Thursday, July 23, 2009

Ald. Shiller Booed at Wilson Yard Task Force Meeting

July 23, 9:30 a.m. - This morning's Wilson Yard Task Force meeting was highly contentious. The room was packed with about 70 Uptown residents, most of whom seemed opposed to Alderman Helen Shiller's proposed amendment to the Wilson Yard TIF that will add approximately $54 million to the fund, increasing it from the current $58 million to $112 million. Part of that would go to raising fish in an aquaponic project that Shiller hopes one day to have in Uptown.

The task force met to discuss the addition of $54 million even as Mayor Daley was getting ready for a press conference to detail his plan to force Chicago Police officers into early retirement.

Molly Phelan
At one point, the crowd booed Shiller (photo left, center) when she verbally attacked attorney Molly Phelan (photo, below left) , a member of the task force.

Phelan is with Fix Wilson Yard, a group that is suing the City of Chicago and Holsten Real Estate, the developer of the large Wilson Yard project that will be anchored by a Target store and other retail and office space, and low-income housing.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, "If all or most of the candidates take advantage of the early-retirement perk, Chicago taxpayers could save $23 million over the next three years." That's about half of what Shiller wants to add to the Wilson Yard TIF District.
Helen Shiller (center)

Phelan was persistent in asking Shiller to detail how the additional money would be used.  Shiller interrupted her. "I'm talking to a person who other people on this task force said I was crazy to let sit at the table, who's antagonistic and suing us..." Many in the crowd immediately shouted "How dare you!" and "Let her speak!"