Evanstonians who told aldermen what they think about the proposed 49-story Fountain Square tower project this week aren’t typical of the city’s population. And that’s true whether they favor or oppose the tower project.
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Speaker addresses: Red for tower opponents, blue for tower supporters.
The 45 Evanston residents, business owners and managers who spoke at Monday’s Planning and Development Committee meeting live mostly on the east side of town, with another cluster in northwest Evanston.
In a racially diverse community with a 65 percent white population according to the 2000 census, 100 percent of the residents who spoke Monday were white.
The speakers also are more likely than average to be single-family homeowners. Sixty-one percent of the speakers own their own homes, compared to 32 percent of all Evanston households.
Owners of condos and other single-family-attached dwellings were 27 percent of the speakers, compared to 20 percent of all Evanston households.
Renters, who account for almost half of Evanston residents, made up just 12 percent of the speakers Monday.
Homeowners who spoke also appear to be better off than the typical Evanston homeowner. Based on assessed values, a rough estimate of the average value of their homes is 50 percent higher than the median Evanston home value reported in a 2006 census bureau survey.
Speakers who live in downtown condos — faced with concerns about the value of their units in a soft housing market — universally opposed the project that would add 218 more units to the supply.
Speakers who have business interests downtown tended to favor the project, unless they were also downtown condo residents or would have to relocate their businesses from 708 Church St. if the tower is built.
One quarter of the speakers gave addresses in the 1st Ward, which includes much of downtown. Interest was also relatively high among residents of the 3rd, 4th and 6th Wards and relatively low in the 2nd, 5th, 7th, 8th and 9th wards.
Kamin Backtracks on Tower Support
Blair Kamin, the Chicago Tribune’s architectural critic, articulated strong reservations about the Tower in an article appearing on the front page of the Tempo section in today’s (March 20) Tribune.
Kamin states, “The trouble is, Booth and the devlopers still haven’t produced a skyscraper whose architectural quality would equal its yardstick height and justify a rezoning from the block’s current 125-foot height limit.”
Kamin goes on to state, “Worse, the Klutznick-Anderson plan has actually regressed in key ways since it was unveiled last April–most notably in the absence of any proposal for addressing the crumbling Fountain Square Plaza at the block’s southern end.”
In an article published in the Tribune last year, Kamin had voiced enthusiastic support for the Tower. His enthusiasm appears to have vanished in the same manner as developers’ purported public benefits have vanished “for reasons that weren’t made clear Monday night.”
Although the speakers at Monday night’s P&D meeting may not have been representative of the entire Evanston demographic, the vast majority spoke in opposition to the Tower. Blair Kamin appears to have added his voice to the overwhelming criticism of the Tower proposal.
What would Blair Kamin do?
Yes, Kamin doesn’t like the details of this particular tower, and wants that ugly Fountain Square building (and its Class B offices!) removed. Cindy, if you are questioning the archicture – like Kamin is – and suggesting improvements to the design, then you and Kamin may have a point. Certainly the city could require reasonable architectural modifications. But is that your real goal here? Kamin’s article praises the John Hancock building in Boston, and suggests something like that for Evanston. Would you be happy with that? Or are you just tossing out whatever argument you can against construction of the tower, even if it is inconsistent with other anti-tower arguments?
Are you an architectural critic, like Mr. Kamin, or one of the people that he calls ‘Luddites’ who want to prevent any construction and preserve the Radio Shack/Williams/Class B building?
If this design has flaws, the city could require modifications. Not unreasonable ones designed to sabotage the project, but good faith modifications.
It is reasonable to suggest that an office – not condos – be built on that site. It is not reasonable to suggest that these Class B low rent offices and a shoe store need to be preserved – let the developer build Class A to the sky, and bring in the revenue.
It is reasonable to suggest modifications that may alleviate wind, traffic, fire safety, etc. – again, if these are good faith modifications, not attempts to sabotage development.
