Tragedy and Grandstanding

There’s nothing like an alderman so crass that she exploits fear, grief, and mourning to help herself get re-elected.

The Jewish community is reeling from shock, grief, and fear over the murder of Eliyahu Moscowitz, one of two men murdered by an unknown killer in Rogers Park last month, and the synagogue killings in Pittsburgh. And Debra Silverstein both shares and exploits those emotions. She cannot do enough to comfort and protect the Jewish community:

  • Special bulletins were issued by her office providing updates on the hunt for Mr. Moscowitz’s killer.
  • The alderman attended his funeral.
  • A special “community safety meeting” was called on Oct. 4 so residents could hear top police brass discuss progress on the case and measures undertaken to ensure the safety of the Jewish community and its synagogues. [City officials stated that there were no overt threats. Nor is there any evidence that Mr. Moscowitz was targeted because he was Jewish.]
  • At the alderman’s request—or so she implies–police patrols were increased in the 50th Ward on the morning of the Pittsburgh shooting, with police visiting each synagogue and offering condolences and protection in addition to the police squads stationed outside the synagogues during the Sabbath.
  • The neighborhood was invited to an outdoor police roll call and prayer service for the eleven people killed at the Pittsburgh synagogue. (The roll call was canceled after the officers stood in formation for awhile because they had to get to work.)
  • The alderman’s newsletter featured four photos of the roll call/prayer service, two of which featured the alderman. .
  • The alderman has just announced another outdoor roll call, this one for Nov. 7 (today) on the 3600 block of Devon, and has invited residents to attend, adding that they will also have an opportunity to meet the new police commander of the 17th District.

Contrast all this with Silverstein’s actions in 2016, when two men were murdered in three days on Devon Avenue.

  • Silverstein dismissed the murders in her newsletter as “some shootings.” Both victims were men, one shot in a domestic dispute, the other executed gangland-style as he sat in a car outside a liquor store less than two blocks from Silverstein’s office
  • There were no bulletins on the hunt for the killers.
  • Silverstein did not attend the funerals.
  • There were no community safety meetings. No police brass were asked to address the community. No one—not the alderman, not the police—assured residents in the surrounding area that they were safe, or that extra measures were being taken to protect them. Yet we were scared, too.
  • The alderman did not call for or suggest increased police patrols in the area.
  • There were no outdoor police roll calls.
  • There were no photos of the alderman comforting frightened neighbors.

The lives of these two young men were no less valuable than that of Mr. Moscowitz or the Pittsburgh victims. Their life choices may have led them in very different directions, but they, too, were someone’s sons. They, too, had family and friends who mourn their loss. They, too, left a stunned and frightened community.

We all live in an increasingly unsafe world. While Jewish communities rightly and understandably have special concerns, having been targets for millennia, murder is a horror that terrifies every person and every community everywhere. One of the requirements for public servants is that they show compassion and understanding for every member of the community. It’s the art and the act of leadership. .

Silverstein is clearly exploiting the recent tragedies affecting the Jewish community for political gain. She has put her re-election first. Enough with the outdoor roll calls and photos of herself intruding on police business. This isn’t leadership.

Grandstanding is not the next best option. Taking photos at prayer services for later use in re-election materials is appalling.

Someone should tell Silverstein.

 

Advertisements

It Pays to be a Friend of Rahm

Ald. Silverstein has received a $20,000 donation from Chicago for Rahm Emanuel, the mayor’s fundraising operation for his now-abandoned campaign for reelection. The mayor, who announced earlier that “..no friend gets left on the field,” rewarded his most loyal City Council supporters with the donations  at a luncheon last Wednesday.

Alderman Silverstein, always quick to tout her relationship with the Mayor, failed to mention the gift in her Friday newsletter but immediately deposited the funds and now has almost $171,000 in her reelection coffers.

Since her first race for alderman  in 2010, Silverstein has received nearly $90,000 from three committees tied to the mayor.–and they are three of her five largest donors.  The “New Chicago Committee” gave her $49,523 in 2011, while the  “For A Better Chicago PAC” donated $20,200. Now “Chicago for Rahm Emanuel” has given her $20,000.

