Monday, February 12, 2007

Follow up on Today's 43rd Ward Aldermanic Forum

Here's a quick wrap-up of today's WBEZ candidate forum.

We have five very compelling candidates, which this great ward deserves. The alderman's job, in many ways, is the most powerful in the city, but also the most thankless. I am truly grateful to all of them for their commitment and dedication to our community.

I also thought Steve Edwards did an outstanding job of introducing our ward and choosing highly relevant questions from the citizens present at the Chicago History Museum today. (If you attended, can you give an approximate size of the crowd?)

As I've mentioned, I am not endorsing any candidate in this blog, but I'm also incredibly undecided as a voter. Today's forum gave me a lot more to think about and did not provide the clarity I had hoped. (That's not a fault of the forum, but rather symbolic of the quality of the candidates who are running.)

Please add your reactions and thoughts in the comments section. Or, you can e-mail me at ThePlaceWhereWeLive (at) gmail (dot)com.

Vi Daley

Liked: Dealt with her critics in a rational, professional way. That's a requirement of the job as far as I'm concerned. She's also clearly knowledgable about her job, the ward, and the issues at play. She's a true professional. A lot of Chicagoans can't say that about their alderman.

Concerns: Did not like her plan for dealing with Children's Memorial Hospital. It was too piecemeal and lacked any kind of desire to create a cohesive vision for the community. Part of that point of view, I admit, is driven by my own frustration about the number of community groups in our ward. There should only be one group with a bunch of subcommittees. We have been divided and conquered, in my opinion.

She also said this about the three and four-lot McMansions cropping up south of Armitage, "It's really not a bad thing." She supported that by saying no one is complaining about it to her office. Hmmmm.

Tim Egan

Liked: He mentioned a "lack of vision" when it comes to development in the ward (esp. with regard to the McMansions.) Also liked that he thought one part of putting the lid on property taxes was tracking what the city is doing with the money already.

Concerns: However, he didn't seem to be able to articulate a plan for how he would do better other than to say he'd hold planners accountable. Not sure that's a workable solution.

Rachel Goodstein

Liked: Okay, truly loved that she was going to pull together a strategic envisioning committee for development in our ward. This, in my opinion, is exactly what is needed and is advised by experts on how to address the issues raised today. Vi Daley's strategy of working with nine separate community groups, some urban planners, and other experts does not sound to me like it will bring together a consensus and it leaves out citizens who are not well-connected to the community groups. Also, said she has strategic planning experience.

She's also very credible on her statement that if you're looking for someone to stand up to the mayor, she's the candidate. She is the former director of the Meigs Field Action Coalition.

She also called for transparency in what the city spends.

Concerns: Goodstein was pretty succinct in her comments. I did not hear much in her approach that concerned me.

Michele Smith

Liked: I thought her statements, "The look and feel of Lincoln Park is really under attack, " and "I fear we're losing the park of Lincoln Park" reflected two of my big concerns. She recognized disparity between Lincoln Park High School's IB program and regular program, which showed a great knowledge about the educational challenges in our ward and accompanying parental expectations.

Concerns: The comments I've heard offline and comments that have been posted on this site suggest she is a bit strident. Unfortunately, what I heard today supported that public impression. I found myself writing in my notes, "Man, she sounds angry." That is great when it fuels a passionate commitment to her community, which is seems to do. But, I also think she needs to begin showing her collaborative side pronto.

Peter Zelchenko

Liked: He said he was very concerned about "private interests taking over the public good" in our community. He looks at the city in a global way (meaning not just considering our ward), but he is a lifelong resident of the ward. He's an activist and was the one to most directly challenge the status quo, I thought. Also, I really appreciated his statement, "We pay the most property taxes in the city and should demand the best city services possible."

Concerns: The global point of view may challenge him as residents want to think ward-wise. I did find myself wondering whether he was running as a public service in order to help raise the issues he cares about and to challenge the status quo, rather than to primarily secure a win. He's very civic-minded and a committed activist. The city can't get enough of people like him as far as I'm concerned. The statement that the public schools are "adequate" did not reflect my standards as a parent and the level of expectations I think many other parents have.

(UPDATE: I just want to make a note about that last sentence, which sounds a bit snobby. What I meant is that many people hope to send their children to schools that are beyond adequate.)

I thought the candidates all did a much better job of addressing their solutions to development issues than keeping a lid on property taxes.

Please chime in.


Craig Gernhardt said...

