Monday, March 2, 2009

What The World Needs Now... a currency exchange on EVERY corner. We spotted "Western Union" signage installed on the high-profile corner entrance of this newly-rehabbed building at Broadway and Irving. On the opposite corner is, you guessed it, another currency exchange. We had high hopes that this building would bring needed retail to this area of Uptown. Dunkin' Donuts recently opened (which we love) and we hoped that there would be more dining options coming our way. No such luck, at least for now.


  1. This should attract a very desirable element at that intersection.

    Be sure to alert the crackheads and hookers over at the Chateau Hotel.

  2. Crazy! How many people at Broadway and Irving need checks cashed anyway?

    I suppose a currency exchange 50 feet from another currency exchange is marginally better than the space remaining empty, but I really had high hopes for new, much-needed businesses coming to the rehabbed building.

    Dunkin' Donuts is always packed when I'm there, so it should be obvious to retailers that a good customer base is available to them in that area.

    Very disappointing news.

  3. CVS was an interested tenant in the new Thorek building, but Shiller insisted that the currency exchange go back in on that corner when the building was completed. CVS walked.

  4. Helen's learned a lot during her partnership with the Mayor.

    She plops a little somethin'-somethin' which the evil condo owners will accept right in the middle of something that they won't, and then says, "Hey, I gave you a doughnut shop!"

    Soon, we'll be hearing, "Hey! I gave a Target!"

    Unless, of course, she doesn't.

    Oh, and Miss Kitty ..., why would Helen allow a CVS in a hospital when she has a loyal source of campaign funding in Sutcliffe, right down the street?

  5. Good point yo. Its too bad because CVS would have been a great asset to that intersection.

  6. Uptown attracts a lot of Currency exchanges since it has a lot of lower income folks who can't afford to open bank accounts or who lack the legal status in this country to do so.
    ...Don't see any issue with too many banks in the neighborhood so why the hoo hah over currency exchanges ? They do serve a purpose...which is to provide ready cash to hard working laborers who can't afford to pay the $ 15 a month that Citibank charges for an account !

  7. I saw the sign just this morning and felt very disappointed. So much potential; so little realization of our dreams!

    Hey, at least we have a choice now at that corner...

    I am very disappointed to hear that Shiller kept CVS out of the neighborhood.

  8. Shoreline, if you think the readers of this blog don't have a problem with "too many banks," you haven't been looking hard enough.

    There's a huge outcry over too many banks, primarily that they don't add to the tax base and that they don't attract people and foot traffic to the area, the way that good retail does.

    I can guarantee you that if a new beautiful retail space were built and the prime corner went to a storefront bank, right across the street from another storefront bank, you'd be reading the same disappointed comments.

  9. I am going to use my encyclopedic knowledge of UU threads to prove your point, TSN.

    When it was found out that Bank of America would be moving in across the street from Bridgeview Bank on Broadway, people did grumble for the reasons you raise.

    Ah, I just knew all those hours reading UU threads would start to come in handy one day! :P

  10. or who lack the legal status in this country to do so.

    Ok. So, you're PRO currency exchanges because it allows undocumented workers a place to cash their checks?

    What other US laws don't you think are necessary?

    Now, if Helen were all so fired up to assist those in the lower income brackets, maybe she could work with the banks to provide a little assistance to those folks who need to cash their checks.

    Wouldn't you think assisting people with getting accounts at a local bank would be a bigger benefit than having 4 currency exchanges all within less than a mile of each other?

  11. My guess is that currency exchanges probably charge more to cash a check than a bank would. how else are they making money. I don't know for sure but they probably keep at least 5%.

  12. The currency exchanges also allow people to pay utility bills, send money to their relatives and buy phone cards. I think having a business occupy an empty store front is a plus especially in today's economy. If you don't like it don't use it.

  13. Yeah...when I lost my job in real estate and had to make a living waiting tables....and my owner paid me by check ...guess where I cashed them ?
    Personally I'm for any business in empty storefronts...and the one on Braodway and Irving has been empty for a long, long time.

  14. There's also a sign for a Standard Bank coming soon in the Thorek Building. So, yes, here's another complaint about another bank...

  15. Yeah, I guess walking the extra 50 feet across the intersection to cash a paycheck, or pay a utility bill, or send money would be really oppressive, eh?

