About 50th Ward Follies

This blog began on New Year's Eve of 2014, and was created as commentary on the 2015 aldermanic election. I redesigned the blog in April of 2015 so that, in addition to commentary on the ward's political (mis)adventures, it would highlight the ward's success stories. In April I also incorporated a community organization, POWR (People of West Ridge) NFP, whose sole purpose is neighborhood improvement. You can visit POWR's Web site at Peopleofwestridge.org For the record: POWR is nonpartisan. 50thWardFollies is not. POWR is not a membership organization but is focused on raising awareness and conducting research while helping residents organize around issues of specific importance to them.

Dinner Crawl / Movie Night Cancelled

The West Ridge Chamber of Commerce has announced that onight’s restaurant crawl and movie night have been cancelled. The Chamber’s communication reads:

“Due to heavy rain in the forecast this afternoon and a low amount of registrants for the dinner tour, we will be cancelling this evening’s Dinner Crawl & Movie Night. There is no rain date.”

My thanks to The Man Upstairs, who listens when earthly powers won’t.

 

Advertisements

It’s Not “Just a Parking Lot” Anymore

Most of us treasure these last days of summer, as the days get shorter and the breezes warmer and the backyard tomatoes are ripe for picking. There’s nothing like sitting on the porch or in the yard or even in one’s own kitchen, enjoying the evening breezes, Sinatra singing, and a fresh tomato tart.

That is, unless you live around the Republic Bank parking lot, which this week will be the site of both a Wednesday movie night and a Saturday evening India Day program that includes a concert. The Minutes of the SSA meeting reveal that initial plans for tonight called for a restaurant crawl, movie night, and ribbon cutting starring the Mayor. He may show up. He’s running for reelection and what better way to show the Indian community he loves them? It will boost Silverstein’s reelection campaign as well–another photo for the weekly family album, er, constituent newsletter.

June 18 minutes

The India Day event, including the parade and the party-in-a-parking lot , is expected to cost $100,000, most of it privately funded. The original proposal included a talent show, a fashion show, and a concert. I wonder how much of that is being spent for the privilege of eating cake alongside an alley. You’d think the organizers would want to do better by their guests.

May 30 minutes.                                                          April 16 Minutes

The SSA is also planning a back to school event for next August in the same parking lot. How this will drive business to Devon is a mystery. No stores on the street sell school supplies or children’s shoes or clothing. The Indian businesses long ago made it clear they don’t want local residents in their stores, and I doubt if many tourists shop here for pencils and paper.

Continue reading

Jason Honig Running for Alderman

Jason Honig has announced his candidacy for 50th Ward alderman. Honig is a former teacher, counselor, and school principal who was once executive director of the Lawndale Learning Center. He currently works for an investment firm that specializes in ethical investment and money management.

 

Jason’s campaign slogan is “Alderman for the Common Good.” No discussion of the 50th Ward is complete without praise for diversity, no matter how ill-defined or undefined it may be. But Jason pledges to work across ethnic and religious divides to form a community of neighbors working together for the benefit of all residents. This is a concept that eludes the current alderman.

Like Andrew Rowlas, who already announced his candidacy, Jason believes that the alderman should be transparent about community business and active in the community. He supports participatory budgeting, a zoning committee to advise the alderman on zoning and land use, and empowering citizens to work with him on economic and residential development.

 

Honig would initiate ward days and celebrations of our diverse cultures. Personally, I’d like to see an end to ethnic-specific parades and celebrations. I think the best way to celebrate our community would be to hold an annual Fourth of July parade, celebrating the contributions made by each ethnic group to the American mosaic. I think we should celebrate the one thing that unites us– the fact that we are Americans or want to be.

 

Jason would provide translators at public meetings. The fact that he’s willing to meet with his constituents is a novelty in the 50th Ward. We’ve spent eight years with an  alderman who avoids her constituents and refuses to discuss public business lest we offer our own opinions, which she’s made clear she doesn’t want to hear. Whether it’s Rowlas or Honig who replaces her, it will be wonderful to have an alderman who  actually informs the community about public business and tells us how he voted on the issues of the day.

 

Jason would also promote “equity and diversity” in the ward office. He and Rowlas are in agreement on this issue as well. It never ceases to amaze me that the current alderman’s office is open only four and a half days per week. It closes promptly at 2 p.m. every Friday in observance of the Sabbath. But candle-lighting time, especially during the summer, is often not until 8 p.m. or later. Even if the alderman has to leave, isn’t there a Christian or Muslim or Hindu or atheist staff member who could keep the office open on Friday afternoon? Isn’t that one way for the alderman to practice the diversity she preaches? Would some creative juggling of staff schedules also permit the office to open at least a half-day on Saturday?

