Wednesday, June 25, 2008

State Senator Steans Comments On Uptown Gang Violence

A reader received this response from State Senator Heather Steans in regards to Uptown's gang violence:

"The gang violence is clearly a significant (and perhaps more worrisome a growing?) problem. A number of us Senators got included in the capital plan significant dollars to address crime prevention issues in high crime areas (this plan has passed in the Senate, but not yet in the House – I am hopeful that at some point in the near future we will get a capital plan passed since the State is in dire need of one). It is clearly a key issue in any community, and I would like to be helpful in any way I can be. I have scheduled going to all of the upcoming beat meetings in Uptown (I haven’t seen a date yet for the next beat meeting for 2314, which I believe is the beat for Leland and Dover/Beacon – if you know when it is please let me know). My Chief of Staff – Jen Walling who is copied on this email – is keeping my updated on these meetings. I would also be happy to meet with you and/or others who share your concern in advance of the beat meeting to get your sense of what is or is not being done to address the problem. Let me know if you’d like to do this, and we’ll get it scheduled. My phone is 773-769-1717 – if I am not there Jen can schedule for me.

Thanks for your time and involvement on this – safety is clearly fundamental to a strong community, and I very much believe that active resident involvement helps enormously."


Heather Steans


  1. What is it with politicians in this area and their love of run-on sentences; their inability to use parenthesis properly and their obvious disdain of proof-reading?

    Having said that, I have no love for Ms. Steans.

    She voted against the impeachment bill, and then voted for a progressive income tax in just the last two months alone (luckily, the latter didn't pass).

    In my mind, she's just another cog in the democratic machine that has abandoned Uptown and done much harm to the city, count and state.

    If she wants to get involved in the issues of violence in her district, I'll support that 100%.

    But, it'll take a lot more than a poorly constructed email response to get me to believe she's good for anything more than a healthy heaping of balloon juice.

  2. I received some emails about this, and I will be happy to show up. I don't have much history on Sen. Steans, and I am sure politically we don't see eye to eye. That being said I feel like we need to hold back on anger and really try to show our representatives that we plan to remedy the problem with or without them.

    On a side note this made me happy today..
    "Top Cop Points Blame At Parents Of Boy Shot In Drive-By"
    This not so much..
    "Child rapists can't be executed"

    That's life.

  3. "But, it'll take a lot more than a poorly constructed email response to get me to believe she's good for anything more than a healthy heaping of balloon juice."

    Well, I have to disagree...
    1) She responded and indicated that she is attending all the upcoming CAPS meetings in Uptown. She is sure to hear an earful there. When has your city representative (Shiller) EVER attended a CAPS Meeting? We all know that she opposes CAPS meetings.

    2) Sen. Steans has indicated that she is welcome to meeting with area residents who are fed up with the violence and crime in the neighborhood and provided her telephone # and chief of staff's name for us to contact her and arrange meetings. Wow, now isn't that one of the things that we have all wanted from our alderman, that NEVER happens?

    I do not know Sen. Steans, nor did I vote for her. But whether her email is constructed grammatically correct or not, this sort of response is welcome as a first step. She needs to hear from her constituents (just like Rep. Greg Harris does) to know that this is a community that is angry about the local(City) (non)-reaction to the violence.

    What she does after she hears from all of us will be telling and will, for me, determine my vote this fall.

  4. tjm I couldn't agree more....glad you said it...lets not concentrate on the structure of the email...chances are, she wrote this quickly and perhaps on the go...which says more to least she wanted to respond....

    leave the grammar policing to billyjoe...ok...

  5. Wow - she sounds like an adult. Facing this problem head-on and inviting input and seeking solutions.
    Maybe she can send Helen Shiller to the childrens table and let the adults get something done. I wont give Stenas full credit until she actually shows up to the CAPS meeting, but its a good start.

  6. Alas .. the structure of the email is rather important, as far as accountability is concerned.

    Not that I think Heather was intentionally trying to duck accountability, here; but, the fact remains that a lot of ethical loop holes exist in bad grammar.

    And, why is it important to wait for the passage of a capital plan for action to be taken in the area of crime prevention?

    The issue in Uptown isn't as much prevention (or the funding thereof) as it is police response and the execution of the existing laws.

    As well as an aldermanic initiative to keep innocent people from being shot outside of her office.

    And speaking of Helen. If you removed Heather's name from that email, you'd be hard pressed to prove Helen didn't write it. They use the same tactics.

    There's also something to be said for the fact that it'd be nice if our elected officials present themselves, properly.

    As for my parenthesEs usage. Fine. I guess that just makes me a shade less qualified to hold office in this state.

    My point wasn't just about grammar, it was about follow through.

    I have no problem supporting Heather's initiative whatsoever.

