Symbolism sometimes does matter, and so does keeping your word

By Greg Nagel

The East Village Neighbors split from EVA about 3 years ago citing a lack of a respectful environment as their only reason.

I have spoken to multiple neighbors and business owners that do not attend EVA meeting because of certain people they feel are aggressively rude or because of a general lack of civility of the group.

As president of EVA, I took initiative to broker the merger of EVN back into EVA. There was no road map for this. These were clearly unprecedented waters. One of the items that I promised the EVN leadership was that I would propose and promote a bylaw amendment on respect.

I felt this would make the EVN people more comfortable while simultaneously truly improving the culture of EVA. I naively thought this was an absolute no-brainer. Who is going to oppose respect?

The EVN bylaws had provisions for not only removing people from a meeting but also expulsion from the group. I felt that was overkill, and felt the simply being able to ask someone to leave a group in an extreme situation would be more than sufficient.

Any rule can be abused but that is why the president is an elected position and that person presumably has good judgment. I feel that the notion that the respect amendment is repetitive or unnecessary as its covered in Robert's Rules of Order is a valid but academic objection.

However, I feel that the amendment would be in the body of the bylaws versus buried in Robert's Rules of Order which gives it far more emphasis and needed visibility.

Lastly, I think this is a very important symbolic gesture that will propel our organization forward. Not passing it will have the exact opposite effect.

As your president trying to change the culture of this organization, I ask for your support on this beneficial change.

Calendar: Curb your abandoned gadgets Saturday

This Saturday morning, May 29, the city will be sponsoring a household electronics curbside pick-up service. You may put any unwanted electronic devices in front of your home and visible to the street by 8:00 a.m. this Saturday. The devices will be collected and safely disposed of between 8: a.m. and noon.

Alternatively, you can take unwanted electronic devices to the 1st Ward Streets and Sanitation Ward Yard at 2505 W. Grand Ave.

Landmarks workshop

The Commission on Chicago Landmarks will host a spring workshop next month for community organizations representing the city’s 53 designated Chicago Landmark districts. The Historic Preservation Division will host the event at our downtown office. The topics will be additions and new construction in historic districts and feature examples reviewed by the commission.

The workshop will be held on Saturday, June 5, from 9 a.m. to about noon, at the Historic Preservation office, 33 N. LaSalle St., Suite 1600. Registration and light refreshments will be available beginning at 8:30 am. We plan to include a walking tour of some current downtown rehabilitation projects, including recent work at the Carson, Pirie, Scott & Co. building, in the final hour of the workshop.

Moreno on Elston
Ald. Joe Moreno continues his 1st Ward weekend open hours Saturday, May 29, at Strack & Van Til, 2627 N. Elston Ave.. Moreno and ward staff will be at the grocery from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m.

“Stop by to place a service request, to purchase daily guest passes, to register to vote or to just meet me,” Moreno writes on the 1st Ward website. “I hope to see you at one of these community offices.”

Do-Division June 5 & 6

The Do-Division festival includes a street fest: on Division Street between Damen and Leavitt, a family stage on Hoyne and a sidewalk sale spanning 10 Division Street blocks between Ashland and Leavitt.

The $5 donation benefits the sponsoring West Town Chamber of Commerce, the Division Street Committee and four local elementary schools: A.N. Pritzker, LaSalle Magnet II, Anderson & De Diego.

Music includes the bands Hood Internet, Yacht, Pelican and Ponys on the Damen Avenue stage, and Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit, Cory Chisel & the Wandering sons, the Night Marchers and the Good Life on the Leavitt Avenue stage.

Family Fun Fest activities feature a bounce house and face painting, crafts and cookie decorating, silent auction, petting zoo, pony rides and science demonstrations.

The schedule is available at

June 7 meeting offers energy advice

Give your home an energy audit with advice from sustainability consultant Peter Locke at the Monday, June 7 meeting of the East Village Association.

Locke's firm TerraLocke advises corporations how to conserve water and energy. Locke has contributed to three city task forces on green business and the Chicago Public Schools' environmental task force.