 

Honig supports term limits for the Mayor and the City Council and full funding for education. You can read his full platform on his Web site.

 

Nominating petitions for all the candidates will begin circulating on August 28. We won’t know who the final candidates are until December. The current alderman will try to eliminate as many of her potential opponents  as possible through petition challenges. If you really want to participate in the pre-election process, you might consider volunteering to review nominating petitions for irregularities. Maybe you’d like to host a meet-and-greet visit by one of the candidates in your home or at a public venue. There are lots of things you can do to support your candidate.

Contact the current challengers:

https://honigfor50th.com

https://rowlasforward50.com

 

 

 

Community Alert — Armed Robberies

Chicago Police have issued a community alert about three armed robberies committed in our area during the first week of August. The police have released the following information:

 

About the crime:

In these incidents, unknown offender(s) have approached the victims, produced handguns, and robbed the victims of their
belongings.
Incident Times and Locations:
6100 block of N. Winchester Avenue, August 1, 2018, at 11:30 p.m.
2200 block of West Granville Avenue, August 3, 2018, at 9:20 p.m.
6000 block of N. Talman Avenue,
August 4, 2018, at 7:30 p.m.
About the Offenders:
 The offenders are described as unknown male blacks between the ages of 16 – 25, wearing t-shirts or tank tops. In one incident the co-offender was described as an unknown male white with blond hair.
What you should do:
Always be aware of your surroundings
Pay special attention to any suspicious people or vehicles loitering in the area
If you are confronted by assailants, remain calm
Remember any unique physical characteristics (ie., scars, limp, acne, tattoos)
Never pursue a fleeing assailant
Call 911 immediately and provide a detailed description of the offender(s)
including any vehicle description and license plate information
If you have any information on the above incidents, please call the Detective Bureau at 312/744-8263. Case numbers are:
JB-375209; JB-378102; and JB-379460. The reference number is P18-N-204.
Thanks to Mark Lebowitz and the 24th District CAPS office for releasing this information to the community.

Addendum to “The Alderman’s Secret Housing Meeting”

Sources tell me that parking was the only issue raised at last night’s meeting on the new housing development at Western and Morse Avenues. About a dozen people attended and were satisfied that the 26 parking spaces proposed would suffice.

Each townhouse is expected to sell for about $450,000, while each condo will cost about $340,000. These price points raise some interesting questions about property taxes and gentrification, but those issues were not part of the discussion.

Are residential buildings rather than commercial buildings the best choice for this stretch of Western Avenue? Should that be decided  only by a dozen residents, the developers, and the alderman?  What are the risks that existing residents will be forced out of the neighborhood because of higher property taxes? Can we talk about the fact that this development permanently alters  the character  of that part of our neighborhood? Should the larger community have any input? What exactly is the alderman’s vision for the community and how does this new development fit into it? Or is that a secret too?

So many questions. So few answers. Will the alderman meet with the entire community to discuss them?

Stay tuned.

 

 

The Alderman’s Secret Housing Meeting

This evening, in what should have been an open, public community meeting, the alderman discussed with a few select residents a developer’s proposal to build 16 housing units across the street from the new library. The development consists of two buildings, each containing five townhouses, and one six-unit condo building. The only residents invited to attend are those who live in the immediate vicinity of the proposed development.

The buildings would replace the vacant lots on Morse and Western Avenues. The exact addresses are 6911 and 6915 North Western and 2339 West Morse. A special-use permit is required for the development. Continue reading

Three Little Angels

As you know, just a few days into the year I lost my darling cat to a sudden illness. We had just started our eighteenth year together, and he would have turned nineteen or twenty this year.

About to pounce on a muffin. Puddy would then roll onto his back and juggle it with all four paws, while Oso and Lady waited for it to fall.

Mr. Cat was a sweet yet tough little guy, and for weeks after his death my two dogs, Oso and Lady, searched the house for him. He had a maddening habit of popping out of nowhere and hitting them on the head or paws, then scampering away. I don’t think they ever quite got used to the idea that it was safe to walk across the room.

We moved through spring and Into summer without Mr. Cat, each of us mourning in his own way. Then, on June 2, Oso died suddenly of a presumed heart attack.

