A Very Crowded “Suite B”

City law forbids the use of City-funded offices for political work, including the solicitation, receipt, or processing of campaign contributions. City employees are not permitted to perform work for political campaigns on paid City time. 

Unless the candidate is Debra Silverstein.

Today Silverstein posted on Facebook a photo of her campaign staff busy at work  in the campaign office, otherwise known as the conference room of her aldermanic office, which for campaign purposes is known as Suite B.

Silverstein’s aldermanic office at 2949 West Devon Avenue also houses the 50th Ward Regular Democratic Organization, a fundraising organization that supports the political work of the 50th Ward Machine. 

Silverstein’s aldermanic office at 2949 West Devon Avenue is also the mailing address of Friends for Debra Silverstein, her year-round fundraising organization, which solicits, accepts, and processes money.  

Silverstein’s aldermanic office at 2949 West Devon Avenue is also, according to the Illinois Secretary of State, the corporate headquarters of Jamestown Realty, whose owner is Demetrios Spyrakos. To my knowledge, Silverstein’s office is the only aldermanic office in the City that serves as corporate headquarters for a private business.

Records available online from the Assessor’s Office do not list Debra’s office in a property address search; do a PIN search (13-01-104-004-0000) for the property record and note that the buildingg housing Silverstein’s aldermanic office is tax-exempt.

Then check that PIN number with the Recorder of Deeds, and discover that the Recorder shows the building is owned by FREE (Friends of Refugees of Eastern Europe), which is why it’s tax exempt. Yes, that’s correct, an income-producing storefront rental is tax exempt. 

The lease signed by Debra Silverstein and paid for by the taxpayers is an agreement between Silverstein as alderman and Demetrios Spyrakos.

  • The taxpayers of Chicago paid monthly rent to Demetrios Spyrakos, not Jamestown Realty, for the City-leased alderman’s office.
  • The 50th Ward Regular Democratic Organization paid rent irregularly–three to four times per year–to Jamestown Realty, not Demetrios Spyrakos, for its use of space within the City-leased alderman’s office. 
  • Silverstein’s campaign committee in 2014-15 did not pay any rent to the City for its use of space within the City-leased alderman’s office.
  • Silverstein’s campaign committee in 2018-19 has not paid any rent to the City for its use of space within the City-leased alderman’s office. 
  • It is not known whether Jamestown Realty paid the City for its use of space within the alderman’s office.

Internet sources state that Jamestown Realty has three employees and its own phone number, all located within the alderman’s office. It’s to be expected that Mail is delivered and phones are answered. But where are the Jamestown employees? The only staff inside the alderman’s office are City employees. If Jamestown Realty employees work at the Jamestown Realty Corporate Offices within the alderman’s office, where do they sit? Where are their phones? Where is their equipment? Surely City employees on City time are not handling Jamestown Realty mail or answering Jamestown Realty phones? Interestingly, when the alderman’s office is closed in observance of a holiday, or the alderman gives her staff other paid time off–as she did at Christmas–the corporate offices of Jamestown Realty are also closed.

Where are the staff for the 50th Ward Regular Democratic Organization? Who answers the phones? Who processes the mail and the donations? Do they share Suite B with the re-election campaign staff?

And what about Debra’s re-election campaign office and staff? They are supposedly located in Suite B.  But there’s a recent picture of Debra hosting a paper-plate pizza lunch for public school principals in the conference room. Where did the campaign staffers go during this event? Were theyworking in another part  of the  City-leased aldermanic office? In the photo Silverstein posted on Facebook, they are clearly sitting around her conference table–isn’t that City-owned property? This isn’t nitpicking. These are supposed to be totally separate operations. By law.

Look at the Facebook picture again. Where did all those boxes of literature and posters go while the  principals ate pizza? Where does the campaign staff hold meetings and interact with volunteers?  We know campaign staff  come in on weekends because they send emails like the one about the library’s opening date. Have you noticed how often the Facebook and Twitter links on ward announcements go to Debra’s re-election sites? This isn’t coincidence. The line between aldermanic business and re-election campaigning has blurred to the point of nonexistence.  