Chicago has a Climate Action Plan, which recommends public policy for this decade on energy efficient buildings, clean and renewable energy, transportation, waste and pollution, and such activities as tree planting.

The Climate Action Plan website suggests 10 things city residents can do to make a difference:

  1. Use compact fluorescent light bulbs.

  2. Unplug appliances even when they are off. 

  3. Turn off faucets when not in use. 

  4. Turn your thermostat down/up in the winter/summer. 

  5. Clean and replace dirty filters so appliances run more efficiently.

  6. Go Car-less. Emissions from transportation account for more than 20 percent of our greenhouse gases. 

  7. Keep the tires on your car adequately inflated. 

  8. Bring your own bags on your shopping trips. 

  9. Plant or adopt a tree in Chicago. 

  10. Turn off the lights when not in use.

If there's an energy issue you'd like covered June 7, e-mail Locke before June 1 and he will work to include it in the discussion.

The meeting starts at 7 p.m. in the Happy Village, 1059 N. Wolcott.

Also on the agenda, Benjamin Pourkhalili of Galleria Wine & Liquor‎ plans to seek EVA support in a bid to open a store at Division and Ashland. A moratorium on liquor licenses currently prohibits such a business.

A vote also is planned on a bylaws change requiring members to be respectful and considerate or face expulsion from meetings.

Finally, Super Dog Walking will be first in a series of short monthly presentations from East Village businesses.

Respectfully, bylaws don't need this change

By Marjorie Isaacson

A proposed bylaw for the East Village Association would require that all members conduct themselves in a respectful, considerate manner in meetings, and gives the presiding officer the right to expel those persons who are judged to be disrespectful.

I am opposed to this proposed bylaw for several reasons, and suggest that members think about these issues before voting.

One reason I have heard for adding this amendment was that civility in meetings is so essential, the organization wanted to reiterate the commitment with a special mention in the bylaws. We should be respectful in our deportment, but the amendment will not accomplish this.

Just because something is in the bylaws doesn’t guarantee it is carried out successfully. In my years of EVA membership, I have seen the bylaws misused on many occasions, both by people who claim the bylaws say something they don’t and by those ignoring policies that are in the bylaws. I have no desire to be a scold, and I think if we conform to the spirit of the bylaws many mistakes can be forgiven. But I do object to making them needlessly more complicated.

The addition is unnecessary. Like organizations ranging from student councils to Congress, EVA has in its bylaws the requirement to carry out meetings using Robert’s Rules of Order. Robert’s was designed to allow "everyone to be heard and to make decisions without confusion." It also has very specific guidelines about unruly behavior.

Robert’s Rules also have become a standard of behavior because they are really good. They’re well reasoned, comprehensive and hard to improve. When one starts writing another version of how to conduct meetings, one can see how easy it is to get things wrong.

For example, the proposed bylaw refers to "members" only. My guess is that the intent is to guard against disrespectful behavior by anyone attending a meeting, not just members — or at least I’d like to think everyone in a conversation should be held to the same standard. But if the bylaw was adopted as is, it wouldn’t apply to that odd troublemaker who shows up just to disrupt. If we used the tools Robert's gives us, this would enable us to handle such situations.

Finally, this proposed amendment could be used for scapegoating or to otherwise stifle legitimate differences of opinion. Again I’ve seen a lot of contention at meetings. It’s part of the process. Even the most reasonable people can have real differences of opinion, and the stakes are high: We’re talking about where and how we live.

I’ve also seen people present their opinions in ways that are unfair, petty and hurtful, and I can honestly say that more times than I care to remember I’ve left meeting to go home and cry at things that have been said to me.

But I’ve also seen people state hard, unpopular truths in a less than diplomatic fashion. It's easy to blame the messenger instead of trying to understand what is being said, and why. Exploring these issues is one of the reasons we meet as a community.

I think the danger of marginalizing unpopular opinions is very real with this proposed amendment. Variations on this statement have been attributed to both Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin: "Any society that will trade a little liberty for a little order will lose both, and deserve neither."

