Thursday, May 29, 2008

Wilson Club Hotel Back In Court On August 14th

This is what we're hearing from people who were at Housing Court for the Wilson Club Hotel today:

Approximately ten court advocates showed up, as well as many representatives from Community Policing. Jay Bomberg, owner of the Wilson Club Hotel, was there with legal counsel and 7-8 residents of the hotel. It was a crowded courtroom.

In a nutshell, conditions for cleaning up the hotel were imposed. Mr. Bomberg must return to court on August 14th to demonstrate that he's complied with court's directions.

Were you there? Got more details? Please post in the comments.

We also hear that Alderman Shiller and her henchman devoted aide Maggie Marystone showed up at the courthouse to defend Jay Bomberg and his business practices from the nasty, vindictive "bad apples" (that is, court advocates and community members) who believe people down on their luck shouldn't have to live in kennel-like, dangerous conditions, and who believe that illegal activities taking place inside and in front of a business shouldn't be tolerated.

However, the alderman and her aide showed up too late to actually make it into the courtroom.

Once again, the alderman hears what the community wants and demands, and comes down squarely on the opposite side. We have never heard of a "public servant" being at war with the people she supposedly represents like this. Clearly, the people who pay her salary (through taxes, not campaign contributions) and fund her TIFs are "the enemy" when it comes to throwing around her aldermanic clout. On more time, Uptown Update is outraged and disappointed in the behavior and allegiances of our paid representative.


  1. But..., the hanging flowers like so nice.

  2. "However, the alderman and her aide showed up too late to actually make it into the courtroom."

    This is classic! You made my day, UU.

  3. "Jay Bomberg, owner of the Wilson Club Hotel, was there with legal counsel and 7-8 residents of the hotel."

    Is this yet another example someone in Uptown trying to perpetuate harmful and despicable conditions for the poor by shielding themselves behind those very same poor people? Sure seems like that to me.

    FOR THE LAST TIME FOLKS: While some of the panhandling, littering, public urination and public drinking that local residents associate with this place is irksome VERY FEW OF US WOULD DENY THE RESIDENTS THEIR RIGHT TO BE HOUSED! Low rent, single occupancy hotels have a place in urban environments. If the market can bear a low-rent SRO on this stretch of Wilson, then so be it. HOWEVER, this is NOT a proper SRO where the residents can be inside on a hot summer day without risking being the next heatwave victim. It is time for the owner to treat the residents, this property and the surrounding community with some respect and to stop playing class politics on the back of the residents.

    Jay Bomberg, clean up your property. Make it a true SRO Hotel and use the connections you have through Business Partners to link these men to resources in our neighborhood.

  4. Wrong is right. Pleased to meet you. Hope you guessed my name.

  5. Does anyone remember when Uptown's northern portion succeeded and decided to call themselves "Edgewater"? Maybe Uptown should succeed from itself and rename itself "Bizarro Land" Perhaps that would give all the hippie students who descend on this place to soothe their guilty consciences a clue at the outset.

  6. ...that is, court advocates and community members) who believe people down on their luck shouldn't have to live in kennel-like, dangerous conditions, and who believe that illegal activities taking place inside and in front of a business shouldn't be tolerated

    I disagree. It's not kennel-like conditions. No dog would be allowed to be boarded here under current licensing requirements for animal shelters. Shame on anyone who would defend these living conditions.

  7. Grandpa, What are you doing in front of the Wilson Hotel?

  8. I heard that the Hilton's are going to buy it.

  9. I can just hear Shiller standing outside the courtroom now.."but I am the ALDERMAN...the defender of justice...the voice of the voiceless (and my campaign contributors)..."

  10. Helen knows that building. She went inside to campaign to get votes so she had to know about the deplorable conditions. I know she was there because some men living there told me.

  11. Yes, I remember Edgewater succeeding from the Uptown union. It is the only instance in the history of Chicago of a census area change. It was orchestrated by the aldermen, businesses and residents to distance itself from Uptown's poor reputation and to revitialize the neighborhood.

