Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Aldermanic Rematch of a sorts...

Ald. Stone and Naisy Dolar will face off again on the ballot this February -- but not for alderman. This time, they will represent the Clinton and Obama campaigns in their respective slate of delegates for the Democratic National Convention.

Greg Brewer was also asked to run as a delegate by a presidential campaign, but he declined.

This development constitutes a change in apparent support for Berny Stone. Last February, Stone and the Democratic Club of the 50th Ward attended Barack Obama's kickoff in Chicago with a big banner declaring their support for Obama.

Jan Schakowsky was largely responsible for the selection of delegates in the 9th Congressional District. Convention delegates are selected by Congressional District. Schakowsky had previously endorsed Dolar in her aldermanic race. I seem to recall Stone swearing revenge on Schakowsky for this breach in political etiquette (according to Stone's idea of this), although I hadn't noticed an opponent showing up in Jan's race. Of course, Stone has his hands full in his race for Democratic Committeeman with Ira Silverstein. And we saw how far his influence extended when he ran Mike Moses against Lou Lang.

I presume, but do not know, that Stone was frozen out of the Obama slate by the Congresswoman. But that doesn't explain why he would turn against Illinois' favorite son to run on the slate put up by Hillary Clinton. Nor does it explain why he would be slated at all. His history of falling asleep at City Council meetings follows him into political meetings, whether inside the 50th or at the Cook County Democratic Party level. Maybe Stone will send his proxy, if he gets selected -- in fact, Stone's history of sleeping may open the door for Naisy to vote at the Convention (she's running as an alternate). How a delegate gets selected to go depends on how well the presidential candidate they prefer does in that Congressional District, as well as how well the delegate did. Democratic rules require a balance of men and women delegates, so that plays a part as well. I'd bet that the fact that Berny is male had a lot to do with his inclusion on Hillary Clinton's slate.

Still, there's something poetic about Naisy and Berny squaring off again, even if indirectly. Whether intentional or not, the candidates they prefer reflect the message each ran with less than a year ago.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Neighbors sue to stop Rockwell-Devon garage

Greg Brewer continues his fight against Ald. Stone's patronage regime. Today, Brewer's community group, Citizens for Responsible Development, announced a suit to stop the Stone monstrosity at Rockwell-Devon.

Neighbors sue developer to stop Rockwell-Devon parking garage

A group of West Rogers Park homeowners today filed suit against developer Mohammed Siddiqi in an effort to stop construction of a planned parking garage and condominium development at Rockwell Street and Devon Avenue on the city’s far north side.

Homeowners allege the planned six-story mixed-use structure would violate restrictive covenants established to protect the residential character of their neighborhood. Deed restrictions recorded in 1913 permit only residential development on Rockwell and adjacent side streets. Deed restrictions also require that all buildings be set back at least twenty feet from the property line.

The proposed development includes ground floor retail and office space, a multi-level public parking garage and 30 condominium units. Parking garage floors would extend beyond the property line to overhang the sidewalk. The lawsuit filed today in Cook County seeks to enforce the restrictive covenants through a permanent injunction against the project.

Homeowner Mary Freely has lived in the neighborhood for 32 years. The two-flat she shares with her son and daughter-in-law sits directly across the alley from the development site.

“I’m afraid we’ll never see the sun again; we’ll be living in the shadow of a parking garage,” Mrs. Freely said.

Today’s lawsuit is the latest in a series of setbacks for the controversial project. The development has the support of local alderman Bernie Stone (50th Ward) and is slated to receive $3.6 million in TIF funding, but is more than a year behind schedule and remains stalled. The building permit issued in January has expired due to Siddiqi’s continued delay in starting construction.

Neighbors have objected without success to a series of zoning changes and other city approvals. Many believe the design is grossly out of scale with its surroundings and will overwhelm the residential neighborhood of historic bungalows and two-flats.

“The city’s planned development process has been used to disregard normal zoning requirements and allow a combination of height, bulk, and density not permitted anywhere else in the 50th Ward,” said Greg Brewer, an architect and community activist.

Prior city approvals have no bearing on the homeowners’ lawsuit. The city does not review or enforce deed restrictions, which are considered to be private agreements. The developer is fully aware of the restrictive covenants but has chosen to ignore them.

Brewer encouraged homeowners to bring their case to court and helped organize the lawsuit.

“The city can ignore its own rules and regulations, but it cannot violate the right of homeowners to protect the value of their property,” Brewer said.

Now I thought that Ald. Stone had promised that the TIF money would be used for schools -- especially the new school that he's perpetually promised. It surprises me not that instead of using that money as he's promised, it's designated to line the pockets of his friends. That's our Berny!

Am I the only one who eagerly awaits what he has to say on the next NTNM (aka the Berny Stone show)?

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