Friday, September 5, 2008

Summary From Uptown Leaders' Public Safety Meeting

From "Gunnison Block Club Blog"

This is a very good read. And before you all wonder why you weren't able to attend, we are told this was for block club presidents and other Uptown leaders. We are glad to see we have more police cameras to look forward to in the high-crime spots they should have been in in the first place.


  1. I wonder if Shiller was part of the "uptown leaders" group?

  2. Great notes. HOWEVER, as a resident that pays over $200 a year in the SSA tax, I will be forcefully AGAINST using this money for security camera's. That was NOT the intent of the SSA. Monies need to be found elsewhere.

    Before I start having daggers sent in my direction, for those of you that are regular readers of this blog, you know I am adamantly against all things Shiller and crime.

    HOWEVER, again, the SSA was not developed nor designed for security camera's. This is a slippery slope when special tax assessment areas are set up for one thing, then diverted for another. Who knows where it stops.

    So, again, I applaud the idea for more camera's but I absolutely disagree using the SSA monies to fund them.

  3. Nope. Maybe one of her staffers attended this meeting. I doubt it though.

    If Steans and Harris are there, along with representatives from the business community, you can pretty much guarantee that Alderman Shiller and her staff will maintain a safe distance.

  4. $16,000 each, 7 cameras requested, equals $112,000.

    If the City can direct TIF money to move a tatoo parlor across the street, can it direct a lesser amount to improve public safety?

  5. Can someone explain what SSA money is and where it comes from? I can't really form an opinion without understanding that.

    But, for the most part, this seems like action, and I like it.

  6. I've been meaning to post this, but why can't we try this in Chicago. Have business's sponsor the camera.....They are trying this in Flint, Mi...Article below...Thoughts??

  7. Not sure why my link is not working. Article below:

    Flint Journal Editorial: Surveillance cameras can assist crime fighting
    by The Flint Journal
    Thursday July 31, 2008, 8:03 AM

    Flint Journal files | Ryan Garza
    Flint police hope area businesses can help fund more cameras, such as this one at Jewell and Cecil drives, to help deter crime.As Orwellian as it may seem to some people, Flint's plan to add 14 more surveillance cameras around the city is a good idea, and seeking businesses to help pick up the $420,000 tab through sponsorships makes sense in these lean economic times.
    That's especially true if the greater community can be assured that such sponsorships won't leave poorer neighborhoods without the benefit of this crime-fighting tool.

    Through the "Adopt-A-PODSS" program, Flint is offering businesses the chance to have their company's name appear on the sides of pole-mounted cameras in exchange for $30,000. Smaller "ads" will be available for lesser amounts.

    The cameras will be placed around the city. Each also will bear a police logo and flashing blue light.

    In addition to money raised through sponsorships, the city will use drug forfeiture funds and grants to help pay for the new cameras.

    Surveillance cameras are not new to our area. Flint's downtown and a site on the north side have them.

    Flint Township uses a camera system that was funded in part by businesses that wanted them on their premises. The remaining three-quarters of the $400,000 for the system came from the township's business development authority.

    The cameras are not a substitute for policing, and no one is suggesting otherwise. But they have proven to be an effective aid.

    They aren't without critics, though. Some opponents contend the cameras are an invasion of privacy. That argument is a hard sell when just about anything in the public purview can be photographed from a cellphone and loaded onto the Internet.

    Opponents also raise the more realistic concern that business sponsorship could dictate where cameras are placed. This doesn't appear to be the case in Flint, where sponsors won't be able to pick an exact location. That doesn't mean scrutiny wouldn't be in order down the line, assuming sponsors step forward.

    An open house is being planned and a PayPal link is being added to the city's Web site to collect camera sponsorship donations.

    Business owners and residents have a stake in public safety. When times are tight, it makes sense for communities to consider creative solutions, as long as those solutions don't benefit a select few.

  8. Every block club should sponsor a camera.

  9. Camera's should be paid for using Shiller's aldermanic menu funds - just like other wards operate.

    Oh wait, that will never happen...

  10. Let's put up a camera at every intersection. They're so useful. I think more cameras will solve all of Uptown's problems.

