Letters to the editor:

Thank you, Michael Miner, for setting the record straight in “Weak Coffey” (8/20/99) regarding Raymond Coffey’s recent Sun-Times series about the problems in Uptown and their relationship to the current 46th Ward alderman, Helen Shiller. For example, the first quote listed in your article from Helen Shiller is very accurate– “I do not recall anytime having met him or anytime having talked to him on the phone.” This is so typical of her that she might as well have been speaking of me or any of the hundreds of concerned ward residents who find it difficult to reach her directly.

Also, thank you for including Alderman Shiller’s impression that Coffey “has a hard-on for me.” For once, a journalist like yourself has the guts to reveal the true side of such an eloquent, classy, and professional politician. I know her family and friends are so proud. I know I am! Thank you, again, for including her classic slogan “But it’s none of my business” (in response to the Uptown Community Learning Center lease at Truman College). This is another fine example of her aldermanic perspective. Oh, are you still reading this? Good, I’ll proceed.

I also must give you credit for pointing out the obvious fact that Ms. Shiller is “not a cop, a parole officer, or a school official.” You are correct and more of your readers should know that fact. Brilliant news gathering, Mr. Miner. But when you raised the question of Shiller’s relationship to the uncommonly high proportion of paroled sex offenders in her ward, you failed to point out her role or relationship to the uncommonly high proportion of centers and shelters where these “miscreants allegedly congregate.” I can now better understand why it was so hard for you to see what she has to do with Coffey’s story. You also failed to ask Ms. Shiller who she thinks her constituency really is. Now, that’s a quote for you. But I must warn you: she is notorious for never answering a question clearly. She has had 12 long years of practice. What am I saying? I’m sure you know that by now.

Lastly, I can’t thank you enough for exposing Raymond Coffey for the “partisan writer” that he is. No wonder he has received so many harassing phone calls and death threats since his series has been printed. Despite the Reader endorsement for Shiller during this year’s election or the rumor that you were fired from the Sun-Times, I am relieved to know that you would never stoop to Coffey’s level of partisan journalism. At least you have a conscience and can look at yourself in the mirror. It is unfortunate, however, and painfully obvious from the picture that accompanied your article, that Ms. Shiller doesn’t like mirrors. Maybe it’s her conscience? Oh, that’s another good one to ask her!

P.J. Gray