Ira’s a lawyer, familiar with election law. Deborah is a CPA, familiar with election law So what’s going on here?

  • Why is the 50th Ward Regular Democratic Organization housed within the taxpayer-funded aldermanic office?
  • Why is Debra Silverstein’s re-election campaign situated within her taxpayer-funded aldermanic office?
  • Why are the Friends of Deborah Silverstein soliciting and receiving campaign contributions year round from within her City-funded aldermanic office?
  • Why is Jamestown Realty’s official corporate  headquarters located within the City-leased alderman’s office?

Something’s rotten, and it ain’t in Denmark.

Independent Researcher Anne Sullivan shared her own work on this topic with Follies. I am grateful for her diligence and generosity. 

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Rowlas for Alderman

50th Ward Follies proudly endorses Andrew Rowlas for alderman of the 50th Ward.

He is the opposite of Debra Silverstein.

Rowlas is committed to empowering the residents  of the 50th Ward. Silverstein blocks resident input and initiatives.

Rowlas supports

  • Participatory budgeting
  • Zoning Advisory Board
  • Economic Development Council
  • Community Service Corps
  • Community Cultural Arts Center

Silverstein opposes all five initiatives. She has said repeatedly that she does not support participatory budgeting. She will not even consider citizen input on zoning or economic-development. She has never organized volunteers–including students in need of community service credits–to engage in opportunities for community  benefit, like shoveling snow from bus stops and street corners so bus passengers and pedestrians can move freely, or assisting elderly residents with shopping, pet-walking, or just chatting over iced tea on a hot summer day. She does not support creating a cultural arts center.

Rowlas believes in open and transparent democracy.  Silverstein hides what she is doing from her constituents.

Rowlas pledges:

  • An end to secret committees advising the alderman
  • An end to the practice of conducting the public’s business via private email and website
  • An open and transparent decision-making process, with frequent community meetings and opportunities for resident input on both Ward and City issues
  • An end to governance by photo-op

Silverstein’s penchant for secrecy will disappear from the 50th Ward.  Why is it necessary to hide public business from residents? What is it that residents are not supposed to know? What secret deals benefiting special interests are in the works? It will never be necessary to ask those questions of Andrew Rowlas.

Rowlas believes we must reform Chicago’s government.  Silverstein is an old style, machine politician– a ward boss who is not accountable to her constituents.

Rowlas supports:

  • Term limits for mayor, aldermen, and committee chairs
  • Reducing the size of the City Council
  • Realigning aldermanic responsibilities so that aldermen focus on legislation rather than routine City service requests

Silverstein has arrogantly declared that her term limits come every four years, when she stands for re-election.  As a loyal member of whatever Chicago machine is in power, Silverstein has no interest whatever in government reform. This will become even more obvious once a new mayor is elected and the boot-licking begins.

Andrew and I have talked extensively about his plans for the ward. He sees himself as a transitional figure, a one-term alderman who will, as he put it,  “sow the seeds” for the Ward’s future. He believes strongly that empowering residents produces future leaders. As a former educator, he values the importance of giving our young people a stake in the future of the 50th Ward. Andrew would strengthen our Ward’s democracy by practicing democratic values.

Yes, his personal beliefs are on the left side of the ledger. But he understands that his role as alderman is to represent the values of his constituents. 

Yes, he’s run a low-key campaign. That’s what happens when you raise small amounts of money from ordinary people. Silverstein received more than $200,000 from special interest groups and wealthy individuals.  They are her real constituency, not the working families her expensive mailers claim she supports. Silverstein has no small donors.

