Sunday, November 9, 2008

Exactly What Couraj Wanted


Already the results of a poorly-written referendum on which only a small, cherry-picked percentage of Uptowners were allowed to vote is being taken as gospel about "what Uptown residents want." From Progress Illinois:

Referendums aimed at bringing more affordable housing to two lakefront Chicago communities passed by wide margins this week. In Uptown, 66 percent of voters approved their measure, while 68 percent voted in favor of the Bronzeville version. So what's the next step?

Update: The original post has been amended to read:

*CORRECTION: While this post initially reported that "66 percent of voters" in Uptown favored the referendum, only certain Uptown residents had the opportunity to vote on the measure -- specifically those living in "precincts 8, 12, 20, 22, 23, 26, 32, 38, 41, 42 and 47 in the 46th Ward, virtually all of which fall within the Wilson Yard TIF District."


  1. UCC needs to learn from this and initiate some referenda for the next election.

  2. Chip, share your stove. I want to stick my head in there too.

  3. "The minimum wage necessary to afford a two-bedroom apartment these days is $16.23, according to Housing Action Illinois."

    Where are these low-income people looking for apartments? Gold Coast?

  4. Luckily, the "Progress Illinois" site allows for open comments.

    Light 'em up.

  5. You guys are right on in your criticism of our blog post. I should have caught the imprecise language regarding who was able to vote on the referendum. Feel free to come over and "light us up," but know that we've added a correction to the item:

    *CORRECTION: While this post initially reported that "66 percent of voters" in Uptown favored the referendum, only certain Uptown residents had the opportunity to vote on the measure -- specifically those living in "precincts 8, 12, 20, 22, 23, 26, 32, 38, 41, 42 and 47 in the 46th Ward, virtually all of which fall within the Wilson Yard TIF District."

    As for the minimum wage/rent issue, a $16.23 hourly wage translates to about a $33K salary. Affordable housing is generally defined as costing no more than 30 percent of one's monthly salary. In this case, for a 2br apartment, this boils down to a maximum of $800-$900 rent. Good luck finding a 2br on the Gold Coast for that rate.

    Josh Kalven

  6. So according to Josh's analysis the people in the closest proximity to W.Y. were the ones voting; which in theory is those people most likely to be potentially affected positively or negatively.

    Seems fair, but please, continue with your negativity- it is so encouraging!

    And really $16 an hour is not much to live on for a family.

  7. Otto is just here to prove, once again, that while JPUSA looooooves to call this blog and its readers "haters" whenever there's a crowd of two or more (better if Jon Trott can cry about it while he's damning us to hell), but they. just. can't. stay. away. from. us.

    Otto, all I can say is, thank GOD that everyone in Uptown doesn't have to live by what "sounds fair" to you. I thank the Lord every night for that.

    BTW, got plans to get that graffiti off the awning at Friendly Tower? Or is it too "hateful" for the community to expect from its loving neighbors?

  8. FYI: Progress Illinois is sponsored by the SEIU which is the same group that paid for the signature drive to put these two questions on the ballot and the same group that paid people to hand out voter guides at the polls.

    The SEIU engineered this survey from the beginning. They are now paying for news articles to be written about their actions.

    Does this bother anyone else?

  9. Otto,

    Wilson Yard is going to be paid for by TIFF funds. Who pays for that? Homeowners - via increased property taxes.

    Who DIDN'T get to vote for the referendums? Homeowners. So, I have to pay for it, but I don't get a say in it? Yea, that's really Democratic!

    So, Politician, I'm a homeowner. You want to increase my property taxes to pay for yet more low-income housing in Wilson Yard. You are going to hold a referendum on it. But I am not allowed to voice my opinion or cast my vote as to whether or not I should have to pay for this project? Especially considering I find this project morally unethical as it is just one more way for you to warehouse the poor in your tiny Ward? Gee, thanks.

    So, Politician, you will then turn around and use this information to tout that the 'majority' of Uptown Residents voted yes for this, when you are only counting the areas ALLOWED to vote? Plug in the actual number of folks living in Uptown, and then tell me the percentage that voted yes for this. Not so 'overwhelming' now is it?

