June 30, 2008

Prescription for Disaster

Be careful driving over the plywood at the Walgreen’s entrance on Clark. There’s a monstrous cavern beneath it. The winds must have pushed the unanchored wood off yesterday. It’s not a small drop.

Walgreens Sinkhole Walgreens Sinkhole Walgreens Sinkhole

June 29, 2008

Before the Detour...

This is interesting. Also, the Gale Park Advisory Council did not learn of all money breakouts until the June 11, 2008 Budget Meeting.

Headline: New Gale School Community
Center Nearing Completion


Ring up another victory in Roger Park’s efforts to make this a destination all will be glad to live in. The Gale School Community Center is nearing completion as this issue goes to press.

It is located at 1610 W.Howard Street. The $6 million project is the culmination of years of effort by Alderman Joe Moore of the 49th ward, State Sen. Carol Ronen (17th District), State Rep. Julie Hamos (18th District), The Rogers Park Community Council, Family Matters and the Chicago Park District, and the Howard Area Community Center among others.

According to Michael Land, associate to Alderman Moore, the Center features include a full-size gym which houses two regular basketball courts, two club rooms, men’s and women’s locker rooms fully accessible to people with disabilities, and two administrative and business offices. In addition, it boasts several environmentally friendly features such as low-consumption water fixtures, and a partial green roof to hold and return rain water to the atmosphere.

According to Land, financing was arranged through the good offices of the park district, the city and the state as follows:

$950,000 from the state; $1 million from the park district; $1 million
from the city; $500,000 from the Seabury Foundation

The balance came from funds that Ald.Moore was able to assemble from various contributions. The result: a shining new community center which will be accessible to all.

As Kim DeLong, founding executive director of Family Matters, put it, “residents, community organizations, and our elected officials working together for the betterment of the community.”

Nearing completion as we go to press is the Gale School Community Center, a community recreational building, which among others will offer a full-size gym which houses two basketball courts, and two club rooms.

BY MARTY MAX
President, Rogers Park Builders Group

Source [pdf] on page 3

June 28, 2008

RP Garden Walk~Grand Finale

Dennis LoBue and Darwin Corwin hosted the grand finale to the Rogers Park Garden Walk June 24th. They kindly provided these words for their back yard garden.
***

Our garden is 20 years old and is always changing, not by me, but by time.
You will see many different types of plants, grasses, bamboo,
water plants, trees, bushes, vines, ferns, flowers, hostas, and more.


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The ponds are 6 years old and have koi and goldfish
In the last 2 years 6 koi have been born and over a 100 goldfish.

Our special guest is a bull frog that has been with us for 5 years, we put a tad pole in the pond and up came Charley.

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Our garden is an all year garden, we enjoy it in the spring when over 1000 tulips-jonquils come up-- summer when all the flowers start to bloom—autumn when the grasses turn red, brown, and golden – and winter when the snow covers everything and it looks so pure.

Everyday is a new day in our garden and the fun of seeing birds, all year round is a joy

June 27, 2008

One Hot Spot Removed

The mobile classrooms at Gale Academy were removed today. It appears that a parking area will be created.

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Good riddance to a hotspot and now North of Howard has one less eyesore.

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Where's The Citation?

Yesterday, June 26, a call was made to the ward office. Max answered the call. The request was to give a message to Ms. Sullivan who is in charge of buildings to please remind the new management of the Broadmoor about parkway cleanliness.

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Weeks of accumulated trash – IDM Services 312 492 8705
If it’s a matter of Urgency or Emergency – call Arien? at 773 983 7766

So neighbors, if you think this is an eyesore, give IDM a jingle.

If you see suspicious activity, give Arien? a call. Or take your chances on getting attention from the Ward office. They're mighty busy.

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June 26, 2008

Do You Have An Opinion On The Building?

Here’s One Way To Voice Your Opinion

If you have an opinion on the Gale Park issue, let it be known. Since I am originally from Missouri - the Show Me State - I need to see those 10-1 numbers Mr. Moore.

"Moore said response to his e-mail announcing the possible relocation of the Cotter Boys and Girls Club to Rogers Park has been running "10 to 1" in favor of the proposal." Source

Moore Dropped the Ball on Gale Park

Toni wrote, "[Moore] has lost his momentum in buckin' da boss Daley ... "

The dominant explanation for the debacle surrounding the delayed opening of the now-completed Gale Park Community Center is political pay-back to allies, and of course that is part of the story.

But another aspect is simple, unadulterated incompetence of the kind we are all too familiar with from Moore's 17 year reign.

Referring to the facts as reported in the excellent Chicago Journal News-Star article, Gale may get Boys and Girls Club, after a decade of advocacy, the Gale Park site was fenced off in the fall of 2006, almost two years ago. At that point even a dullard like Moore most have thought, holy shit, this thing is finally happening, we need an OPERATING budget, including staffing. Moore admitted to not starting to work on the issue of staffing until April, 2008!

That Moore is sufficiently incompetent to leave details such as operating dollars and staffing to the absolute last minute is evidenced by the fact that he did not get $800,000 in CONSTRUCTION funding approved UNTIL TWO WEEKS AGO!

