Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Fix Wilson Yard Update, May 13

From the May 13, Fix Wilson Yard Newsletter:
Yesterday, we received the judge's ruling on the defendants' motion to dismiss. Fix Wilson Yard is reviewing its options after learning about an unfavorable outcome. While we are disappointed by the judge's ruling, we remain committed to our cause. We are in the process of conferring with our attorneys and weighing our options, including filing an amended complaint and/or an appeal. Once a course of action is determined, we will communicate it to you.

Crain's: Residents' suit against Wilson Yard project thrown out

Chicagoist: Wilson Yard Lawsuit Thrown Out

Update: The legal document regarding the case is below. You can access it here as well.


  1. I am a lawyer - but not THE lawyer or anything - and I think it means the case was dismissed...

  2. I assume it means it is pretty much over. The judge ruled Fix Wilson Yard has no case I guess. Looks like I'll be selling my condo and leaving the rest to cover the stolen/lost taxes dumped into this mess. With out the increase in tax revenue from this catastrophe, who do you think is going to have to pick up the slack??? Property taxes will skyrocket.

  3. I've already moved out of the hood, but was renting out my condo. I think I'm going to sell it, as any gain I expected to see from holding probably won't happen.

    I'm pretty much done with Chicago as a city. Corruption makes me sick.

  4. I find it interesting that when it is bad news or something that doesn't go their way, that the info is so vague....has that been something they have fought for all along was more info shared. the road goes both ways....I really assume it means the judge ruled to dismiss.

    While I don't agree with the amount of low or no income, I think we are beating a dead horse and should welcome the develpment, Target, etc and make the best of the situation rather than constantly fighting. I have lived here for 9 years and am tired of the battle.

  5. anyone see this article??? sounds like target is confirmed. don't know how to link, sorry. If it is true....,26767

  6. This likely means the Judge dismissed the case based on a procedural matter. Perhaps stating that the plaintiffs didn't have "standing" and/or that the statute of limitations for filing the lawsuit had passed.

    I guess we will know soon enough. Like Barack Obama I'm not licensed to practice law in Illinois so I'll let the active lawyers debate the "legal" merits of the decision. Obama let his license lapse. I was found unfit because of mental and moral impairment. So many cheerleaders so little time.......

    I would expect that the FWY people will file an amended complaint or appeal the Judge's decision. It's likely not over yet.

    I'm not surprised by this, it's what I expected; although, I am disappointed. I did have some hope that this decision wouldn't be made and the legal battle would go forward. Fighting City Hall is never easy. Particularly when City Hall is run by a demented verbally challenged leprechaun who treats the city the same way an intestinal parasite treats its host. The fact is the only check on the Mayor's power in this city is the US Attorney's office. Perhaps a voter rebellion will happen, but I'm not holding my bad breath,

    It's fitting that the last truly independent alderman died earlier this week. By the way Leon Depres was the one who came up with the parasite analogy.

    Think of all the parasites feeding at the TIF trough and the larger trough of city related tax dollars. Mayoral and aldermanic relatives and cronies. Campaign contributors. Religious leaders. The list could go on and on.

    When I'm back in town I'll make another donation to FWY. I'll try to attend a fundraiser and drink my woes away.

    When the going gets tough, the tough get going.............

  7. I'll bet it was the statute of limitations issue that sunk them. I'd love to read the briefs.

  8. Oh wait, it must have been a 615 motion if they have the option of filing an amended complaint, so it may not be sunk.

  9. This news is truly disappointing. I wonder who paid the judge off to dismiss.

    The ChiTown Daily News article is a one-sided crappy piece of fluff. Still no letter of intent and only viewpoints from the local ward clowns - Shiller, Jamiko Rose and Marc Kaplan with typical polarizing rants.

    When the Target grand opening sign goes up, then maybe I will start believe its coming. If Target is supposed to open in the Fall of 2010 - they better get building. The development looks lop-sided right now doesn't it?

  10. Although we may have lost this battle, I don't think we have lost the war by any stretch of the imagination. I will admit that I am disappointed if the case has been dismissed. However, that does not mean that I will give up and move. That also does not mean that I will go quietly hide in my condo, either.

    If the low to no income housing is built, I am going to keep my hopes up that 100 of the units really are for seniors that need the homes. I am going to keep my hopes up that they will have strict requirements for living in the housing including criminal background checks, drug tests and employment requirements.

