Saturday, February 24, 2007

Joe Moore: The Enemy of the Poor (and Everyone Else)

Joe Moore Votes to Triple The Home Heating Gas Tax

Many thanks to Toni Duncan, of 24/7 HowardWatchers, for reporting this on her blog.

Joe Moore has shown the "independence" and "progressivism" that is too typical of him in rubberstamping a brutally regressive triple increase in the home heating gas tax, in December, 2004. Here is another milestone in the wonderful record Moore likes to remind us of, along with his ongoing and lucrative friendships with arsonists and slumlords.

In this time of increasing fuel costs and stagnating incomes among the middle and lower income brackets, our city council has chosen to levy brutal and totally regressive taxes on the population at large, while conveying hundreds of millions of dollars to private developers and corporations via TIF districts and other Welfare For The Rich schemes; and by misallocating similarly massive sums to the construction of pharoanic and wasteful monuments to the vanity of Mayor Daley and his moneyed chums, and away from necessary services such as our failing schools, neglected neighborhood parks and recreational facilities, and our increasingly decrepit and unreliable public transportation.

What's worse, this particular tax will be disproportionately rougher on the very poor than even other regressive taxes, because poor homeowners and renters are much more likely than the rest of us to be burdened with aged and extremely inefficiant furnaces that they cannot afford to replace and that require at least twice as much fuel to produce the same amount of heat. It is not uncommon to hear of gas bills of $500 or more for a single month among poor residents, for the coldest months.

This vicious tax, along with the numerous other "stealth" taxes and the recent steep hikes in property taxes, are necessary to offset the shortfalls in tax revenues diverted from the public till by the 150 (and increasing) TIF districts, to private entities, some of whom are completely tax-exempt.

So, in this "blue" city of Democrats, as in the rest of this Republican country, the non-rich are plundered to pay for luxuries and monuments for the very rich. The city council cannot find more than $3 million to fund daily operations at the CTA, but can somehow find $42 million to contribute to the $216 million mega- el station for the luxury multiuse development on Block 37. There is no money for neighborhood parks and recreational facilities, but there are ample funds for Trophy Parks in downtown and for rehabilitations costing hundreds of millions for privately-owned sports stadiums. We do not have the money to operate, let alone improve, our failing and disreputable public schools, but we have $40 million to assist Loyola University, a well-endowed private institution that is completely exempt from taxation, so that they can renovate a handful of campus buildings.

Our own North Coast Aldercreatures, including Tunney (Lakeview), Shiller (Uptown), Mary Ann Smith (Edgewater), and Joe Moore (East Rogers Park) rubberstamped the increase without a wimper of protest. It is especially reprehensible on the part of Shiller and Moore, for these two aldermen have built their political careers by posturing as advocates for the disadvantaged and promoters of "progressive" politics, yet I have only once heard of either of them voting against any of Hizzoner's TIF boondogles or unnecessary public works extravaganzas (Moore voted against one TIF, the LaSalle Central). The same could be said of the alderman representing the city's poverty-stricken wards on the south and west sides.

None of the token 'feel good' programs to assist the poor and those in the middle brackets, such as tax credits for 'green' buildings, CPAN 'set asides', and other crumbs cast to the non-elite from the groaning board at which are seated our political leaders and their moneyed cronies, are an even fractional offset to the hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies , both cash and in kind, that flow to the wealthy and connected. Speaking strictly for myself, I'll happily forfeit all the socialistic nonsense such as CPAN subsidies for middle income buyers, and city mortgage buydowns, in return for a rollback in property taxes, but most of all for a rollback of the home heating gas tax.