    What I have problem with is casting aside the fact that we've all heard a lot of nice sounding, and proactive, words coming from the mouths or keyboards of our elected officials, and yet ... amazingly, nothing has changed.

    The poor are still poor. Gang activity and violent crimes are getting worse.

    The proof is in the pudding and the only thing Heather has supplied, here, has been a thumb-nail sketch of a recipe, draped across legislative boilerlate.

    Didn't Heather respond to TJM on May 23, 2008 with the following?:

    "I will want to look into this before responding. Definitely I want to attend the next appropriate beat meeting as well. We'll talk before we prep a response. Thanks,

    TJM, did you ever get a follow up response to your inquiry?

    Did any part of that response sound familiar?

    Was there an "appropriate beat meeting" scheduled within the last month?

    So, forgive me if I'm not easily placated or enthused by the fact Mrs. Steans took 20 seconds to dash off an email that, to me, did little more than repeat what she's previously stated (albeit without the capital plan issue, that's new).

  7. Well, I don't know about anyone else but she hasn't been in office long, she just got off a long session in Springfield and any efforts will mean crossing Helen Shiller. I'm willing to give her the benefit of the doubt and see what can be done.

  8. "And speaking of Helen. If you removed Heather's name from that email, you'd be hard pressed to prove Helen didn't write it." my post. As I state in #1 and #2 these items would and have NEVER been in a response from Helen. In fact, I've never actually ever received any sort of a response from Helen, have you? that's an oxymoron in and of itself.

    I intend to set up a meeting with Ms. Steans and I intend to look for her at the next CAPS meeting. Then I intend to see what sort of a difference she is willing and able to make.

    I will also remember that both her and Greg Harris are our reps in Springfield to make STATE decisions. I appeal to both of them because our CITY rep (alderman Shiller) does not respond to these serious city public safety issues. I do believe that their state positions lend themselves to political pull in the city to do something the alderman and mayor have not been doing in this neighborhood.

    I am willing to give someone the benefit of the doubt who responds to me, solicits my feedback, encourages me to meet with her, thanks me for my involvement and plans to get out into our community to learn about the issues (even if it is only a series of CAPS meetings).

    If they (Sen. Steans and Rep. Harris) go back to their offices and turn a blind eye afterward, then let them reap the reward from their consituents at election time. But for me to not contact them and let them know about serious issues in our part of their districts would be a disservice to my neighborhood and community.

    Yo seems like he/she has some serious concerns and gripes, probably well founded. So set up a meeting with Sen. Steans and report back to us on how it went. I will after mine...

    But in the meantime, it seems odd that so many people scream for someone in elected office to acknowledge our concerns and meet with us, and when they do respond, they immediately dismiss the response...

  9. I, too, have no idea who she is... but if she is willing to come and listen and try to move things forward, then she is already 75% towards getting my vote...

  10. Interesting how she was able to respond to concerns from a constituent. I am sure she has a lot more of them then a Chicago Alderman. But yet she found the time to invite concerned neighbors to a meeting and plans to visit community events to hear about their concerns. Seems like she is attempting to do her job. How many letters, phone calls and emails go to the 46th ward office never to be addressed?

  11. It wouldn't suprise me a bit if Helen herself weren't posting here, but that possibility is no more important to me than the grammar of Senator Stean's e-mail.

    We now have two State Representatives, Greg Harris and Heather Steans, who are doing more to address neighborhood crime than Alderman Helen Shiller. Helen passes a "don't make crack bags illegal so that beaders won't be unfairly punished" legislation with ease, but can't seem to make one public comment about crime.

    We all know Helen has a very definite political agenda. Hopefully the contrast of Helens actions with the actions of other politicians will be a wake up call to those voters and Helen's political peers who are still asleep.

    Speaking of politicians and their actions, does anyone want to make a friendly wager over whether Alderman Helen Shiller will skip her third Pride Parade in a row this Sunday? the very ward in which she is a representative!!!! There's a definite message for you. I wonder how Queer To The Left reconciles that in their minds. Cooler heads than mine might make a Kanye West type comment about now.

  12. Woody Allen said, "Eighty percent of success is showing up." If you're not still mad about the Mia-Soon-Yi musical spouse debacle, it's not hard to appreciate that statement. ;-))

    If Heather says she’s going to show up, take her at her word; if she doesn’t show up, take her to task.

    Look, I ran against Heather and although I have issues with her as a candidate and as a Senator, I'm also the first to say, "Give her a chance."

    That said I haven't forfeited thought or fair-footed criticism, so here we go:

    Jimo, your comment is gracious but speed does not explain her writing. And Yo, you are not wrong and you needn't couch your observations. Heather can't write. She really can’t.

