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

November 25, 2005

They're Watching You

We were coming around the corner to put flyers up for Sunday’s Women’s March for Peace when lo and behold!

cameraonhoward 026

cameraonhoward 025

Thanksgiving is today! Thanks to all those who signed our petition, and special thanks to Commander Rottner and everyone who supported the police camera.

Look for it near the entrance to Gale Park on Howard Street. It should have a parnoramic view of Howard (east and west), the El station, Gale Park, Marshfield and Ashland.

November 24, 2005

Be Thankful

HAPPY THANKSGIVING

Enjoy your families and friends, and have a safe holiday.

November 23, 2005

Cyberspace Support

By now, most of you know the story of the young woman we've been writing about. If you've ever had any doubt about the power of community involvement and the reassuring affect this has on people who need this support, maybe I can help change your mind.

"I cannot express enough how grateful I am for everything. I want you to know that the support you've given me has touched my heart deeply and has given me a strength to go on. I am also realizing that I am perhaps one of the luckiest girls in the world and thankful to have such warm and wonderful people like you around me. I only wish nothing like this trauma would ever happen to anyone".

Drop her a line (in the comments section of the post)and come to the Women Walk for Peace rally on Sunday.

by Gary Fuschi

November 22, 2005

Women's Peace Walk

WOMEN WALK FOR PEACE
NORTH OF HOWARD
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 27, 2005 AT 1:30PM

WOMEN
CREATE LIFE
NURTURE LIFE
MAINTAIN LIFE

JOIN US TO CELEBRATE

"WOMEN FOR PEACE" WALK
MEET AT GALE PARK GATE AT HOWARD AND ASHLAND

This week we again observe and celebrate Thanksgiving. Just as we will gather with family and friends to celebrate a holiday, we will gather and celebrate the role of Women For Peace, as friends, as family, as a neighborhood.

Last week the police completed a much needed undercover drug sweep of North of Howard. Last week a young woman was spared physical harm in an abduction. The role of all women in this neighborhood will be celebrated. Women have voices to be heard, to be respected, to be protected.

Please join us, bring your families, friends and neighbors, and lend your support for Women For Peace in our community, our city, our world. Make a banner, make a sign, contact me if you want flyers. I have dropped some flyers at agencies and churches here.

aquariant4@aol.com

Join us in thanks, in hope and in celebration of Women For Peace.

November 20, 2005

Abduction

A young woman that I know was abducted Sunday November 13th at 1:30 in the afternoon while getting out of her car. This is her story.

In August she moved into Rogers Park. “I fell in love with the neighborhood and my big beautiful apartment on the lake”. “I have never lived in such a nice place”, she reminisced.

She was coming home for lunch and parked her car on the north side of Howard intersecting East Lake Terrace.
kidnapped Howard and EastLake Terrace Do You Park Here?

While locking her car door she suddenly felt herself being grabbed from behind and thrown into the back seat of a very large, old style car with black leather interior that was cut up and worn out . An old Lincoln Town Car or Cadillac maybe. “Get the fuck in the car” someone said. She realized she was being abducted. She immediately thought “I am dead” and began sobbing hysterically. They were two African American men in their early thirties. The one driving was skinny, wearing jeans and had on a baseball cap. The other was big and heavy, wearing jeans and a hooded sweatshirt. She was scared to death and put her head down because “I did not want to look their in their faces”.

I asked her if they had any weapons and she said no. She said that they were in the car for longer than an hour and thought that they were heading west and south, away from the lake. They were fighting between themselves the whole time, cursing and constantly talking really fast. She was sobbing and did not really understand what they were talking about. The heavy man who had grabbed her, was sitting next to her in the back seat. He wanted to let her go. She decided he was the nice one. Their cell phones were ringing non stop. The heavy man said “pick up the damn phone”. The skinny man answered the phone and said to the person on the other end “Wait, we are almost there”. She decided he was the mean one. She then realized there were more out there and started to think again “I am dead”. She had spoken with her mother and sister in the morning but not her father because he was away from the house. “I realized I would not get to say goodbye to him”.

After a while her cell phone started ringing non-stop also. People were wondering where she was. They must have too because they then took her purse from her. However, they were not interested in the purse and did not look inside. She then realized that what they wanted was something other than what was in her purse.

I asked her why she thought they chose her. “I have no idea, maybe it was planned”. “I don’t think it was random”. “Maybe they followed me for a while”. She felt this was more frightening and did not ever want to return to her apartment.

I asked her what happened next. She said that they took her to an abandoned warehouse that was very big with high ceilings and empty except for some chairs. It was in an alley and no one else was there. Sitting in a chair she remembered that she had $300.00 in her purse, an unusual amount for her to be carrying around. “I could give you some money” she said. The skinny man asked “how much do you have?’ “Where is it”. She told him it was in an envelope in her purse. “Please let me go” she pleaded. They did not answer and continued fighting between themselves. No one else ever showed up.

She thinks that they were in the warehouse approximately 1 ½ hours. The men then offered to take her home. She thought that they wanted to find out her address, but she was afraid to say no to their offer because she thought it would make them upset. She agreed and they all got in the car. Even at this point she was still crying so hard that her vision was blurred making it hard for her to see. In only a few minutes they ended up on Sheridan road just north of Loyola University, and when they came to a busy intersection, she thinks it was around Pratt, she said “Let me out here”. They let her out as they continued arguing. There were lots of people around. She started running north towards her home sobbing and shaking. She tried to call the police but the cell phone was not connecting. Her phone which had been ringing with calls from worried friends rang and she answered. It was her friends, they met her at her house and took her to the police station.

The police questioned her and wrote up a report. They said that “this was a very odd situation and that she was very, very lucky”. The police said that someone would call her in a couple of days. It’s been a week now and no one from the police department has called her yet.

She has no idea why they let her go. She does not want to think about why they took her and what could have happened to her. She feels she is still alive because for some reason, the heavy set man was reluctant to go along with the plan they had for her and because of the many friends that kept her phone ringing throughout her ordeal.

