Sunday, August 30, 2009

Wow, Alderman Shiller, Really?

We read, and many of us expressed opinions about, Helen Shiller's belated response to the violence plaguing Uptown, from murders to street brawls. The Lake Effect News has come out with a powerful editorial/open letter to the alderman entitled Shiller's Reponse: Too Little, Too Late.

Ald. Shiller: "In each of my five re-election campaigns, the strategy of my opposition has followed a now familiar pattern: ... polarizing the community at every opportunity."

Lake Effect News: "You’re also right when you say that the neighborhood is polarized. Why, Alderman Shiller, do you think your neighborhood is so much more polarized today, 22 years into your ward “leadership?” During the 2007 aldermanic campaign, your supporters went to Uptown’s affordable high rise buildings and passed out a letter that implied your opponent was a member of the Ku Klux Klan. The name of your own chief of staff, Denice Davis, appeared as a co-signer of that shameful letter. The same letter took random comments from web sites, scandalous comments made by ordinary people about your opponent. Those comments were presented in that letter as though they were made by your opponent or by people connected with his campaign."

Read the entire editorial here. It's frank, it's honest, it's the voice of many constituents who feel disenfranchised by Ald. Shiller's lack of recognition. Lake Effect News has printed a gutsy and heartfelt piece that made us proud and angry at the same time when we read it. Kudos to Lorraine Swanson for speaking up, loudly and forcefully, about the sad state of Uptown's "leadership," where ordinary citizens, state representatives and senators, and volunteer groups have to take the lead because the alderman can't find the time or make the effort to ensure that the people she's paid to represent can remain safe. "Stuff happens."


  1. When Helen Shiller is no longer the Alderman of the 46th ward, there will still be a tremendous amount of work to do to repair the damage she has inflicted.

    Her stain will remain for a long time.

    Thank you to all who have championed the cause of peace in the dark days. You never know how far the ripples of your efforts extend - or will extend - into the world.

  2. I also remember seeing literature (distributed only at the low-income housing) that referred to:


    with the first letter of each word larger and bolder.

    Stay classy, Helen's people! And keep saying that it's the other side that's promoting hate and polarizing the neighborhood.

  3. CN,

    you mean like this:



  4. Loved Lorraine's article. She really found the right words to express so many of the residents' feelings on Shiller's lack of leadership.

  5. Helen is in for the fight of her life if she decides to run again. I however don't think she will get that far. If the FWY lawsuit gets anywhere she is as good as done. Da' Mare has most likely had it up to his canoles in terms of bad press for his city and she has become a major thorn in his side. A negative ruling against the city/developer would really cast more negative light on our lovely alderman and city government (and if you haven't noticed he is trying to gain public acceptance of the Olympics).

    I think he knows she has already lost the election in 2011. Da' Mare doesn't like losing control. Having someone like Helen there to rubber stamp everything he does helps....getting a challeneger in that will not do the same will only make things worse for him.

    Point being that we need to keep up the good fight and keep the media as interested as possible. There is no shortage of things that cause bad press. She has built that for herself. I also think getting people in those hi-rise buildings to really understand what she is doing is important. If you live in those buildings post Uptown Update signs in your mail room.

    Viva La Revolucion!....

  6. Subtle, indeed.

    I had no idea that a gentleman like Cap, who is out in the public constantly, works in the arena of social services with different races of people on different rungs of the socio-economic ladder and is open about many aspects of his life was a closet white-hood-wearin' bigot.

    I send high marks of appreciation to Helen's Helpers for pointing out how such evil can live right under our very noses.


  7. Oddly enough (co-inkie-dinkie, no doubt), Paulette Horton, who signed the "Klan" letter in 2007, received money from Citizens For Shiller four times during the 2007 campaign season (for "contractural" expenditures; does that umbrella phrase include hate-mongering?):

    10-Feb-07 $150.00
    16-Feb-07 $150.00
    23-Feb-07 $150.00
    03-Mar-07 $140.00

  8. Thank you for education. I truly had no idea that this crap existed...I am sure many others in the Buena Park neighborhood did not either...

  9. Thank you Lorraine for a hard hitting editorial. It is this type of journalism that keeps me checking every day to see what is new on Lake Effect News.

    If your readers haven't bookmarked LEN yet, this would be a great time to show your support for real journalism.

  10. How much of this helen can we take. her pot is boiling and overflowed and I think we need to start to set our goals toward a new leader of our ward. Can anyone tell me who is going to be her running mate. I would start to support them ASAP once I find out. Her goose is cooked and I hope this exposure that shows how little she does toward out safety and the over-all ward she has had rule over for so many years, lets keep the pressure on her and lets strat looking forward to someone that will hold our best interests at heart.........