    While I value the craft and thought processes that produce cogent, clear text, I don't think the ability to write is a prerequisite for doing the right thing and making the right choices. Like any discipline, though, it helps.

    A couple of notes:

    Tjm: Senator Steans did not vote against impeachment. She voted against giving voters the opportunity to consider the question of recall on November’s ballot. While I support recall, her vote against recall was a swap for Ag and 4H funding.

    Saskia: Senator Steans did not just get off a long session. She came in after her political mentor, Senator Carol Ronen, resigned mid-term and attempted to award her the seat. Heather’s session has been about as long as Ronen’s pension-pumping relationship to the executive branch. ;-)))

  13. I meant a long period of time in Springfield attending to state-wide matters.

  14. "her vote against recall was a swap for Ag and 4H funding."

    I didn't want to get into that bit of detail, Suzanne; but, as long as you brought it up ...

    This is probably the main issue that I have with Steans - trading the voice of the public for political favors.

    Not only is it bad karma, but I think it less acknowledges the will of the people and moreso acknowledges that there's a back to be scratched and .. well, isn't that what prompted the recall amendment in the first place?

    If I'm wrong about Heather, so be it. I'll gladly suffer the slings and arrows.

    But, when she's got Carol "Hey, I'll take a temp job with the governor and get $120K instead of $75k in my pension" Ronen as her mentor, you really can't fault a guy for being a bit suspicious.

    (Especially when she sends out an email at which even a 5th grader would cringe)

  15. Saskia: My apologies. I misread your comment. Admittedly, I'm primed in this situation to do so. Thanks for the check.

    Yo: Keep the radar on. Doing so is not a personal thing; it's a political thing and in this case, you're right to wonder.

  16. Suzanne your comment: "Tjm: Senator Steans did not vote against impeachment. She voted against giving voters the opportunity to consider the question of recall on November’s ballot. While I support recall, her vote against recall was a swap for Ag and 4H funding."

    That's not me--maybe you are referring to Yo's first post???? I've not commented on anything else about Sen. Steans...I've only stayed on target about the gang violence topic in Uptown and her initial response.

    I appreciate everyone's comments and concerns about every OTHER topic related to point is her response to the specific topic of Uptown gang violence...that is what I am focused on...I will give points to Heather on this far...and hope that she will do something. I stand by my appreciation for her response thus far (given that I am accustomed to nothing from the alderman or mayor) and will give her the benefit of the doubt on her response til she proves otherwise.

    And if she does prove otherwise, believe me, I will hold her to task and make sure everyone in my neighborhood knows. And if she is truly responsive, believe me, I will show my appreciation and also let everyone in my neighborhood know.

  17. Jimo, your comment is gracious but speed does not explain her writing. And Yo, you are not wrong and you needn't couch your observations. Heather can't write. She really can’t

    Which should mean that she actually wrote this response herself, right? which in itself means she read the original letter to her HERSELF and felt strongly enough about it to answer it HERSELF.

    She has definitely won points for that. Showing up at a CAPS meeting would be a plus.

  18. This is a good sign. It's not a great one. However, a flower does not bloom unless tended to carefully.

    Senator Steans could have responded by saying "get lost" and that would be progress.

    Saskia is right. Grant her the benefit of the doubt. She's extending an invitation to discuss concerns prior to a CAPS meeting. That's good.

    Yo: Operating in terms of absolutes will yield only misery. Tender to allies as necessary to accomplish your goals.

    A machine is made up of many parts, but there is no reason to redress these matters if we haven't even tested these parts for their strength.

  19. Wow, that's a refreshing response. I think it's great she'll be at the CAPS meeting AND she gave her phone number. That's great.

  20. Maybe its just a sign of how bad the Aldermanic leadership is in Uptown, but I'm really excited to see a response from a public official that actually acknowledges the fact that crime, gangs, drugs and shooting are, in fact, a bad thin.

  21. "Operating in terms of absolutes will yield only misery. Tender to allies as necessary to accomplish your goals."

    Ok. I guess folks missed the part where I stated I would support Steans, if she followed through.

    I just wouldn't get my hopes up, that's all.

  22. Tjm: Right you are. The impeachment reference was in Yo's comment.

    Keeping pressure on, consistent and positive is our job as voters and constituents. At a minimum, it is the job of an elected public servant to respond.

    Heather may not be able to do anything directly--be prepared for that possibility--but showing up is, without a doubt, worth 80% of the grade and worthy of props---especially on the north lakefront.

  23. Grammer is not what it used to be with computers so get used to it.

    Give her a chance.

    That is why Helen Shiller has been so hard to beat is because people beat her up for things that she has no control over so your message is lost about things she really does affect.

    I would take bad grammer from Shiller any day!