December 31, 2005

Out With The Old...In With The New

Sometimes it’s a tip from a neighbor that sparks a story. Sometimes it’s a picture that builds a story. Often it’s the lack of activity or communication that creates a story . On the flipside the presence of too much of the wrong activity creates a story. 24/7 has experienced all of the above.

Bloggers aren’t ‘paid’ entities. Our internet, phone lines, electricity aren’t covered by anyone but us. The digital cameras aren’t donated either. But the lens speaks what it captures.

Change in 2006 will be up to the community as a group of people to either work toward a common goal, or we will remain groups of separate agendas working toward different goals despite what voters and residents think and request. No rule says we have to like one another or agree 100% on everything, but a little cooperation works wonders.

Contrary to some opinions, I had contacted some individuals in mid-December regarding a Women’s Self-Defense Workshop. After some waiting and telephone tagging, a connection was finally made and specifics were attained. Soon the specifics were distributed to not-for-profits in the area and the alderman for input. Political agendas aside, the workshop will be offered within the next few weeks thanks in part to Cary of RPCC. Joe Moore has offered financial backup and support as well. After the holidays, I hope to hear from more agencies and churches and schools. It would be great to see this as a ‘community event’ co-sponsored and attended by as many Rogers Park women as possible. If anyone is willing to pitch in with sign-up sheets, flyers, email blasts to their neighbors and associates, let me know. Violence, whether domestic or not, is still a crime.

The same applies to a peace walk in January. Let’s make it a neighborhood effort, for a short period on an afternoon. The holidays are over. No one can guarantee good weather, or absence of flu epidemics, but let’s give it a try – as one group.

The mantra: Leave the agenda on the desk and bring the body.

For the New Year – may you have love, luck, and laughter.

December 30, 2005

DevCorp 2005: Still Waiting for a Plan

It's a Wonderful Life ( part 2 )

Below are portions of the North of Howard Scoping Study prepared for the Rogers Park Builders Group by Siemon, Larsen and Marsh, Strategic Land Planning and Management in 1998. For this essay, I selected items pertaining to their analysis of the concentration of affordable units in a community and the effects on that community if that status quo were to persist. This objective, unbiased assessment mirrors what has been written in this space for some time now.

Overview
( excerpts from study )

The NOH neighborhood is home to a number of buildings which are participants in federal housing programs. While federal housing programs which provide affordable housing are important to the society at large, these federal housing programs must be sensitive to both the density of affordable units within a specified community area as well as management of affordable units. If there are either too many affordable units in a neighborhood or if the management of these affordable units are not attentive to building condition or tenant selection, then the neighborhood will be perceived rightly or wrongly as a dangerous investment for a developer or potential purchaser of a dwelling unit.
If new investment is kept from entering into a neighborhood due to too high a concentration of affordable housing or too high a concentration of poorly managed buildings, then what results is a pocket of poverty.

The NOH neighborhood has become a pocket of poverty. Rather than being a healthy neighborhood able to attract residents who desire to live in close proximity to the lakefront and the existing rapid transit line, there is a stigma attached to the area.
Although the NOH neighborhood has a substantial inventory of property which is underutilized, the perception of the community is not currently one of investment opportunity. The question is not whether the NOH area will eventually be rehabilitated- it will be- but rather whether there are steps that can be taken to accelerate the process and to insure that the process is equitable to all interested and affected parties.
The challenge is how to create enough stability and certainty in the area to be able to attract market rate development which will in turn attract market rate residents and owners without displacing the individuals in the neighborhood.

To be plain about it, this assessment concludes that it will take a bold initiative to significantly accelerate the revitalization of the community, an initiative that will require significant public and private investment. And that anything short of a bold initiative is unlikely to generate significant benefits.

Deja Vu All Over Again

If you are at all familiar with the issues that have played havoc with the NOH neighborhood for the last 25 or so years, there will be instant recognition of the circumstances described in the study. Siemon, Larsen and Marsh were only the most recent outside consultant in a long line of planning firms who have been asked to prepare an analysis of our neighborhood. Study after study came to the same conclusions.
The concentration of affordable housing is a roadblock to NOH's recovery . There are other issues as well that are discussed at length in the study, but for the purpose of this discussion, I will concentrate on this one because it is at the core of the problem. Solve this issue and almost everything else solves itself.

To be fair, DevCorp inherited some very difficult, complex and sensitive issues when it assumed responsibility for community developement NOH. But to be honest, they also inherited this study as well as countless others that provided a framework for change, the "bold initiative" the study encouraged. This study was completed in 1998, around the same time that a dramatic, philosophical shift was taking place at H.U.D. regarding the new approach to public housing and would have provided DevCorp with a plan served up on a silver platter had they been paying attention.

In reading the excerpts from a study done in 1998 and comparing the conditions they describe then, with NOH today, it is abundantly clear that no "bold initiative" was taken by DevCorp. The only action taken was a "head in the sand, don't rock the boat" innaction and the undeniable lack of progress NOH is impossible to conceal.

This apparent unwillingness to confront problems that other communities were willing to confront and overcome and in the process, treat NOH and Howard Street as though it didn't exist on the ward map, is the primary failure of DevCorp as a community development agency. As of this writing, there is yet no plan.

Howard Street is still vacant and foreboding. NOH is a poorer, more dangerous neighborhood now than in 1998, as evidenced by this summers' shootings, drug dealing and abduction in broad daylight. It was a pocket of poverty when DevCorp took the reigns in 1990 and it is still a pocket of poverty. By any comparable measure of accountability in the private sector, this dismal track record would have been justifiable grounds for dismissal long ago.

No one could have faulted DevCorp, had they consulted the community as they should have and in the process, made us partners in a genuine effort at reform. If somehow, the effort was not as succesful as planned, we could all share the responsibility and build on that experience as a community. But to make NO revitalization effort NOH is simply unacceptable. Excluding us from actively participating in the planning of our own community is inexcusable. Community development without the Community: How wrong is that?
And now, DevCorp has no one to share the blame with, but themselves.

Next installment in It's a Wonderful Life ( part 3 ), DevCorp and the Cost of Inaction

December 29, 2005

Some Change NOH

Here are some 'before and current construction underway' shots on Jay Johnson's Ashland property. It's the red brick U-shaped courtyard building on 7700 block of Ashland.

Johnson 007

This is the porch photo in the alley. These porches are still intact. I'm assuming all tenants have egress both front and back in this building.
Johnson 008
The side view summer 05:
Johnson 009

The south side view 12/26/05:
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The far north end of the building.
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December 28, 2005

How to Build a Real Estate Portfolio While Applying for Grants, 2 Approaches

Toni asked on the "Broken Heart":

>Like DevCorp, RPCC is a 501(c)(3) that owns property? How much more do we NOT know?

Let's compare and contrast DevCorp North's and the Rogers Park Community Council's solutions to the same problem: How to build up assets while preserving the ability to secure grants.

The Problem


It's a classic problem of how to have your cake and eat it, too. The problem in a nut-shell? Grant-making organizations require submission of IRS form 990, "Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax" along with grant applications. These forms are a logical choice for this purpose. Most non-profit have to fill it out every year anyway, so it is not an additional paperwork burden. The parts of the form mirror standard business financial statements, and so offer a comprehensive overview of the not-for-profit. The forms seem to be reliable, in that they are signed by the not-for-profit's senior officer, under penalty of perjury, as "true, correct, and complete."

Only problem, for non-profits with real estate aspirations: the form requires disclosure of assets. And many grant programs are at least partially based on need. So how do you play the big con without messing up your little con? Both DevCorp North and the Rogers Park Community Council faced the same problem, and solved it in similar but different fashions.

The Context

Both the DevCorp North and the Rogers Park Community Council had long been a facilitator, a sideline spectator to real estate development deals in Rogers Park, but had always been the bridesmaid, never the bride. They facilitated bringing hundreds of thousands of dollars to projects in the neighborhood, while they themselves struggled to get by on meager grants and membership dues.

They were inspired by the example, among others, of Hipolito "Paul" Roldan, President and owner of Hispanic Housing Development Corp. HHDC is a not-for-profit corporation, a public charity, registered with the IRS as a 501(c)(3), and a minority owned business. HHDC secures development agreements with the City which are then executed by Roldan's other, for-profit company, Tropic Construction. (See We're in the Real Estate Business , Nonprofit Profiles: Hispanic Housing Development Corp, May 2004, HISPANIC BUSINESS Magazine). A local example is the Gateway Senior Apartments.