    Next time Shiller tells us if we don't like Uptown's crime we should leave maybe we should go - and take our land and community with us.

    "Edgewater Community Area is the newest Community Area in Chicago. Originally the North half of its southern neighbor, Uptown Community Area, Edgewater Community Area was created in preparation for the 1980 census when Uptown Community Area was split in two along Foster Ave (5200N) from Ravenswood Ave (1800W) eastward to the lake. The West border, shared with West Ridge Community Area and Lincoln Square Community Area, is Ravenswood Ave from Devon Ave (6400N) to Foster Ave. The North limit, common to Rogers Park community Area, is Devon Ave from Ravenswood Ave eastward to the lake."

  12. My God, of course Shiller know the building. Ever look at her petitions to get on the ballot circulated by Marc Kaplan of Courag? Ever see her busloads of homeless registrants unloading in front and coming across the street to vote? Ever see the voter turnout for Shiller from that buidling? That is her vote fraud machine.

  13. Here is a run down of today's court date:

    Per Judy Dever, the atty on the case, the plan is not to close down the hotel, but to make it better.

    The hotel currently has 40 code violations that must be addressed. A few days ago the attys, city inspectors, and police reps all toured the hotel and said that the mgmt had spent several days cleaning (they said the whole place smelled of Pinesol). The hotel mgmt also did things like remove bikes off the fire escape, which is a fire code violation.

    Police rep mentioned that the owner has put up the flowers, which is a step toward beautifying (I know everyone feels differently about this--that it's such an insignificant step and doesn't address the core issues, while others say at least it's something). Apparently the owner also has plans to take down the existing sign and make it look better. There might be no signage at all.

    Interesting note that I did not know: the new Vietbowl restaurant that opened, along with the "tax place" and "cell phone place" on Wilson are tenants of Jay Bomberg. Several of us mentioned the concern about productive businesses being pushed out b/c of the excessive littering/loitering, and it was interesting to me that Vietbowl is a tenant of Bomberg.

    I had a side conversation with one of the attorneys that toured the hotel, and he said it's pretty dismal (my word). Of the 40 violations, some include: mice, plumbing, caving in ceilings, electrical, and just general dirtiness. He described how the "cubicle" rooms are so small that a twin bed barely fits (he estimated about 6x5 foot rooms, and the rooms are enclosed with mesh dividers). I made the comment that the conditions sound worse than a homeless shelter, yet the men are paying $225 a month to live there (some pay a daily rate--which is concerning, b/c it means there is even more transient traffic that can't be held as easily accountable for illegal actvities). My feeling is they must pay to live there because they want freedom to partake in their chosen activities and don't want to follow the rules of a shelter (such as being in by 5pm and out by 8am, etc).

    The total hotel is 3 stories tall, and I believe I was told that 60% of the residents are over 50 years old. Most of those residents are housed on the first floor due to mobility concerns at their age. One resident of the hotel did arrive at the courthouse, but he was late and missed the hearing. In the hallway, he said that the management cleaned up quite a bit in anticipation of the visit by the attorneys, police and inspectors.

    Judy Dever, who is the attorney on the Gang/Drug case, said that Jay Bomberg and his attys have been very cordial and forthcoming when working with her, in her opinion. She said that they actually approached her upon hearing about the court case.

    Another item that came up is that there is an intention to get more social services into the hotel. Right now, apparently only a nurse comes in periodically.

    In total, we had 10 to 12 court advocates, so I felt that concerned neighbors were fairly well represented. As we all know, the next court date is August 14th. Please make it a point to attend if you can.

  14. Anon 9:48, thanks for commenting and giving details.

    A question about social services coming into the hotel: Is there a problem with the men seeking social services themselves? (Seems like you can't throw a stone any direction on Wilson without hitting plenty of social services.) Is it perhaps because they're too infirm?