I asked how she was coping now. “Bad”, she said. “I do okay by working and keeping busy”. Working helps her to not think about it. She said that she is not sleeping or eating. Nightmares keep her awake at night and flashbacks remind her of her horrendous ordeal during the day. She is taking medication for anxiety that she got from the psychiatrist who is helping to see her through this. She can’t seem to talk about what has happened to her. Her psychiatrist says that she must try to talk about it and not to keep it all inside.

Thank you for sharing your story with me and with everyone else who reads this. I can only hope that this helps you on your path to healing.

As told to Stacia by the abducted young woman

Urban Terrorism

Urban Terrorism

Baghdad, Beirut and Rogers Park
We’ve all read stories like this in the Tribune. Innocent people brazenly ambushed in the middle of the day and in the middle of a major city. We are all horrified at the repugnant and senseless violence committed against regular people just going about their day, coming home from work or going to the market. People doing just normal, everyday stuff. Our conditioned assumption is that crimes like these occur, only in countries in the Middle East and in cities like Baghdad and Beirut where terrorism seems to be a daily headline. Terrorists, eager to push their inhumane and fanatical agenda, target innocent men, woman and children in an attempt to impose their will and strike fear in the general populace.

Well, dear neighbors, terrorism is now in Rogers Park. An innocent, defenseless woman was abducted in the middle of the day on a Sunday afternoon as she was getting out of her car at the corner of Eastlake Terrace and Howard Street. Why? Because she is a woman, she was alone and the terrorists thought she was an easy victim. And she was an easy victim. Why? Because these 2 terrorists knew they could surprise and overpower her and they did, easily.

Horror
They shoved her in their car and held her for three and a half hours as they argued her fate amongst themselves and all the while she thought her life would come to an end. Take a minute and imagine yourself in that horrible predicament. Or imagine, if you can your mom, your daughter, your wife or your best friend experiencing that horror.
It’s hard isn’t it? What do you say? How can you begin to help? What can you do?

Inflection Point
Every once and awhile, something will happen that permanently alters the course and context of your life. You meet that perfect person, you land a great job or find that perfect house and life as you’ve known it, is not the same. Sadly, not all inflection points are positive. She is not the same person she was on Sunday morning. Physically she was unharmed but her psyche is now scarred by this emotional trauma that will take time and assistance to heal. Her life has been permanently changed.

How You Can Help
At some point, we as a community, have to decide that enough is enough and that we have reached our own inflection point. Is there any doubt now that the level of violence is increasing dramatically and that NOH is indeed Base Camp. Just as the terrorists practice, this was also a dry run and it will happen again. Only next time it might be in your neighborhood and with two sociopaths instead of one and the victim might not be so fortunate.

If you as are upset and concerned as I was when I first heard her story, chase away that helpless feeling and make a stand. Right Here. Right Now. Channel your anger and call the Alderman and tell him how you feel. You will be empowered and you will help her on her road to recovery to know that people care and they have decided to do something to insure that this doesn’t happen to anyone in our community, ever again.
By Gary Fuschi

November 19, 2005

...Pants On Fire

An unknowing reader would think this is a great article right? It's a great article if you're a teacher, right? It's even greater if you're the banker or the seller. But it could be a renters worst nightmare.

*************************************************************************************
FINANCING
City, schools to offer mortgage assistance to teachers

By Jeanette Almada
Special to the Tribune
Published March 13, 2005

The Chicago Department of Housing and Chicago Public Schools are partnering to bring mortgage assistance to Chicago public school teachers who buy homes in the city.

"It is a good time to be a teacher in the Chicago public school system," said Kathe Myers, a Peck Elementary teacher who says she had been searching for an affordable home for years.

Myers hopes to move into her condo in the Westhaven Park neighborhood on the Near West Side in summer 2006, she said in an interview earlier this month.

Under the Teacher Homebuyer Assistance Program, $500,000 will be administered by the Chicago Department of Housing, with the department and the public schools each contributing half of the funds. "We are seeking another $250,000 from a private foundation," said Diana Johnson, manager of the Chicago Public Schools Teacher Housing Resource Center.

City public school teachers can qualify for a $3,000 mortgage subsidy, according to Johnson.

Myers will receive a $7,500 mortgage subsidy toward her condo because Westhaven Park is part of the Chicago Housing Authority's redevelopment of public housing complexes into mixed-income neighborhoods. The higher subsidy applies to all such new mixed-income developments associated with redevelopment of CHA complexes.

The subsidy will be available through nine lenders, according to Johnson: Banco Popular, Bank of America, Bank One, CitiMortgage, Countrywide Home Loans, Harris Bank, LaSalle Bank, National City Bank and Washington Mutual Bank.

"Some developers have offered their own incentives to teachers and some of them to all Chicago Public School employees," Johnson said. Those developers include The Havens, being built by Chicago-based Cornerstone Residential LLC at 87th Street and Parnell Avenue in Auburn Gresham; condos being built by Naperville-based New Vision Development on the 300 block of North Hamlin Avenue, the 300 block of South Hamlin and the 3400 block of West Monroe Street in the Garfield Park neighborhood; and Chatham Courts Condominiums, being built by Chicago-based MLC Development in the Chatham neighborhood.

The Havens, for example, also offers $4,000 in upgrades to city public school teachers, according to Jay Johnson of Cornerstone.

"Teachers can visit our Web site [www.teacherhousing.cps.k12.il.us] to find a complete list of all developer partners and details of each of their incentive programs," Johnson said, adding that some of those benefits are offered to other public school employees.

Like all teachers in the program, Myers had to qualify to participate. "I had to take a home buyer class and have already attended that class at the Rogers Park Community Development Corp.," Myers said. She also agreed to remain a teacher in the Chicago Public School system for five years from her mortgage closing date.

"Some teachers are combining the mortgage subsidy benefits of the program with benefits offered in other city and CHA programs, so other terms may also apply," Johnson said.

