Thursday, February 12, 2009

Tribune Does Story About Uptown Bloggers Subpoena Requests

Wilson Yard developer fights to unmask Uptown bloggers
Groundbreaking legal dispute draws in national privacy advocates
(link to the article)

By James Janega, Tribune reporter, February 12, 2009

Subpoenas seeking the identity of anonymous bloggers opposed to the Wilson Yard project are the latest salvo in a decade-long fight over the development, one that plays off class warfare and dueling political agendas over a sprawling tract of land in Uptown.

In December, a community group called Fix Wilson Yard filed a lawsuit alleging the city and the projects' developer are improperly developing valuable real estate with funds intended for blighted areas. The developer's attorney has subpoenaed years of records seeking information on three neighborhood blogs that have also opposed the developer and 46th Ward Ald. Helen Shiller. Tom Johnson, who represents developer Peter Holsten, specifically wants to know if the blog's account holders are plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

If the plaintiffs were among the bloggers and anonymous people complaining about the development on the Uptown blogs five years ago, the defendant's lawyers contend they would have forfeited their right under a statute of limitations to file suit against the developers.

A decision on whether to compel the sites to reveal the information has yet to be made.

But the request has raised free speech concerns from bloggers and Internet lawyers.

"Regardless of what the motivations are, there's certainly a chilling effect as a result of subpoenas sent out specifically targeting sites criticizing this development," said lawyer Matt Zimmerman of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an advocacy group for free speech and privacy rights that represents the bloggers.

Sought are records from Google and the Chicago operators of the Buena Park Neighbors blog that would reveal who had posted anonymous complaints about the development on: Buena Park Neighbors (, Uptown Update ( and What the Helen (now expired).

There was no need to seek a subpoena, said lawyer Thomas Ramsdell, who represents Fix Wilson Yard, the plaintiffs in the suit filed in Cook County Circuit Court.

"All he needed to do was serve us with a request ... asking us if any of the plaintiffs were blogging at this time," Ramsdell said. "I do think it was politically motivated in a way to harass and intimidate the plaintiffs and anyone else who might support them."

At stake in the Wilson Yard dispute is one of the largest undeveloped tracts of land on the North Side. The alderman's and developer's plans include a significant number of apartments for low-income tenants, which ignited a neighborhood sparring match over how much low-income housing in Uptown is too much.

In their lawsuit, opponents of the project accuse the city of misdirecting tax increment financing funds for blighted areas to a site with intrinsic real estate value — it's a half-mile from the lakefront and Wrigley Field. But many supporters of the suit include residents who in recent years also have criticized Shiller on policing and ward services. The plaintiffs must respond by Friday to up-front questions from the defendants about their involvement in the blogs. If they fail to answer, the defendants' lawyers maintain that they needed to have subpoenaed Google and the bloggers to compel them to release the information.

Still, "It's a very unclear area of law because it's so new," said Robert Moss, vice chair of the Chicago Bar Association's Civil Rights and Constitutional Law Committee. "If the [plaintiffs] are refusing to answer, then it's a problem and the court may have to decide."

Update: Comments are open at the Trib web site.

Update 2: In a related story, two aldermen - not Ald. Shiller - are proposing TIF transparency beginning in 2010.


  1. I would encourage people to go to the Trib's website and post your comments about this article. I want to make it clear that this is not about class warfare. This is about transparency, community input, and spending our tax dollars wisely.

    The intimidating tactics being used by the defense again demonstrates the kinds of tactics we've both witnessed and experienced. It's time for it to be exposed.

  2. Should we all include the phrase in our closing:

    ,and I am Uptown Update.???

  3. Now I think I have a better understanding of what Holsten's defense is trying to accomplish.

    It's a "Statute of Limitations" argument.

    If any of the plaintiff's posted a comment on any blog 5 years prior to the filing of the lawsuit the suit is null and void.

    Well What the Helen didn't appear to mid 2006 or so. Uptown Update appeared in mid 2007. So basically we are talking any comments on the BPN board which existed years before.

    Am I right about that assumption?