    I hadn't thought of them staying at the hotel as a way not to be stuck outside with nowhere to go during the times when the overnight shelters are closed. But the sweltering conditions inside the hotel don't sound any more attractive. Were any plans discussed about making it cooler/bearable during the summer?

    Finally, were only the general conditions discussed, or was there any mention of the conditions that got it into Gang and Drug House enforcement?

    Thank you for posting.

  15. I think the conditions sound worse than a homeless shelter (without the free meal!), but the residents obviously find some benefit of paying to live there--perhaps that there is less oversight/supervision than in a homeless shelter, so they can do whatever activities they want?

  16. Who is Bomberg's legal counsel in this matter?

  17. Yep, August 4. That strings it out. Then they'll get another continuance to get them past that all-important November election date given that this is a very important vote fraud location needed to get Chicago and Mayor Daley to get their guy, Barak Obama, into the White House.

    Shiller needs to deliver those phony voters to the Dem Machine to hold up her end of the deal that had Daley helping her stay in office this last term.

  18. Who was the prosecutor on this case?

  19. "Shiller needs to deliver those phony voters to the Dem Machine"

    Oh, please. Illinois is so heavily blue, you don't need a relatively measly number of fake votes to take the state for the Dems.

  20. Forty-Four housing potentially deadly housing violations and that is the best the judicial system can do?

    They hand out bigger fines for not moving your car on street sweeping day! Or letting your parking meter expire. Or paying your property taxes a week late. Or bringing your dog to the dog beach without a dog park license.

    We're so glad the city administration is taking this case seriously. What's wrong with $100 per day per violation until they are fixed?

  21. "What's wrong with $100 per day per violation until they are fixed?"

    What would the city do with the money? Really, come on, after they raised our taxes the City's coffers are now flush with cash. No need to be excessive! How do we know they have money to burn? Let's count the ways...1) Millions paid in city hiring fiasco 2) $2M paid to Latin for soccer field debacle 3) TIF spending, like Wilson Yard and the "Golden Garage" for Truman College...the list could go on and on...but the point is, clearly the City has no need for Mr. Bomberg's money! What other reason could there be for fleecing citizens but letting a scummy business owner slide?

  22. Could someone explain the fines a bit more? I have to say, with how expensive it must be to bring a property owner to court, the fines should be steeper than a parking ticket! I agree with Gunnison Guy.

    Also, why did Helen Shiller feel as if she needed to appear in court? I get the public performance aspect of it all but not any underlying logic. If she went "to support Jay Bomberg who is making an effort to clean things up" then what was she doing all of these years when the same conditions existed under different ownership? If she went to make a statement that they shouldn't close it because the men would become homeless that doesn't make sense either because the first step by the court was never going to be to shut the doors. The court understands that there are people living there and it would be a hardship on them. So I ask: beyond public performance, what was the purpose of her appearance?

    And to everyone else who has been posting on this board saying "I know Jay and he's gotta have a plan" I guess we now know what it is. He intends to make substantial improvements to the Club. However, why do local residents have to take time off work to find out such things YET AGAIN? It appears that if the proposed changes are implemented they will do exactly what many of us have been asking for. So, why do local residents then have to appear downtown and find their alderman on the "opposite side"? It seems to me that everyone is willing to work in the same general direction but once again the "sides," divisions and secrecy remains intact. I am just floored that someone who chose to go into public service is able to keep alive such hatred for her own constituents. Is there an oath that alderman recite when they accept their office?

  23. I'm as anti-Wilson Club Hotel as anyone here, but some of the conspiracy theories spouted in this thread are incredibly, ridiculously, embarrassingly STUPID. They're letting the hotel stick around so that the homeless guys can vote for Obama?!?

    Please people, think for a minute before you post. You're making UU look really stupid.

  24. "They're letting the hotel stick around so that the homeless guys can vote for Obama?!?"

    You're righ it's the tighter races that they need the votes for, not for the Presidential race. Those of us who have lived in Uptown for years could write a book about how the poor and homeless in Uptown have been manipulated for their votes by the Shiller machine.

