Wednesday, December 3, 2008

"Fix Wilson Yard" Lawsuit In The Media

We're aware of a few stories that are already running about the lawsuit filed earlier today by Fix Wilson Yard on behalf of Uptown's residents/taxpayers. We also know that Fox Chicago and WGN were at the press conference at the Daley Center.

We'll keep adding links as we become aware of them. If you know about something we've missed, please add it to the comments or drop us a line.

WBEZ Chicago Public Radio:
Chicago Residents Sue City Over Alleged Misuse of TIF Funds

Capitol Fax:
Comments about the day's stories include comments about the lawsuit

Gapers Block:
Fix Wilson Yard Sues City

Chicago Real Estate Daily:
Residents sue to stop Wilson Yard project, claim TIF abuse

Crain's Chicago Business:
Residents sue to stop Wilson Yard project, claim TIF abuse (with comments section)

Chicago Tribune:
Uptown residents sue Chicago over funding for redevelopment

Uptown Group Sues City Over Wilson Yard TIF

Progress Illinois:
Taking On TIFs

Uptown Residents Sue City Over Wilson Yard

Uptown’s Wilson Yard Continues to Get No Love

Marathon Pundit:
Chicago TIF Tiff

Chicago Reader:
The Right Fight


  1. Just rec'd an email blast from Crain's Chicago as well:

  2. Nothing a 12(b)(6) motion won't cure! or 615 or 619 in circuit court!

    Don't get your hopes up!

    A brief review of the complaint makes me wonder why Shiller wasn't named personally, what the heck?

    Good luck FWY.

  3. Falco, in English, please, for those of us who don't speak legalese?

  4. Falco, as an Esquire you may have reason to be confident in your opinion but confident legal minds didn't see a prayer in the lawsuit against Labor Ready either and look what happened.

    There is already legal precident for this TIF abuse lawsuit, I understand, in a community downstate. Motions to dismiss a lawsuit without a fair trial would be quite a departure for a judge. Talk about goin' rogue!

    I'd imagine very few judges would defend the City by throwing out a lawsuit and deny a community the chance to be heard in court. There is that old chestnut about the constitutional right to a fair trial and all.

    Of course, I'm no Esquire but I think I might be on to something here. I do watch Boston Legal, after all.

  5. Is there a link to the lawsuit? If the allegations don't state any legal cause of action--i.e., any basis on which the judge may find that the city committed any wrong-doing--then it certainly could be dismissed upon the defendants' motion, and that is not roguish at all or a judge "defending" the city--it's applying the law. There's no guarantee that it will ever see any kind of hearing (and that's any kind of litigation), but the lawsuit was just filed, so that's up to the lawyers to evaluate the strength of the claims. My guess is that the city will probably try to get it dismissed first--but that's just a guess.

  6. @neighborlady:

    Try reading a little.

    It's fun, and often times informative.

    "But For" clause.

    "Open Meetings" violations.

    Can't wait for the discovery portion of the lawsuit. Hopefully, the juicy details will be appropriately leaked.

  7. @TygerKub:

    Summary Judgement - ie the judge says "get lost".

  8. Uptown Refugee, what was the point of your sarcasm? As I stated, I did not read the lawsuit. But I do generally read quite well, thank you, including pleadings, and I understand what issues the FWY people are describing. What matters, however, is what is alleged in the complaint. If what is alleged in the complaint does not state a cause of action, you won't get to summary judgment, let alone discovery. So if you can link me to the complaint, you become infinitely more useful.

  9. 'neighborlady', I must admit I'm always rather suspicious of someone who has no profile.

    If you look at the fix WY site, it might clear up some questions. The facts are as clear as could be.

    WY as it now stands = disaster.

  10. @neighborlady:

    Why not join the FWY team? That way, you'll be fully informed on all points, and you'll know everything before the rest of us.

    I'm sure if you keep reading UU, you will eventually get that link. The suit was filed on Wednesday. Give it a little time.