    It's an interesting argument. I can't speak to the "legal basis" of it, but from a public policy standpoint it stinks. The Wilson Yard TIF has undergone more changes than the Bush administrations arguments for the Iraq War. It has undergone more changes than Sarah Palin's wardrobe during the election, to include the silk undies for her hubby. It has undergone more changes than Daley has had "Chief's of Staff".

    Why just last year the Truman Garage appeared seemingly out of nowhere.

    Which makes me a real nowhere man.

    He's a real nowhere Man,
    Sitting in his Nowhere Land,
    Making all his nowhere plans
    for nobody.

    Oh well the legal arguments are beyond my expertise. The social and moral argument isn't.

    TIF's are abused. TIFS are not "transparent" enough. The Wilson Yard plan, which seemingly changes frequently, sucks.

    Da mare, seemingly denies that TIFS are even tax money. It's as if they appear out of nowhere and rain down money upon the masses.

    Is 'sucks' a legal term?

    To quote that great jurist Bart Simpson:

    "I didn't think it was physically possible, but this both sucks and blows."

  4. If the plaintiffs were among the bloggers and anonymous people complaining about the development on the Uptown blogs five years ago, the defendant's lawyers contend they would have forfeited their right under a statute of limitations to file suit against the developers

    It's amateur hour at "Dewey, Cheatem, and Howe" at 36 S. Wabash, Suite 1310.

  5. does anyone know the statutory basis for this "statute of limitations"? thanks

  6. I thought the same thing, IrishPirate and Murray. For heaven's sake people were still under the impression that movie theaters would be involved in discussions on the BPN board!! It is pretty insulting to keep people ignorant about what you are doing, deny them any meaningful kind of participation only to later go on a witch hunt through the "documents" of these confused, angry and ill-informed people.

    Yo had a great post a few weeks ago about how this problem is of Shiller and Holsten's own making. Transparency from Holsten and responsiveness from Shiller would have done wonders to keep them out of this mess.

  7. I'm curious about the comments reporter James Jannega is using to construct the basis for this paragraph about he statute of limitations argument. The way he has written it makes it appear as a colossal strawman.

    The Finance Committee approved changes to the development plan in October. Would this not reset whatever date could constitute any limit for a civil action?

  8. I'm not familiar with a lot of legal stuff. Can some please explain the legal basis of:

    If the plaintiffs were among the bloggers and anonymous people complaining about the development on the Uptown blogs five years ago, the defendant's lawyers contend they would have forfeited their right under a statute of limitations to file suit against the developers

    It sounds like if you were upset about it earlier you can't be upset about it now. Sure there was less to be upset about 5 years ago, but this if anything proves how long the damage to the community has been going on.

    And what lay is broken? Slander? Hardly. How does using your first amendment right to state a grievance prevent you for following due, and rights protected, process to have those grievances addressed?

    Please explain, because it doesn't make sense.

    And, the community and Wilson Yard aside, this is a huge first amendment in new technology issue not to mention a right to privacy issue. I'm surprised this hasn't gotten more pick up from the Wireds and political blogger of the world.

  9. I can't tell from the rendering, but the vertical piers at the corner of Montrose and Broadway don't seem part of the plan. Perhaps a shrine to Our Lady of the Perpetually Persecuted Alderwitch?

  10. Ok. So if the whole point of the subpoenas was the "statute of limitations" issue, and if a quick look in the archives shows that UU and WTH weren't around 5 years ago, doesn't that contradict the explanation for the issuing of subpoenas?

  11. Really? if you complain about something on a blog then the statute of limitations to bring a lawsuit starts ticking!

    I can't believe they are taking themselves seriously. If I were Uptown Update I would just call their bluff and tell them who you are. I know you are probably rightfully concerned about Schillers retribution. Nevertheless, I think any actions from the alderman's office against the editors here would only strengthen your case in the "court of public opinion".

    In a Court of Law OTOH I am not qualified to speak!

  12. Another aspect few have pondered.

    The neighbors are so fixated on giving money to this Fix Wilson Yards lawsuit, by the time the election rolls around, any potential candidate looking for contributions to compete against Helen will be shit out of luck.