    Unfortunately, Illinois election laws force the people and the media to clean up their politicians' corruption. There is not much oversight, which is probably somewhat intentional.

    When you control both the people and the media, you end up being a hot shot go to person, kind of like Rezko. Too bad for Shiller she has lost much of her influence from all the bad apples moving in and getting involved. Oh and the internet has changed things too.

  25. When you control both the people and the media, you end up being a hot shot go to person, kind of like Rezko. Too bad for Shiller she has lost much of her influence from all the bad apples moving in and getting involved.

    Therein what all the tactics boil down to: POWER.


    Since when do people in this country have the right to be housed?? I've heard of the right not to be denied housing based on sex, race, etc but never heard of this right to be housed...

  27. There is no legal right to be housed in this country but many people recognize a moral right for human beings to have shelter. If you do not believe this, then no one can make you. However, the morality of providing food and shelter to those who need it is evident in most major religions and by others who draw their morality from more "humanist" perspectives. I am not exactly sure where people who don't believe that a moral right to shelter exists would draw their perspective from---perhaps neo-classical economics?

  28. Saskia asks: "Why did Helen Shiller feel as if she needed to appear in court?"

    I can only guess, but judging from her history, she makes appeals for poorly-run housing to remain open and promises the violations will be taken care of.

    She saved the JPUSA Sylvia Center despite its many, many violations that still were ignored months later. Again, I can only guess why JPUSA chose not to bring Sylvia Center into compliance, but my guess is that they figured they were protected by the alderman, so why bother?

    From 2003: "[T]he Sylvia Center currently has 36 building code violations dating back to August 2002, including exposed electrical wires, inadequate smoke and fire alarms, and the lack of fire escapes. Many violations have been unresolved despite the three extensions granted by the City to the center's owners, Jesus People/USA."

    I would imagine she came to court on behalf of Wilson Club Hotel to yet again make sure Uptown's unsafe, shoddy housing stayed available to the poorest of the poor. You're a gem, Alderman Shiller.

  29. We're so glad the city administration is taking this case seriously.

    Were you one of the 10-12 court advocates there? Because I was. When we were seated in the court room it was the very beginning of the hearing. It lasted maybe 5 minutes. We stayed for the next hearing and it was the exact same thing. About 5 minutes long.

    Both cases we saw (WMC and another) both were first meetings with the judge. It seemed that it was pretty cut and dry. "Has the owner been in contact with the city?" "Have they been cooperative?" "Ok, lets give 28 days and see how they are doing"

    Judy actually pointed out to the judge that Jay was being proactive in cleaning and addressing the violations. So with both sides being cooperative, it didn't seem like a daily penalty was necessary.

    What was great to see was Judy reiterating that they were not going to close it down. Closing the entire place down would just put everyone of these people on the street. Also, a tenant from the building was hanging out with us and he was explaining that a lot of the people that hang out in front don't actually stay at the hotel. A lot are homeless or guys that stay at the Salvation Army and hang out over there to buy drugs from dealers at Truman. I found that very interesting.

    Yep, August 4. That strings it out.

    Hope that explained why it was pushed out.

  30. I said it before. If you have a question for Jay ask it!! He does not avid people and has a great plan. Anything that is good on Wilson is basically due to Jay. Obviously he wants his properties to be worth more. This is exactly the point of action.THe MAJORITY of the people on here will bitch with everything they have, but to find a solution(or go vote) wont happen. Armchair quarterbacks.

  31. I think the Magic-Johnson-financed Starbucks, and the owners of Unique So Chique, who were pioneers on Wilson, might disagree that Jay owns "everything good" on Wilson.

    I would hardly put a hotel that's been in Gang and Drug House court in that category.

    If Mr Bomberg wants to comment here and explain his plan for the Wilson Club Hotel, he's more than welcome to.

    Also, the police, CAPS, and court advocates who have been actively pursuing the case against this place hardly qualify as "armchair quarterbacks." Were YOU in court yesterday?