[The other two major donors to Silverstein are “Unite Here TIP State & Local Fund”($42,464) and “Unite Here Local 1″($28,269), for a total of $70,733.]

The mayor was frank about rewarding the more than two dozen aldermen who consistently gave him their votes. Because this is Chicago, no list of awardees was issued. But why should such a proud accomplishment be shrouded in secrecy?

Debra has certainly benefited politically from her near-total support of the mayor over the last eight years. In exchange for her unquestioning devotion to the mayor, the 50th Ward has a new library, and the Mayor was here last week to pose for photos alongside Debra while breaking ground for improvements to Armstrong School and announcing an annex for Rogers School.

Silverstein supporters will argue that the 50th Ward has reaped real benefits from Silverstein’s abandonment of  her responsibility to her constituents. Silverstein’s opponents will counter that we did not elect Rahm alderman of the 50th Ward, and that in gifting her vote to him Silverstein betrayed the ward on other issues.  Where is the voice in the City Council representing the 50th Ward? Silverstein never speaks, never takes part in any debates on pending issues, and never raises any questions about or objections to any proposal coming from Emanuel. The sole exception was her vote against the recent property tax increase, but that was less an act of political courage and more an avoidance of political suicide.

Think about it. $171,000. That kind of money buys a lot of glossy mailers, the kind that substituted for participation in candidate debates in 2015, when the alderman grandly refused to appear on stage with write-in candidates. Instead, she flooded Ward mailboxes with photos of herself with children and the elderly, handing out school supplies or visiting senior seminars, or showing her support for schools by a photo of her lunching with principals. Watch for this week’s photos to reappear in campaign advertising.

Voters can’t ask questions of mailers.

Silverstein earns nearly $120,000 per year for her silence.

Plus donations.

 

 

Police Strategic Deployment Center Coming to 24th District

The Chicago Sun-Times carried an excellent and informative article yesterday about the new Strategic Deployment Center coming to the 24th Police District, which includes West Ridge.

Reporter Fran Spielman outlines the Center’s objectives and briefly discusses its success in other police districts in Chicago. The 24th District will get high-definition surveillance cameras as part of the crime-fighting strategy. However, the cameras will not include the SpotShotter technology used in neighborhoods with hundreds of shootings. Cameras using SpotShotter respond to the sound of gunfire and zero in on that area.

According to Alderman Joe Moore of the 49th Ward, more information about the 24th District’s new capabilities will be available later today.

Read the Spielman story for more details.

https://chicago.suntimes.com/news/strategic-deployment-centers-added-six-more-district-rogers-park/

Movie Night on Devon — Another Silverstein/SSA Failure

Crowd attends Devon Movie Night. It ebbed and flowed during the event, but at no time were there more than two dozen people. Don’t they look comfortable?

Movie Night on Devon, another noisemaker in a parking lot sponsored by the alderman and the Special Services Area #43 (SSA #43), attracted a crowd of two dozen people on a windy and chilly October Thursday night. Most were kids, many unattended by adults, and most were far more interested in the free popcorn than the movie. Many left before the movie ended because it was so cold and the popcorn machine shut down.

Who can blame them? What kind of organization seeks to build goodwill and increase business by inviting people to sit on asphalt on a 57-degree October night to watch an old movie?

What insensitive louts would consider placing this screen and loudspeakers alongside other people’s homes? The Devon SSA #43 and the alderman, of course.

The SSA’s characteristic lack of attention to detail was evident throughout the evening. The event, scheduled on a school night, was barely underway when the screen-loudspeaker combination blew a fuse. Near the end of the movie, the popcorn machine overheated and blew another one. Kids who had gorged on thirst-inducing popcorn were disappointed to learn that the SSA had not provided any water. There were no trash cans for the empty popcorn bags or the plastic wrappers from the giveaway plastic sunglasses, so the lot soon resembled the rest of Devon–littered with bags and food garbage. A couple of SSA big shots showed up to check on attendance.

A sharper view of the proximity to housing. The alderman wouldn’t dream of doing this where she lives, nor would the SSA members. But the impact of these events on the quality of life for residents here before the parking lot was built has never concerned them.