    Although I'm putting a lot of hope into it, I'm also going to be practical. When it comes to election time, I'm going to look for an official that will do what they can to keep the streets clean and crime low. That means that I will be voting for the person that actually shows up to public safety meetings and shows concern for their community.

    For those of you that are planning to move away, I wish you the best of luck with your future. For those of you that are planning to stay, get ready for election time - we have some major work to do to try to get things fixed politically. We also have a lot that we can do as individuals and a community. Try not to give up hope.

  11. "Did we give up when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?"

  12. I am not giving up right is right and will eventually win against this corruption in Crook County and the City of Chicago.

    Thinks get dismissed all the time I know I work in law and you come back a lot of times and win.

    They can't say more because they don't want to give out their strategy.

  13. Too bad. Corruption is king. It will never change unless we make it happen by first of all kicking our Shiller when the time comes. If not our area will sink into a real slum bucket and its no ones fault but our own. Lets start watching the Maryville project that says high end condos will replace what there now on Clarendon and Montrose. Shiller is involved again so I hope its the truth and this really has to be watched before she slips another Wilson year joke.........

  14. Ha! the article references the puny referendum that asked 4 blocks of low-income individuals if they want affordable housing to be funded by TIFs! Laughable.

  15. Ok. Marc Kaplan REALLY needs to retire this one...(from craindre aucun's link)

    Kaplan also says, "In 2000, there was another TIF proposed at Broadway and Lawrence to convert Goldblatt's into high-end condos... The same people [at Fix Wilson Yard were] almost unanimously in support of that Lawrence TIF."NEWS FLASH, MARC! HELEN SHILLER was in support of the Lawrence TIF. She spoke at length about how she thought it was a balanced thing...good for the neighborhood...that it would include affordable ownership opportunities. Why do you insist on bringing up this alleged fact about FWY-ers being Lawrence TIF supporters time and time again? Shiller's statements in favor of the Lawrence TIF are on record for goodness sake! You are just conjecturing that FWY-ers were all for the Lawrence TIF. But since I’ve got you taking a trip down memory lane---faulty as it may be---why not consider the very small circle of people who were for both for WY and the Lawrence TIF. If it is all good vs. evil, how do you account for these people---Helen Shiller being one of them??!!

    For the love of a good argument, Marc, please come up with something new to say to these fact-checker-less reporters! No one likes a Johnny-one-note but most people can admire an adversary who bests them without resorting to half-truths.

  16. First of all, Helen's very poor handling of this will get her, sooner or later. Personally, I'm hoping for some jail time, but I'd settle for some very embarrassing piece to come out that would destroy any possible remaining credibility she has left. How sad it will be for her to leave office with so little respect from so many people. That gives me some comfort.

    Secondly, I will want to hear how the challenger will make the best of whatever happens at WY. The next alderman will have some ability to make it safe. Helen has consistently blocked all such efforts. A new alderman will start demanding the type of accountability that we in Uptown have never witnessed.

    Helen's divisiveness will get the best of her, sooner or later. If I've learned anything in Uptown, it's patience. I am very patient.

  17. 1. Remember, the community DID win when we fought the Day Labor crap on Sheridan.. so we do have some successes.

    2. Who was the presiding judge and is it an elected position? Would be interested in pulling up their contributors list...

  18. Not to mention the Lawrence/Broadway TIF provided only 37 condos - 20% of which sold at "affordable" rate (Borders building), while a whopping 133 units at the Leland apartments were rehabbed into SRO and studio apartments for admitted drug users (Leland/Racine). The SRO rehab was a compromise to shut Helen up (even though Borders isn't in her ward), but Marc will still grasp at straws to make his argument even more ridiculous.

  19. "Who was the presiding judge and is it an elected position? Would be interested in pulling up their contributors list..."

    You could check. Would it matter? Cook County has dodged every effort to reform the judicial appointment structure for the last 40 years. This despite Operation Greylord and Operation Gambat.

    The Shadow Mayor still picks the judges that get on the ballot.

    In reality, lets hear from FWY as to what happened. I'm curious. I'm guessing it's out due to a technicality.

    The clock is ticking. The project built the housing first to place new voters before the Target was completed. It's backwards if you are looking at a TIF as a means to increase sales tax revenue and increase foot traffic, but it's as designed if you are looking at it as securing the reelection of an incumbent ally.

