Monday, January 13, 2014

GOOD NEIGHBOR AGREEMENT: Howard Brown's Side

Michelle Wetzel, Howard Brown's General Counsel, has been representing the organization's Broadway Youth Center at recent Southeast Lakeview Neighbors association meetings. 

She sent us this email with BYC's version of events regarding the apparent break-down in creating a Good Neighbor Agreement.

Dear Crime in Boystown –

I am writing to clarify a misstatement that you have posted on your blog.

Your original statement of support was greatly appreciated and was well rooted in facts.  Sadly, someone from the South East Lake View Neighbors (SELVN) has misled you which has caused you to withdraw your support of Howard Brown and the Broadway Youth Center’s (BYC) special use permit.  I am writing to you to clarify what has transpired with the Good Neighbor Agreement.  Most importantly, you need to know that at all times throughout this process Howard Brown Health Center (HBHC) and the BYC have been ready, willing, and able to enter into the Good Neighbor Agreement.  We have worked diligently with the mediator from the City Jose Rivera, with Alderman Tunney, with the Wellington Avenue UCC, and with SELVN in good faith and in a spirit of collaboration on the Good Neighbor Agreement.  It was however SELVN that withdrew from the process and refused to execute the Good Neighbor Agreement with us.


Here are the details of how the Good Neighbor Agreement (GNA) has evolved:  We were approached by Alderman Tunney’s office regarding the idea of entering into a Good Neighbor Agreement in October 2013.  We were given a template that had been utilized by other neighborhood groups and used that as a starting point with which to create a draft of a similar agreement to use with BYC, WAUCC, and SELVN.  We sent our draft back to Alderman Tunney’s office for his input.  In November, Alderman Tunney connected all of the parties with Jose Rivera from the City of Chicago to act as a mediator to help the parties craft the terms of the Good Neighbor Agreement that would satisfy all of the parties.  Mr. Rivera took the draft we created, made some of his own comments and suggestions and sent the document to SELVN.  On Friday, December 6, SELVN sent their own draft of the Good Neighbor Agreement to Alderman Tunney and HBHC/BYC with a copy to Mr. Rivera with an email that said, this is “a draft for your review”.  The draft was also distributed to all of SELVN’s members by the SELVN President Jan Sumrall with the agenda for the Monday, December 9, SELVN meeting, with the caveat that “this is a working draft and [I will] note when BYC and the Alderman’s Office received the GNA and the GNA is subject to BYC’s and the Alderman’s Office reviews and comments.”  The mediator Mr. Rivera responded to SELVN both in writing and at the SELVN meeting on December 9 stating that there seemed to be some confusion on SELVN’s part as to the authority of the City of Chicago’s Zoning Board of Appeals.  In SELVN’s draft of the GNA they wanted the ZBA to have the authority to be able to take away the BYC’s special use permit if the BYC violated the terms of the Good Neighbor Agreement.  Mr. Rivera explained that is not how the law or the zoning process works.  He and Alderman Tunney both explained at theDecember 9 SELVN meeting that there were other due process means by which the BYC could lose the special use permit if the BYC violated the law but not in the way that SELVN was asking.  Because of that reality, SELVN has determined that the Good Neighbor Agreement “doesn’t have any teeth” meaning that, in their view, the GNA is “unenforceable” and they have stopped engaging with HBHC/BYC and Mr. Rivera on the GNA.

Let me be crystal clear that HBHC and the BYC continues to be absolutely committed to working with all community partners, including but not limited to SELVN, in the safe, legal, productive, collaborative operation of the BYC.  We, more than anyone else, want and expect our program to be safe for our staff and participants and also for the neighbors who live and work nearby.  Regardless of whether SELVN collaborates with us on the GNA HBHC/BYC intends to proceed with executing a GNA with the Wellington Avenue UCC and Alderman Tunney as a public act of our commitment to continue to be a responsive and responsible community organization.  Further, it should be noted that HBHC/BYC has already undertaken some of the security measures outlined in the GNA even though the GNA has not even been finalized.  We believe that our actions speak volumes about our commitment to the community and to this process.  We want the neighbors to know that we have heard their concerns and have not only taken them seriously, we have acted upon them.  Unfortunately, a few vocal detractors would have you and others believe otherwise.  That is why facts are so much more helpful than rhetoric. 

Finally, as for facts, one of the greatest arguments against the BYC being allowed to operate at its current location is that it has and will increase crime in that neighborhood.  However, the facts do not bear that out.  The BYC is located in Beat 1934 of Chicago Police District 19.  According to the Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications, since the BYC began its services at 615 W. Wellington there has been one “event/disposition” that was classified as a “street disturbance/no person found” in September; one “other miscellaneous incident/other service” in October, and one “support unit request” with no disposition listed in December.  Based on these facts directly from the Chicago Police Department the allegations of increased crime is simply not valid.  In addition, violent crimes are down 10%, property crimes are down 30%, and quality of life crimes are down 50% over this same time last year across Lakeview.  We sincerely hope that these facts help allay the fears of the neighbors regarding crime and its connection to the BYC.         

