Wednesday, February 4, 2009

News-Star: "Served! Bloggers Not Only Target Of Developer’s Subpoena"


Two more Uptown community groups have been named in subpoenas filed by the attorney representing Wilson Yard developer, Peter Holsten.

Holsten's limited liability companies, set up for the purpose of financing the embattled Wilson Yard development in Uptown, are named as co-defendants with the city of Chicago in a lawsuit filed against them by Fix Wilson Yard. His firm, Holsten Real Estate Development, is the sole developer of the mixed-use development at Broadway and Montrose.

Fix Wilson Yard, the grassroots community organization that claims to represent more than 2,000 Chicago residents, alleges numerous abuses on the city's part in the creation, planning, implementation and funding of the Wilson Yard TIF District and the corresponding Wilson Yard development.

Subpoenas were filed last month seeking information on Web sites hosted by Buena Park Neighbors and the Uptown Neighborhood Council. The revelation comes on the heels of subpoenas served at Google, asking for ownership information about two anonymous blogs, Uptown Update and What the Helen.

Read the rest of the News-Star's story here.

Update: The Citizen Media Law Project has added a summary of Holsten v. Uptown Update and What the Helen to its site, under "New Threat Entries."


  1. This is lovely.

    Cry Havoc and let slip the dogs of war.

    This reminds me of when Helen Shiller, in violation of the rules of the League of Woman Voters Debate, posted video of herself at the debate.

    It struck me as an act of desperation. Her campaign was so fearful of "What the Helen" etc. they overreacted. Unfortunately, it did not change the outcome of the race against Cappleman.

    I'm not an attorney, but I play one on TV, and this strikes me as counterproductive to Holsten's case and TIFS in general. If not from a legal standpoint at the very least from a public relations standpoint.

    I could be wrong, but my guess is that the City, under the enlightened leadership of Richard the Second, wants as little scrutiny focused on TIFS and the tax money they divert as reasonably possible.

    Again, I could be wrong. Perhaps Holsten and the "City that Works For Some" are so fearful of losing this case that they have decided on a "scorched earth" policy towards the lawsuit.

    Hold on to your horses folks because this ride is about to get to be a whole lot more fun.

    To paraphrase a certain Vietnam flick:

    "I love the smell of desperation in the evening, smells like......VICTORY!

    I'll be making another donation to Fix Wilson Yard.

  2. Ok. I am trying to keep my cool about this but it all makes me really, really angry.

    There is no need to reiterate, because the comments from Mr. Zimmerman in the article sum up how I see the issues too.

    So, let's focus on what can be done. First, I AM UPTOWN UPDATE and UNC and BUENA PARK NEIGHBORS and every other entity forced to be a defendant in this political witch hunt. Second, I think we should start focusing on what we can do to get the word out about this witch hunt. The implications of this lawsuit for Chicagoans (and Americans) are staggering. Unhappy with your government? Have something to say about it? Well, you can't speak out the way our founding fathers did. (See the Federalist Papers.) Instead, your government---or private companies who derive a majority of their income from working with your government---may be successful in "outing" you to your employer or (gasp!) your aldermanic overlord who can figure out ways to deny you services or kill you with inspections out the wazoo.

    There was a discussion on Wednesday on 848 on WBEZ about the cost of corruption to this city. It was that former alderman who now writes about the city. (Sorry I can't find a link.) Anyway, he said that the cost of Chicago corruption is estimated to be $300 million each year. Illinois is tied with New Jersey and Louisiana for being the most corrupt state. Yet the Mayor is on record saying that "there is no Chicago Machine." Until the situation changes here, lawsuits that attempt to squash whatever means everyday citizens have for speaking out are offensive and WRONG.

    I think that people who are angry about this should figure out a way to get the world out to the rest of the community who doesn't know and to a wider audience. The Chicago Tribune and the Sun-Times won't pick this up. They're too busy covering Jessica Simpson's weight gain to notice that individual citizens in Chicago are being named in lawsuits by a city-funded developer who is in a tizzy over their criticisms of him and his BFF Alderman Helen Shiller.

    This thing stinks to high heaven and is eroding the remaining goodwill I have for a woman who I thought came to Uptown to fight for social justice for all people.

  3. So now the mayor and his lawyers don't like block clubs? Or the Bill of Rights? What's next, CAPS? 311? 911? All because ordinary tax payers engage in our civic duty and put forth a redress of grievances. I suppose we all should be taxed, seen, and just not heard. That's tyranny, not democracy.

  4. I don't want to divert these comments from immediate Uptown issues, but while you are on the citizen's law site you might also want to note that the Chicago Olympic Bid Committee is suing a graduate student at Northwestern to give up his website about the Olympics. The website ( attempts to offer balanced discussion about the Olympics rather than the rah-rah blahooey that we constantly hear from Olympic boosters. It was purchased years before Chicago's candidacy was announced and clearly states it is not the official site of the bid.