No, Rowlas is not a dynamic, mesmerizing speaker. He expresses his ideas and opinions in a slow, measured cadence that reflects his Indiana upbringing. Rowlas is what we Irish call “comfortable in his skin.”  If  you’re looking for verbal fireworks you won’t find them with Andrew, but you will discover a thoughtful, reasonable man who is willing and able to consider other people’s viewpoints, and is open to suggestion and change. Authentic and sincere, he does not need the services of an image consultant. He spent a lifetime becoming who he is.

I’ve known Andrew for several years, and have enjoyed many conversations with him on political and other issues. Our discussions have been lively, to say the least, since he is a liberal Democrat and I am a  moderate Republican. Andrew has two delightful pets–a dog and a cat–and he’s an accomplished cook–his baklava is to die for. Friends and associates can vouch for his loyalty and reliability.

The 50th Ward is desperately in need of leadership.

I believe Andrew Rowlas is the best choice for Alderman of the 50th Ward. I hope you’ll vote for him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Silverstein Has Not Earned Re-Election

The City of Chicago is struggling to overcome decades of mismanagement and financial irresponsibility that have resulted in declining neighborhoods, violent crime, population loss, overwhelming debt, pension shortfalls,  ruinous interest payments, corruption, and potential bankruptcy. The new mayor and City Council will have hard work to do and tough decisions to make.  Finding solutions to Chicago’s most intractable problems requires electing a strong mayor and a stronger City Council.

The 50th Ward’s representative to that City Council must be an active, involved, community-oriented individual focused on neighborhood improvement through resident empowerment and community economic development.  Our alderman must also serve the City as a thoughtful,  informed,  and independent  legislator willing to establish cooperative relationships with other Council members to accomplish common goals, and be capable of offering creative, innovative, and practical solutions to help resolve our City’s dilemmas.

Debra Silverstein is not that person.

Silverstein’s eight years as alderman have worsened the 50th Ward’s economic depression. Every one of our major shopping corridors–California, Devon, Lincoln, Touhy, Western–has declined, with vacant storefronts sometimes covering entire blocks.  Some storefronts have been empty for years, as have some commercial buildings. Most residents must travel outside the ward to shop for the goods they need and want. Silverstein is simply not interested  in doing the hard work  involved in restoring  the vitality  that once characterized our shopping districts. She has  offered no vision for the ward, instead insisting that it is “flourishing” despite the demonstrable evidence otherwise–more than 100 empty storefronts, unoccupied commercial buildings, and vacant lots. The ward is still waiting for the “spirited economic development plan” she promised in 2011.

Silverstein blocks all attempts at empowering residents. In 2016, she hired an attorney to challenge the petition to place a non-binding referendum  on the ballot to bring participatory budgeting (PB) to the 50th Ward. During a recent aldermanic forum, she declared that even if 2,000 Ward residents voted for PB, she would be concerned they didn’t represent the entire ward. She has withheld zoning change requests from the community, and refused to establish a resident  Zoning Advisory Board or hold community meetings on zoning changes, despite her claims to the contrary.

Her lack of transparency is nothing short of appalling. She conducts public business using a private email address and a private website instead of the ones provided by the City. Silverstein conducts public business via secret committees whose members are not accountable to residents and whose deliberations and recommendations are never made public. Two years after it was formed, the names of the members of the alderman’s secret advisory committee on the new library are still unknown. Silverstein recently revealed that last year she created yet more secret committees to advise her on economic development. She never reports on business before the City Council, or tells constituents how she voted on major issues. This level of secrecy does not exist in other wards. And it begs the question of why Silverstein thinks it’s necessary here.

There are objective data supporting the contention that she is a lazy, disinterested alderman. A recent report from WBEZ and The Daily Line documented aldermanic attendance at Council and committee meetings from May 2015 through December 2018. Silverstein managed to get to 200 of 360 meetings for an attendance rate of 56%. In 2016 alone, she attended only 31% of hearings on the City budget. She holds open office hours only once a week, for 2 hours, no rescheduling if Monday falls on a holiday. Her office closes early on Friday (currently 3:30 p.m.) but she never holds weekend hours. Silverstein has, however, been observed campaigning on Sundays.