This was the boom years of the '90's, when if you didn't have a few off-the-books subsidiaries working for you, you weren't trying hard enough. Dividing your enterprise up into off-the-books partnerships, and selectively reporting on some but not all of them, was the fundamental technique of the frauds of WorldCom and Enron. (In the for-profit world, off-the-books partnerships are used to hide liabilities, in order to make yourself look richer; in the not-for-profit world, off-the-books partnerships are used to hide assets, in order to make yourself look poorer.)

Why can't we do something like that? DevCorp North and Rogers Park Community Council asked themselves. And so they did.

Two Approaches


RPCC formed the "Rogers Park Community Development Corporation" (RPCDC), and DevCorp North formed Combined Development-Howard LLC. RPCDC and Alderman Moore pals Jay Johnson and Rudy Muldar then formed Morse Urban LLC. DevCorp North and Moore pals Roldan and Muldar and others formed Combined Development-Howard LLC. RPCDC developed the Morse Senior Center, and Combined Development-Howard LLC developed Gateway Mall.

In other words, DevCorp North joined a limited liability company (Combined Development-Howard LLC), while RPCC formed a subsidiary corporation (RPCDC) which joined an LLC (Morse Urban LLC).

RPCC formed a Board of Directors for the RPCDC, nominally separate from their own Board. This summer, we found out just how separate the two corporations are - not very. We learned that RPCC had the authority to dismiss RPCDC's Board. RPCC and RPCDC are separate for tax purposes and for grant-application purposes, but they are not separate in terms of authority to control assets.

The limited liability company (LLC) is the business structure of choice for real estate developers because it has more lax public reporting requirements than a corporation. DevCorp North's real estate partnership, Combined Development-Howard LLC, has no public Board, it is controlled by the partners.

DevCorp North and RPCC are similar in that both are funded largely from public money through contracts with the City of Chicago. Both DevCorp North and RPCC are not-for-profit corporations, from the point of view of the State of Illinois, and are tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) public charities, with respect to the federal government. RPCC applied to the IRS and obtained the same status for RPCDC. This status requires annual reporting to the IRS, but neither RPCC's or RPCDC's 990's mention the Morse Senior Center or Morse Urban LLC. Similarly, DevCorp North makes no mention of Gateway Mall or Combined Develeopment-Howard LLC in their annual disclosures to the IRS. DevCorp North's real estate division makes no pretense of being a public charity, it is a for-profit company. In their "Articles of Organization" DevCorp North and their partners wrote for themselves and filed with the Illinois Secretary of State, the stated purpose of Combined Development - Howard, LLC is

"To lease, acquire, own, develop, and transfer real estate."

To their credit, RPCC acknowledges the existence of and their involvement in RPCDC on their web site, in their newsletter, and in their annual report. In contrast, DevCorp North makes no mention of Combined Development - Howard, LLC on their web site or in their newsletter, and does not release an annual report. Most significantly, neither DevCorp North or RPCC makes any mention of their real estate dealings on their IRS Form 990. A grant-making organization would have no reason to look into Combined Development - Howard, LLC, RPCDC, or Morse Urban LLC.

Conclusion

Our community is currently involved in a struggle to hold RPCC and their real estate developer partner to their commitments to their tenants in the Morse Senior Center, and another struggle to recover from the blow dealt to retail in our community by DevCorp North and their partners. DevCorp North and RPCC are difficult to hold accountable by design. They deliberately structured their businesses to avoid accountability. These struggles are to a large extent our struggle to recover from local examples of the unethical business practices of the previous decade.

December 27, 2005

Holiday Aftermath

Northpoint trash is on the left side of the alley and CIG (Jay Johnson) trash is on the right side all the way to the private garages in the middle of the Paulina alley from Jonquil facing North.

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Northpoint overflow in the alley between park and Bosworth.

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Admittedly, this is reflective of the aftermath of Christmas Day. Unfortunately, this happens far too often sans any holiday.

We are missing four vital elements here:

a. More conscientious tossing
b. More dumpsters
c. More frequent trash pick ups
d. All of the above

There was plenty of food tossed openly into the alley. Green beans, spaghetti, bread, all for the rodents to feast on. Was there no room left in the fridge?

December 26, 2005

It's a Wonderful Life ( part 1 )

If You Believe the Press Releases
For most people, the purchase of a home represents the single, largest investment they will make in their lifetime. As important as that investment is to an individual or family, the implied understanding from that investment is that local government and agencies will do everything in their power to improve the quality of life, manage finances efficiently, seek community input and keep people informed about future plans and how their tax money is being spent. This is not an unreasonable assumption and has been my experience anywhere I've lived in either Chicago or New York.

Community Development Does Not Exist Without the Community
People and businesses need to be adequately informed so that they can plan their future. Without this information we are in LIMBO. One of the advantages of home ownership is a measure of control and the ability to make important and timely decisions about the direction of your life and your finances. When people are denied important information they deserve and are faced with the erosion of that control, they tend to get justifiably angry and in some cases irrational. Adding fuel to an already cynical firestorm, an agency entrusted to collect tax revenue and who's original stated mission was to create interest among potential investors for development in our community, morphs into an exclusive, private club primarily benefiting only it's members. In an effort to shield itself from criticism and annoying questions from the community, this agency further justifies it's secretive policies by hearing only the irrational criticism and retreats deeper into secrecy by painting us all with the same irrational brush.

DevCorp Plays Monopoly
Obviously, as if I needed to tell you, the agency in question here is DevCorp and they own the responsibility for the unproductive, poisonous atmosphere we all find ourselves in today. When people are treated as irrelevant players in their own community, non-factors in their own future, when they assume the role of spokesman for the community when it is beneficial only to them, there should be no surprise whatsoever that DevCorp, it's efforts and it's employees are viewed with disdain and suspicion.
People are upset. Homeowners don't see nearly as much improvement in our ward and NOH in particular and wonder whether they should cut their losses and move. Subsidized renters don't know if they are staying for awhile or getting displaced again because there is yet no plan whatsoever to solve the subsidized housing concentration NOH, despite one supported by H.U.D., C.H.A. and the city since 1999. Potential businesses and investors look at Howard Street and wonder why they should risk their capital and trust a defacto chamber of commerce who can't even marginally improve the street in which they reside. Reasonable and relevant questions have been asked by responsible members of our community about financial transactions and are given nothing in return but a deafening wall of silence.
DevCorp treats our ward and NOH as their private Monopoly game by secretly choosing who can buy Park Place and electing who stays behind on Baltic Avenue and on their calendar. DevCorp's timetable is not necessarily ours especially in light of the success of Edgewater and now the 3rd ward despite problems as difficult as ours to solve.
How did those communities somehow find a way to succeed and not ours? Do their citizens work harder than us? Are they more educated than us? Are their citizens more devoted and more active in their communities than we are? Is their location superior to ours? NO, NO, NO, NO and NO. So what then is the common denominator?

Plans in a Vacuum and a Prescription for Failure
By any reasonable comparison, DevCorp is failing to keep pace with success in other wards, in it's stated mission to adequately develop successful, long term plans, follow through on promised commitments, and is obediently adhering to a code of silence as if their activity is none of our business.
This wrongheaded groupthink mentality allows DevCorp to continue operating in a vacuum and eliminates our community from the very process we understood their mission to be. Community Development.
All successful organizations, businesses and individuals have the ability to recognize that they have reached a threshold that cannot be crossed without the enlistment of outside professional assistance. Self analysis and the ability to absorb constructive criticism can be the deciding factor between progress or stagnation.

Edgewater brought in Civic Economics to help them understand the retail and economic dynamics of Andersonville. The 3rd Ward leadership used the new H.U.D mixed income housing philosophy and received support from the C.H.A. and the Mayors' office. Other communities across the country brought in Corcoran Jennison to develop and manage mixed income developments and these are just a few successful examples of communities realizing that new ideas were needed in order for them to succeed.
So what has DevCorp done for our community? Have they hired an outside consultant for practical advice? Are people falling over themselves to live and start businesses here? Are our commercial districts thriving? Are the incentives DevCorp offers to new businesses working?
It's a Wonderful Life ( part 2 ) will try and answer these questions.

Welcome to Pottersville
In the meantime, have a wonderful holiday. If you find yourself in need of some cheap entertainment over the Christmas break, gather a large group and come visit NOH aka Pottersville. If you time it right, it will be snowing and you can catch a guy named Jimmy ranting and running desperately past empty, boarded up storefronts on a dark and cheerless boulevard devoid of all Christmas decorations, just like the movie.
Brought to you by the good people of DevCorp.

gf

December 24, 2005

Memories and Magic

We all have special memories of Christmas.

I grew up near a small town with many churches. Ours was the only church with statues and the only one open at midnight on Christmas Eve. That was the night of the year when magic filled the air. It was the night we were allowed to stay up very late with permission. We were replicas of the grownups in our velvet dresses and little man suits, but we were wide-eyed children watching the skies.

