"Edgy in Edgewater", Chicago's 48th Ward Block Club Meeting

Phil Bernstein in Action 48Th Ward debate Tonight was a meeting of the minds in the Chicago Edgewater neighborhood. This was an EBNA block club meeting, an open meeting, at Edgewater Presbyterian Church.
Phil Bernstein, a candidate for 48Th Ward Alderman, gave a well thought out presentation. the various issues showed he took the time and was prepared to debate. The guests and block members are well educated, community minded, and very sophisticated. Many of these community activists were not at all pleased with some of Phil’s prior posts on one of his websites. Like a shark swimming in circles, some members waited to strike. The debate was very good for our community, many people were hungry to put in their two cents. Some of the exchanges were downright rough and tumble. The 48Th needs more debates and soon. The block club members are an important part of the 48Th ward. Phil deserves credit for his honest approach and making the case as Alderman. Phil would make a much better Alderman than Harry Osterman when it comes to an intellectual approach to issues, but Harry has more political savvy. Phil is new to the game and this takes time. I made a video of tonight’s meeting and hope to have it for everyone. Photo by Patrick McDonough.

6 Replies to “"Edgy in Edgewater", Chicago's 48th Ward Block Club Meeting”

  1. What’s this…no video? Hardly fair and equal treatment. (Response) Ask Chris Lawrence and Chris Persons about fairness. What do you suggest?

  2. Many of the current foreclosures are not as result of subprime or exotic mortgages. Homeowners in traditional mortgages are falling behind. Neighborhoods in the area that seemed immune to the subprime crisis are seeing the impact of high employment and the sluggish economy.

    Along the shores of Lake Michigan, a new wave of foreclosures is hitting neighborhoods like Edgewater.

    “It’s not as visible as you would find it in other neighborhoods but that’s not to say it’s not happening,” said Reggie Griffin, Edgewater Community Council.

    Most of the real estate in one section of Sheridan Road is condominium buildings. On that block alone, there were 27 foreclosure filings this year.

    The Woodstock Institute reports foreclosure filings are up in Edgewater 59-percent since last year. Job loss and reductions are believed to have ignited a new round of foreclosures in neighborhoods that had previously skirted a first wave of foreclosures caused by subprime mortgage crisis.

    “With the economy not getting any better, a community like Edgewater is now beginning to feel the impact,” said Griffin.

    In the suburbs, McHenry saw the largest increase in foreclosures this year 72-percent; Palatine up 71-percent; and Hoffman estates up 68 percent.

    In the city, the Loop had the largest increase in foreclosures, 77-percent higher than last year. The near South Side is up 70-percent and the near West Side up 64-percent.

    Recent job reductions brought some Cook County residents to seek help fighting foreclosure.

  3. #$%^& *&^&*&^% looks like one of the clowns in the movie “killer clown from outer space”, I really think he’s one of them. Just evil.
    (Response) Why would you knock this guy and not put your name.

  4. Fireworks in the 48th
    By Michael Volpe

    The air was ripe for an explosive evening as 48th ward aldermanic candidate, Phil Bernstein, addressed an audience invited by the Edgewater Beach Neighbors Association block club at the Edgewater Presbyterian Church on 1020 West Bryn Mawr tonight. Bernstein has already framed the election making block clubs, like the EBNA, his foil, calling them a “special interest group,” and “not really representing anyone.” So, by addressing invitees of this block club, Bernstein was stepping into the proverbial lion’s den.

    Still, the first hour was more akin to the Chemistry class in high school than the Tea Party like townhall confrontation that one would expect given the set up. Bernstein said, “I was in business while Harry (Osterman, Bernstein’s opponent) was in diapers,” referring to his long record as a small business owner. His speech covered a range of issues. Bernstein said he’d “fight against any asset sale,” poignantly standing up firmly against privatization. “The property assessment methodology is totally flawed,” said Bernstein of the rising, but totally random, level of city property taxes.

    “For a community that’s got a nice spot on Lake Michigan, we (the residents of the 48th ward) are totally underserved in economic development,” said Bernstein of the state of economic development. Bernstein spoke of an incident he witnessed the other day at St. Bertrude’s Church when “a kid whacked an old lady trying to steal her purse.” Bernstein continued, “what does that say about the people living in the area?” Bernstein said he’d hold landlords accountable so that the 48th ward will have property that encourages more upstanding citizenry and he proclaimed he’d call the local police commander day and night until things got done. On education, Bernstein came out strongly in favor of vouchers and slammed Osterman for voting against them as a State Representative.

    Bernstein spent a good ten minutes criticizing block clubs. He pointed out that ASCO (Association of Sheridan Road Condominium Owners block club) represents 8000 people but only has eight members. He pointed to his own experience when in 1993 he tried to start a wine bar in the 48th ward but was protested by a block club and opened it elsewhere. Bernstein summed up his position this way, “the days of one person representing 6000 voters will end with me,” and then took this shot at Osterman, “I guarantee you Harry Osterman won’t end that practice.”