Transfer of funds from the Howard/Paulina TIF district for Gale School Park

This funding was approved by the Finance committee at 9:15 AM on Wednesday morning June 11, 2008 and approved by the full City Council at a 10 AM meeting a little later that day. Way to keep your eyes on the prize, Joe!

You may recall certain other events at recent City Council meetings, like the immediately previous meeting, four weeks earlier, which garnered some juicy press coverage for our guy Joe. But not about the culmination of a decade-long crusade to bring much-needed City services to an under-served neighborhood in his ward. Oh, no.

While our neighbors north of Howard tirelessly advocated for resources, Moore was picking bizarre fights with Mayor Daley in his ruthless pursuit for cheap publicity. Moore decided feeding his insatiable appetite for press was more important than staffing a field house in his ward. Moore engaged Daley in a shouting match on the floor of the City Council when he should have been lobbying for operating funding for a new Park District facility. Understand Tim Mitchell, appointed by Daley as the current Superintendent of the Chicago Park District, is a former deputy chief of staff to Daley. Sure, Daley can be vindictive, and Aldermen need to be able to stand up to the Mayor, but over organ meats? Tragically, Moore squandered his scarce political capital on issues completely unrelated to the job he was elected to do, and once again it's his constituents who pay.

Finding himself completely incapable of securing anything from his own home town because of his self-serving histrionics, Moore was faced with the very real prospect of a shining new field house with a padlock on the door as a monument to his incompetence. Moore turned to his north side mafia of faux progressives to bail his ass out.

Moore & Steans bringing in a private organization to run the "community" center is not so much what's best for the community as it is jumping through hoops to cover up Joe Moore's complete ineffectiveness as an alderman.

If and when Moore deigns to appear in public and take questions on this seamy process, we need to ask:
  • Does the Gale Park Community Center have operating funding in the Park District budget?
  • If so, what year's budget was this included in, that we may look it up? What is the funding level? What is the head count for north of Howard parks? Will there be ANY full-time Chicago Park District employees on site in the Gale Park field house? Who will unlock the doors and who will lock up?
  • If not, why not?

All In Our Best Interest?

We've all contributed to the utility companies - but at least we received a service. We received the provider service(s) we had agreed upon that is. But it wasn't a contribution to become a stockholder - it was payment for services rendered. The only perks were electricity and heat - at spiraling rates.

We contribute to the government via taxes - city, county and state. It wasn't just the park council that was by-passed...

Mr. Moore can selectively listen to anyone he chooses - but is that a true democratic process? It's easier to follow the beaten path of backroom deals than it is to be open and honest with a park council. Full disclosure.

He has lost his momentum in buckin' da boss Daley with this Gale Park antic but apparently he's learned well in those years of city council meetings.


****

June 25, 2008

Scrambling

There shouldn't be a need to scramble if one is organized or has a plan.

Deadlines can be rough. There were boundaries to determine, zoning changes, funding, design changes, construction costs, and red tape to wade through. Has the building commission and Park District checked off all the punch list items?

Monday morning, June 23, two workers exited the building at 1610 W. Howard in Gale Park. I inquired on the status of the punch list that has been given as the reason for the doors not opening. One worker responded that the interior had a few items that were corrected. He then pointed at the building and said they were finishing off exterior items and all should be completed by noon.

He shook his head and said "As far as I'm concerned, they can open it at noon today."

Oddly, Mr. Moore's email was sent shortly thereafter.

Oh My! The Taxpayers Are Agitated

A park advocacy group is threatening continued legal action unless the Chicago Park District cleans up an abandoned soccer field construction project at the south end of Lincoln Park and pursues an alternate site for the field. Full Story From Chi-Town Daily News

Oh my goodness, there are others who are disturbed by certain activities by the Park District and its demeanor. Others are questioning government deals with taxpayer funds – imagine that!

Grant Park - Childrens Museum
Lincoln Park - Latin School Soccer Field
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Not to mention that Park Councils need to be 'controlled'

1610 W Howard Update - Gale Park

News, do we have news! Well, not really! Apparently the call to meet within a three day time frame will not happen this week. Tim Mitchells calender is booked - so perhaps there was some miscommunication along the way?

Of course, next week is the last week of June and many may head off for a long holiday weekend and more postponments could happen. This is reminiscent of lawyers continuing a case, or of secretaries who can't read calenders because the boss hasn't communicated his/her schedule. Either way, the mouthpiece can call it my 'white entitlement' to create a distraction from the issues and the true symptoms of power grabs. I have called Joe by his given name in the series on the building yet his mouthpiece Westgard lowers the whole group, Moore, Ginderske, Steans, et al and their intentions - good or not so good - with his explosion yesterday.

The park council is not a club or a 'gang'. The council is made up of people who came to the original meeting and chose to remain. Not everyone has time or the desire to commit their free time to volunteer. It would help to get the facts. Joe should inform Westgard of the size of the council group at the recent meeting Joe attended and the racial or ethnic makeup - since the only card Westgard ever plays is the 'race card'. Or should I say it's the mainstay, status quo card the Ward 49 Democrats play on nearly every occasion when they feel a need to be self-righteous?