    Construction cannot be stopped. However, what income thresholds are used to fill the units is open.

  20. Also, ChiTown Daily News is a project of an Uptown resident named Geoff Doughtery. Connor Coyne may even live in the neighborhood as well. If you have disagreements with Coyne's article, as I do, then head on over, register, and post your comments.

    The article would be better if an editor had reviewed it. Coyne says he could get no response from FWY, but he was able to talk to Helen Shiller? I can't even get her to say hello walking down the street.

  21. The presiding Judge was Judge Mary K. Rochford.

    The Memorandum and Order has been posted on the website.

  22. Who is going to take authorship credit for that ruling? Helen Shiller is "Helen Schiller" and Peter Holsten is referred to alternately as "Peter Holstein" or Peter Holsten. With that level of attention to detail, I am curious to get others' feedback on the legal scholarship!

    My goodness. How embarrassing!

  23. Remember Judge Rochford at election time folks.

  24. Remember to vote for your next Alderman. Anyone other than Helen works for me.

  25. Remember the Alamo!

    Remember the Maine!

    Tippecanoe and Tyler too!

    Judge Rochford, I hope I spelleth that righteth, is in Judicial Subcircuit 12.

    Which is basically portions of the north and northwest burbs for electoral purposes. Unless you vote in multiple locations few people who read this board will be able to vote for or against her.

    I had hoped NEVER to read about "laches" again. It is one of the most boring of legal concepts. Basically think of it as "statute of limitations" for filing a legal action.

    I had also hoped that a long serving Judge would have staff that could proofread her opinions and not misspell some of the names of the defendants in the case. "Schiller". Who dat? "Holstein". Does Wilson Yard now include a petting zoo with cows?

    Let me guess some politicians relative now has the manure clean up concession at the future zoo. It's thick out dere folks. Whach whereya step.........arrrrgh.

  26. It's important to read the ruling and understand it. Ascribing malfeasance to the presiding Judge says you have done neither. I applaud Molly and Fix Wilson Yard for putting up one hell of a fight. It was an uphill battle, and one that was difficult to engage for a million reasons related to our Alderman, our Mayor and our State’s distaste for people-friendly process and transparency. The sad fact is you can wage the good fight, the right fight and still loose. But the strong and committed carry on. My recommendation? Rather than regaling Rep. Harris and Sen. Steans about neighborhood crime (which they have little power to affect), press them for TIF reform at the state level. They have the power to amend the state statute and if the Fix Wilson Yard group is willing to turn their time and talents in that direction, I believe much could be accomplished.

  27. Well Shiller should be happy as should the Mayor. I guess at this point we should just give up and let Uptown become the ghetto that Shiller and the Mayor want it to be. She can welcome with open arms the gangs, drugs sellers, prostitution industry, homeless, and criminals in general. They can keep electing her and she can sit back and collect her paycheck and not do a thing. Let our alderman and mayor proudly announce to the country,world, and the Olympic Committe that we have successfully given the crimal element a safe haven at the taxpayers expense.

    Sell now before your property value drops even more thanks to Shiller, the mayor and a judge who doesn't care because he/she doesn't live here! Shiller should be made to live in the middle of all of it. While she may live in Uptown, I am sure that the crime isn't happening next door or in front of here home, as long as it stays a few block from here and she can live quietly in her home she doesn't care about anyone else.

  28. We should be preparing to defeat Shiller.

  29. Well this ruling now lays the groundwork for a never ending stream of TIF abuse. Simply follow these simple steps and all your plans are immune from any laws.

    1) Pass TIF district and plan
    2) Wait five-seven years
    3) Dramatically change plan to whatever you want
    4) Hide behind statute of limitations.

    Its just that simple.

  30. It's also a very clear road map for the statutory reforms that are needed.


    If you do a google search for Judge Rochford you will see she is married to Thomas Demetrio of the Law Firm of Corboy and Demetrio. One of the more successful personal injury firms in Chicago.

    Then use the above site and see how much money Messrs. Corboy and Demetrio have given to various Illinois politicians over the years individually and as a law firm. There are such names as Daley, Burke, Madigan, Blagoevich, Cullerton, Jones etc on the list.

    Some of the donations are for $100,000 to the Illinois Democratic Party. The donations overwhelmingly go to Democrats, but there were at least a few Republican names I recognized such as former Chicago Bear and Illinois Supreme Court Justice Bob Thomas.