    Otto, this situation would be the equivalent of holding a referendum that asked only homeowners if they wanted to use TIFF funds to close every low-income housing unit in Uptown and turn them into parking lots, and you couldn't vote for it. Not so cool when the shoe is on the other foot, eh?

  10. Nice research Humphries...

    Yea, I'd say that makes a lot of sense to me. So basically it's all an inside job.

    Man, did I get in the wrong career field! Crime SO pays in Chicago...

  11. "And really $16 an hour is not much to live on for a family."

    Otto- I am sure that I am going to be paying for it at some point in the near future but till then....It's called birth control, costs about a half an hours work based on the "living wage".

  12. The very sad part of this whole saga is that Holsten, Shiller, her political cronies and construction companies are making an absolute bundle of cash from the City's back room deals to raid our tax coffers. (at a time when the economy and those who live paycheck to paycheck need the money most)

    What other developer builds housing units at over $400,000.00 per unit construction costs. (construction cost, not selling price) You could have gold toilets and ruby countertops for that cost.

    Chip, as soon as I see one of those Wilson Yard stainless platinum stoves with onxy, diamond and emerald features, my head is going right in.

    Oh wait, the poor and needy of Uptown won't see any of that per unit construction cost. The "construction costs" will all magically be eaten up by the high salaries of Holsten's crew, the legal teams and all of the other greedy and corrupt individuals who are licking their chops as Helen raids our community of more money than we even know about.

    Way to go, Helen!

  13. @farrell: The TIF will not "increase my property taxes to pay for yet more low-income housing in Wilson Yard." TIFs by their nature don't change the tax rate. Instead, a slice of the taxes you're already paying goes into a separate pot for redevelopment instead of going to schools, libraries, the city, etc. Over time, as the area around your home redevelops/gentrifies, your assessed value will increase, and thus, yes, your property tax bill will go up. But then again, in theory, the real market value of your home will also increase. To your point, you have every right to be upset that some of your existing taxes are going toward W.Y., but know that the project alone isn't *increasing* what you're paying.

  14. I have asked Josh Kalven, a veteran political researcher himself, to disclose the facts about the SEIU's expenditures in this last election.

    Unfortunately he's going to have to ask his paymasters at the SEIU to turn out dirt on themselves.

    Think they'll do it? Good luck.

  15. Otto said, "So according to Josh's analysis the people in the closest proximity to W.Y. were the ones voting; which in theory is those people most likely to be potentially affected positively or negatively."

    Absolutely not true. The precinct immediately south of the WY and closest to the location of the two towers was NOT allowed to vote on the referendum.

  16. Peter,

    Yes, it doesn't raise my taxes directly, but my other taxes will increase because as you state, this TIFF money will go toward WY, instead of schools, libraries, other developments, etc. But those things still need to happen won't they? So, where will the city get the money for those things? Ask Todd Stroger, I'm sure he's already working on it.

  17. Further research needed. Progress Illinois is run out of 222 W Ontario St. That building doesn't pay any property taxes according to the Cook County Assessor's Office.

    It may be owned by the City of Chicago. That would be very unusual as two major firms are run out of this building. They are Adelstein Liston and Gragert Research. These are both political outfits that Democrats in the city compete for their service. Adelstein is a media strategy group. John Edwards and Hillary Clinton paid these people. Gragert Research is a opposition research group for political campaigns.

    I'll check on this tomorrow, but can anyone find out why 222 W Ontario doesn't show up on the property tax records?

  18. If you go to CookCountyAssessor dot com you will find 220 W. Ontario with a photo. Just click on line tools.

    It is likely 220 and 222 are the same building. Property Identification Numbers and building addresses don't necessarily correspond directly.

    For instance a large building might have five addresses yet only one PIN.

  19. Murray: Where is all of the love coming between SEIU and Shiller? Can anyone say "big box ordinance" or "AFL-CIO organizing against Labor Ready"? Gotta love Chicago politics...