I know Peter and you're right. He's a classic community activist. Unafraid to challenge authority on any level. His stance on TIF's and SSA's is, by far, someone you want watching the kitty, if you're a taxpayer.

Is he Alderman material? Only the voters of the 43rd ward can decide. What I do know, Vi Daley has to go. Her time is up.

Anonymous said...

I sensed that once again, Vi Daley's staff sanitized the event in advance. There were just 3 questions, and they were submitted by her supporters. I submitted a couple questions, and they weren't used. The emcee kept turning back to Daley, and candidates weren't given equal time.

The introductory neighborhood description and resident interviews established the bias at the start. For example, a small retailer was interviewed, but a commercial landlord was not. Another interviewee was 65 year old Shirley Baugher. She is a hardcore activist and one of Vi Daley's chief political operatives. After serving as president of the Old Town Triangle Association about ten years ago, she made herself the association's perpetual salaried 'administrator'. She is the gatekeeper that gives litmus tests to new members. The Old Town Triangle Association is essentially Vi Daley's political organization. Baugher's comments reflected disturbing autocratic instincts. She said in effect that for a long time she did not welcome young affluent people to the neighborhood because they might use and sell drugs. Then a cop told her that young people move here because it's safe. So now she reluctantly accepts that she can't keep younger people out. This is the kind of wacko one finds in Vi Daley's kitchen cabinet.

Anonymous said...

I too felt disturbed listening this morning
and hearing one comment in particular
from a woman named Shirley reflecting someone who is probably isolated.
She was an elderly "Old Towner" who obviously
is in a time warp and sees her community
in terms of "them" -newbie residents versus "us" -old timers.
Probably most folks in the 43rd Ward now identify
"them" as developers and absentee landlords
and "us" as everyone else living here.

Then another moment that stood out was Alderman Daley on McMansions.
She said no one has complained to her about McMansions. That is just incredible. I've been
e-mailed questions submitted by at least two community groups asking candidates about MacMansions and whether there is some way
to freeze the number of lots that can be combined to build Mega Houses.
Daley may not feel MacMansions are a
problem but it was wrong of her to imply that
her constituents are fine with things because we are not fine with this and it was very frustrating
to hear her say that.

Jennifer said...

I am glad you both commented on that one citizen's remarks about "oustiders" in the neighborhood. I didn't know any of the commenters, but I thought her statement was not very helpful or illustrative of our community.

Anonymous 8:23's comment about Vi and the McMansions was interesting as 8:23 has tried to work through his/her community group. No wonder s/he was disturbed.

I have almost completely written my local group off because they have a ridiculously small swath of jurisdiction. My interests in this community go a lot wider and broader than a quarter-square mile or so. Also, their agenda is correspondingly restricted.

I think a single, unified citizens group that serves the entire community rather than micro-parts of it working in a piecemeal fashion would benefit Lincoln Park enormously. It would also more effectively counterbalance the alderman's power. Voices like Anonymous 8:24 wouldn't have to be relayed through an organization that represents 1/9th of the neighborhood. Rather s/he could find other voices in other parts of the ward who share his/her concerns on any number of issues.

Anonymous said...

Old Town Shirley should get out more.
She's paranoid.
When I heard Ald. say mcmansions are good because no one has complained to her I thought Vi Daley needs to start listening to residents more
and not developers so much.

Had I been there and called upon for a question it would have been about corruption at City Hall. .

Jennifer said...

Yeah, the more I think about Vi's non-chalance about the McMansions cropping up, the more I am just angered by the lack of vision in our community and what seems to be a piecemeal, "squeaky wheel" approach to our community.

Anonymous said...

I think that Shirley might have been asked about problems - as she is very active with the local CAPS program. If that's the case, she was probably talking about kids from Cabrini hanging out in the neighborhood. It still sounded bad but I don't think Shirley meant it the way it came out. She's much more of a liberal than the way it sounded. It's hard to tell without hearing the question that was posed to her.

Anonymous said...

Old Town Shirley is indeed a lefty, kind of like a Soviet style communist. I just think it's no accident that the alderman's biggest political ally was chosen to talk. Anybody else might have mentioned how polarized and divided the community is, or the many other things that would be embarrassing to Vi.

Tom Bowen said...

My goodness people, lay off of Shirley. "Chief political operative?" That's just a stupid comment.

Shirley is, and has been, a part of the Old Town community longer than lots of us have been alive. She's also taken the time to write 2 books on Old Town and works very hard on the Art Fair.

You anonymous types are, frankly, chickenshit. Put your name on your comments.

