Monday, November 11, 2013

OUR OPINION: Youth Center Is Right Idea, Wrong Operators

The Howard Brown Broadway Youth Center (BYC) is a great idea and it has done a lot of good over the years. There is a very good reason for the services it offers to exist in our neighborhood.

But the neighborhood cannot trust current BYC leadership to run the center in a responsible way and, for that  reason, the center should be denied its request for special zoning. That is our opinion.

While Howard Brown and BYC leaders would like to make this issue one of the neighborhood vs. people in need, it's really about them. It's about their poor decision making. It's about their obstruction of law enforcement. It's about what appears to be, at best, poor training of their staff.

On Friday, we shared two police reports in which 19th district police officers stated outright that BYC staff refused to assist as law enforcement investigated beatings that took place outside and inside BYC facilities.

According to one report, BYC staff repeatedly refused to help police identify a suspect, even though a woman had just been beaten by the man inside of their center.

The Broadway Youth Center's privacy statement lists all of the
reasons it is allowed to release patient data to law enforcement. In
spite of these legal exceptions to privacy laws, BYC staff chose to
not cooperate with law enforcement on at least two occasions in 2012.
The other report states that "several bystanders" told officers that another battery offender "was being hidden inside [the BYC] by the center's staff."

BYC told officers that the information being sought about violent offenders was protected by a federal health privacy act known as HIPAA. HIPAA explicitly allows health care providers to assist law enforcement in several scenarios.

Even Broadway Youth Center's own HIPAA policy statement states that they can cooperate with police.

Yet, the center's staff chose to shield violent offenders. Some may say that the staff misunderstood the law. If so, that shows that BYC staff is not properly trained. In this situation, only the most bull-headed of people would resist saying, "you know, officer. I hear you saying that I'm wrong. Let me call somebody at Howard Brown for clarification."

The fact that police were blocked twice in six months leads us to conclude that non-cooperation with law enforcement is in the center's DNA.

Let's switch things up. What if, say, a tavern obstructed police in that way. Twice. There would be serious consequences for that business. What if those business owners then went a few blocks away and sought to open a new tavern. Should they be allowed to? Or should the neighborhood look at the operators' track record and express their concerns that there will repeat performances?

Things are no different when the operators are part of a non-profit organization. For now, we believe that the BYC and HB are the wrong people and the wrong agency for a very important job.

24 comments:

  1. Yes, BYC staff pathologize their clients. They have the attitude that police are evil and ravaging savages need to be appeased and protected.

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  2. At tonight's SELVN meeting one elderly woman (who admitted that she was well off) sighed that she wished she knew what she could do herself to help the youth. I wanted to suggest she pass out her home address and put some cots in the living room and let the youth drop by. Another wants the good neighbor agreement to include a clause that spelled out the residents responsibility to the "youth." The good neighbor agreement, by the way, is a farce and it hasn't even been written yet.

    Make no mistake, the alderman is firmly in BYC's camp. There is no question. He was presented by the police reports of the crime and obstruction of justice associated with BYC by three people and just stared blankly or at best stuttered. When the representative form BYC was confronted by the information she said that oh you know, that all happened last year in the old location.

    Also interesting...Tunney is pushing for the ZBA to hear the BYC's request the third Thursday of December...SELVN hasn't even scheduled their vote on it yet. It will probably happen at their December meeting only a handful of days before the ZBA votes.

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    Replies
    1. You're being kind. The woman (who admitted she was well off) said she was "rich".

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  3. I spoke to an experienced social worker tonight who decried that BYC is shielding criminals from police. It's not only not legal, it's not good social work policy either. How can Tunney keep a straight face of supporting a BYC zoning change while at the same time selling out his properties. I've never worried about the Cubs as a "bad neighbor;" maybe the alderman can refocus his efforts on the Cubs to these organizations who shield criminals and are affecting the neighborhood in a costly negative way.

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    Replies
    1. Please have this experienced social worker post their knowledge and experience here. We could use this kind of input.