    The potential candidate will be underfunded because this lawsuit drained the community. Look at history, money buys elections in Chicago.

    You all would be better served to start donating to a candidate running in 2011 instead of this lawsuit.

    That's if you really want to defeat Helen?

  13. "If the plaintiffs were among the bloggers and anonymous people complaining about the development on the Uptown blogs five years ago, the defendant's lawyers contend they would have forfeited their right under a statute of limitations to file suit against the developers."

    "It sounds like if you were upset about it earlier you can't be upset about it now."

    wait a sec: shouldn't this be, if you DIDN'T complain back then you can't complain now?

    I'm lost, my head hurts

  14. I recall reading the City attorney make a "Statute of Limitations" argument regarding this case.

    I guess since the City would naturally be reluctant to go after some bloggers perhaps Holsten's legal team decided to make the argument.

    From a PR point of view this is potentially disastrous for TIF's, Holsten and the city's position. They had better hope they have a good legal position on the SOL argument.

    Some people call SOL "Statute of Limitations" or perhaps "Shit outta Luck".

    In any case it is nice to see Holy Mother Tribune covering the story. As the weeks go on look for some national attention.

  15. For me it is NOT about defeating Helen. I probably would have even campaigned for her many moons ago. What I want is to have a seat at the table in my community NOW. I will worry about future elections when the time comes. If there is a candidate who demonstrates that they can bring people together, find middle ground and respect everyone's voice then I will not only donate money but time too. Should I just ignore what is happening now because there is more work to do in the future? I think not.

    I think what needs to happen is to grow involvement so that the same people don't get burned out (financially and otherwise.) Stopping that growth, though, seems to be one of the aims of the supeonas but I think it may backfire on them.

  16. just saying it doesn't make sense that complaining about something in the past forfeits your right to file suit on the same issue in the present.

    Good point Craig, we need to consider bigger more diverse and positive options than FWY which is an easy target and thus far (sorry kids) not terribly productive.

    Lets identify and build up the representative that can help us instead of point fingers and encouraging hostility in the person that is not help us. Shiller is just one person, not the entire government.

  17. The 46th ward has to do better than this in 2011.

    According to the D-2's, during the meat of the campaign in 2007, a mere 37 contributors gave a meager $18,000 dollars to James Cappleman.

    That's a huge reason James lost. He was underfunded.

  18. Craig,

    I hate to disagree with you because I know you will likely start screaming for blood and foaming at the mouth, but it strikes me that the publicity the FWY lawsuit is generating will likely be good for any challenger to Shiller.

    People from outside the ward are paying attention and I suspect Shiller is in for a tough race if she runs again. Cappleman is clearly planning to run and if you believe Shiller, FWY leader Molly Phelan will be running also.

    I might run as a "silly party" candidate.

    Since these subpoenas seem as much politically motivated as legally motivated should Shiller declare part of the cost of Holsten's defense on her campaign disclosure?

    What is that called? A donation in kind? Or a kinda donation?

    I have a new legal theory to explore.

  19. Craig the lawsuit has less to do with the election and more to do with abuse from the city as a whole.

    I do agree to donate to anyone running against Helen, but that being said these "TIFS" must be stopped. Ok, even if Helen chooses not to run or gets voted out what is to stop Daley from planting another TIF on us? This is taxation without representation at it fullest. This lawsuit may be the foundation to stopping this gross negligence city wide.

    You have to fight the battles in front of you first before you can fight the future ones.

  20. Craigikins,

    think of all that wonderful national money that Joe Moore received over the Foie Gras issue.

    Perhaps some national first amendment casharooski will be donated toward whoever opposes Shiller or the "machine candidate".

  21. That's a huge reason James lost. He was underfunded.

    You should talk to James about the campaign sometime, its incredibly interesting. To summarize(and forgive me if I'm wrong), James lost because he didn't carry the gay vote. He did fine among the poor and "Helens People". Most of the downtrodden in Uptown seem to know James, or at least this is my impression from seeing him at community meetings.

    James lost because middle-upper class gay men stuck with Shiller.