Oso was my big, silly baby bear, a dog who loved nothing more than to be petted and hugged and fed his favorite foods. He was one of those dogs who was always in the way, always trying to stay one step ahead. He’d rush to be the first in the kitchen, and no matter where he parked himself it was always the wrong place. He’d be in front of the stove when I needed to cook, in front of the fridge when I needed to get food, in front of the sink when I needed water. The few times he landed in the center of the room he was in the way, period.

Mom’s big brown bear.

Oso, as acting supervisor, would stick his head over my shoulder to check on the status of the food in the oven. He would sit and watch me chop vegetables, and insisted on a look before they went into the pot. He loved bananas and apples and his Thanksgiving treat of a slice of pumpkin pie.

Loving, friendly, and always ready for his close-up, he often posed for photos with passers-by on Devon, especially with children who squealed with joy that they could put their arms around my big, sweet bear. It got so that he would see a camera, and immediately assume his best pose.

Oso was a big dog with a big personality, and the house was suddenly empty without him. I hadn’t fully realized how well he took care of Lady until his passing.

My beautiful little girl had suffered all her life from a seizure disorder thought to be caused by a brain tumor. She also had congenital cataracts. A few years ago, one seizure affected first one front paw and then the other. After that, she didn’t want to go outside anymore. Even when I carried her down the stairs, she would refuse to walk and instead sit and wait to be taken back home. She was terrified of fireworks, which triggered  seizures, and I dreaded the summer holidays.

With Oso gone, she had difficulty finding her way around the house. I would often come home to find her standing trapped under a chair or in a blind corner, not sure in which direction to move. I was used to seeing Oso go to her aid, walking up to her and then moving  away,  a gesture that said just follow me and I’ll take you back to your bed. Lacking his guidance, she would now cry when trapped. I didn’t think Lady would make it through the summer, and, sadly, she didn’t. After several harrowing days and nights  of  fireworks explosions, she suffered her final seizure on July 3. My darling Lady died peacefully in her sleep mid-morning on July 4.

My beautiful Lady.

Lady was a beautiful dog, and she knew it. In her prime, she would strut down the street, conscious of admiring glances and enjoying the attentions of  people who would stop to fuss over her. Until her most serious seizure a couple of years ago, she was very playful, especially with dogs her own size. Sweet and loving, she had no interest at all in being Top Dog, a position that Oso and I each felt was ours (we fought to a draw).

All three of my angels died in a bit less than six months. Their ashes are back home with me, and they, along with their brothers and sisters, will be buried with me when my time comes.

I take my morning walks by myself now, and miss ethe excitement of a dog discovering the world anew every morning, examining each flower and blade of grass as though they hadn’t been there yesterday, then eagerly poking a head around the corner to see what’s there, catching a scent on the breeze and pulling on the leash to follow it. I’ve never had a cat who wasn’t fascinated by life on the other side of the window, watching the world for hours and then snoozing on the windowsill in the sunlight.

I have been blessed with many wonderful dogs and cats over the years. I like to think that when Mr. Cat, Oso, and Lady crossed the Rainbow Bridge they were greeted by the brothers and sisters who preceded them. I like to think of all of them running around on a cloud, playing happily and joyfully, Lady reuniting with her buddy Paco, Mr. Cat exploring the heavens, and Oso charming everyone in sight–lovingly in the way.

Eventually, there will be another cat and another dog, and they will be as unique and wonderful as all my other angels. But for now, I feel lost, my home is empty, and I cannot think yet about bringing another pet home.

Later, but not now.

 

 

Warren Park Survey

The Warren Park Advisory Council is asking the community for input on the park’s current programming and use. If you’d like to make your voice heard, access the survey by searching for “Public Uses of Warren Park.” (Sorry, I was unable to copy and paste the link.)

 

Pop-up Kosher Indian Restaurant

Shalom Klein, executive director of the Jewish Community Council of West Rogers Park, has announced a special event for this Sunday, July 29. The community’s first annual international pop-up restaurant, this time serving kosher Indian foods, will open for the evening at Ezras Israel on North California Avenue.

The event will include a special cooking demonstration. Food will be prepared by professional chefs.

Tickets can be ordered in advance ($15 for members, $18 for nonmembers) or purchased at the event ($18 for members, $22 for nonmembers. Tickets for children under age ten are $12. The menu can be viewed and tickets pre-ordered online at ezrasisrael.com\event\indian.

The event will take place in the Rosenberg Auditorium at Ezras Israel, 7001 North California Avenue beginning at 5:00 p.m.

For more information, call 773/764-8320.