Based on the foregoing information, we hope you will rethink your position and continue to support Howard Brown and the BYC and our petition for a special use permit to continue the good work of the BYC at its current location.  And if you have any influence on the SELVN Board please encourage them to come back to the table and work with us generally, and on the Good Neighbor Agreement.  We stand ready and willing to continue our collaborative work.

Sincerely,

Michelle Wetzel
General Counsel
Howard Brown Health Center

28 comments:

  1. Am I reading this right, or is it just me? Seems as though Ms. Wetzel is saying Wellington is already a done deal:

    "Regardless of whether SELVN collaborates with us on the GNA HBHC/BYC intends to proceed with executing a GNA with the Wellington Avenue UCC and Alderman Tunney as a public act of our commitment to continue to be a responsive and responsible community organization."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sounds like it to me.

      Delete
    2. I would like to correct Ms. Wetzel's assertion that one of the primary arguments against the BYC is that it has and will increase crime in the neighborhood. One of the primary arguments, heck THE PRIMARY argument against the BYC operating at its current location is that IT'S NOT LEGAL FOR THEM TO OPERATE A MEDICAL CLINIC THERE. Period. Special-use permit or no special-use permit, the BYC is primarily a medical clinic and therefore, by definition and by LAW, cannot operate in a residentially zoned area. Period. The numbers and statistics that define it as a medical clinic were provided by the BYC itself, so it's not like the numbers were fabricated or gotten from an outside source. The BYC provided numbers about the services they provide, the unduplicated "youth" who are served by each service, and overwhelmingly the majority of the services provided and people to whom services were/are provided are MEDICAL IN NATURE. It's that simple.

      I don't care about a Special-use permit application calling the BYC a "community center," because that's simply not true. It's a falsehood and the BYC's own provided numbers prove it.

      To quote a previous poster from earlier today on another thread:

      "The BYC’s primary purpose and day to day on-site function is to provide MEDICAL SERVICES including prevention, diagnosis, and treatment by physicians, nurses, and other health personnel and medical testing and analysis services.

      The BYC’s non-medical activities are ancillary and purposed to attract young people to the MEDICAL CLINIC for MEDICAL TESTING and MEDICAL TREATMENT of MEDICAL DISEASES.

      A medical clinic is NOT ALLOWED in an area zoned RESIDENTIAL RM-4.5 with or without a “Special Use Permit.”

      Using the BYC’s own data, by every measurement, the BYC is a medical clinic.

      The BYC’s primary purpose is medical: “HIV/STI testing” and “Health Services.”

      The BYC provided 3,282 medical sessions vs 1,649 non-medical sessions in 2012.

      The BYC provides medical services to 3 times more unduplicated youth than it provides non-medical services.

      The BYC provides 55 hours of medical services each week vs only 18 hours of non-medical services.

      The overwhelmingly majority of BYC staff are trained in medical and healthcare fields and provide medical and healthcare services.

      In order to meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act [Obamacare], the BYC is hiring additional medical staff and firing non-medical staff."

      Delete
    3. Basically, it's a total fuck you dismissal (excuse my French) to anyone not on their side...uhh, that would be me...and you...and anyone else who is not on their radar of importance meaning THE RESIDENTS who are being subjected this flat out bullshit!!

      Alderman Tunney, YOU REPRESENT THE PEOPLE!! NOT organizations steamrolling our neighborhood. Pick a side. It's them or us. We will not support you if you do not support us. And fancy, double-speak will not work.

      Delete
  2. No person was found because the had no cops to respond for over an hour. The alderman called that disturbance in.

    http://crimeinboystown.blogspot.com/2013/10/having-rap-for-lunch-even-alderman-gets.html?m=1

    ReplyDelete
  3. The church is committed to getting their $50K per year in rent, what's not to like? And this nonprofit would rather pay $50K in rent to be located in the church in residential zoning when they can get public clinic space on Clark St. for only $1 per year? Just the next chapter in this strange saga of Howard Brown/BYC which seems to be forever having financial problems yet they waste $50K on rent. Who ever heard of any nonprofit doing this? Time for yet another investigation of the finances of these nonprofit organizations. Why should they have a 501C-3 when they waste this kind of money? Instead of wasting $50K in rent, they should be spending it on services.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Ah. One other thing -- for a company despises this site - I find it interesting that they even want to communicate anything with you. They now know CWB is a force to be reckoned with. They know this from the length of this email. ::whew:: One more week to go before this drama show is over and the BYC gets to finally be legal after all these months of running an illegal operation.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Please. Michelle Wetzel is full of it. She had to chime in to quiet down her harridan supporters during the last SELVN meeting who have imagined themselves as some sort of Gandhi-esque "non violent protesters" with their snaps and arts-n-craft posterboard signs.

    During the 12/9 meeting, Tunney and Rivera were both -- to me -- complicity allowing SELVN and the community to ASSUME that the ZBA decision could be conditional. There was a lot of confusion between a change in the zoning ordinance as well as a license to operate. They were being very cagey on exactly what the ZBA would do and were reluctant to admit this is a permanent change to the location (i.e, even if BYC moves, the space could be used for a similar institution in the future).