  20. And Peter...

    It looks like WY is is not only not going to increase the tax base
    (slums seldom, if ever, increase an area's value)it's going to get tax credits which will have to be made up in other ways.

  21. SEIU split from the AFL-CIO in 2005 along with the Teamsters. They now run independently.

    Go to the SEIU now. It's a wholly owned subsidiary of Barack Obama.

    Emil Jones made Obama chairman of the IL Senate Human Services committee in order to build Obama's relationship with the SEIU lobbyists and leadership. Obama has favors to pay back.

  22. What strikes me as a little more than ironic, given the "we love diversity" mantra toted out when expedient, is that this blog, increasingly, seems to represent a contingent of Uptowners who really do want this neigbborhood to look and feel more like Lincoln Park than Uptown.

    If you want the diversity you say you love, then you're going to have to deal with the diversity of many incomes and experiences.

    If you really care about the poor and homeless, join a group affiliated with the 10-year plan. Write the mayor and the city council, advocate for "housing first" as imperfect as it may be, instead of looking for every opportunity to call the cops on them.

  23. seems to represent a contingent of Uptowners who really do want this neigbborhood to look and feel more like Lincoln Park than Uptown.

    Are you kidding me? Lincoln Park residents would be out in the streets with torches and mobs if the city dare build a Target in their back yard.

  24. No, Kenny, this blog is primarily comprised of people in Uptown to want lower crime and at least some transparency in local government. Having the alderman speak with us and act on our behalves, instead of deceive us, might be good too.

  25. Write the mayor and the city council

    You are kidding right? We have an alderman who is paid to represent the entire ward. This is Chicago. Her rule is law and the mayor and the other aldermen are not interested in contesting her because it shakes the status quo. Aldermanic privilege. Ever heard of it?

    Certainly an alderman is allowed to make unpopular decisions but Shiller simply refuses to represent or even engage with people she doesn't agree with. She doesn't engage with different viewpoints because she never abandoned the idea that it is good to centralize poverty because then it is easier to organize people along their similar class interests. If everyone is scattered hither and yon, it is harder for activists to bring together "the poor" as a class for itself.

    It is waaaay too late to go into more details but I think I have made my opinions known here before on that issue. The Shilleristas are kneeling down to power and the city continues to be redrawn according to the interests of elites. Sure, people on this website unabashedly want to stop being confronted by people ploppin' a load on a pedestrian thoroughfare and other nefarious bougie concerns. On the other hand, the contested issues in this neighborhood are not so neatly delineated. There are gray areas, there is history, there is context. I'd like to see someone get on here and take some of the issues that commenters raise here seriously without resorting to the old "evil gentrifier" trope. We all know damn well that Uptown is used as a political performance space. Soooo...for good or bad, there is a captive audience here! Do something with it and don't forget that you catch more flies with honey.

  26. Saying that people who oppose Coraj want Uptown to become Lincoln Park is no better than any other stereotype. My complaint is simple TIF money should not be spent to overpay for a development based on a failed housing model. The housing at Wilson Yard has the potential to fail both the community, and the families that may be housed there.

  27. Kenny-seems as if you may be a someone that may know where I can go for help.

    I have lost about 10%-15% in the value in my home because of the market and fear that other projects in uptown are going to continue to push the value down. Which line do I go stand in to get my $ back? If you can tell me I will gladly pack my bags and head to LP.

  28. Kenny, I believe most Uptown residents are concerned about those who are disenfranchised or in need of affordable housing. Most of the block clubs also do a wonderful job of reaching out to everyone in their area.

    However, many of the people receiving social services in Uptown are not from Uptown. I once did a survey of all the social services in Chicago and found that Uptown exceeded the average number throughout the city by 5 times. Mr. Carmel Vargas, the former head of the Dept. of Human Services, once admitted the awful mistake of concentrating too many social services in Uptown.

    Uptown has done an amazing job of helping their own... but we've also been saddled with the job of helping many other neighborhoods that won't do their fair share of helping the homeless and those needing affordable housing. When that point gets raised on any UU thread, the response from those pointing their fingers is deafening.