    Judge Rochford started working for the City of Chicago in 1979 right out of law school.

    You can draw your own conclusions as to the chance FWY had in the lawsuit.

  32. Hold on to your seats - just heard tonight that the Alderman may have a plan to separate the Maryville property away from it's current TIF which is the Wilson Yard TIF and establish it's very own Maryville TIF. No really I'm totally serious.

  33. I'm very concerned about the pending Maryville development. That developer is also expecting, or has, TIF funds for the blighted area of Montrose and Clarendon. They are planning a 40-50 story tower and a boutique hotel. The developer also appears to be swapping parcels with the alderman so she can have more affordable housing. The Clarendon Park Neighbors Association may need some help before the Maryville plans get out of control. It may not be too late to put the brakes on their plans for that property.

    TIF's are to encourage development where it is needed, but wouldn't happen on it's own. A bad economy isn't a reason for a TIF. Bigger profits for a developer isn't a reason for a TIF. Social engineering isn't a reason for a TIF. TIF abuse is wrong regardless of the final usage or occupancy.

    The vast majority of Chicago TIFs are bogus. Isn't the new Toyota Automall at North and Clybourn a TIF? That is definitely a blighted area where development doesn't happen!

    The questions have to be: Is the area truly blighted? How is blight being defined, and by whom? Would development occur in this location under normal market conditions? If you can't answer those questions, it shouldn't be a TIF.

  34. Sounds like Helen is again back to her old tricks. She has these closed meetings and we're dependent on a little bit of news getting out now and then. What about a community meeting and getting it all out on the table? Hey what about a real zoning committee that has representatives throughout the ward?

    There's no process in place to ensure the big picture is kept in focus. Each group is aware that other groups get burned yet they still want to believe that this time it will be different with their group. This time Helen will work with them. I wonder how many times this story will need to repeat itself before voters wake up?

  35. Actually, this is not as bad as an ruling as I thought, besides the fact it went against FWY.

    I think most of these issues can be resolved via filing an amended complaint as far as procedure goes.

    Personally, I think the best way to go is an appeal, without doing any research. A judge straightens out quick when overturned on appeal.

    It is a huge uphill battle though.

  36. If you live in Uptown and Chicago long enough your heart will be broken.

    Stonewall Jackson's Hugh-like sleuthing shows just how screwed up our judicial selection process can be. We should probably bring in legal experts from out of state to select our judges. Leaving it as a political process is goofy.

    I have no idea whether Judge Rochford is a great, middling, or bad judge. Unfortunately, the ties she has make one question what other factors may have played a role in her decision. That may be fair or unfair to her as a person and as a public official.

    My guess is if you took 20 judges and asked their opinions on this lawsuit you would get some different results and some similar results. Stating that the "clock" on filing a lawsuit over Wilson Yard began in 2001 may or may not be a good interpretation of the law, but as a public policy it sucks. What Wilson Yard was projected to be in 2001 has little to do with what is is becoming in 2009.

    I suspect that will be part of the crux of whatever legal argument FWY continues with.

    Earlier today I was thinking how nice it is to walk around Graceland Cemetery on a cool sunny Spring day. In my current temporary location, NO I'm not in prison, there is nothing as glorious as Graceland nearby.

    Of the many great monuments in Graceland two strike me as appropriate at the moment.

    First, "Eternal Silence"which can signify what Daley, Shiller and the other corrupt hacks wish we would do.

    Second, the Crusader statue,which represents the willingness to do battle for what you perceive to be good.

    I guess that is the question we all have to ask ourselves. Do we grow silent and give up or do we continue the fight?

    I know which side I'm on. Sometimes you fight the battle not because your chances of winning are good, but simply because it is the right thing to do. Maybe by continuing the fight now we win later battles and eventually get better governmental representation.

    At the very least we make our elected elite sweat. That in itself is a victory.

  37. 'I'm very concerned about the pending Maryville development. That developer is also expecting, or has, TIF funds for the blighted area of Montrose and Clarendon.'

    Wow.. You think this is a blighted area?? Please proceed 4 blocks West and another 4 blocks North.

  38. Can I get TIF money to pay for my condo since it's worth less than what I paid in '06?

    It is in a blighted area.

  39. We need to organize and be represented by a law firm for the Marryville issues before it's too late to sue/stop.

    There is no reason that property needs any TIF money. It's one of the last lakefront parcels on the North side.