    The fireworks really began when the question and answer session began. The most interesting question was posed by Stewart Brooker. He pointed out that the 48th ward is highly concentrated with the LGBT population. He asked if it was fair for gay citizens to support vouchers to Church and other religious schools that often won’t themselves hire gays. It was another way to frame the federal funding for abortion debate. Pro life voters often demand no federal funding for abortion since they don’t want their tax dollars going to a practice they disagree with. In this case, why should a gay person support their tax dollars going to educate kids in schools that won’t even hire gays? Bernstein said he was personally against the practice of religious institutions banning hiring gays but that ultimately vouchers are the only way for some kids to get a quality education. Thus, he’d still support the use of vouchers to such schools.

    Norm Cratty, President of the North Edgewater Beach Association block club, was next. He pointed out that block clubs encourage participation and challenged Bernstein to find another way to reach the “silent majority.” “It’s not the block club, but how they’re used,” Bernstein replied.

    Then, Cratty took on Bernstein personally, “how do you expect to engage when often engage in personal attacks?” Cratty was referring to frequent posts by Bernstein on Edgewater Intelligencer, a web site that Bernstein said he’s a contributor to, about him. “I don’t attack anyone personally,” Bernstein responded, “I expose corruption on that site.”

    The evening climaxed next when another audience member pointed out that private schools don’t have mandates and so through vouchers tax payers would be sending kids to schools not required to provide things like special education, music, and art. As she relayed her question, a man, who wished to remain anonymous to protect his child, interrupted, “what about the kids.” For the next two minutes he made an impassioned speech blistering the lack of care at CPS finishing his harangue pointedly, “I’m an aetheist and I send my daughter to a Jewish school because that’s the only place where she’ll get the education she deserves.”

    The fireworks were far from over. A representative of the Edgewater Community Council first scolded Bernstein for what she called “a mischaracterization of ECC’s position on the landfill,” a project to build miles of parks that Bernstein says is expensive and unnecessary. Bernstein didn’t flinch saying that the ECC only supported the project because it benefited some of its high level members financially.

    The confrontation continued on the issue of vouchers. “If the overwhelming majority of the residents (of the 48th ward) oppose vouchers, how will you vote?” Bernstein challenged the assertion that the 48th would oppose vouchers but still retorted, “there is a point in time when an elected official has to show leadership,” implying that his belief in vouchers is so visceral that he’ll vote for them regardless of the consequences.

    The evening ended with a bitter confrontation between Bernstein and Rae Ann Cecrie. Bernstein wrote an article entitled Standee’s Revisited and EDC: A Major Conflict of Interest. In the article, Bernstein accused Cecrie of having a conflict of interest in a local real estate deal, “What Rae Ann Cecrle “forgot” to mention (maybe because she realized it didn’t look good) was that not only is she on the board of the Edgewater Development Corporation, an operating subsidiary of ECC (she’s the Secretary), she is also a co-owner of 1127 West Granville, in which Standee’s was located. In fact, Illinois Secretary of State records show that this building is owned by 1127 Granville LLC, owned by Cercle. And, the form 990 2008 tax return filed by EDC shows that they own 20% of 1127 Granville LLC. And, EDC took a loss on their investment in that building, through the LLC. So we have an absolute conflict of interest between a board member of a not for profit operation that totally exists on taxpayer monies, and the not for profit itself which invested in a building that one of their officers owns.”

    Cecrie fired back, “you say I took tax payer money when I gave back to the community.” She passed out her own literature that included this jab, “The commercial building at 1127-35 Granville was for sale and purchased by Rae Ann and Robert Cecrie from private funds. The Cecrie’s generously gifted EDC, the Edgewater Development Corporation, a 20% equity partnership.” Cecrie summed up her feelings this way, “I can’t trust you on this issue and if I can’t trust you on this how can I trust you on other issues.” Bernstein held his ground, “look at the tax returns, the ECC took a 5000 loss on their taxes with this property.”

    While the issue was often contentious, it was not boring. That’s in stark contrast with Harry Osterman’s visit to 5415 North Sheridan last week. Osterman took a series of questions about crime, education, and the economy, and the evening was characterized by long winded answers that the national audience has grown accustomed to with President Obama. About the only excitement there, was this confrontation between Osterman and Pat McDonough, who’s site, Chicago Clout, I often contribute to.

  5. your site is really getting boring. (Response) excitement costs money, please note the donate button on the front page ya sponge!

  6. H O is very much in love with H O.He has never had a real job,always at the teat of taxpayers.his arrogance is to be noted in his support of the most corrupt org. in the 48th ward,EDC & ECC (Response) Do you have any examples? What did he do or not do? Otherwise this is trash talking.

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