For example, Myers is buying a condo that Westhaven Park is marketing as affordable, discounted from the market-rate prices that other comparable units in the Westhaven Park neighborhood are selling for. Therefore, Myers is agreeing to turn over profits from sale of her unit to the city, if she should opt to sell before paying off her 30-year mortgage.
*************************************************************************************
So what is wrong with the article? Two names: Jay Johnson and Cornerstone. Like you, I hate repititious postings, but I also detest false advertising. Here's the homepage, now check out the links on the left. We'll take a mini virtual reality tour. The photos were taken 11.19.05 for comparison.

check out the web ad for Marshway Manor

the interior in September 2005
Johnson11.19.05 Marshfield.Jonquil

the web ad
Marshway J
Johnson11.19.05 Marshwaydumpsters Johnson11.19.05 MarshwayJ
These places are not ready for humans to live in.

the web ad
The reality of tenants living above this


Johnson11.19.05 Ashland1

7722-34 Ashland

Johnson11.19.05Ashland Court

A tenant asked if I was a real estate person. I told him my purpose; he told me about the state of disrepair, the lack of security, the untimely manner that repairs are made (if at all). An entrance doorway in the courtyard is boarded up. Perhaps for 'renovation' or perhaps because it's too much trouble to replace.

But then, if you browse through Jay's southside developments, there just aren't enough hours in the day or enough bucks in the bank for these NOH properties. After all, he is providing those $4000 upgrades to the CPS southside buyers. I sure hope the agency who let him in the door is holding him accountable.

November 18, 2005

Woman Abducted on Eastlake Terrace and Howard

An acquaintance of mine was thrown into a van by 2 men and driven around for hours as they argued about what to do with her. She was not hurt except for the emotional trauma she is experiencing. I do not have all the details yet but I thought it was important to put this headline up ASAP and alert anyone who lives on Eastlake or knows anyone who lives on that street to be aware of this awful crime.

By Gary Fuschi

Reverse Gentrification

Reverse Gentrification

At the recent “Can You Hear Me Now” forum an invited panelist, Mr. Daniel Romero of Good News Community Kitchen spoke about the need for affordable rental housing in our community.

“ We are losing affordable housing everyday. We need to retain every available rental unit we can, so that we ensure that the poor have a place to live”.

The New Reality
Federal, state and local government agencies have finally come to the realization that the social experiment known as public housing has been a failure. Public housing, with it’s overwhelming concentration of low-income families, has not benefited the neighborhoods that surrounded these developments nor did it benefit the people who lived there.

In a recent study conducted by the Metro Chicago Information Center and reported in the Tribune on October 11, this study examined the relationship between the median income of a community and how that income affected retail investment and ultimately retail choices in that community and was primarily focused on the South Side.

“ Poor residents on the Chicago’s South Side live in a “commercial desert”, where they have little access to major grocers, pharmacies or other retailers but have plenty of liquor stores and fast food restaurants nearby. Once this commercial pattern is established, it perpetuates itself, making it hard for a poor neighborhood to attract other options”. Those of us who live NOH know all too well that this study and its findings could have been conducted in our neighborhood and the results would have been the same. Our “commercial desert” is Howard Street.

“The new findings may come as no surprise to community groups and city officials who have struggled to attract new investment”

Outdated and Selfish Agenda
Mr. Romero spoke about keeping every available rental unit for low income families as though he was living in a vacuum and the agenda that his organization is pursuing has no corresponding results. In fact, his philosophy and his organizations’ selfish pursuit of that philosophy, has contributed to the wreckage of our neighborhood.

Why is NOH still held hostage to this wrongheaded and by all accounts outdated social experiment? Why does Mr. Romero speak with such righteous indignation as though the other residents who live here are irrelevant and the effects on our community are meaningless? Why is our community forced to bear the burden of an agenda that benefits so few, including the unfortunate people he is supposedly helping? Why does Mr. Romero advocate the perpetuation of an economic and social environment that we know creates more problems than it solves and harms more people than it helps? Why are so few property owners and operators being allowed to lay waste to an entire neighborhood and profit from this private pocket of poverty?

Cycle of Poverty
Like it or not, Mr. Romero, but we all happen to live in a community and not in the middle of a cornfield. We all have a responsibility, local government, property owners, organizations and individuals, in a community to ensure that our personal agendas are not in conflict with what’s beneficial to the entire community. It simply isn’t fair.

What is truly being accomplished by this land grab of all available rental units in our neighborhood? Aren’t the people you are supposedly helping just being moved from one pocket of poverty into another? Are their lives so much better here? Is the future so much brighter now? Living in impoverished conditions NOH is no better than living in a public housing project. The detrimental short and long term effects on adults and children are devastating.

I have a particular sensitivity to families who are struggling and trapped in impoverished neighborhoods because I lived it and experienced the hopelessness that poverty creates. After my parents divorced, we ended up, penniless in a very poor neighborhood in Brooklyn, N.Y. My mother was a homemaker and had no marketable skills so we applied for welfare. We picked up our allotment of food from the W.I.C. office every month. We ran out of money at the end of every month, so we had to ask for “credit” at our local store until our next check arrived. Over time, our neighborhood deteriorated further along with our self esteem. I carry the stigma and shame of that period in my life to this day, tucked away in a dark place I don’t visit often.

Exit Strategy?
Has our community benefited from this single-minded agenda or from the economic imbalance it has contributed to? No, in fact, our local economy is so depressed as a result, that our ”commercial desert” aka Howard Street, cannot even offer local jobs. This Cycle of Poverty is trapping us all and we will all continue to suffer the consequences unless something is done to reverse this economic imbalance NOH. Howard Street will never recover if the median income of our neighborhood cannot achieve the “critical mass” necessary to attract investors.
Where is the plan to revive our neighborhood? What is the exit strategy out of this depressing cycle? I don’t see a plan and I haven’t heard any lately. Has anyone else?

In the meantime, let me make a constructive suggestion.