When I think of Christmas as a child, midnight mass is the first recollection that surfaces. Thanks to my mother’s imagination and my father’s faith, it was truly a memorable night. We’d pile in the Ford and drive the ten miles to the event. Dad always left early because it was bad manners to be late. Sprinkled along the way, farmhouses illuminated the darkness with their decorative lights and trees. The cool white glimmer of snow under the wide open skies reflected the stars. My brother being older and much wiser would show me the constellations.

The church always looked different on that night. It was dimly lit, mostly by the many glowing candles. Red and white flowers decorated the altar and there was a large scale version like our nativity scene at home. Music and voices seemed to come from the ceiling. Ave Maria. The aisle was filled with sweet smelling ‘smoke’ wafting from a brass container the priest swayed back and forth. I was too young to understand but just old enough to be mystified by the candles, the incense, the chanting, and the music. It had the same effect on the adults, especially the guests from other religions.

After mass, we would go to a relatives house. The parents 'visited', the teenage cousins listened to their music and we little cousins played. We also plotted and planned their winter visit to our farm. Cunning children know parents are more agreeable at Christmas. Before long it would be 3 in the morning and time for the suspenseful drive home - if I could stay awake.

As luck would have it, one Christmas Eve, Santa was running late at our house. It was really hard to hide the disappointment and I wasn’t sleepy after so much excitement. Having learned from my brother that children will stay awake, our parents worked out a plan with Santa and the dentist. I was sent to brush the sugar cookies from my teeth with big brother as the supervisor. I had to brush, he had to inspect, then I had to brush some more. (He’s still a perfectionist). Suddenly we heard Dad calling us. We ran into the living room and there was Dad standing in his pajamas at the wide open front door. “You just missed Santa” he said. The cold night air was quickly overtaking the room as we ran to look at the sky hoping to see the jolly old guy. Mother’s blue eyes had that leprechaun glimmer as she looked at the gifts Santa left under the tree. We didn’t have a lot of money for expensive gifts but Santa always managed to deliver some of our ‘wish list’ items to us.

Years later, with children of our own, we always returned to that small town for Christmas. The grandparents would take the little ones to pick out a Christmas tree in the woods. Dad still drove a Ford and Mother was still a mischievous leprechaun!

And yes, sleigh bells would ring, and my daughter and nephew looked in wonder at the magic of the Christmas sky and at the gifts Santa left under their little tree.

December 23, 2005

December 22, 2005

Pie in the Sky?

Redemption and Recovery
In a ward once considered one of the worst in the city and represented by an alderman whose reputation wasn't much better, an almost unimaginable transformation has taken place.

"The plan to make over the city's public housing system took another step Thursday when Mayor Richard Daley and other officials broke ground for a mixed income development along a corridor of South State Street once dominated by bleak and deteriorated high rises".

In six short years, Alderman Dorothy Tillman(3rd Ward), working closely with the Mayor, C.H.A. and H.U.D. officials, is beginning to successfully address the difficult and problematic issue of public housing. Alderman Tillman has taken advantage of the real estate boom, proximity to downtown and cooperation with the federal government to alter the perception of her ward from a ghetto to avoid, to a desirable neighborhood to live and invest in. This turnaround is so complete, that Alderman Tillman had the luxury recently to politely decline a $65 million dollar, 2 block Salvation Army development in her ward in favor of retail development that will provide jobs to help anchor the new housing project.

"We are meeting to create a community that will not only create housing, but will create jobs. We can move the person into a house, but if that person doesn't have a job to maintain that house, it doesn't matter"
Tillman is seeking major retail development and the employment that would go with it, along the corridor that would serve the residents of the complex.

A Plan, Hard Work, Cooperation and Benefits for Everyone
This multi-year effort and comprehensive, long term plan is practically risk free since H.U.D, the C.H.A. and a private developer are assuming all the cost of this development. Alderman Tillman is simply providing the real estate that 10 years ago, couldn't be given away. The Chicago Housing Authority under a mandate from H.U.D., will be modeling this mixed-income community from successful private developments in other cities such as the Corcoran Jennison projects that I have written about that have a proven, 25 year track record.

"Park Boulevard will have 311 living units, 100 of them to be occupied by Chicago Housing Authority residents, 72 by low to middle income families and 139 by "market rate" purchasers".
If you have read my previous essay the term "market rate" and the concept will sound familiar.

The new South Side complex will mean "a symphony of diversity, a positive living experience" said Allison Davis.
Apparently, developers can earn a reasonable profit on public housing projects as well and they should. Altruistic intentions aside, Allison Davis, who I happen to know wouldn't be involved otherwise. Everyone involved in this enormous undertaking will benefit. The city is fulfilling it's mandate and providing a model for other wards and cities. Chicago is reclaiming once worthless land that will add tax revenue. Public housing residents will finally be given a real chance to escape the poverty treadmill and begin to prosper from the jobs that will be created and by their ownership in their community. Developers can earn a reasonable profit while building a better future. Existing social service organizations can alter and expand their mission from a caretaker, enabler status to a long term, employment training and family transitioning status that will truly help people move into the mainstream of our society. Alderman Tillman will create a lasting legacy for herself and her constituents.

Nirvana? Yes. Pie in the Sky? Apparently not.

December 21, 2005

Agendas On The Desk

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The invitation was accepted out of both curiosity and willingness. My choice. There were many familiar faces at the Holiday Party.
The agendas were left on the desk for the evening and that's the way it should be.

More often.

Intelligent Design Exposed

Many public schools would do a service to ensure kids learn to read before allowing the introduction of hidden agendas into their classrooms.

Tribune Story

Religion and Politics should be separated

There's a time and a place for religious studies and all religions have them. It's amusing that some who label themselves 'liberal or progressive' are jumping on George's religious bandwagon. It's all about power and money.

Separation of church and state was written for a reason.

December 18, 2005

TIF Bank For Jobs?

Who went to the November 6 rally at Gale School where elected officials and The Kitchen discussed their on-going work? Some concerned neighbors who were there heard about job training plans. However, they heard very few details and have since discovered it may involve Howard Paulina TIF funds. The alderman pledged his support to The Kitchen’s job training project which is a ‘test training’ program at the taxpayers cost of between $60k-$80k. If these facts aren’t correct, The Kitchen should divulge the details of this program – both physical and financial.

If you were there you would have heard about creating new jobs for the community, CTA, Gale Field House, etc. If you were there you would have heard a lot about plans being made to train locals to get these union jobs sometime in the future.

How will it happen? How much is in the Howard-Paulina TIF bank? There is a problem in that part of the funding would be spent on administrative costs incurred by someone from The Kitchen. Has anything been worked out with the unions to guarantee these ‘jobs’? Tenured union workers may be preferred or chosen, and there is no guarantee to locals other than a promise to train them for a job.

An alderman can decide where, how and who receives TIF money by being persuaded. It would be a TIF grant to fund training by Northside Power/The Kitchen and one of The Kitchen’s affiliates, a ministerial group. A minister will do the training. So, what are the details and depth of this training? How much will be spent for the actual training and how much for the Kitchen and its affiliates’ coffers?

Deals such as this have to be worked out among several entities and should, by all democratic right, include the input from those contributing their tax dollars to this TIF, and the community as a whole. We don’t need any more repeats of misspent TIF dollars.
The lack of transparency on how funds are and have been spent in this area will be a roadblock to many until such time as it’s brought to the community discussion table. If it’s a good idea, it should be out in the open for discussion, evaluation, critique and support or non-support. It’s taxpayer dollars that may be spent either on a reality or on a pipedream.

This Should Upset You Too

Protect Senior Citizens

Please contact the Alderman and RPCC as advised and requested from Fran.

December 17, 2005

Inflated Propaganda

From the RPCC annual report 2004-2005
Housing Action – Targeted Building

"There have been a variety of efforts over the years to improve living conditions and management practices in the properties owned by the Chicago Equity Fund (CEF) in the North of Howard neighborhood.

The Broadmoor (7600 N. Bosworth) has been of special concern because the building is exceptionally large (96 units) and therefore has a disproportionate impact on a large number of tenants and neighbors.

In previous years, there have been some effective campaigns to improve the situation at the building, but it seems that every time things get better and the community’s attention is focused elsewhere, the same problems return. These problems are basically related to lack of management attention along with a sense of hopelessness on the part of many tenants who have learned to accept the awful conditions in the building as part of the tradeoff for affordable rent. Some of the most common complaints have been graffiti in the stairwells and elevator, people sleeping in the hallways and uninvited visitors roaming the halls and disturbing legitimate tenants.