I wonder what Barack Obama would say about all this race card, white entitlement, power grab, hate vernacular spewing from Joe's mouthpiece? Hasn’t Obama emphatically stressed unity and change?

Garden Meander - Part 2

Many of us have admired the curbside areas and last night we were invited for a preview into the back yard escapes too.


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June 24, 2008

Garden Meander - Part 1

Native grass and other native flowers at "The Rock" in Triangle Park.


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Tomatoes on the vine at the Community Garden.

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Umm, fresh dill.

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Banishing Volunteerism

The funding for the Gale Park Community Center began several years ago. The infamous Rudy Mulder, developer of the Gateway Mall, (who is now on the lam) initially promised a one million dollar donation toward the building in the late 1990's. At that time the park district would not fund the building. Later, Rudy lowered his donation pledge to half a million. The donation never happened because Rudy had to go underground.

So the Seabury Foundation stepped in and donated half a million to jump start the project. According to notes taken at the June 11, 2008 budget meeting, here is the breakdown in final funding for the ‘building’.

1610 West Howard, Joe Moore, Chicago Park District, North of Howard

$1.82M Ward 49 menu money
$ 1/2M Seabury foundation
$1.4M Bernie Stone
$800K Howard Paulina TIF
$1.3 M from State
$ 8M Park District

This project was conceptualized and finally put into motion by people not given any recognition in the 6/23/08 email blast from Joe Moore. For a progressive liberal, Joe is very selective when it comes to giving credit where it is due. An open-minded male friend once stated that ‘Republicans and some Democratic men are terrified of strong, intelligent women’. Apparently that statement is applicable to the two women who started the ‘grass roots’ push for this building.

As for transparency in government, this is a classic example of political favoritism. These wise backroom players have overlooked many concerns and I’ll be damned if I write about them today. No doubt the email was forced more than planned. Perhaps it was hastily written to quell neighborhood inquiries? Joe states ‘last April’ – so does that mean April 2007? Or did he just just misuse the word ‘last’?

Oddly, Joe left a voice message at my work number at 8:10 am yesterday. He's out of town but upon his return the council will be included in something later this week. Now, after the fact, after the bargaining, dealing, and embracing, after the public announcement, NOW the Gale Park Council has been summoned to a meeting with Tim Mitchell, Joe and I presume these other recognized people. There were no words of praise yesterday for Sister Cecilia Fandel or Eva McCann who presented the idea several years ago.
Note: Eva has been trying to set up a meeting with Mitchell for several days now.

Now Joe can have the Mayor at his grand opening and introduce those he praised so highly in the email who did nothing to get this project started. Ginderske came to the hijack meeting last summer and drew on a notepad all evening. He attended one council meeting, but has been working ‘for several years to bring a boys and girls club to Rogers Park’. The first time many of us heard of him was his guest appearance on The Broken Heart 9/3/05. He was standing in a hole in the street near his residence which isn’t and has never been North of Howard. The BGC was in his 2006-2007 aldermanic campaign platform. More or less 2 years ago.

As I wrote recently, I had never met Dorothy Gregory until she appeared in Joe’s office at a re-naming meeting. That was June 5, and the woman sat there poker-faced as if she was hearing about the negotiations for the first time! Was she there there to gauge the reaction? Her husband, Cotter Board member Mr. Dick Gregory, is still a stranger to me. Heather Steans is not our representative in the senate but has funded a summer camp in Gale Park? Again, the council read about it in the email instead of being respectfully included and informed about it. What is also odd - the usual summer programming various groups always offered was halted this year. The explanation given was ‘the park district can’t be responsible/liable for any activities if the building isn’t open’.

But Joe wrote “Together we brought the idea to Park District Superintendent Tim Mitchell, who embraced it.” The boys just bypassed the Park Council and the neighborhood. So residents in other areas of Rogers Park who don’t know the history or the struggles to get this building will read the email and think ‘wow, this is just great’.

So the concept of volunteerism for any woman not in Joe’s favor is limited to picking up trash dropped by his many anti-social constituents living in the many subidized buildings he sustains from our tax dollars.

Broadmoor East Trash, Rogers Park, Chicago IL, 60626

Or we can start the Women Against Clogged Storm Sewers Movement (WACSS)

Clogged Storm Drain Clogged Storm Drain

Or Women Against Little Green Baggies Movement (WALGB's)

Little Green  Drug Bags

It was ‘Why here?’ when Joe questioned the placement of the Childrens Museum in Grant Park, but it’s apparently ‘Why not?’ when secretly negotiating and embracing the takeover of a community building for political supporters and friends. It will be very interesting to see what offerings this union would present to adults in the community and the availability of space for “non-club related activities”.

The Storm Sewer and Trash Ladies will need a place to convene their meetings.


the history

June 23, 2008

Meander With The Rogers Park Garden Group

North of Howard has been chosen for this years garden meander. That's tomorrow, June 24 at 6:30 at Juneway and Hermitage. Meet up at the Triangle Park area and meander east on Juneway.

