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.

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

A Week of Shootings

In the past 9 days there have been four shootings in the 50th Ward.

On February 7, at 5:30 p.m., a young man was shot in the leg at Devon and Oakley.

On February 14, at 1:30 p.m., a young man was shot in the leg at Devon and Leavitt

On February 15, at 11:30 p.m., two young men were shot in the 6500 block of North Albany. One of them, shot in the head, died. The other man, shot in the face, was hospitalized.

These shootings follow two other violent incidents:

On January 26, police were fired upon in an apartment on the 6400 block of North Kedzie. One officer’s bullet-proof vest was grazed by a bullet. The shooter, a man in his 30s, was described by his parents as mentally ill and was taken to the hospital for a mental evaluation by the police.

On February 5, police arrested a man who barricaded himself inside his home in the 6400 block of North Ridge. It was a domestic dispute; the woman involved alleged that the man had a weapon.

The alderman neither responded to nor even acknowledged any of these incidents until the double shooting on Friday. Those shootings led off her Newsletter, in which she declared that police patrols were increasing and that neither of the victims lived in that area.

Typical Silverstein response. During her campaign for re-election, she has repeatedly declared public safety her top priority. Are we supposed to feel safer because the two most recent victims don’t live “in that area”? Increased police patrols won’t prevent what has already happened.

During her re-election campaign, Silverstein has repeatedly referenced shootings in Oregon, California, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania as the reasons for her obsessive focus on police activity. Maybe she should pay attention to what’s occurring closer to home. Maybe she should work with the police and the community to identify potential problems in the ward. Maybe she can try to explain why shooters from outside the ward are coming here. Does West Ridge have a gang problem? A drug problem? A gun problem? Where is the police – community meeting?

All of these incidents happened on Devon or within a block or two of Devon. This is the heart of the 50th Ward’s immigrant community where families are struggling to survive in an environment they don’t understand. They are losing their children to gang activity because these young people have no jobs to go to and no safe place to hang out together.

What we are seeing here is the result of Silverstein’s refusal to engage in the hard work of economic and community development. There are no businesses hiring after-school help. There is no opportunity for kids to participate in after-school cultural activities, such as music and art programs. After 8 years in office, Silverstein has failed to build a single community center. There is little to no help available for at-risk youth in the 50th Ward.

Silverstein prefers directing the cleaning of sewers to the tough work of providing economic and cultural opportunities for the community’s children.

Remember that when you cast your vote for alderman.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

The Second Aldermanic Forum

The second aldermanic candidate forum was held on Sunday, February 10, co-sponsored by the West Ridge Chamber of Commerce, the Jewish Neighborhood Development Council, and the League of Women Voters. Turnout was low, no doubt due to the weather forecast, but approximately 30 people attended. The day was very cold, and it started snowing during the event, so the hot coffee offered by the hosts was much appreciated

Zehra Quadri did not participate, citing a scheduling conflict, but she did not notify the organizers until just minutes before the forum started. It was beyond rude. The organizers, however, allowed her campaign manager, Bob Babcock, to deliver a short statement on Quadri’s behalf as part of the opening statements.

Silverstein had to leave by 3:25 p. m. so the forum was shortened to accommodate her.

Opening statements

Debra Silverstein repeated  her statements from the first forum, talking about the Devon streetscape, school improvements, and public safety  She beamed at the audience and said how proud she was to be the alderman of such a diverse ward.

The image consultants who have clearly helped her redefine herself for this election have wiped out all traces of spontaneity  and authenticity, not that she started with much of either. 

Andrew Rowlas described himself as a proactive progressive who believes strongly in democracy and community input. He noted that he has held leadership positions in several organizations and believes strongly in community empowerment–citizens should have a voice in governance. He would also like to build for the ward’s future.

The ward’s future, something you never hear Silverstein talk about. She and Ira have done nothing to create a ward organization that will nurture future leaders. On the other hand, that’s probably a good thing, since more leaders like them we don’t need.

Bob Babcock for Zehra Quadri: The community knows Zehra from her community service work. She has done a great deal  for the community. There’s still lots to be done, like economic development, affordable housing, and an end to violence.

Yes, Zehra has done a fine job helping many residents. But she has thus far been unable to expand her appeal. People need to see and hear from candidates. That’s why Silverstein poses for so many pictures. .

What do you think is the most pressing issue in the ward?

Rowlas: Lack of community involvement. He would address this initially through the participatory budgeting process.

Silverstein: Public safety. She said that crime is an issue throughout the United States, and once again referenced the Sikh temple attack in Wisconsin and the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre. She also said that people are afraid to go outside because they might be arrested by ICE. Her voice rising, she proclaimed that she had organized roll calls and the entire community stood together in solidarity  against violence and against hate and for love and she was so proud to be representing this diverse community.

It was pure hokum. Silverstein reminded me of the lounge singer with the phony persona who turns in a mediocre performance but ends his act by singing “America the Beautiful” as the audience stands and cheers. The singer basks in glory, but the audience is not cheering him or even the song. They’re cheering for themselves. It’s rank emotional  manipulation but it works.

What is your plan to expand the variety of retailing options in the ward?

Silverstein: She cited “really good stores” that have opened in the ward, like TJ Maxx and Five Below, and claims that new stores and restaurants are opening. She cited Malabar Gold and Diamonds for choosing to open its first US jewelry store on Devon.  She  hopes the new library will attract business to Western Avenue but said Western is “challenging.” She also claims she has ” enlisted” the City to help her with economic development.