It is reasonable for the city to get the best deal it can…perhaps more money to fix Fountain Square or knock down that Fountain Square building. It is not reasonable to use ‘insufficient public benefits’ as an excuse to prevent ANY construction on this site, and then refuse to define what level of public benefits are sufficient (VB).
What do you want on the site, Cindy? A decrepit low-rise building with a Radio Shack and a shoe store?
. I don’t think we should do whatever Blair Kamin says, but even if he doesn’t like this tower, I wonder what he would do if his only other option was to keep the current 708 building there forever.
He seems to be saying: build a tower, but a better one, on this site..
ECRD and friends are saying : Build nothing, ever, because shoe stores and Class B offices are a civic treasure.
Don’t these statistics apply in other situations as well?
One of my concerns about feedback to council in general is that it doesn’t tend to represent the general citizenship of Evanston. For instance, I myself have gone to speak at Council meetings, and although I’m on the south side, I am a homeowner. Though I appreciate that those who are most invested in an idea or project are being heard about it, I am concerned that decisions are made based on the opinions of those who are very vocal. Especially on contentious issues, I’d like to find a way to collect feedback from the average Joe.
Michael, you couldn’t be more correct. And the interesting thing is that those who are always in opposition want eveyone to believe that they represent some sort of universal opinion.
It’s also interesting that some of the more vocal people on this site who request full disclosure don’t wish to have the public know that they are actually related and living under the same roof. Pretty sneeky.
Makes you wonder what else is not being disclosed.
Spinning and respinning the numbers
There are many reasons for the skewed demographics of the people testifying. Just because of these demographics, however, one should NOT assume that the vast majority of Evanstonians are indifferent about the tower. I realize that the article did not explicitly state this, but it is important to make sure that no one draws this problematic conclusion from it.
First, as many studies have shown, those most invested in the future of their communities tend to be homeowners. Renters, of which there are many in Evanston in part because of the presence of a large university, tend to be less invested in the long-term future of a community. Often, especially in the case of students, they do not see themselves as staying in the community for long. If they have time to get involved in issues, it is far more likely the issues they invest in will be issues pertaining to the university, or to religious organizations, charities or national/international political causes. Other sub-categories of renters ( and people in smaller, less expenses homes) are young and in similar frames of minds as students: as far as they are concerned, Evanston is not where their long-term future lies.
Also, as studies have shown, those renters who are less affluent are also less likely to be able to afford to take off from work to testify and to engage in these kinds of issues. Single mothers, people who work evening, night, swing, or double shifts simply cannot come testify. I have talked to some such parents at my child’s elementary school–they live in one of the “under-represented districts.” They are against the tower, but they are not able to hire sitters to go testify or do not have the time to take off from their jobs. (Think about it, if you were on a limited income, would you spend your food money to hire a sitter to go testify, not to mention gas money etc.?).
Your article offers all sorts of percentages broken down in different ways, but the most important percentage was surprisingly completely absent from the article: the percentage of people testifying against the tower. As we all know, the overwhelming majority of people testified against the proposed skyscraper. Most of the mainstream media coverage of this meeting started off with this this number. Why does your article not mention this statistic at all? This was the lead number in the mainstream media coverage of the event.
Finally, there are problems with your report’s mixed use of numbers and percentages, resulting in misleading declarations. For instance, you state “Speakers who have business interests downtown tended to favor the project, unless they were also downtown condo residents or would have to relocate their businesses from 708 Church St. if the tower is built.” Here is where actual numbers are essential. How many speakers who fit this category actually spoke in favor of the downtown tower? Numbers are critical here. My understanding is that only four or five people testified in favor of the tower, of which one was not even a resident of Evanston. Of those four or three people remaining, how many were downtown business owners NOT connected in any way to developers or the project in question? One or two? This can hardly be considered representative of downtown businesses. When a category only contains one or two people, it ceases to be a news-worthy category and becomes meaningless. By the way, in a recent informal survey of downtown businesses, a member of ECRD found that many were against the tower (in anticipation of your follow-up question, I do not have the numbers, as this was an informal survey done by someone else).