  11. Hmmm. I wonder how Helen's corporate and out-of-area campaign contributors would react if notified how their donations are bieng used: i.e., to pay people to distribute lies and slander about Helen's political opposition?

    Helen, is retirement sounding like a good option yet? Are you embarrassed yet? Are you and Denice even capable of feeling embarrassed anymore, or have you been bottom-feeding so long that you're immune to it by now?

  12. The Mayor is losing control of a lot of things in the this City as he should.

    The parking meter deal was the dumbest deal any Mayor could make.

    And then to hire Jody Weiss at 300k a year.

    No business in Chicago would hire someone and pay them 3 or 4 times what you would have too.

    What clan is Shiller part of? O that's right the Chicago Outfit.

  13. What's worse: I was poll watching in that election. One of the Election Judges received one of those pieces and very sincerely believed that there was a good chance that he was in the Klan. She said that she would have to talk to him to change her mind. The piece had exactly the intended effect with that smear.

    And, of course, being on the Campaign Committee, Channing and I were part of that "Klan." Fortunately, she believed me when I told her that I wasn't. But, for God's sake, to be put in a position where I have to actively DENY that I'm in the KKK?

    This was actually the point that I realized that we couldn't be friendly with Maggie Marystone any longer. She was part of Shiller's campaign staff and knew that we were on Cappleman's. So, she knew fully well what she was calling us.

    Though she more personally hurt Channing when she refused to acknowledge him at the debate, even though we were only a few seats away. By contrast, Nora (sitting right next to her) and us shared sheepish smiles and waves. A small thing, in some ways, but it told Channing where he stood with her and hurt him deeply.

    Perfectly nice people can be on differing sides of a political debate, race, etc. But there's no call to be so cold and to be an active party to such greavious accustions.

    Not as bad as Denise Davis being perfectly content to let a mentally handicapped man freeze to death (a story for another thread), but still.

    Man, I've been gone for over two years and I still get angry... Sigh.

  14. WOW! For a woman who prides herself on diversity she and her staff sure know how to instill racial tension and hatred. If I had had these accusations made about me I would have sued her and her staff for slander and liable. Ald. Shiller really does think that she the untouchable supreme being in Uptown.

    In addition to keeping the media alerted to the continual violence and lack of response from Ald. Shiller, we need to encourage media outlets to investigate her daily activities, how she spends tax payer monies, etc. I am sure they will uncover tons of corruption. Yes, I consider not paying attention to your constituents pleas, wants and desires for their community and to place your own personal agenda first to be political corruption.

    If I had my way, we as a community would do a recall election now and get her out of office and not wait until 2011 to vote her out. We need to start cleaning up her mess now!

  15. I have recently discovered this great site and can't believe what I have been reading. I am a condo owner on the south end of her Ward and have been clueless. Many of my neighbors believe Tunney is our Alderman and just thought things were what you expect in Chicago but it is changing for the worst quickly.

    I thought Shiller was just unresponsive as a Alderman but passing flyers out to low income voters that her opponent is part of the Klan is a reason she should be REMOVED as Alderman. I want to find a way to promote Uptown Update and communicate what is going on to my neighbors but not sure how.

    The people in her Ward south of Irving Park need to find out what is happening and bring our resources together to create positive change. These voters would be as disturbed as I am about what has been happening and would be willing to do what is needed before our property value tanks even more.

  16. HIU,

    suing wouldn't have done much good. Who do you sue?

    The signers of the letter?

    They could deny knowing about it.


    Same answer.

    Suing for liable is extremely difficult. One of the few recent local instances where it has been successful is when the Chief Judge of the Illinois Supreme Court sued a small newspaper. It MAY have helped that he was the Chief Judge...........that's a whole 'nother issue dere'. Unfortunately the glorious legal community largely went silent on that one.

    In September 2004 there was a Wilson Yard meeting held at Truman.

    Prior to the meeting flyers were put out purporting to say the meeting was rescheduled for a week or two later.

    The flyers were on a similar orange colored paper and used the logo of an organization fighting the Wilson Yard Plan.

    The flyers were distributed in the low rise condo areas surrounding Wilson Yard. Largely on the condo buildings.

    The flyers were BULLSHIT. The meeting was not rescheduled.

    Opponents of Wilson Yard spent that morning going up and down the streets removing said flyers, but of course many flyers were read by residents.

    At the meeting Shiller said something to the effect of "I hear there was a dirty trick" earlier today.

