Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Uptown, Lakefront Referendums Pass By Large Margins

By Peter Sachs
Chi-Town Daily News

Voters in Uptown, Edgewater and Hyde Park approved advisory referendums dealing with housing and development issues by landslide margins yesterday.

In Uptown, an affordable housing advocacy group, Northside Action for Justice, succeeded in placing two measures on the ballot.

One asked voters if they wanted 40 percent of the money from tax increment financing districts to be used to build and preserve affordable housing. The other asked if companies that get money from TIFs for projects should be required to hire local workers first and pay a living wage. Continue Reading


  1. The intent was not to get a sense of what the public wanted. The intent was to get their referendum passed. An alderman would have to be pretty dumb to believe the referendums speak the will of the people. Well, I know one alderman who will proclaim it speaks for all.

  2. Just as predicted. They'll hammer this "clear mandate" nonsense till the cows come home.

    My goodness, you can read them like a book!

  3. So let me get this straight. 2,614 people, some of whom may have been threatened or intimidated to vote on something, is a "clear mandate" but 3,229 voluntary signatures on a petition means absolutely nothing?

    Let's face it, the only way our voices will ever be "heard" is through legal action. There must be equal justice under the law that applies to everyone, not just the select few.

    Just Google search on the words: lawsuit affordable housing . Many communities have set a precident in law and have been awarded judgements.

  4. I am so angry I can't even post. I am afraid of what I would say.

  5. Marc Kaplan and Couraj are providing evidence, once again, of what unethical, fact-twisting, bottom-feeding scum they are, to a whole new generation of Uptowners.

    Way to go, Marc!

    (There, Falco, that close to what you had in mind?)

  6. There's an easy way to protest this folks. Give $10,$20, $100, whatever you would like to Fix Wilson Yard. There are people on our side, they just need a little help from us.

    We are lucky to have a group like Fix Wilson Yard on our side. Now show them some support!

  7. I vote at 4848 Winthrop...and thought for sure that I would see that ref. on my ballot. No dice. I guess even though 4848 is a subsidized building, there are tooooo many condo owners in the area.

  8. It is not all that difficult to place these nonbinding survey questions on the ballot. You can ask any kind of question you want. There is a limit of 3 questions per ballot.

    You only need to collect a signature count equivalent to 8% of the voters that cast ballots in the last gubernatorial election from the precincts you want to be asked your question. So if 100 people in precinct 32 of the 46th ward cast a ballot in 2007 for the gubernatorial race, one would only need 8 signatures.

    Consider this, in my precinct, 46th ward - 42 precinct, only 308 ballots were cast in the 2006 gubernatorial election. Just 25 people from my precinct had to sign the Northside Action for Justice signature drive.

  9. Obviously the point of these referenda is to load Shiller's gun in the Battle of Wilson Yard, but let's humor their advocates by taking the substance of their proposals as seriously as possible, for about a minute.

    Mr. Durham's morning-after spin on the referenda (Did The TIF Referenda Pass?) attempts to make it sound like they are public opinion polls on whether the community is generally in favor of "more affordable housing" or "more publicly-subsidized jobs". Conspicuously absent from his summary is any reference to TIF. The referendum proposed appropriations specifically designating the WY TIF as the source of funding.

    As regular readers of UU know well, TIF segregates funds from the general property tax stream. Each TIF diverts property tax revenue away from our schools, police, fire, libraries, parks, and County health system. Since each of those units of local government has a fixed cost of operation each year, the diversion is made whole by raising property tax rates on all property tax payers in Cook County by a corresponding amount. The lying thieving politicians who establish TIF districts bandy about the propaganda that TIFs "keep money in the neighborhood," but, of course, those with their heads out of their asses on TIF recognize this as utter rubbish: sorry there ain't no free lunch, and sadly money don't grow on trees.

    The folks behind these referenda act as if the TIF money somehow "belongs" to those who live in the precincts in the footprint of the TIF and nearby precincts they calculate will be sympathetic based on demographics. So the proposals of some commenters here on UU to expand the referendum to the entire ward do not go far enough: to fairly present this public policy issue to all stakeholders, the questions of how to spend the WY TIF should properly be put County-wide.

    Have no doubt that there is a lunatic fringe of the affordable housing advocates that believes gentrification is such a severe problem that it must be resisted by any means necessary. For them, warehousing the poor is housing the poor. Any location is acceptable, even if it contributes to economic segregation. And any funding source is legitimate, even if it diverts money from our schools. The ends justify the means. Their cause is the only cause.