Eight years as alderman and she’s only now asking the City for help filling vacant storefronts and advising on economic development? Rowlas has repeatedly said he would first ask the community what kinds of stores it wants in the neighborhood, Silverstein never mentions resident input in her plans. She also did not mention the “spirited economic development plan” she promised in 2011; it has yet to materialize. Replacing one failed sari shop or  Indian restaurant with another is not economic progress. Yes, Malabar Diamonds opened, but Andrazz Jewelers closed–neither the retailing district nor the neighborhood gained anything. Silverstein also failed to address adding variety to neighborhood shopping districts. She remains clueless about what kind of shopping and entertainment opportunities residents want, and she has no intention of asking them.

Rowlas:  There are more than 100 vacant storefronts throughout the neighborhood. He would work with the Chamber of Commerce and other groups to identify businesses that residents want and attempt to attract them to the neighborhood. He views economic development as a continuous process, not a matter of celebrating the occasional store opening. 

Would you be willing to meet with community groups to discuss spending discretionary funding (menu money)? 

Rowlas: “Absolutely.”  He noted that 11 Wards in the city use participatory budgeting to allocate their ward’s discretionary funding, “and it works.” He sees participatory budgeting as a way to involve the community in decision-making.

Silverstein: She repeated her “concerns” that, even if 2, 000 people took part in the participatory budgeting process, they would not reflect the 55, 000 people living in the ward.  Instead, she encourages people to call her office with their suggestions for menu money spending. Her office compiles lists of these requests and conducts field surveys to determine which ones will be funded.

Silverstein’s response reflects her old-fashioned ward boss approach. It demonstrates that she does not understand the participatory budgeting process and that she prefers a labor-intensive focus on clerical work instead of spending her time leading the community. Why is having Silverstein and her staff choose the menu money projects more representative than having 2,000 residents choose them? The truth is that Silverstein opposes any progressive ideas that would lessen her grip on power. Her “concerns” are nonsense. 

Would you create a community planning / zoning council?

Silverstein: She claimed that she created several mini committees on economic development at the end of last summer, and has held several meetings with them. She further claimed that the committee members come from all over the ward, and that she has started to “implement” some of their recommendations. She put their work on hold until after the election so that it would not become “politicized.” 

Let’s review. Silverstein is concerned  that only 2,000 people voluntarily taking part in participatory budgeting would not “reflect” the entire Ward. Yet she has no problem with handpicking a few residents to serve on secret mini-committees that recommend projects for economic and community development. She proudly proclaims that no zoning or community development takes place without a public meeting  yet “implements” these secret recommendations with no public discussion. If these mini committees actually exist, it is highly unlikely the community will ever know the names of their members. We have been waiting two years to learn who served on her secret committee for the new library. 

Why must Silverstein keep her activities in behalf of residents secret? What criteria does she use to select the members of these secret committees? Who do you have to know to get appointed? Who “recommends” appointees to Silverstein? Remember the line, “We don’t want nobody nobody sent.”  Silverstein doesn’t want “nobody” either. 

This approach typifies Silverstein’s outmoded way of thinking. She prefers to address ward issues as individual problems to be solved rather than parts of a larger system has no longer works efficiently–or democratically. She prefers to keep the larger community at bay while she and a few handpicked supporters define and determine the ward’s priorities.

Silverstein then added that whenever a zoning change is requested, her “first response is, we have to have a community meeting, I have to hear from my constituents about this.” She claimed there were “four or five” meetings on the new library, at least four meetings on the streetscape and numerous community meetings  on zoning .

Even for a machine hack like Silverstein, these untruths are whoppers. See the timeline of public meetings  on the new library. Note that there was one two-hour meeting and two one-hour meetings on a building expected to endure for 30 years.The City held two meetings on the Devon streetscape, and it was clear that residents’ concerns were irrelevant. The City insisted it had traffic studies and plans for parking.

Gridlock on Devon on a Sunday afternoon. Note that vehicles block the intersection. This is Devon & Fairfield, looking west.

I live just north of the east-west alley behind Devon, and my neighbors and I tried to tell the alderman and the City that reducing the traffic lanes would drive cars and trucks into that alley. They wouldn’t listen. Dozens of cars ignore the “No Thruway” signs and enter that alley every day. It’s become a highway because drivers can’t stand the traffic jams on  Devon. Vehicles often blast through the alley from California to Rockwell, rarely signaling their presence at forks in the alleys.. Devon buses are delayed and workers arrive late, often missing connections to bus and rail lines. The street is now too narrow for buses and trucks to safely pass one another.

I have never been invited to a community zoning meeting. I have never even seen any announcement of a community zoning meeting. 

We still don’t know whether she would include the community in an economic development planning board or create a zoning committee. She chose not to answer the question. But based on her aversion to contact with or input from residents other than members of her secret committees, you know what the answer is. No, she won’t.

Rowlas: He is unaware of these mini committees or of any public meetings on economic development held by the alderman. He would definitely establish a community economic development planning board and also a zoning council. He believes that community input is necessary, adding as an example participatory budgeting, which started out small but grew as more people become used to participating in the process. Rowlas believes that leadership should come from the bottom up, not the top down, and thinks that too many things occur in the ward that people don’t know about.

I think Rowlas has offered a key insight: this community is not used to participating in civic life because the Silversteins have effectively co-opted or thwarted all attempts at community participation. It’s worth noting that the public had four hours of input into the new library, while the alderman’s secret committee had many times that. The meetings on the Devon – McCormick development were a sham, all decisions having been reached before the public was invited to give its meaningless opinions. If residents truly had meaningful input on community business, such participation would grow. It’s the last thing Silverstein wants.

How would you attract and retain businesses?

Rowlas:  He repeated that he would first work with the community to determine the kinds of businesses residents want and avoid having businesses that will not thrive in the neighborhood. He noted that a business like Trader Joe’s will do its own research to determine if this neighborhood is the right one for it.

Rowlas sees the lack of variety in retailing options as a problem, citing the more than 50 groceries and 30 beauty shops lining Devon Avenue. He said it could become an international shopping district but can be currently viewed that way only in a very narrow sense.