As we all know, groups can and will spin numbers and percentages in a variety of ways to suit their purposes. A referendum is the only way that the true voice of Evanstonians will be heard. The developers are doing their best to dismiss the overwhelming testimony against the tower, and today’s Evanston Now article works in similar ways (though not explicitly stated, the “spin” is evident in the subtle ways outlined above).
To escape the eternal spin, it is essential to have a referendum on the tower and downtown rezoning issues.
Listen to the tape
I think you really should review a tape of the meeting, like I did, before you make claims about how many people spoke for or against the tower. Your “understanding” is way off.
More broadly, several tower opponents have suggested that issues should be decided by the preponderance of opinion among people who show up at meetings. My story simply illustrates that the people who showed up and spoke at this meeting — whether they favored or opposed the tower — are not a representative sample of Evanstonians.
Therefore the aldermen should make a decision based on the persuasiveness of the evidence, not based on which side showed up with the bigger crowd.
Your story does more than you are admitting to, Bill. Note that in your claims to have listened to the tapes, you STILL do not tell us the percentage of people who actually testified in favor of the tower (minus the speaker who, upon questioning, revealed he did not live in Evanston). Why, if you are so interested in sharing statistics, is this major statistic consistently absent from your pieces related to this meeting? Rather than stating that my “understanding is way off”, why not correct it with the actual percentage of speakers pro or against the tower? And if my understanding is so “way off”, then why did the major news media stations (FOX etc) covering the event start their reports stating that the sentiments expressed about the tower at the meeting were overwhelmingly against the tower? Are you saying that the reporters from FOX etc. got it wrong?
Also, why are you sharing statistics concerning “categories” of people when there are only a couple people in those so-called categories (e.g.: “speakers who have business interests downtown tended to favor the project, unless they were also downtown condo residents or would have to relocate their businesses from 708 Church St. if the tower is built” ).
I believe this is what they call “spin.”
Bill–Just as I posted this, your new email to Mimi went up, with the numbers. Thanks for sharing them. These number do suggest that the overwhelming majority of people speaking were against the tower (though admittedly slightly more people spoke against it than I had heard). This suggested that the FOX folks got it right.
I would appreciate it if you could also provide the numbers for how many of the downtown business speakers in favor of the tower, WITHOUT ties to the developer of any sort, are for the skyscraper. Also, what is the total number of downtown business speakers and what numbers are for the tower and against the tower (regardless of ties to developer, or future relocations they might face)?
Not going there
I have no way to compile a comprehensive list of who might be within six degrees of separation from the developer, any more than I have any way of knowing how many people from, say, northwest Evanston, who spoke against the tower might be cousins, customers, patients or friends of people who might have to move their businesses or offices if the tower is built.
You seem to be acutely skeptical of the motives of those who favor the tower, but hugely forgiving of the possible personal motivations of those who oppose it.
Why might that be?
As I said, spin is common–no side has a corner on that market. Your figures deleted those business owners downtown who had various interests landig them on the anti-skyscraper side and yet you resist running the numbers in a different way to offer balance? Seems that your articles are weighted to a particular side here.
I have my views, you have yours. I respect that. I just believe readers should be aware of the spin on these pages lest they assume that this is unbiased coverage. View my suggestions as friendly counter-balance to the views showcased in the lead articles here at what many Evanstonians are now calling “(Develop) Evanston Now.”
Known versus unknown interests
I noted those who identified themselves as tenants at 708 Church.
You asked me to ferret out the possible alliances of others who may or may not have close or distant commonality of interests with the developers. Those are two very different things.
One is quick, easy, clear cut and objectively verifiable. The other is extremely time consuming and fraught with potential for error and the making of false accusations that could harm people’s reputations.
