Friday, March 18, 2011

A Note From Uptown Recording

Dear Uptown Update & All Readers,

I am writing this as a neighbor, dog owner, parent & business owner in this neighborhood.

My husband Matt and I have owned Uptown Recording and have lived above the studio for the past ten years at the corner of Broadway & Clifton. Before that we rented on Lakeside Place for seven and a half years. We have small children & a dog. We are very active members of this community and volunteer our time both personally and professionally for numerous community and charitable organizations.

Four nights ago a very strange thing happened. While my husband was putting our kids to bed, and while both of our engineers were busy in the studio, two of Molly Phelan's campaign workers pulled up, got out of the car and one of them tried to open our front door. He didn't ring the doorbell or knock. He tried the door repeatedly using what looks like a key. Then he went back to his car, got his campaign materials, and walked into Molly's office. When we realized someone was trying to gain access to our home & business we were confused to say the least. Our chief engineer noticed it on surveillance, went outside and took a photo of the car. He then walked next door & verified that that both men were in Molly's office.

My husband has known Molly Phelan for years & we consider her somewhat of a friend. Monday I called her office and explained to a man who identified himself as Dave Clarken what had happened and strongly requested a call from Molly with some explanation as to why her campaign person Dan Irmeter would be trying to get into my building. There is absolutely no way he was mistaking our door for her office door. First, Mr. Clarken told me Dan doesn't have keys to their office, which refutes the possibility he was just at the wrong door. Second, the other person in the car knew where to go.
I have waited three days for a return call. An apology. An explanation. Something to help me to understand what this guy was thinking. The fact that Molly has not returned my call to account for her campaign worker's bizarre and creepy behavior leaves me at a loss. I'm not sure if his actions are some attempt to intimidate me, rob me, make me stop publicly supporting her opponent? Was this guy impaired? Attempting to broach the security & sanctity of my home & business is not part of the campaign game.

For ten years we have dedicated our time and money to bettering this corner. We chose this location because we love Chicago, Uptown and wanted our music studio to be in the existing Entertainment District. We are invested in our business and home and neighborhood and very much like being a part of this community. When someone interferes with any of that, I have to speak out. Which is why I am sending this to you now.

I am attaching a link to the surveillance video that was captured four nights ago. If anyone can offer some sensible reason for this campaign worker's behavior, please explain.

Sincerely, Catherine Denny


  1. Well that is weird. I can completely understand why Mrs. Denny is creeped out (I would be). No response from Molly? I wonder if that is what the community can expect from Alderman Molly? UU - Thank you for posting this letter, as an undecided voter, I appreciate it.

  2. I don't see anything necessarily nefarious in that video. Seems likely that after a hard night of plastering the neighborhood in Phelan signs this guy simply went to the wrong door.

    What was he thinking? I dunno, but that door is right next to her office. Almost looks like one building.

    The simplest explanation is often the best. Likely just a mistake. He wasn't making any shifty glances around or acting nervous as if he was trying to break in.

    Of course the Phelan campaign should have responded promptly to your call. I just deleted some sarcastic remark I was going to make.

    The worse thing here is the lack of a response.

  3. Would you sit around for three days waiting for your bank or cable company to call you back before you tried contacting them to get an update?

    If Catherine's husband "has known Molly for years" and they "consider her somewhat of a friend" then one would think that they would have the means to contact Ms. Phelan directly to have their concerns addressed, before waiting for "three days for a return call".

    Gimme a break!

  4. Great job capturing this on tape... Are you sure you heard "Thank you for calling Molly Phelan's office" because to me it sounds like you misdialed and reached Helen Shiller's office. Typical turn your head the other way in hopes they'll go away. This is the lack a leadership we do not need! James doesn't have the want, capability, or the need to do such a thing. Molly is just bad, dirty politics!

  5. I watched the video. That is kind of weird and creepy. I don't think they were trying to do anything though. Maybe they were just checking to see if their key worked since it's the same building (even though the door says Uptown Recording). I've done that before to places. People trying to break in don't typically pull the car right up front, walk out face uncovered in the middle of the evening, then try and use a key.