Where are the toy stores? Shoe stores?  Casual clothing shops? Candy stores? Art galleries? Italian and Greek restaurants? Clothing stores for kids?  Can you buy winter coats, hats, scarves, and gloves? Where’s the florist? The café? Non-religious bookstore? Stationers? What if you want better-quality clothes than those available  at discounters? These things–and many more–are missing. Residents must shop outside the ward to get them.

Silverstein: She personally thinks Devon is an international shopping district. She said her office works hard to help business but that unfortunately sometimes businesses set up shop before learning that they will have zoning and licensing issues, and then her office has to help them get organized properly.

Silverstein just doesn’t get it. Buying cucumbers and cell phones from merchants from Iran, India, and Syria is not an international shopping experience. After eight years in office, she has failed to put in place any economic plan or process for new enterprises that wish to set up shop in the 50th Ward. Her hand-picked SSA has failed to work with commercial landlords to prevent them from making the same mistakes over and over and over. For example, there is one storefront on Devon that in less than 10 years has been home to four failed sari shops–one combined with a dental office–then housed a nonprofit grocery, and is  about to become a mattress and furniture store. In the last month, two other storefronts selling mattresses and furniture have opened on the next block. The alderman brags about inviting residents to special events and ribbon cuttings as business builders, but without retailing that appeals to the entire community, it’s just lipstick on a pig. “Special events” held in a parking lot?  Unique to the 50th Ward, where for some reason the parks the alderman touts are off-limits for special events. 

The differences in the candidates’ approaches could not be more clear. Rowlas wants to work with the community to create an economic development plan. Silverstein wants to fill storefronts with any business that wants to move in, and does not want any community input except for what comes from her secret committees.

How would you balance the city budget? What would you cut?

Silverstein: The big issue right now is pensions  but “pensions are a promise” that have to be kept. She thinks that new revenue could be found from expanding gambling and legalizing pot as long as proper safeguards are in place. She didn’t say what those might be. She also thinks that casinos would help the hospitality industry, filling hotels and restaurants thus generating tax revenue

Rowlas: A graduated city income tax has worked very well in New York. The state collects the money and transfers it to the city. He believes it is unfair to taxi drivers that Uber and Lyft services are not taxed, because taxi medallions are extremely expensive, yet Uber and Lyft drivers do not have to buy any equivalent. He also thinks a temporary commuter tax is a possibility. Rowlas noted that income from selling pot and from gambling is not reliable. He does not believe in taxing groceries, non- prescription medicine, low-cost clothing, or shoes.

Silverstein should read Crain’s Chicago Business on hotel building in Chicago.

How should we address the coming pension shortfall?

Rowlas: The Center for Taxation & Budget Accountability recommends issuing bonds and putting the proceeds into the pension funds.

Silverstein: Silverstein was annoyed at having to “repeat” herself and gave the same answer she gave to the previous question

Do you favor expanding TIFs to include large businesses relocating to Chicago?

Silverstein:  TIFs should be reformed, they’re supposed to be used for blighted areas only. We need more transparency and developers need to state their intentions clearly.

Rowlas:  TIFs should be reformed. He hopes Silverstein will vote against the Lincoln Yards development because that’s something the new mayor and the new council should deal with. Rowlas also thinks that a TIF earmarked for a specific project should end when the project is completed and not at the end of the standard 23-year time frame. He noted that one of the problems with TIFs is that they divert money from schools and parks and libraries.

Do you favor a City or public bank?

Rowlas: Yes. North Dakota has had a successful public bank for 100 years. It would be a tough sell in Chicago because so many banks are headquartered here.

Silverstein: Undecided. There’s only one public bank. She needs more information.

The alderman should read this explanation about the work of public banks and this article on public banks in the U.S. and internationally. 

What do you plan to do about the ward’s aging infrastructure? Lead pipes?

Silverstein:  The city needs to take action The city gives out test kits but people don’t always return them. Ordinances should be passed to ban lead and lead materials from new housing and use in major renovations. The city needs more revenue so perhaps there could be a cost-sharing program with property owners like there is with sidewalks.

Rowlas:  He was able to place a clean water referendum on the ballot last November in three precincts in the 50th ward. It received overwhelming support–more than 95%. He thinks the first step is to determine how extensive the problem is. He would then hold public hearings and develop a plan to address the issue.

What would you do to improve public transit?

Rowlas: We need to encourage the use of public transit to alleviate environmental damage and traffic congestion. Cost may be a factor. He’d like to see better ways of communicating with waiting passengers about where the buses are.

Rowlas is certainly right about the poor communication between CTA and its riders. Many of the notification systems within the bus shelters don’t work and CTA Bus Tracker is too often unreliable.

Silverstein:  She’s had many conversations with the CTA. Their process is to study ridership levels to determine where transit can be expanded. We don’t have rail transit which is unfortunate because she’d like to make it easier for people to get to Devon Avenue.

She can’t do anything to improve transit in the ward? She bragged recently that when she saw the state of Rogers school, she picked up the phone, called the mayor, and told him, “we can’t have this,” then obtained $47M million for the ward’s schools. But she can’t do that for public transit riders?  The truth is that when Silverstein doesn’t want to do anything she relies on the argument that it’s the bureaucracy that stops her. 

It was little noted at the time, but Silverstein was one of three aldermen who last year proposed expanding the #155 Devon bus to the west as far as the Metra station at Caldwell, giving more people access to the Little India shopping on Devon. But she can’t do anything about getting the #93 California or #96 Lunt to run on Sundays and holidays so workers and shoppers can get to Evanston and Lincolnwood?

Do you support the establishment of a police accountability board?

Silverstein: As a member of the city council, she just signed off on the Obama Justice Department’s consent decree. She thinks it was the best option.