    See Chicago2016 v. Frayne.

    I had no idea.

  5. Chicago: the city of closed doors and non-transparency.

    The Solution:
    Term limits, real campaign reform, and a commitment from state, county, and city elected officials to eliminate all pay-to-play politics.

  6. ===Chicago: the city of closed doors and non-transparency.===

    Come on UU, show your transparency. Stop hiding like a coward and come out of the closet. What are you afraid of?

  7. I think Peter and his business partner Helen are just trying to do things that will distract from the focus of the lawsuit. They know that filing these subpoenas will bring up a lot of discussion about it and by the time this is dealt with in court it will be 3 months closer to the project being done. However, if any of these subpoenas actually cause some names to drop into their laps they will take that to. This is just what people do when they are focused on keeping things under cover. Distract Distract Distract! The whole video during the debate was a similar thing if you ask me. Let's not talk about the issues or the answers that James gave to the questions. No, focus on if I did or did not “follow the agreed upon rules”. By the time that debate was over so was the election. How many people did not vote because they saw this as just another example of “Chicago Politics” and were disgusted by it and did not go to vote.

    The current issue is to help raise money and awareness for this lawsuit. My advice, give if you can and tell 10 other people all about it. Just like the election the more people who are turned off by this process the more likely Helen will get what she wants!

  8. Craig, I think you've been unfair to UU. I know you dislike anonymous bloggers and you sure take a hell of a lot of heat for things you've done and said up there in Roger's Park. But as commenters on your own blog have noted, there is a place and a reason for anonymous blogging. You didn't seem to have a good answer for why second city cop should reveal himself?

    I am not trying to pick a fight with you, Craig, because I think what you have chosen to do is pretty remarkable. But other people who would like to opine about local affairs might not be able to do so as freely if there was a virtual paper trail that current or prospective employers could review. Not everyone has the ability to be self-employed and there could be professional costs to speaking out even if the issues have no bearing on a person's job duties or performance. Likewise if a blogger has children in the public school system or a spouse they feel they need to protect.

    It seems to me that the law is clear on what is allowed and after that I think it should be a matter of personal choice. It is hard to gain credibility and readership being an anonymous blogger. You know how many nutjobs are out there. I think it is a testimony to UU's hard work that UU has the readership it does. In the absence of a true civic life here, these threads are a valuable community forum. I particularly love when UU does the man-on-the-street bit posting pictures and commentary. I love it when s/he digs up old photos most of us have not seen and I like it that truly knowledgeable people like Green Fairy have a place to chime in with additional information.

    Anonymous blogging has its place, Craig, so please don't add fuel to the fire. Let UU work it out as s/he chooses to.

  9. Awesome, bring it on you fools Helen and Peter.

    This is all going to work against them in the next election and might in fact have an effect on new laws being introduced in Springfield to stop such over reaching of elected officials.

    But as far as I am concerned I am not afraid to let them know how I am.

    After all Helen does work for me and all of us.

    She answers to us not the other way around.

  10. I think people in public life forget that there are so many private citizens with great intelligence and passion! Qualities that the public figures may have had at one time, but have lost due to need for power. They think we're too busy with daily life to notice or care. UU bloggers are an amazing group of people. This is going to be a great fight and I for one plan to be in court to support FWY... personally and financially!

  11. Although I think these stunts may backfire on Helen in the next election, I think her main objective is to get the housing built at any cost. Its her pathetic legacy. Once built, it will mean more voters (more love for Helen) and that she "fought" the evil condo owners and won.

    I am hoping these subpoenas are thrown out for the garbage they are, and that FWY can get something stopped before the housing is completed and a judge says "too late, its already done." Last I heard, the first hearing is in the beginning of May, and as you can see they are going gangbusters on the project as we speak.

    Time to donate more money to FWY.

  12. donate! donate! donate today to FWY!!!

  13. Sassy, thank you for your comment to Craig. I learned a long time ago that when some people express a fear, there may be a good reason and that reason needs to be respected, founded or unfounded. However, given Helen's past behavior, those fears are well grounded.

  14. Thanks Electronic Frontier Foundation!

  15. Helen, you're only fueling the fire.

  16. Is it cold in here or is someone trying to use a Chilling Effect? Think I'll have to stoke the fire by giving to FWY.

  17. Considering the new tactics of intimidation through full frontal attacks on the people's inalienable right to free expression, I hear by cast my voice in favor of attending the Fix Wilson Yard's Oscar Kickoff fundraising event at In Fine Spirits.

    Here is your chance to donate $40 per admission and perhaps hand out some Chicago Oscars in the categories of best supporting actors in the category of infringement on the civil rights of the residents your represent and the property tax payers you swindle.

    It's also a chance to say it loud and say it proud.

