Monday, May 2, 2011

The Reader Looks At The Upcoming City Council

Ben Joravsky and Mick Dumke of The Reader let the snark out!  "With renewed hopes and expectations—maybe this will be the council to say, "Sorry, boss, even I can't do that"—this is our guide to the insiders, reformers, wannabe insiders, and pretend reformers in your City Council."  Read the entire article.

James Cappelman (sic), 46th Ward:
ENTERED OFFICE: Rookie, defeating Molly Phelan in a runoff after incumbent Helen Shiller opted not to run
PREVIOUS LIFE: Social worker, critic of affordable housing
HOW HE MADE THE RUNOFF: Convinced ward's many Shiller haters he was one of them
HOW HE WON THE RUNOFF: Convinced Shiller's dispirited supporters that he actually liked her
BIGGEST CHALLENGE: Find political identity and stick with it

Ameya Pawar, 47th Ward
ENTERED OFFICE: Rookie, defeating three other candidates, including Tom O'Donnell, the anointed successor of retiring incumbent Eugene Schulter
PREVIOUS LIFE: University of Chicago grad student, program officer in Northwestern University Office of Emergency Management
SUPPORTERS CLAIM: He beat Schulter's "Fighting 47th" Ward Democratic Organization
COMPARED TO: Barack Obama, Mahatma Gandhi, Scott Waguespack, though not necessarily in that order

Harry Osterman, 48th Ward
ENTERED OFFICE: Rookie, winning open seat after incumbent Mary Ann Smith opted not to run
ALL IN THE FAMILY: Mother, Kathy Osterman, was alderman until Daley named her head of city Special Events and tapped Smith, her top aide, as replacement
M.O.: Another Edgewater pol who's progressive—as long as it's okay with the mayor
PROSPECTS: Meet the new boss . . .


  1. Seems to me what was written about Mr. Cappleman was a bit more mean spirited than what info is written about the other two. Honestly, I am a bit disappointed about it. Ben Joravsky has written detailed info about things in the city that other media sources have not. Such as problems with TIF's, CPS and CTA. But hey, he did not think James would even make the run off or beat Molly as I recall. So maybe he is just trying to save face.

    Time will tell if all the distrust some people have for James, or the positive attitude I have for him is justified.

  2. UV -- I think it'll take a good two years before we see a substantive change in the crime, but I think James is gonna be the beginning of good things for the 46th Ward. I think people who are looking for a complete turnaround by the Fourth of July are going to be disappointed. But I think we're going in the right direction... time will tell.

  3. Actually, I believe we'll see an improvement within the community in a year. We now have a new mayor who's taking a different and more creative approach in combating crime. And then we have a new alderman who's willing to step up and get actively involved in bringing positive changes here. So I already feel we're on the right track toward a better community.

  4. I'm pulling for James but with the big picture economy still in the dumps it's going to be hard for real changes to take root. Even if we're lucky enough to see crap like the JJ Peppers, S&L, Lawrence House and countless other problem areas swept clean, it's going to difficult to convince investment money to take a chance on a high risk area like Uptown. I'm hoping we see changes in year, but it took far longer than that to destroy the neighborhood and it will take far longer to fix.

  5. Alek - I think you're wrong. My understanding is that investors have been WAITING to get into Uptown but were denied so many zoning requests because of Ald. Shiller that they have basically been waiting her out. I think we'll see marked improvement in 2 years or less. Despite the gang bangers, we are on prime real estate - close to public transit and the lakefront. Investors see that!

  6. Meg - I think they were waiting to get into Uptown, but the big picture has changed a lot in 5 years. Since the collapse of the housing market and subsequent recession, development projects have stagnated, been scaled back or simply dropped across the city, including in neighborhoods with more pro-business climates and enticing demographics. Hopefully now that Shiller is gone, some of the countless problem buildings and areas will be adressed, but expecting businesses to flock to the area anytime soon is setting yourself up for disappointment.