Rogers Park Garden Meander 6.08

June 22, 2008

Hail, Hail,

The summer gods must be angry….

6.22.08 Hail

6.22.08 Hail

The Origin Of The Itch?

Maybe Joe could explain this letter reportedly circulated by uninformed acquaintances of his former aldermanic foe Ginderskes' Heartland venture, the health clinic. Neighbors for a Healthy RP, a grass roots group. It's odd they don't list members of a board of directors like so many NFP websites do for 'full disclosure'.

Just A Theory of the Smokeless Backroom Discussions:

So I helped a you get elected, you and Heather both owe me big time. My crew pounded the pavement for you. Oh, and thanks for the health clinic. Now I want the new Gale Park Community Center, for my Boys & Girls Club OK? 'We" need it now and don't have time wait for another location. Remember, Joe, you sent that email out for me on your 49Line Logo asking my supporters to vote for you in the run-off. Remember my words?

Real Quotes from the Email Blast:

“My decision is based on the faith and conscience that have always guided me.”

“Joe Moore says that my campaign was a “wake-up call”. I pledge to you that I will continue to be your voice in his ear; by shouting if necessary, and that is how we will work together to bring the changes I promised to deliver through my campaign. I believe this is now the best way to genuinely improve our community”.


Do attempted thefts like this make it to the City Council or is it just a done deal in Park District chambers? Will there be an eloquent and moving speech by Joe? No doubt the other players Joe named are participants in this ego-driven improvement - based on faith and conscience.

Wake Up North of Howard and Scratch the Itch!

June 20, 2008

Friday Welcoming - NOH Style

This is the second time this sight has greeted people coming home from work in the past few weeks. The first time, I witnessed the gentlemen change the tire and toss the used one on the parkway.

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Someone must have had a bad moving day or is under the widespread assumption that the city picks up trash on the sidewalks here. Both are in near the front of the Reverends establishment.

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I actually had a neighbor try to convince me that DevCorp picks up all the trash North of Howard. While they do cover certain side streets other than just Howard – this street is not one of them. With or without that crew to pick up trash daily, this is the mentality of this neighborhood. If something looks nice, make sure it gets trashed for that down home effect.

Red Herring Center

Generally, a red herring is a deliberate distraction. It’s a term used to define plots in mysteries and also tossed around in elections. Chris Adams was incorrectly defined by some in the last aldermanic election as a red herring candidate. When it appeared that not enough wide mouth bass were biting on that, the strategy switched and the Republican word surfaced. My home was wrongly accused of being a Conservative Headquarters paid for in full by the Republican Party. And after stealing my identity and address, they never sent a rent check. They may have been on the brink of bankruptcy after printing and mailing hundreds of postcards to ward 49’ers.

Lets examine the stealth attempt to reconfigue the Community Center into a Boys and Girls Club from another angle. Again, I state that it’s the principle not the club that I question.

Could it be that the agencies named in a public meeting by Joe are red herrings or shields to cover or extend revealing the truth a little longer? Are there other groups or individuals that were not mentioned? It’s a possibility. Loyalty has long been considered the integral bond that holds a family or group together. In reality, the individuals of a group may be working toward a common goal, but loyalties often switch.

It’s possible that RPCC, DevCorp, the Gregorys and the Principal of Gale Academy said ‘yes a Boys and Girls Club in Rogers Park would be a positive addition’. But did they specifically state “it has to be in Gale Community Center” or are they the red herrings to keep us from thinking or digging deeper? I think it's a little of both.

Some members of of the agencies mentioned above may be loyal enough and go along with the leader by allowing themselves to be the cover and take the heat to extend the unfolding drama. I will allow them to play their role if that pleases everyone. From my notes taken during the June 17 park council meeting, I also wrote as Joe named the big supporters..."members of Cotters' board who live in the area".

Cotters board from the web

I think I’ll review my first gut instinct when I heard the words “Boys and Girls Club”. One name immediately surfaced and I verbally stated it June 5 at Joe’s office in the parks naming meeting. He seemed to become a little fidgety or did he suddenly realize people aren't all that forgetful and uninformed. Apparently someone has been lobbying for his next acquisition for the resume.

One of the original supporters who attended the September, 2007 break out meeting was not named in the above group by Joe. She was supportive years ago and helped neighbors with initial fundraising initiatives. She spoke that evening and emphatically requested that the building should not be referred to as a 'field house' (park district terminology) but as a Community Center for the whole neighborhood.

That would be State Representative Julie Hamos. Has the lobby reached her too?

June 19, 2008

What Damn Negotiations?

Moved from the Comment Section:

Toni, your regular "just the facts" reportage continues to be wonderful. However, that style rarely leaves room for you to strongly assert and take credit for all of the hard work that you North of Howard neighbors have accomplished. People need to be reminded of that on occasion, but you are just too darn modest!