    But yes, he was completely outspent, and quite honestly, he will be again. For us to tackle the monster, we're going to need an effective and motivated ground game. Thats going to be the key in 2011.

  22. Another reason James lost was voter apathy. One thing Helen's very very good at is getting out the vote. We need to be at least that involved in 2011.

    Just think, if only 691 more people -- out of the 50,000+ residents of Uptown -- had gotten out to vote for James, this community wouldn't have had to shell out a single cent to "Stop Labor Ready" or to "Fix Wilson Yard."

    Start lighting the fire, folks. Two more years until Election Day.

  23. IP for the 46th 2011!

    a hooker in every cot

  24. so, instead of 3 hots and a cot, it'll be 3 hos and a cot? :)

  25. "James lost because middle-upper class gay men stuck with Shiller."

    Why did they stick with her?

  26. If what edgewater* states is true, (and I have little reason to doubt it) its probably because Helen was endorsed by the Free Press and Chuck Renslow. That Chuck's business is well served by keeping the drugs flowing in the neighborhood was probably not pointed out.

  27. My mom tells a story about the depression. President Hoover promised a "chicken in every pot".

    My grandma left a chicken in a pot on the windowsill.

    Said chicken and pot "disappeared".

    So the joke was we had no chicken and no pot.

    So before we get a hooker in every cot, we need a chicken AND a pot.

  28. Not sure if James lost the middle class gay vote, but I can tell you first hand that there are several gay men, as well as straight women that I happen to know that live in Helen's ward in Lakeview (or closeby in Tunney's) that think she is the best thing since sliced bread. They think that her "work with the poor" is admirable.

    You try to discuss the faults of Wilson Yard with them, or the absolute plethora of low income hosuing in Uptown, and they say "well the people have to live somewhere don't they?" You then ask them how they would like something like that built next to them and they have no answer or they change the subject.

    Mostly, its those of us who live north of Irving who know the real Helen and her misguided social experiments. Best thing we can do is continue to try to educate the whole ward.

  29. They think that her "work with the poor" is admirable.

    James' work with the poor is just as admirable, and we should all(myself included) learn more of the details of what he's done, so we can speak to his character when we find ourselves in those conversations.

    He is at least, if not more, admirable than Helen on the topic of help to the poor.

    Throw in accountability, respect for taxpayer dollars, community and consensus building and its a no brainer where your vote should go.

  30. I'm curious. How many of you would support Wilson Yard if TIF dollars were not involved?

  31. I would say few people would support WY in its current form, but many would support it if it actually was the plan that was originally proposed. Helen had things in there for everyone, then promptly removed everything that people on this blog would like. Mixed income housing? Gone. Movie Theater? Gone. Aldi on Broadway to promote foot traffic? Gone.

  32. In its current form? Lets see - failed housing model; no commitment (at least publicly) from Target; ass-backward Aldi; a Subway, Nail Salon and Game store as the only rumored retail below the housing; an unreliable traffic study... Nah, doesn't sound like a very smart development to me - with and without TIF dollars.

  33. How many of you would support Wilson Yard if TIF dollars were not involved?

    I'd still be opposed to the plan as is. I don't know how it could continue on its course to provide extremely low income housing, very low income housing, and low income housing with all private capital at risk. As the number of bankrupt developers can tell you, there is no money in so-called affordable housing. Eventually the tenants do not pay, the law protects them when they do not pay, and enforcing standards for qualification for affordable housing requires a near total erosion of the tenant's privacy rights.

    The banks know risk. They won't finance a project they know cannot yield a stream of payments.

    Wilson Yard was initially designed to provide an attraction for both private capital and public capital to produce an outcome that has shown to be effective in contemporary urban environments. The opposition to Wilson Yard development at that point was paltry.

    To really address your question one has to presume that the last 5 years never occurred.

  34. Right after the election, we did an analysis of the election and a strategy was put in place to have a winning outcome in 2011. All continues to go well for a different outcome, and enough said in a blog on the subject of our particular strategies.

    One universal reality is that politicians and community leaders like to support the perceived winner and that's the way many endorsements are made... along with a few deals here and there. I've been told the election results stunned some very confident politicians and community leaders and I am now no longer a stranger to these people.