  7. Start with eliminating some of the many many SRO's and SEC8 housing in the neighborhood. Between Argyle and Lawrence, I know of at least 5 SRO'S. Many of these low income housing buildings don't seem to be held accountable to the city building codes. Why is that? The Diplomat got shut down for code violations and so should some of these other building in Uptown. Building owners should be held accountable for their tenants..PERIOD! The CHA needs to adhere to their own rules and regulations as well. Many of these buildings house the very thugs who terrorize us. True, they're coming from the south side but at least take care of the ones living amongst us.

  8. No one is talking about eliminating housing. That was always one of Helen's favorite ways to get people to vote for her: I'm the only thing standing between you and your family being dumped out onto the streets; these scary yuppies want to turn your home into condos! Well, it wasn't true then and it isn't true now.

    I remember when Lawrence House was run really well, when it was a safe and respectable place for the elderly to live. What changed? Not the building. Not the elderly. What changed was the ownership. I hold them fully accountable for what has happened to that once-proud address.

    So, kick out the tenants, or start holding the owners responsible? Seems like an easy question. The same with CHA housing. When it's done right, it works.

    I don't know about Ameya Pawar or Harry Osterman, but I do know that James Cappleman has an excellent relationship with the police and with Woodlawn, which manages the CHA properties in Chicago. I hope he can get everyone on the same page and work to improve the low-income housing.

    Closing it down isn't going to happen. Let's hope that improving it does.

  9. TSN - I remember when LH was better too. Did the ownership change or did the owners get lazy?

  10. There is a problem with the idea of improving places like LH and at the same time keeping them low-income. People like Sam Menneti buy large distressed properties in low income areas, place like LH because they are cheap, can fill them with awful tenants and make easy money. The condition of the building really doesn't matter to them because their target tenants can't afford much better. If forced to bring the building up to livable standards, which in the case of LH means a TON of major imrpovements, the building will no longer be profitable for housing low income tenants and they'll simply walk away from their investment.

  11. TSN...I disagree with your assessment of Woodlawn... they have had boarded up windows at their 918 west leland site for over six months... and have done nothing to pick their yard... when I called to ask them about the boarded up windows, they said there was no one there for me to talk too.. I have left my number twice and no one has called... in addition, they are in charge of the 1012-1024 W Leland building.. and have done nothing at all with it.. cleared out the abandoned spaces, done anything about the constant flooding in back.. even had the windows washed the past two years... so I have no respect for Woodlawn at this point unless they start stepping up in your/our neighborhood pretty darn quick... right now, I am pretty UNimpressed by their stewardship..

  12. This was a harsh little run-down in bullet-point-style.

    I think Ben Joravsky could have done better than this, unfair and minimal to the Alderman-elect and Uptown.

    Its also a shame the Reader is becoming more and more like the Red Eye every day..........

  13. It is sad that political commentary in the Reader has deteriorated to these snide and snotty little snippets.

    Because of budget cuts or laziness, Reader writers could not keep up with what happened in the 46th Ward campaign for alderman.

    I am not sure why they now feel competent to write their fictionalized retroactive revision about how Cappleman won over Shiller backers and haters, etc.

    I think Joravsky & Dumke got their candidates mixed up. It was Phelan who first sued Shiller and then tried to win over the most loyal remnants of Shiller's base - the Jesus People, Marc Kaplan, and the very people who eventually moved into the Wilson Yards housing that Phelan had sued to prevent Shiller from developing.

    I'd like to know what is in the Kool-Aid they are drinking over at the Reader. Regardless, it is one more reason that the Reader has become a shadow of the robust weekly it was ten years ago.

  14. @ BP

    I think it is budget cuts AND laziness over at the Reader. It used to specialize in long-form journalism and this is just the opposite. How much ink and page space would it have taken to be even minimally comprehensive anyway?

    It was over-simplification beyond is sad.

    The line Joravsky wrote:

    "PREVIOUS LIFE: Social worker, critic of affordable housing",
    I find particularly ridiculous and literally 2-dimensional, divisive and unfair to James.

    For the record I was proud to be a Molly Phelan supporter in the election.

    Uptown is smarter, better and more united then someone across town reading this article could possibly glean.