An alternative discussed at the most recent board meeting would be much preferable to my mind. We discussed formalizing a statement that might be used at the opening of every meeting that would serve to set expectations as well as welcome participation. I believe this process, conducted in a sincere and thoughtful manner, would benefit everyone.

All of us, not just the person running the meeting, need to take responsibility for making sure our meetings are all that we want them to be. An amendment that focuses on punitive reactions won’t accomplish that.

Respect code open to abuse

By Chris Long

I have lived in the neighborhood since 1996 and been a member of the East Village Association for most of that time. I am opposed to the proposed amendment allowing the chair of the meeting to expel members who fail to act in a respectful manner. I understand the president’s concern about maintaining a productive meeting environment but the amendment as proposed has several fatal flaws.

  1. It is unnecessary. We already have tools in place to maintain a respectful meeting environment.

    The EVA bylaws call for the use of Robert's Rules of Order to conduct our meetings. Robert's Rules or Order Revised Edition Section 43 already has a clause about decorum at general meetings, which would achieve the objectives of the amendment without unintended consequences.

    Robert’s rules were written to conduct orderly and respectful meetings. They have been tested and revised over more than a century and successfully used in organizations and governments large and small.

  2. It is vague. The amendment does not outline what conduct is not "respectful," making it difficult to apply in a consistent manner. For example the chair may consider interrupting another speaker to be disrespectful, but it is actually allowed under Robert's Rules of Order in certain circumstances.

  3. It could be abused. The amendment as leaves the decision on whom to eject from a meeting in the hands of a single person. It could be used to eject members from a meeting that disagree with the chair before an important vote.

    It could also be used to expel enough members from a meeting to reduce attendance enough that a valid vote could not be taken on an issue. I’m sure no one on the current board would use their power in that way, but the possibility for such abuse would be written into the bylaws of the organization.

  4. It could chill debate on important issues. In any healthy organization there's bound to be disagreement over issues that people feel passionately about. It's important that this debate take place in an open and spirited manner. This amendment could lead to some members not engaging fully in the debate for fear of being expelled from a meeting.

  5. It could create the very divisiveness it seeks to prevent. Expelling a member from a meeting during a debate over a controversial issues is likely to inflame passions, not reduce them. There is no faster way to create division than not allowing people to participate in meetings on issues that are important to them.

Home composting: A harvest that feeds your garden

By Scott A. Rappe, a guy who knows nothing about composting

Like the old joke about where our food comes from — the grocery store! — few of us think beyond our black carts when contemplating where our food goes to, the landfill.

Space for landfills near where they are needed is limited, and that growing challenge is the least of our problems. Once kitchen waste and mostly benign household trash is collected and mixed with not-so-benign sources of trash, all of it must be handled as hazardous waste in perpetuity. Buried in lined pits and then hermetically sealed, the resources that end up in them are gone for good.

While we all recognize the importance of diverting recyclable materials from landfills, we tend not to think of food and yard waste in this category. But it is. According to a 2003 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report, food and yard waste make up a full 24% of the municipal waste stream.

Like other recyclables, organic matter contains energy and natural resources that are forever lost once mixed and sequestered as hazardous waste. If diverted, they can be recovered and reused through composting. Unlike recycling, which requires huge amounts of energy for sorting, cleaning and processing, composting is a natural process that doesn’t even require much human intervention.

Chicago has been collecting yard waste for several years, but other cities have gone further and begun collecting food waste for municipal-scale composting as well. Last year San Francisco began requiring the segregation and collection of all organic matter. Until this happens here (and perhaps even after it does) anyone interested in environmental and sustainability issues needs to seriously consider home composting.

My adventure in composting started a few years ago, when I found a standard snap-together plastic compost bin abandoned in the alley. I had always been a bit intimidated by composting and from everything I read, it seemed technical, laborious and complicated. It also had a significant drawback: conventional composting cannot handle processed or cooked food, or fish, meat and dairy products. This limitation bothered me as a matter of principal. My goal was not so much to produce compost, as it was to reduce the amount of waste that ended up in landfills.

