Thursday, December 18, 2008

Letters To The Editor

From the News-Star:

Ald. Shiller gets blamed for everything: I've always been amazed by the extraordinary venom of the Shiller-haters in the condos. No motive is too evil to attribute to her, and her tentacles are everywhere - she gets blamed for everything this side of the 1918 flu epidemic.
After many years of this I must conclude that the reason for it is that the haters know deep in their hearts that what they are doing - waging a jihad against the poor - is wrong, and so in order to justify themselves to themselves they have to create an arch-fiend on whom they can dump all their fear and prejudice. Then they can pretend to be brave rebels fighting the establishment.
What a shameful display and what a depressing concentration of moral poverty.
David Stein, Uptown

Fix Wilson Yard represents a minority: The people involved in the Fix Wilson Yard lawsuit represent a small minority of the residents of Uptown and of the Wilson Yard TIF area specifically. There also was an extensive community planning process and endless meetings that were highly publicized and attended concerning Wilson Yard.
I have lived and rented in Uptown for 35 years now and dare say in all that time, myself and all the other renters in the community have paid a greater sum of the property taxes (and continue to do so) included in our rent than the people who are complaining about their property tax dollars going to this project.
Wilson Yard has included more community planning and input then probably any other project like it in the city. I would ask Fix Wilson Yard members where was their opposition to the use of their property taxes at the Broadway-Lawrence TIF that basically subsidized a developer to rehab the Goldblatts' building for condominiums and a Borders bookstore?
I think all open minded, objective and clearheaded people can agree that what makes sense for the future of Uptown as a diverse model community is the support of the building of the Wilson Yard with many more units of affordable housing for the hard working people of the community who have been the backbone of the progress in Uptown over the years.
Marc Kaplan, Northside Action for Justice

Dear Mr. Holsten: I am not a condo or home owner, I am a renter who has lived a few blocks from the Wilson Yard site since before the fire that cleared it out many years ago. I'm not concerned about anyone's property values. What I'm concerned about is the fact that the stretch of Broadway from roughly Montrose to Wilson has been one of the worst run-down, crime-ridden slums since before I moved to the area, and nothing has changed. It's simply shameful that the historically vibrant Uptown neighborhood is allowed to languish in this complete disrepair and decrepitude.
It's not enough to simply provide "housing" for low income people - what we should be seeking to provide is a better quality of life all around. A mere roof over one's head means little when one must fear threats from the drug-dealing neighbors. But Ald. Helen Shiller consistently ignores the crime in the area and does nothing about it. Instead she builds this development and welcomes even more of the otherwise unwanted to set up shop right next door to her office. This "development" needs to be stopped before Uptown becomes the biggest disgrace in the city.
Daniel Nash, Uptown


  1. So Shiller was not responsible for the 1918 pandemic?

    Damn, let me take that off my list of grievances.

  2. Let's try to figure out who wrote this for Marc. He's a dees does and demmer thug and bully. Words such as "Dare say" and "Moral poverty" do NOT come easily to Marcy.
    Betcha if you check the alderbest's D2s you find Marcy is a paid "Consultant."

  3. "waging a jihad against the poor"

    Wow. What do you say to something like that?

    I would gladly sell my place to the City for $400,000.00 so that poor people can live there. It is a lot nicer than what they will be getting!

    Oh wait, I thought that Wilson Yard wasn't for "poor" people?

  4. regarding the 'crime ridden stretch of broadway', why is nobody taking the police to task on this? they are responsible for policing the streets, not the local alderman. i really wish some of u people would move to boystown if the neighborhood isnt gentrifying fast enough for you

  5. slvg_bvg, everyone is taking the police to task on the matter... and will hold them responsible to do their job. what everyone is seeking is a leadership that doesn't stand to divide but can raise above the criticism, show leadership, be involved in safety matters, not ignore them. safety is not a condo owner issue, it’s not a renter issue, it’s not a affordable housing issue, it is an uptown issue… and do not tell me “love it or leave it” I have had 8 years of that, do not need more of it…

  6. why is nobody taking the police to task on this?

    Where the heck have you been?

    Have you been to the positive loitering events?

    Have you been to the CAPS meetings?

    What about the two (2!) town hall meetings that were organized by Harris and Steans since Helen couldn't be bothered; where the police were represented?

    What about the rumors of Helen's protectionism for certain areas?

    Helen is neither the Alpha nor the Omega of crime in Uptown, granted; but, she certainly seems to demonstrate amazing restraint.