    Did Shiller have prior knowledge of the flyers? I would guess she didn't. The meeting wasn't important enough to want to disrupt because as Shiller might say "the deal was done" earlier.

    So who placed the flyers?

    The IrishPirate? No, it was early in the morning and I was likely dealing with a hangover.

    The KKK? Again it was early in the morning. I'm not sure their dry cleaner would have been open for them to pick up their sheets.

    The Easter Bunny? No, everyone knows the Easter Bunny is scared to visit Uptown. One of those peregrine falcons from the Uptown Theater might git him.

    So my best guess is that someone who supported Shiller did it just to screw with the opposition. Likely without her knowledge.

    It ould have been just one person with a computer and a printer. There are thousands of suspects.

    Release the hounds...........

  17. Daniel28,
    Under "Useful Links" there is a "Uptown Update Downloads" link. Click that and there is a flyer you can print and distribute as you see fit. Also, your part of the ward is the one that needs to be reached the most, as well as along the lake. As you mention, most people assume their alderman is Tunney or do not vote. Thanks for your interest in spreading the word about UU.

  18. Chicago's much loved Pritzer family have contributed heavy to Helen's past campaiagn. Thanks, Penny and JB! You may be invited to the white house but you are not welcome in the 46th

  19. These two documents are items you will want to print and take with you to every single merchant that contributes or has contributed to Shiller's Campaign to ask them if they support paying for such material.

  20. start by asking The Tattoo Factory, Nicks Uptown and Broadway Bank.... and go from there...

  21. I wonder how Target Execs. feel about their choice of alliances about now.

  22. Well Ms Swanson summed it up nicely.

    Speaking of LEN they've now added a "swag" page. You can purchase apparel to help them stay in business.

    I like that.

    Perhaps FWY should create a similar page. Unless, they have already and I can't find it.

    I would also suggest LEN offer "subscriptions". Sure, I could get the information for free, but I'd happily "subscribe" to keep reading quality stories about our hood.

  23. Zesty Marinara says, "I wonder how Target Execs. feel about their choice of alliances about now."

    Well, I believe they donated to Friends of Helen Shiller so I guess that is your answer.

  24. I keep thinking of this line from LEN's editorial:

    "Most of these efforts have been led by our local state legislators, whose time, as a result, has been consumed doing basic ward service work when their focus should be spent on state policy issues."

    Who was walking with the positive loiterers on Friday night? Not Ald. Shiller. It was Heather Steans and her husband.

    Who was talking with and standing with the protesters at Truman? Not Ald. Shiller. It was Greg Harris.

    The alderman really has just abandoned the people who live in her ward and left them to their own devices. Hope you enjoyed the vacation days and fish farm planning, Helen.

  25. I was just surfing da web and came across this.

    I'd seen it before, but it needs to be seen more.

    Mare Daley is Captain Sunshine.

  26. Pirate: Having had the unfortunate experience of needing to know, I can tell you it's actually not that hard to move on a libel action.

    What it is is expensive.

    If James can show, as I'm sure he can, his source for these documents, how and to whom they were distributed, and who authored them, I've got to believe there are neighborhood lawyers who would take it on pro bono.

  27. Suzanne,

    those documents aren't necessarily libelous in a "legal" sense.

    Cappleman did put out the anti gang literature. If someone wants to distort that and say that's "racist" they have that right. That's a political opinion.

    If someone stated James Cappleman is the former Grand Beagle of the Uptown Knights of the White Sheets and personally killed six people with a paint brush that could be considered libel.

    Saying his literature is racist, Ain't libel. It is certainly wrong and a distortion, but it ain't libel.

    Unless those things are true. Did James kill six people? Inquiring pirates wanna know.

    Libel, particularly involving public figures is extremely difficult to prove.

    It really needs to be a factually disprovable allegation.

    Saying someone's literature is racist...........dat's an opinion.

    Saying that on June 10th, 1975 the IrishPirate was caught by the po po with a naked cheerleader at 2am behind a Catholic Church.........well good luck finding any documents that's all I have to say.

  28. Just to give everyone some background information about this: My campaign did report this particular campaign piece and one other one to the IL Board of Elections and was told that they could not act on it because the slanderous statements came from her supporters rather than written statements from Ald. Shiller herself. As many of you already know, City Council has forbidden the City Inspector General from investigating members of City Council and their staff, so there's not much I can do there either.

    I have been criticized for not being tough enough by my refusal to use the same tactics. I was raised to believe that our character is formed by our actions, and besides, maybe there is something to be said about karma.

    That said, I will not roll over and play victim. Any action I choose to do to address this inappropriate behavior (past & future) will be done with integrity. I've held onto these 2 pieces for a reason.

