Saturday, March 2, 2013

Mark Brown: Alderman Is "Dangerous" and "Aggressive"

Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown has discovered Chicago's own Simon Legree, a dangerous, heartless man who despises the homeless and wants them, and all poor people, out of sight and out of mind.

Who would that be?  46th Ward alderman James Cappleman, a man who  despite founding a homeless shelter, being a former Franciscan friar, and receiving the endorsement of the National Association of Social Workers  has "obviously decided to rid the 46th Ward of unsightly poor people," according to Brown in his most recent column.  In fact, "he’s downright dangerous."

What caused this?  According to Mr. Brown,
Ald. James Cappleman (46th) informed the Salvation Army on Friday that it is no longer welcome to feed the poor in Uptown from its homeless outreach trucks.

Cappleman gave the social service agency one month to find a new North Side location — outside his ward — before ceasing operations, said Capt. Nancy Powers, who oversees the Salvation Army’s homeless program in Chicago.
Later in the article, there's this:
The mobile outreach unit also operates daily from four other locations in the city. In addition, the Salvation Army operates mobile feeding trucks that go to 22 other sites — but with no homeless support. The Uptown location is the only North Side site. [...] The Salvation Army will ask other Lakefront aldermen to provide a location to fill the void.
Where do the Salvation Army  and the Night Ministry  park their mobile kitchens?  At Wilson and Marine, right by the viaduct where so many chronic homeless call home.

To our way of thinking, there are a few different approaches to dealing with the issue of the chronically homeless who have lived in Uptown's parks and under the LSD viaducts for decades:
  • One is to bring services to them, to supply food several times a day, blankets, medical care, and clean needles, bringing it right where they stay.  Some suburban churches have even put together programs where the ladies knit mats made from plastic grocery bags to be sent to Uptown, to keep the park sleepers comfortable and dry.  The chief of staff for former alderman Helen Shiller, even suggested that port-a-potties be placed in the park so that the sleepers could take care of business without fouling the grounds.
  • Another approach has been used in Uptown since 2008 as an intra-agency effort.  This past summer, "The police from both the 19th and 20th Districts, the aldermanic staffs from 46 and 48, both wards' Streets and San departments, employees from the Department of Human Services and Park Department, and Ald. Cappleman have been joining together and going into the parks in the wee hours to see who's there and to offer them assistance.  [...] The most recent time they were out, four people accepted help and got into the social services system.  They believe there are several more who are ready to do likewise."

    A similar campaign was put together by former 48th Ward alderman Mary Ann Smith in 2008.  In her words"This is not heartless.  It is essential."
So which approach is more effective in helping someone who's spent years on the street?  Tough love, eviction from the park, and help entering the social services system; or bringing "room service," supplying the needs of those who choose to live on the streets, and having people available in case one of them asks for help changing that life?

Obviously the Salvation Army and the city hold opposing views on what the best method is of helping these people.  We'd like to see some statistics comparing which approach has had the most success in getting people off the streets and into permanent housing.

Mr. Brown's article is here.  It covers a lot of ground, including the controversy between residents who want Uptown to be more than a social services capital and the views of the providers of those services, and Ald. Cappleman's response to why he wants the Salvation Army to stop serving meals by the park.  

click to enlarge
Incidentally, Mr. Brown, there's no way that Uptown will ever "be rid of unsightly poor people," as you so elegantly phrase it.  Please take a look at the map that accompanies an excellent article from WBEZ called "The slow disappearing act of the Chicago SRO." Please note the number of red dots in Uptown as compared to those in the other communities on the North Side, and dare we say it, as compared to Oak Park.

We are a compassionate community, as our high levels of volunteerism and charitable giving indicate. But take a look at those dots. We don't think one small community should bear responsibility for 15 SROs, eight homeless shelters (within a five block area) and the highest concentration of HUD-subsidized housing on the north side of Chicago.  What's wrong with the idea that other communities should be offered the opportunity to show compassion and care to society's most vulnerable members?

Maybe those who live in glass suburbs shouldn't throw stones.


  1. My jaw dropped when I saw the Sun-Times this morning. My attitude is that if things are not working for a long period of time it is time to try a different approach.