  11. An SSA is a special PROPERTY taxation district (yes, they may hate us evil condo owners but they sure like our money) that is ABOVE what most people pay in the city of Chicago. For example, if you paid $3,000 in regular property tax like everyone else, THEN you pay an EXTRA $200 for special services.

    In this case, the Uptown SSA was set up specifically to keep the area cleaner and promote a better neighborhood business district. They primarily use unemployed youth (aka helps keep them out of gangs) or recovering addicts, etc to go around and clean up the Uptown area. So, for us, it is in many ways a social service tax, but one I do not mind paying as it provides a direct benefit to the community.

    NOW, however, they want to take this money and put it towards camera's. I have two fundamental problems with this..

    One, this is NOT what the use of the SSA was set up for. It was set up for cleaning up the garbage, cleaing the sidewalks, etc. Now, imagine how Uptown would look without this.... yes, even worse!

    AND many of these kids and people we keep asking ourselves why dont they find something constructive to do, would be put out of work.. it is counter-intuitive to take money out of this program.

    Secondly, if the block clubs feel there is an immediate need to fund the camera's, then they should find a dedicated funding source without raiding the SSA. I, for one, would enjoin a lawsuit if they try to take money from the SSA for this..

    .. sorry for the long post, but I obviously have pretty strong opinions on this..

  12. I would like to know how effective these cameras are.

    1. How has crime decreased in the area the camera is placed in?

    2. Did other areas nearby see an increase in crime after the camera was installed? (meaning it just moved crime onto another block)

    3. Were arrests made as a result of these cameras? How many? Did they stand up in court and result in a conviction?

    Bottom line, I don't want to waste money on something that makes residents 'feel better' but really has no impact on crime.

    I agree that the SSA money should go towards what its intended for - keeping the area clean and maintained.

    Really I think good lighting is much more effective than cameras, that and police patrols, neighborhood watch groups, etc.

  13. "They primarily use unemployed youth (aka helps keep them out of gangs) or recovering addicts, etc to go around and clean up the Uptown area."

    Well since the SSA doesn't seem to be working for it's intended purposes, I say bring on the cameras.

    The gangs are out of control and the streets are as filthy as ever.

  14. [Really I think good lighting is much more effective than cameras, that and police patrols, neighborhood watch groups, etc.]

    Why not "all of the above"?

    I see cameras as moving the criminal activity into a smaller footprint, off camera, that can allow residents and police to narrow the amount of area they have to cover firsthand.

    More lighting is really going to help, as will neighborhood watches and regular patrols, but the cameras are a pivot point for the community to get city players to pay attention to Uptown.

  15. I still think that having some statistics of effectiveness of these cameras is in order before such a chunk of change is dropped on adding new cameras. I hate wasting money on something that isn't working. If it is... let's see it!

    We all know that money tossed at feel-good programs and "solutions" to problems NEVER work. I just don't want to add to the long list of completely ineffective methods of crime fighting in Uptown.

  16. What good is having clean streets and sidewalks if they are filled with dead bodies?

    Im sure the people in charge are pissing away more money that this on a host of other things.

    You can debate the effectivness all you want. Im just happy our leaders are THINKING and DOING for once. If I have to pick up an extra cheeto bag off the ground everyday so be it.

    It's not easy being cheesy...

  17. If EVERY property owner in Uptown paid it, I would be more receptive to it. But it is ONLY paid by certain streets that have businesses located on them. It is NOT a general property tax, but specific, again, to business district buildings.

    If you are an owner, you know if you pay it, if you rent, then of course you can say whatever you want. If you don't pay it, then you should not really have a say on how it is spent...

    again, it is an EXTRA property tax NOT paid by every property owner.

    If they want to put up more camera's for the community at large.. then.. the community at large should pay for it...

  18. "If you don't pay it, then you should not really have a say on how it is spent..."

    Well then, how about you call up all the people who attended the meeting with the reps and get an address? Your a walking contradiction sometimes Superhero.