In the past 10 months, a coalition of community agencies, neighbors and tenants have come together to try to build a tenant organization and demand more accountability from IMC, the on-site management company. Steps were taken to empower a core group of tenants to identify their top three issues – which turned out to be on-site security for all hours when there are no management staff on duty, better maintenance response and monthly meetings with IMC and building management.

A first meeting, held at Alderman Joe Moore’s office, resulted in an agreement with IMC that they would develop a new maintenance request form in duplicate so that tenants could track their repair requests, meet with the group once a month, and consider hiring on-site uniformed security. At the next meeting a month later, they agreed to hire security from 8 pm to 4am – not for the length of time that the tenants and neighbors wanted, but a significant improvement. There are still more issues to be addressed and we are working to increase participation in the tenant organization over the next few months."
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Some misinformation from the RPCC Annual report about futile efforts and an outline of what we neighbors were able to accomplish is detailed below. RPCC issued a 32 page newsletter patting themselves on the back with a lot of inflated propaganda.
The Broadmoor is a prime example:

Many of the 96 units are either boarded up (unoccupied) or in probable disrepair. At one meeting I attended the on-site manager and representatives from CEF couldn’t agree on a number. They finally stated 70-80 were occupied at that time.

“In the past 10 months, a coalition of community agencies, neighbors and tenants have come together….” True, there were three meetings in Joe Moore’s office, - January, February and March of 2005. By the March meeting, Joe Moore seemed to feel that CEF had initiated the duplicate work order process, had agreed to security guards and that under the financial strain Jeff Frankwick, CEF, reported they were experiencing, Joe felt not much more could be demanded.

A meeting was requested with then CEO of Chicago Equity Fund, Bill Higginson in early May 2005. He accepted and rescheduled mid-May due to illness. Tenants and a member from RPCC and other organizations met with Higginson in the Broadmoor. I don’t think an invitation was formally sent to Moore.

The next and final meeting that Broadmoor tenants recall was June 2005 in a tenants apartment. At that meeting, it was apparent that the old tired and guaranteed no win solution of ‘delegating to the tenants’ was put into play. Many of the original tenants who went out on a limb have not heard from any of the ‘agencies’ for months now with the exception of a ‘July Newsletter’ that was created and distributed by RPCC. And, as one would expect, the tenants who faced possible intimidation by joining these meetings, were summarily faded out on the radar screen, are not surprised nor willing to be contacted any time soon. People don’t appreciate being used to be a kudo on a year end report.

Some obvious pieces of information were omitted from this Annual Kudo List:

1. Bill Higginson was quietly dismissed as CEO of Chicago Equity Fund
2. IMC Property Management was dissolved
3. The Broadmoor is now managed by East Lake Management and has retained many IMC employees

One organization member emailed me inquiring which newspaper I'd read the news about Higginson. I didn’t reply. I heard it from various sources including Joe Moore.

A less obvious piece of information should be added to their Kudo List:
Some attempted to blackball me from future Broadmoor meetings the day after the Northpoint meeting with HUD, IDHA, City of Chicago Department of Human Services, citing several reasons. The blog was their first complaint even though another blog was putting RPCC in the hot seat. Now I can understand why. One felt that we could work together but not as a 'coalition', i.e. not part of the 'status quo gang'. One unspoken reason was that RPCC was no doubt a little upset that a meeting was held to extract a public promise from AIMCO to permit tenants to have a tenant association. It had been squashed in the past by management and possibly by some organizations due to their ‘vested’ interest in those twelve buildings. After all, the leader of RPCC did give a nod of approval and sent an email of persuasion to Joe Moore to approve the several million dollar rehab and subsidy extension. So why would same organization dare admit there were flaws in their plan?

In the name of Human Rights, that’s why.

I’m honored tenants still call me. I still walk over and check things when asked. I received a holiday card from one today. I promised to send an email to the correct management company with the latest concerns.

So I thank and congratulate those who tried to dissuade me in that little room on August 3, 2005 the day after the Northpoint meeting, two months after the last Broadmoor meeting. A follow-up to the Broadmoor was the alleged call to meet. I thank and congratulate the ones who couldn’t work with me and their subsequent propaganda. I hear one is no longer here and another has insulted many friends/neighbors/agencies. It seems the truth as I stated it almost a year ago is dawning.

I can’t work effectively with letter writers, sweet talkers, information gatherers, squashers, manipulators, and self-serving tyrants. Neither can many of my friends and neighbors.

It appears that many people are beginning to see through the transparent fa├žade now. So the real kudo list is short and simple:

Those with the power to do something may have seen the blog pictures about the Broadmoor - be it city agencies or investors or both.
Higginson is gone.
A neighbor and I have met with Elzie Higgenbottom - has RPCC?
Elzie Higgenbottom inherited a mess to clean up and we need to work together.
A successful meeting was finally held to ensure Northpoint tenants could exercise their rights as humans – not as property of the government.
The police camera on Howard is there in part thanks to brainstorming between police and neighbors in a CAPS meeting. Yours truly and a couple of residents from the Broadmoor and Northpoint obtained signatures on that camera petition. The petition was turned into Joe Moore’s office 8/31/05 and a scanned copy was emailed to Commander Rottner.
A Women’s Walk For Peace was held in spite of attempts to discredit the blog, the writer(s) and even the participants to further divide a neighborhood for an agenda.

Perhaps next year there will be a force of people with true concerns and commitment. Perhaps there will be agencies in this neighborhood willing to leave the agenda on the desk to ensure no one is put out or left out on the limb just to get a kudo.

December 16, 2005

Making Mixed - Income Housing Work

Excerpts from an article written by Joseph E. Corcoran, co-founder of the
Corcoran Jennison Company.

Today, mixed income housing is accepted nationally and is even required in many progressive cities and communities throughout the United States. In Boston, Mayor Thomas M. Menino has instituted a policy that requires all proposals for new luxury housing projects to include at least 10% affordable units. In Stamford Conneticut, Mayor Daniel Malloys' new downtown housing initiative requires developers to include 20% affordable units. Mixed income is here to stay and all residential developers of multifamily and single family projects alike will have accomodate the concept in their future planning. It is absolutely the correct way to house the nations low income families. For the past half century, public housing projects have demonstrated very clearly that warehousing low income families is a formula for social disaster. It is also inconsistent with the U.S. concept of assimilating diverse ethnic groups and the economically deprived into the mainstream of American life.

Corcoran Jennison opened its first mixed income community, Queen Anne's Gate in Weymouth Mass. in 1973. The community has had an average occupancy rate of 96% since then. Today, Queen Anne's Gate contains 560 units, 25% of which are occupied by low income households, 25 percent by moderate income households and 50% by households paying the market rate. This is an ideal mix. Experience has taught us that market rate units must be predominant in a mixed income project. In a project with at least half of its units market rate, the developer/owner is forced to be sensitive to the market and must plan, design and maintain the property to market standards. The objective is to create an attractive community that people of all income levels will be proud to call home. If subsidized units predominate, the community risks losing the market rate component.

Low end and moderate income units should always have the same design and specifications as market rate units. The key is to provide equivalent housing for all income levels. This eliminates resentment by putting all residents on an equal footing. Mixing low income and market rate units throughout the site is also important to avoid any section being labeled as low income. Prospective renters or homeowners at any income level, should not observe a segmenting of low income families.

Generally speaking, potential residents of market rate units are not going to move into a mixed income developement because they see it as an interesting social experiment. They will move in because it offers a better deal for the money. To make it a better deal, the developer generally needs the advantage of some sort of subsidy, such as tax exempt financing, cost of land writedown, tax credits, tax breaks or grants. If the location is superior, the market rate units can subsidize the low income units without additional subsidies.

The presence of low income families living on site may be an obstacle for some market rate prospects. Our experience indicates that as much as 10% of the market pool may be turned off by the concept. Interestingly, Harbor Point in Boston actually attracts people who want to live there because they know it is a mixed income and racially mixed
community.

Racially mixing all income groups also is important and we make a concerted outreach effort to do so. Harbor Point is home to 3000 people living in 1,283 units. 35% of the market rate units are inhabited by members of minority groups, 20% of whom are african american. 25% of the low income families are white. Our marketing and social service staff works hard to acheive this mix by reaching out to local employers, community centers, publications, government agencies and even elected officials. For example, in urban public housing turnaround projects, in which african american and hispanic families typically dominate the low income component, our on site social service workers go to low income non profit agencies and offer our units to white families on housing waiting lists. In suburban mixed income communities, we do the reverse. Our marketing staff also visits corporate human services departments and actively markets market rate units to minority workers, stressing our objective of creating racially mixed communities.