  2. Well, what's new in news of Uptown? Anything I've missed?

    I'm not going to comment at the Sun Times site because it's too wacky over there. I can't comment on the UU Facebook page because I'm not on Facebook. I don't believe in "social media". Now once someone creates an "anti-social media" I am so there, dude, or bragh.

    These are complicated issues and the Capplemaniac is trying a different and more "best practices" approach to solving them.

    As my next next ex wife Mindy said over there I too suspect most of the people being fed by the Salvation Army truck are living in SRO's nearby. That being said at least some of them are the hardcore homeless living under the viaduct.

    Some of the SRO types are truly needy and others prefer to spend their limited cash on things more essential like alcohol, drugs or ciggies. That's not necessarily an "either/or" thing.

    That viaduct situation CAN'T be allowed to continue. If my memory is correct I recall Shiller suggesting tents for them at one point. Maybe I'm mixing that up with my memory of the porta potty suggestion from her staff.

    ANYHOO, I don't ascribe bad faith on these issues to either the Capplemaniac or the scribe Mark Brown. It's an issue they both deeply care about and have been involved with for years in one way or another.

    I do think Cappleman should better explain his reasoning behind these moves while being fully prepared to continue on the path of "best practices" he's chosen. His explanations no matter how well reasoned and based on best practices will not resonate with most of his critics.

    I suspect Mark Brown has found his "Baby Richard" story or "white whale" and won't be backing off anytime soon. It's an issue he cares about and unlike Bob "Baby Richard" Greene he's not a hypocritical hack of Olympian proportions.

    No matter what Cappleman does he's going to be criticized, so he might as well do what he thinks is best and hold the line. The "advocates" for the homeless will assail him no matter what.

    Change is like that. People generally don't like it.

    You can give a man a fish and feed him for a day or teach a man to fish and then charge him for a fishing license. Or something like that.

  3. Fasten your seatbelts. It's gonna be a bumpy night.

  4. James has balls, I'll tell you that much.

  5. In fairness to Mark Brown, if the homeless are not concentrated in Uptown, they might end up in Austin, where they would be within walking distance of Oak Park's parks. That could totally take the fun out of his suburban adult soccer leagues.

  6. If the homeless weren't in Uptown, they would probably be in the more dangerous shoot-em-up, kill em good Southside or Westside. Most of the homeless I see are peaceful people. they don't bother anybody. They're older and down on their luck. Sure, they LOOK bad, but they don't bother nobody.
    Can Cappleman "ORDER" the Salvation Army not to feed the hungry? What if the hungry ARE NOT the homeless, but working adults who don't make enough money?

  7. So what about the other 49 alderman? Why doesn't Brown criticize them for not having Salvation Army trucks in their ward?

  8. This last week has been the last straw for me. It feels like one day it is a luxury condo project being paid for with my tax money, and now this.

    I supported Alderman Cappleman, I understand the writer uses stronger language then I would use. He mames a point and I agree.

  9. Can't we catch a break from these ultra left-wing extremist phonies who tell us what to do in our own neighborhood?

    Dear phonies, if you really feel so terrible for the homeless people, get your lazy butt out there and help them yourselves rather than lecturing others on how they are failing with their attempts. Bring them into your homes, give them a hot meal and new clothes and the such. Only then will I respect your opinion and your existence – until then, you are fake – you are plastic – you are insignificant – you need to go away, forever.

    I can't with you Mark Brown, I just can't. Aint nobody got time for you. You are a loser who works for a second-rate news source. Sucks for you the print industry is dying. You might be homeless next.

  10. As someone who is 1) a libtard 2)recently moved into Uptown (but still remembers Goldblatts) I agree wholeheartedly with the Alderman's decision.

    The first thing I see when I take the Wilson exit on LSD is the group of homeless under the viaduct. Every-business-day-since-I've-moved-here.

    I understand their plight--I am not heartless. However, I also understand that these individuals have been contacted by social workers countless times and have hitherto chosen to continue living on the streets.

    I find it funny that people are making this a right-left issue.

    It is much more complicated than that.

  11. Update this.....

    The truck is coming back, SA changed their minds according to dnainfo.

    Salvation Army...the check is in the mail.