Also, most speakers gave their home addresses. I have no way of knowing how many of them may also own, manage or work for businesses located downtown or elsewhere in Evanston.
Just as one example, Jeff Smith, who opposed the tower, identified himself by his home address. I happen to know from his testimony at previous meetings that he is a lawyer with an office in the 1603 Orrington tower. But I have no idea who his clients are and whether he may ever have done work for a developer or an architect who works for developers or represented the spouse of a developer in a divorce action. Nor do I know whether the view out his office window would be obstructed by the proposed tower.
In the end I don’t think what could be learned from the process you suggest would be worth the time investment required. But it’s a free country and you can always choose to seek out that information yourself.
The map suggests that 45 people in Evanston care about the tower. This is completely false. This tactic has been tried on many issues. I remember when Northwestern tried that “small, vocal minority “garbage when they issued a “white paper” during the Fair Share campaign, which culminated in an 83% vote in favor of negotiations. Anytime you have a group of people organizing for or against a cause you will see this tactic tried. At least the Review article noted that people speaking at the meeting spoke 6-1 opposing the tower.
It is insulting to try to mask the 100 or more residents who attended the council meeting who did not speak, and opposed the tower. Moreover, what about all the people who did not attend for either side? I think a more fair and objective way to look at it would be to assign a reasonable number, let’s say 10, to each person who actually did voice an opinion and multiply. Many people spoke regarding their own unscientific polls and each time the numbers were roughly the same 9-1, 8-1, opposed the tower. You just can’t spin it any other way Bill, no matter how many anonymous people say otherwise.
Master of misinterpretation
You are a master of misinterpretation. The map in no way suggests what you claim it does.
How many times would I have to repeat that the study is of SPEAKERS at THIS MEETING before you would get it?
Only speakers were asked to provide their addresses, and only speakers left a clear public record of their views. They provide a very clean sample.
The Review’s ratio simply is wrong. The actual split is 34 speakers against, 11 in favor. (And that’s after eliminating the guy from Chicago.) That’s approximately a 3 to 1 ratio. (But in Bob Seidenberg’s defense, before I went back and listened to the tape, I guessed the ratio was 6 to 1 myself.)
What most people in Evanston think about the tower neither you nor I know. And “man on the street” polls conducted by partisans will not give us the answer to that question.
Dude! Calm Down
My interpretations are spot on! Sorry it upsets you so. You intend to undermine the value of taxpaying residents who gave their time and effort to pack the council chambers through your “clean sample”. Your underlying message is that those who spoke and left a record of their comments are not representative of Evanston residents. I simply disagree with your methods, your motives and your intent to diminish those who did give of their time and intellectual capacity. Furthermore, I disagree with your overall opinion regarding the construction of a 49 story behemoth in our once charming town. Did your tape record the applause for those 34 speakers who opposed the tower? How about for the proponents? Come on, Bill.
Jeff Smith, always articulate, made the most important points regarding the public comment period though. One would have to agree with his points; that this city is undertaking an important and potentially irreversable change to the heart of our downtown that needs airing by all those who are compelled to attend, or speak. That is the process we have. Your review of those who spoke is analogous to one positing that even though there are thousands of voters registered, only 30% voted!
The power of blogs!
Did you ever think that EvanstonNow would be invested with such power and influence? My goodness, people are interested in your sources, your figures, your guesses as to who knows who, when, as a blog, you can say what ever you want to say. May I suggest that because Bill opens his blog to whomever wishes to post about Evanston, that anyone here is free to publish any number they wish, or, how about it, start their own blogs.
I’m just thrilled that Bill takes the time, and opens the spaces for people to consult and argue and present facts, and disbute them when there is no other forum available for that. Isn’t the Internet wonderful!
The ParentsWork folk put together a really nice Internet petition about the school calendar that enabled people to give their names/addresses and to post about their feelings as parents. Despite huge numbers of forwards to email lists all over town they just made 300 “signatures.” That’s quite a lot, but not a high percentage of the number of parents and families impacted by the school calendar. I have plenty of opinions about the Tower, but am not going to go to the City Council meeting to vent them. However, I suspect that this conversation is moot. I don’t think the money is in our economy to build that tower right now.