Community Responsibility
A few property owners and organizations own a majority of the rental apartments in NOH. Concentration of wealth is as regressive in our society as concentrations of poor. It is time for these owners to start considering converting these buildings from their current Section 8 status, to a more equitable, mixed-income owner/renter status. This would be consistent with city and federal government findings and recommendations and would begin to address the inequitable economic conditions in our neighborhood that is a barrier to commercial investment. These property owners have a responsibility to do this for our community and for the people they are supposedly helping, if they truly care about their well being. Local government has a responsibility to ensure that it happens. This solution would give everyone a fair chance for economic progress, security and hope that our future might be brighter than our past.

Gary Fuschi

November 17, 2005

Stung

After three months of police surveillance, 6 dealers were arrested 11/15/05 in the NOH area, and 7 remain at large. Of the six males, all but one were from the neighborhood, all are in their teens with the exception of one in his 30's. Operation King Snapper extended from Clark to Bosworth and Howard to Juneway, where at least 19 crack cocaine drug purchases were made by undercover officers. Some purchases were made with 1000 feet of the school.

CPD Central and 24th and TAC we thank you, keep up the good work!

Ten and A Half Years Later

Ten and a half years ago this article appeared in Crains Chicago Business. Peoples Housing was spawned from 'Good News', a faith-based organization here. With the fall of Peoples Housing, the properties were purchased and the legacy continued. Yet I fail to realize how some of these owners are still in business when you look through the pictures in the archives. We're still paying into the continuance of a horizontal project, we're still supporting slumlords who take their government check and force low income tenants to live in less than desirable conditions. These examples are of just one owner who bought up certain properties:
Example1

Example2

Example3
Example4
So how is low income presented like this helping anyone, especially the children? Children are tomorrow's resources, human resources, and what are the chances that these kids are going to be a part of a productive society? Are they going to grow up thinking that conditions like the examples are 'normal, and acceptable' just because their parent(s) were low income? The legacy will continue. Just how are we really helping the children and their parents? Who's watching out for the children? Is HUD watching? Is the Mayor watching?
***********************************************************************************

HELTER SHELTER
PROBLEMS PLAGUE TAX-CREDIT HOUSING
May 01, 1995
By TOM ANDREOLI

Community developer Donna Smithey didn't get into real estate for the money, but her social conscience has proved small consolation as default looms for eight apartment buildings she rehabbed in a rundown corner of Rogers Park.

Ms. Smithey, executive director of not-for-profit Peoples Housing, has attracted $12.8 million in private investment to the North of Howard neighborhood since 1987 by selling federal low-income-housing tax credits to corporate investors that served as seed money to leverage private bank loans.

Yet Ms. Smithey and participants in other local tax-credit-based housing projects-including City Hall, Loop banks and such names as Ameritech Corp. and Amoco Corp.-are learning that the inner-city real estate market doesn't always respond to good intentions.

Lower-than-expected rents and uncontrolled expenses, caused partly by worsening neighborhood social conditions, have made many tax-credit properties neither economically viable nor nice places to live.

More than $300 million in tax-credit-based housing rehabs and developments have been undertaken in Chicago during the past decade, mostly in blighted, predominantly minority neighborhoods. The corporate tax breaks have played a major role in nationally recognized rebuilding efforts in South Shore and Garfield Park.

Nevertheless, a significant portion of these properties is in financial jeopardy and facing physical decay. That's a bitter pill to swallow for community developers, city officials, bankers and corporations that invested hopes-and dollars-in the deals.

Among the troubling signs:
Three of the city's largest non-profit developers-Peoples Housing, Bethel New Life in Garfield Park and Neighborhood Institute in South Shore-have ceded management of tax-credit properties to private-sector firms.

"I don't think we have a not-for-profit housing customer that we are not looking at closely," says Frances Grossman, a vice-president at Bank of America Illinois, which works with Peoples Housing and seven similar groups.

Chicago-based National Equity Fund (NEF), the nation's largest syndicator, has put 20% of its $1.2-billion equity portfolio on credit watch-indicating serious financial concerns.

In addition, NEF's three top executives are leaving over the next year as the syndicator pursues new products and markets, confirms Andrew Ditton, executive vice-president of NEF's parent organization, New York-based Local Initiatives Support Corp.

Chicago Equity Fund (CEF) has placed 7% to 10% of its $100-million equity portfolio on credit watch, President William Higginson reports. And CEF, which invests for more than 30 local companies, including Amoco and Tribune Co., has stopped funding not-for-profit developments because of financial concerns, he says.

The Chicago Department of Housing says that 10% of $102 million in city loans to tax-credit developments during Mayor Richard Daley's administration are delinquent.

"Clearly," surmises Housing Commissioner Marina Carrott, "we are losing ground with respect to the units we've already created.

" As concerns deepen over the state of local tax-credit properties-especially developments by not-for-profits in the city's toughest neighborhoods-emotions are flaring on the issue of blame.

One flash point: the question of whether not-for-profits have allowed their social mission to interfere with their business judgment.

"There is a big level of sensitivity and a big level of denial and defensive posturing" says Susan Motley, a senior program officer at Chicago's John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, which has multimillion-dollar investments in both the Local Initiatives Support Corp. and the Neighborhood Institute's parent, South Shore Bank.

Most players agree that to solve the projects' problems will require extensive workouts in which all participants will have to take a hit. The hard part, of course, is who gives up what.

"The first thing is acceptance, then it goes to finger-pointing, then you get to a solution," says Peter Holsten, president of Holsten Real Estate Development Corp., a restructuring expert recently called in to manage Peoples Housing's tax-credit portfolio. "Unfortunately, we're stuck in the finger-pointing phase right now."

A potentially divisive issue will be whether to change the financial structure of tax-credit developments to reduce the complexity of deals and the amount of mortgage debt carried by the properties.

A tax-credit deal typically carries multiple financing layers, including equity from corporate investors, a first mortgage by a private lender and gap financing from the city or state.