    No one's objecting to a currency exchange per se, they're objecting to ANOTHER currency exchange in a prime retail space, right across the damn street from one.

    "If you don't like it, don't use it"? I care about the retail health of my neighborhood. Sorry for having an opinion bigger than "I need quarters for laundry."

  16. The way I see it, we have more places in Uptown to handle money than we do to either spend it, or make it.

    Now, that's good economic planning.

    Thanks, Helen. Good work.

  17. can i only assume that the Currency Exchange that is currently located in the Thorek building is moving to the new property and the Standard Bank is taking over the entire space in the existing Currency Exchange location plus the vacant space next door?

    It would make absolutely no sense to have two Western Unions 50 ft from each other on the same corner.

    The current CE is a Western Union.

  18. Obviously the currency exchange business is very profitable in this neighborhood. If you really cared about the "retail health" of the neighborhood you wouldn't be opposed to a legitimate business occupying the space. It would seem to me that no one was beating down the doors to rent if the space was empty for so long. I'm sorry currency exchanges don't attract the kind of clientele you prefer but ultimately it's not up to you who rents the space.

  19. If you really cared about the "retail health" of the neighborhood you wouldn't be opposed to a legitimate business occupying the space.

    I am worried about the "retail" health of the neighborhood and am still curious how a glut of money changers is promoting stability, or even giving back to the community.

    Considering how money changers were handled in the New Testament, I'm surprised JP Paulus isn't pulling his hair out over this.

    but ultimately it's not up to you who rents the space

    There's so much wrong in that statement, I don't even know where to begin; but, I will simply say that because of the "leadership" in this ward, nothing that occurs here is up to any of us.

    And that's the problem.

  20. Chip Douglas did complain about the "Bank of America" opening at Lawrence and Broadway. Come on Sass where are my props?

    Do I get a yuppie discount? Because I was unaware banks charged money for you to have an account. If you find one that does it is your dumb fault for putting money in it. Move to the next one.

    Maybe Im paranoid but am I the only one who sees a pattern here? These Currency Exchanges are just another effort to instill instant gratification while keeping the lowest of the incomes low. Sure Helen wants all kinds of them, it promotes irresponsible behavior. Why have a bank account when you can cash your check or get an advance for unreasonable fees and have it spent before you get home. No need to save or plan, because my Government will take care of me!

    Bad Decisions + Bad Decisions + Bad Decisions = Helen's Voter Base.

  21. Another conspiracy theory, everything that's wrong in this ward is not Shillers fault. I personally don't agree with Shiller but apparently enough people did to re-elect her.

  22. When in doubt blame in on Shiller.

    After all it's her ward and you never see her doing anything to improve it. Or really doing anything period.

    Name one thing she had done in the last 6 months to improve the ward?

  23. Why would she work to the benefit of people who aren't going to re-elect her? She picked her horse a long time ago and she's sticking with it. It's called politics.

  24. Why would she work to the benefit of people who aren't going to re-elect her?

    Because it's her job.

    And, if she's picked politics over the responsibilities of her position, she deserves whatever karma she gets.

    I'm not saying that every lil' problem in Uptown is her fault, but when everything she does is steeped in mystery, and/or showing favoritism, it's difficult not to be frustrated and/or to question her motives.

  25. Ok, Chip my self-proclaimed encyclopedic knowledge of UU threads isn't as great as I thought it was. If we don't all get supoenaed then I will be able to continue working on my skills.

    Props for being an equal opportunity complainer? :)

    Seriously, though, banking options for people who live paycheck to paycheck are really bad. So many banks charge for minimum balances. Its an awful cycle that some people find themselves in with these currency exchanges. Sure some people are after instant gratification but for others currency exchanges and cash advance places have become a necessary evil. Sometimes I forget to be thankful that I am one of those people who has money left over at the end of the month to put towards savings.

    Has anyone ever taken up community banking issues with SueEllen Long?

  26. Well IHM, let's just hope her 70's style of politics bites her in 2011.

  27. Don't be so naive, once you're elected the name of the game is self preservation. If that means choosing the interests of one group over another so be it.

  28. I'm not naive, just tired of the incompetent, hypocritical rabble taking liberties with their "elected" positions.

    Besides, didn't Helen rail against that type of governance way back in the day?