    Sorry there hasn't been any response from Molly. I will say this, I emailed both Molly's office and Cappleman's office about an issue I was concerned about. Molly emailed me back within a week (she's obviously very busy). James office just put me on a mailing list. Issues they're discussing aside, that just bugged me.

  6. You can bet that will be Molly's response if she wins when she doesn't know how to or want to answer a question.

    Molly "Shillerlite" Phelan.

  7. The wrong door COULD be an excuse if both doors looked alike, but Molly's door is just like her office - a glass storefront. How do you mistake a plain metal door on Clifton, to a glass front door PLASTERED with Phelen signs on the CORNER. I don't know if there was anything "nefarious" going on either.... but it sure is very weird. And no answer from Ms Phelen... doesn't bode well for future communications with constituency. Just like Shiller's typical response - nothing.

  8. None of this strikes me as anything to odd/negative/damning really. But, then again, it wasn't my building. I'm voting for James anyway, but this doesn't make me think of Molly any differently (personally).

    (Her aggressive signage on the public way--at least around my building--is certainly annoying, but that is likely a result of overzealous workers.)

  9. I am not a Molly fan in the least, but I watched the video and this guy obviously had the wrong door. Maybe he was just helping the other guy and wasn't familiar with the location? Big picture - no harm done. This is kinda sweating the small things a little, isn't it?

    Catherine, sorry you had someone mistakenly try to open your door. Molly not calling you back? I'm not going to speculate why as I don't know why she does or says some of the things she does.

    I love UU and always think of the site as unbaised (commentors not so much), but was this really worth a post/article/whatever? Sorry others may not agree, but this is going to be viewed borderline petty against the Phelan camp and this site.

    Still love you tho UU.

  10. There is a clear difference between Uptown Recording's door and Molly's door. The Denny's attempted to contact Molly and didn't get a response. Giving her the benifit of the doubt they waited to send this video. In her letter, Ms. Denny didn't say Mr. Irmeter was trying to break in, just trying to gain access. The surveillance video shows the passenger of the car knew where to go, why didn't he take his "confused" driver with him?

    The Denny's were told by Molly's office that Mr. Irmeter doesn't have a key so what was he doing? Rubbing snot on the doorknob "tee hee hee boogers"???

    These cameras have been up for years.

    They just want an answer from not only one of the candidates for Alderman but a neighbor.
    The lack of response doesn't bode well for Ms. Phelan... This = Epic Failin

  11. This doesn't look like accidentally going to the wrong door. The passenger goes with the driver to the Uptown Recording door, then goes to the campaign office door a moment later. There isn't a "hey, you're at the wrong door" look where they guy trying to open it realizes he made a mistake or is told so by the passenger.

    Second, if he meant to just go to the campaign office, as he eventually did, why didn't he get the stuff out of the car when he got out, before he headed to the door? He obviously was going to try the recording studio door, then take the stuff into the office.

    I can't imagine what the explanation is. Giving him the full benefit of the doubt, curiosity is the best, and as a parent of young kids myself I'm creeped out at the prospect of the worst. I also can't imagine why a callback wouldn't have happened by now, especially to a personal acquaintance.

    I'm sorry the Dennys are left to wonder what this is about, it's unsettling.

  12. First of all the Phelan campaign is simply lying.

    This guy has been working for them since at least November.

    And for anyone who regularly walks past her office...he is always outside smoking cigars.

    In other words--he definitely knows where the front door is...since he's probably been there at least 100 times.

    He's just another thug she's brought into the community.

  13. Nosie:

    Thanks for posting that.

    I walked by the Phelan office today and THIS SAME GUY from the video was working inside there.

    Molly's silence and/or denial is not just another in her long list of "Molly-propisms" or "Molly-Myths" -- it is disgusting behavior - especially from a neighbor.

    Seeing her campaign's door and the Uptown Recording building's door, it is hard to believe that this guy was making any kind of "mistake" - unless he was totally smashed, and then Molly should not have had a campaign worker (carrying her signs it seems) driving while impaired. The guy with him clearly knows what door to enter.