    I am the Soul of Murray Humphries.

    I am Uptown Update.

    I will exercise my civil rights whenever the heck I feel like it.

    I will not be intimidated.

  18. I bought two tickets to the Oscar party next week....Pirate is right, this is just gonna get better...and better than any movie I might add....

    Buy yer tickets to the party at In Fine Spirits for next week!!!!

  19. IP - I think Palin's argument to be that the media ran with rumors started by anonymous bloggers without any fact checking.

    Having said that, we know that Lorraine's get her ear to the ground on certain aspects of Chicago politics; while the "top tier" media outlets are absurdly quiet over this entire matter.

    The Trib and Sun Times should be seriously ashamed of themselves.

  20. God Pirate for the love of God get over Palin. Just when I think you are done you pull us back in.

    Your left buddies are the ones trying to squash free speech in Uptown. You dem governor just made a fool out of our State. Your left buddies are going to pass a trillion and a half dollar spending bill. I can't figure out the blind devotion you have.

    What Helen is doing should scare people. Not only does she ignore the free speech part of Article 1, she ignores the "petition the government for a redress of grievances" part.

    I give us some more funny Palin antic dotes so I can get my mind of my local, state, and federal government failing.

  21. Ask Chipster, and thou shall receive.

    My reference to Palin was a dig at the folks behind the subpoenas and Craigie from the Morse HellHole.

    I would actually like to forget Sarah, but like Blago she keeps coming back.

  22. IP -- s'up, man?

    I thought you would be a fan of the f*** me boots.

    Rumor had it that one of your wayward goats had on a pair.

    But that was just a rumor.

    Anyway - I'll give Sarah two compliments:

    1 - for a grandmother, she's got great legs

    2 - she actually speaks to her constituents.

    I'd be more than happy with Sarah running the asylum which is the 46th ward than our current "alternative".

  23. Sarah Palin never sued the owners, operators, or editors of the anonymous bloggers.

    Oh, and while she may not have been ready for the VP stage, she has been an effective governor of Alaska.

    Ping me when she releases the killer moose on the Internet publiuses.

  24. Ok, Im sorry UU but this is off topic..

    Thanks Pirate! That is freakin hot! God Bless the USA and Alaska for that. Wow.


    Interesting stats on our Uplift Community school (aka Arai)
    As far as reading, 16% below standard & 24% are below that: "acad. warinig." In math 49% below standard and 31% "Acad warning." The aldereast's stooge, Karen Zaccor makes nearly $90k a year. Good work K C! Too bad you are so occupied with other matters such as WY. You cheat the tax payers and the students. Shame on you and the beast!

  26. "Before private information can be turned over, the defendants need to explain to a judge why such information is relevant to their case ... "

    I want to be there in court when Holsten's attorneys argue the relevance.

    Asking a judge in Illinois in 2009 to out private Illinois citizens for daring to discuss pay-to-play online, that's gonna be a tough sell.

  27. I don't believe there is any real legal theory for this.

  28. Wow. The night of the aldermanic election I watched What the Helen disappear like something from a Clancy movie, post by post until it was gone. Well I guess that on some level you guys should be congratulated for landing on a local version of Nixon's Hate List but this attempt at intimidation and harassment is outrageous.

    Google corporate motto: Do No Evil.

  29. Craig needs to find something better to do than chasing ambulances and bitching about things everyone knows about Joe Moore repeatedly. Honestly, contribute to the conversation. Let’s start with the First Amendment.

  30. Now the enemies list comment was amusing. It's amazing how time and power corrupt folks.

    Helen Shiller used to be involved with some trashy left wing newspapers. Her son used to be editor of Streetwise. Now the whole concept of "freedom of speech" is under attack in this ward.

    I hope I'm on the enemies list. I'd hate to be left out. It would be like being back in 7th grade.

    All the finest people and organizations are on it.

    Please, to those behind the subpoenas and defending Holsten, add me to your subpoena list.

    My little read website is "Uptown Avenger". Just google it. It really has nothing Wilson Yard related except some commentary on the Aldi, but I will endeavor in the days ahead to post some things that will bring me into this lawsuit.

    I don't know exactly what the agenda is behind the subpoenas. All I'm sure of is that the attorney representing Holsten will get to make some money off filing said subpoenas. The rest, like Russia, is a mystery wrapped in an enigma hidden under a hot dog wrapper on Wilson Avenue.

    One guess I have is that a "narrative" is being created. Said "narrative" may go something like "FWY is only a tactic to get someone elected in 2011 to replace Helen Shiller. It's all part of a grand political conspiracy involving every person or organization that dares question our beloved Alderman".

    I got news for you. If Cappleman had been elected in 2007 and tried to get the current version of Wilson Yard built I would oppose that. The plan sucks and the abuse of the TIF law is more appalling than the Mayor's speaking style.