    Even when someone is gunned down in the street in front of her office.

    What was it Twain said about keeping something shut instead of removing all doubt?

  7. I just moved to Chicago in August and I had no real preference on where to live other than I wanted to be close to the red line.

    Since I moved here I have seen many comments get thrown around, either quotes from the alderwoman, or quotes from the posters here.

    I don't own property, I rent.

    I haven't given any money to fix wilson yard, but I did go to a meeting to learn more about it.

    I have tried to ask the alderwoman's office about several different concerns and I have heard nothing from her office. I initially wrote this off as she is a busy person.

    I have no beef with the alderwoman, I haven't lived here long enough. I do wish that her office had a more open atmosphere and that she would do more to build trust in the community, but as I said, I haven't lived here long enough.

    It really bothers me though to see this pitched as a battle (or jihad) against the poor. As has been discussed many times on this blog, when you frame the argument in that way it makes anyone who disagrees sound like a real grinch (asshole, jerk, etc). It would be akin to saying "agree with my opinion or I'll kill this puppy/club this baby seal/etc."

    My reason for leaning towards the side of Fix Wilson Yard has nothing to do with property taxes. It has to do with what I think is the right thing for the neighborhood.

    The other comment that bothers me is the "if you don't like it, move" crowd. Since I have lived here, there have been several murders, guns found on the street, guns fired, armed robberies, burglaries, and various other crimes. Is this acceptable to anyone?

    Next July when my lease is up, I may decide to move out of Uptown. If I do, it won't be because of the poor. It may be because of the crime. Is it wrong to want to live in a safe place?

    Fix Wilson Yard may do nothing to solve the crime problem in uptown, but lets talk about the real issues here and not polarizing cop-outs like a war waged by the rich on the poor or a war waged by white people who want to live in another "lincoln park", etc.

  8. Great comment Andy G! You should post it on the News Star or send it as a letter to the Editor.

  9. I am a future condo owner in Uptown (engaged to one). So this neighborhood wasn't my choice to locate permanently to. However, I have come to love the neighborhood, great parks, beach access, great transit. Nothing to complain about there.

    However, it does make me sick that I can write to our alderwoman and she doesn't respond, if she does, it's come into my office and discuss it, if you go into her office with your concerns, you get chased out. It's not cool.

    This isn't a war against the poor by any means. It's a war against a model of housing that hasn't proven not fail miserably. It's a war about concentrated poverty. That area of Uptown has a high enough concentration of poor and does not need additional poverty. Not to mention, additional traffic congestion. That intersection is hard enough to navigate without a Target holding up traffic.

    It would have been a great development if it had stuck to the original plans. But with the changes made to the income levels and retail, it's really disappointing. I'm mad at Shiller because she is shady. She says one thing out in the open and then turns around, closes a door, and strikes a different deal.

    This isn't a war against the poor. I'm not too afraid to say it's a war against poverty concentration and a failed housing model. If this site had been developed as mixed income, no one would have a problem with it. If this site had anything else, but towers of people below the poverty line, it wouldn't be a big deal. But as a future condo owner, I don't want to have to take the red line through a new cabrini green to get to work everyday. And that's my concern. The neighborhood isn't the safest place, but it's definitely not the worst either. I'm counting the small blessings, but I don't want it worse off than it is.

  10. A Jihad??

    Ok then if we are going to play that game....

    I Chip Douglas issue a Fatwa and order the death of Wilson Yard under it's current design.

  11. Chip, Chip, Chip ...,

    you can't just go issuing fatwas all willy-nilly-like.

    Not only are you not an imam (as far as I can surmise), you're a darned infidel.

    Now, get back in your cave ;)

  12. I agree with Miss Kitty! Andy G, please post your message on News Star! Anyone else who agrees that this is not a class issue but more about how our tax money is spent and how a neighborhood is planned should post! Without the expanded tax base (us), where would the money for the Shiller/Daley slush fund (TIFFs) come from? We have invested our lives in Uptown, and when it comes time for planning, we are discounted. Thanks for your fine leadership Helen.....

  13. SickofthisSh_t and Andy, you should definitely both send your posts to the News Star article site -- I think you both summed up the relevant issues really well.

    Hopefully, News Star chooses to publish them and they get wider exposure!

  14. Does it make me sound like an ignorant ass to wonder why the hell someone would rent for 35 years? I mean, seriously, 35 years of never gaining the asset of a home with equity? This just sounds fiscally irresponsible all around to me, but I guess I assume everyone wants to own a home (I don't, I rent, from a condo owner, btw)!

