Saturday, February 18, 2006

from the
Plant A Seed Department

Sonic Teenager Deterrent
Britain has new weapon against
Loitering Youths

Shopkeepers in central England have been trying out a new device that emits an uncomfortable high-pitched noise designed to disperse young loiterers outside their stores without bothering adults.

Police carrying out the pilot project in Staffordshire say some of those who have tested the "Sonic Teenager Deterrent," nicknamed the mosquito, have talked of buying one of their own.

The device which costs 622 pounds (908 euros, 1,081 dollars) "doesn't cause any pain to the hearer," according to Inspector Amanda Davies, quoted by Britain's domestic Press Association news agency.

"The noise can normally only be heard by those between 12 and 22 and it makes the listener feel uncomfortable," she added.

Once in their early 20s, people lose their capacity to hear sounds at such a high pitch.

"It is controlled by the shopkeepers. If they can see through their window that there is a problem, they turn the device on for a few minutes until the group has dispersed," Davies said.

"Shop owners have reported fabulous results and we've been approached by some who are considering buying their own equipment," she said.

Chicago Police Department

Wanted for Aggravated Criminal Sexual Assault/Home Invasion

Area Three Detective Division
February 15, 2006

RD# HM 175151, #630-06-006

Chicago Police are investigating a home invasion and criminal sexual abuse that occurred around 5:30 a.m. Feb. 11, 2006, in the 6700 block of North Lakewood Avenue.

The offender opened a kitchen window, reached in and unlocked the rear door of an apartment to gain entry. The victim awoke when the offender entered her bedroom. A struggle ensued and the offender fled through the back door.

Police are looking for a male offender in his 20s to early 30s, who is approximately 6’ tall and was wearing dark clothing with a hoody and thick black leather gloves. No further description is available about the offender.


Make sure all windows and doors are properly secured in your apartment/home.

Be aware of your surroundings.

Note any unusual activity in your area.

Call the 911 if anything appears to be suspicious.

Area Three Homicide
Sex-Gang Crimes Unit,

24th District
Read My Back

So Many Questions

At the recent circle jerk show about the Pivot Point do- over, I was sitting in the very last row with The Bad Seed, listening politely to the performers and smiling occasionally as each new sign was thrust into the air.


At one point, the Alderman actually acknowledged The Seed and his silent protest with his own smile. I enjoyed that too. There was more sincerity in that small exchange than was wafting from the stage the entire night.

Eventually, after hearing some of my neighbors stand up and talk about the difficulty of finding affordable homes in our new and improved Wicker Park on the Lake neighborhood, I began to move forward. I was having trouble hearing the Alderman’s answers since his back was turned towards the audience.

One woman wondered how she was expected to afford any one of the four $1100.00, one bedroom CPAN apartments that were so magnanimously included in the complete new makeover plan for the Mistake by the Lake. I wondered that myself. How could $1100.00 possibly be within reach of my poor neighbors that live NOH?

I mean, I’m no math wiz but don’t you need to make a pretty darn good wage to be able to pay an $1100.00 mortgage and still have disposeable income left over for occasional splurges at Dominicks?

Anyway, if you were actually doing that well, why would you be living at The Mistake?

So Few Answers

So as I inched along the wall towards the middle of the room, I ended up next to Agent 99. I guess we were both having the same problem. The acoustics in that auditorium are awful. Then we realized what actually never occurred to either of us. The Alderman wasn’t responding at all to the questioners during this part of the show. These tough questions were fielded by the fidgety few on stage.

I guess it was written in the script that way.

Others in the audience were beginning to zone in on this housing issue too. Apparently having heard enough, the Alderman hoisted out of his chair and took the microphone and with an officious wave of his hand, declared his dedication to Progressive politics and his compassion for my NOH neighbors.

The Alderman declared that he was committed to helping my neighbors in their need for affordable housing, you betcha’. And in that progressive spirit, he had reauthorized another generation and a half of my neighbors to the horrible cycle of poverty by giving Aimco the new pin number to the money machine.

AIMCO got a 13 year contract renewal and a nod of approval to continue it's slumlord status NOH.

Shortchanged Again

Did renewal of the AIMCO contract, represent the best understanding and the latest progressive thinking at the time? After all, this wasn't a day pass. This renewal was for 13 years. Common wisdom should dictate that some homework might be in order before rushing to renew another thirteen year chokehold on an entire community?

Add this renewal to the previous 15 year fughetaboutit and you begin to understand the vision in it's totality.