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  4. I have to see if anyone has got a tape of the meeting. I would like to send a transcript to the Ricketts family of the woman who shifted blame for crime away from the BYC and the Center onto the people who go to CUBS games. She said she's terrified of walking through the cubs crowds...you know families, older fans with visors and fanny packs, and guys in plaid shorts and jerseys are really the cause of all the beatings and robberies in this neighborhood because we all know that after a cubs game they lurk around the neighborhood all night terrorizing people.

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    Replies
    1. ...especially when baseball season is long over.

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  5. Tunney has got to go!! He is not on our side. He is selling his neighbors down the river. Won't eevn acknowledge the crime problem in any real way. I heard him say tonight that "Lakeview is thriving". Really? In what? Being # 1 in robberies as someone pointed out to everyone in attendance.

    Who will run against him? Any volunteers because I will vote for ANYONE but him!!!

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  6. How can Tunney keep a "straight" face (or anything else) about ANY matter impacting Lakeview and Boystown. I am seriously wondering why a recall hasn't been launched. He is inept, derelict in his duties and responsibilities to the tax paying citizenry of this neighborhood, and it is an embarrassment to all of us that he is allowed to continue in his "position." Who's with me on starting a recall campaign? And we need to identify viable worthy candidates for 2015. So far the one or two names mentioned in the media have definitely NOT been overly inspiring.

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  7. I'd be shocked, even with the potential blowback, if the Ricketts family don't bankroll a "preferred" candidate to run against an Alderman who they should view as vulnerable. The cachet of being the "first openly gay alderman" is something that we no longer should feel a need to rally around, though it would be a policial coup if they backed another gay candidate for the seat.

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  8. Replies
    1. Thank you. Richard. After listening and reporting and attending countless community meetings and living in these neighborhoods for a combined 90 something years, we have concluded that the problem is not the offering of services. The problem is the way some agencies manage their operation and deal with troublemakers.

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  9. Is it not a major CONFLICT OF INTEREST for Tunney to vote on a zoning variance when he himself is intimately involved in helping the BYC succeed by writing the critical operations plan/good neighbor agreement? Based on his comments last night, it is clear that he has already decided to recommend that the BYC, armed with its shiny new toothless good neighbor agreement, gets to stay. His decision has already been made and he is trying to make the variance as palatable as possible by satiating the appeals board and the neighbors with his "plan" and his reassurances of oversight. He knows it's much harder to revoke the license than to prevent its issuance in the first place.

    One has to wonder, who is Tunney working for - his constituents or the BYC? Based on last night, his allegiance lies clearly with the BYC and helping them get their permit no matter what his constituents have to say. It is obvious that he flat out lied when he said he had not decided one way or another. He has to go.

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    1. Time for a letter writing campaign to the ZBA. Does anyone have their contact info?

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    2. Send both an email and convention letter

      Jonathan Swain, Chairman, Chicago Zoning Board of Appeals ZBA@cityofchicago.org

      Zoning Board of appeals
      Atten: Jonathan Swain, Chairman
      121 North LaSalle Street, Room 905
      Chicago, IL 60602

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    3. If payoffs work to get the backing of the alderman, what makes you think the same isn't true for the zoning board?

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  10. Longtime Lakeview businessman Mark Thomas has announced his candidacy for the 44th ward aldermanic seat.
    So for all of Tunney's critics, there is a viable alternative.

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    Replies
    1. An alternative, to be sure. Viable? Dunno about that.

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    2. I keep hearing that a retail business owner (Belmont), a hotel innkeeper (Halsted), and a restaurant owner (Clark) have made mention of running. Anyone know anything about any of this? Interesting that there's one person from each thoroughfare "troubled" street in the neighborhood.

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  11. Viable? He's creepy.

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  12. If you live in the SELVN area -- you MUST signup to become a paid member and place your vote (yes or no). BUT you have to be a member for TWO weeks. which means to you MUST sign up this week and send a check THIS WEEK.

    http://selvn.org/South_East_Lake_View_Neighbors/Welcome.html

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