Property management, like any other profession, requires special skills. Those skills are aquired through long years of training and gaining experience in procedures such as formulating and implementing budgets, examining and procuring maintenance and vendor contracts and properly assessing prosective tenants and their ability to pay the rent and respect their nieighbors and their property.

A mixed income property management company should maintain the same standards for all income levels. Our base leasing contract is exactly the same for all income groups and violations are enforced uniformly. For example, if residents do not pay the rent, they are evicted. Likewise, intefering with a neighbors' legitimate rights or possessing illegal drugs or weapons are also grounds for eviction.

In Corcoran Jennison's seven conversions of public housing projects into mixed income communities, the social service component has been essential to the succes of the turnaround. This component provides teen and after school activities, tutorial and substance abuse counseling and other services that are available to all income levels. The existing low income families have an understandable fear of change and their ability to adapt and the social service component gives comfort and help during this trasition period.

Social services' mission is to give each family the resources needed to make succesful transition to life in a mixed income community, including housekeeping, budgeting, parenting, substance abuse, education and job training.

An Equitable Solution

As described above, the Corcoran- Jennison Company has been succesfully developing and managing socially and economically mixed housing in communities just like ours for over 25 years.
This could be a workable plan for NOH if we viewed the entire neighborhood and its' existing subsidized housing stock as a developement or campus. NOH also has the existing social service agencies whose mission could adapt from emergency, short term housing solutions to one that provides a more permanent, equitable and beneficial mission as described above. When Gale Street Fieldhouse is finally built, it can become the activity center Mr. Corcoran writes about as being another important component.

Obviously, such a far reaching plan would require cooperation, planning, possible financing, dissolution of current HUD contracts and careful management for it to be successful. These are not insurmountable obstacles and in the absence of any other plan, this one offers all people who will live here, subsidized renters, market renters, subsidized owners and market owners a chance to benefit while living in a truly diverse community.

If implemented, this plan would begin to address the economic imbalance, social separation and hopeless stagnation that prevails NOH and send a clear message to investors and entrepeneurs that Howard Street could once again be a viable alternative for retail and service oriented businesses.

This is not some pie in the sky possibility. Other communities across the country have adopted similar plans with dramatic results and in fact one of them is right here in our own backyard. The results of Edgewaters' vision, hard work and commitment speaks for itself.

by Gary Fuschi

Article Edgewaters’ Neighborhood Renewal Strategies
posted on Forum49 courtesy of Hugh Devlin



December 15, 2005

These Folks Know How To Be HEARD

More proof that my 'community dig' was a darned good idea. The foundation might have been poured at Gale Field House by now.
*************************************************************************************
City, parks to buy land for Lane Tech
Move follows 5 years of agitation by area

By Dave Wischnowsky
Tribune staff reporter
Published December 15, 2005


Lane Tech High School will soon get additional athletic fields, thanks to the Chicago Park District and the City of Chicago.

On Wednesday the Park District Board of Commissioners unanimously voted to buy two vacant parcels near Lane's campus on the city's North Side. The City of Chicago is providing the $7.2 million needed to buy the 9.8-acre tract.
The parcels of land are located at 3400 and 3559 N. Rockwell St., adjacent to Clark Park. The northernmost parcel is also adjacent to Lane Tech's athletic field, on the west side of the school's sprawling 33-acre campus at 2501 W. Addison St.

The Park District will allow Lane Tech's nearly 4,400 students to use that area for athletic teams, physical education and outdoor programs.

"We are going to develop and use this space primarily for activities at Lane Tech," said Arnold Randall, the Park District's director of planning and development.

During the last several years, Lane Tech students and parents have been calling for the expansion of their athletic fields. Last spring, the school's baseball team was unable to play host to a regional playoff game because the Illinois High School Association deemed its field inadequate.

In July, a group of parents and community members organized a Field of Dreams rally to urge officials from the Chicago Public Schools and the Park District to bring the school's facilities up to par.

"It's a good first step, hopefully, toward improving those fields at Lane Tech," said Sean Murphy, chief operating officer for Chicago's public schools.

The North Center community surrounding Lane Tech also needs almost 30 more acres of open space to fulfill a city goal, parks officials said. The public can use the land near Lane Tech when the school is not using it, he said.

"This adds almost 10 acres of open space to a community that has a deficit," Randall said.

The Park District first resolved to purchase the property near Lane Tech and expand Clark Park in 2000. However, wrangling over the appraisal of the property held up the transaction for five years, Randall said.

"This has been an ongoing community conversation for years," Randall said. "But this is a very good day. The folks in this community are going to be very excited about it."

----------

dwischnowsky@tribune.com

City Hall Bickers and Buckles

The Bickering Continues

=In addition to the cigarette tax, they include an end to the 2.25 percent discount that 174,080 households enjoy for paying water bills within 21 days, and no more free water for nonprofit giants after the first $50,000 worth, but only if their assets top $350 million.

=After talking about it for years, the city will also stop collecting garbage over time at 2,400 buildings with five units or more. The controversial change will apply only to those 850 buildings recently sold. As additional buildings change owners, they, too will be required to hire their own scavenger services.

=After declaring a local war on poverty, Daley's has earmarked another $21.4 million in Skyway proceeds for social service and business assistance programs.

=The Department of Streets and Sanitation gets 52 more employees to trim trees, sweep streets, repair broken street lights and empty trash baskets on weekends. Aldermen get a 10 percent increase -- $120,000 per ward -- in the cherished $1.2 million allotted to each of the 50 wards for street, sidewalk and alley improvements.

=Last year, Daley raised taxes, fines and fees by a whopping $108.7 million -- on sales, parking, cigarettes, hard liquor, amusements and natural gas.

=Compared with that controversial vote, this one was a cakewalk.
*******************************************************
And does this mean services will be better? Does this mean Stroger is pacified for a moment? Does this really mean anything to and for us? Rubberstamp?
EDIT: From the Tribune:

=Also on Wednesday, Ald. Ed Smith (28th) introduced a proposal that would allow anyone younger than 19 who has not finished high school and has been arrested for non-violent drug- or gang-related crimes to choose a return to school instead of facing jail.But it was questionable whether such an ordinance would be enforceable because state law sets the penalties for serious offenses. (worth a try isn't it?)
=The council approved a measure that will permit companies to install cellular service devices on city light and traffic poles for an annual fee ranging up to $3,000 each. One firm has expressed interest in putting devices on 59 poles in the central business district to fill gaps in cell networks.
=Daley introduced a measure, designed to keep CNA Financial Corp. in Chicago, that would provide a grant of $13.7 million toward the $63.7 million remodeling of the 45-story building at 333 S. Wabash Ave., where the firm is headquartered.

December 13, 2005

Lied To Again

A message was left on my voicemail at work to not go out in the cold to the Daley Center to witness the voting on the contractor for the Gale Field House. Below is Eva's version from her phone conversation with Jim Chronis today. They (PBC and CPD) are so transparently predictible aren't they? Stall, make excuses, make promises and the cycle begins again.

Perhaps now it will be understood just why I wanted to do a 'community dig'? Ya'll thought I was insane didn't you? Well, it may be too frozen to dig, but noise can be made in less than 30-60 days to mobilize right?
The message that has been sent over and over isn't really sinking in or being taken seriously.PBC=Public Building Commission CPD=Chicago Park District

*************************************************************************************************************
Greetings All,

The PBC will not be voting on the contractor for the Gale Field House today as we originally thought was going to happen. The reason is because the lowest bid came in at $5.9 million which is still over the amount CPD had planned for and CPD has not secured the source of the last million for the project. CPD has already spoken with the city who has assured CPD of al least 1/2 of the money, they have not told them the source those funds. The rest of the money will come from the CPD capital funds. It is apparently procedure for the PBC not to bring contractors to their board for a vote until they know exactly where all of the funds will be obtained.The CPD will not get the city funds until after January 1st at which time they can tell the PBC the source of the money from the city and the PBC will be assured that they will get paid in full before voting on a contractor.Jim said that he will meet with us around Jan. 5th or 6th to let us know how things went with getting money from the city and answer any other questions we may have in regards to the project.I did ask him two questions;

1) How will NOHPAC know that the CPD has received the money from the city and that it will be transferred to the PBC in time for the PBC's next board meeting on Jan. 10th so the PBC can then vote on the contractor?
2) How will this delay effect the timeline for building the Community Center?