You didn't say it, so I will. WHAT DAMN NEGOTIATIONS? This STINKS. It smells worse than the many pools of putrid rain water and garbage that swirl for days on end over the clogged drain sewers in Rogers Park! To discover after the fact that the powers-that-be and all the wannabes have been negotiating over what YOU NEIGHBORS have worked so hard to achieve is disgusting. It's yet another betrayal of our community. You should have been the first ones invited into the discussion, not the last.

Until I hear convincing arguments about an alternative, I'm going to hope that the powers-that-be help the Boys and Girls Club form an alliance with Gale School to conduct operations there with a community-based board to support it. We need them to do that.

There's no question that the "community center" goals so many of us have supported will not be realized if this non-profit group gets a contract to use the new Gale Park Field House, mainly to serve kids. What you want and what we expect is something even better.

I sense that your vision of a North of Howard community center (unlike a Boys and Girls Club) includes having it serve as a platform upon which to create and support a new sense of community, involvement, and connectedness among North of Howard area residents. The goals to serve young and older residents, of all races, and of all classes, with an understanding that they bring both problems and assets to the table are important. To date, no institution here has approached such a goal, and it's time for us to try it on for size.

A Gale Park Chicago Park District facility can develop and deliver solid enrichment programs to meet the needs of such a diverse constituency IF it has a goal-focused, dedicated, neighborhood-based advisory council with maybe a little extra attention and funding support from the park district administration. (I still want to see that needs assessment report).

It's clear you folks have the numbers, the people, the skills, the creativity, and the energy to create what could be a unique model for park district service in Chicago. I know that you also will be able to recruit unprecedented financial and volunteer support from Rogers Park businesses, residents, and institutions to help it succeed.

I encourage and support that.

Michael J. Harrington

June 18, 2008

What Is The Future For Gale Community Center?

Well folks, let us know what you think about this. I’m sure some readers are already aware if they were recently asked to ‘sign a letter’.

On June 5, some park council members met at Joe Moore’s office about the re-naming process of Gale Park. Joe had invited the new director of RPCC, Elizabeth Vitell and Dorothy Gregory of DevCorp to join us. It was the first time we'd met with them.

Naturally, we asked again when the Community Center would open. School would be out in a week and the new supervisors hands were tied with programming. We were told about the punch list of work to be remedied and hopefully it would open July 1. Toward the end of the meeting, Joe eased into the topic of certain negotiations that were taking place along with that punch list.

Negotiations? What negotiations, we asked. He tried to make it light and not too worrisome but it could not be avoided. It seems that the Boys and Girls Club, Cotter Club, in Logan Squares’ Lathrop Homes is looking for a new home. It seems that they feel the new Community Center would be a real nice site to relocate to. The negotiations also are based on the declining enrollment in Gale Academy and the Annex could be a possible home also.

The next day and a few phone calls later, we learned about the budget meeting prior to the hotly debated June 11 city council meeting where the relocation of The Childrens Museum was voted upon. After the pro and con arguments and vote was the passing of resolutions. One was for the $800k transfer of funds from the Howard/Paulina TIF to the Park District to partially fund the Community Center.

Tonight Joe attended our three parks councils meeting to address our concerns. He explained that the Park District had just recently been approached by the Cotter Club and that certain community groups thought it was a great opportunity. Naturally, we wanted to know what community groups and why the council had not been included. He named the Principal of Gale Academy, RPCC, DevCorp, Family Matters, and Dick and Dorothy Gregory. The director of Family Matters, a park council member, attended the meeting two weeks ago and heard of the negotiations when the rest of the council members did, so that wasn’t quite correct. Another name was mentioned and one in attendance asked ‘who is he?’ Joe explained that Jim Ginderske was an aldermanic candidate in the last election who spoke highly of the Boys & Girls Club in his campaign.

I mean no disrespect to the work of the Boys & Girls Club, OK? I do find it disrespectful that people who were uninvolved with the park council since 2003, who never donated time or maybe a dime - are promoting changing its point and purpose behind the scenes. Just as frustrating is the non-resident factor. Granted, all park facilities are open to everyone but again, North of Howard residents spent years trying to get this project built.

Their design is to change it from a long-awaited, long fought for community center to a Boys and Girls Club with the Park Districts approval without having the graciousness or sensitivity to ask the community or the council for their opinion. The Boys & Girls Clubs are open to children ages 6 to 16-18 depending on the charter. The plan for the Community Center was to be for everyone, all ages, from pre-school to seniors. Even though we were told that the exercise room with new equipment would be open to adult neighbors, there's nothing that could prevent it from being open to negotiation too.

One person was canvassing the neighborhood with a letter today to get signatures to promote a Boys & Girls Club here. After learning some real facts and history of the project, the same person came to tonights’ meeting and stated the club should be placed in the Gale Annex before the new building.

One concern that was overlooked by our non-council, non-resident neighbors are those age groups over 16 or 18. They still will not have a positive place to ‘hang out’. So there are pros and cons to the future of the building.

Only sensible, thoughtful comments and opinions will be posted.

June 16, 2008

We Weren't Informed Were We?

This piece of City Council legislation wasn’t mentioned in the May City Council Report. The whole informative report covered foie gras which was a citywide issue not a Ward 49 issue.