    Wait, it's after 1PM. Time to make an additional donation to FWY.

  31. "One guess I have is that a 'narrative' is being created. Said 'narrative' may go something like 'FWY is only a tactic to get someone elected in 2011 to replace Helen Shiller. It's all part of a grand political conspiracy involving every person or organization that dares question our beloved Alderman'."

    We've heard her trot that recently, so I'm sure there's some truth in your theory.

    But, Helen, Maggie, et al (I'm speaking to you here), that's completely ass-backwards. I can't speak for anyone else, but I gave money to James and worked on the campaign primarily to STOP Wilson Yard.

    Cart before the horse. It wasn't stop Wilson Yard to get rid of Helen. It was get rid of Helen to stop Wilson Yard. Very different things.

    It wasn't the person, it was the policies.

    Of course, when Maggie and team called me and the team Klansmen AND I ran into people who actually believed it, that finally nailed it for me. Until that point, I actually still LIKED a few people on that team.

  32. Irish Pirate: Your narrative theory isn't a theory. It is a fact.

    Excuse me while I hand this keyboard to Alderman Helen Shiller via the News-Star.

    12/18/2008 News-Star: Shiller comes out fighting

    Shiller made her remarks before a Dec. 11 hearing, during which members of Fix Wilson Yard asked for a temporary restraining order to stop construction at the Wilson Yard site.

    "I think it's political," the alderman said. "I think it's a campaign kickoff for [Fix Wilson Yard president] Molly Phelan."

    Now I've made an error. I allowed my keyboard to be used by my alderman and she's soiled it in the process. I also quoted her so I'm guilty of libel and political smear tactics.

    Perhaps I should be grateful for the moratorium on the death penalty.

  33. TSMH,

    That story is partly where I got my "narrative" theory of what is going on. The rest of it is just being exposed to the Shillerista tactics for the last twenty plus years.

    I missed the part where Shiller suggested Molly Phelan is planning to run for aldercritter. Interesting. I guess being the face of "Fix Wilson Yard" would be a good platform if the lawsuit is successful.

    It's clear the Capplemaniac is planning to run so perhaps Shiller or whoever runs for "the machine" will be forced into a runoff. Personally, my guess is that Shiller will run. I also hope she loses, but we all knew that didn't we?

    Since she turned down the most recent pay increase I would bet she will run. The election is only two years away.

    Perhaps I'll run also. "Stumpin' for Change" will be my motto. That's a one legged joke so please forgive me. My nickname is "legs" and my brother who lost a part of a finger in an accident is "fingers". We pirates do tend to be sarcastic. Mom is not pleased with how we turned out.

    Oh well. It's early in the morn and I need to get a glass of wine.

    Whatever happens over the coming weeks and months is going to amusing to watch. I still find it hard to believe this whole subpoena business. It seems counterproductive to me.

    What I'm really interested in seeing is what "Da Mare" and "Da City" do. Are Holsten's attorneys acting without the support of the city in issuing the subpoenas? Is the city keeping quiet and letting Holsten play the bad guy? Is the city waiting to see if it gets picked up in the newspapers and if there is an uproar?

    Tune in daily boys and girls for another exciting episode of "How Uptown Turns".

  34. So is everyone against Craig Gernhardt on this?

    I don't agree with Craig's attitude on his neighborhood (why choose to stay to live in a Hellhole?), but I very much admire his willingness to put his identity out there.

    If you don't agree with him, there's a REAL human being you can talk to, face to face, and look them in the eye.

    The main reasons i could see for being anonymous might be that you work for Helen Shiller, or another part of government where political speech could threaten your job.

    But if that's not the case, I don't think it's needed or helpful to be anonymous. I mean, OK, if you don't post your home address to look up on WhoIS. That's reasonable. But you if you are a community leader (and Uptown Update, whether they like it or not, IS a community leader, even if most fo the work is done on the internet), you should ID yourself. James Cappleman does.

    You talk about transparency, but what about yourselves?

    It's easy to attack someone (or to goad someone in to attacking you), if there is no way to speak to them as an individual human being.

    As for the narrative...if the largest funders/contributors to this effort "just happen" to be strong supporters of anti-Shiller candidates and/or the Uptown Chicago Commission, well...don't you think the public is smart enough to tell the difference?

    The idea that supporters of FIx Wilson Yard are also those who want to get rid of Helen SHiller in 2011 is, i think, no more or less true than those who do vte for Shiller or homeless or section 8.

    Personally, i think that if the ID's were exposed, the vicious attacking would be reduced.

    There would still be "anti-Shiller" criticism and discussion, but i think it would be much more reasonable, and would bring out some legitimate discussion with those on the "other side" and those in the middle...moderates who can see both sides of the issues.

  35. Peter has my phone, address and declaration that I'm Uptown Update.