Jim said that the contractors only need 30 to 60 days to mobilize and prepare for construction. In the meantime the PBC will continue to work with the contractor to make sure things continue to move along on schedule until all funds are secured.Jim tried to assure me that that funds from the city are there and that he just doesn't know the source although he suspects they will come from a City Geo Bond (?) and that he will also talk to the alderman to lobby the budget office to give him the source of the funds. Nonetheless, the money is from the city's 06 budget. Jim has spoken with the mayor who is pushing to get this project started.I will be in contact with Jim's office before the end of this year to set a date to meet after the first of next year. In the meantime, NOHPAC members, I will hopefully see you at our monthly meeting on the 20th. If you are unable to make it, please let me know in advance. For those of you who will not be at our NOHPAC meeting,Glad Tidings to you and yours, if I do not see you before the end of the year.
Eva McCann,
NOHPAC

December 11, 2005

Don't Criticize DevCorp

Mission Statement
DevCorp North's mission is to "improve the business and economic climate of Rogers Park through business, community and economic development". There are many important ways we're doing that in 2005.

As the draft of this essay started to take shape in my head last week, spurred on by Craigs' hound doggish pursuit of Dev Corp. and his excellent post of the wrongheaded promotion of properties beyond our borders, I intended to jump on the bandwagon and write a scathing essay on DevCorps' failure to follow their own stated mission and its arrogant lack of accountability to the people of our community.
I had just been made aware of their decision not to promote the "Eternal Light" property that is for sale on the northeast corner of Chicago Ave. and Howard Street because it was located technically in Evanston and not in Rogers Park.
Infinite Light
This decision came on the heals of the Clybourne property promotion and a similar emailing regarding a Hallmark & Johnson residential property in south Evanston. I was all set to denounce the obvious incongruity of that decision based on these two mailings and other similar mailings that have been sent to Dev Corps' members but I won't. I was ready to question this misguided and irrational decision since any reasonable person could see that the developement of the "Eternal Light" property would clearly benefit Howard Street. I was prepared to further expand on the permanently high vacancies at Gateway Mall and on Howard Street but I decided not to. I had all the conveniant "WHY" questions ready but I won't ask those obvious questions today.

Slippery On Your Dime, Again
I hesitated on writing that scathing essay because something was knawing at me and I couldn't put my finger on it. I downloaded and printed the home page of DevCorps' website which contains their charter and read it over and over. I started focusing on the individual words in that statement for a clue to my hesitation and there it was.
"improve the business and economic climate of Rogers Park".
Climate? That seems like an odd word to use and I wondered why they didn't use a different word, a more difinitive word like "conditions"? How do you quantify the word "climate" in this context? How do we hold DevCorp accountable for "improving the business and economic climate" of our community? It's simple.
We can't.

Don't Criticize DevCorp. They're Just Doing Their Job
The monumentaly broad and purposely ambiguos definition of "climate" in this context, allows for almost anything to be considered an "improvement". Any untrained, underqualified and probably overpaid person hired by DevCorp and whose job was to simply push the" send" and "cc" button on an email list, would qualify as "improving the business and economic climate". So would answering a ringing phone and taking a message.
With such an ethereal mandate is there any wonder that anything resembling an effective strategy or comprehensive plan that produces tangible results, has not been forthcoming from this group?
Why should we expect such lofty ideas from an organization that owns two snow tractors, yet can't clear the snow in time for the morning rush hour? We shouldn't. Why? It's all very cleverly written by slippery word masters right there in their charter. Any hairbrained scheme such as hiring underskilled and lazy people to sweep litter from our streets or spending $25 thousand, hard earned taxpayer dollars on a narrowly focused and totally ineffective "security" program can be explained away and justified as "improving the climate" even if it fails. We have been told there are no funds for a storefront police station. That same $25. thousand dollars probably could have rented that corner storefront for a year.
So who are we to expect accountability and competency from an organization whose charter cleverly suggests otherwise? There is simply no incentive for the people at DevCorp to excell within their own mandate and they have clearly lived up to their own expectations.
People and organizations over time can be fairly judged by their accomplishments. I think a reasonable case could be made that DevCorp has had enough time to prove itself no longer worthy of serving the people of Rogers Park.
DevCorp needs to be dissolved. Rogers Park needs an independant Chamber of Commerce.

by Gary Fuschi

December 9, 2005

The Morning After

Someone asked me how Howard sidewalks were this morning. I took my camera on my walk to the train.

snow and new biz 002
Howard Street by Gale Park this morning.

snow and new biz 003
What crosswalk? This great lady makes sure cars stop!

snow and new biz 006
These are CTA workers – not SSA#19 workers.

snow and new biz 009
Howard el platform

In comparison to:
snow and new biz 011
Belmont el platform

New Biz On Howard

This treacherous patch job greets CTA riders at the Howard el every time the roof leaks and the temperature is near 32°. Since there’s no real news on a construction start date, common sense should prevail with some serious repairs. One night a CTA worker was sweeping standing water off the ground level tiles. No sooner had I exited the turnstile, I heard a ‘splat’ and someone had fallen into the inch deep water.

Slippery train steps
Where the rain gets in....

The steps were snow packed last night, 12/8/05 and no ice had been scattered. When I exited there was an ambulance. One can only conclude that another person had fallen.

Of course, we are told that construction will be ‘soon’. So why is this little 'rehabbed' nook open again? It was shut down for months because it was a hot spot.

snow and new biz 001

On the other corner, this hotspot was closed for the same reason. Will it be allowed to re-open too?
snow and new biz 002

Demon Dogs under the Fullerton el stop moved due to upcoming construction. The Army Navy Surplus on Belmont relocated due to upcoming construction, but in Rogers Park, former hot spots re-open for upcoming construction. Anyone find that out of order? Is the real message there is no construction beginning anytime soon?
snow and new biz 003

One refreshing sight is the uncluttered corner by the Currency Exchange.

December 8, 2005

Keep Them Tractors Plowing

Wow! SSA#19 over-taxed-payers got a double whammy tonight! The expensive DC tractor was on the south side of Howard plowing the barren strip from the Tire Shop past the vacant lot with the billboard. It crossed Ashland and proceeded to the el station. I crossed to the north side of Howard and there was another one going west on the park side of the street!
snow and new biz 004
Thank you Craig for insisting that snow be removed! That it be removed in a timely manner properly.

It inspired me so much I did what usually do! I shoveled and then sprinkled salt – sparingly!

NOTE: I 'edited' the post by re-copying the FULL picture. Just wanted to clarify in case anyone 'noticed'.

December 6, 2005

Caroling with CAPS

Beat 2422 Annual Christmas Caroling Night Out

Thursday, December 8, 2005
7:00 p.m.


Starting at
Gateway Senior Apartments
7450 N. Rogers
Music Provided
Bring a Flashlight
Wear your favorite Holiday Apparel
Returning to hot apple cider and cookies

Co-Sponsored by 24th Police District Advisory Council,
CAPS Beat 2422, Abundant Life Mission Church of God in Christ,
Dominick’s Finer Foods, Gateway Senior Apartments


Ensámblenos como cantamos conciones de Navidad
afuera la Noche de

Jueves,

8 de Diciembre en
7:00 p.m.


el comenzar en
Gateway Senior Apartments
7450 N. Rogers

Tenemos La Musica
Traigas una Linterna
Vistase con sus ropas de Navidad
Terminademos con refrescos

Co-Sponsored by 24th Police District Advisory Council,
CAPS Beat 2422, Abundant Life Mission Church of God in Christ,
Dominick’s Finer Foods, Gateway Senior Apartments

Another Piece of the Puzzle

In light of the recent abduction on Howard and Eastlake Terrace, I thought it might be an appropriate time time to revisit the storefront police station idea I wrote about and print Alderman Moores' response to that essay. His response arrived several days after I asked him for his thoughts on the subject and is being reprinted with his permission.

"Gary,

I'm sorry it has taken a while for me to respond. Your idea about a
storefront police station is a good one, but it's not new. I
promoted that idea in my first campaign as alderman in 1991 as part
of my pledge to work to bring community policing to Chicago.
Although the Mayor ultimately embraced community policing, the idea
of storefront police stations has never gained acceptance by the
Mayor or the Police Department.

I am told the main barrier is cost. There is simply not enough money
in the budget to sustain storefront police stations. In order for it
to be effective, it would need to be staffed on an almost constant
basis. Evanston has a storefront police "outpost" on the north side
of Howard Street near Damen, but it is never occupied and has not
contributed noticeably to any decrease in crime.

If our neighborhood or ward received a storefront police station,
then other neighborhoods and wards, including those with crime rates
much higher than ours, would understandably demand a storefront as
well. There is simply not enough money in the budget to maintain and
staff 50 or more storefront police stations. And I think most people
believe it's better to have the police on the street than sitting in
an office. The bottom line is that it's a wonderful idea, but
probably not practical from a budgetary point of view.