To his credit, Robert Taylor of Republic Bank had the excessive volume turned down, but it had to be loud to be heard over Devon’s traffic. It was a courtesy to neighbors who were largely unaware of the event because the SSA chose not to notify them, as required by law, and placed its advertising only in select businesses east of California Avenue. Oh, the alderman did announce it in her newsletter the week before, but she apparently didn’t have time to tend to the legal details or common courtesy, either. She and the SSA never do. You’d hear them screaming if something like this were scheduled outside their own residences, though.

The Shree Ganesh Temple celebrated a Hindu holiday in the parking lot, complete with loudspeaers that blasted for five hours. It also shut down Devon so dancers could march from the temple to the parking lot.

Devon shut down on Sunday, September 23, to allow 150 Hindu celebrants to march to thr parking lot from the temple. The temple’s owners have admitted that the temple exists primarily to increase business for Devon’s Indian merchants. They have voiced no concerns over its impact on non-Hindu residents.

This was a bad idea right from the start. The SSA and the alderman are determined to turn the failed parking lot into a neighborhood entertainment center. In the past six weeks, it’s been home to an India Day celebration, a political protest, a Hindu holiday celebration, and now this movie night. The lot is zoned only for parking and lacks a license for religious or entertainment events, but the SSA and the alderman don’t care. The Silverstein-selected SSA members (technically appointed by the Mayor) ignore the laws because Silverstein  encourages it. It’s paid off for her. There’s no Asian candidate for alderman this time around. There were two in 2015, and they garnered one-third of the vote.

There is no evidence that any of these loudspeaker-fueled occasions have increased business, and Devon east of California is littered with vacant stores–just like Devon west of California. The lot between Campbell and Maplewood, site of a fire during Berny Stone’s last term, is still vacant nine years later, overrun with weeds, used as a garbage dump by passers-by, and cursed with a sagging fence. A good alderman would take the owner to court on a sell-or-build lawsuit, but not Silverstein. You’d think the SSA could ask the lot’s owner to open his lot for such events. It’s right in the heart of what the SSA publicizes as Little India, and would be perfect for movie events, since there’s no nearby housing. But if your intent is to drive longtime residents out of the area, you want to stage your parties in a parking lot alongside an alley in a display of arrogance and contempt that would not be tolerated north of Devon.

It’s so hard to protest without loudspeakers. Look at this monstrosity on wheels! Naturally, this group appeared during the dinner hour.

I’ve noted before that Silverstein’s annual ward movie night, held in the north part of the ward, takes place during the summer in Chippewa Park. Why not hold Devon Movie Night in Berny Stone Park? Or is that too far from the SSA members’ businesses?

Every parking-lot event produced by Silverstein and the SSA has failed. They make a lot of noise, but they don’t build good will or business. Remember the Devon Community Market? The Family Fun Fest? What were they thinking?

I’m not opposed to movie nights. But they belong in parks. In August.

 

 

JUF Offers Reward to Help Capture Kiiller

The Jewish United Fund (JUF) is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the identification and arrest of the man responsible for two murders in Rogers Park earlier this week.

JUF’s president noted that members of Chicago’s LGBTQ and Jewish Orthodox communities are concerned that these shootings may have been targeted attacks against Douglas Wattts and Eliyahu Moscowitz because Mr. Watts was gay and Mr. Moscowitz was an Orthodox Jew.

No motive for the murders has been established by the police, although the same gun was used to kill both victims. Neither man was robbed, even though both carried cell phones, wallets, and credit cards.

A suspect was photographed by several surveillance cameras in the area of the first shooting, the 1400 block of West Sherwin Avenue, and these videos have been released to the public. A still photo of the suspect has also been released. Police are going door-to-door in the area of the second shooting, the bike path in Loyola Park at Lunt Avenue, in an effort to locate any surveillance videos which may show the same man in that area. 

 

 

 

Mr. Watts lived in Rogers Park. Mr. Moscowitz was a resident of the 50th Ward.

 

Community Meeting Tonight

Police officials will meet with 50th Ward residents tonight to update the community on the two murders in Rogers Park earlier this week.