Some housing advocates have criticized City Hall's policy of requiring community groups to both borrow the most private money possible and to repay the public-sector gap financing. The obligations, advocates argue, crush financially fragile projects in the neighborhoods that need help most.

"Most of the developments that we are involved in cannot carry substantial amounts of amortizing private or public debt," says NEF President Douglas Guthrie. (The pending departure of Mr. Guthrie, who led NEF's rapid growth this decade, and two other top executives is unrelated to softness in parts of NEF's portfolio, says Mr. Ditton of the Local Initiatives Support Corp.)

City Hall's mission, counters Housing Commissioner Ms. Carrott, is to get the most bang from its buck. "Where cash flow is available," she says, "it should be used to support the largest possible (private) first mortgage, because subsidy dollars are scarce and anytime private dollars are available, we should maximize them.

"A key concern among all participants is backsliding in city neighborhoods, such as South Shore and Rogers Park, where multimillion-dollar housing tax-credit investments initially appeared healthy. "It should be a lesson to all of us who worked cooperatively to put this together that we have to put more money into these projects," says Dorris Pickens, executive director of the Neighborhood Institute from 1987 to 1993. "What if we have to start all over again?"

One likely outcome is a slowing of new projects and a re-allocation of resources to stabilize existing properties. Some groups already are losing out in the shift. CEF last summer quietly took control of partner Bethel New Life's high-profile Guyon Hotel redevelopment in Garfield Park. Restructuring plans include a $290,000 grant from the state and annual $50,000 infusions from corporate investors, CEF's Mr. Higginson says.

Meanwhile, the city has cut off new development funding to Bethel, Ms. Carrott confirms. What most low-income housing developers and lenders didn't account for in their underwriting was the cost of managing properties in poor Chicago neighborhoods, where social conditions have deteriorated with the introduction of crack and increased gang activity. "In the neighborhoods, times are tougher; I don't care what (President) Clinton or Mayor Daley says," says Mr. Holsten.

Last month, Ms. Smithey turned over management of eight Peoples Housing buildings with 248 units to Mr. Holsten, who also now manages the Guyon Hotel and Neighborhood Institute properties in South Shore. Ms. Smithey also is talking with banks and the city to restructure debt, starting with $1.3 million in mortgages held by First National Bank.

A Peoples Housing property on Ashland Avenue, now undergoing financial restructuring, offers an example of the quandary facing tax-credit developers. Operating costs per unit have exceeded projections by 20%, while rents have not kept pace, when Peoples Housing could collect them at all.

Nearly new three years ago, the four-story red brick building with terra-cotta trim already is showing signs of blight: broken stairwells, kicked-in doors, screens dangling in the wind. The building technically is in default, has no reserves and has accumulated a backlog of bills and deferred maintenance that requires an immediate $20,000 cash infusion, according to Ms. Smithey. "These deals didn't work," she says on a tour of the site, "and everyone involved in them is culpable for setting them up that way, not just Peoples Housing."

Ms. Smithey says restructuring talks with First National Bank recently have taken a turn for the better, giving her renewed hope. "It's a pretty nice building," she says of the Ashland property on an otherwise gloomy morning.
*************************************************************************************

November 16, 2005

Mystery Vehicle

Not only did I walk home in the first snow of the season, but I saw this mystery vehicle on Howard tonight. The lake effect snowflakes creat an eerie image don't they?
odd CPD vehicle 002

I called the 24th and a very friendly officer stated he had no idea, so the question is put to anyone who does!

The street was unusually quiet, unusually barren. Hope it appears for the weekend.

Deconcentrating the Poor in Urban America

An intellectual sent me this for perusal.

"Urban Land - October 2005 - In Print, etc.
Clearing the Way: Deconcentrating the Poor in Urban America
Edward G. Goetz
Urban Institute Press
2100 M Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20037;
877-847-7377; www.uipress.org.
2003. 313 pages. $29.50 paperback.
The increasing concentration of the poor and, more particularly, poor minorities in central cities has been a trend in this country for well over 50 years. It was driven, in part, by the concentration of large public housing projects in areas already occupied by poor minority households, discrimination in housing markets, the flight of the middle class to autonomous suburbs with exclusionary zoning, and redlining. Although the problems associated with concentrated poverty had been apparent for many years, William Julius Wilson’s book The Truly Disadvantaged, published in 1987, brought widespread attention to the issue.
In Clearing the Way: Deconcentrating the Poor in Urban America, Edward G. Goetz examines the federal policy of reducing the extent to which poverty is concentrated in cities. The book is divided into two sections, the first providing a general discussion and consideration of the issues involved with the policy of deconcentration, and the second taking a close look at the experience in Minneapolis in the context of the larger initiatives being pursued nationwide.
Goetz presents a quick review of the theories offered to explain why poverty has become so concentrated in central cities and the effect it has on the residents, the neighborhood, and the larger community. He then presents the arguments for deconcentration, followed by a discussion of the central role public housing plays in the problem.
Goetz traces the history of federal efforts to reduce the concentration of poverty and public housing, which he sees as consisting of two generations of policy initiatives. The first generation, driven by efforts to reduce concentrated minority poverty in public housing, includes scattered-site public housing, “fair share” programs, and the move from unit-based to tenant-based housing subsidies. Also part of this effort is the Gautreaux program, the court-ordered racial desegregation of public housing in the Chicago metropolitan region.
The second generation of programs focuses on reducing the concentration of poverty, and the problems it is creating for cities, with less emphasis on race. Among the programs in this generation is Moving to Opportunity (MTO), a demonstration program in which eligibility and locational choices are determined strictly by income level. Other efforts, unlike MTO, try to address the concentration of poverty by restructuring or eliminating some of the more distressed public housing projects; such programs include HOPE VI and the use of vouchers. Goetz concludes with an analysis of the impact these two generations of efforts have had on the participants and communities.
Goetz moves from the broad scope to offer a more detailed examination of the deconcentration efforts in Minneapolis under the consent decree in Hollman v. Cisneros, a desegregation lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Laying out the local history, he shows how conditions in Minneapolis reached the point at which residents filed suit, then discusses the case and settlement. Goetz examines what happened when the parties tried to implement the decree, showing how difficult it is to move from the theoretical policy goal to achieving that goal in practice. His conclusion offers some well-considered thoughts on the limits of deconcentration as a strategy to address the problems associated with large, mostly minority public housing projects in central cities.
Goetz presents the issues surrounding deconcentration in an evenhanded and clear fashion, studying the arguments from a wide variety of perspectives. He combines policy analysis, politics, and a deep understanding of the Minneapolis region to reveal the complexity and difficulty facing efforts to undo the results of generations of public housing policies that led to the segregation of masses in distressed inner-city projects. The result is a book that is disquieting in its honest assessment of one of the major problems facing cities. It should be required reading for anybody concerned about the future of cities.—Spencer Cowan
Spencer Cowan is a senior research associate at the Center for Urban and Regional Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Urban Land: October 2005
© 2005 ULI–the Urban Land Institute, all rights reserved."