A reliable rubber-stamp for Mayor Emanuel, Silverstein fails to fulfill her responsibilities as a legislator. She votes as she’s told to vote in the Council. She never takes part in Council debates, such as they are. She is never interviewed by radio or TV reporters, never asked to join broadcast panel discussions. Nobody cares what she thinks. She is a cipher in the Council.

There is a particularly telling moment in the recent PB documentary. City residents  are testifying about their experiences with PB before the City Council, and Silverstein can be seen in the background, ignoring the speakers while entranced by her cell phone. When she realizes she is within camera range, she puts the phone down, sits up, and puts on an attentive face. The only thing that brings her to life is a camera.

Silverstein avoids the normal give-and-take between alderman and constituents. When she holds a town hall meeting, her function is to introduce the other speakers. She never appears alone and is visibly uncomfortable if asked a direct question.

Silverstein babbles incessantly about the diversity of the 50th Ward, but has done nothing to bridge the divides between groups. Skokie has a Festival of Cultures celebrating its diversity, but the 50th Ward doesn’t. Other wards have community picnics and Fourth of July parades, but the 50th Ward doesn’t. Other wards have winter festivals, farmers markets, and a wealth of cultural activities, many co-sponsored by the alderman, but the 50th Ward doesn’t.

Her sharp elbows are legendary. Silverstein takes credit for the work of others, whether City departments, local community groups, or her fellow Council members. Her campaign literature is filled with silly statements about how she “directed” the cleaning of sewers and the trimming of trees. She portrays herself as “fighting” for the money spent by Chicago Public Schools on building upgrades, additions, and recreational opportunities for students, when these are line items in the CPS capital budget. Silverstein didn’t secure one dollar. She claims on her campaign website that it was her “leadership” that brought the neighborhood the new library, when it was actually the vision nd initiative of the LEARN Coalition. Silverstein’s campaign literature arrogantly states that she “passed” legislation in the City Council without mentioning the work, help, or support of her fellow Council members.

She spends much of her time annoying the police in her efforts to supervise and direct their work. One of her favorite public safety initiatives involves posing with the police at outdoor roll calls. In one particularly ridiculous photo-op, she is exchanging a salute with uniformed officers. Silverstein recently claimed she “arranged” to have Cook County Police patrol Devon Avenue  in response to a recent  spate of shootings that she refused to discuss with the community. If she is indeed bypassing police command structures and negotiating directly with another branch of local government for police protection, she needs to be reined in for the good of the community, not to mention the police.

A vote for Debra Silverstein is a vote for laziness, secrecy, and incompetence. She has failed to create economic opportunity in the Ward. She has failed to deliver on past campaign promises. She has failed to articulate an inclusive vision for the Ward and its residents. Most importantly, she has failed to create community–that vital energy and spirit that motivates and empowers residents to work together for the common good. These failures are inexcusable.

Silverstein has not met her obligations as a City legislator. She has not fulfilled her duty to bring a strong voice to the City Council, or to adequately represent the views of her constituents. How can she speak for us when she doesn’t speak with us? 

The problems facing the City of Chicago and the 50th Ward are too perilous to re-elect Debra Silverstein.

 

 

 

 

 

Silverstein Politicizes Police

Late Wednesday evening, Ald. Silverstein announced that she and Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart “arranged a new partnership” with the 24th District CPD that will allow Cook County Police to patrol 50th Ward streets. She also announced that the 24th District police would send “saturation patrols” to do the same thing.

This simplistc over-reaction to recent gun violence along Devon Avenue is little more than Silverstein political grandstanding. It doesn’t speak well for Dart that he would send county police to the 50th Ward when they’ve never been sent to wards on the south and west sides where truly extreme violence is a daily occurrence. 