    FWY should be lesson fight early, fight hard, hire lawyers early, sue early.

    Hold the damn politicians in Chicago accountable.

    The only way I see in Chicago is through litigation.

    Also we should be raising money now for Shiller's opponent in 2012.

    We might not win every battle but we will win the damn war!

  40. “TIF financing is a rational means of achieving the city’s legitimate interest in revitalization and development,” Judge Rochford said in her ruling.

    Did this judge look at this plan? Besides the mystery Target, where is the "revitalization" in this (WY) plan?

  41. It seems ironic (?) that this ruling may end up bolstering TIFs---an outcome that both housing activists and FWY-ers did not want.

    I know there are some lawyers in the crowd. I hope some others chime in with how to understand this ruling because WindyCityEagle's summary is what I got out of it too.

    And, finally, it is a beautiful day today! I hope everyone is able to get out and enjoy it with their loved ones.

  42. What annoys me is that the judge didn't even have to give an opinion on the merits of the case. By ruling on a technicality, she neatly sidestepped any offense to Daley and his TIF machine. Everyone's happy -- except the folks who have to live by and pay for this monstrosity.

    I hope FWY can refile and get someone to rule on the merits of their argument.

  43. If you're thinking about legal action on the Maryville plan, I would recommend finding ways to take your case to Federal court. It's a huge risk taking yet another chance with the Cook County judges.

  44. What did we learn today?

    "FWY ... answers ... show ... [they] began actively opposing the Redevelopment Plan in 2004. Plaintiffs offer no reason for their failure to file suit at that time."

    If you organize around community development, and try and work within the system, and influence the process, and you DON'T declare your intent to sue early, you hurt your chances and play into the City's hand.

    Everything we have ever been told about how important it is to form community-based TIF planning boards is bullshit.

  45. WindyCityEagle got to the nub (above).

    When the city declares a TIF district, they pass only the most bare-bones rough sketch outline broad-brush hand-waving Redevelopment Plan that could possibly satisfy the requirements of "Plan" under our state TIF law.

    Now if you show up at a hearing on a proposed TIF and question the lack of detail, you are told that specifics will come later, when we execute a specific redevelopment agreement with a specific developer, don't worry, there will be a marvellous public process at that time, there's no money in the TIF yet, we need to let the funds build up for a few years, let's see how it goes, be patient.

    While you are being patient your rights are expiring.

    It is routine for many years to pass between the City declaring a TIF and approving a redevelopment agreement, and it is VERY common for actual development to not start for 5 years, as was the case here.

  46. "It's also a very clear road map for the statutory reforms that are needed."

    here's one:

    " .. while the [Illinois] TIF Act requires notice and a public hearing regarding amendments to a redevelopment plan, there is no corresponding requirement for amendments to redevelopment agreements."

    The City relatively rarely amends the TIF district's original redevelopment plan adopted at the time of TIF district establishment; when they do it is usually to bump up the cash they want to siphon off. The real action is in the redevelopment agreements with developers.

    If it sometimes seems like the CDC -> Finance -> full Council process for adopting & amending TIF redevelopment agreements is a pathetic sham, it's precisely because we poor taxpayers have no rights to process under state law.

  47. Your last comments were interesting, Hugh. Where would we look to calculate the average time between a TIF being created, the redevelopment agreement and "breaking ground" for all TIFs in Chicago?

    It always seemed to me that the community was reacting to a moving target (no pun intended!) Information emerged in drips and drabs. What became known by 2008 was not known in 2004 in part because of transparency issues.

  48. Sassy: What seems to you to be correct is in fact correct. The plans for using the TIF funds did change. It changed dramatically. Not only did the plan change, but the City Council had to review and approve the change.

  49. There is so much that is horribly wrong with that ruling, I'm not even sure where to begin.

    My favorite bit was how the judge, citing precedence no less, stated that Council and its Committees aren't obligated to follow their own rules.

    In short: Just because they have rules, doesn't mean that they have to follow them, and should in no way be held accountable if they don't.

    Even shorter: A judge just told the people of this city to go f**k themselves.


    The powers that be are contorting themselves to maintain a status quo which will eventually destroy this city.

    The only bright side on this matter being that karma is a bitch.

  50. "The powers that be are contorting themselves to maintain a status quo which will eventually destroy this city."

    I'm praying the reformers get something of value over the next year. Their next opportunity won't come for another 10 years.