The meeting will take place at the Bernard Horwich JCC, 3003 West Touhy Avenue, at 7:30 p.m.

Eliyahu Moscowitz, a 24-year-old 50th Ward resident, was one of two men shot by an unknown gunman. The other victim was 73-year-old Douglas Watts.

At a community meeting in Rogers Park on Wednesday night, police declined to speculate on a motive for the murders. Mr. Moscowitz was an Orthodox Jew, and Mr. Watts was gay. Members of the Orthodox and the gay communities have expressed concern that the men may have been targeted for whho they were. Police have established that the same gun was used in both murders.

Police believe the murderer lives in the Rogers Park neighborhood. They distributed flyers at last night’s meeting that more clearly show the heavily-disguised individual believed to have committed the crimes. The gunman hid his face with a cap, sunglasses, and a scarf.

Although the police have increased patrols throughout the community, and have added plainclothes officers and detectives, many residents said that they no longer walk alone and have unplugged from cell phones while out on the street.

Tonight’s meeting will be hosted by Alderman Silverstein.

Community Meeting on Rogers Park Murders

Joe Moore is hosting a community meeting at the Loyola Park Fieldhouse tonight at 7 p.m. to discuss the two murders in Rogers Park over the weekend. The Fieldhouse is at 1230 West Greenleaf (Sheridan & Greenleaf).

Police have confirmed that the same gun was used in both shootings and have released a surveillance photo of a “person of interest” taken as he walked on Sherwin Avenue. The Chicago Police have been joined in their investigation by agents from both the FBI and ATF ( Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms).

The two men appear to have been random targets.

Douglas Watts, a 73- year-old man walking his dogs, was shot in the head at 10:00 Sunday morning on the 1400 block of Sherwin Avenue.

Eliyahu Moscowitz, only 24 years old, was shot in the head and killed at 10:20 p.m. Monday night in Loyola Park on the pedestrian path at Lunt Avenue, next to the parking lot. Mr. Moscowitz was a resident of the 50th Ward.

Alderman Silverstein has announced that she will hold a community meeting about these murders on Thursday night but provided no details because the meeting had not been finalized.

A community alert was issued for the suspect, who is wanted for first degree homicide. Police ask that you not attempt to follow or confront this individual should you run into him. Instead, call 911 immediately and provide the location where he was seen. There is no indication the gun was recovered, so it’s safe to assume this man is armed and dangerous.

There is already some discussion on social media about citizen action to fight crime. It’s understandable that people are frightened but we should remember that West Ridge is one of the safest communities in the city. There is very little violent crime in our community, and no code of silence that would protect criminals. I think that citizen involvement is a great idea, but any proposed actions should first be discussed with the police. West Ridge formed a Community Watch group last year, and group members received training from the police so that they would remain safe during their walks around the neighborhood.

The West Ridge Community Watch is NOT a vigilante group. It is simply neighbors walking together and observing potential problems, such as unattended property or suspicious activity. It does not engage in racial profiling.

If you would like to be proactive in fighting crime, please contact your local CAPS coordinator or the 24th district CAPS office:

312/744-5907
CAPS.024district@chicagopolice.org

I offer my deepest sympathies to the Watts and Moscowitz families. May both men rest in peace.

Another Jackass Idea

The jackasses who run SSA #43 have come up with yet another crackpot idea to build business in Little India. They have invited shoppers on Devon to bring blankets and lawn chairs and enjoy an evening on the asphalt watching a movie at the Republic Bank parking lot. Yes, you heard that right.

The idea is so stupid it defies logical analysis. On a Thursday night, a school night, from 8 to 10 p.m., the SSA will be showing an animated film in the parking lot. Who would want to sit on a blanket on wet asphalt to watch a movie? What kind of parents think this is a good opportunity to entertain children who have to go to school in the morning? Who wants to carry enough chairs for an entire family?

The SSA, as usual, has not bothered to inform or involve neighbors living 10 feet away from what the SSA–with Ald. Silverstein’s full cooperation–has made its private entertainment venue. I learned about this event only because I saw the poster taped to one of the store windows on Devon. I’m sure the alderman will promote it in her newsletter today, mainly because she doesn’t care what an imposition it is on residents living directly next door. As long as it doesn’t disturb her, she’s fine with it.