    I agree with you that the game is played on that level and that's exactly why the players have to be changed.

  29. Ive never blamed Helen for my lot in life. She is what she is, inept a leadership.

    Now if you think for one minute that there is not an agenda to keep the poor poor and voting democrat in the inner city (See Chicago) then you are gravely naive.

    Come on Sass..we learned banking 101 when we got our first allowance and instead spent it on candy. I like your compassion, but sometimes it comes across as condescending to the people your trying to defend. Life is a bitch. We have to raise expectations for people instead of expecting less.

  30. She has failed miserable as an Alderman or Public Official.

    The problem is her voter base is much more intelligent than it used to be.

  31. All I know is that when you are used to having extra, you treat your money differently than if you never have enough money to pay for everything you need. Some people just spend it when they get it because it will soon be gone. Maybe it doesn't seem to make rational sense but people have weird ways of dealing with scarcity. You'd be surprised to know how many truly poor people are more generous than they should be with their resources because they know that they might be the next person to need help.

    It really stinks that people who have so little often get stuck with high fees that they can ill afford.

  32. And to think that once upon a time, when I was growing up in the south suburbs, the currency exchange was a respectable institution in the eyes of my working-class neighborhood! The bank was for the rich people with the big accounts. For the ordinary folk, the C.E. was where Mom cashed Dad's paycheck, used the cash to pay for the utilities, then pocketed the rest to pay CASH for her purchases at the grocery and drug stores. A small percentage of the "leftover" went to a bank account, but since working-class dads like mine were often enrolled in the Payroll Savings Plan at work, we never had to depend on the bank as our major go-to place for financial business.

    How times change...and apparently the "image" of the Currency Exchange as well.

  33. "How times change...and apparently the "image" of the Currency Exchange as well."

    Hey Gayle do those Currency Exchanges hire Union Workers? Gotcha! (See your post from yesterday)

    I miss living in Michigan. We could just cash our checks at the bar on Fridays.

    Sass I always welcome your point of view.

  34. Currency exchanges are also used by folks that may have bad credit and aren't allowed to open bank accounts. It sounds as if most commenters here have fair to good credit with little problem opening an account at the bank of their choosing; not so with everyone. If anyone wants a fee-free account go to TCF, or haggle with any institution in the area and I'm sure you'll be successful.

    I also think we should wait and see about this CE opening, it seems most plausible it is the present one relocating to the newer building to make way for a larger business. And if it is, in fact, another opening we just chalk it up to "more is better." More hair parlors, more coffee shops, more drugs, more gangs. It's Uptown, the more neighborhood.

  35. Where I am from I never saw Currency Exchanges.

    No reason anyone in the USA doesn't have a checking/saving account unless a) you are an illegal b) you are doing something criminal.

  36. My issue isn't a currency exchange, it's how many are needed?

    You can't spin a cat around here without hitting one. Wilson and Broadway, Montrose and Broadway, Irving and Broadway. Do we need one every two blocks?

    We've got more currency exchanges than we do L stops.

  37. Does the bank really charge high fees? I mean, maybe I'm just the snooty guy with the sweet 4 digit bankroll, but I don't get charged anything. My interest rates are near zero, but I don't get charged fees.

    I just find it hard to believe that people honestly can't get bank accounts. Are there really credit checks to get a savings account?

  38. there is a lot of excitement on here, but no one is considering the option that currency exchange is actually moving across the street. I had heard that they wanted to move into the new building long before signs went up (months ago). I don't know if it will end up being true, but take a breath guys jeez you're going to get ulcers.

  39. Wow. I cannot wait to move out of this neighborhood and into an area with just a tiny bit of understanding.

    Uptown is not a neighborhood full of condo owners and upper middle class folks. Maybe this particular blog is, but not Uptown in general. Not a neighborhood where more than 3,000 tax returns are prepared at a local, free tax preparation site serving low and moderate income clients.

    Two currency exchanges at an intersection is *nothing* - take a look at Woodlawn, Lawndale - I don't know, anywhere but Lincoln Park. That's par for the course. It's right off the Red Line, a whole series of major express buses, not to mention the 36, 80, etc. Those two CEs will do plenty of business and probably be more healthy than the Dunkin Donuts *ever* would be.