How about a REAL Survey
Why don’t you three get together Bill, Kathleen and Mimi and take a real survey of what the people on the street throughout Evanston truly think? Go to multiple locating all across Evanston and ask people one simple question. Do you support the construction of a 40 -50 story building in downtown Evanston? A)Yes, B) No C) Don’t care. I think that would be a lot more accurate then arguing over what people said at a board meeting. It would also tell you how the people of Evanston actually felt. There may be a silent majority that C) don’t care or maybe it will prove one of your points. I would help I already wrote the question.
Cool idea, Tim …. but I notice you aren’t volunteering to stand on those chilly street corners.
I think the aldermen will have decided the issue by the time its warm enough to really enjoy standing around with a clipboard.
Besides, anybody who didn’t like the results would say we picked the wrong corners.
Chicken littles go cheap, cheap, cheap
Here are the arguments I have heard in the past year or so “Save Evanston, Stop the Tower” activists have made against the tower. The Tower will cause wind tunnels, more crime, pollution, congestion, condos will go unsold, it looks like a middle finger, loss of class B office space, loss of green space and gardens, Glencoe and Wilmette don’t have a tower so Evanston shouldn’t, the Council and Plan Commission have limited the time for comments at meetings so they must be in collusion with developers, the tower will raise our taxes and will not contribute to the tax base, the fire deparment will have to hire more people just for the tower (discredited by the fire chief himself), building a highrise at the proposed location is irresponsible, every anonymous pro tower posting on this site is labeled a developer, the tower will block the sunlight, more people opposing the tower arrived at meetings, and finally, a new reason pops up – the John Kennedy report. According to his report, the current two story building, about 85 years old, will generate more tax revenue than a BRAND NEW 49-story highrise. It’s really hard to believe that for many reasons. One would be that he is comparing apples to oranges – one building is an old two-story retail/rental and another is a new highrise condo building. Each have different uses. But, consider that taxes are assessed on market value. Which building do you think will pay more in taxes? Which one has more market value – An old 2-story building or a new 49-story highrise? BTW- don’t forget the highrise will significantly add to the downtown’s customer base, which will help businesses and attract more to downtown Evanston. The best use of the site is obviously another highrise – investors, willing to gamble millions of their own money, think so. The opponents know it; that’s why they have to grasp at straws to try and shut it down. These are people, a vocal minority, that care not about growth and prosperity. It’s not like they’re fighting proposals to build a nuclear power plant or a waste dump site. Most residents like myself are very busy and don’t see any problems with another highrise, albeit higher than the rest, in downtown Evanston. Now, if the tower were to be built in any other area outside downtown Evanston we would be right there in the mix. Build the tower and have the developers pay and construct a timeless and beautiful Fountain Square all can be proud of for generations to come..
You forgot something, Al
It’s me, your pal, Mr. Who Knows.
Great posting, but you forgot to mention the new argument from the lady in Dana Point : the tower will attract illegal immigration , trash, and McDonald’s and BK. (Does this lady know that we have had a Burger King for many years, and that McDonald’s left because the Orrington was…redeveloped? ) .
I think that it is fair to assume that she is not concerned about illegal immigration from Australia, Ireland, or Poland. It is well known that zoning laws have often been used for blatantly racist reasons – whether against Chinese or Japanese on the west coast, Irish on the east coast, or African Americans everywhere.
I am also confused about how the traffic situation will be if the tower is built. Apparently these Class B offices are good, because people come from miles away to see their doctors or therapists, and they generate parking revenue for the city. But we are also told that the tower is bad, because it will cause traffic congestion.