It’s worth noting that when there’s a movie on the north end of the ward, where the alderman lives, it’s held in a park, not a parking lot. But that end of the ward votes for her. Our precinct never has.

If there are any plans for parking, crowd control, noise abatement, or clean up, the SSA has not shared them with the people living alongside this parking lot. Given the way other events have been handled, spilled popcorn, soda, candy, and other food debris will simply be left overnight. Residents will just have to cope with the scores of rats attracted by all the goodies.

Who will handle the drunks? Will there be yet another taxpayer-funded police detail assigned to cover this private event?

Has the SSA applied for a special events permit? If so, it has failed to comply with any of the requirements imposed on it by the city. Nearby residents are supposed to get a 30-day notice that such an event is scheduled so they can object if they choose to. The SSA is also supposed to furnish detailed plans for parking, crowd and noise control, and clean up. It never does, because it does not communicate with residents.

It’s the time of year when the 2019 contract for the SSA is being negotiated. I think keeping this independent taxing body in operation should be an issue in the aldermanic campaign. This SSA has demonstrated time and time again that it has no respect for community residents or for the laws governing community events.

The SSA lacks any sense of courtesy or responsibility toward residents. Its members are arrogant, selfish, and downright mean when it comes to what they want, and they have consistently ignored the rights of nearby residents on both sides of Devon.

Ald. Silverstein attends the SSA meetings; in fact, they are held in her office. She and the Rogers Park Business Alliance, the SSA administrator, are fully aware of and complicit in this arrogant behavior. But it is she who sets the tone, she who fails to ensure that the laws she is sworn to uphold are followed.

It’s another reason to vote her out of office.

We need an alderman who understands that building a business district doesn’t start with a jackass idea.

Jason Honig Ends Aldermanic Campaign

Jason Honig has ended his campaign to become alderman of the 50th Ward.

In a statement released to supporters, Honig stated that his decision was  “…due to health challenges and family issues that need our urgent and full attention.” Jason promises that once the situation is under control, he will “continue to implement and support many of the issues we care about.” That’s good. He is a young man who can make a difference in this Ward. We wish Jason and his family well.

There are still two main challengers to Ald. Silverstein, Andrew Rowlas and Ira Piltz. Silverstein is vulnerable on a host of issues, and she won’t be able to campaign by mail this time around.

More Challengers for Silverstein

Two new challengers have entered the race for 50th Ward alderman, Lawyer Ira Piltz and former candidate Ahmed Khan.

Ira is a graduate of DePaul University Law School and has a wide-ranging practice that includes real estate, corporate law, estate planning, and civil litigation. One particularly important court victory resulted in a change in Illinois law to allow religiously observant women to cover their hair in State ID photos.

Ira’s announcement notes that he is not running against an individual, but for the 50th Ward. He cites ” traffic, parking and zoning” as among his concerns, along with education. He notes that housing affordability and taxes are key issues in the City. As alderman, he would address the needs of the various communities within the ward and encourage contact between the various groups.

He intends to run “a campaign of ideas,” noting that “fresh ideas” are needed. As he said in his announcement, “We are all in this together and it is my goal to create a coalition that represents the entirety of our community.”

Ahmed Khan, who challenged Ald. Bernard Stone back in 2011, has also joined the race. One of four challengers in that election, Khan finished in fifth place with just under 6% of the vote. That race resulted in a runoff between Stone and the eventual winner, now alderman, Debra Silverstein. The other challengers were Michael Moses and Greg Brewer.

Khan recently received a Master’s degree in Communications from Northwestern University, where he is employed as assistant director of the alumni reunions program. He was a field organizer for both Bob Fioretti and Chuy Garcia in the 2015 mayoral election, and deputy executive director  for the Draft Biden campaign. Although he has considerable organizing experience, he has never worked on a winning campaign.

He is also a former chairman of the West Ridge Community Organization.

Piltz and Khan join Andrew Rowlas and Jason Honig as potential candidates for alderman.

Ald. Silverstein is seeking re-election to a third term.