    And what's so wrong with waging a holy war against poverty? I guess he said "the poor" but honestly anything I could do to help a struggling person lift himself up and work harder (maybe toward, say, owning a home instead of renting?)I would do it; I guess I do that, though, by paying incredibly high taxes to go toward all those social programs. Is low-income housing like this even an evidence based practice that is proven to improve, well, anything? Aside from what I believe will be a few very needed families getting a place to live!

    If you don't like it, move? Sure, let's all go to boystown because we are such snobby homeowners who want a responsive, engaged political representative and we hate people shooting into our "posh" homes and killings on our sidewalks. Man, what an unjust, unfounded war it is we active citizens want to wage!

  15. Well, there is nothing really wrong with renting for 35 years. You should check out the New York Times Rent v. Buy Calculator.

  16. This whole thing just infuriates me. It has contributed to many drunken debates in my house.

    I'm studying urban planning right now, getting my masters. What I don't understand is why is Uptown the dumping ground for every man down on his luck? Why are other communities not held responsibility and why can't poverty be more evenly distributed?

    Uptown has 17 SROs, Lakeview has 3, Albany Park has 1, Edgewater has 2 or 3. I tried to create a database of publicly funded homes in the area to get an understanding of what the concentration is. I did a 3 month study of crime in our neighborhood. Within 3 months, there was a crime on every street corner in Uptown.

    It's crazy. I don't want to live in Lincoln Park and I don't want to live in Wicker Park or the Gold Coast, I like living in a neighborhood ripe for change and improvement. I like contributing to its improvement, but I can't get a grasp on an alderman who doesn't want that same thing.

    People need help, everyone does. I get it. I don't blame poor people for problems, but it has been proven.. put a bunch together in a high concentration and there will be high rate of crime. So how is it even legal to create something like this? When planners, who I understand don't agree with this project, speak up against it, how does it still get passed?

  17. I am sure Marc is at the top of Shiller's list for a nice, new apartment at Wilson Yard - 2 bedrooms complete with parking. Her form of payback for his years of dedicated jihad against area homeowners....

  18. Her payback, in that scenario, Miss K, would be an campaign worker entrenched in the building.

    You can't buy that kind of support!

    Wait ... , actually you can. And in Chicago, you can use tax dollars to do it.

  19. I am of the opinion that when criminals from 93rd Street (see articles/posts about the robbing of TCF at Montrose/Sheridan) come to Uptown to commit their crimes something is wrong. It is a sign that not only have the police missed the point, but also the alderwomen. The concept is to prevent crime from coming, not encourage it, and Helen has done more of the latter than the former. Not covertly, rather, overtly by continuing to be a proponent of failed housing models and turning her back on the real concerns of the entire community.

  20. For what its worth, I sent a slightly edited version of my comment to the News-Star as a letter to the editor.

  21. Why would any paper seeking to be reputable print letters like that?

    The first letter is nothing more than a terrible straw man attack on people who own condos in Uptown.

    I dare say that if I wrote the same thing about section 8, I wouldn't have my letter printed.

  22. So going back, it looks like this is an attempt at fairness. The December 10th letters to the editor were all against Wilson Yard, so the December 17th letters to the editor are all in favor of it.

    I will say, the arguments against Wilson Yard are actual valid arguments, while those in favor of it have resorted to making bold sweeping assumptions and accusations. Its pretty clear which side of the argument intelligence and rationality fall on.

  23. Andy - thanks for sending it in. Why hasn't anyone mentioned that the "move to Boystown" comment was a pretty huge generalization and probably homophobic? Maybe the Marc Kaplans of the world are the haters...

  24. great post Andy G.! Your objectivity qualifies your point. I hope you don't move out; this community needs more citizens with your quality of character.

  25. Ok Yo, If I can't issue a fatwa on Wilson Yard I can at least throw a giant shoe at the whole plan.

    I plead all of Uptown to throw giant shoes at this Wilson Yard plan.

  26. "There is a list of people who are interested in living there," Shiller said. "Peter and I are putting the list together. I'm passing the list on to Peter when he's ready to rent."

    This list should be made public immediately. It must be a list of Shiller's supporters. If this isn't pay to play I don't know what is.

  27. chip, does a 9 1/2 count as a big shoe? damn my small feet!

  28. Moving to Boy's Town wouldn't solve anything. People south of Irving Park worship her. At the Pride Parade last year, I yelled out Helen Shiller is a Slumlord as her float passed...and a group of women nearly tackled me. I told them how Helen is regarded in Uptown and they wouldn't believe me...yikes!!!!