This is confusing..will this tower attract people – perhaps illegals immigrants – who will just drive around the one-way streets of Evanston, without parking? Is it good, or bad, to have more cars downtown? If the tower is going to drive away all this Class B office business, won’t it make our streets less congested ?
I can’t figure it out. I need help. Is there a therapist, or political scientist , in the house?
Mr. Who Knows
Tower and Traffic and Parking, Oh My!
Oooops! Shame on me! I was attempting to summarize, in as brief a fashion as possible, the problems that come along with some of our desirable progress. As I work in commercial real estate in L. A., I deal with owners, developers and management companies of high-rise commercial property. When I mention “illegal immigration”, I do not demonstrate racism or bias. I simply support the law as it exists. Likewise, permit me to amplify the situation as it has grown here. In L.A., fully 95% of all janitorial workers are from central or South America. No problem. However, they do not speak English sufficiently to articulate or write a problem they encounter in the building after hours. They frequently are illiterate in their own language. This is not to castigate a culture whatsoever. It simply states what IS!
I further believe that ILLEGAL immigration takes jobs away from our LEGAL minorities from wherever they may be. I did not refer to Poles, Russians, Slavs or Nigerians because they are not here in the millions ILLEGALLY. There are, I am sure, a few illegals here from all over. I can assure you that, when discovered, they are promptly deported to their country of origin. I spent much of my life in Mexico City. I am tri-cultural and multi-lingual. I worked in Mexico for a former president. It took money, sponsorship, tons of paperwork, criminal background checks, etc. to get my permit to work. So please understand that when I speak of illegal immigration in the U.S., I am telling you that the schools have to educate the children and “anchor babies” at the expense of the legal residents. Hospitals here have been forced to close much of their trauma services due to cost because the illegal immigration uses the e.r. as others use doctors’ offices. Sadly, there are many in this country who also take great advantage of these folks. They make it easy for them to get houses with little money down and mortgages that are impossible to pay. They extend credit far beyond the means of the person to pay back.
Lastly, many minority groups are losing job opportunities to illegals who often work cheaper or without benefits. Seniors who need to add a little extra income; college and h.s. students who need/want transition jobs; LEGAL immigrants from all over the globe AND from Central America. To boot, there are documented cases of terror-related individuals crossing into the U.S. as if they were Latin American illegals, since not too many people can tell the difference in the physiognomy of many from the mid-east vs. those from Latin America. I simply resent the fact that one was jumping on that race card. If anything, African American teenagers here in so. California resent the illegals because they are taking their job potential at fast food joints. When the old Holiday Inn first opened its doors in Evanston, I can tell you that most of the cleaning and kitchen staff were not legal. A single immigration raid crippled the dinner and banquet service. They could have hired English speaking legal residents, but the h.r. department didn’t because it was cheaper to hire illegals. My daughter’s birth certificate could be sold for over $3000 because her father is an Italian-Spaniard who is a Mexican national. Can you now perhaps see a bit more clearly the problems of illegal immigration from ANYWHERE? You may not choose to print this letter, but I wanted you to see that every time something is OPPOSED, it is NOT about race, or bias or homophobia or any of that. It is about the laws of this country which we are not enforcing. In Mexico an illegal immigrant is NOT given any due process, you do NOT press 1 to speak in English, you do not get health care, education or food…PERIOD! Thanks for putting up with my rant.
Developers won’t fix Fountain Square & want milllions from city
You got it wrong. The developers said at the meeting they will not be rebuilding Fountain Square. That was part of their bait and switch.
Also, they are now asking the city for millions to “help” them build their skyscraper.
These two things alone do not sound like pluses for the city of Evanston.
Evanston Now’s Coverage of the Tower is Biased
As a newcomer to the Evanston Now website, I had expected to find objective coverage of events of concern to Evanstonians. Since the Tower proposal is certainly a paramount concern at the moment, I researched rather thoroughly the articles Mr. Smith has written for this website. I was surprised to find that a pro-developer bias was a constant theme in his articles.