    If I lived there and saw this recording, particularly if I had kids, I would absolutely contact Phelan's office or the police, and I would expect an immediate explanation or notice from Phelan that the guy was fired (apparently, per people who work for Phelan, the guy comes from the 40th Ward - interesting).

    I understand that the Denny family did try more than once to get an explanation from Phelan, but that her office claimed the guy did not have anything to do with her campaign - ya, sure.

    Molly, the best thing to do when you are caught in a lie is not to add another lie to explain it - in other words, when you're in a hole, stop digging. But that is, apparently, not what entitled children are taught these days.

  14. "But that is, apparently, not what entitled children are taught these days."

    Wow, Buena Parker - Judgy McJudgerpants. Entitled? and Children? I'll withhold my own candidate preferences, but regardless - this seemed really unnecessary.

  15. Dear Itn318:

    Thank you for withholding your


    opinion, because of course you know that such a judgment is unnecessary -- at least in your (mis)-judgment, and I am sure that you would never stoop to "judging" anyone as "entitled" or "judgy".

    My opinion is based on my experience having previously been a huge supporter of Phelan, having attended her campaign kick-off with several friends she grew up with who know her far better than I, and having been disappointed once I saw Phelan's actions and demeanor as a candidate.

    You are, of course, welcome to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to mine - that's why this is America and that is why we have elections in a democratic society.

    You are "entitled" to make your own judgments - and I will not judge you, or call you "Judgy-McJugerpants" (wasn't that a name from Sesame Street?) for making them.

  16. Your reaction is kind of passive/aggressive. Why don't you walk over to her office and speak with her? You're certainly aggressive enough to tape the incident and publish this letter. What's stopping you from trying to handle this directly w/her? Okay, she didn't return your one phone call. Why not go over there, wait for her to arrive, and discuss this issue w/her...then publish a letter about the entire event? People can then draw their own conclusions about your victimization.

  17. You people should be ashamed of yourselves. Molly is not the person described on this blog.

  18. Observer,

    calm down. Uptown Recording has those cameras going 24 hours a day. They also have at least a few Cappleman signs in their windows.

    It's not as if the purported 40th Ward cigar smoker tried to scale the side of the building and take the signs down.

    I don't know why he did what he did, but it doesn't seem nefarious. That being said someone from the Phelan campaign should have called the Dennys' back.

    As for Mr Cigar Smoker who is purported to come from da 40th Ward, O'Connor is alderman, we should expect to see an influx of "volunteers" for Molly on election day. With only 14 runoffs we might see hundreds of such people descend upon our fair ward like a swarm of locusts the weekend before the election. Just the Irish 19th Warders might blind you with their pastiness and lack of tans.

    Some of you may want to take election day off if you can and volunteer for the Cappleman campaign. Now those of us who support Cappleman probably can't raise as much money as Molly has or even bring in as many volunteers from machine wards, but we can do something. It has to be something more than just whining on this site or even just voting. At LEAST talk to your neighbors. Go to the Cappleman site and print out a window sign. Better yet walk over to his office and pick one up.

  19. I agree with IP, everyone should relax and no one is trying to attack Molly. It's possible her campaign managers did not relay the message, which is concerning in that she doesn't have a handle on her staff. I'd also like to second IP's suggestion that we all stop complaining and use this energy to support James by volunteering our time.

  20. What Catherine didn't include in her letter is her financial backing of James. A quick look at James' campaign disclosures shows that she donated $1000 and her husband donated $250 to his campaign. In addition, James Denny donated $4,500. I don't know if they are related but my guess would be that he is her father in law.

    I think that support is coloring the glasses through which she is viewing this event.

    I understand thinking what happened was weird and wanting an explanation, but given the fact that the Dennys have known Molly for many years and consider her somewhat of a friend, Catherine's response seems a bit excessive.

    If we weren't in the throws of an election and Molly had a retail business in that space and the same thing happened, I think she would have handled it differently.

  21. I've watched the video three times so that I could see both sides. It appears to me that the 2nd guy he was with quickly understood this isn't the right door, whether they were just trying it to see if the key worked or what... but he continued to try the door. and when he went back to his car, he didn't even think twice to go in the right direction of the office door the 2nd time. He really didn't seem confused to me.