    Before you go getting all Snarky like you did with Saskia last week let it be known that our building has cameras out of our pockets. (By the way you should appologize to Saskia for being rude about her number of posts, your not the moderator)

  19. I would also like to know if the cameras are truly effective at reducing crime, or as many have surmised, just push it around. My guess is there aren't stats that are conclusive.

    So a plan for 10 total cameras in Uptown? Anyone driving through the neighborhood or stopping in to visit a shop or restaurant is going to think they're in a war zone! "What have I got myself into?!"

  20. Chip asking someone else to apologize for being rude? Funny!

  21. Confused, have you been to Broadway and Belmont lately or Clark and Belmont? There are cameras there. Yes, in Lakeview. The 44th Ward has many more cameras than the 46th Ward. So does the 48th Ward.

    Cameras don't make property values go down. Crime does. Cameras don't signal to me that there's crime. The presence of scissor gates are what remind me that an area is unsafe.

  22. "going to think they're in a war zone!"

    Better than being dead. I worked in Englewood today. For some reason when i got by a camera I felt a little safer.

    If we push the crime off the main streets with cameras then maybe we can start to target the land lords who rent to them off the main drags.

    Or we can do nothing like you wonerkids suggest and see who gets shot firts. Now you have a problem with Chicago pissing away your tax dollars? How many times did you vote for Daley? How about we start a study right now, and in ten years when it is done we can maybe put some cameras up? How many dead then?

    This is a positive step.

    As far as the rude, Im a mean ass I know, but to go after Saskia because you feel she is too involved is another matter. She brings good stuff even if I don't agree. You should try it sometimes Confused.

  23. "AND many of these kids and people we keep asking ourselves why dont they find something constructive to do, would be put out of work.. it is counter-intuitive to take money out of this program."

    Well, Uptown Superhero, I usually agree with a lot of what you post, but this reasoning just doesn't make sense to me.

    Most of the garbage on my block is a direct result of the "the-world-is-my-garbage-can/toilet" attitude of the kids--many of whom are the very gangbangers we want out of here--who loiter at the Sunnyside Mall. I can't tell you how many times I have walked behind them on the sidewalk and watched them polish off a bag of Flamin' Hot Cheetos or a juice drink and just drop it.

    If cameras go in, they won't be there to do this and we won't need at-risk kids or recovering addicts to come in and clean up every night. That's like saying we should burn down buildings to keep the fire department in business. You mean to tell me that there is NOTHING else they can do besides pick up garbage to contribute to this community?

  24. "Cameras don't signal to me that there's crime."

    See, this is why I'm confused all the time. Then why are they there again?

    Chip, sorry I don't deliver for you. I'm unfortunately not as smart as Saskia.

  25. Honestly, I feel much safer at Broadway and Belmont with a camera than Broadway and Wilson without one. Now can you guess which of these 2 areas has more crime?

  26. I'm saying a camera at an intersection indicates a problem intersection with crime, which I think is contradictory to your statement that cameras don't signal crime.

    Is there an implication that people think an intersection without a camera indicates it is safe? I don't think anyone believes that.

    I feel safer at Broadway and Belmont, too. It's a much more active area with a lot of mixed foot traffic. If there wasn't a camera at Broadway and Belmont, I'd STILL feel safer.

  27. Confused, you believe the presence of cameras can deter property values. Broadway and Belmont has a camera and it doesn't seem to deter property values.

    I haven't done any formal survey, but I would guess the average business owner along Broadway (especially the ones with scissor gates) see gangbangers and homeless people begging in front of their stores as more of a deterrant than a camera. I don't know the answer, but I do know the feeling of safety is paramount to attracting good retail into the area.

    As it stands right now, in those crime hot spots where there is no camera, I don't feel safe and I don't shop there.

  28. I'm not even sure what we're debating anymore, but I said/believe cameras deter property values? When did I do that?

  29. sorry about that. You've made some good points. I agree that too many cameras can be a little "big brother". I'm just so fed up with crime and I know that crime came under some control when the cameras were placed at Wilson and Magnolia. It returned when the camera was taken away.

    That's all. Enough said.

  30. And I'll add more smiley faces when I speak in hyperbole, since my sarcasm never translates well in text. Just ask some of my ex-girlfriends :)