ALDERMAN BLOCKS UPTOWN GRANT
Chicago Tribune, November 3, 1987
by Manuel Galvan and Charles Mount
Freshman Ald. Helen Shiller (46th) flexed her political muscle Monday and persuaded a Chicago City Council committee to cancel a federal grant for a community group in Uptown that is a rival of her own group.
The action came while the City Council's Budget Committee was approving the distribution of $95.1 million in federal spending for community projects, as part of the Community Development Block Grant package.
Shiller requested that the committee deny the Uptown Chicago Commission its entire grant of $20,000.
"I can prove this organization is not doing what it is supposed to," Shiller said.
She conceded the 32-year-old Uptown Chicago Commission has criticized her in the past. The Uptown Commission has long been at loggerheads with the organization of which Shiller is cochairman, the Heart of Uptown Coalition.
Ald. Kathy Osterman (48th), part of whose ward is also served by the Uptown Chicago Commission, asked the Budget Committee to award the group the $20,000 as recommended by Mayor Harold Washington in his community block grant recommendations.
The Uptown Commission's application had already been reviewed and approved at three levels in the city bureaucracy.
Funding for the Uptown Commission had come yearly since 1984 with backing by former Ald. Jerry Orbach, who was defeated by Shiller in this year's ward race.
After heated debate, the Budget Committee voted 9-5 in favor of Shiller's amendment to remove the entire grant for the Uptown organization.
"I'm disappointed," said Pat Reskey, executive director of the Uptown Chicago Commission. "What we're seeing is Helen Shiller's thinking that she has an agenda that is different from ours in serving the community."
Reskey said the $20,000, which was reduced from $25,000 last year, would have been used to pay the salary of a staff person to help residents, including senior citizens, get money for home improvements.