  22. I dunno -- this looks really strange to me. Why would he go over and try to gain entry to the door... and then go back to the car and get his stuff? If he were just heading to the office, he'd get his stuff and head on over. He also dug around in his car for an unusually long time... it comes off as suspicious to me.

  23. This is a little off topic. I read comments on a post some time ago about how Molly was sending information to people who moved out a long time ago, or to peoples families who live out of state, etc. etc.

    Peeps, James' own Facebook page has people wishing him luck even though they live in places like VEGAS. Yes, he sends people stuff who live out of the ward also. So get a grip. It is part of the process. STOP LYING!!! Citing facts with support is ok and interesting.

    This is not a shot at James at all. I hate to believe that Bear60640 (and IP) is a James plant. That would be awful. Whisper campaigns against a candidate are unlawful in Illinois.

    Please understand that I am PRO 46h ward and ANTI BS.

  24. OK, so now we are up to 25 or more reader posts here and we have still have not seen any explanation or refutation of this incident - on this site, on Phelan sites, or on any site accessible through the internet that any reader here has suggested exists.

    The wild speculation that perhaps Phelan is just too busy or important to be made aware of and respond to this incident is absurd.

    If anyone believes this, then that person has not worked in politics - at least not in the age of cell phones, email, Blackberries, iPads, texting, etc.

    If somehow Molly were not aware of this incident, or feels that she does not need to bother to respond to it, then I surely do not want her to be our Alderman.

    The conspiracy theory that the Dennys somehow set-up Molly's staffer to try to pick the lock of their own home, or that they did not first go to Molly directly and repeatedly, without getting a reasonable explanation about her staff person's behavior is preposterous.

    I don't care whether they gave another candidate $1 or $1 million, no campaign's staff person or candidate has any business doing this and refusing to address the incident.

    Before anyone complains that some of us are whining too much on this website, rest assured that I for one am capable of multi-tasking and that I am spending plenty of my time and resources informing my 46th Ward neighbors, friends and relatives about the stakes and the issues in this election. At least one candidate wishes that I were doing something else.

  25. I couldn't agree more Starship Captain Picard.

    It seems like every other day some new Molly molehill pops up. It would have been a bit more objective if the letter writer just mentioned for the record they are supporters of James and even held a fundraiser for him there.

    My conclusion:

    The guy got the wrong door, it was late, a long day, we all make mistakes.

    No harm done.

  26. You folks are getting into the realm of the JFK tapes type of stuff here.

    Different photographic angles to examine.

    Multiple theories of reasoning.

    Shadowy figure.

    Dark alley.

    Me thinks there's a conspiracy going on?

  27. Come to think of it, I was in this very alley a week ago and ran into Molly, exchanging mild greetings.

    Wonder if this will be the next Uptown Recording You-Tube episode of "As Molly Campaigns?"

  28. Anyone who thinks this is a "mistake" should walk by that corner. Not only do the doors look NOTHING alike, they are not located next to each other. They do not sit side-by-side. Furthermore, the fact that there is a Cappleman sign overhead at Uptown Recording should have told the confused individual that he was not at Phelan's office.

    Beside being someone's business, Uptown Recording is someone's residence. My guess is that if you saw someone trying to access the front door of your condo or apartment, you too would be upset and want an explanation??

  29. Clearly the man knew it was Uptown Recording. He was trying to get in the door with a key or implement.

    There is only one reason a person tries to get into a place that is locked. It is to enter. Once they enter they have the opportunity to take very valuable equipment from the studio.

    It would be COMMON SENSE to assume he was preparing to see if the place could be burglarized.

    Just from a street wise perspective. I sense a very sneaky, cagey, unscrupulous individual. How do I get that from a video?

    You develop that from having to have a very keen, immediate sense of who people are from a distance, for your own protection.

    Red flags go up all over the place juding from this guys physical manner.

    Uptown Recording has the camera's there because the studio has valuable equipment in it and all recording studios are prize places to rob for people who know that there is value in there.

    I think he was checking out whether the key he had would open the door. Then, probably at another time he might have entered.