County Police will assist the 24th District for the next 30 days. Then they and the saturation patrols will depart. This is a classic case of preparing for situations that have already occurred. The waste of police resources is simply staggering.

Despite calls on social media for a community meeting to discuss the recent criminal activity along Devon, Silverstein  chose to ignore residents and politicize the police in order to advance her re-election efforts. 

The CAPS Coordinator for Beat 2411, Richard Concaildi, provided a fact-based, informative summary of the recent violence on social media platform nextdoor.com. Silverstein could not be bothered to do so. Instead, she once again shamelessly exploited tragedy for political gain.

In her email to residents, Silverstein couldn’t resist adding that Cook County Police have been involved “at (her) request” in other activities in the ward. Silverstein is referring to her bogus claims that she “organizes” multi-jurisdictional task forces to serve warrants and check on parolees.

At least Silverstein mentions 24th District Commander Roberto Nieves and gives him some indirect credit. Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson played no role in Silverstein’s version of events. She didn’t need to consult with Rahm Emanuel or Toni Preckwinkle either. And the last people she would talk with are her constituents. Instead, she and her little band of image consultants devised a self-serving and false narrative to impress voters.

If Silverstein really wants to be Police Superintendent, let her run for the job. Otherwise, she should allow police professionals to do their work without political interference.

The 50th Ward does not need the Cook County Police. The 50th Ward needs an alderman committed to the hard work of leadership, conomic development, and community empowerment.

Neither of her challengers is a perfect candidate. But each offers a vision for the ward that does not include turning it into a mini police state. Silverstein stokes fear because it translates into votes.

These are not the values of the 50th Ward.

 

 

Our Lazy Alderman

A new report from WBEZ-The Daily Line proves once again that Debra Silverstein is one of the laziest aldermen in the City. Silverstein attended only 56% of meetings of various committees and the City Council between May 2015 and December 2018. Silverstein managed to attend 200 of 360 meetings to earn her $10,000 per month salary. The average attendance rate for aldermen was 65%..

At both recent forums and in her campaign literature, she claims to be a hardworking alderman, “fighting” for money for the 50th Ward. At the Feb. 10 forum, she claimed that being alderman is “a 24/7 job,” and at the earlier forum said that people stop her while she’s shopping in Evanston to discuss ward problems.

Time to review.

Silverstein holds open office hours once per week for two hours. Should that time be cancelled due to holidays, it is not rescheduled. But you can call her office, maybe speak with her or arrange an appointment. Or wait til next week.

Silverstein rarely holds community meetings, preferring to communicate via her weekly Newsletter, where more space is devoted to pictures of herself than to discussions of Ward or City business.

Silverstein attended only 31% of 2016 budget committee hearings, according to a report from Illinois Policy. Continue reading, and you’ll learn that between May 2015 and May 2017, the City Council spent more time and effort on honorary resolutions (8%) than on “substantive” legislation (1.5%)–you know, matters of public policy.

Silverstein was the only alderman who failed to attend the only North Side hearing on police reform. Instead, she scheduled a property tax seminar with Larry Suffredin for that night. She could have rescheduled the seminar, or let Suffredin handle it on his own, but chose, as always, the less important task on which to spend her time.

Silverstein says in her most recent campaign piece that she “directed” sewer cleaning, pothole patching, tree trimming, and rat extermination in our Ward. We have entire City departments devoted to those tasks under the management of well-paid department heads. But Silverstein is one of only 50 people who can initiate or vote on City legislation.

A 56% attendance rate at committee and Council meetings is not acceptable. Since Silverstein’s too lazy to do the job to which she was elected, maybe we should allow her to retire. Now.

 

 

 

 

Sun-Times Endorsement: What Sikh Temple?

The Chicago Sun-Times endorsed Debra Silverstein, citing the streetscape and her work on securing funding for the library as its first two reasons. Never mind the traffic jams and the air pollution. Never mind delaying the library’s opening date to benefit the alderman’s re-election campaign. From downtown, everything seems just fine.