Rowlas: He favors the Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC) largely because it’s democratically elected. He thinks that more civilian control over the police will improve police – community relations.

In August 2016, the city held various meetings on police reform in every sector of the city. Silverstein was the only alderman in our area not to attend. She scheduled a property tax appeal session with Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin for that night. She could have moved this session to another night but chose not to. She evaded her responsibility to the city and to the 50th Ward, many of whose residents attended the session. As  alderman, Silverstein is one of only 50 people who would vote on the final agreement. But rather than join her fellow aldermen at the only north side session, she chose to spend her time doing a job Larry Suffredin can do in his sleep.

Would you support ranked-choice voting  in Chicago run-off elections ?

Rowlas: Ranked-choice voting works in other cities.

Silverstein: She doesn’t have enough information to decide.

It works this way, alderman.

Do you favor reopening and expanding the mental health clinics?

Silverstein: Yes. At the time she voted to close the clinics, she was told that they were not at full capacity. She also noted that all 50 alderman voted to close the clinics.

That’s Silverstein ducking for cover from a decision she made that went bad. It wasn’t just me, everybody else did it, too. 

Rowlas: He served on the board of a mental health clinic when he lived in Indiana. Yes, reopen and expand. The matter should never have come before the City Council.

Many routine matters are handled by the aldermen. Would you support allowing City departments to make decisions on matters governed by ordinance?

Rowlas: City government needs to be reformed, not sure it’s efficient. We have too many aldermen compared to cities like New York, which has 15 council members who focus on legislative issues rather than administrative tasks..

Silverstein: No. The aldermen know their wards best.

Silverstein want to continue doing her part-time clerical job while earning $120,000 per year and collecting a fat pension if she is re-elected. 

Would you support permitting City Council committees to elect their own chairmen rather than consulting with / having them appointed by the mayor? 

Silverstein: She thinks it’s a good idea. A new mayor and new council will be more independent. She’d like to see more diversity and more women.

Rowlas: We  are supposed to have a strong council but we don’t. We have rubber stampers who do whatever the mayor wants. There isn’t a lot of deliberation. He thinks one reason for that is because the mayor has so much money in his political fund that he can help elect people who will support him.

Would you support restoring the city’s Department of the Environment?

Rowlas: Yes. Has two overall concerns, climate change and income inequality.  We need to restore this department and really look at ways carbon is emitted and how we can stop it. We need to look at ways to make Chicago green, provide clean water, get rid of lead pipes, pollution, and address health issues.

Silverstein: Yes. She also supports it for public health reasons and is proud that in our ward there are a lot of requests for solar panels.

Since the 50th Ward is so diverse, multilingual and multicultural, why is there no public art or cultural arts center to reflect that?

Silverstein: We’re about to get a “fantastic” new mural in the new library, and we have a sculpture in Stone Park, and we’re looking at getting another sculpture for Thillens Park. She’s looking forward to getting more public art in the 50th Ward.

Silverstein is so clueless about art that when the sculpture was selected for Stone Park, Silverstein mistakenly thought that the community had a choice of three sculptures and asked residents to let her know which of the three they preferred,  adding that she couldn’t decide which one she liked best. In fact, the three pieces joined together to form one sculpture.

As for adding to the sculptures at Thillens Park, Silverstein is apparently unaware that Thillens Park belongs to Lincolnwood. It is leased by the Chicago Park District. It’s the Park District and Lincolnwood that will decide what if any sculptures are added, not Silverstein.

Notice that she didn’t answer the question of a cultural arts center for the 50th Ward. Residents have been working  to secure the old  Northtown library for a Cultural Arts Center. There have been rumors for the past two years that Silverstein has already promised the building to the Jewish community for either a synagogue, a school, or a social service agency. The Indo-American Center would also like to acquire it.

There will be no cultural center in the ward as long as Silverstein is alderman. She has a vested interest in keeping the various ethnicities and religions in their silos. Getting together in a cultural endeavor could mean finding common ground politically, and this is a danger for her.

Rowlas: Art is an important aspect of the community. We don’t have anything like a cultural arts center here (in the 50th). It’s important to support our local artists and  a cultural arts center will support the community, our local artists, and put on productions that will attract others who will spend money in our retailing corridors.

Should the City support a Green New Deal similar to the one proposed at the federal level? 

Rowlas: Yes.

Silverstein: Yes.

Do you support term limits for aldermen?

Silverstein: “Elections are term limits.”

When Ira held a town hall meeting in 2016, I asked if he would support term limits for state office. He replied that term limits are elections, that people have an opportunity to vote for someone else. The Silversteins share this opinion with most machine politicians–throw us out, if you can. Well, Ira’s gone.

Rowlas: Yes, two terms for mayor and three terms for aldermen. He would also term-limit committee chairmanships. He believes in publicly financed elections to encourage more people to get involved because elections are too expensive for most people who would like to run.

What would you do about the increase in crime in the 50th Ward?

Rowlas: Relatively speaking, our community is one of the safest in the city. That doesn’t mean we don’t have crimes. Economic development would help deter crime by providing stability and jobs and an expanded tax base would help the schools.

Silverstein: There are all kinds of crimes–shootings and property crimes. She receives calls about crime throughout the city. Many crimes are preventable. She would educate people about calling the police. She intends to continue to work with the police. “I will make sure the police do their job.” There are 38 new cops this year alone. She’s advocating for more.

Yes, that’s what she said. Do you believe that 50th Ward residents are calling Silverstein about crime in other areas? Do you believe the police will slack off if Silverstein doesn’t crack the whip over them? She keeps stoking the fear that there are criminals on every block. This is nonsense. 

Do you support rent control?

Silverstein: She’s “open” to considering it but is concerned that the affordable housing stock would be diminished with rent control.

