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So Alderman Stone says he actively solicits the input of the community he has represented since the early 1970s [Letters, June 9]. When asked at the first public hearing on a proposed TIF, at the Bernard Horwich JCC, how the idea for this TIF came about, Alderman Stone stated congenially that it was in the works for three, four years. Well, so much for the input of the ward! When asked a few more questions, Stone proceeded to lambaste a prospective challenger for a separate project not part of this TIF, making it sound like the 70-strong audience was Luddite and didn’t appreciate change. “What? You don’t want parking!” Stone thundered. Then the meeting crumbled.
Attempts to call for an oversight board for the planned TIF were met with a possible yes and lukewarm support. This is typical of how the 50th Ward gets business done. Houses and buildings disappear almost overnight with no community input, and there are no regularly scheduled town hall meetings as in neighboring wards. Berny Stone’s rule of thumb appears to be no communication at all, except for a privileged few.
The most damning thing about the TIF meeting was that the only way people got to the meeting those consecutive Mondays was by word of mouth. This was due to an especially active e-mail discussion group run by a local CAPS beat! There was no public notice placed in the local newspaper, no flyers put in the local hangouts, even in Lincoln Village.
Stone is right about one thing. He says that progressive change will advance community. Stone could lead the way and bring about some progressive changes by including information on his ward Web site about planning and development, ward news, and upcoming TIF hearings, for starters. Perhaps his ward offices could create a quarterly informative newsletter to all ward residents and, most importantly, listen to the concerns of the area’s residents without screaming at them for asking tough questions.