Saturday, January 18, 2014

COMPARE & CONTRAST: Youth Center's New Good Neighbor Agreement

The city's Zoning Board of Appeals is generally expected to approve the Broadway Youth Center's (BYC) request for a variance to continue operating from the Wellington Avenue United Church of Christ. 

If you're interested in a report on the hearing, we recommend (again) Matt Simonette's coverage at Windy City Times.

On Thursday, 44th Ward Alderman Tom Tunney issued a statement in which he said he would support the BYC variance under three conditions:
  • The special use allowance will expire after one year and would require re-application in January 2015.
  • A Good Neighbor Agreement (GNA) will be executed. See his linked agreement HERE.
  • The special use will be non-transferable.

An earlier attempt to hash out a Good Neighbor Agreement between BYC and the local South East Lakeview Neighbors (SELVN) community group fell through after SELVN ended negotiations because they believe the GNA to be unenforceable. See SELVN's abandoned GNA draft HERE.

We have compared Tunney's proposed GNA with SELVN's proposal and charted key comparisons below.

Forward
It is not clear if Tunney's GNA has been executed. Regardless, the ground rules are in place, the community has spoken and expectations have been outlined for BYC's operation. That's some good progress considering that, as recently as September, BYC wouldn't even agree to put their operating hours in writing.

If the center's neighbors experience problems that are related to BYC's operation, they will need engage BYC and document incidents so a clear record exists should renewal be sought next year. Also, calling 911 whenever criminal activity is seen will ensure that a formal record is established. Whether the police will available to respond in a timely fashion is a different story.

As for BYC, their biggest challenge may be convincing their staff and volunteers that the monitoring and logs and so much to-do does not stem from a sudden influx of hateful neighbors, but, rather, from the BYC's own failure to run a neighborhood-friendly operation in the past. The center built an unfavorable reputation in its previous location, with good reason. Now, they have a chance to show everyone that they can do their important work the right way.

We couldn't help but notice that the first entry in the sample neighborhood monitoring log offered by Ald. Tunney seems a bit flippant, "Baby Hendrik caused a lot more trouble than the byc clients :)" 

On the other hand, after a 3:30pm to 6pm monitoring session on November 14, a BYC worker wrote, "it's getting too dark to walk alone." 

We hear ya, sister.


Eye Twister Image Source: Mr Williams
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17 comments:

  1. I wish was as easy for private for profit company's to get zoning variances. This stinks to high hell. COH/Howard Brown both buy their votes by giving money to Tunney.

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    1. Become a grant writer.

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  2. if you think that tunney is getting all this money from BYC--why don't you foia that request? Everyone always assumes that politicians get paid off but it would be interesting to see if this is the case

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    1. My guess is the money from BYC is running thru the church books. An FOI wont do any good. It would take an IRS audit of the church.

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    2. Howard Brown is such an upstanding legit organization: (Crain's) — Howard Brown Health Center has agreed to pay $715,000 to several federal agencies to settle allegations that the North Side organization mismanaged grant money.
      The agreement resolves an investigation by the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services into the clinic's handling of more than $3 million between 2005 and 2010.
      Howard Brown revealed in April 2010 that it was cooperating with federal authorities on an investigation into the use of federal grant money for a major HIV/AIDS study. Later that year, Howard Brown turned over results of an internal audit showing that grants likely had been used to cover operating expenses during cash shortfalls.
      Separately, Howard Brown also plans to repay $1.7 million to Northwestern University, said Jamal Edwards, who assumed the CEO post at Howard Brown after the possible financial mismanagement was detected. Northwestern became the lead agent for the HIV/AIDS study after Howard Brown became the subject of investigation.

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  3. What a joke, as if kickbacks would be on paper anywhere. HB/BYC were so anxious to pay $50K in rent to the church, when they could have paid only $1 per year to rent the public health clinic on Clark St., less than 2 blocks away. Lets see, now WHY would they do that?

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  4. Oh, come on, no one is on the take in Illinois or the great city of Chicago. Just look at the record. With the last 7 governors, only 4 have been convicted of corruption. Since 1973, only 31 Chicago Aldermen ( out of 50 ) have been convicted and gone to jail. One would think that state and city council chambers have a far worse crime rate than the worst ghetto in Chicago . . . . . They just don't have enough crime scene tape to drape around city hall.

    No tape = No crime.

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  5. At the Zoning Board of Appeals hearing, one of the board members was extremely insulting to the opposition witnesses but made no negative comments to Howard Brown witnesses. His name is Sam Toia. He owns Leona's Restaurant and is President of the Restaurant Association. I believe he lives in Lakeview. When he took time off from being insulting, he was not paying attention to the opposition witnesses and looking at his phone. In another indication that the fix was in, Steve Valenziano of the Zoning and Land Use Planning, Ordinance Administration was suddenly sworn in to testify that the BYC was not primarily a medical clinic. When he was questioned as to how he knew this, he answered that he asked the applicant, HBHC/BYC.

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    1. Sam Toia is also tight with Helen Shiller and I believe Shiller a registered City Lobbyist. He sold the Leona's chain but kept a few of the restaurants and renaming the Lakeview restaurant Lina's Chicago Kitchen. That is why I don't support Howard Brown or COH they only care about their interests not the community's. Heck think about the Cubs had more problem with Tunny and Zoning they are investing their own money in the project.

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    2. So...Lina's Chicago Kitchen....owned by Sam Toia. Anyone else gonna avoid them like the plague?

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  6. I noticed that all reference to HIPPA was removed as well.

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  7. Don't forget that the BYC has recently laid off a number of nonmedical staffers, in order to hire more medical staff to comply with the Affordable Care Act. Because the primary function of the BYC is medical/clinic services. Obviously, they should move to the already zoned public health clinic on Clark St., less than 2 blocks away (so much for driving them out of Lakeview), and pay only $1 in rent. Furthermore the clinic has so much space, they could expand and serve even more patients there. Instead, they insist on paying the church $50K in rent, kangaroo court zoning hearing for the location at the church. Of course we hear nothing from the sanctimonious church, they want the revenue. So much for their concern about "at-risk youth" in Lakeview.

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    1. yep, you'd think the byc could use that $50,000 to further help the "at-risks". and why is it that i am the one who feels more at-risk than i think they do? why are some of them seemingly pretty comfortable out at night and i'm hiding in my house?

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  8. I loved how BYCs attorney claimed that they had to locate in our neighborhood because this is where the kids are. One of the zoning guys gave her heat for that, as he should. BYC even said at some recent meetings that the Wellington location is important because it's near CTA lines. Why would the kids need to CTA to get to BYC if they are already here?

    More lies. Under oath this time.

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    1. Verified and placed into evidence during the Zoning hearing was an email from the new BYC director indicating that only 161 of the 4199 BYC unduplicated youth served annually have a Lakeview address.

      The number may be even less given that the BYC allows many youth to use the BYC as their “Lakeview address.” This became evident when, as reported by this blog, many young thieves arrested in the neighborhood give the BYC as their “legal” address.

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  9. Discussions seem to revolve around "open hours" of BYC. What happens in the before and after hours when patients are waiting to use the facility? THAT is when neighbors are concerned about safety. Where are the BYC representatives during those hours? How can police try to identify a possible suspect in a neighborhood crime/incident if all the BYC records are "confidential"? What does BYC have to say about property values?

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  10. Broadway youth center granted zoning special use permit, 4-0

    http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/zlup/Administrative_Reviews_and_Approvals/Agendas/ZBA_January_2014_agenda_Votes.pdf

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