To understand this in chronological social policy, H.U.D, had revised the Federal Government’s own rules regarding poverty, concentration and integration in Public Housing in 2000, three years earlier than the AIMCO renewal. The pages were chock filled with titles and text like this:

Promoting Deconcentration of Poverty and Income Mixing in Developments with Concentration of Poverty

And thanks to Mr. Yahoo aka Thomas Westgard for the link. It seems we have 2 generous search engines in blogland these days. Mr. Google and Mr. Yahoo.

Politics make strange bedfellows.

In 2003, a passionate progressive would have had this 18 page document on top of the stacks of saved and clipped articles on social policy. A true believer would have been so ahead of this curve and embraced this new H.U.D. philosophy with open arms, ready for a change and prepared with a daring and decisive plan for NOH. A progressive visionary would have sat us down in a real meeting, handed out homework and tried to make his case to boldly go where so few had gone before.


I'm not suggesting that the new federal law relating to Public Housing is applicable to AIMCO's contract, but if the feds finally came to this deconcentration and mixed income solution, shouldn't that have raised a red flag somewhere, with someone here in the 49th ward?

Why would the Alderman want to perpetuate an economic and social condition NOH, that the Federal Government had declared unlawful in it's new Public Housing philosophy?

For those of you who think I'm spending time rehashing a just another pie in the sky possiblity, in another part of the country, the dedicated founder of a mixed income development company that was building success stories elsewhere, expressed interest in our NOH neighborhood. I'll tell you about it sometime soon.

I guess, good information was hard to come by in those days without the blogs.

But now, we have a broken shopping mall and we still have a broken social policy too. I suppose we have to be thankful for the $60,000.00 GED TIF sponsored seminar. We should just appreciate the stautus quo NOH and never you mind what hope is happening in the rest of the country and in Alderman Tillman's ward.

Apparently, she doesn't have time to fret over frois gros. She's got too much work to do and too many constituents to care for. Seems she's pretty chummy with "hizhonnor" too.

That's helpful in a pinch.

Gary Fuschi

Violence Against Women
How Another Town Responds

After yesterday's discussions on Hellhole regarding the young student that was sexually assaulted, I thought it might be interesting to see how another town is responding to the seemingly, growing trend towards violence against young women and women in general. This is not, as someone commented to me yesterday on Hellhole, to imply in any way that New York does things better than Chicago. I don't believe that for a New York minute.
I just happen to be an ex New Yorker. When the abduction of a young woman on Sheridan Road and East Lake Terrace occured in November, I was curious then, to see how my old town responded to similar incidents of violence and I found these sites.

We will also reprint the original "Abduction" post that is on 24 / 7HowardWatchers

Hoping that some of the differences of opinion from that original post can be set aside for now, we thought this issue, of violence against women needed more awareness and more discussion.

Considering how many sites are devoted to this issue in one city, these are just a few, we wondered about a couple of things.

Some Questions?
Is this type of violence an increasingly, growing trend or has it always been this way? Or are women and people in general speaking out, using new media, reporting crimes and acting out more as in the tactic used by HollabackNY?

Considering this new Chicago Police Community Alert, the Loyola student incident which may or may not be related, the recent DePaul dormroom break ins and the abducted woman, who is also a student at a major university, is this a trend we are seeing or just coincidence of timing here in Chicago?

Maybe Mr. Google and Mr. Yahoo aka Thomas Westgard, can help us out with some links.

Holla Back NYC empowers New Yorkers to Holla Back at street harassers. Whether you're commuting, lunching, partying, dancing, walking, chilling, drinking, or sunning, you have the right to feel safe, confident, and sexy, without being the object of someone's fantasy. So stop walkin' on and Holla Back: Send us pics of street harassers!

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Bucket o' Jersey

I was on the PATH train minding my own damn business when I heard a bunch of grunting and laughing from behind me. It was this group of ***holes - first they were making fun of a homeless man who was selling newspapers on the train. When I turned around, the one on the right yelled something uncomprehensible at me. I looked away, and heard the dumbass on the left: "What, are you a **** or something?" The first one also had a bunch of nasty dandruff flakes all over his coat collar, gross.They were totally absorbed in their stupidass bantering (they had moved on to other targets) and didn't even see me bust out my phone and snap a photo. It was the first time I did it and a little scary, but I encourage all the grrls to get up close for them photos if it's safe - these ******* need exposure & humiliation!-jenna

Men Can Stop Rape has trained more than 6,000 youth-serving professionals across the country.

And from Alaska to California to Florida and all states in between, Men Can Stop Rape has conducted Awareness-to-Action workshops for more than 30,000 youth and youth-serving professionals.