  11. The Tribune has offered a scintillating and in-depth article on Wilson Yard.


    Seriously, the article doesn't even use the word "TIF." This is going to be interesting!

    "Uptown Residents Sue"

  12. Thursday, December 4, 2008. Sun Times, page 47, Business In Brief, second item. Very generic piece with a city spokeswoman unfamiliar with the lawsuit stating WY is "in accordance with the state statute."
    Just FYI.

  13. *There is already legal precident for this TIF abuse lawsuit, I understand, in a community downstate.*

    Not binding here, fyi.

    I am not going to get into a legal debate, but I will say that I wish they had filed it in Federal Court.

    *I'd imagine very few judges would defend the City by throwing out a lawsuit and deny a community the chance to be heard in court.*

    They will listen, then laugh at you when they are in chambers!

  14. @Sassy:

    The Tribune will sweep this under the carpet.

    Sam Zell is looking for his own TIF to remodel and expand the ballpark, and developers are licking their lips over the area surrounding it.

    The lovely, new parking facility at Truman is all part of the plan, too. You see, the ball club promised new parking spaces in their agreement for the expanded bleachers. Many of those spaces were to be in the new triangular shaped building to the west of the park.

    But Sam had the plans for that building redesigned when he took over, opting for more lucrative retail space and less parking.

    ST article from August:

    August 7, 2008

    BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter

    It looks like the Cubs may never build the 400-space parking garage adjacent to Wrigley Field promised to area residents in exchange for a 1,791-seat bleacher expansion.

    Cubs Chairman Crane Kenney said the building planned for a triangular parcel adjacent to the stadium has been "completely re-designed" by Tribune Co. CEO Sam Zell's real estate team to include more retail and office space at the expense of parking.

    The new garage would shrink to 250 spaces to accommodate players, team officials, sponsors and media whose late departure from Cubs games would not exacerbate post-game congestion. To make up for the loss of parking, a smaller garage could be built on less valuable land away from Wrigley, sources said.

  15. @Sassy:

    Also, think about it.


    Why do you need a parking facility at a community college that is literally steps from a 24x7 L station?


    You don't. The parking facility is not for students. It's for people going to the ball game.

  16. Thanks for posting the Sun-Times piece, UR. I hadn't seen it. Again I ask: who will stand up and tell this story as it is? For all of the bitching about TIFs, the oppressive Chicago Democratic Machine and the need for TIF reform...this is the first attempt of any citizens to challenge a TIF. Whatever the outcome, this is important.

  17. 7/16/08: Mallec v. Belleville


    "We find that property and sales taxes are parts of the general revenue of the City whether or not they are earmarked for a specific purpose or placed into a special account. To hold otherwise would be to extend
    the holding in Barco so that tax revenue could be insulated from a taxpayer action by the simple act of segregation."


    IL Appeleate court rules, Yes, as a matter of fact, TIF dollars ARE property tax dollars

    and therefore ordinary run-of-the-mill garden variety property taxpayer have standing to challenge a TIF

    recall that IL Appellate court decisions are generally applicable throughout IL, regardless of where they are decided

  18. Note: Hugh is awesome.

    Thought: wonder if the Trib would take notice if the comments section of their "story" were to fill up with more criticism.

  19. Yes, yo. One of the things to do is either post tons of comments on it so that it ranks high on the "most commented" and/or email the story around a lot so it ranks high there. It may not work with all of the Obama coverage because national readers tend to bump up the stats on those articles. (The challenge to Obama's birthplace is a big story right now.)

    Perhaps another thing to do would be respectful letters of the editor outlining for them the aspects of the story they should be covering. What a shame that they can't figure this out on their own! Another thing might be to hire a freelance journalist (isn't there a rogue Tribune journalist blog??) to cover the story.

  20. Helen's trolls are trying to flood the various comments sections in the articles with their usual pablum. See the Crains Chicago article as an example.

    I hope everyone takes the time to counter their concentrated effort to sway public opinion and writes their own comments as well.

    Please do NOT let the Shillerista's take the lead in the public relations front in ANY forum.