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Su Casa – 1614-1622 W. Jonquil Terrace

The June report doesn’t mention that an Intergovernmental Agreement to transfer a large sum of money from the Howard Paulina TIF was put before the council in May. Nor does it mention Joe and Berny Stones' large contribution to fully fund the Gale Park Community Center.

To quote today’s report, which is all about Grant Park and the Childrens Museum, in part:

“I find it more than a little curious that the same Mayor, who unilaterally carves X's in runways in the name of creating more open space, would desecrate a park that has remained open, free and clear for over 170 years.

Why Grant Park? Why break a 170 year tradition of keeping Grant Park open, free and clear?

Because no one could provide me with a satisfactory answer to that simple question, I voted "no."”


Some North of Howard residents are more than a little curious about the continued promotion of this small neighborhood as a socio-economic experiment that is not coming close to making passing grades. Our poverty level is far too high for such a small area. There are no incentives for many low income neighbors to get out from under the ball and chain the enabling entities have imposed upon them.

Decisions have been made by non-residents about the demographics here for the last 30-40 years so they won’t have any subsidized properties in their back yard. We’re more than a little curious why some of these decision makers are even allowed a voice in our neighborhood. Why here? Why continue a tradition that works against itself but works well for social service agencies?

Why here? If we were fortunate enough to have an open community where we were allowed to break or better yet, reconfigure a failing 40 year tradition, would we get a satisfactory answer to that simple question ? We haven’t been given the democratic opportunity to respond.

June 15, 2008

Who Is To Blame?

From the Sun-Times:

Do we need to wonder where the kids learn their bad attitudes?

Lets preface the post with: Not all kids are bad and not all parents go to such extreme measures.

Some parents teach their children right from wrong and if their child is ordered to clean a bathroom as punishment there would be no outrage. Then there are those like Willie Johnson.

We have our versions of Johnson here in North of Howard. Their kids can break tree branches, throw trash on the sidewalks, throw rocks at people and windows, vandalize the parks or the school and walk away laughing. Their kids can also be rude and obnoxious to their peers and disrespectful to adults. If an adult cautions one of these kids that their behavior is improper – all hell breaks loose. If the incident is accelerated to a 311 or 911 call, the parents and guardians come out yelling and threatening in defense of their child.

But until there is an incident, the parents are nowhere to be seen. There’s more than one victim in these scenarios – and the often unsupervised children are the largest risk. Peer pressure to do naughty childish things like spraying the park bathroom is part of growing up. Being caught and being disciplined is also part of growing up. The clean up order should have been a learning experience for child and parent.

Instead it was a call to battle.

June 14, 2008

The Landfill Sinks

Since a certain blogger feels obligated to hold other bloggers, the press, and certain targeted neighbors accountable, guess what? This blogger was at the monthy CAPS meeting on June 12. Since I have an opinion for nearly everything, I’ll share some here.

The landfill is an interesting concept – but do we really need it? The extension of Lake Shore Drive – do we really need it or does someone just want it? It’s amusing that we want to be a ‘green city’ yet some are willing to build yet more concrete highways for more gas guzzlers to speed and pollute on. The painful point is that they are willing to murder mother natures beaches in order to capitalize on an expensive venture that Chicago, Cook, Illinois cannot afford.

Now if these visionary people want to court the kind and extremely rich royalty of Dubai to pay for this expensive folly, be my guest. If it begins to sink as reported in Dubai and the Kansai Airport none of us will have been forced to toss our tax dollars into the lake.

Dubai

floating islands

Kansai Airport

More photos of Kinsai

Until then, may I suggest we take better care of the existing parks we already have? Instead of promoting the vision that will make tourists and suburbanites happy, perhaps the powers should concern themselves with making the resident taxpayers happy, safe, and secure.

As for flyering neighborhoods – well that isn’t very green-minded now is it? There are plenty of faded election posters from last year that have never been cleaned up by the supporters who placed them there. The next aldermanic election is supposed to three years in the future, so could we drop the daggers for a little while? Unless that's the whole point, the election is never over!

The Impact of Petunias

Great news about Petunias for Peace! Gethsemane Garden Center has increased its initial donation to schoolchildren from 300 to 400 flats of Petunias. This way we covered student and “student parent” groups at Gale and Hayt. A youth gardening group at the Howard Area Community Center will receive another 45 flats to continue the effort.

All 400 flats have been distributed. What an interesting, and eye-opening, experience!

From a Hayt 6th grader (asked quietly to my mom), “If you only need two neighbors to do the planting, if I divide my flat in half and give some to my neighbor will THEY (apparently some neighborhood tough guys) leave my mom alone then?”

From two Gale 7th grade boys “Whoo-Hoo…free flowers! We tried to plant a garden, but our neighbors have been messing with it. Now we can try again.”

From Gale staff, “We usually break up 8 fights an afternoon after school. Today, no fights. Happy students and parents. Lots of Petunias. Folks we never see smile are smiling. It’s a miracle!”

From Howard Community, “I’ve never had so many questions about a program like this. Folks are so excited.”