Our workshops and trainings raise awareness of the costs of sexual abuse, dating violence, and other forms of men's violence, and build young men's capacity to take a public stand alongside their female peers in fostering safe and strong relationships.

The Street Harassment Project

BECAUSE women are terrorized daily in public spaces, our personal space violated by men who block our paths, stand too close, use a too intimate and insulting language toward us...

BECAUSE this behavior is implicitly menacing and threatening and often becomes overtly threatening when a woman expresses her anger at these affronts...

BECAUSE the line between verbal harassment and physical menacing is often crossed...

BECAUSE on June 11, 2000, hundreds of men assaulted, stripped and fondled over 56 women in the public space of Central Park and the rage of women in the city exploded...

Gary Fuschi

Friday, February 17, 2006

Cost of the War in Iraq

and counting......

To see more details, click here.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Is It Possible To Be Too Connected?

Pamela said...

Gary and others -- I appreciate the point about the original good intentions of TIFs, and I admire the efforts of NCGB but I think they are fighting a losing battle. I believe that most subsidies (ethanol and sugar excepted) start out as noble efforts to rectify a perceived problem be it a market imbalance or a blighted community.

The problem is that these problems (market forces, blighted community) are generally temporary but the subsidy programs are permanent. Time and market forces tend to correct the problems irrespective of any subsidy program.

Example: some years ago when oil was so cheap that oil companies weren't doing new exploration, the U.S. government came up with a "subsidy" in the form of free drilling rights to encourage companies to do more drilling so that there would not be shortages in the future. Fast forward 10 or so years and oil companies are getting the equivalent of a $7 billion subsidy for drilling rights.

Not even Congress can undo this.

They put the program in place, oil companies entered into it in good faith, you can't take it back after the fact. I don't blame the oil companies. They were made a legitimate business offer and took it. I blame politicians and those who think that central planning is the answer.

It usually makes things worse.

If a neighborhood needs to improve schools, transportation, etc. then that community should lobby for funding for such through city (and/or state) budgets or outright tax increases.

School broke = $ to fix it. Fine. Subsidies, however, will always (without exception) take on a life of their own, and almost never provide $ for the things they were intended to.

Further, they are an invisible tax on the people and so it becomes impossible to say "lower taxes now that our schools are fixed" or whatever. By their very nature they will not be transparent.
Truly, we must say no to them and work to unravel them.

Think of them as a very bad investment.

If your retirement $ is in a bad stock and it keeps losing money month after month, year after year, what do you do? Hold on and *hope* it will turn around or sell and cut your losses before you have nothing left at all?

Note: The Rogers Park Review would like to thank Pamela for graciously allowing us to reprint her comments. We believe all of our neighbors have something important to add to our dialogue. If you, or someone you know, would like to add a voice to our discussions, contact us at
Do You Have as Many
Questions as We Do?

The Rogers Park Review believes we are not the only ones who have questions regarding Tax Increment Financing and how TIF Districts, taxation and expenditures are shaping our neighborhoods.

We have contacted Jackie Leavy of the NCBG to ask if a representative of could come to Rogers Park to answer your questions and educate us on this important issue.

Neighborhood Capital Budget Group

NCBG is an organization of nearly 200 community based organizations and local CDC's whose mission is to educate and advocate for responsible TIF expenditures. NCBG recently began an "Organizing For Accountable Development" initiative regarding the effectiveness, displacement and accountability concerns that local neighborhood groups are now voicing.

We at the Rogers Park Review share those concerns and will sponsor the meeting and a place, date and time will be chosen based on your response.

Tell Us What You Think.

Fire Extinguisher

By Stephen Leahy

"Don't work too hard," wrote a colleague in an e-mail today. Was she sincere or sarcastic? I think I know (sarcastic), but I'm probably wrong.

According to recent research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, I've only a 50-50 chance of ascertaining the tone of any e-mail message. The study also shows that people think they've correctly interpreted the tone of e-mails they receive 90 percent of the time.

"That's how flame wars get started," says psychologist
Nicholas Epley of the University of Chicago, who conducted the research with Justin Kruger of New York University. "People in our study were convinced they've accurately understood the tone of an e-mail message when in fact their odds are no better than chance," says Epley.

The researchers took 30 pairs of undergraduate students and gave each one a list of 20 statements about topics like campus food or the weather. Assuming either a serious or sarcastic tone, one member of each pair e-mailed the statements to his or her partner. The partners then guessed the intended tone and indicated how confident they were in their answers.