The solution turned out to be the "bokashi method," an approach used widely throughout Japan, especially in dense urban areas where space restrictions limit the use of conventional composting. Bokashi refers to a mix of wheat bran, molasses, yeast and bacteria (known as "efficient microbes") that essentially pickle food waste, preparing it for composting.

In our kitchen we separate our food waste into two containers: a stainless steel pail for peels, cores, rinds stems, leaves etc., and an airtight container for anything that is normally not compostable or otherwise might attract rats (processed & cooked food, fish, dairy, etc.). The first container gets dumped directly into the compost bin on a daily basis; the second type of food waste is placed in the airtight container, tamped down and covered with a handful of bokashi.

After a week or two, when this container is full, it is emptied into a 5-gallon bucket fitted with an airtight lid, a false bottom to allow liquids to collect and an ice-chest spout. Depending on the moisture content of the food waste, the liquid should be drained off (into your garden) every few days to a week. This cycle continues until the 5-gallon bucket is full, generally a month or two.

When the bucket is full and has sat for the last two weeks unopened, the contents can be transferred directly to the compost bin. I opened the bucket for the first time with trepidation, but was surprised that there was no offensive odor. The key is periodically draining the moisture away, as this is what creates the rancid smell associated with spoiled food.

Over the course of a year, I filled the salvaged compost bin with a random mixture of kitchen and yard waste. It never really seemed to get full; the decomposition process seemed to reduce the volume at the same rate as I filled it, at least until the weather got cold. I never spent much time or effort tending it. Amazingly, when I emptied the bin the following spring, it had produced about nine 5-gallon buckets of compost, all of which I spread on our front and rear gardens.

I realized it was time to retire the plastic bin (the sides of which kept bursting open) and find something more substantial. I also wanted to be absolutely certain that it was rat-proof, which the plastic bins are not. I ended up buying a standard galvanized garbage can with a tight-fitting lid (picture Oscar the Grouch’s home) and perforated the bottom and sides with ½” diameter holes.

I found a corner of the garden that gets a bit of sun and placed a 24” square piece of salvaged porcelain tile on the ground, to distribute the weight of the bin so it didn’t sink into the ground. Then I placed the bin up on two bricks, to allow moisture to escape and ensure air circulation around the bottom.

As I periodically placed the moist kitchen scraps and bokashi waste into the bin I felt an instinctive urge to throw in some dried leaves from the garden. At the time this just felt right, but later I remembered from my early (and largely forgotten) research into composting that the process benefits from a mix of "browns," carbon-rich material like dried leaves, and "greens," nitrogen-rich materials like vegetable scraps.

I continued filling the bin through the fall and winter, as before, but noticed that the bin seemed to fill faster after it was frozen. I ended up making a second galvanized trash can bin to get us the rest of the way through the winter.

In early March there was a spring thaw. A few days after it had warmed up, I decided to pitchfork around in one of the bins. As I turned the still somewhat frozen matter, I saw a puff of steam come from the center. After months of being frozen solid, it had heated up and begun composting on its own!

Excitement took hold: I went to Radio Shack and bought an indoor-outdoor thermometer with a wireless sensor. I placed the remote sensor in a plastic jar with an airtight lid and buried it in the center of the bin.

My intention had been to locate the indoor station outside our bedroom window, which would have allowed me to monitor the compost and exterior temperatures from inside. Unfortunately, the metal bin interfered with the wireless signal, so I ended up placing the indoor station in a zip-lock bag and putting it on top of the compost pile, inside the bin.

With the material at the perimeter barely thawed (36°F), the temperature at the steaming core was 56°F; over the next week, it rose into the 80s, while outdoor temperatures hovered around freezing. Amazingly, the compost managed to generate enough heat to keep from freezing at night.

The bin seemed damp, so I asked my brother Doug for some sawdust from his shop. I turned the compost while mixing the sawdust in and then watched at the temperature shot up to a high of 110°F over the next few days, where it remained for about two weeks. This was twice the exterior temperature at its highest peak.