  29. South of Irving = close to Wrigley.

    She's not "allowed" to screw up that area.

    North of Irving is all her's since, besides providing remote Cubs parking, the Mayor could care less.

    Uptown is Helen's social engineering sandbox.

    As long as she doesn't screw up the Cubs revenue, and continues to support the mayor's budgets (or, is conveniently absent during controversial votes), no one's going to bother her.

    That was the deal; and she's holding up her end.

  30. Sorry folks, but you're wrong about south of Irving Park. I lived on Grace & Fremont for four years and nobody could stand Helen there. you can tell right where her district starts down there.
    Also, see the Hotel Chateau...makes the Wilson Men's Hotel look quaint and nice. That whole stretch of Broadway from Grace to Irving Park is as glamorous as Clark from Montrose to Wilson!
    She also bungled the rezoning of the old Marigold Bowl property that allowed a huge high-rise where it should have been greystones...none of the neighbors were appreciative of her "efforts".

  31. In the last election Helen received a couple of relatively prominent endorsements to wit...The Chicago Free Press, for reasons unknown, endorsed her over James Cappleman an openly gay social worker who actually had a coherent plan for Uptown. Chuck Renslow,prominent gay businessman, who's businesses thrive in conjunction with illicate drugs also endorsed her.

  32. You're right Snek! Helen's control of Broadway south to Grace extends Uptown's Third-World Charm through Buena Park and into Lakeview. Everyone benefits!

  33. Ok, so I can't say for sure that TIF dollars were used for the Borders store/condo rehab so I'll just say they were.

    Look at what's happened at that corner since the rehab. We have a beautiful new drive through on the bank, the building across the street is just finishing with it's rehab, there are TWO new bars, Crew and Wild Pug, that opened, other small businesses are thriving just to the north, and the Lawrence stop has amazingly bright new lights. Several banks have also opened on Lawrence just down the street, and a major motion picture was filmed here with a movie star that doesn't even want to live in Hollywood because it's not good enough for him, yet he filmed right there.

    I'd bet dollars to doughnuts that won't happen should WY get finished in its present incarnation. So was this Borders TIF a good use of money? I'd be inclined to think so.

  34. Oh, and I've been to Boystown on many occasions and wouldn't want to live there. Uptown has substance and grit. Here you get your feet dirty when you walk around and you know your alive. There's surely no pretense here. "And we like it. We like it just fine."

  35. Chuck,

    I am not familiar with that deal, but it was probably illegal also. Do you realize that DOWNTOWN CHICAGO is part of a TIF district? TIF districts are nothing but slsuh funds.

    Also, a bunch of those condos are going into foreclosure or could be bought very cheap right now. Well under $250K.

  36. The Borders project is in the 48th Ward, Alderman Smith's ward. It was partially funded by TIF funds. It is within the Lawrence Broadway TIF.

    The Wilson Yard TIF was passed before the Lawrence B'Way Tif yet all Helen has to show for it is a dismal, backwards Aldi.

  37. And how much did the Border's project use, TIF-wise?

    Was it over $30M?

  38. I don't recall. Other's may have better memories. I do recall that the developer was forced to make a "donation" of $1 Mil to redevelop 1207 W Leland (or a portion of it) for people with dual diagnosis of drug addictions and mental illness.

    The 48th ward got Borders. The 46th ward got another shelter.

  39. Just call Mary Ann Smith's office she can tell you and will tell you.

    Unlike our Alderman she is very helpful.

  40. She was also involved in the plot to assassinate Kennedy. I mean ALLEDGEDLY.

  41. What a joke...We want a alderman that answers our concerns not adding more problems to our homes. Her workers need to go to school and learn how to speak to people...They are rude and I as well as many will not vote for her...everyone here in condo`s want a new leader so vote out the old....

  42. Chuck Renslow and Helen! What a combination. Lst summer one of his "businesses" on Clark was raided and closed because of drugs and prostitution. He is a convicted felon but some how is able to secure liquor licenses.
    Most of the gay community is on to Helen. It's the stuck-in-the-60s group like the rags publishers, Rick Garcia and owners of Side Tracks that prop "Hellon" up.