Hopefully, the 49th , the 50th,and the 46th Wards will elect new aldermen this coming Tuesday. To the new candidates who will replace the old, I say this: we will be watching you, and we will expect that you will place the welfare of the constituents who voted for you, and the ongoing solvency and viability of Chicago itself, ahead of your monied contributors and your own vanity. We like civic adornments, but not at the cost of our homes and our very lives. We want a sensibly run, solvent city that provides a high level of essential services, including superior police and fire protection, well-run, highly rated schools, reliable and rapid transit, and attention and timely service to the ward you represent, and we expect that you can provide this without taxing us out of our homes by constantly escalating property taxes. We also want a vision for the city's future that recognizes that meeting the challenge of financing the city's services and driving economic growth will call for vastly different solutions than those chosen by our leaders to date, and that trophy projects and monument- building will have to take a back seat to preparing the city for a future that is likely to be very different, and much more difficult, than the past.

Friday, February 23, 2007

PACT Block Club Meeting

Pratt and Columbia Together
Monday, February 26 at 7:30 PM
1229 W. Columbia, 1st Floor

Hosted by Tom and Sarah Lisy
PACT President and Vice-President

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Asleep at the Switch

Now that the speculative rampage of the past few years has ended, we are now stuck with cleaning up the detritus left behind as the tide ebbed: falling prices, a vast glut of unsold homes and condos, a wave of interest rate adjustments on 'creative' mortgages, and most of all, a vast and increasing number of recent buyers saddled with shoddily built or illegally converted homes and condos.

Evidently, the legal processes that are in place to protect buyers from dangerously shoddy construction and gross financial and legal malfeasance on the part of builders and sellers collapsed along with lending standards as developers scrambled to meet the frantic demand of the boom years. We now see that our elected representatives and our city officials failed to protect buyers from flagrant dishonesty and incompetence on the part of builders and developers, and as a result, thousands of Chicagoans are left to deal with the failures and outright dishonesty and malfeasance of developers. These failures include, but are not limited to, construction so shoddy the dwelling cannot be occupied, illegal conversions in which the buyers discovers he has no legal ownership, and failure to correct previous code violations before offering the property for sale.

The north lakefront wards, most prominantly the 49th (Rogers Park) and 48th (Edgewater) are the sites of some of the most egregious violations. One of the worst cases involves an illegal conversion at 1060 W. Granville, a haphazardly rehabbed courtyard building in which units were sold to unwary buyers before being cleared for conversion, creating a legal and financial quagmire from which it is unlikely the unfortunate buyers will emerge for many years. Elsewhere, in the 49th ward, many buyers of condominiums sold as rehabilitated and completely clear of violations, have discovered that their buildings have serious physical deficiencies and/or are classified as "gang and drug" harbors only when the local alderman decides to mount a campaign of harrassment against the buyer. In most cases, the deficient units were cleared by the city for sale and went through every stage of the sale process, including intense scrutiny by the buyers' attorneys, with no evidence of any problem. In yet other cases, newly constructed homes and condos have been so shoddily built that in at least one case, that of an expensive , newly constructed condo building in Bucktown, buyers were forced to move out of their units because the building was in immenent danger of collapse.

Where were the people we pay to enforce the laws and the building codes, and otherwise protect us from dishonest and incompetent builders?

Our city officials, from our local aldermen through the laggards occupying desks in the various city departments charged with inspection, licensing, and the issuing of permits, have failed miserably to protect us, and as a result, thousands of Chicagoans are confronting massive and often unrecoverable losses, and years of costly litigation that most likely will come nowhere near making them whole. In the meantime, flagrantly unqualified and verifiably dishonest developers and builders are permitted to continue their careers.

Municipal elections are less than a week away, and when we go to vote this coming Tuesday, February 27, we should all consider if Joe Moore and his compatriots in the city council have done what they could to protect their constituents from victimization by the developers who are often their largest campaign contributors.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Chinese New Year Parade

Celebrate the Year of the Pig and bring luck to the New Year!

The Hip Sing Association, 1121 W. Argyle St., is sponsoring this year's Chinese New Year Parade on Argyle St. The parade route will start at the Association's headquarters on Argyle, at around noon, and use Argyle Street and Broadway. It's a good idea to arrive around 11:30 to get a favorable spot.