November 15, 2005

A Glimmer of Hope?

I received this neighborhood article from a neighbor about mortgage fraud and the diligent efforts of Karen Hoover and MJ Haggerty to expose the mess.

Yesterday morning I received news that another NOH problem building is for sale. This neighbor stated ‘that's been a drug house for years. Karen Hoover worked hard on that one several years back.’

From what many of us have observed, this building is still rather dubious. Parkway parties were a daily event all summer between this building, the red brick building(Myers) and the party alley behind Bosworth across the street. The triangle of noise.

Perhaps there is a glimmer of hope that a real investor will purchase this building, clean it up, offer reasonable rents with well-screened tenants. As we know, the low income crusaders will go to any length to preserve low income. That's fine until concerned neighbors get slandered in the quest and are left with undesirable neighbors and the community inherits one more problem. My main wish on the list is that the crusaders be held accountable to the community to finish their quest by doing health checks on the buildings.

Sadly, the burden is dumped on the neighbors and taxpayers to do the watchdogging. Once a bad tenant or ten has a lease, they are protected to a certain extent under the law. Sadly, the crusaders seldom return to the scene. NOH needs balance and accountability.

November 14, 2005

Reflections In An Empty Window

The sign on the empty storefront sadly illustrates the demise of thirty years on Howard Street. Another vacancy reflecting not only our physical images as we pass, but more importantly reflecting the lack of development of a street that once was a destination.
Goodbye To The Thrift Shop

The Thrift Shop was the gathering place for many people. Seniors would stop in and visit with each other, passersby would stop and shop. I found several great paperbacks for the daily train rides. My famous ‘Lady In Red’ Halloween dress waiting on the rack for me was a great splash last year!

Carmen was referred to as the mayor of Howard Street, always attending our CAPS meetings, and actively cleaning up our neighborhood. Carmen planted flowers, seeded grass; a perpetual guardian of that corner. She watched my street change from rows of drug houses to the beginning of a real neighborhood. She volunteered a picnic table, balloons, and great food for our summer Gale Picnics last year too. After thirty years, Carmen knew everyone.
End of an era

We all owe Carmen a special thanks for the part she played in our daily lives when we weren’t home.

Best of luck and we miss you.

November 13, 2005

Fixin' A Hole

Fixin' A Hole

In response to our complaints on November 1, these 2x4 wooden bars appeared within 3 days on the Northpoint gate on Bosworth that was a high traffic escape route for certain people. It may be an unsightly patch to some, but for many of us (including good tenants at Northpoint) it is a welcome sight.

To the person who told me that ‘blogs were one source of commentary but could never replace outright protesting'…never under estimate the Internet!

Obviously the right person(s) is reading, perhaps the new NP management?

November 12, 2005

Jitters and Alarms South of Howard!

My friend on Jarvis by the lake called about our neighbors SOUTH of Howard becoming alarmed when they heard 7458-64 N.Greenview had been sold.
7658-64 N Greenview

South Of Howard heard the new owners would be converting all the apartments into Section 8 rentals and that the buyer owns several Section 8 buildings in Rogers Park.
Cook County Recorder of Deeds

Here's the email response from the alderman to calm their jittery nerves she forwarded to me:

"Kevin Cosgrove copied me on some correspondence he has had with you regarding the old T.P. Larkin building. The building was purchased from T.P. by a group headed up by Steve Golovan. Steve does both new construction and owns rental housing. They own four or five buildings in the neighborhood. Some, but not all their tenants are section 8 voucher holders. As Kevin pointed out, it is against the law to discriminate against Section 8 voucher holders.

Golovan's company doesn't gut rehab their rental buildings, but they do make extensive repairs. They get high marks from their tenants on the quality of the units, and they have almost no vacancies, which in this soft rental market says more than anything else about their ability as property managers. To my knowledge, my office has received no complaints about the buildings from either tenants or neighbors.

The old adage that "a little bit of knowledge is very dangerous" applies to Mr. Devlin. Mr. Devlin is correct that the building, like most of the large multi-family buildings in our neighborhood, does not conform with the current RT4 zoning. It is what is known as a legal nonconforming use because the building was standing when the previous Zoning Code was enacted in 1957. The building will remain a legal nonconforming use unless additional units are added. If additional units are added, the owner must apply for a zoning change.

Thus, Hugh is incorrect in asserting that a gut rehab would effect the building's compliance with the zoning code. The building would still be a legal nonconforming use even if it were gutted out, unless additional units were constructed. If no units are added, the building remains legal.

By the way, you might be interested in the latest statistics from CHAC, the organization that administers the section 8 program. As of September 30, 2005, section 8 voucher holders occupied 687 of the 18,826 apartment rental units in the 49th Ward. Thus, 3.65% of all the rental units in the Ward are section 8 voucher units. If you factor in the owner occupied single family homes and condos, that percentage is even smaller. I estimate conservatively that there are now about 6,000 owner-occupied single family homes and condos in the Ward. That would bring the total percentage of section 8 voucher units down to approximately 2.7% of all housing units in the ward.