  12. I just feel like getting my friends at Mercy Housing together and making a Mural or Bricolage about this.

  13. I don't know what legal authority the city, read alderman, has to keep a Salvation Army truck from feeding people at a particular location.

    I imagine we might find out soon.

    The folks supporting the SA and their mission are rejoicing and praising Jesus for their great victory in this battle. This ain't even the opening skirmish.

    I don't claim to know how it's gonna turn out, but I know the overall fight isn't over. It really comes down to a question of how to help the homeless.

    Do you help them by enabling them to stay on the street or do you help them by forcing them to confront their situation and get the needed assistance to get out from under the viaducts? Dat, ladies and germs is the question.

    To enable or not to enable. Aye, dere's da rub.

    The Capplemaniac is going to have to decide whether this particular issue with the SA and their feeding truck is worth the fight and aggravation.

    On first glance the "optics" of it are terrible. Nearly as terrible as me using the word "optics". If you don't know Cappleman and the background in Uptown it seems like the big bad wolf Alderman is starving the homeless people out of the ward.


    The real question is whether people are going to continue to be allowed to sleep on the streets or the parks. It's bad for them and it's bad for the larger community.

    Personally, given his background, I don't think there's a better individual in Chicago to lead the fight for "best practices" regarding the homeless and social service agencies than Cappleman.

    He'll have to decide whether the fight is worth it in this case and see if Rahmbo will stand with him.

    If Rahm will support him then I know how the battle of Uptown will go the next few years. The poverty lobby will find themselves outmaneuvered and outfought just like the landmark preservationists did with Northwestern women's hospital.

    Surrounded by rubble and their dreams at their feet.

    I suspect and hope, and time will tell if I'm right or wrong, that the Capplemaniac will win the overall battle for changing the way non profits operate in Uptown. He's a lot tougher than his resume might make him appear to be. People constantly underestimate him and few work harder than he does.

    Tune in tomorrow and the next day for more updates at Uptown Update on the continuing saga at "How Uptown Turns".

  14. Wait. Which Irish Pirate is my old pal? You are already planning our divorce??? ha.

  15. It's me Mindylicious. Me.

    The "Irish-like Pirate" is a mere imitator. He's trying to feed of my mojo. Which sounds dirtier than I meant it too.

    I'm not planning our divorce. I'm just using the past as a guide to my future.

    It could be worse. Divorce is better than the Drew Peterson alternative.

    Poor Drew is getting shuttled from prison to prison. Hopefully baby Jesus will decide he needs another saint and Drew will expire soon.

  16. Ok. IP. I always think learning from the past is a good way to go.

    We should still get coffee???

  17. What about the Night Ministry?
    They attract addicts for the free needles. What about closing down the methadone clinic across from Target? Our alderman is going to get a lot of negative attention with that article. IMO, middle class tax paying people like the Salvation Army.

  18. Oh Mindy.


    I can't. A man has to know his limitations and I'm a very limited man.

    I'm also involved in a by my standards long term relationship. Most people would say the word "MINDY" is a name, to me it spells T E M P T A T I O N.

    Remember I referred to you as my next next ex wife.

  19. Here's some related links brought to you by Crest. Four out of Five dentists recommend Crest.

    Cappleman letter regarding the Salvation Army story. Found this via his twitter account.

    Rahmbo asked about SA story at news conference. Go to about 16:10 to hear his response.

    Rahmster also knocks Warren G. Harding earlier in the video. Did Rahm know Harding said this about Lincoln:

    “In every moment of peril, in every hour of discouragement, whenever the clouds gather, there is the image of Lincoln to rivet our hopes and to renew our faith”

    I think not. He should stick to transportation issues and not knock dead Presidents. Anyone who can come up with a quote like that ain't all bad! Rahm will probably send a dead fish to Harding's grave. Hopefully an appropriate alewife can be found on one of our beaches. At least let it be a Chicago fish. Remember as da first Mare Daley said, may his memory light our way for a "tousand" generations, "dere is nothing more wholesome dan a fish".

    IrishPirate musical interlude with a message for Jimmy C and the Cappelmaniacs.

  20. Damgerous and aggressive?? That guy should go hang out on corner of Lawrence and Sheridan before he uses such words in reference to the alderman!

  21. IP- You are a goof. Stay sweet.

    See you.