  29. Uh oh, James, maybe you shouldn't have said anything about karma. Now they are going to say that you're in a secret conspiracy with the Dalai Lama to turn Uptown in to a communist state.

    I mean really?!?!?!? People in the 21st still believe everything they read? They don't have 2 brain cells to rub together to form their own opinion??!?!?!

    Okay, maybe I shouldn't comment on a Monday morning...

  30. James, just a quick comment, one does not have to give up their integrity to fight back... If the same tactics are used in the next aldmermanic election, a moral victory may be won, but we will still be stuck with Shiller for another 4 years.... they say, you have to break a few eggs to bake a cake....

    ..I personally, and I know others are as well, looking for a candidate that is not afraid to slap back when slapped..... there is a Biblical reference as I am sure you know... an eye for an eye....

    I believe in never starting a fight but I was also raised never to walk away from one either.... and I hope the next candidate to run against Shiller feels the same way...

    And to be frank, that is what concerns me about some of the potential challengers to Shiller in the next election..after all, Chicago ain't Iowa...

  31. These 2 pieces of literature occurred just around election day... purposely done to distract our efforts to get out the vote.

    I did very well in the precincts in Uptown... I need to get to the lakefront all the way down to Stratford. That's where every challenger has had difficulty and there are a whole different set of issues there. I'm not giving anything away here; it's all public information.

    The 2 pieces of literature have been saved and they will be used. I, too, believe in fighting but it will be truthful. Honestly, lately she's making it easier for me.

    There will be many people in the ward who will pose themselves as experts in campaigning, and my experience is that much of it will be contradicting one another. As I am a firm believer in the use of best practices for urban planning and affordable housing, so I am a believer in the use of best practices in the art of campaigning. I started in March 2007.

  32. James I kind of agree with Uptownsuperhero and I know he has heard that from many people as I have that you didn't fight back hard enough.

    It was a big frustration for me after voting for you and Shiller winning but after I cooled off a little bit I have to say I respect how you operated and can appreciate that because in Chicago politics their aren't many truly ethical candidates.

    Folks it's our job as voters to get the message out and show the undecided what Shiller is really like.

  33. I have agreement as well about fighting... as long as a proposed campaign strategy is in line with what experts in campaigning are also telling me (and it's ethical), I'll go with it.

  34. I'm at the point where *everything* about Ald. Shiller has become anathema. I'm ready to vote for an Anti-Shiller. That includes someone who's not going to sink to her level and roll in the mud. Between the insanity ("this whole riot video thing isn't a big deal and it's all be me, not about your safety") and the viciousness ("I pay people to call James a white supremacist because winning is everything"), I've had enough of the ugly. Give me someone who won't crawl down to her level. Haven't we had enough of Shiller-style politics to last a lifetime?

  35. When James kicked off his campaign I was at Magnolia and told people that Shiller would go after James for being "the wrong kind" of gay man and was met by naive objections such as, "we're Democrats we don't do that."

    Well, point of fact that is exactly what Democrats do, only worse. James was not only described as a member of the Klan but also as a Nazi. Currently the Democratic Speaker of the United States House of Representatives is describing her political opposition as Nazis.

    There is a patern here and the members of the Democratic Party should contemplate what it means to them.

  36. El Rider, alderman is a non-partisan office. Let's not make this about politics outside the ward.

  37. James,if you are running I'd like to volunteer to help.I have been following the discussion on UU and haven't commented much lately as I've been busy with my move back from Miami,{I fly down 9/15 and will be back the 1st.week of 10/1}and I had to buy a new PC last week.How do we get in touch? I'd be glad to pass out literature.

  38. Caring Neighbor,

    Alderman is only a non-partisan office because its impossible for a Republican to win, especially in the 46th Ward.

    There are a fair number of Republicans in the ward who are bothered by this, but we've come to accept the fact that the overwhelming Democrat majority in our ward isn't going away in the next 100 years, so we're willing to let it go, swallow our pride and support Democratic candidates.

    Every now and then though, something happens to cause us to bring up the old buried wounds.

  39. Well at least most everyone has finally met the Real Helen Shiller.

  40. Actually, Pirate, James' complaint here is false light invasion. And it's not what THEY say about James, it's what they implied that JAMES said. A public figure defense is feasible but I think readily defeatable. It does not provide blanket immunity.

    As for complaining to the Illinois State Board of Elections, well, Illinois' ethics laws are some of the lamest and are infrequently enforced. This complaint belongs in a courtroom.