What “affordable housing stock”? Those 44 units above the library? As long as tenants don’t break the rules, they can live in those apartments until death. So what is Silverstein talking about?

Rowlas: Yes. There are ways to make housing affordable and help landlords, too, through grants and loans to maintain property..

Would you support shifting affordable housing decisions from the ward level to the city?

Rowlas: Yes. Central control would be more efficient. He thinks affordable housing should be extended to the middle class as well.

Silverstein:  She thinks there should be a “combined effort.” She doesn’t think “somebody downtown” should decide but sees community liaisons as helpful with community input.

What Silverstein means is that she’s kept affordable housing out so far, and she will continue to do so while paying lip service to affordability.

Several recently published studies highlight the role that racial and ethnic segregation play in Chicago, leading to disparities in education and job opportunities. What is the role of the City Council in addressing this issue? 

Silverstein:  The 50th Ward is flourishing. Our schools are filled to capacity and with only one exception are all rated +1. She meets with an advocates for 50th Ward school principals and there is $40M coming into the ward schools.  She’d like to see that throughout the city.  She wants all children to get the education they need to be successful.

See how she ducked the question while appealing to the audience’s pride in the 50th Ward?

Rowlas:  We need to look at how to promote more tolerance and acceptance of different groups among the citizenry. Some things are illegal, like segregation. This city is experiencing an exodus of people right now and part of this is the search for opportunity. This is a serious issue and needs a top-down approach.

Are there too many aldermen? Should we reduce the number to 15?

Rowlas: Yes. Some services performed by the aldermen would be more efficient if performed by the City. Some aldermanic functions need to be broadened to include the whole city in order to become efficient.  We need to look at our city government and try to make it ready for this century. There’s been talk in recent years of reducing the city council to 25 members but perhaps we could go lower. New York is much larger and has only 15 council members.

Silverstein: No. Being alderman is a very difficult 24/7 job and  it’s really important to constituents that they get their services and needs fulfilled. She really thinks that it should be based on numbers  so we should look at the census. She is concerned  that if we lowered the number of aldermen to15 it would take longer to get service requests in.

Yes, this is what she said. Silverstein cannot let go of the idea that service requests should go through her office. She does not accept that it’s more efficient to use the City 311 service directly. She is so bogged down by routine clerical work that she cannot imagine her office without it.  While other alderman have the time and interest to devote to cultural and economic affairs within their wards, Silverstein is focused on delivery of routine city services. This is partly a reflection of her vocational training. CPAs focus on details. Silverstein likes having power but is incapable of the broader vision required of a leader. 

Why do you want to be / continue to be alderman?

Silverstein: Loves her job, loves meeting  with the community, and loves how much has been accomplished in the last 8 years.

Rowlas: He wants to be alderman to work for the common good of all residents. He would like to break down the silos that separate us. He would hold more community meetings to discuss neighborhood issues, and would engage the community in governance. Rowlas believes we should celebrate our diversity. He also believes we should end the secretive way of operating and create jobs for the community. Rowlas believes elections should be about democracy.

How would you encourage young families to move into the ward?

Rowlas: We  have good schools. We are somewhat underdeveloped, and need to create economic and recreational opportunities. There are no places for families to socialize. There are no toy stores. He would establish those things.

Silverstein: Thinks the ward is flourishing. The schools are full and most are rated 1+. There’s just one school that fluctuates. She doesn’t want to see anybody leave the ward because of high housing costs.

Closing Statements

Silverstein: It’s an honor and a privilege to be alderman. A lot has been accomplished but there’s a lot still to do. She will continue to work with school principals, the police, and on economic development.

Rowlas: He believes in working for the common good, bridging the silos that keep residents separated. He would hold more community meetings and encourage civic engagement. He thinks we should celebrate our diversity. He would create jobs. He supports CPAC.

 

 

 

The First Aldermanic Forum

Andrew Rowlas impressed, Zehra Quadri was nervous, and Debra Silverstein tried on Rahm’s 2015 sweater at Thursday’s aldermanic forum. The format was time-efficient but did not permit the candidates to question or challenge one another’s statements. Audience members submitted written questions before and during the forum.

The West Ridge Community Organization sponsored the event and did an excellent job hosting about 50-60 residents on a cold, blustery night.

The candidates’  statements clearly reflected  their  worldview, life / work experiences, and  problem-solving approaches.

Quadri’s nerves got the better of her in the early part of the evening, but she made some important observations about the ward based on her nearly two decades of community service work through the organization she founded, Zam’s Hope. Quadri identifies problems, defines solutions, and seeks funding for programs to relieve suffering and improve people’s lives. She has worked extensively with small business owners and knows firsthand the difficulties involved in starting up and nurturing a new enterprise.

Rowlas, who has a PhD in education, emerged as a reflective and pragmatic thinker who takes a holistic approach to solving problems. He connect the dots and believes that systemic change is necessary if we are to return to more democratic ways of accomplishing our goals.

Silverstein bought a lot of professional help this time around and was accompanied by Ira, several staff members from both her office and her campaign, and a videography team. She debuted a new, gentler persona that reminded me of the 2015 election and Rahm’s campaign sweater. Immediately after the election the sweater was tossed and it was–and will be– business as usual. She had nothing new to say– streetscape, public safety, new library, blah blah blah.

Opening statements. Andrew Rowlas said that among the reasons he is running for alderman is his concern that “we have lost our deliberative democracy,” noting that while Chicago is one of the largest cities in the United States, it no longer functions well. He believes we can and must do better. Zehra Quadri detailed nearly two decades of community service work. Debra Silverstein stated and restated her three key talking points–the Devon streetscape, the new library, and public safety.

The streetscape has created a traffic nightmare that leaves the area choking on vehicle emissions. The new library is no longer “state-of-the-art” but has been surpassed by the South Shore branch, which is larger, will contain a recording studio for teens and young adults, and will  have a teacher on staff after school.