But the Sun-Times goes completely off the rails when it cites the alderman’s work with the police after the attack at a Sikh temple in the 50th Ward. Come again?

There is no Sikh temple in the 50th Ward. There never has been a Sikh temple in the 50th Ward. No temple of any faith has been attacked in the 50th Ward. The alderman, who never misses an opportunity to tell residents how dangerous the neighborhood is and how tirelessly she works with the police to keep everyone safe, was referring to the attack on a Sikh temple in Wisconsin. In August 2012. Nearly seven years ago. The Sun-Times didn’t bother to check the facts.

The fact is that Silverstein has cited this attack several times, including at both recent candidate forums. She’s also referred to the Pittsburgh synagogue attack. In the first forum, she did not specify where these attacks took place. After Follies called her out on this in its report on the first aldermanic forum, she was careful to name the locations when she again referenced the attacks at the second forum.

The Chicago Sun-Times should be ashamed of itself for not fact-checking the alderman’s statements. The residents of the 50th Ward deserve better from a paper that bills itself as “the hardest-working paper in America.”

And Silverstein should be ashamed of using this scare tactic to help win re-election.

 

Having It Both Ways

Debra Silverstein says a lot of things about what a good job she’s done for the 50th Ward. Most of them are not true. In some cases, she tries to associate herself with–and thereby claim credit for–routine City services, like sewer cleaning and tree trimming. In other cases, she claims credit for the vision and work of others, as she does with the new Northtown Library / senior apartments. Silverstein still can’t bring herself to utter the words “LEARN Coalition,” but it was this group of neighborhood improvement activists who actually deserve the credit for bringing a new library to this neighborhood.

Silverstein’s latest exercise in artful political lying arrived in my mailbox yesterday. This one is about how she votes against “…any budget that included a property tax hike…” and will “…continue to hold the line against any new middle-class taxes.” Yes, she has voted against budgets with property tax increases. But she’s voted for the tax increases themselves. (See my earlier post for details.)

If she had any political courage or any real convictions, she’d vote against both the budget and the tax levies that fund it.

Silverstein wants to have it both ways. As usual.

Take the Laquan McDonald case.

Silverstein voted to pay the family of Laquan McDonald $5.5M so they wouldn’t sue the City for his death, effectively allowing Rahm to keep the video of the shooting from the public. Every alderman who voted for the settlement knew about the video and what it showed. There was no discussion in the City Council when the settlement in the matter “In re Estate of McDonald” was presented. As she has in settlement after settlement after settlement,  Silverstein asked no questions  and voted to pay the money. When a judge ordered the video released, Silverstein claimed in her weekly newsletter that she was shocked by what it revealed. Really? It begs the question:

If she didn’t know about the video, why did she vote for the hush money? If she did know about the video, where was her conscience?

Silverstein recently said that she is a strong supporter of working-class families and looks forward to negotiating with Chicago’s labor unions during her next term. But which side will she be representing? True, the taxpayers pay her $120,000 year for her part-time job. That’s roughly a half million dollars every term, or just under $1M for the past eight years.

But over the past 8 years, UNITE Here has donated $42, 464 to Silverstein, while its Local 1 has contributed another $28,268. SEIU Illinois PAC has given her $14,397. The Chicago Land Operators Joint Labor-Management PAC donated $12,293, and AFSME Local 31 has given Silverstein $12,000. The Chicago Teachers Union has given her $6,500.

That’s roughly a year’s salary in political donations right there. Add the money she’s received from Rahm over the past eight years–a staggering $90,000–and the money donated by Ira’s senatorial  campaign ($12,500) and the 50th Ward Democratic organization ($7,650). Silverstein has received almost two years salary from six unions, the mayor, her husband, and the 50th Ward Democratic organization he controls.

Do you really believe she’s representing the people of the 50th Ward? Or her donors?