    Money is a huge help with winning the election, but I can fully attest that it's still very possible to spend under a 1/3 of the incumbent and still have a very good chance of winning. Many other dynamics at play are leveling the playing field for challengers.

    Many rumors surround whether or not Ald. Shiller will run in 2011. Regardless, I'm forging ahead and it's my hope that after 2011, the community won't be needing to set aside their money for lawsuits in order to be heard.

    I remain frustrated that reporters are buying this argument of class warfare in Uptown. Everyone is hurt by it except those seeking to maintain a power base. Keep challenging reporters with this lazy type of reporting. The ones who get hurt the most by it are the most vulnerable.

  35. AMAZING! The worthless street signs that the city were putting up wasting taxpayer money are no longer going up after public outcry. Stroger is canceling the roadside contract.

    If we keep on ALL media local and national and bring as much attention to the "city government" with the Wilson Yard maybe we can get a similar outcome. Lots of momentum rolling into Cinco De Mayo.

    Write your state reps, local tv and newspapers weekly!!! Bring as much spotlight onto this thing as possible - that's the only way to really put the pressure on them to do the right thing.

  36. James, no offense, but I am not supportive of replacing one Socialist-minded person with another.

    My hope is that another candidate emerges that I can support that is more inline with those of us that are sick and tired of coddling the masses. My hope is that someone with a backbone steps up and fights Shiller, and not just offers another shade of blue...

    Is there anyone out there that can actually stand up to Shiller and start dismantling the Shiller Soviet Republic?

  37. Soul you're forgetting the fact that the govt will pay a significant portion of the tenants rent or in some cases all of it. Although they won't be able to charge $1000's in rent it's pretty much a guaranteed source of income. Due to the fact the units are new I'm sure people will "camp out" in them for years to come.

  38. Some people didn't support James because they were afraid of the retaliation from Helen and the Chicago Machine.

    We all need to stand up to her and not be bullied by her tactics. After all she works for us.

  39. Have to agree with James, this lawsuit paints Shiller in poor light and it is giving real press to the fact that there IS a divide in the ward. This lawsuit is a separate financial issue from his campaign. If this loses Shiller some endorsements, the difference in money will not matter that much.

  40. James a socialist? I thought Helen views him as a right wing Republican Klan member. Uptown Superhero, I think that cape has been tied too tightly around your neck. Loosen it up a little.

  41. Uptown Superhero,

    this is Uptown, not GOPville.

    Cappleman strikes me as socially liberal and fiscally moderate which is the best you can realistically hope for. I would think of him as a pro business Dem with a bad moon rising. Someone like a Tom Tunney or Mary Ann Smith, without the Daley ass kissing hopefully.

    As for Cappleman's campaign I think he did about as well as could be expected. What mistakes he made were minor and I doubt they affected the election. It's difficult to win when EVERY single politician either supports your opponent or keeps their mouths shut. She also had a 3 to 1 or so monetary advantage. All those lovely Daley cronies just loved to give $$$$ to their dear old friend Helen.

    I don't think you will see that in the next campaign. I also think that given the likely state of the economy, the tax situation, and just plain anger at Shiller whoever runs against her will likely be the favorite. Two years is a long time though and things may change.

    My impression was that the Capplemaniac did relatively well among the gay community. Not being gay myself, although I have had my offers, my impression is strictly based on talking to others and watching the election unfold. Ok, Ok, I admit it. I heard it at the bathhouse and over at the Bird Sanctuary. I guess I'm a closeted Republican freak at heart. Save me Jesus! Save me Reverend Haggard!

    The real divide if you examine the election results by precinct was lakefront versus away from the lakefront. Shiller generally carried the lakefront highrises and Cappleman generally carried the condo owning areas away from the lakefront. Overall it was nearly a 55-45 split in those areas.

    The big exceptions were the precincts with JPUSA and low income housing which went overwhelmingly for Shiller and the precincts just south of Wilson Yard which overwhelmingly went for Jimbo.