Silverstein’s obsession with police work is beginning to worry me. West Ridge consistently ranks as one of the safest areas in the City, and not because of anything Silverstein has done. Middle class communities tend to have lower crime rates overall, and most of the crimes in this neighborhood are property crimes–stolen bikes, graffiti, garage break-ins. There is occasional violence, and sometimes residents are the victims of violent crime elsewhere, but it’s the officers of the 24th and 19th police districts who keep the neighborhood safe, not Silverstein. They don’t need her advice on how to do it, either. 

Aldermanic priorities. Quadri cited education, youth and senior services, economic opportunity, and availability to the community. Her legislative priorities would include funding community programs and participatory budgeting. Rowlas would focus on encouraging civic participation through initiatives such as participatory budgeting and community councils to guide zoning and economic and community development. Silverstein would continue to emphasize public safety, education–specifically her “work” with school principals, and said she hopes  to “continue” her work on economic development. Continue? When did she start? Judging by her own newsletter, her “work” with principals consists of the annual paper-plate pizza lunch.

Participatory budgeting. Rowlas and Quadri are for it, Silverstein against, saying she has “concerns” that, if only 2,000 residents take part in the process, it isn’t “reflective” of the ward’s 59,000 residents who didn’t participate. Yes, that’s what she said. She was re-elected in 2015 by roughly 20% of the ward’s registered voters, which is not “reflective” of all the ward’s residents, either. Not all eligible residents are registered voters, and in that election fewer than 30% of registered voters went to the polls. Her argument is nonsense. She doesn’t intend to give up one iota of power and doesn’t want the community involved in public business.

Zoning.  Rowlas and Quadri support residential input into zoning matters. Silverstein said she always meets with residents before every zoning change, sometimes with the community as a whole, sometimes only with those affected by the change. Yes, that’s what she said. I’ve never been invited to any zoning change meetings, have you? And how does Silverstein know who’s “affected”?

Corruption. Rowlas sees this as  a structural problem in City government, and noted that there’s a code of silence among aldermen, with most not challenging the corruption they encounter.  Silverstein said she voted for more oversight of the City Council in 2016, and stated that with a new mayor and changes in the City Council, there would be more independence for the aldermen, adding that she wants a more independent council. Yes, that’s what she said. Never mind that she was one of Rahm’s most reliable allies, voting with him 98% of the time in the last two years. Never mind that she rarely speaks at Council meetings and simply goes along with whatever the mayor wants.

New Revenue. Rowlas pointed out that all current revenue sources are negative–taxes, fees, and fines. Quadri would seek government grants and other funding. Silverstein thinks that a casino is a possible source of new revenue and that it would also help the hospitality industry–hotels and restaurants. According to recent reports, lack of interest by millennials and market saturation are seriously affecting the gambling industry, and gambling income in Illinois has been consistently shrinking.

Aldermanic Communication. Both Rowlas and Quadri would make better use of technology to communicate with residents. Rowlas would hold more frequent meetings with the community, use his newsletter to discuss business pending before the City Council, and get community input before making decisions. Silverstein touted her weekly two-hour ward night, her weekly newsletter, and her frequent contacts with the community through “her” flu shot clinic, annual movie night, and job fairs. She noted that residents frequently approach her in the “neighborhood” Jewel and Target. The events she cited are City-sponsored, paid for with tax dollars; that she takes credit for bringing to the ward . In fact,  every ward in the city  is included in these programs . The “neighborhood stores” she mentioned are both in Evanston. Even the alderman has to leave the ward to do her shopping.

Economic Development. Quadri would invite the community to participate in economic development and planning via community meetings. She would also develop special projects and work to ensure there is more variety and less duplicative retailing. Rowlas also noted that the neighborhood does not have a wide variety of stores and only one coffee shop. He would create a community development board to find out what kind of retailing residents want and work to bring those businesses in, noting that celebrating the occasional store opening is not an economic plan. Silverstein stated that “there is no zoning change that happens without a community meeting.” That’s what she said, but it’s a lie, as demonstrated by her stealth zoning change for the parcel that would have become the medical marijuana clinic. After the City’s zoning board granted Silverstein’s wishes and voted against the clinic, Silverstein changed the zoning to “residential” without any public notice.

Affordable Housing and Rent Control. Quadri noted that affordable housing brings funds into a community and there is a need for rental assistance programs. Such measures also bring jobs. Rowlas noted that “affordable” is defined as no more than 30% of one’s income, and stated that people are entitled to housing they can afford, and that it should be “decent and clean.” Silverstein bragged that in the past eight years she has brought 44 units of affordable housing to the community–44!–all of them located in the new library. She added that rent control would have to be “greenlighted” by Springfield, and was concerned that rent control could affect housing availability. She said she wants to keep the neighborhood affordable for families, but didn’t define “affordable.”  The alderman has never attempted to create affordable housing in the 50th Ward. The new housing development she authorized on Western Avenue consists of  condos and townhouses in the $400,000-$500,000 range, well out of reach for working-class families.

Public Safety.  Silverstein bragged about “organizing” police roll call meetings, voting for the municipal ID card and against ICE activities. She cited attacks on Sikhs and last October’s synagogue shooting as reasons for concern, and even referenced the 2012 mass shooting of Sikhs. These events happened, respectively, in Oregon, California, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. There is no credible threat in Chicago.

I think that Silverstein’s obsessive focus on public safety results from (1) the understandable fears of the Orthodox community that it might come under attack at any moment, and (2) the fear felt by  new immigrants, strangers  in a new land whose language and culture they often do not understand.

The recent shooting of Eliyahu Moscowitz in Rogers Park magnified Jewish fears, though he was one of two victims and there is no evidence he was targeted because he was a Jew. Anti-Semitism is a powerful force, and it crosses all racial, ethnic, religious, and class lines. The threat is  real. What I object to is the alderman’s constant stoking of that fear for political gain.