Right now, I'm lobbying hard to obtain a police camera for the North
of Howard area. The camera on Morse and Glenwood has been very
effective in reducing crime in that vicinity, and I think a camera on
or near Howard Street would have the same effect. I am hopeful that
a new camera will appear in the Howard Street area within the next
couple of months. I will keep you posted.

In the meantime, if you and your neighbors want to pursue the
storefront idea, I will support you anyway I can. I just don't hold
out much hope for success, and I would rather pick winnable battles.

Thanks again for your e-mail, Gary, and for your thoughtful comments.

Joe"


One More Piece
I recieved a lot of support both online and privately regarding this storefront police station concept and there is ample evidence that more needs to be done, to ensure our safety. The installation of the police camera on Howard is a welcome step in the right direction. I want to thank the Alderman,the Police Dept., CAPS, Toni and everyone who signed the petition, for their efforts in making this a reality. Obviously, this is a positive step in the process of making Howard Street safer for people and businesses alike but as we have seen on Morse and other streets that have this "eye in the sky" concept, crime simply moves away from the camera and on to side streets. The side streets and alleys seem to be where most of the criminals openly congregate and where most of the crime takes place. This is the area of concern that we have and where the police seem to have the most difficulty.

Police Presence
I think the primary reason the storefront idea is so intriguing to people is that the officers would be in a strategic location, accesible and provide a police presence on the street.
NOH Could be a Safe Haven
There is also a deterant factor especially on that corner. I don't think the drug dealers would congregate in front of the Broadmore, at Eddys, in front of the laundromat and this abduction would not have happened 2 blocks away if that storefront had that police presence. Yes, they would just move elsewhere, beyond the storefront and camera but there might be a less expensive and more response flexible solution, that would provide that added police presence on the side streets and alleys.

Bicycle Patrols
I fully understand the staffing and cost issues Alderman Moore wrote about regarding the police mini station concept as it was proposed in 1991. But then, there were only two choices regarding the deployment of police officers. Officers were either staffing desks or cruising in cars. Since then, the innovative bike patrols were introduced as a third option and this is the option I would like to explore and integrate into the mini station concept.
Based on what I have witnessed, the bike patrols are very effective in sneaking up on criminal activity since they are less distinguishable on the street than patrol cars and TAC units and more flexible in pursuit. These bike patrol units would also act as "beat patrol" officers and could deal more effectively with "quality of life" activity such as loitering, panhandling and traffic violations. If the bike patrol used that corner location or any one of the empty storefronts in that vicinity, as a place to rendevous periodically during the day or when the weather was bad, I don't believe more than several officers would be needed to permanantly staff that mini station. This would allow for more active officers and would be cost effective.
If the bike patrol regularly cruised the side streets and alleys NOH during the day, their presence would curtail the "drug bazaar" freedom that has infected our neighborhood and it would send a clear message that criminal activity will not be tolerated any longer. Hosting the monthly CAPS meetings in that hotspot would also send the unmistable signal that we intend to take back our neighborhood.

1991 versus 2005

It has been fourteen years since Alderman Moore promoted the idea of community policing and much has changed since then. Unfortunately the one statistic we all wish had improved has not. Crime is as disturbingly high now as it was then and it remains an impediment to much needed investment NOH and a sense of well being on our streets and in our homes. Although there has been a considerable improvement in the real estate environment, the quality of life here NOH has not improved and in fact has deteriorated. A coordinated, commited plan must start to take shape that involves the Alderman, the Police Dept., community leaders and residents in order for NOH to resume life as a safe and prosperous neighborhood for all of it's residents. Right now it is not. There are many good, hardworking and concientious renters and homeowners alike who deserve better and who are commited to making positive change happen. It would be tragic to waste that commitment for lack of a plan.
Alderman Moore says he"would rather pick winnable battles".

Alderman, sometimes the battles that are the most difficult to win are the battles that we expect our leaders to champion.

December 4, 2005

The Alley Cats

She was a young gray cat. She’d either been abandoned or run away from home. I’d see her scrounging through the trash bins for any morsels of food she could find. Her companions were a big yellow and white tom with multiple battle scars and a black tabby with a crooked tail. They were the alley cats. But she was different. She talked to me. She teased, she purred and did that ‘cat on the back squirm’ begging for a tummy rub. We began our friendship in late summer 2004. The alley cat gang would wolf down the dry food I put outside. Once the element of trust had been established, she allowed me to touch her. She’d dance and purr preferring the attention to the food. She wasn’t any run of the mill alley cat. I pondered grabbing her and running to a vet.
Theatre and DevC 001

She knew my schedule. She waited by the gate, and talked to me. By the time I’d get inside and open the backdoor, she was there for her supper. Then the boys started waiting too! One such night, after I decided I had to help her, I opened the door to a big surprise. There on the porch were two furry little kittens about 5 months old, scared and hungry. I alternated between calling her Miz Ali and Mama Kitty and thanked her for trusting me enough to bring her babies.

Summer was fading and the nights were chilly. I made a little lean-to so they could cuddle together for warmth. Now I was really frustrated. I couldn’t grab Mama and leave the babies motherless and I couldn’t grab them either. One was so wild and terrified he jumped from the porch and landed on the concrete. One night I checked on them and there was a third baby outside. The kittens had invited a baby opossum to share their good fortune. The next night I looked out but there were no cats or kittens…just the biggest, fattest, raccoon I had ever seen. My alley cats didn't come back.

Early winter 2005 I heard meowing but my house cats were staring quietly at me. When I opened the door, there SHE was, perched on the porch rail with her male companions beneath her on the porch. No kittens. The food and water came out, and smiles and purrs were exchanged. She came back every morning and night. Another lean-to was made. But no kittens came with her. She was alone and wanted a home.

A vet tech and I were holding her down, talking to her, so the doctor could draw blood. The tech, said ‘poor baby, you’re shaking’. I said, 'no, I think she’s purring'! The vet touched her throat, smiled and said ‘yes, she’s purring, and that’s the first time in my career that a cat has purred when I drew blood’. She tested negative for feline leukemia and HIV.
Yes, MizAli knows the true meaning of gratitude. And I feel special to have been chosen.
miz 005

Please don't get a kitten as a holiday gift if you aren't going to have them spayed or neutered. A female cat can get pregnant as young as 8 months. If each female alley cat produces 4-5 kittens twice a year, and her female offspring are impregnated within 8 months, the feral cat population will be endless. MizAli was pregnant again when she underwent her surgery. There are agencies that offer these services at a lower cost.

Please take care of our animal friends. Please neuter or spay your pets and if you truly love them, don't let them roam the streets.

November 30, 2005

Manifestation

The ‘physical manifestation’ was in place 11/29/05.

field house 002

North of Howard Parks Advisory Council
Minutes for Meeting of November 15, 2005 7:00 pm

Howard Community Center
NOHPAC Members Present:
Eva McCann, Johnna Lowe, Kim DeLong, Toni Duncan, John Jaffe
Guests:
Joseph Novak, Vista North
Cary Miller, Vista North condo President
Tom Detmer, Vista North Parking Chairman

Commissioner’s Meeting at CPD
Eva updated the council on her conversation with Jim Chronis. He has committed to a physical manifestation of construction on the Community Center site failing action by the PBC by December.
Judy Martinez informs Eva that there was a delay in opening the bids for the Center. The contractor will be selected at the PBC’s December 13th meeting.
Council Representation at that meeting is requested and more information will be forthcoming.

Gale Park Arts Project
Artist Angela Scalini has been in touch with Eva. A series of murals done by community members with her is planned. Both youth groups and adults will be involved.
The paperwork for the Grant is in the works. More to come on this as well.

Park Safety Subcommittee
The question of the the Safety Patrol being a part of NOHPAC was discussed and voted upon by members of the Council.
Members present agreed and voted unanimously that the Safety Patrol should be a separate entity not under the auspices of NOHPAC.
The 911 phone project was also discussed. Devcorp has agreed to accept phones.

Triangle Park Parking Lot
Zoning Board has rejected HHDC’s plans for lack of landscaping.
Alderman Moore, Michael Land, and HHDC met on November 9 at Room 300 in City Hall.
HHDC has agreed to drainage, no lighting.
A special use exemption will be needed from the Zoning Board to proceed after the new plan being drawn up is summarily rejected.
Landscaping was limited to “...ivy was discussed...”, per Mr. Land’s e-mails to John Jaffe.
The Council finds this unacceptable and voted unanimously that HHDC be written a letter to request that they underwrite landscaping on the perimeter of the lot, on CPD land, “aesthetically and environmentally commensurate with the character of the park as protected land under the Open Lands Act.”
Representatives from Vista North were urged to contact their developer, HHDC, and urge them to agree to this request.
Nearly 12 trees over 20 years old will be lost.