  32. Ok, I am intimately familiar with the workings of the law department section that is currently prosecuting this case and I noticed some questions that were posted that I can answer.

    1. All SRO's are inspected annually by the Department of Buildings (and surprisingly most have very few building code violations) and where the Building Code Violations (BCV's) are minor, the cases are prosecuted in the Department of Administrative Hearings. Obviously this property has A LOT of BCV's, many quite serious and there were also lots of community complaints about the property. Judy Dever is the attorney prosecuting the case for the City. I believe that it was a combination of the community complaints and the large number of serious building code violations that brought this case to her attention and caused her to file it in Circuit Court as opposed to Administrative Hearings (there are many more remedies and enforcement mechanisms available in Circuit Court).

    2. The way fines and such go for BCV's is that, per code, an owner can be fined between $200-$500 (or $1,000 for smoke and C.O. Detectors) per day, per BCV. However, Judges are usually wary of fining someone that much money, the major purpose of Court is to bring the building into compliance, not necessarily to punish the owner (although that usually plays a role in the end). So, if the owner is cleaning up the property and fixing the property in a time frame the court finds reasonable, don't be surprised if there are not massive fines at the end.

    3. Expect this case to go on for a while, if the owner is planning to repair the violations, there will be many more court dates with many more continuancesto stay on top of the owner and make sure that he is actually doing the work and that it is up to par. The City had its top inspector for that department do the inspection and the court inspectors will be doing the reinspections and those guys are not push overs and they expect the work to be done right the first time and if it is not, they won't pass it and they will continue to write it up. I have seen those inspectors in action and they take these violations very seriously and will not let the owner slide.

    Now the case will fix up the building itself, but it, unfortunately, will not necessarily fix the people that live inside the building and loiter on the street. If you see illegal activity coming from the building or the people that live there, call the police and report it next time you are in court (if you can get names that will be important as Judy can then talk to the owner about it and hopefully get those individuals kicked out, again, hopefully).

    I moved into Uptown in December and absolutely LOVE it and want to see it continue to change and improve.

  33. Anyone know what used to be in this building before it was a "hotel?" Just curious... I know it has been a "men's club" for years, but just wondering what it was originally.

  34. "Armchair quarterbacks" That's a good one! Are you one too?

    I really hope that he does have plans. With about 60% of the men being over 50 years old, our community should not turn our backs on these guys. No matter how bad they are or once were, it's NOT for us to judge them! We don't know what all have been through. It's bad enough that they're being USED as political-pawns for local votes for an over paid alderman, who in the end doesn't give a damn about them what-so-ever. If she does then why was there a couple of broken windows durring the coldest months? What's going to happen now with the warm weather comming up?

    I live right down the street from the W.H. and I do not want to see it go. Yes- it needs to be cleand & fixed-up, but does Jay have the money & resources to do it? And will Shiller really help?

    And as a community of "armchair- quarterbacks", "condo-yuppies", "bad apples", "upright-tax-paying-citizens"- what can WE do to help and make this a better place for these men?

  35. So, where are the answers to how Mr. Bomberg got a license to his newly acquired hotel business when, based upon the 44 housing code violations found 12 weeks later he could not possibly have passed the 6 steps required to obtain the license he was issued on January 22 of this year?

    Dept of Bus Affairs: 6 Steps to Obtain Business License:
    1. Application,
    2. Zoning approval;
    3. Account number;
    4. Tax registration;
    5. License fee;
    6. License inspection;
    License certificate

    Business License Issued– Not an SRO license. Only a Hotel License
    Location 1124 W WILSON AVE
    Issue date January 22, 2008
    License type Hotel
    Expiration date July 15, 2009
    Structure Ltd. Liab. Co.

    And has anyone found out which city department is funding him over $10,000 per the City Clerk's Ethics Report online?

  36. Because this property operates under a Hotel license the police have heightened responsibilities and powers under Muni Code 4-208. Where the hell have the police been for the past 30 years?