Many new immigrants often perceive common American behaviors as threatening because of their own life experiences in their countries of origin. This is especially true when their children begin to cast off traditional ways and enjoy the new freedoms they have found in America.

But I think Silverstein’s obsessive focus on crime does not reflect the community viewpoint and can instead instill the belief that one lives surrounded by criminals. That’s just not so. Silverstein’s obsession with police and police activities is beginning to be a bit creepy. 

Quadri, who serves on the CAPS Board, also believes the ward is not safe, saying that people are afraid to be out after dark. Rowlas pointed out that crime is reduced by economic development, good jobs, good schools, forming block clubs so neighbors get to know one another, and community empowerment. He  recommends building police-community trust by having beat cops that neighbors can get to know.

Police Reform.  Rowlas favors CPAC (Civilian Police Accountability Council). He believes there is too much power in the Mayor’s office and too much “yielding” in the City Council. Silverstein favors the consent decree negotiated between the Obama Justice Department and the Chicago Police. Quadri would give more power to the police and “let them do their job.”

Public Bank – Yes or No? Quadri – No. Rowlas – Yes. Silverstein – Undecided.  But if the new mayor’s for it, Silverstein will be too. 

Who are you endorsing for Mayor? Quadri – No one. Rowlas – Lori Lightfoot. Silverstein – Undecided. No surprises here. Quadri has no  money so she is of no interest to mayoral candidates. Lightfoot endorsed Rowlas. Silverstein will not risk offending the next boss but will find plenty of nice things to say once she knows who it is.

Climate Change. All three candidates favor renewable energy.

CTA (specifically, extending the route  of the 49B Western bus to Howard). Quadri would meet with the community. Rowlas would move the end of the route to Howard, and review needs on each transit line. Silverstein claimed “constant conversations with the CTA” but said transit  depends on ridership levels.

The “ridership levels” argument is typical of the old way of thinking about city services. Residents need to travel to work and shopping. Public transit–an essential service–must be available regardless of ridership level. 

Retaining Chicago Residents. Silverstein said the 50th Ward is “flourishing.” She noted  that the SSA promotes Devon Avenue and that people are flocking here from all over the City and beyond to shop in our unique stores.

This is the standard Silverstein line on Devon Avenue, in use since the 2015 election. It isn’t true. In fact, there’s been a huge drop in retailing revenue in the 50th Ward during Silverstein’s tenure as alderman. A “flourishing” Ward does not have blocks of vacant storefronts and empty commercial buildings. Why Silverstein thinks the streetscape will help retain residents is a mystery. But that’s what she said

Quadri believes that residents will remain in Chicago and new residents will be attracted to the city if they have options and feel comfortable here. Rowlas said that he saw community empowerment as key, citing the need to involve residents in community development, economic planning, and participatory budgeting. He would also improve communications between the alderman and the people.

Closing Statements. Rowlas talked about building a cultural and performing arts center that would serve local residents and bring tourists and residents from other communities to the 50th Ward. He noted that people would then spend money at restaurants and shops. Quadri discussed her community service work and the need to support families. Silverstein declared that she is honored to be the alderman, has brought major improvements to the ward, cited her work with the police and the schools, and continues to work on economic development.

Candidates remained available to any audience member with further questions.

The next 50th Ward candidate forum will take place on Sunday, February 10, at 2 p.m. at the Bernard Horwich Center. It will focus on economic development.

 

Questions for the Candidates

The first of only two forums for the 50th Ward aldermanic candidates will take place tonight at 7 p.m. at Devon Bank. I have some questions for them.

For Debra Silverstein:

1.  Other than the Devon streetscape and the new library, what do you see as your main achievement for the ward over the last four years?

2.  In one candidate questionnaire, you said that no zoning change is ever considered in the 50th Ward without community input. Can you recall a single community meeting that you organized that was devoted to a zoning change?

3.  What will be your process for determining the fate of the old Northtown Library building? Please be specific.

4.  You claim that public safety is the most pressing issue in the 50th Ward. Statistics show  that the 50th Ward is one of the safest in the City. Are you overreacting to isolated incidents?

5.  There have been two serious incidents in the neighborhood in the past two weeks involving mentally unstable residents. Do you now regret your vote to close the city’s mental health clinics?

6.  You are one of 35 aldermen on the Finance Committee. You have never publicly protested Alderman Burke’s way of handling taxpayer business or his recusals because of conflicts of interest with his private law practice. Why?

For Andrew Rowlas:

1.  What would be your first priority for the ward if you are elected alderman?

2.  Would you join the Progressive Caucus of the City Council or remain an independent voice?

3.  Alderman Silverstein has accepted tens of thousands of dollars in donations from local businesses. Would you accept such donations and, if so, would you institute caps on the amount of money you would accept?

4.  The 50th Ward is neither politically conservative nor politically liberal but a mix of the two, with a healthy dose of political moderates. How would you effectively represent all the differing political viewpoints?

5.  What would be your first priority with regard to economic development?

6.  How would you as a former educator support our neighborhood schools?

For Zehra Quadri:

1.  You have not reported any donations or loans to your campaign. How is your campaign being funded?

2.  The services you offer at Zam’s Hope are available to all Ward residents regardless of race, religion, or ethnicity. How has working with our diverse community informed your view of what this Ward could be?

3.  What would be your first priority as alderman?

4.  You have said that the ward needs a far broader retailing base. How would you persuade businesses to locate here?

5.  What kinds of innovative and creative businesses do you see moving to the 50th Ward if you are elected alderman?

6. Do you support turning the old Northtown Library into a Cultural Arts Center?

For all candidates:

1.  One of the dangers of an elected school board is that it could be co-opted by slates of candidates backed by special interests. What would you do to prevent this?