These amounts do not include funds received from local merchants and other businesses.

Machine politicians find it easy to raise money from organizations and people they insist are NOT looking for favors, while finding it nearly impossible to locate funding for basic public services without raising taxes and/or fees. 

Responding to a question raised by the Burke scandal  about whether  staff member should have outside jobs , Silverstein recently told a Chicago newspaper in her endorsement questionnaire that she “…would not employ staff who have outside jobs or contracts with entities that do business with the city.” Yet her campaign manager, Keith Sokolowski, is also a Community Relations Commissioner for the Village of Niles, and spent the last 18 months as an organizer for now-Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

This is why political reform is so hard to enact. Machine politicians like Silverstein get re-election help from professionals with ties to special interests and a strong interest in keeping things as they are. Special interests are where the money is. Silverstein has more than $212,000 in her campaign fund.

Her closest competitor is Andrew Rowlas, who has less than $3,000.

 

WRCO Candidate Forum Rescheduled

Because of this week’s freezing weather, the West Ridge Community Organization has rescheduled its aldermanic candidate forum from Thursday, January 31, to Thursday, February 7.  All three candidates are expected to be present. The Forum will be moderated by Mick Dumke of ProPublica Illinois.

The forum will be held at Devon Bank, 6445 North Western Avenue, beginning at 7 p.m.

Mustafa Withdraws, Quadri on Ballot

It’s a three-way race now.

Majid Mustafa withdrew today from the race for 50th Ward alderman. At a hearing before the Chicago Board of Elections, Zehra Quadri overcame the objections  to her nominating petitions  by Mustafa petition circulator Abdul Shaikh  and officially became a candidate.

So the ballot is official for the 50th Ward: Debra Silverstein, Andrew Rowlas, and Zehra Quadri (in ballot order).

The three candidates will meet the voters at the aldermanic forum sponsored by the West Ridge Community Organization next Thursday, January 31, at 7 p.m. at Devon Bank. There is no talk of weather cancellation at present.

Early voting begins on Tuesday, January 29, at the downtown Voting Super Center only (175 West Washington). All other early voting sites will open on February 11.

 

 

 

 

 

The Library and The Silverstein Way

The new Independence and Little Italy (formerly Roosevelt) branch libraries opened earlier this week. They are two of the three new libraries in the City that are combined with affordable / CHA senior housing.

The third library is our own Northtown, which has the distinction of being the only one of the three which required a secret committee to advise the alderman on its construction. The  members of that committee, sworn to secrecy immediately upon appointment, are still unknown and likely to remain so.. It’s  the Silverstein way

The senior housing component of the Independence Library is not yet finished, being about three weeks behind schedule, but the library is open and fully functioning. This is because Ald. Laurino is not running for reelection.

There is no official opening date for the Northtown but you can bet it will be as close to the election as possible so that Silverstein can do what she does best–place herself front and center, claim credit, and have her picture taken. Taking credit is easier than actually doing the work. It’s the Silverstein way.

The real heroes in the battle for a new library–The LEARN Coalition– will no doubt not be mentioned. Silverstein still cannot bring herself to mention the name “LEARN Coalition” or to give them the credit they deserve. As usual, she did it all herself.

There are similarities between the Independence branch and the Northtown. Both libraries are 16,000 square feet in size and include 44 housing units. But there are striking differences. The Independence branch is two stories, and places the adult area on the second floor. The Northtown library is one floor, with an open floor plan. At least that’s what the community was told before the secret committee and the alderman made the final design decisions, none of which were shared with residents. 

The new library is one of two major accomplishments Silverstein cites as reason to re-elect her, the other being the Devon streetscape. Watch for lots of news coverage, photos with the mayor, and pictures of a grinning Silverstein with happy neighborhood residents, especially kids, flooding into the new building.

Delaying the building’s opening means  solo news coverage and a boost for re-election.

It’s the Silverstein way.