  41. Even with this last minute shameful letter along with many other dirty tricks James has not mentioned, endorsements for Shiller from just about every local and state politician, campaigning assistance by Daley, a surprise "CAPS" meeting co-led by Daley and Shiller at Uplift HS, a Pritzker fundraiser outside the ward and more than four times the campaign financing that James had...

    James Cappleman came within 700+ votes of winning the election.

    What are you going to do to help get those remaining 700+ votes to push him over the top in this next election? I'm sure his campaign will have a list of ways to be involved. (phone calling, going door to door talking with neighbors, handing out flyers, hosting fundraisers, etc.)

    Helen has been doing her part. What about YOU?

  42. ...assuming he is going to run again, of course.

  43. James said on the "Outside the Loop" interview he did a couple weeks ago that he would be running again.

  44. ... assuming that she's going to run again, of course.

    If this month of August is any indication of what she'll be facing over the course of the next 18 months, she may not be quite as inclined to run again.

    Which would be fine by me, and probably best for the community, at large.

  45. I have full intentions of running in 2011. With the little time, money, and lack of connections with other area elected officials, I still came very close and I know this close race raised the awareness of many. There is an established science to running a good election and I have every intention of doing a better job of following those established rules.

    Some insiders have told me that Ald. Shiller has full intentions of running again, and others swear she's not. I am prepared for either. Regardless, she is still raising money as if she does have plans so I'll go with that.

  46. Just remember, Helen is packing Wilson Yard with 300 new voters that will 'owe' her... so we need at least 1000 new voters to get to the polls

  47. Although Shiller in her defense recently invoked her previous campaigns, she conspicuously omitted that her campaign calling her opponent a racist, race-baiting, and general divisiveness have been hallmark campaign tactics of hers since at least her third campaign for alderman (her 1st successful campaign) in 1987:

    "In 1987, Helen Shiller, a staunch Washington ally, defeated Orbach. ... In the 46th Ward, for instance, where two Jews were running against each other for alderman, some of Orbach's allies spread the absurd rumor, aimed at Jewish voters, that Shiller would use the power of City Hall to try to transform Israel into a Palestinian state. Shiller's forces called Orbach a racist--an accusation that had no substantiation, considering the large number of blacks who had backed Orbach in his early campaigns."

    Uneasy alliance: Can north-side progressives build a coalition in the absence of Washington and in the wake of Cokely?

    By Ben Joravsky, Chicago Reader, June 2, 1988

  48. James,Please let me know through UU what I can do to help your campaign.I should be back in town the middle of October.Let's bring a new way of doing the people's business to Uptown.{My 1st.Chicago winter in 18 yrs.}

  49. James, there are some wonderful empty storefronts at the corner of Leland and Sheridan that would fit an office for someone running for Alderman perfectly. I could not think of a more poetically perfect location for you...just a thought...

  50. Good idea USH and every night during the campaign could be an excuse for positive loitering.

  51. Hugh is absolutely right. During Quigley's run, there was a Quigley impersonator hired to stand in the street shouting racial epithets. Then someone tried to shove the real Mike Quigley onto the El tracks. Yeah, really sick stuff. Last cycle thugs showed up at my office wielding box cutters, perhaps relatives of the men who tormented me for months with death threats before the campaign in 1999---a race I wasn't even running in! Did we ever find a check from Citizens to Elect Helen Shiller with "Get Mike" or "Scare Suz" in the memo line? Of course not.

    But here’s the thing, if Helen was involved, directly or indirectly, explicitly or tacitly, I would have expected some tell, some stupid thing to emerge during the past 12 years. Why? Because supporters ebb and flow, some move away, some become disenchanted, some are swept up in other interests. New people join. The tide and temperature of any campaign changes over time and can be night and day different from cycle to cycle. All of which means someone should have spilled the beans by now.

    The idea of Helen all bwaahaahaa scrawling out some fiendish plan cracks me up not because I don’t think she’s thought about it, or let something pass here and there, but because I know crazy people attach themselves to campaigns all of the time. And as unsatisfying an explanation as that is, I still think it is the more likely one.

  52. I can't imagine Jame Cappleman or anyone in Uptown as racist, that is ridiculous. The facts are the facts and the gangs control Uptown and we need to have a voice, and after 20 years of killings and be silent is unfair. If I have not heard this a million times, well the north side isn't as bad as the south side. So what does that mean, that we should not have right to live without gangs?

    What is stunning right now is that the nonracist people as myself are fighting mad, it has nothing to do with race, however the gangs are black and come from disadvantaged homes, but when guns and weapons are in play it doesn't matter what race they are, they need to be removed.