    4-208-030 The Superintendent of Police shall cause an investigation to be made to ascertain that the applicant has complied with all applicable laws and ordinances to said businesses...

    4-208-080 The licensee (Bomberg or Derrig) shall be guilty of maintaining a public disorder if the licensee or employees knowingly permit ....gambling or the unlawful sale of narcotic or controlled substances to be conducted on the premises or immediately adjacent by anyone getting a room there...

    4-208-90 The Licensee, officers, directors corporate partners or principles shall be deemed responsible for maintaining a public disorder and for the acts of his employees

    4-208-100 Police investigations WHENEVER POLICE ARE CALLED TO THE PREMISES FOR MAKING A POLICE REPORT RELATIVE TO CRIMINAL CONDUCT OR AN ARREST the Superintendent of Police shall cause an investigation ito whether Maintaining a Public Disorder is occuring and prepare a written report with recomendations.

    The report shall be transmitted within 48 hours to Corp Counsel and the Mayors License Commission for further action. The report is available to the Alderman and City Counsel upon written request.

    4-208-120 Additional Penalites
    ... shall be punishable by fines of not lesshta $250 or more than $500 for EACH separate violation. The thrid violation results in arrest of not less than 30 days!!!


  37. Honestly, I would bet that the police don't even know about that ordinance. (I hate to say it, but I'm pretty sure it's true). Perhaps that should be brought to the police's attention at the Beat's next CAPs meeting.

  38. It is a shame. I do know a few of the men that live and have lived in this building. I don't think anyone is saying to get rid of it, just clean it up. We do need places like this for people trying to turn a corner, just not people trying to sell dope. The slum lord should clean it up or move in.
    -Uptown Dad

  39. Ugh i've lived here for going on 4 years this summer and have never felt more creeped out than in the last 6 months in front of this hotel. Everything west of Racine feels safe and looks lovely. Everything east is dismal, dirty, and scary. I purposely exit the el at the station on Boadway now and walk up to Leland to head home though it is out of my way, in order to avoid that stretch of Wilson....

    You want to see something lovely, go look at the beautiful red buds before their last flowers fall in front of the magnolia cafe, thats a nice stretch of Wilson and i don't believe Jay had anything to do with that.

  40. Balony. I would bet, no--- make that I would know -- that the 23rd Police station has a Municipal Ordiance Binder at the desk. In fact, it looks just like the one I have on my desk entitled Chicago Municipal Code Handbook. Chicago Police, Gould Publications.

    If that isn't enough, the Police Department has it's own Law Department available to answer police inquiries.

    And, the Police Patrol and Training Divisions issues procedures that are kept in binders at the desk and are announced at roll call.

    And our past and current Commanders are attorneys.

    They know the law when they want to know the law. And they know where to go to find it when they want to find it.

  41. So it will take months for the case to progress. What about the past years when we were successful in getting Wilson Men's Club Hotel into Housing Court? Why didn't the process work so that the serious housing code violations - 44 found again now and ones that killed men in the 1996 heatwave -- were ever corrected?

    How can an administrative process be so corrupted from the inspections needed to get the license to start operations to the responses to 311 complaints to the daily police interactions to the administrative housing court hearings to the past judicial court cases that this $430 per wire cage per month death trap survived 30 years?

  42. Good question, anonymous. Maybe with the warmer weather coming around an enterprising journalist would like to do a story on it.

  43. Anyone who can't understand why Daley wants votes out of Uptown for the Obama campaign doesn't know Daley or Daley's and Obama's campaign manager, David Axelrod.

    Even in years when it was plainly clear that Daley would win in a landslide he was never satisfied unless his troops were beaten up top get out there to get every last vote. It will be the same for the Obama race because it is not just about winning, it is about a showing power and what he can control and deliver.

  44. My reason for not voting for Obama was because it would give more semblance of power to Daley. I think Obama is good for the country but if you are disgusted by machine politics in Chicago and Illinois, it will get worse with Obama as President.