From the Gethsemane Staff, “I got the call at home last night, folks were running around trying to help the kids plant the material. People were using spoons trying to get the Petunias in. I ran around with my shovel. How exciting to see everyone working so hard!”

From a Hayt Parent (who came to the Garden Center—one of 6 parents to do so), “Thank you so much. Our block really is looking great! I would have never thought flowers could make such a difference. My daughter told me it feels like paradise.”

Thanks to everyone who has helped spread the word thus far! I encourage you to plant up your corner spaces, get out your shovels to help your neighbors, and please do come to our kick-off event on Saturday June 21st. It would be wonderful to channel all this good feeling into one amazing celebration.

Gethsemane Garden Center

June 13, 2008

CAPS Beat 2422 6.12.08 Recap

Beat Wide Arrests from May 1, 2008 to May 31, 2008
Calls for Service 1418

Total Arrests: =97

Top 10 Crimes for Beat 2422

Battery/Domestic Simple =12
Battery/Non-Domestic =10
Battery/Aggravated = 4
Narcotics-cannabis =16
Assault/Simple = 4
Trespass = 7
Criminal Property Damage = 5
Criminal Vehicle Damage = 5
Theft - Retail = 8
Criminal Defacement =4

No arrests by street were given.

1st Watch Arrests =9
2nd Watch Arrests =6
3rd Watch Arresets =21
Tactical or Covert Teams 51 Arrests

Beat Priorities Set At Tonights Meeting

Forms for Abandoned or Problem Building Citizen Information Report were distributed for neighbors to fill out and return to the police. *If anyone not present at the meeting would like a form please email Eva at elm@clstoons.com or me at howardwatchers@aol.com.

The list of problem buildings compiled tonight are:

7611-13 Bosworth – Broadmoor East
7616 N Bosworth
7628 N Bosworth
7603 N Greenview
1542-44 W Jonquil
1546 W. Jonquil
7711 N Marshfield

BUILDING REPORTS

Northpoint - 12 Buildings in North of Howard area. Northpoint provided a written update on their management. There has been one eviction.

Security patrol – Will be increased during the summer to monitor and control activity in and around the Northpoint buildings, including loitering. High Traffic areas will see increased coverage

Gate locks, knobs and fencing are repaired as breakage is found – an on-going maintenance effort.

Northpoint will continue to file resident evictions, as applicable, for lease and house rule violations.

Tree trimming to allow for more visibility and safety has been planned. Landscape upgrades and exterior painting for improved curb appeal at all Northpoint buildings are in progress.

The Advancement Center continues with activities and programs for the elderly, children and disabled Northpoint residents.

7625 N Bosworth - According to Richard Marks, manager of the Jonquil Hotel – the ten day notice and eviction of two problem tenants has been completed.

Sargon Isaac stated he is in the process of evicting 3 tenants at 7615 N Sheridan. He has already been through the court proceedings and is waiting for the Sheriff to serve eviction papers

Steve Cohen informed the group that with the county cut backs, the sheriff’s office has fewer personnel to handle such notices. Also compounding the issue is the large number of foreclosures, walk-aways as well as evictions to serve. Rather than sending Sheriffs, the county has chosen to send moving companies to remove personal items from apartments, condos, homes. The issue of safety as well as long-term cost saving has yet to be factored. More information can be found under Cook County Evictions on the web.

Community Issues/Problems

During the warm weather, there will be more police walking the high traffic areas as well as the bike units covering Howard and other side streets.

One neighbor inquired about the Gale Park Community Center. A brief discussion was held regarding the finalization of extra funding to cover the expense of building and the tentative July 1 opening date. Another person inquired about a recent flyer taped to the door about Gale becoming the future home of the boys and girls club, and that if the Park District chose to turn it over to the club that adult neighbors would be excluded from the activities in building. Also, mentioned that should the boys and girls club take over the field house, it would be open to kids from all over Chicago and would no longer be the long awaited ‘neighborhood community center’ just for this neighborhood.

One resident from the 1504 Howard building thanked the officers and neighbor who have kept a watchful eye on the area. She noted loitering is down and her doorway is no longer filled with strangers.

Additional concerns may be emailed to Eva at elm@clstoons.com.

The meeting adjourned at 8:00 PM.

Note: There were some individuals in attendance who seldom attend CAPS meetings and seldom call 911. Some members of the group feel they came to find out what the police and neighbors were ‘planning’. We sincerely hope they were dismayed and will relay the problem solving and watchful neighborhood eyes to their friends.

June 12, 2008

Cooling Jarvis Beach Breeze

It's delightfully warm today.

Here are photos of Sunday's walk to Jarvis Beach. When we turned from Sheridan, the temperature dropped 10 or more degrees as soon as the concrete, brick and auto heat disappeared. A refreshing east wind cleared the mind and a serene beach calmed the soul. Does this scene need to be altered on any of our beaches?

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This little rabbit hopped out and enjoyed the cool evening lake breeze too.

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CAPS Beat 2422 Meeting Tonight

CAPS Beat 2422 meets tonight.