    Folks who don't have bank accounts are plentiful, for plenty of reasons that don't involve being here illegally (Nearly all mass-market banks will open accounts and grant mortgages to undocumented workers) OR being criminal. There's a HUGE segment of the population that simply don't trust banks and never will. There are plenty of people who have bounced checks when they were down on their luck or out of a job and can't open an account now. That's not criminal - it's just life.

    It saddens me to see so many assumptions about a population most of you seem to know nothing about other than the stereotypes that have been perpetuated.

    Place the blame wherever you want - put it all on Schiller for letting the neighborhood go to hell in a handbasket if you want, but the facts are that the neighborhood is changing. This little group isn't enough to completely redesign the dynamics of your community. You want change here? Making assumptions and whining about your alderman isn't going to cut it. Find a new strategy.

    I wish you all the best of luck, knowing that the methods you're choosing to employ are only setting you up for failure.

  40. Wow, bye April. I hope you got a good rate on that Soap Box or are you taking that with you in the move?

    To be honest, I have often fantasized about writing a Dear April letter before I moved but then I realized that I genuinely care about the people in Uptown.

    Ever think that the reason these currency exchanges are opening up all over low income neighborhoods is because they are in fact acting as predators on the less fortunate?

    I do like the Helen Lincoln Park analogy though. Even when the Helen trolls are trying to hide in the blogs they cant help themselves from playing class warfare.

    Bye April..eer Helen

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  42. I saw the currecny exchange signs going up and I rolled my eyes. its like in the suburbs when there's a new building going up and its another bank. I was going to post about my second thought though about it moving to a new space but y'all beat me. I also was going to post about the Standard Bank too.

    Anyway, I've used the existing CE in the thorek building and I saw in the back they have boxes everywhere like they need more storage. Perhaps they really are moving across the street. If they are not and there will be 2 CE's thats crazy. There's another one at Wilson & Bway.

    Banks and CE's aside, what does it take to get more real businesses in uptown/buena park? I would like to see CVS, or Walgreens. I know there's one at Waveland and Bway but something a lil northwest of there would be nice.

    At least i dont have to walk far for a roll of quarters at midnight, a city sticker or something. ha ha.

  43. Sorry April. I'm not ever going to support the idea of having 2 currency exchanges across the street from one another. If the present one is simply moving across the street, it's a pity that we're left to guess rather than hear about it from Helen. She knows full well many in the community have an interest in retail development in this ward. Well, maybe she doesn't. Forget that. She doesn't have a clue.

  44. There's a HUGE segment of the population that simply don't trust banks and never will.

    So they choose to pay hefty fees at a Currency Exchange instead? That'll show the banks. How bout we spend a couple minutes and explain the FDIC to these people rather than build 100 currency exchanges in Uptown. Everyone will be better off.

  45. This isn't to take a stand either way, but access to banking services is a definitely a huge problem for the poor.

    I recently found out that my old home town of Houston, Texas took a very progressive step with this issue.

    Houston doesn't have a lot of (if any) currency exchanges, but the payroll lending places were filling that role. Like with the CE's, check cashing fees were taking bites out of paychecks. And when you have a very tight budget as it is, every cent spent on fees comes out of your kid's mouth.

    Annise Parker, the current City Controller of Houston pulled together a program with a number of Houston area banks to offer special accounts specifically for low income workers.

    It's been lauded as a great success by both citizens AND the business community (a way to get more customers that were out of their reach before) and it's pushed Annise well into the lead for the upcoming mayoral race. And she's an out lesbian in Texas, for heaven's sake.

    Imagine - progressive policies in partnership with local business; finding a solution where everybody wins.

    Full disclosure: Annise and I both went to Rice and I am acquainted with her through some alumni functions.

  46. Maybe I'm just naive, but what roadblocks exist for the poor in using banks? I just don't get it.

    Admittedly, I've never been poor, so I don't really know what the hurdles are that people can't get over.

    All I know is my own experience, and I had a bank account about an hour after I moved to Chicago.

  47. I think maintaining a minimum balance and overdraft fees are some of the problems lower income people have with keeping a bank account active.

    So yeah, currency exchanges are needed, but not on every corner.

  48. "She doesn't have a clue."