  21. I don't see a comments section at the Crains article.

    The Tribune "story" is an embarrassment. It is two sentences long and doesn't even use the term TIF. Pathetic.

  22. Hi SPR,

    Here is the updated link to the Crains article, which shows the comments...

  23. The comments on the Crain's story are on the Chicago Business site, "powered by Crain's".

  24. Note: The Trib gives FWY two sentences.

    The Trib then gives a story on Amy Jacobson 3 pages.

    *shakes head*

  25. I'm all happy the lawsuit is proceeding, but those of you who are criticizing those saying the lawsuit is far more prayer than anything else should cool it. They are speaking the truth. If it makes it pass the motions to dismiss (which will be the FIRST thing that the city files) I'll be impressed. This is a test of a single court case precedent and there's a very good chance that the trial court will decide differently and let the thing go back up to the appelate courts on an appeal. Some of you are having difficulties separating the emotional, economic and political arguments from the legal ones. If FWY is honest (and for those who can't comprehend my point, I'm not questioning their honesty) they'd tell you that this action, however appropriate to take, is a gamble in terms of whether it will actually succeed.

  26. If anything they should be looked upon and commended for filing the lawsuit since our Mayor and Alderman have no regard for what the Citizens actually want.

    I think it's funny how people look up to Daley like he is God and only guy that could run Chicago and take everything he says as gospel.

    Thanks Molly and FWY

  27. JACK, of course it's a gamble. Duh! It's a citizen lawsuit against the Chicago machine!! Of course it's going to be an uphill battle.

    That doesn't mean it's not a fight worth fighting (not saying you suggested that).

    And negative commentary from anonymous members of the peanut gallery don't count for much. Let's give the court a chance to look at this before we let falco_esq write the ending to this story.

  28. Huh? First of all, you all need to have a sense of humor. Im am not making negative commentary. I just feel that thier chances are better if they could get it in federal court. The federal courts hate the City, and Circuit court judges are basically elected by the machine.

    I am also just telling you that the first thing I would do would be to file a motion to dismiss. I am big on legal procedure.

    Believe me, I hope FWY wins! It would be a great day for the taxpayers of the entire city, not just Uptown.

    I have seen ALOT of TIF abuses beleive me. Actually, Wilson Yard isn't anywhere NEAR the worst.

    So this little lawsuit is bigger than Uptown. I hope you all realize it.

  29. Interesting link at Progress Illinois. The author quotes Mark Kaplan as gospel and says that the housing is "actually" for nurses and teachers. Mark Kaplan also says how well-maintained the units are. Kind of psychic of him to know how units that aren't built yet -- and hopefully never will be -- are maintained!

    Progess Illinois also took as gospel that the cherry-picked precincts spoke for all of Uptown. The pity is, the author, Angela Caputo, used to cover Uptown for the News-Star. Seems she's drunk the Shiller Kool-Aid since then.

  30. @ Starck Mad: Suspicious? It's an internet blog about my community reporting on issues that are important to me. I don't understand your suspicion. I signed up in order to be able to comment, but I am not so deep into Blogger that I want to create a profile. No espionage here--sorry to disappoint. And the facts are not so clear to me. I've seen FWY's opinion and fears about what may occur. I've seen the WY plan compared somewhat erroneously IMO to Cabrini Green. I've seen the one or two line quote from the gentleman from an urban planning organization saying that the WY plan was a disaster, but when I went to the FWY website and the website of the urban planning organization, I could not locate the full report to read in order to understand the basis for that conclusion. However, if the lawsuit does make it past a motion to dismiss--which is usually just a basic initial procedural move--and it does lead to the uncovering of actual wrong-doing, then certainly FWY is entitled to a remedy.

    @ UR:

    As for joining FWY, I will honestly admit that I don't feel completely on board with the group and its cause, so I probably will not be joining. However,
    I was curious to see the actual facts being alleged in the complaint, to see if there was anything different than what I have been reading about on these blogs. Occasionally, those documents do make their way to the web, so I will certainly keep my eyes out for it.