2.  The city will have to find $270M in additional funds to make required pension payments this year. Changing state law and/or the state Constitution will require too much time to be an effective solution. What do you think is the single best source of additional revenue? Please be very specific.

3. Would you support a binding referendum to cut the City Council from its current 50 aldermen to no more than 15? Please answer yes or no. Do not explain your answer.

4. Do you agree that an independent, non-partisan commission is the best way to redistrict the City of Chicago after next year’s census? Please answer yes or no. Do not explain your answer.

5.  The 50th Ward contains a diverse array of people who tend to exist in ethnic, racial, or religious silos, with little contact between them. What specifically would you do to promote coöperation and interaction between these groups?

6. We are one of the few Wards in the city without a movie theater, a bowling alley, and other forms of recreation. What would you do to bring such attractions to the neighborhood?

 

 

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.

 

 

January Campaign Updates

January has been a busy month for the four candidates for 50th Ward alderman: Majid Mustafa, Zehra Quadri, Andrew Rowlas, and Debra Silverstein.

Candidate Forums

The West Ridge Community Organization is sponsoring the first candidate forum on Thursday, January 31, at Devon Bank beginning at 7 p.m.  All candidates have been invited to participate. The group’s announcement on its Facebook page states the forum ends at 10:00 p.m., but other sources say it will end at 8:30 p.m. No information on the forum is available on the WRCO Website. 

A second forum jointly sponsored by the West Ridge Chamber of Commerce and the Jewish Neighborhood Development Council will be held in February. Details have not yet been finalized.

Candidate Questionnaires

The Chicago Sun Times, the Chicago Tribune, and WBEZ Public Radio invited candidates to submit responses to questionnaires about their candidacies and positions on local issues. Click on the links above for their responses. (The Sun-Times site is not working, although the questionnaires were accessible earlier; it appears to be under construction.)

Mustafa, Rowlas, and Silverstein filled out questionnaires for the newspapers. Rowlas is the only 50th Ward candidate who provided answers to WBEZ.  Quadri did not respond to either the newspapers or the radio station.

Challenges to Nominating Petitions

Mustafa and Quadri have both overcome the challenges filed by Silverstein surrogate Mark Tannbebaum.

On Friday, January 25, the Chicago Board of Elections will rule on  the challenge to Quadri’s petitions by Mustafa petition circulator Abdul Shaikh Rahman as well as the objections to Mustafa’s petitions by Quadri supporter Armando Ramos.

Endorsements

Rowlas has been endorsed by Northside Action for Democracy.

Quadri has been endorsed by Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White. A video of the endorsement is posted on her Facebook page.

Fundraising (all figures from the Illinois Sunshine database) 

Mustafa has loaned his campaign $85,603.04. He has not reported any donations, but has a cash-on-hand balance of $171,206.08. It appears that his loan has exactly doubled in size, which could be a reporting error.

Quadri has not reported any donations and has not yet registered her campaign committee with the state of Illinois. The only active committee supporting her is the committee established for her run for state senate last year. It shows a balance of $40.01.

Rowlas reports total receipts of $2,891.29.

Silverstein has received $192,625.67 in donations, much of it from labor and business PACs.  She also received $20,000 from Rahm Emanuel, who gave that sum to all of his most loyal City Council supporters, and a total of $1,000 from two separate donations (August 2018 and July 2017) from the S4 PAC, the political action committee of The S4 Group, the lobbying firm formerly headed by our newly-appointed state rep, Yehiel Mark Kalish.

Reclaim Fair Elections.org has created a database that maps donations to incumbent aldermen by ward. Click here to see where Silverstein gets her money.

The Illinois Sunshine database is easily searchable by candidate and by donor. Be sure to click on “All Donations” or “All Expenditures” to see the most recent transactions in both categories. If you want to know who else a donor gave to, click on the donor’s name on the far left side of the page.

Websites

Majid Mustafa -none found
Zehra Quadri – none found
Andrew Rowlas – https://www.rowlasforward50.com/blog
Debra Silverstein – http://www.debrasilversteinforalderman.com/index.html

 

 

Snowstorm Updates

Ald. Joe Moore of the 49th Ward today released the following updates on this weekend’s snow.

“The National Weather Service reports a Lakefront Flood Advisory, remains in effect until 9:00 a.m. tomorrow.  Strong onshore winds are expected to produce waves of seven to ten feet, which will drive up already-above-average lake levels.

You can track the Streets & San snow plows as they move through the city in real time by clicking here.

City ordinance requires homeowners and business owners to shovel the sidewalks adjacent to their property within 24 hours after a snowfall ends.  Not only is it the neighborly thing to do, but failure to do so can result in a fine of up to $500. For more information on the City’s snow removal requirements for sidewalks, click here.”

I’m disappointed but not surprised that nobody from Silverstein’s office was assigned to monitor the storm or provide updated information to residents.

City snowplows are concerned only with plowing the streets and end up blocking intersections and bus stops with piles of snow, making it nearly impossible for pedestrians to safely cross streets or access buses. Seniors and those with disabilities are often unable to shovel their sidewalks.

During her eight years in office, Ald.  Silverstein has never organized a volunteer snow removal corps for the 50th ward. The SSA collects taxes  to pay for snow removal on Devon’s sidewalks and sidewalks on Western from Arthur to Granville;  it did not do an adequate job with the previous snowfall, and never shovels intersections  or bus stops.

Any help that you can give to shovel a sidewalk or unblock a bus stop or intersection would be greatly appreciated by your neighbors. I’ll be out tomorrow shoveling intersections, bus stops, and alley crossings, too. There’s more snow due on Tuesday.

Personally, I prefer Hollywood snow. It falls gently, looks great, and disappears on its own.