  29. Thank you James... this has been my argument all along. I've not once heard anyone state on this blog, or in my block club, that they want to remove any social services, or shut down any that already exist. We just want to see some accountability from our Alderman, and our Mayor, to make sure that every Ward in the city of Chicago takes their fair share of that responsibility. It is common sense, and it is ultimately the best solution for the poor, as it gives them the one thing they shouldn't be denied simply because of the amount in their bank account - choice.

    I know I am, and many others on here are tired of the same rhetoric thrown at us by our Alderman, and those who support her. I have yet to read a single, reasonable argument about why it is Uptown's responsibility to care for everyone in the city of Chicago that needs help. I have yet to read one single argument that supports that segregating people into one tiny Ward is a good thing, simply because they are poor.

    In my opinion, COURAJ, Shiller, and those like them, do the poor in this community far more harm than good. For what gain? The only thing I can think of that would make someone want to purposely harm another person would be for their own personal gain, whether its power, or money. So, which is it here Helen? Both?

  30. " ... the people in the closest proximity to W.Y. were the ones voting ... Seems fair ... "

    might seem fair if you're content to remain blissfully ignorant about how TIF works

    or if you're are happy to ape the City and the TIF consultant industry's bullshit

    WY's TIF funds were taken from all property tax payers throughout Cook County

    FAIR would have been a County-wide referendum

  31. "The TIF will not "increase my property taxes ... TIFs by their nature don't change the tax rate."

    wow - right off the one-page glossy the City passes out at TIF hearings - the ever-popular "it's free money" argument

    it's amusing to hear affordable housing advocates babbling in TIF tongues, drunk on TIF cool-aid

    where did you learn about TIF, Peter? the City? the Illinois Tax Increment Financing Association?

    Peter, educate yourself - regular readers here are WAY ahead of you

    Reader TIF Archive

    start here:

    TIFs for Dummies

    “Does TIF increase the taxes in other parts of the city?”

    then review these numbers from 2006:

    The True TIF Tally

    then come back and tell us how TIFs do not raise taxes

  32. Shiller and her followers are starting to remind me of that Jamestown guy! Don't watch the special on MSNBC, the similarities will freak you out! She has these people 'sipping the kool-aide'!

  33. I don't know how many of these readers are Shiller soldiers. They sound more like they just walked out of a SEIU activism session.

  34. hey, self-appointed champions of economic diversity, I've got a hot tip for you:

    take a stroll thru Sauganash or Beverly, you may want to move your offices there, take your PR campaign there why don't you

    I think little old Uptown is doing just fine, thanks!

  35. I'm very interested in learning more about SEIU links to the these referenda, since the referenda implicitly endorse TIF, which seems like an untenable position for a labor union

  36. the substance of the referenda are so 2-oh stoopid brain dead that I'm having trouble believing SEIU had anything to do with them - Northside Action for Justice AKA COURAJ AKA RPCAN or ONE, oh, yeah

  37. Otto, a.k.a. "Trott Lite", posted last night from deep within the bowels of Jpusa.
    Since this site is gaining viewers daily - and since the topic of Jpusa hasn't come up recently - I thought I would take time to provide the following updated link with plenty of info on Jpusa: .
    If you run into any current Jpusa's please let them know about the site, ESPECIALLY the last(new)link, which offers help to those who want to leave.
    Also, there are 3 topics on Jpusa - one of which concerns child molestation - in the Uptown Update Forum ( link located near the top right hand section of the UU homepage.)

  38. Thanks Mark, as usual that was right on topic.

    I thought JPUSA's couldn't even get to sites like this or Rick Ross' junk- although I think its funny that the sites you mention that try and blast the people of JPUSA also reference JPUSA in other places as credible sources.

    I love you Mark, keep up the great self promotion while you can but someday I hope you find the help that you need. I highly suggest the book "Broken Children, Grown-Up Pain: Understanding the Effects of Your Wounded Past" by Paul Hegstrom for you. Maybe you can get past your infatuation with child molestation and Jon Trott.