I searched in vain for some mention of the standing-room only crowd at Monday’s meeting, the majority of whom were wearing anti-Tower buttons. Instead, I found a lead article which focused on the rather uninteresting topic of time limits on speakers. The Evanston Review, as well as Fox News, gave a complete and accurate account of the meeting (which I attended), unlike this website.
Perhaps this website is already well-known for its biased coverage of development issues. In fact, the pro-developer slant was so marked that I briefly entertained the idea that Mr. Smith is in the employ of the Tower developers; however, I dismissed this thought as too far-fetched. In any event, I am extremely disappointed in this site and will look to other sources for news about matters of concern to Evanstonians.
Fair and balanced
Another reason to support the tower:
The anti-tower folks keep citing FOX news. I have even seen the term ‘fair and balanced’ appear, unironically, in one of their postings.
Apparently FOX is where they get their information about the world, and Evanston.
Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11. Skyscrapers cause crime.
Mr. Who Knows
Several local residents have now questioned me about the post from Cindy Gage in this thread. Not my post. Differently spelled first name. I did not attend the tower meeting. I don’t have a strong opinion about the Tower. I also don’t want people to think I’m accusing Bill Smith of being pro-developer, since I have no clue whether he is or not. I don’t know who Cindy Gage is or where she’s from (not Evanston, I’m pretty sure). My name isn’t common, and I have been outspoken about certain Evanston issues in the past, and I suppose that’s why people think the person who posted was me. Thanks for the chance to clarify.
Why Few in the 8th Ward Care About the Tower?
Why do few people in the 8th Ward appear to care about the Tower proposal? (I know that there are some exceptions but they are few.)
Crime, empty condos units, and anti-social behavior rampant in our streets.
While many of you can spend your time worrying about a building that may be built, those of us who call the 8th Ward home need your attention about the crime here and how the City Council turns a uncaring hand to all suggestions about how to address it.
Look at the Evanston Review today. We have countless of empty low-income housing units in our ward. Yet, the City Council just approved handing out more of our tax dollars ($250,000) to a for-profit developer to put even more on the market. For another nearby building, the developer got $680,000 subsidy from the city to create affordable housing units and not one unit has sold.
Why is the City Council flooding the 8th Ward with low-income housing that isn’t selling?
Is the 8th Ward to be the dumping ground for the bleeding hearts of the City Council to funnel money on their developer and non-profit entity friends? Our neighborhood can’t take any more of this nonsense that all of us are paying for.
Please spend some of your tme telling your alderman that you don’t agree with the City Council’s current approach to low-income housing — handouts to developers who don’t need it, empty low-income condo units that aren’t being sold, and warehousing of low-income units in one corner of Evanston.
We need your help to defend our community from the short-sighted, impractical City Council members who will vote for any giveaway if the developer mentions low income. Our money should be spent to help low-income individuals and families to stay in their homes.
Love the passion, hate the idea
While I love your passion, the logic is completely messed up. I don’t like the plan either for the tower or the way the city seems to try and help finance these projects, but the last thing any resident in Evanston needs, for that matter the state, is a bale out of their financial problems or more hand outs. I believe these have only contributed to the crime in Evanston.
A Fable of Three Little Pigs, B.B. Wolf and a T.T.Tower
A Fable of Three Little Pigs, B.B. Wolf and a T.T.Tower
Once upon a time there were Three Little Pigs. They lived and worked happily in a snug, sturdy brick house in a Town in the woods. They were safe there from The Big Bad Wolf who had blown down their houses made of straw and wood. They loved their Town and the Town loved them.
One day, The Big Bad Wolf came knocking on their door saying. “Little Pigs, Little Pigs, let me come in.” “Not by the hairs on our chinny-chin-chins,” they chorused back. “But I have an offer that you can’t refuse,” B.B. Wolf said in a wily winning way. “We don’t want you to come in,” they said. But then, one of the Town Officials opened the gate to their back yard and invited B.B. Wolf in along with other Officials.