    TIF has so permeated the landscape in Chicago that it has infected the brains of otherwise bright people even on the far left. It's a bizarre local strain of social justice thinking that is able to embrace the fundamentally undemocratic, corrupt, and unfair nature of TIF and also the proud Chicago tradition of "Where's mine?" Their solution to the housing crisis is to demand a seat in the smoke-filled room of TIF. In pursuing TIF funding these social justice types co-opt the craven justifications used by the reverse Robin Hood robber baron politicians. It's the ultimate odd bedfellows, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em ploy.

    It's an inherently divisive tactic. It's no skin off their noses since their constituency by definition does not own real property. They know TIF is an issue in Uptown. They pit TIF reform advocates against housing advocates, groups who might otherwise find commonality.

    This effort is likely doomed because its underpinnings are fundamentally flawed, but then again history shows ridiculous ideas can have legs in Chicago.

  10. Man does not live by bread alone, nor does a community thrive with a glut of only "affordable", in Uptown's case, subsidized housing.

    Until we come together and say, Uptown residents want...Safe, welcoming shopping areas with a variety of retailers, restaurants, cafes and entertainment venues with streetscaping
    ...A lovingly restored historic Wilson El station with brightly lighted shops that encourage people to use public transit
    ...A park with a new fieldhouse funded by TIF money that gives kids, seniors and residents a slew of great programs and places to play
    ...Thoughtful redesign of congested, poorly-planned street intersections like
    Montrose/Broadway/Sheridan or the Lawrence Entertainment Square
    ...Until we stand up for what WE WANT for Uptown

  11. "Have no doubt that there is a lunatic fringe of the affordable housing advocates that believes gentrification is such a severe problem that it must be resisted by any means necessary. For them, warehousing the poor is housing the poor. Any location is acceptable, even if it contributes to economic segregation. And any funding source is legitimate, even if it diverts money from our schools. The ends justify the means. Their cause is the only cause."

    Thanks Hugh. This is one of the most succinct assessments of the issue ever written.

  12. tyger kub,

    Worse. But you were heading in the right directions. I was thinking about the old days when people were tarred and feathered, angry mobs with torches, that sort of thing.

  13. Nationally, advocates for housing, schools, and health care reform are united in their opposition to the war in Iraq. They recognize the good that could be done with $12B/month.

    In Chicago, 2 out of every 5 dollars of the property taxes collected go to TIFs, $555M/yr, and are off-budget, but the dim bulbs who appointed themselves leaders of housing affordability advocacy attempt to forge an unholy alliance with the forces of darkness.

    Cook County Clerk on TIF

  14. I call on Northside Action for Justice to publish a white paper calling for a moratorium on TIF, explaining how TIF distorts our priorities as a community, by allocating scarce resources through processes with little or no accountability, diverting funds from our schools and health care safety net to fund shopping malls and luxury condos at the expense of affordable housing, and corporate welfare at the expense of real jobs.

  15. Here's an idea...

    Take all the TIF money and buy those of us who care about our property values out. Just buy our places from us for market value (which is a steal right now).

    Then I can afford to move...

    Then Shiller, Couraj, and all the other buzzhead, buzzbrained freakshows in the neighbrhod can just have at it.

    Bums sleeping, pissing, and shitting on doorsteps.

    Drug dealers on every corner

    Gang-bangers striking fear on every block

    Buy us out - and then all you pro-pov extremists guys get a shot at creating your fucked up utopia...where the poor can stay poor and should have no motivating force by which to better themselves.

    Until then.....Until they can buy us out, We have a say in things. Right now my statement is summized by an extended middle finger.

    This referendum is bullshit!!!

  16. Anyone know if the photo posted from CLTV is a capture from CLTV covering the referendum results from Tuesday? Or, is this a screen capture from a past CLTV appearance?


  17. It's from the COURAJ "protest" in Clarendon Park from earlier this year with Marc Kaplan on the right.

  18. Hugh, excellent post.

    I am literally sick to my stomach.

  19. To call the result of this sham referendum a "mandate" is the height of absurdity.

  20. And Kaplan worked hard to make sure that question was only on the ballot of those who would vote "yes". I love this town !

  21. Anyone feel like overlaying the actual TIF district map onto the precincts that got to vote?

  22. I want to know why nobody except that guy (Joravsky?) at the Reader can be bothered to write about it. Can we collect money to file some kind of lawsuit over TIFs?!? 40% of TIF money coming from my recently-increased taxes...and having it go to more inadequately-managed housing?