    It's always been about obfuscation. Wetzel knows this and she, as well as "facilitators" live Rivera, seemed darn happy to encourage it until several people -- over and over -- made them FORCE CLARIFY that yes, the GNA has no teeth and yes, you cannot enforce it, and NO, the ZBA decision cannot be overturned if the agreement is "breached."

    I can't wait for SELVN to vote this down tonight.

    ReplyDelete
  6. A little more information from Erin Murphy to clear-up (or muddy, depending on how you look at it) this finger-pointing mess. It looks like SELVN saw through this attempt of a sham:

    Question was, "There is confusion. Is there a signed agreement between all parties?"

    No. BYC sent their revisions to SELVN in mid-December and SELVN has not responded with their comments or further revisions to the agreement. BYC will be bringing a copy of their latest revision to tonight’s meeting for the community to look at. It is up to SELVN if they want to vote on the Good Neighbor Agreement tonight.

    ReplyDelete
  7. This is all irrelevant to Tunney, who I understand was helping design the new Cubs mascot instead.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Once again you all have to realize what you as a community want does not in any way shape or form matter to Tunney and Emanuel and ZBA. It's all about Howard Brown and their wishes. You all have to understand that Tunney and Rahm are masters of slight of hand and believe they are invincible. Show them otherwise.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh no, we understand that. Why else would the community group, "or local detrators" get together and paper the area with flyers? Why else has there been nothing but pain and agony between Tunney, SELVN, BYC, HB and the community -- HB/BYC/Tunney thought it was going to be clear sailing? They thought they could just push the whole thing through without the community knowing too much...thank you "local detractors" and CWB for either putting up a fight/waking up the community or telling the news like it is!

      Delete
  9. K. Well, robberies in Tunney's ward are up 70-something percent in 6 years, so you can keep your statistics along with all of the cops who've left the district in the past year or so. Im not playing that game.

    ReplyDelete
  10. No one in BYC or Tunney's office, or even SELVN thought that maybe it would be a good idea to let us know what had transpired since the last meeting? I'm sure that Tunney could have put a well-worded comment in his newsletter or online or something. Seems like he'd rather hop on board the old railroad. Choo-choo-choose someone else for alderman, I say!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thank you Ms Wetzel for pointing out the calls for police to BYC. Your own evidence supports the FACT of a criminal element linked to BYC. Ms Wetzel you fail to mention the number of criminals who have claimed BYC as a HOME ADDRESS. Does BYC support the use of their address as a home address? Is it a home?
    Get BYC out of our neighborhood!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Even if crime rates were down, that would not in any way support the argument that the crimes that ARE committed aren't connected to BYC. Back to logic class, counselor.

    ReplyDelete
  13. As a first time reader to this blog, it does appear that Ms. Wetzel simply outlined the facts and that BYC is genuine in wanting to enter into a good neighbor agreement with SELVN and Wellington Ave UCC. It's unclear to me why SELVN would want to pull out of a process to do so at this time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As a long time reader, and long time resident, I know that citing bogus statistics ("facts" as you call them are not included in her letter) to make her case makes her whole letter and agenda suspect. Crime rates aren't falling here. You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. Add Tunney to the mix, and the suspicion level around her motives and sincerity triples.

      Delete
    2. Because the agreement has NO teeth, what's hard to understand?

      Delete
  14. The good neighbor agreement has no teeth. Look at the COH they aren't currently and never have been a good neighbor. People wake up to all the scam artists under the disguise of do gooders.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Howard Brown has a long history of being crooked.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Dear Howard Brown Health Centers,

    Why haven’t you fired Michelle Wetzel?

    As HBHC General Counsel, was Michelle Wetzel responsible for approving the June 2013 lease for the BYC at 615 W. Wellington?

    How could Wetzel, your General Counsel, not know it was zoned residential?

    What does it take to question whether an infectious disease clinic would be legal in the middle of a residential block?

    Wetzel’s incompetence has been painful for everyone involved, the BYC, HBHC, SELVN Association, the South East Lake View neighborhood, the 44th Ward, and the Chicago Dept of Family and Supporting Services. It’s been a multiple car pile up!

    Is there anyone in charge at HBHC?

    HELLO!!!!!! Is there anybody here?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They got away with it at Broadway and Belmont -- they got away with it at the previous church. They DIDN'T get away with it on Wellington! The community finally opened their eyes and took control.

      Delete
    2. The community took control of nothing. Tunney has planned approval of the BYC all along and will ignore the "community".

      Delete
  17. Could someone with some time start filming outside the COH daily...every single night when I get off the bus there are cops or security guards...dudes running down the sidewalk or middle of the street......put a month worth together on video and give it to every television station or just run it on the wall outide KitKat Club...is this what they envisioned for this place?...criminals, transients; armed guards two at a time with bullet proof vests...gang activity and a paddy wagon in front nearly every single day!...why this place is even open at this point I have no idea

    ReplyDelete
  18. Meanwhile, I'm not convinced that there are no crime reports in the past few days while this dog-and-pony show was conducted...........don't lose your focus either CWB.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Believe it. We've been running as usual here and have reported all relevant incidents.

      Delete