  30. Whether or not the message was relayed to Molly, by now, she or someone from the campaign has seen this post and not publicly addressed it. Same goes for the letter from the Cappleman campaign manager about Molly's campaign worker's intimidating behavior a few weeks back. Which begs the question, is she not interested in responding, ala Helen Shiller, or is she sitting back and letting the Cappleman supporters be their own worst enemies? As we speculate and badmouth her, do we make her look like the underdog and create enough distaste for these hysterical, wild theories that she wins the election? The election is going to be decided by those who didn't vote for either James or Molly in February--and part of that decision will be based on how people perceive their supporters. I think the Cappleman supporters should support James by letting the video, and the Phelan campaign's response speak for itself.

  31. Craig, conspiracy theories aside, hasn't Phelan spent a considerable amount of money on ad space with Gay Chicago Magazine, a magazine that you own?

  32. Well, Captain...thanks for the mention, but I am far from being a "James plant" (much less a "James 'Planter'"). As a matter of fact, you haven't seen me doing any rah-rah for view is that he has some drawbacks, but he's the best available candidate for the office at this time--nothing more, nothing less.

    What I *am* all about is honesty and fair play--as you've seen in my posts, my issues with Molly have been with her lack of prompt responses, with her inability to show that her parent's and great-grandfather's experiences somehow make HER better-qualified for office, with her lack of roots in Uptown, with her inability to express thoughts of her own, with her reliance on people and money from outside of the ward, with her connections to unsavory politicians who do NOT have Uptown's best interests at heart, with her failure to own up to errors, with her inability to apologize for offending the sensibilities of the GLBT community, and with the operation of her campaign (which tells you how she would operate as an alderman) and the sort of people she surrounds herself with in her campaign (mostly outsiders loaned by unsavory politicians). It's not so much that I'm "for" Cappleman as much as I'm "against" the campaign tactics and decisions being made by Phelan...I've spent 20 years in this ward without having my voice be heard by the alderman, and I'm angry about the possibility that if Phelan gets elected, I could go four MORE years with my voice in my own neighborhood being drowned out by Ed Burke, Mike Madigan, Springfield "professionals", and large commercial property interests (the big contributors to Phelan's campaign). My taxes have been p*ssed away on projects I have had no voice in by an alderman that has never had more than "her" constituents' interests in mind, and that alderman has intentionally made long-term changes to my neighborhood (with MY tax dollars) that do nothing to improve my safety or quality of life or preserve the investment I've made, or that of my neighbors. I refuse to have the pendulum merely snap from one side to the other, where the status quo of "citizens don't matter, just the alderman and the alderman's friends matter" remains and the alderman's friends simply change from being far left-wing socialist radicals with a mission of bleeding the middle class dry for their own benefit, to being far right-wing capitalist radicals bent on bleeding the middle class dry for their own benefit. No more. We ALL count.

    As far as the subject of Catherine Denny's thread goes, I have no explanation for what the motivation was. Maybe the guy simply was clueless about where he was going or was unfamiliar with the office (which, from other entries here, does not sound like the case). Anyone familiar with that particular patch of our neighborhood and its recent history, however, would know that the Dennys monitor that stretch of street and frequently post the most outrageous footage that gets captured there. Smile--you're on Candid Camera. So Phelan's staffers don't know about the cameras there...just like they don't know the neighborhood. And they are the people who Phelan has chosen to work for her campaign; the people who would likely staff her office if she were to be elected. Great. We go from aldermanic staff telling residents "This ain't your college campus, sweetie..." in response to neighborhood violence, to aldermanic staff telling residents "We don't do grafitti removal, and Montrose/Broadway isn't in our ward anyhow." We get what we ask for...and I don't want to be asking for poor communications with an alderman's office staffed by outsiders who don't know our community.

  33. Molly hasn't spent a single penny supporting her campaign in our small community business called Gay Chicago Magazine.

    James purchased one 1/2 page ad before the first round. Then didn't run any ads after he didn't get our endorsement. (Ticked, maybe)

    Friends of Don bought two 1/4 page ads.