    Tune in in 2011 when the Shiller V Cappleman campaign will likely occur again. Perhaps with an added twist of another candidate to force a runoff.

  42. I keep trying to find "GOPville", low taxes and a missile in my own backyard! F Yeah!

    I can agree somewhat with Superhero. The blind democratic devotion in Chicago has created a free for all political/ spending spree. The politicians can do as they please, because they have immunity.

    That being said, the same thing would happen if it was all GOP. We need a balance. Common sense politics with accountability.

    I have voted for one Dem in the last 6 years, and that was James. I trust the man, and I trust him to do what is best for the community.

  43. James C. seems like a nice guy, who would be a great social worker. We need someone who can actually win. My vote is for Molly Phelan! She seems tough enough for the job.

  44. The comment from Green Giant struck me as unusual until I did a search of previous "green giant" comments.

    Seems the shamrock colored green one has a tendency to comment on and defend our JPUSA friends and make sarcastic remarks towards UU supporters and Unique so Chique.

    I wonder what the agenda is?

    Do you think Molly is running?

    If the answer is yes, do you think it would be easier for your buddy Helen to defeat her than Cappleman?

    Personally, if she runs that is ok with me. I'd still likely support Cappleman, but if she made the runoff I'd certainly support her over Shiller. Based on some of the results of the last aldermanic elections I don't think forcing a runoff is necessarily a bad thing for the opposition to Shiller.

    Methinks the Shilleristas are trying to create that "narrative" I spoke of before. To them the "Fix Wilson Yard" lawsuit is all about Molly Phelan running against Shiller. Sometimes one gets the impression Shiller thinks she is starring in her own movie and it is all about HER.

    The Wilson Yard plan sucks. Plain and simple. As I said before if Cappleman had won the last election and was trying to foist this "plan" on the community many of us would oppose it and him.

    Sometimes I think Shiller thinks she is starring in her own version of "Sunset Boulevard". Call it Broadway Boulevard. "I'm ready for the ring kissing Mayor Daley".

  45. Soul, I am a gay man, and not a GOPer.... and as shocking as it may seem to those not in the gay community, our support for candidates is not monolithic. The fact Mr. Cappleman is gay is neither a plus nor a minus to me.. just as I dont care that you are straight. I do mind, however, your constant comments about the bird sanctuary... to paraphrase Shakespeare.. Me does think The Soul protests too

    I am concerned of replacing one socialist minded alderman with another that will probably be in office for the next 25 years....

    .. so I feel very comfortable in giving my honest opinions and I do hope that others step up.

    I am VERY disturbed that this particular string has turned into a Cappleman for Alderman advertisement.

    I hope for a vigorous debate and a choice of candidates....after all, it is America...Mr. Cappleman may very well end up with both my vote and fiscal support..but I do not feel this particular discussion which is supposed to be about the Subpeonas and the TRIB article is the appropriate place to discuss this in detail... just my humble opinion

  46. We must be sharing the pint tonight, IrishPirate! I thought Green Giant's post was curious for the same reason. I can't speak for Molly, but it doesn't seem to me that does what she does because she has a burning desire to sit on the Chicago City Council. Quite the contrary, it seems to me that she is just an average citizen that has had it with inside deals, cronyism and Chicago politics as usual. Helen Shiller was once like that...exposing greedy slumlords...attempting to hold Jane Byrne accountable...

    These voices come out of Uptown and for that I am proud. I'd like Helen to know that the dissent runs even deeper than superficial gamesmanship related to running for public office. But maybe the time has passed for taking it more seriously? I don't know...

  47. I remain frustrated that reporters are buying this argument of class warfare in Uptown. Everyone is hurt by it except those seeking to maintain a power base.

    I am glad that you mentioned this, James. It is very difficult for me to have my criticisms reduced to class warfare. Since when does being critical of the Helen Shiller today make you lose your lefty card? I'm not kidding when I say that Uptown politics often plunges me into a bit of an existential crisis! But the good Lord gave me a brain and I intend to use it. I also believe in democracy. Living in Uptown is tough.

  48. Mister Superhero,

    I think, and perhaps I'm wrong, you meant to address your last comment to me.