    She obviously has a clue. She just doesn't have a soul.

    "Imagine - progressive policies in partnership with local business; finding a solution where everybody wins."

    Exactly my point (but much better presented). If Helen actually cared about improving peoples' lot in life, rather than simply using the poor for political/selfish reasons, she'd be working towards these types of solutions.

    Alas - she seems to think that concentrating more and more people into an nonsustaining environment is the way to go.

  49. I looks to me like Citibank has a savings account that has no fees and no minimum balance, and only requires a 100 dollar initial deposit. That shouldn't be too much of a problem for someone to get a paycheck thats a hundred bucks, or if they can't earn that, then welfare checks are a hundred bucks.

    Also, overdraft charges aren't really my fault. You can avoid these with a basic knowledge of subtraction. If your account is going to go below zero, don't write the check.

  50. The people defending Currency Exchanges clearly have no clue. These are predatory businesses that PREY on the poor, and should not be held up as champions of the lower classes.

    Anyway, I have to believe that the existing currency exchange is moving. And then I have to ask, why do we need to Standard Bank branches within a few blocks of each other? There's one now in that new condo building by the Sheridan Red Line stop. WTF? I'm sick of these damn bank branches popping up on every prominent corner! A CVS or Walgreens would be GREAT for the neighborhood.

  51. I would think if there were not a demand for the currency exchanges, they would not be there. But obviously, people do need them for whatever their reason, so they exist in the numbers that they do. And the people who do need them tend to be poor and not usually stably employed. I would guess most of the people objecting to these currency exchanges here do not need them and associate their use with the poor who they do not want in their community, ergo, they do not want currency exchanges (or day labor sites) in their neighborhood. Now if it were another bar or coffee shop, then......It is a pure class issue, the well off people would like a cool retail shop to spend their money in, but this would be of little use to people living in poverty. People living in poverty rely on currency exchanges, but people well off have little need for them.

  52. I guess people will need cash to get their new tattoo across the street...

  53. Sean, it makes sense to me to encourage people living in poverty to use banks given the high prices of cashing checks at currency exchanges. I like Hal's comment about what Houston did to make it a win-win for everyone. Whatever the case, it's always nice to have options and it's clear that there are plenty of currency exchanges in the area.

    I think it's okay to want diverse shopping opportunities that benefit everyone no matter what their economic level happens to be. When people with higher incomes are also motivated to shop in the neighborhood, everyone benefits, including the stores' employees. A healthy neighborhood is one that provides shopping opportunities for as many of its residents as possible.

    To insinuate that this is a class issue isn't fair. Even if by chance it is for some people, pointing fingers will create more animosity rather than promote a change of heart. Wouldn't you agree?

  54. One thing that Currency Exchanges are able to do is provide a two week cash advance on a future paycheck or welfare check. (for a very large fee, of course)

    Especially if you are drug addicted, this can come in very handy. It might explain why the 15th of the month seems to be just as busy a drug trafficing time in Uptown as the 1st of the month. (welfare checks typically arrive around the 3rd)

  55. you feel my pointing out offensive comments and attitudes is more offensive than the actual insulting comments and attitudes themselves? One of my points was that a currency exchanges are businesses and like any business, if there were not a demand for their product or service, they would not exist. That is pretty obvious right? Clearly there are people here who do not need currency exchanges, but who are they to say that there are too many? When one goes out of business, then you will know it was one too many. But the clear undercurrent on this blog is that some of the people who do not need or want the currency exchanges, and therefore falsely claim there are too many of them, also contemptuously generalize those that do need and use them as undesireables or as in the first posting, crackheads and hookers. That is where the class divide shows itself. And I am not opposed to any retail business that wants to open up. There are still plenty of storefronts for any business that could be supported by the community to open up, it is a false notion that these currency exchanges are keeping any retail from opening up shop.

  56. Sean, a well managed ward is one that takes the steps to encourage a diversity of shopping opportunities to meet the needs of as many residents as possible. Doing it in a manner that creates more foot traffic makes it even better.

    Other wards do studies to assess the types of businesses and services already present and then determine where local residents are spending their money. They use that information to attract more diverse businesses and services into the area. I don't believe there needs to be a laissez faire process to business development. It doesn't occur that way in other wards. The empty store fronts along N. Broadway are not just a result of the economic downturn. There are obviously other factors involved.