The Chinese New Year starts with the New Moon on the first day of the New Year, and ends on the day of the full moon, fifteen days later. The 15th day of the new moon is called the Lantern Festival, which is celebrated with a parade of young children carrying lanterns, and by lantern displays at night.

For more information on this holiday and traditions associated with it, go to http://www.educ.uvic.ca/faculty/mroth/438/CHINA/chinese_new_year.html.

Don Gordon Meeting at Lamp Post Tavern

Citizens to Elect Don Gordon invites West Ridge, St. Margaret Mary, and 49th Ward residents to join them to watch WTTW Channel 11 " Chicago Tonight" on 49th Ward Aldermanic Candidates at 7P.M.

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 19, from 6:30 PM -9 PM
Beer Special & Free Pizza

This is an opportunity for residents of the West Ridge area to discuss local concerns such as home teardowns, condo development, ward service requests, commercial development, and other neighborhood issues with Don Gordon and local campaign leaders.

Donations are welcomed. RSVP at www.dongordon.org/events/rsvp.html, or call Citizens to Elect Don Gordon at 312-262-9473.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Rogers Park's New Blog: Alderman's Intern

A delightful new blog has, with no fanfare, appeared to adorn the local blogosphere, and I would be doing my handful of readers a disservice if I failed to bring Alderman's Intern, http://www.aldermansintern.blogspot.com to their attention.

The blog is written by an individual who purports to be a young, female intern in Alderman Joe Moore's office, and all I have to say is that you wouldn't want Alderman's Intern "supporting" your campaign. So I am not at all sure that "she" is truly located in Joe's office, but if she were MY intern and was beating the drums for me as she is for Joe Moore, I'd boot her in a New York Nanosecond. She writes with dripping, saccharine sarcasm and incisive wit , and I came away with a sense of a young person who will someday not far down the road make even Maureen McCarthy and the late Molly Ivins seem lame compared.

She's an equal-opportunity pol-basher, and not only does Alerman Moore suffer at her hands, but Gordon and Adams and Ginderske each get trashed as well.

So go visit this delightful cynic today. Only one thing.... she doesn't permit comments, so you'll have to post your comments on this blog or another where she comments.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Contribution to Joe Moore from Convicted Arsonist

49th Ward Alderman Joe Moore is well known for taking contributions from extremely questionable sources, notably from Jay Johnson, the notorious slumlord, among many other slum owners and disreputable developers.

However, even some of the most corrupt pols might hesitate to associate themselves with a convicted arsonist. Go to http://www.geocities.com/ward49_mudzapper/tribute2strangeBedfellows.html for the story on Ivan Buljubasic, who contributed $2,500 to Moore's campaign for re-election in 2003. The author of the site, "Chicago's Ward 49 Mudzappers", who goes by the initials J.R., went on to say that, in his words:

" One of the more intriguing entries on Mr. Moore's donor list was that of Ivan Buljubasic, listed at 1705 Jonquil Terrace; he sent the alderman a check for $2500.00 on June 19 of this year. That's a pretty good chunk of change for an aldermanic campaign, don't you think? What makes Mr. Buljubasic particularly interesting is that he was convicted in federal court several years ago of arson and associated mail fraud and was sent away to a federal pokey for a 30-plus-year sabbatical at the government's (actually yours and my) expense. Specifically, Mr. Buljubasic was accused, tried, and convicted of torching one of his own rental buildings. Now that, I'm sure you would agree, is NOT a nice landlord. See http://www.usdoj.gov/osg/briefs/1986/sg860016.txt The question that comes to my mind is this: why is this man who was convicted of burning down a rental building he managed permitted to continue operating as a residential property manager in the city of Chicago? The only answer I can think of is that there is no legislation on the books that would prohibit him from doing so. "

The contributor referred to in the quote from Mudzappers in only one of many unsavory landlords and developers that have made massive contributions to Joe Moore, and have been permitted to operate as they please with no obstruction, while a desirable business like Island Groove is denied the right to operate. Could there be any connection between their failure to obtain their license, even though they had the blessings of most of the local citizens; and their failure to make a contribution to Moore's campaign coffers?