    I no more think that gays are a monolithic group than I think that public sex at the bird sanctuary is ok. Oops, there I go again.

    Girlfriend, I suggest you loosen your underwear a bit and look up the definition of the word 'sarcasm'. Even a JPUSAer like Green Giant seems to understand the concept.

    As for this thread turning campaign related, well since that is the "narrative" the Shilleristas seem to be telling it was kinda inevitable.

    I'm actually a political moderate with a libertarian outlook. I voted for Topinka over Blago and I would vote for more GOP'ers if they lost their "Christianist" edge.

    To me it is clear that there is no way a GOP minded candidate is going to win in this ward. Like it or not that is reality.

    Sometimes politics is not about supporting the ideal candidate it is about supporting the better candidate. Or perhaps the less bad candidate depending on your point of view.

    Now if you will excuse me Reverend Haggard and a gaggle of GOP'ers just text messaged me and I'm heading over to a bathhouse to meet them.

    See my earlier comment about 'sarcasm'.


    There is a very large button on this page that says "Contribute ideas for reform here".

    I submitted my comments about our alderman and FWY...have you?

  50. No wonder the crap has taken almost 13 years to (not) develop...

    ...can I run against Schil in 2011? (rather, is it possible?)

  51. Boy we've spun off topic, but I think we need to be clear what a Socialist is. From, the definition of Socialism is:

    1. Any of various theories or systems of social organization in which the means of producing and distributing goods is owned collectively or by a centralized government that often plans and controls the economy.

    James is a social worker, not a socialist. I'm not aware of his campaign platform to consolidate means of production and distribution or of him quoting anything from Marx! I am however aware that he works actively with homeless and people in need, which is likely why calls social work:

    organized work directed toward the betterment of social conditions in the community, as by seeking to improve the condition of the poor, to promote the welfare of children, etc.

  52. If the theory of the subpoenas is a statute of limitations argument that requires the demonstration that the posters (a) are members of the plaintiff class and (b) made the posts some five years ago, then the subpoenas against UU and WTH are an abuse of process as the clear facts demonstrate there is no possibility that the info obtained from those sources would be relevant to the court case. I hope the lawyers working on their behalf take appropriate action against the opposing counsel.

    As for the theory in general, I have to truly wonder about it as a whole. Not my expertise, but assuming that the SOL argument is a winner, wouldn't it only result in an exclusion of certain members of the plaintiff class from the lawsuit? I mean, they can't possibly think they will find a 5 year old posting from every member of the plaintiff class?

  53. Did anyone notice that FWY's lawyer Thomas Ramsdell is the same lawyer for big gun Al Hanna.

    Hanna recently won an Illinois appelate court ruling that has blown the roof off of Chicago's landmark ordinance.

    Al's a fabulous guy. So's Tom R.

  54. I am glad that the Tribune and presumably other major media outlets have taken an interest in this story, albeit one that might constitute "lazy" journalism. I stick with my favorite mantra that knowledge is indeed power, and we have what I believe is an obligation to spread it like wildfire in this community.

    If half of us who read this blog today took the time to write a form letter about our concerns and sent it to editors, news outlets and elected officials at all levels, I believe it would help in the publicity effort and put pressure on all parties involved.

    This issue truly is bigger than us and bigger than Uptown; at stake are, as many have stated, key arguments about the First Amendment, tax law and even criminal implication of this kind of political corruption.

    We've been shut out, lied to and undermined as taxpaying citizens, even those of us who live in subsidized housing and million-dollar penthouses on the lake.

    Politics as usual and apathy, in my opinion, are not an option, which is why I inform as many of my neighbors as possible about what is going on with our public servants.

    "You MUST be the change you wish to see in the world." - M. Gandhi

  55. Couldn't agree more with the previous comment. We have a strong group of people here that can have a dramatic outcome if we focus our attention in the right place. Start here.

  56. Irish Pirate...I wish I was being sarcastic. Im being dead honest.

    I drink way too much beer to be a jpuza. Im just a scientist who happens to live on Racine.