Those who sent the messages predicted that nearly 80 percent of the time their partners would correctly interpret the tone. In fact the recipients got it right just over 50 percent of the time. "People often think the tone or emotion in their messages is obvious because they 'hear' the tone they intend in their head as they write," Epley explains.

At the same time, those reading messages unconsciously interpret them based on their current mood, stereotypes and expectations. Despite this, the research subjects thought they accurately interpreted the messages nine out of 10 times.

The reason for this is
egocentrism, or the difficulty some people have detaching themselves from their own perspective, says Epley. In other words, people aren't that good at imagining how a message might be understood from another person's perspective.

"E-mail is very easy to misinterpret, which not only triggers flame wars but lots of litigation," says
Nancy Flynn, executive director of the e-Policy Institute and author of guidebooks E-Mail Rules and Instant Messaging Rules. Many companies battle workplace lawsuits triggered by employee e-mail, according to Flynn.

People write absolutely, incredibly stupid things in company e-mails," said Flynn.,70179-0.html?tw=wn_index_2

Monday, February 13, 2006

DevCorp North
The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight

So now we are starting to understand why our Field of Dreams never did come true. It all boils down to a fatal decision that cost North of Howard and Rogers Park big time.

Parking,Parking and Not Enough Parking.

It was right there in the plan, as clear as day, right there on the very last page. Maybe that page got lost and no one remembered to bring it up at a meeting. I guess that's possible. I forget things every once in a while too. I usually forget where my keys are, so I suppose it's understandable to forget about a 200 car, underground parking garage that would determine whether Gateway was to be a transit hub or a tragic dud.

I mean, this is the same group that spent $15,000.00 dollars on a behemoth pressure washer that's probably better suited for King Kong to use as a water pic. I predict cobwebs for that special purchase.

This is the same group that thought it fiscally prudent to pay our off duty finest $25,000.00 to play word jumbles.

This is the same group that wants us to trust a concept and probe the L.P.O. and........
Excuse me, my phone is ringing.

'Hello. Uh huh.Uh huh. Uh huh. Oh yeah, I forgot. Thanks. Bye"
That was an Expert reminding me that DevCorp doesn't do residential. Well I guess that's a good thing because they had a fully developed plan for Gateway and they screwed that up, I can't imagine the mess they would make out of a concept.

Don't blame me for being confused. DevCorp ran another add on the website chanting the condo beat.

CondoCondoCondos! CondoCondoCondos!
I'm beginning to really dislike that word.

I've come to realize that DevCorp only does soft residential, not any of that tricky NOH stuff. Nah, that's no fun. That sort of residential just cuts into their day too much. Too much reading. Who wants to read boring H.U.D. Rule to Deconcentrate Poverty and Promote Integration in Public Housing and catch up on the latest trends in social policy. Nah, they would rather go shopping for new digs.

DevCorp Doesn't Deserve New Digs.

If Gateway Mall is what they're hanging they're hat on after 15 years at the helm, then DevCorp doesn't deserve a brand new building. Their office should be right there at Gateway Mall in one of the many, still empty storefronts. Preferrably on the transit side and open early for the morning rush.

After finally negotiating the walk along a snowed over, unshoveled Howard Street and pre cafeine, grumpy constituents should walk in and tell them exactly what's on their mind. And the employees of DevCorp should sit silently on their hands, not uttering a sound.

Gary Fuschi

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Gateway Mall Now and the Original Concept
A Study in Contrasts

In the next 2 essays, I will try to paint a picture of what the architects originally envisioned for the Gateway Mall and how certain decisions and exclusions from that proposed plan, have added to some of the problems we are facing today. This is not a whine about "oh, what could have been", but a study in bad decisions, unanswered questions and of Moore Unintended Consequences. But specifically, as in the case of the Pivot Point Building, of a tired and uninspired approach to all aspects of the development process and social issues North of Howard.

Where Are The Trees? In studying the original plans that I distributed to some of you at the Pivot Point meeting, one of the most noteable exclusions are the hundreds of trees that were to be planted generously along Howard Street, throughout the bus terminal and the mall parking lot.The architects envisioned a "park like" setting to create a sense of intimacy and soften the hard edge of the mall aesthetic.

The unanimous reaction from the people I handed the drawings to at the meeting, were that the trees would have made a huge difference in the overall atmosphere and the perception of the mall. I totally agree. And now, 10 years later, those original young trees, had they been planted and maintained properly, would now be the mature, almost fully grown "park", the architects originally envisioned.