I hope this answers your questions and addresses your concerns. Please feel free to pass this on to your neighbors.

Alderman Joe Moore"
*************************************************************************************
The Reader article quoted Joe Moore directly that North of Howard had about 50 % Section 8 units so how could we have 687 in all of Ward 49? Northpoint alone has 304 units, the Broadmoor has about 70 rentable units. Shall we start adding up the rest? Is this an attempted differentiation between individual voucher ‘holders’ vs subsidized buildings holding the voucher? Doesn’t it still boil down to Section 8 and possible problems stemming from lack of regulation enforcement?

But bloggers should be held accountable for facts not politicians right?

“Moore insists he doesn’t know anyone who’s planning to build an SRO. “I have no horse in the race,” he says. “There is no secret plan to bring in any project.” His critics are adamant in their opposition to the zoning change largely because they see a clear correlation between a high concentration of low-income housing and a high rate of crime. North of Howard is poor. According to the 2000 census, about 34 percent of the residents live below the poverty line, and the median family income is $29,965. Moore estimates conservatively that half of the neighborhood’s 2,200 or so housing units are home to low-income residents (about the only thing on which the two sides agree).”

Misinformation is as dangerous as 'a little bit of knowledge' especially when it's about the high concentration of Section 8 NOH as compared ward wide. So we have the Reader quote that half of 2200 or 1100 Section 8's North of Howard and we have the calming email quoting 687 Section 8's in all of ward 49. What's the real bottom line?

Hugh, what’s your take on the 1957 statement?

November 11, 2005

Remember the Veterans

Veterans Day - November 11 2005

Yesterday I had lunch with my cousin who is a retired Army colonel. He’s a few years older than me, and was part of the team that created the Special Forces aka The Green Berets. He toured Vietnam three times during the conflict. Men such as my cousin were not welcomed home as heroes. Another cousin asked what his sentiments were on Iraq.

In a nutshell, the retired Special Forces man, stated ‘it’s all about oil, I support the troops who are following their orders and risking their lives but I cannot support an illegal war and that which created it'.

If you have a similar opinion, you may send your support to our fellow human beings serving in the military.

Slippery on Your Dime

Diagrammatic?
I haven’t heard design language like that in about twenty five years nor did I hear that particular word once during the harbor presentation. I heard concepts, proposals and preliminary findings. All of these phrases were acceptable descriptions of what was being presented. Mr. Rejman, in his letter to the Tribune, had to reach deep into his bag of slippery words to extricate the Park District from the one definitive statement made all night. In retrospect, that whole presentation was a show and everyone had a script. Everyone played their part perfectly except one person.
Following the Script
Mr. Rejman used his slippery words perfectly when he said “This particular proposal as part of the planning process is off”, after Rep. Osterman and four other people voiced their opposition.
Not Following the Script
When Ald. Moore grabbed the mike, he declared “ This harbor proposal is off the table”, everyone cheered, Ald. Moore beamed and half the audience started leaving. The problem, I believe, was that statement probably wasn’t in the script. The language was too concrete, too definitive and it didn’t leave the Park District any of the wiggle room it had worked all night to create. Ald. Moore got to be a hero for a few minutes. Mr. Rejman had to go back to the office and begin damage control, and thus the letter.
Arrogance On Your Dime
What is wrong with our system when so many human hours and financial resources are spent thinking of ways of not telling us what we should know. I guarantee you that none of these people would spend their time and money as foolishly as this. But it’s different when you spend other peoples’ money. Somehow the responsibility and careful examination of how to most efficiently use precious resources becomes a non factor and pesky items like community referendums are deemed irrelevant. There is nothing worse than feeling irrelevant, in any relationship and I think the mistrust, resentment and ultimately, our resolve, is being vastly underestimated by this group.

Bureaucratic arrogance is the ultimate example of the tail wagging the dog.

By Gary Fuschi
***********************************************************************************
Letter to Chicago Tribune:
Rob Rejman, Director, Lakefront Construction
Chicago Park District

November 4, 2005

The article "Harbor bid scuttled as residents protest; Chicago Park District decides mid-meeting on Rogers Park issue" (Metro, Oct. 21) is misleading to Chicago Tribune readers.

The article leads by saying that Chicago Park District officials in a community meeting at Loyola Park on Oct. 20 dropped "proposals for a harbor in Rogers Park," when, in fact, all ideas presented were diagrammatic, and proposals have not been made.

The Chicago Park District shared preliminary findings of a District Wide Harbor Study conducted by JJR LLC., with community residents in a series of meetings, including the meeting held in the Rogers Park neighborhood.

The JJR study has begun to examine ways to meet increasing demand in the harbor system, recognizing the vital role that harbors play for the health of the parks and the city at large.

At this stage several locations have been examined and brought forward for community discussion, but none has been proposed--or,conversely, excluded--by the Chicago Park District.

As indicated at that meeting, it is clear that any North Side harbor proposal would need to be developed in consultation with neighborhood, civic and environmental organizations, and within the context of a comprehensive north lakefront plan, addressing such issues as open space, ecology, access, beaches, trails and other recreational opportunities.

A comprehensive plan for the north lakefront is not within the scope of the current District Wide Harbor Study, and concept development for a North Side harbor has not been done at this time.

The Park District and many citywide civic organizations agree, however, that North Side marina opportunities may exist, in concert with other park improvements, and are worthy of future consideration.

Copyright (c) 2005, Chicago Tribune

November 8, 2005

Great Gardening in Rogers Park!!!

Another positive post for the balance readers requested:

George and Susan Sullivan entered their Rooftop Garden (on the 7700 Block of North Ashland) in the 2005 Mayor Daley"s Landscape Awards Program this past summer, they have won 2nd Place in the Rooftop Gardens City Wide category.

A quote from the letter from Sadhu A. Johnson, Commissioner Dept. of Environment, City of Chicago.