Membership
The need for new members was discussed. John will write a paragraph for the howardwatchers blog and Johnna will submit it for the Gale School newsletter, et. al.
Establishment of NOHPAC as a 501 C3 nonprofit was also discussed. Paperwork must be submitted and this can be established.
Establishment of a bank account was also discussed and follow through is planned.
***********************************************************************************

As you can read in the last paragraph, membership is needed in the park council. We have finally gotten to the point of getting one promise at a time kept. Only a handful of members has continued from the inception two years ago this month. At the first open meeting there were at least 25-30 neighbors attending. Participation dwindled shortly thereafter. In other words, we need your presence, your help, your ideas.
If you want to be a part of planning, fundraising, and other committees, please attend the open monthly meetings. They are held the third Tuesday of the month at 7:00PM at the Howard Area Community Center.

November 29, 2005

Post Rally Thoughts and Suggestions

Thoughts
As we all walked past the spot in the middle of Howard just east of Sheridan, where this abduction took place, all the parking spaces on both sides of the street were filled with cars as it normally is and there were a few random people walking dogs and talking on phones. It was a Sunday like any other Sunday. There was no indication that anything unusual had occured there except for our presence and rally chants.
As I stood there in that spot, I wondered how many serious crimes slip under the radar and remain unreported and unpublicized. Crimes that, if reported to the public, might spare someone else from being victimized. This womans' story happened to be told only because someone knew someone who ran a community blogsite. It's too dangerous on our streets to rely on happenstance and blogsites to alert our community when serial or unusual crimes take place. We need to be informed and we need to know where to go to get informed.

Having a few ideas myself, I thought it would be helpful to find out what solutions other people have implemented in other cities. Below are a few blogs, and excerpts from their mission statements, of N.Y.C. womens' organizations who are dealing with similar issues. Once you click on, you'll find plenty of links to other organizations and blogs. I highlighted these two blogsites and excerpts because the concepts seemed simple yet powerful and effective.

The Street Harassment Project

Creating a forum which can be a clearinghouse for our stories and in which we can share our experiences, support each other, strategize, inspire each other and build our courage through the knowledge that we are not alone.

Safe Streets

Develop an online, multi-lingual place to share safety information from official sources and personal reports.
Create a safer environment by engaging local businesses to become safe havens.
Safety Map- We've mapped businesses who volunteered to be SafeStreet Havens so you can think about safety before you go out.

Conversations
I spoke with Alderman Moore at length about the importance of an open, and easily accessible line of communication between the community and the Police Dept. He agreed that this needed to happen and I suggested a meeting with Commander Rottner so that Toni and I could present ideas and we could hear some of his. The Alderman has offered to set up this meeting and I assume he would be in attendance.
Please feel free to make your own suggestions. We need your input and ideas.

Suggestions
1. Some commited people or person might create a blog to share personal stories and become a community bulletin board.
2. Send Crime Alerts directly to neighborhood blogsites and or community activists. Alderman Moore offered his website for posting alerts also.
3. Expand the SafeHaven concept to include an alert that can be posted in the windows of participating businesses. Apparently, this was a citywide solution 10 or 12 years ago that has since faded.

4. Pamela, in her excellent comments on the Abduction account, suggested a neighborhood meeting to discuss these issues and crime in general. Maybe this gathering can precede the meeting with the Commander so that we can explore as many ideas as possible.
5. It might be time to revive Paws for Peace, which is a concept that Craig ( Morsehellhole) and Margot created. Neighbors with dogs accompany people home from the el stop.

Thank You
On behalf of all of us who are concerned, I would like to thank Commander Rottner and the enthusiastic female officers for the Police escort. Let's try and build on this communication and cooperation so that we all can feel safer in the future.

Apathy - To Be Or Not To Be

There’s an unwritten rule NOH that some people just don’t understand.

My phone kept ringing, I kept hearing complaints about certain buildings, mistreatment by managers. People needed someone to talk to and it frequently ended up with me. Why? Because I can listen. Fear happens despite what apparent misogynists and/or sideliners comprehend who feel obligated to misconstrue words into radical, racial delusions. There are too many people living North of Howard who don’t get involved and it’s usually for one reason…apathy stemming from fear. Whether they’ve lived here 30 years in subsidized housing or for 5 in their own home, there’s a subculture, an undercurrent flowing like a psychic vampire sucking away at our consciousness. In simple terms, ‘see nothing, do nothing and maybe you’ll be alright’.

"Do nothing" stems from years of reinforced intimidation from the government, the street thugs and the management thugs who have been less than respectful to subsidized tenants. A strong message that subsidized tenants are not property of the government, have rights, are taxpayers has never really been sent...until recently. It takes time to de-program the ‘see nothing, do nothing and maybe you’ll be alright’ mindset.

It’s unfortunate that people have fallen into that trough. It envelops all heritages, all income levels, all forms of housing, subsidized to homeownership. Pride has been stolen, demeaned, violated by the politics of many groups, political, apolitical, religious and non-religious. It all revolves around power and money. Whether it’s the land grabbing slumlords, the battle of the religions, the non-profits, or the gangs. Everyone claims they want the same thing, a peaceful and quiet neighborhood. But heaven forbid if a group of outspoken people dare to move things beyond the decades old theories that haven’t been working!

What? We don’t dare march over an abduction but pray and march AFTER a murder? That’s the old “now it’s broken so let’s fix it mentality” isn’t it? So if you don’t want to march, offer suggestions on a ward-wide solution to one 1.1 mile or stay on your own street and get it swept up first.

When ALL the groups with their agendas get organized enough to join on one apolitical, non-religious platform it can and will happen. Just leave the agenda on the desk and take the body for the walk. Sunday was about awareness, about communication, about bringing together a torn community. If enough people are walking together, talking, uniting for one purpose, there’s less chance of being a bullseye. It’s called reinforcement, re-programming the minds of a neighborhood.

The next walk will be held later in the afternoon so the churches can attend, it won’t be an impromptu event based on a crime (I hope), it won’t be on a holiday weekend, and there will be a networking of all kinds of people to achieve one common goal – peace North of Howard. If the groups can’t get beyond that, or beyond the little league chatter in the background, then may powers of the universe help us all.

November 27, 2005

Who Are We? People Who Care

We managed to gather a crowd as we walked our route. "Who are we?" "People who care." "What do we want?" "We want PEACE". "When do we want it?" "We want it NOW".
Marching and Chanting
On to East Lake Terrace

Thanks to everyone who came out in the drizzle to make a statement. We'll be creating a safety awareness program for all interested people in Rogers Park. If you want to help organize it or lend your support/knowledge, please email me at aquariant4@aol.com.

The words of awareness Thanks to everyone

Stay tuned...we're planning to do this type of walk one Sunday a month.

Limos And Broken Security

Guess who apparently has entered the the world of blogging?! The power of the Internet is truly amazing isn't it? One little search will usually bring results.

Two friends joined me for a flyering walk around North of Howard Friday. They were posting their meeting flyers and I was posting the Women’s Peace Walk flyer. The walk is today, Sunday 11/27 at 1:30 meet under the blue light at Gale Park!

We were also joined by a large black limousine! A man got out of the front passenger side and was looking at a building on Juneway. He stated he'd grown up in the area. He asked if there was a cemetery nearby and made reference to playing on wooden back porches. We tried to assume that he was 'home for the holiday' and was on a sentimental journey with his camera and limo driver. The only lurking suspicion popped up when a Northpoint tenant saw the limo parked in the Northpoint office parking lot more than two hours later. The same man was talking to an AIMCO supervisor apparently overseeing porch repair. We allowed our imaginations to assume that he was either from AIMCO, that he was some corporate real estate hunter, that he was with the government, that he was really just looking for the old homestead. Maybe he'll do a google search and respond!

In the course of a lively conversation with my friends, I learned that the Northpoint office was closed Friday for a long holiday weekend. It’s a good thing rents weren’t due or it would have been a grand excuse to add a late fee.

I also learned their ‘security’ was probably off duty and in follow up phone calls, neither had seen them driving around the area. That’s OK, everyone has noticed a high saturation of police cars in the area. Now that Howard is being truly watched by a power larger than moi, they can concentrate on other streets.

As we approached one building on Juneway, we had no problem entering the security gate since the lock was broken.
no security
We had no difficulty entering one doorway since the entrance doors were jammed with toilet paper.
Jamming the locks
We hope we didn’t disrupt the culprits day by removing the jam. the jam

On Bosworth, the boarded up sneak hole is still in place. However, no one can find residents in one building since the residents name plate is missing. Upon closer look, the digital dial up system window has been vandalized.

no nameplates,broken glass