes. p.s. Today is June 2nd - see any earth-moving equipment on Montrose Avenue?

  23. The committeeman (usually the alderman themself) is a party organizer for the ward. It's an (officially) unpaid position.

    I think that the Sergeant-At-Arms positions are all assistants in the council chambers or something. But they're definitely not part of alderman's staffs.

    As far as James "running" now, it's actually exactly what he should be doing - building and organizing his base well before the race actually starts.

  24. Looking ahead to the next election will be too late. HS obviously has a scorched-earth policy toward the ward NOW. Labor Ready, Wilson Mens Club, and most of all, Wilson Yard. A lot of people think she'll "turn over" her seat before the next election to her, and Daley's, hand-picked choice.

    But she can do a lot of harm in the time she has left. My feeling is that she thinks of Wilson Yard as her legacy, her crowning achievement. She will do ANYTHING to get that thing built, and if she can screw over the "yuppies" (i.e., bad apples) who want stupid things like representation and accountability from her ... ALL THE BETTER.

    Looking at 2011 is too late. You've got to look at what we have NOW, right in front of us.

  25. Cappleman won't win, Wilson Yard will get built, Shiller won't run again, she will take a job with the City that Daley picks for here or in private industry.

    There will be a hand picked candidate by Daley and the rest of the Alderman that will be in office prior to the 2012 long enought to establish him/herself and win the elections of course with the endorsement of Daley, Tunney and Mary Ann Smith.

    And Wilson Yard will get another influx of cash from the TIF fund before it is done.

    Target will finally come to the WY because they will make so attractive they can't afford not to.

    How do you think Tunney got in?

    And the next Alderman will be development driven and pro business. You will see a lot of the SRO, section 8 go away beause the buidings will be more valuable to redeveloping and selling. By this time Brendon Shiller will have his development company in full swing.

    Shiller will shit all the low income to WY.

    More gay bars and restaurants will move into Broadway and Uptown will be the new Boystown.

    Cappleman will still have his base of supporters that are miserable no matter what.

  26. Thanks Miss Cleo!

  27. "Shiller will shit all the low income to WY."

    Truer words were never typed on this blog.

  28. As depressing or cynical as most of what Anon 10:12 says, I agree that it's all going to go down like just like that. HS has left everyone feeling so dejected and without a voice, that rallying just soothes that need to be heard. But is it effective? It remains to be seen, but against this machine? Marginally. It would take something HUGE to expose this protected corruption, something along the lines of the Hired Truck Scandal.

  29. For the record, it is inaccurate to say that the low income housing tax credit housing proposed for Wilson Yards is for "the poorest of the poor." While rents will be lower than market rate, they are fixed amounts that, like in the private market, must be paid every month or the person will face eviction. To pay that rent a person will have to have a job - TANF or social security will not be enough. Therefore, residents will not be the poorest of the poor at all, but rather working class.

  30. 10:12---I agree with you about your assessment except your last line (and maybe your first as well). I think you may have misinterpreted all around discontent with what is actually a genuine movement to have something different for Uptown. Don't forget that people are picking Uptown because they want a genuine urban lifestyle (not McUptown or Disneytown or an urban version of Naperville). New residents are also highly educated in percentages that this city has never seen before. They know what smart & sustainable growth and fiscally conservative but socially liberal government looks like and they will not be afraid to demand it. Although you paint a very likely scenario, what you say is in no way set in stone!!

    However, in order for us not to just be fodder for the Daley machine we will have to start building consensus and to get the "establishment" voters in the south end of the ward to wake up! If the far left folks who have been supporting Shiller were willing to wake up they would realize that the writing is on the wall and if they want to really sustain some of what they built they will have to start playing nicer in the sandbox. They don't call this the liberal lakefront for nothing. It never fails to amaze me how it is always about "winner take all" with them and the ends always justifying the means. There is a middle ground to be found---the question is will anyone even want to find it in a badly scorched ward?

  31. In corporate life and in politics you have to work with in the system so to win in Uptown you have to work with the Daley machine.

  32. something along the lines of the Hired Truck Scandal.

    Do you remember how the Hired Truck scandal came out? Some neighbors got pissed off at seeing truck drivers sleeping in their trucks while getting paid and called Mark Brown at the Sun-Times.

    And he wrote about it.

    And it ended up getting as close to Daley as anything ever has.

    Neighborhood residents who get angry can lead to amazing things.

  33. I hate Shiller as the next uptowner...but do you really think someone who lives in a nice sections and has low taxes is going to vote in someone new? They have no incentive to vote Shiller out.

  34. Yep and when Helen steps aside right before 2012 the first residents will be living in WY low income housing and will be thankful for all Helen's hard work and will vote for who she endorses.

    I bet it won't be Cappleman.

  35. Seeing as the aldermanic election is in February 2011, I don't think Helen will be stepping aside in 2012.

    July 2010 is my bet. Maybe we should have a pool going.

  36. Actually the Hired Truck Scandal story broke when Sun Times reporter Steve Warmbir witnessed those guys sleeping in their trucks to the tune of $50 something an hour and did a little stake-out for a few days. I used to know him. Either way, I sure wish we had some Sun Times reporters up here digging around. They'd find a lot.

  37. "In corporate life and in politics you have to work with in the system so to win in Uptown you have to work with the Daley machine." True dat whether we like it or not at this point.

  38. "For the record, it is inaccurate to say that the low income housing tax credit housing proposed for Wilson Yards is for "the poorest of the poor." While rents will be lower than market rate, they are fixed amounts that, like in the private market, must be paid every month or the person will face eviction. To pay that rent a person will have to have a job - TANF or social security will not be enough. Therefore, residents will not be the poorest of the poor at all, but rather working class."

    Where on earth did you get this?

    Just because there is a "rent" does not mean that you have to be working class to meet it. Why to you believe that the rents are going to be so high that "TANF or social security" will not be enough?

  39. Very well said (and written)! Thank you. And thanks to all who participate on the Uptown Update site.

  40. Well just for the record, all tenants of all low income housing are supposed to either be elderly or disabled and unable to work, or training and looking for work, or working. The only other exception is mothers of newborns.

    So let's not make a distinction that suggests that these this housing is for persons that are somehow a step up from the bottom. Under the new federal laws everyone has to work for housing benefits if they can.

  41. But the Wilson Yard housing, if it's ever built, won't be under the purview of HUD or CHA. They've backed out. Now the LIHTC program is trying to pull out because construction has taken so long to start.

    Right now, it's going to be privately owned (by Holsten) rental housing for low-income, very low-income and extremely low-income tenants.

    No federal guidelines will apply. No CHA rules will apply. It's whatever Holsten and Shiller decide on as far as rules regarding employment, drug testing, etc.

  42. And I am sure that is very reassuring, TSN, to major retailers like Target who are trying to determine whether this is a good location to open up yet another branch on the northside. The Peterson location had few such problems. How much more does Holsten and the City have to sweeten the pot in order to make this look like a good investment do you think?