Thursday, June 12
Gateway Senior Apartments
7450 N. Rogers - Community Room
7:00 PM

June 11, 2008

Gale Community Center Funding Fully Approved Today

Members of the three NOH park advisory councils attended today’s City Council meeting. We were there for the Gale Park Community Center even though it wasn’t the main event. We had learned last week that an Intergovernmental Agreement between the City and the Park District had been introduced at the May 14 meeting. That was after several phone calls, returned calls and a lot of confusing information.

City Clerk, May 14, 2008

The IGA or Intergovernmental Agreement:

"Authorization for execution of intergovernmental agreement with Chicago Park District and transfer of funds from Howard/Paulina Tax Increment Financing District for construction of Gale School Park."

There seemed to be some matter pending in the finance committee from last week’s meeting that could hold up the final approval of the IGA. Between the confusing information from entities of the City of Chicago, we decided to attend the 9:15 am Finance Meeting held before the Council Meeting, to show our support (if necessary) and to see this last leg of the long project approved.

During the committee meeting Joe listed the financial sources and amounts, not including the Howard/Paulina TIF funding, for the project. Sitting at the table with Joe was Berny Stone, Ward 50, who apparently had contributed financially from his funds for our community center. We owe Berny a thank you for helping our community.

Thankfully whatever issue that was pended from last week was resolved in the Finance Committee and went before the full council where it was approved. (After the long Grant Park debate.) The Park District will receive their money and what remains to be completed on the punch list should soon be remedied. The new park supervisor will be able to plan programming for a targeted opening of July 1. Keep your fingers crossed that no more glitches arise – we’re almost there.

Joe wasn’t required to speak today about Gale but he did make very valid points in his speech concerning the placement the Children’s Museum in Grant Park. This isn’t the Joe we’ve seen in media clips getting loud or angry.

Here’s the video from Tom Mannis at The Bench

A Mere $36 Billion!!

Quote from CNN Post:

Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has acknowledged that Americans are hurting from the high energy costs but strongly opposes the Democrats' response and has ridiculed those who "think we can tax our way out of this problem."

I wonder how many are stockholders in the big 5 companies that earned $36 billion in profits in the first quarter of 2008.

Full story here on what was offered and what was refused…

Dubya and pals helped create this mess and the country is paying for it, financially, emotionally and physically. But let’s not focus on windfall taxes, let’s go to the backroom and figure out how to milk the taxpayers for more. Are we going to get another tearful compassionate conservative speech? Get the Kleenex ready for the gouge in your electric and gas bills! Look at the line items on your utility bills and see if you aren't being taxed out of someone's problem.

To be fair though, we have to blame the Tax and Spend Democrats too. Politicians in both parties are not the little peoples friends but sure do suck up to big corporate lobbyists.

Childrens Museum For Council Vote Today

Ben and Mike at The Chicago Reader have provided their take on todays vote by each alderman. Interesting commentary.

June 10, 2008

Something Fishy With This Tale

There was a CTA worker at the Monroe Street station turning people away at the steps around 5:15pm. We were told there was a problem, the station was closed, but we could catch the train at the Grand Avenue station. Ha, right. I took a bus to Chicago Avenue and there were crowds waiting for any bus that would stop. The red line was not open.

The buses on Michigan were filled to more than safe limits. People had their faces right in the windshield next to the driver, packed so full that some bus doors wouldn't close. But according to the CTA's version it was only closed for a short while. Bus drivers didn't know if the trains were up and running or not. Great communication system the CTA provides its drivers and clients! At least traffic management was out on Lake Shore and the inner drives and all along the northern bus routes.

The details of the tragedy are probably yet unfolding. But if such bedlam was caused over one incident, what will happen with the Olympics?

More Political Drama

From the Chicago Tribune

So it’s in the best interest of the children or the political agenda? That’s why the Lead Poisoning Prevention Act passed the Illinois House but sits on the Senate table during break.

Eric Zorn’s commentary and poll on the battle over the Childrens Museum

The Tony Award cartoon is priceless….

Pay to Play

But the bottom line is the taxpayers foot the bill whether or not they agree with their alderperson. As for local zoning - (fill in the blank). Big Brother needs to be recruited to the taxpayers side but we can't afford him.

June 9, 2008

Rental Condos On Marshfield

One street over on Marshfield is this property at 7711 that is rumored to be vacant except for the squatters. The windows on the first and second floor appear to reflect empty apartments. Once upon a time an attempt was made to convert these to condos. It is said that such a pitiful job was done that no one would buy them. So the owners turned to Section 8 rentals for guaranteed income.

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Sandwiched between 7712 Ashland and 7711 Marshfield is this playground. There were 4 little girls playing without adult supervision in this alley.

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They finally took their bikes into the yard below this sight.

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Apparently, there are a lot of condos North of Howard that are actually rental. Do I care? Not really until I hear about loss of housing stock to condos and the subsequent hate mongering that goes on! What bothers me is the quality of life conditions owners or tenants create for themselves that subsequently degrade the neighborhood. The other alternative is the owners don’t really give a damn how their tenants live as long as the government checks hit the bank.

Where’s that housing forum crowd when it comes to these situations?