This is Not a Minor Technicality. Landscaping has been universally accepted and embraced as an integral and necessary ingredient in successful mall environments across the country. It has been proven in study after study that a lush, colorful well maintained landscape changes the way people feel. It provides a sense of order, a sense of well being and conveys the idea that mall managers care about their customers.

As a study in contrast, stand in the middle of the parking lot at Gateway and examine how you feel. Then go to Old Orchard during the 8 month growing season and look at the effort and care taken at that mall or any mall for that matter.

Do You Notice a Difference? You should because it makes a difference. Most malls have a full time staff of landscape workers whose only job is to plant, water and maintain the landscape. If you still have doubts after reading this, I have 15 complete sets of the drawings that I believe would change your mind.

The cost vs. benefit ratio is a no brainer. Landscaping costs are now a routine inclusion in almost all successful mall budgets.

It still can be done at Gateway and in my opinion, it should be done.

In the big picture, that "park like" setting in the parking lot, would be an added benefit to the marketing effort needed to sell the condominiums at Pivot Point since the current views looking south or east from those apartments are awful. The view from the new 17 story building across the street would also be greatly enhanced, increasing the chance of "renting " ( wink, wink ) those 1 bedroom apartments for $1450.00. The birds eye view of the Howard el station and the barren parking lot at Gateway, would be a really good reason to keep my blinds in the permanantly shut position if I lived in that building.

Where is the Underground Parking Garage?

The original proposal called for a continous, underground parking garage beneath the Dominicks and the building that now contains Bally's and Marshalls. My best guess from looking at the small drawing that I have, is that the garage would accomodate over 200 cars.

The car entrance to that parking garage was via a "cars only" lane adjacent to the bus exit at Howard. Cars could enter that parking lane east or west from Howard Street and enter the garage, just beyond the bend in the road. The exit from the garage was to be at the very end of the building, just north of Rogers. Just beyond that garage exit was the original loading dock for trucks.

Obviously, this was the correct location for the loading dock, since trucks now stop traffic on Clark Street.

What Happened to These Plans?

Mall operators, developers, retailers and architects all use "available retail square footage" vs. "necessary parking space requirement" ratios to determine the synergy between the two. The original plans called for the construction of the parking garage for a reason.

On a regular Saturday, between the shoppers at Dominicks, Marshalls, Hollywood Video and the Bally's members, the parking lot at Gateway is approx. 60 - 70% percent full. During holiday season, I have had difficulty finding parking close to Dominicks and end up at the very north end of the parking lot fighting for space from "My Place For" customers.

Now add to this equation, the fact that this portion of the mall is still not fully rented. Perhaps the reason those stores remain empty can be partly attributed to a lack of "necessary parking" vs."available square footage". If those empty stores were rented and successful, there would not be enough space to park all the cars.

As I mentioned before, it's sometimes difficult now, during Saturdays and holdays to find convenient spaces. How could that parking lot possibly handle all the cars from the customers of the fully rented stores in that part of the mall?

I fully understand there is an above ground parking structure on the terminal side, but that is not at all convenient for customers at this side of the mall. There is no way to convenently access the parking structure from the Dominicks side of the mall, except through the rotunda. If the parking lot is full and you need to park in the parking structure, are you going to lug all your groceries through the rotunda building, down the road to your car?

I don't know about you, but I wouldn't. I'd wave thanks but no thanks on my way to Evanston, where parking is available and convenient.

Why would available and easily accesible, covered parking not be built as originally planned, for a car oriented mall?

This unique decision has far reaching ramifications beyond just the retail spaces at Gateway. Fast foward to the Pivot Point proposal. What was everyone including the developer and the zoning lawyer talking about for the first half of the meeting?

Parking, Parking and Less Parking.

If the underground parking garage was built, adding all that extra capacity, Gateway could have sold adjacent land or parking spaces to the developer for his Pivot Point project, generating some income for Gateway. Or, they could have sold or rented spaces to the new Pivot Point condo owners in the parking garage, again generating income. All in all, Pivot Point would not have had a parking issue and cars would not be added to the street, in the mystery spaces that were being discussed.

Additionaly, the Metra link that was originally discussed could have become a real possibility rather than the pie in the sky dream it is now. For the Metra link to make any sense whatsoever, what ingredient is missing for the Park and Ride system that is set up successfully elsewhere? You guessed it.

Parking. Parking and More Parking.

During the week, commuters could drive to Gateway, park in set aside paid spaces in the covered parking garage and walk across the street to hop on the train, again generating income for Gateway. Commuters who take the Howard el train could do the same.

That is what is known as a transportation hub.
Contrast that concept to what we have now.

A White Elephant.