    No one said there should be no currency exchanges in the ward in an effort to keep out the poor. There's a currency exchange across the street. The real message I'm hearing is that people just want more diverse shopping opportunities so that they can spend more of their money within the ward.

    There's no protest being organized to stop this. However, there is a growing concern of residents to elect an alderman who will assist in the development of a retail environment that has more diverse shopping opportunities. I believe business development can be done in such a way that unites rather than divides people.

  57. I believe business development can be done in such a way that unites rather than divides people.

    Right. How insane is it that we get 57 comments about the possibility of two currency exchanges across the street from one another? I think it is because there is this pent-up frustration that is not being addressed in any way. We did end up having a hearty discussion about the uses of currency exchanges and cash advance places. A variety of perspectives were represented. However, this did not happen without a heavy dose of anger.

    Why must we keep doing this too ourselves? We need to make a change so that it is possible for us to get together and talk about how to make this a place where all people can live. By LIVE I mean, work here/shop here/dine here/get services here so that money stops flowing out and jobs and neighborly experiences are created right here for everyone.

    I hope this doesn't take the discussion to far off course but I have been grousing a lot about how the stimulus package is rewarding bad behavior (not just for individuals). I am still not sure how I feel about it all but Obama said something that gave me pause. He said, "you can't govern from anger." More than anything, that statement made me think of Uptown. We need to get past the hatred and the stereotypes and blaming people for having changed the map of Uptown. Mind you, I am not saying we should forget how Uptown has changed. I am just saying that we must get to a place in which we accept where we are and focus on where we want to go, holding onto the principle that we want a diverse community and we need to implement strategies to create a successful one. Few places in this country are as diverse as Uptown. We have such a wonderful opportunity. Why are we squandering it with anger?

  58. james, you're comments are disingenuous. You are lecturing me but not in response to anything I have posted. Developing retail and having another currency exchange are not mutually exclusive. The market can decide how many currency exchanges and retail businesses it can support. And people need to respect that others in the community may have needs for businesses that they themselves may not need or care for.

  59. Sassy,something in your last comment has me curious, if you care to answer: Who is the "we" of whom you speak?

    James: I too am a bit put off at the way you brushed off Sean's question re other commenter's use of really gross class-based stereotypes to express their displeasure about a CE.

    James, you said to Sean: "To insinuate that this is a class issue isn't fair. Even if by chance it is for some people, pointing fingers will create more animosity rather than promote a change of heart. Wouldn't you agree?"

    First, I think you know very well that for some folks it is about class, and it is not "by chance." It is not negative or destructive to acknowledge that there may be different community expectations, needs and experiences occasioned by socioeconomic status and class.

    Many people who posted in horrific response to the CE seem to have had very little experience with CEs and their ignorance shows in the way they over-simplify what people can do in a CE and who uses them(which is not just a payday loan or check cashing center or a tool to keep poor people poor).

    I was not poor--I would probably have been called working class. I've used currency exchanges as a younger person, so I know many of these people know not quite of what they speak. Pointing out those gaps in actual experience--which, yes, may be a result of class-- I think helps bring greater clarity to a debate so we can really understand the real assets and deficits any given business establishment may bring to a community.

    But essentially shushing and trying to silence people who point out how class bias may infect honest debate over what businesses "we" as a community need does not help matters, and it is really quite insulting to imply that those who do so breed animosity by pointing out when a person's class-based ignorance or bias may be showing.

  60. NL, what success have you had in changing a person's thoughts about class by referring to them as a bigot?

    Yes, every once in awhile there are bigots who sometimes post on this blog. For the most part, I've noticed those comments get removed and when it gets really bad, I've noticed that the moderator steps in before any comment gets posted. The vast majority of people I've met in this neighborhood are very generous with their time and money to help others.

    There are also many times when people are falsely aligned as being bigots when it is clearly not the case, and I'm speaking from personal experience. I'm a social worker, former Franciscan friar, recipient of the Dr. Martin Luther King Humanitarian Award from U of C, a board member of an organization that empowers African-American women with a history of abuse... and campaign literature still went out claiming I was a right-wing bigot who hated poor people. Never mind my 30+ year history that contradicts such an indictment.