And to the "mcmasion's are good" spinning you guys are doing here, Vi said that they are consitent with community goals: less density and more green space, that's all. Vi has listened to anyone who has ever come into the office (and there are records to prove it, so don't pretend like you call when you don't).

Polarized and divided community? Yeah right.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Bowen,
Have you not noticed that there are 4 highly qualified candidates challenging Vi Daley? What does that say?

Tom Bowen said...

Define highly qualified please, ms/mr. ?

Here's what it says to me: 4 people and some special interest groups, who are concerned more about themselves and their own pet issues, decided to throw their hat in the ring. The problem is those 4 people and the special interest groups that back them didn't bother to ask the residents of this ward whether or not they think this is the best place to live, work and raise their family in the entire city. The also didn't manage to look up the fact that their alderman has been involved in making that a reality for 30 years.

Kind of makes me wonder what your definition of highly qualified means now, doesn't it?

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, as I recall from Vi Daley's bio, all she had to show from 30 years of hanging out with some little neighborhood group, was some vague involvement in work on a little pocket park along Clark that the winos have taken a liking to.

You and I will never agree on what makes for good qualifications, but there is no denying that the 4 challengers are educated and highly employable. None of them are desperate like Vi Daley, and they don't need the job. They have diverse opinions but are in agreement on one thing. We've got some serious problems both here and at city hall.

Tom Bowen said...


First, I repeat my claim. You are a chicken for not putting up your name. Nagh, nagh, nagh, nagh, nagh, yellow... bellied... chicken (think in a Nelson-like voice).

Second, Vi has lots of stuff in her bio. Check out her website: Go to the Experience Matters section.

Third, I disagree about your employable comment. I wouldn't hire any of these 4 to shovel my snow.

Well, that's not a fair comment. There is a lot of snow out there right now. I'd hire Tim, he would probably do a good job. I'd hire Rachel too, she at least means well in all of this.

The rest would be too concerned with themselves to do the job right.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Bowen,
Thanks for clarifying Alderman Daley's philosophy
on Planning. She thinks mansions sprawling
across 3,4,5,6 and 7 lots are "consistent" with
the goals of the community. Which community?
We are sick to death of being infected in ours with
the Schamburg bug that is killing our streets.
Finally we understand Vi Daley represents
homeowners of properties as long as they are bigger than just one insignificant lot.

Jennifer said...


Thank you for stopping by and for all the commenting. Can you help me understand how McMansions contribute to green space?


Anonymous said...

What is a McMansion? You Shirley Baugher types don't like anything but old town wooden shacks. Penny Pritzker's house ain't pretty, but looks like there will be a yard around it. Maybe you can get Vi Daley or Michele Smith to start landmarking trees for that lunatic doctor on Burling. None of these candidates are talking about property owner rights.

Jennifer said...

By McMansion, I mean a house that is 3 or more lots. The "Mc" refers to them cropping up all over the place.

What property owner rights do you feel are being overlooked?


Anonymous said...

McMansion is any pretentious building
on a lot too small to properly frame it with yardage. A house can compliment
neighboring structures or be a drain on
property values of the established homes that
preceeded it. McMansions, those on a single
lot or mutilpe lots, do not seek to honor
the place they inhabit but to dominate it. Large homes can be distinctive and compatible.
This blogs features on W. Willow.
"Mc" refers to a kind of homoginization of style.
Equal butchering is applied to graceful proportion
of french, italian or georgian tradition. Sadly
that is what we are being saddled with and why,
I suspect, so many of these investor buildings do not sell or pop back on the market.

Anonymous said...

I had reservations about Vi Daley, but was undecided. Now seeing the abusive comments posted by her campaign manager, any last hesitations I had about voting against her are removed. I will vote for whichever candidate seems most likely to defeat her. Right now that seems to be Michelle Smith.

And I am anonymous because I am unsure of the professionalism and conduct of those who have opposing views. That's why.

Anonymous said...

Just one last comment for anon, Michele Smith is the most desperate for a job. When was the last time she actually held down a job?

Tom Bowen said...

Anonys (all of you),

So sorry people that have already made up their mind are posting anonymously and are feigning outrage. Sorry we lost your pretend votes.


Anonymous said...

Michele Smith is desperate. Tim Egan has the leadership and resources to take her and Vi Daley out.

Anonymous said...

Tim Egan is a bonehead

Anonymous said...

I think Egan is running because his wife said to him "Timmy, you are getting too old to be the pitcher-man at the bar, you need to do something with your life... why don't you try a big-boy maybe you could run for alderman?"