"The effort you have given through tending your landscape represents a significant commitment to your neighborhood and the whole city. Gardens and other green spaces help improve air quality and make Chicago beautiful place to live. I commend you on your work"

George and Susan along with the other winners were honored at an awards ceremony on Saturday, November 5, 2005 at the Garfield Park Conservatory, 300 North Central Park where they were presented with a plaque for their garden.

The Sullivan's garden was presented in the Sunday Chicago Trib Home and Garden Section as well as on the local News.

November 5, 2005

Notes from “Can You Hear Me Now” Blogger Forum

By Gary Fuschi

I wanted to wait a few days before commenting on the recent blogger forum I was in the audience for. Waiting clarified a few questions I had personally about the medium and the forum itself.

Firstly, I want to thank Michael for hosting the event. In the weeks leading up to Oct. 29, the blogs were lighting up about whether being a guest speaker or even attending this forum was an interpretation of support for the possible MJH for Alderman campaign. As a free agent, aligned to no one, this concerned me too. My decision to attend was to support Toni any way I could and also just plain curiosity.

When I arrived, I expected to be handed ”vote for MJH” pamphlets, and once inside, banners and bunting proclaiming the same. Maybe there were some subtle nuances that I missed but if that was a political rally for a candidate, it was about as benign as you could get, thankfully.

Can You Hear Only Me Now?

I wasn’t expecting to be entertained but I did expect “the full gamut of neighborhood issues” to be discussed in depth, as advertised. Unfortunately, we never got there and that was very disappointing. Even more disappointing, shocking, boring and embarrassing was the emotional meltdown and disrespectful behavior and language of an audience member, which ultimately led to the disintegration of the forum itself. That was not the time or place to involve us all in a personal argument. I’ve had my moments too, but I at least try and limit the number of witnesses.

As of this writing, Thursday am, the debate still continues over at the Hellhole. I think the answer to the question of whether it was worth having such a forum is self evident.

Blogging and Speaking

The forum only confirmed my belief that it is not easy for most people, including myself, to speak in public. Also, a persons’ blog persona might be very different than their public one. That’s ok, they’ve found their medium and there should be no embarrassment about feeling more comfortable in front of your pc screen than an audience. That’s one of the reasons blogging is so powerful and important because people who until recently, didn’t have a voice, now do.

Maybe the next forum should be totally interactive, with the panelists behind a large screen, like an oversize pc panel, answering questions from the plugged in audience. Everyone would be at ease and the experience, especially for the uninitiated, would be just like it is everyday.

Blogging and Responsibility

A question was raised in the audience regarding journalistic qualifications and credible fact checking. Neither Toni nor I are journalists. We are two citizens who are concerned about our neighbors and our community. That doesn’t mean that we don’t take “journalistic responsibility” seriously. We are dealing with complex political, social and economic issues. We are dealing with peoples’ reputations and our own credibility. We want to be timely and relevant, but we would rather be late on a story than wrong.

By Gary Fuschi

November 2, 2005

Why Not? One Piece of the Puzzle

by gary fuschi

I have been writing recently about the revitalization of our neighborhood, NOH and Howard Street in particular. If this is to happen at all, there must be a committed and coordinated, multi-year plan that will involve many complex issues. I will start with the easiest one, the issue that all of us can agree with, unless you happen to be on the wrong side of the law. Criminal Activity and Personal Safety. This is not a new headline but what is new and disturbing, is that in the last eight months, criminal activity has worsened considerably and gang activity in particular.

What Are Our Options?

  1. Move Out? No.
  2. Capitulate? No.
  3. Complain? Too Easy.
  4. Reapportion Existing Resources? Maybe.
  5. Generate Dialogue? Yes, that’s what this open forum is all about.
  6. Make Suggestions? Yes. I am part of the problem, until I become part of the solution.
  7. Ask Alderman Moore for His Input? Absolutely.

Dev Corp Out, Police In

I have a suggestion for a possible, long term, pro-active solution. Now that there are ”For Lease” signs on the windows of Dev Corps old offices, move the CAPS office, from it’s current spot at Gateway and right into that incredibly, strategic corner location. Additionally, this could also be a rendezvous spot, a satellite police station that would provide a police presence 24 hours a day. From that location, you can view the Howard Street corridor, Rogers Street, Tony’s, the Laundromat corner across the street and have a little peek at the Broadmoor activity.

I have spoken to many of the police officers that have responded to our calls this summer and I have asked them their opinion of this concept. Every officer responded with overwhelmingly positive reactions. Now I am asking the Alderman for his reaction and anyone else who has ideas or suggestions. Remember what your teacher said “There are no stupid questions”. Well, when you are as desperate as we are, there are no stupid ideas either.

Base Camp

If you are reading this and you live south of Howard and think that what happens NOH has nothing to do with you, as long as you don’t step foot up here, I will ask you to reconsider. If the increased gang activity is allowed to continue and become entrenched, the negative consequences will be felt beyond our borders. Gangs have a penchant for expanding their area of influence. When they have intimidated all our residents and picked our carcass dry, they will start roaming into other neighborhoods, picking people off and then returning to the safety of Base Camp. This does not bode well for south Rogers Park or South Evanston.

November 1, 2005

Crime on Bosworth

Here's a note from my friend Margot. Yes, this happens all day, all night. When complaints were made to Northpoint about not locking the steel-bar gates for security, they were chained and padlocked. So, to gain entry, certain people sawed off the bars and there's constant traffic through the hole in the gate...especially when the police cruise by. 7628 and 7638 Bosworth. People call about this blatant outdoor party all the time, thanks Margot.
************************************************************************************
Hi Toni,
Thought you might want this for your blog. This was photographed out of a new clients window at 76xx N. Bosworth approximately 1:30 pm 10/31/05. It is a constant party daily in front of that building. I assist these clients Monday through Thursday weekly and see anywhere from 2 to 10 people working the block and or ducking and covering from police on Howard. Sorry I don't have the exact building number, but anyone on Bosworth should recognize it. This is what goes on while you are at work, people.
You have permission to post my comments.
Cheers,
Margot
CrimeonB