    What I've found is that there are people who benefit from keeping this community divided. I won't take part in it. For those who have this need to focus on this class war, I have to say I question their real motives because it's clearly not done to enlighten others. That approach just doesn't work. Never has, never will.

  61. One other thing I wanted to add. I do have some understanding of bigotry. I left teaching in the late 1980's for fear of getting fired for being gay. I chose a profession that allowed me to be out without any fear of reprisal. I have had family members, friends, and neighbors treat me inappropriately based on my sexual orientation. I only choose jobs that offer domestic partnership benefits because my 17 year relationship with my life partner is not recognized by this country.

    Given all that, I have still managed to change people's perceptions about same-sex orientation and it wasn't done by pointing fingers at them. I have always found that if I focused on our shared values, the differences were no longer so important... and then real change occurred.

  62. Neighborlady, I used the word "we" in two ways in my last post. I used the word "we" to mean "those of us who posted on this thread" and in other instances more generally to mean "those of us who live in Uptown."

    We can do better.

  63. The "class warfare" discussion aside, businesses would take the chance of opening shop in Uptown if they believed they could thrive. Take a look around the only businesses that thrive are convenient stores, CE's, coffee shops, liquor stores, dollar stores, and beauty supply shops. As someone who worked in retail during high school and college I would not dream of opening a retail store in Uptown. The main difference between thriving retail environments and Uptown is the daily rif raf and crime that occurs on our streets. Until the cost/benefit scale sways Uptown will continue to have the current retail choice.

  64. James, if a person is a bigot, they are a bigot, and I don't know that I can change their thoughts on class using any approach. Really, that's not my job nor is it my intent when I speak up.

    What I feel is that if I am going to be a part of change and be a voice in a debate vital to my community, I am not going to let the bigot's skewed and ignorant perspectives go unchallenged and allow uninformed ignorance to infect the potential for honest discussion.

    For example, discussing the need for more CEs in the community--it just seems pretty pathetic when people discuss it in such a way that displays total ignorance about what functions a CE may actually serve to a wide array of people in the community, or imply that we don't need CEs because they attract low-lifes. When so much ignorance goes unchecked, it takes on a truth to some people--especially those less informed about the particular issue being discussed. So if being accused of being a "class divider" is the risk taken for just trying to inject into the discussion a little reality and actual experience--and maybe the POV of the "we" who is not so heavily represented on this board--then so be it.

    Now, while perhaps the bigoted statements are simply being ignored (and not silently endorsed), the fact is you only seem to speak out against and chide those who take issue with those who post using bigoted logic and then go on to accuse those folks who call out the bigotry of creating class division. I'm sure you're not the only one who sees it that way. I simply don't agree.

  65. 1, Despite what some people want to think, I don't read all the statements on UU. However, I remain a big fan.
    2, When I do see bigoted statements, I report them.
    3, There are times when I respond, but I'm hesitant to say much because it gives some people a buzz just to get a response. Sometimes it's best ignored if the person is a troll, and many of them are.
    4, The vast majority of accusations of bigotry I've observed on this board are false. The motive is to keep a class war going for some really sick reasons. Bigotry is horrendous. False accusations water down our efforts to fight bigotry.

    Lastly, I believe IHM hit the nail on the head. When potential retail providers feel like this is a safe place to open a store, they will come in droves. Last summer when 400+ people attended a gathering to express their frustration about crime in this neighborhood, a letter from the president of Uptown United was read which expressed frustration about the public urination, drinking, aggressive panhandling, prostitution, and fighting that occurs all along N. Broadway.

    People who live in poverty don't like crime and disorder either. I have never understood why some who say they are the advocates of the poor fight so hard against efforts to make the neighborhood safer for them.

  66. From a Christian Science Monitor article several years ago
    When Ed Smith, a city alderman, surveys his ward on the west side of Chicago, he sees pockets of promise. But he also sees tell-tale signs of urban decay. There are weed-choked lots and vacant storefronts, and few if any grocery stores, banks, or restaurants. The area is chock-ablock with lounges that offer late-night drinks, currency exchanges that charge steep fees to cash a check, and dingy shops that advertise "food & liquor." Some businesses never returned after riots in 1968.

    Using NL's logic, Ed Smith must hate poor people. Why else would he slam ce's?