B.B. Wolf said to the gathering, “Hear ye about our wonderful plans for a tower. But not just any old tower. It is a Totally Terrific Tower!!” (TTT). From out of a soft, silken, rosy bag, he drew a small white box and a long scroll. It was a blueprint. He placed the small white box on the ground and waved the blueprint over it. Lo and Behold! The little box began to grow. It grew bigger and broader and broader and bigger until it filled the whole back yard. It didn’t really. It was only a mirage. They all said, “So what?”
“Ah!” said B.B. Wolf, “Watch!” He waved his blueprint again. Another Lo and Behold! From the center of the roof sprouted some oval bumps. Before their very eyes, inch by inch, foot by foot, faster and faster, it was turning into a tower. It soared higher and higher until their necks hurt from watching it. Folks from all over Town came running into the yard to see what was happening.
When the Totally Terrific Tower stopped growing, it was higher than the house of the Three Little Pigs, higher than the tallest tree in woods, and higher than the tallest building in Town. In fact, it was higher than any building in any town their size in the Whole Entire Land. “There now!” said B.B. Wolf to the Three Little Pigs. “isn’t that grand? We’ll just tear down your house and build TTT instead. When it’s finished, you can live and work in it if you want.”
“We don’t want to,” they said. “We’d have nowhere to go and your place would cost too much for us.” One Official asked, “Will your Tower bring us more money to help our Town?” “Yes, yes,” promised B.B. Wolf. “I have all the facts right here.” With another wave of his scroll, a small tower appeared as high as his head. It was a stack of sheets with facts, figures, graphs and funnygraphs. The Town folk reached for the sheets to study them, but they couldn’t get hold of them. This tower, too, was only a mirage.
“Wait! Wait!” called out Fealty Fox, a builder who lived in Town. He was carrying a wooden box filled with tools and parchments. “My friends and I know how to nail down real figures, screw in real numbers and hammer out real outcomes.” What is it for TTT?” they all asked.
“The Outcome,” he said quietly, “is Less Income.” “Outcome is Less Income?” they all groaned together. “Yes”, he said, “and they would ask Fat-Cat Franchises from far-away cities to come into the Tower. Their money would go back to their cities.” What started as low murmurs grew louder and louder. “No Tower for us! No Sir!! NO SIR!!
After Thought: B.B. Wolf said that the Totally Terrific Tower would cast a shadow that would hardly be noticed at all. Even though it was still only a mirage, TTT was already casting a long and ever longer shadow on the Town.
Here is what really happened
That’s not the way I heard the story…
What I heard was that there were these three little pigs who were renters, not owners, of a rundown building in the center of town. The neighborhood used to be seedy and falling apart. Then some developers came and started fixing up the place – nice buildings, condos, restaurants sprouted all around.
Then Mr. Wolf, a well-respected developer, bought the building that the pigs rented, not owned. He decided that it should no longer be a pigsty, but a beautiful and classy tower.
The pigs got mad , and started making up lies about Mr. Wolf. They said that his nice tower could be a fire hazard. They said it would cause traffic jams, wind, and block the sun, and lower tax revenue. None of this was true of course – the little pigs just wanted to keep renting their pigsty at a low price, and didn’t want it to be torn down and have a classy tower constructed.
Some of the other barnyard animals, like donkeys and mules, decided to help out the pigs. They put signs in their yards, and made a lot of noise at the town council meeting. They didn’t want Mr. Wolf to come to town, because he was different and the pigs and donkeys and mules were xenophobic and intolerant.
Eventually Mr. Wolf tore down the pigsty, build a nice tower, and the piggies were sold to a butcher who turned them into bacon and ham.
Everyone in town loved the nice tower,. Mr. Wolf continued to build downtown, and there were more condos and offices and shops. Business prospered, and the donkeys and mules all moved to Wilmette and Glencoe . And everyone lived happily ever after.
And now you know the rest of the story.
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