  43. the first 'Shiller gets blamed for everything' comment is so laughable.
    David Stein has proclaimed the bulk of Uptown residents of having 'moral poverty'

    Any Uptown resident, whether they be a renter or an owner, should be mortified by the Dante's Inferno scenarios scene on our streets. Murders/Car break-ins/Gang other words, in my opinion Helen is like a giant anchor, fighting against clear headed progress.
    God only knows what motivates her office, aside from the obvious conclusion of 'how can I stay in office'
    I ask, as a 16 year resident, how can she continue to aim for the lowest possible denominator and not expect disgust?

  44. I am proud of UU for posting these letters. A+ for you guys!

    But an 'F' for the "Baby Not On Board" post.

  45. I think uptown Girl is cute! ;-)

  46. The "Baby Not on Board" was the greatest post I think I've ever seen! A++++++

  47. Hey Uptown girl since we have your ear...

    What is JPUSA angle on Wilson Yard? Are they part of Helen's "list?" Are the JPUSA planning on moving out of that fine rental on Wilson to newer tax payer digs at WY?

    You do understand that if you and the Trott pop move in to WY then you will be labeled, dare I say it for the money.

    Please do fill us in.

    Oh, easy Jason, down boy..your married.

  48. I am not married! ;-) Just having fun Chip.

  49. Marc Kaplan asks, "I would ask Fix Wilson Yard members where was their opposition to the use of their property taxes at the Broadway-Lawrence TIF that basically subsidized a developer to rehab the Goldblatts' building for condominiums and a Borders bookstore?"

    Well Marc, I am not a "member" of Fix Wilson Yard but I was at the city council meeting about the Broadway-Lawrence TIF. Where were you? Were you sitting with me and some local small business owners who were asking why this money should be going to a wealthy multinational corporation rather than to them or to a more grassroots community redevelopment plan? Did you hear people asking for more input and information? Did you hear someone call the decision making "institutional racism"? What about people who were saying that we didn't need anymore condos in Uptown and that there should be more affordable housing because we'd be losing an SRO? What about the architects/historians who didn't want us to lose any more buildings to strip mall type development? Maybe you weren't sitting there with those activists, students, small business owners, historians and artists like I was but I will fill you in.

    Helen Shiller got up and made an impassioned speech about why the TIF was needed and what it would do. She said that she had no objections and pointed out that there would be a % of units in the condo development set aside for lower income first-time buyers. She said that this redevelopment plan would improve the area, had already gotten community input and that further discussion was not needed.

    I was sort of bewildered at the time and knew a lot of people who were very angry about how the whole thing went down. Now it makes sense to me how "the people's" alderman would help push through a fait accompli plan----she had already worked her backroom deal. We were just props for political theater. In the end, O.N.E got their new office and the TIF system remained unscathed in the process. In return, she would get the same help with WY.

    I don't know why you and Helen don't remember all of this, Marc, because I sure do.

  50. a good resource for finding out where & how much of our property tax dollars were used is NCBG (at least for TIF deals thru 2007 when they closed, RIP)

    TIF Profile: Lawrence/Broadway

    Date Authorized: 09/04/2002

    Units of Affordable Housing: 8

    Developer: Uptown Goldblatts Venture LLC/Joseph Freed & Associates

    Description: Redevelopment of Goldblatts store; 3 buildings, 2 to be rehabbed, 1 demolished; 37 condos, 8 "affordable" at $100,000 each (60-85% area med inc.; retail on 1st floor -- Borders; $1.25 M of TIF subsidy to go to Century Place for Leland Hotel redevelopment

    Private Investment: $15,939,000.00

    TIF Assistance: $7,100,000.00

  51. Chip-

    I can't speak for JPUSA or Trott, but I am hoping to get the Penthouse Sweet that overlooks Lake Michigan. I also hope they put a Starbucks in the complex. I'll never have to leave the house again. Ok...fine...I will venture out to throw a couple back with you once in awhile.

    I don't know what Jpusa or Trott think about the Wilson Yard. I can only say that I hope something works out that makes everyone happy. I don't know enough about W.Yard to have an educated opinion. I was too busy studying for my college classes to keep up with the drama.

    Sorry to disappoint.

    I honestly want PEACE in Uptown, seriously.

  52. But uptown girl, you never commented on my i think you are cute comment.....

  53. Thanks Jason. It's an old photo. Im older, wrinklier, fatter, wiser.

  54. Kaplan has this weird thought that if he tells the world that Uptown condo residents are bigots, the residents here would see the light and rent their units out as subsidized housing. He's fighting a losing battle and he knows it.

    I have to thank UU for helping to educate the community about what's really going on in this ward. Sorry Marc, but you may want to try Rogers Park.