    Emily bought two 1/4 page ads.

    Oh, and the republican candidate, Diane Shapiro, even bought an ad.

    Baskin taped his posters all over our boxes.

    Andy Lam stuffed his cards inside our boxes.

    I didn't personally get involved in any sales, our sales team did all the calls.

    We never once ran a free ad for any candidate in this race. Nor did any bar owner twist our arm to give one candidate favor over the other. Nor did we do any fluff piece interviews.

    Our endorsement for Don, we truly believed he could work with all residents to solve the many issues facing the Great 46th. Personally owning a business on Wilson years ago, Don helped me out when Helen snubbed me on quality of life issues.

    We felt strongly about James and Emily, too. The LGBT community had three great candidates to choose from, if they felt they wanted to support one of there own in this election.

    We'll have our new re-endorsement Tuesday.

    Anything else? I always tell it like it is.

  34. Craigikins,

    well that better explains your endorsement of Don. I was rather surprised at that one since it was obvious to me that his campaign wasn't catching on.

    Now perhaps Cappleman hasn't purchased an additional ad in your magazine because he simply is running a relatively underfunded campaign. He spent a whole lot less last year than Molly and my impression was he spent less this year in the runup to February 22. I received fewer mailers from him than Phelan and she seemingly has more paid staff. Or maybe your endorsement pissed him off. I dunno.

    It seems to me he made a judgment to save as much $$$ for the inevitable runoff as possible. Given the Phelan fundraising tornado that's a good strategy.

    Now since UU is apparently not running stories on fundraisers I'll post a comment.

    Unity Fundraiser For James Cappleman

    Hosted by former aldermanic candidates Scott Baskin, Emily Stewart, Andy Lam, Befekadu Retta, Cailin McIntyre and Diane Shapiro

    When: Sunday, March 20
    Where: Holiday Club, 4000 North Sheridan Road
    Time: 6:30 PM
    Suggested Contribution: $50

    The Host Committee has pledged to match dollar for dollar the first $1250 raised to support James Cappleman in his bid to become the next Alderman of the 46th Ward.

    Also another fundraiser specifically targeting the LBGT community.

    When: Wednesday, March 23
    Where: Rehab Cocktail Cafe, 3641 North Halsted
    Time: 6:00pm-8pm
    Suggested Contribution: $50
    Come support James Cappleman and help the city of Chicago elect our second openly gay alderman.

    This is all part of my "whisper" campaign to bad mouth Molly and get James elected. Psst, Molly took money from Ed Burke. Psst, Molly talked "constituent services" with Ed Burke. Psst, Molly's uncles built the railroads. Pssst, Molly's campaign team is dominated with political professionals some of whom have ties to Honest Mike Madigan. Psssst, Molly was the ward coordinator for the Terry O'Brien campaign. Psssst, need I go on.

  35. Send the video to the police and let them decide??

  36. I only note the irony in Molly already having pissed off one of the few successful entertainment industry businesses in the ward.

    On a positive note, I went and early voted today. And it felt good. Get out and make the change you want to see. Don't just blog about it.

  37. Yes, definitely looked shady. Second video camera's view is more incriminating. I would have pushed the police to make an arrest.

  38. Send this to the Chicago Tribune, the Sierra Club and any other parties that have endorsed Phelan.

  39. You'd have to get a zoom shot to confirm, but it *looks* like he has a lock pick tool, not a key. In the second view, it also looks like he's putting it in his mouth to lubricate it. Tobacco spit is good for that. The first guy walked over and saw what was up and decided he didn't see nuttin'.

  40. There is no good reason for that to happen. Nefarious or not...somebody messing with my door would need to answer some questions. Really.

  41. Lock pick key? Anyone with a lock pick key and the know how to lubricate it wouldn't look around for TWO cameras watching his every move?

    Has anyone stated a MOTIVE? I mean, come on.

    Do we want a better Uptown or do we want to watch dumb videos like this. There are dealers on the corners, people getting stabbed and shot. If people put just as much energy into trying to get the bangers out as they do in the comment section here, maybe I wouldn't be considering moving. Good Luck, Uptown. I'm outta here.