  57. Craig G..

    Respectfully you're wrong. $$ is key, but the support James had back in 2004 more than made up for the lack of funds. James lost by 700 votes. That's not about money, that's about laziness. 2 weeks to vote and people didn't get out to exercise their vote. 40,000+ residents in the 46th Ward, 30,000 registered to vote and only 12,000 showed up to vote. pathetic. the ward had 2 WEEKS to vote...

  58. Toto: Thanks for the plug of Albert Hanna and Tom Ramsdell. The fight against the Chicago Landmark Ordinance is another objective that deserves greater support. Any victories the people can achieve against our government and their controlled zoning laws is good for the people.

    If you want to read more about this other legal battle against Chicago's zoning laws the Medill students have a good report.

  59. Not to take us too far off topic but I have been following what people have been saying regarding the landmarks case. People just don't get it. They find the ruling a gross miscarriage of justice when it appears to me that what the courts will force the city to do is stop being capricious about how landmarks are designated. How is that a bad thing? And Blair Kamin made one of the stupidest comments of all. He claimed that Jane Jacobs would be prevented from serving on a commission because she was, afterall, just a housewife. Maybe that would be true before she wrote her book but certainly not after. Nothing in the ruling would prevent historians or urban planners from serving on a commission. Having a diverse mix of architects, historians and urban planners would only improve the decisions coming out of these commissions.

    Sometimes I really wonder about Chicago. Why do people fight so hard to protect "the Chicago Way" whilst they expend so much energy complaining about it? Sorry for the diversion.

  60. geez, IP, please don't hold up Tunney as an example of anything desirable

    with weeks to go in a tight run-off Tunney showed his colors in the most explicit possible way

    Citizens for Tunney
    Transfer to Bernard L Stone Campaign Comm

    I will never forget or forgive this

  61. Hugh,

    I did mention Tunney being too good a friend of "da mare".

    I don't think he is a good alderman. He is just "less bad".

  62. Eye in the Sky,
    I have to say I really liked your idea of going to the Reform Illinois Now website. I went to it and gave my input. Below are a few problems and/or ideas I submitted, but I'm sure others will have some great ideas:

    1. Have a process in place to address blatant & false allegations in campaign literature about the other candidate. There are loopholes that allow for this to occur.

    2. More detailed reporting when D-2's report "consulting fees". Suspect these fees may be funds to pay people to vote. More monitoring needed.

    3. The City Inspector General is not allowed to investigate aldermen and their staff for alleged abuse, fraud, and wasteful spending. The public is generally not aware of this and it goes by unnoticed. City Council has no incentive to change this practice. Create a process that would allow aldermen to publicly choose to be accountable to the City Inspector. This would embarrass the other aldermen to also fall in line around election time.

    4. Closely monitor the actions of city inspectors around election time to decrease intimidation. Make public any reports by an alderman when a member of their office calls in city inspectors.

    5. There is a direct correlation between zoning changes and campaign contributions. If this can't be stopped, a website needs to expose it so that voters can be more informed. Ditto with TIF developers and their campaign contributions. It's also very difficult to trace the money that comes from the developers and their attorneys.

    6. Work needed on the state level to push for TIF reform to promote transparency, accountability, and community inclusion. Voters also need to know what specific actions their current legislators have taken to promote TIF reform.

    7. Have a website that posts where politicians and challengers stand on the issue of term limits.

    8. The process of getting on the ballot is extremely complex and it prevents challengers from entering the race. This needs to be addressed.

    9. The Dept of Planning can violate well-established urban planning principles in order to push through the wishes of an alderman. Action to prevent the rubberstamping needed.

    10. Detailed information on the use of Aldermanic funds should be made readily available to the public.

    11. The Open Meetings Act needs to have a better process in place to ensure it is being followed, with clear repercussions listed if it is not.

  63. I sent this in to the Illinois Reform Commission...


  64. I don't think he is a good alderman. He is just "less bad".

    rank-ordering Chicago aldermen is a slippery slope

    once you allow that one alderman may be less bad then another, some goofballs I don't want to mention any names IVI-IPO will take that kind of reasoning to an absurd extreme and conclude that some incumbents might actually merit support