Now that the weather is warming and composting has begun again, I expect to be able to harvest last year’s compost soon. To do this, I use a 3’x6’ steel frame with expanded metal mesh, a security screen removed from a window at my office, laid flat on some 5-gallon buckets.

I spread the contents of the bins across the mesh and rake it back and forth until only uncomposted matter remains. You wouldn’t believe the number of wine bottle corks and avocado pits that remain year after year. They are nature’s plastic!

The compost is spread on the garden and the rest is placed back in the bin. After this sorting, I expect to be able to put the second compost bin away until next winter.

I am really pleased that I have been able to divert all of my family’s kitchen waste (500 pounds during 2009 alone), and a good quantity of our yard waste from the municipal waste stream. Not only does this keep organic material out of landfills, it replenishes the soil in my family’s garden. Fertilizing with homemade compost eliminates the need to purchase manufactured fertilizer, most of which is made from fossil-fuels.

Composting is something anyone in the city can do with little cost and minimal effort, and the benefit to the environment and your garden cannot be overestimated. Don’t overthink it, just give it a try.

Appeal your property taxes: Window closing on property tax appeals

President's Message | By Greg Nagel 

In Chicago we have the opportunity to challenge the assessed value of our properties, which drives the property tax we owe the county. There are two opportunities to challenge these assessed values, the Cook County Assessor and the Board of Review.

Many people hire attorneys to challenge their taxes and represent them legally at bot levels. Most attorneys will take a percentage of the tax savings over three years typically ranging from 25% to 40%.

However, the Board of Review has a free outreach program where the same personnel who decide if an appeal has merit will work with taxpayers directly to challenge their taxes.

Whether this yields better results than hiring an attorney is subjective, but I have had excellent results for myself and my clients. And since there is no attorney involved in the appeal, it is absolutely free and as simple as filling out a form.

The basic appeal is to argue that there is a "lack of uniformity" in your assessed value compared to similar properties. Some people may feel that whether an attorney is more effective than appealing direct may depend on the complexity of the appeal.

Ald. Joe Moreno has setup two meetings for the community to meet with the Board of Review to ask questions and file the appeal itself on the spot. EVA had the Board of Review come to a general meeting last year, but the West Chicago Township closes its review period on June 4 before the next EVA meeting on June 7.

The meetings are June 2 at Goethe School, 2236 N. Rockwell, and June 3 at the Ukrainian Cultural Center, 2247 W. Chicago. Board of Review staffers are available from 6:30 to 8 p.m. both dates.

To fill out the form at the meeting and file the appeal directly make sure to have the following information with you:
  • Building Permanent Index Number (PIN) and volume found on your tax bill.

  • Date and purchase price of your property.

If you are interested in appealing your property taxes to the Board of Review directly or through an attorney, its critical to file your appeal before June 4.

Long-time Occupant Homeowner’s Exemption

Most people know about the basic exemptions like the homeowner or senior citizen. However, many people do not know about a relatively new the Long-time Occupant Homeowner exemption that became law just 2 years ago.

This exemption limits the annual increase you can get to your property taxes if you own your home 10 years or more and make $100,000 or less.

Exemptions show in the 2nd installment of your taxes and are not ever reflected on the 1st installment. I always forget this when I look at my 1st installment and assume I'm getting cheated.

With the way property taxes are rising, you can see how beneficial this exemption could be. If you have questions, send me an e-mail.

May 22 raffle to benefit LaSalle II school

By Ronda Locke

Check out the LaSalle II Fine Art Fundraiser from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, May 22, at The Boundary Tavern & Grille, 1932 W. Division.

Boundary will be making a generous 15% of sales donation to LaSalle II to help fund the student's music and arts program. In addition, LaSalle II will be holding a raffle with drawing at 8:45 p.m. on May 22.

Grand Prize is a United Center skybox for a Blackhawks game next season, including
12 tickets, parking passes, food and soft drinks — worth $2,500.

Additional prizes include a two-month CrossFit Chicago gold membership package for a
family of four (a $1,500 value) and a wine tasting package for six at Lush Wine &
Spirits, 1412 W. Chicago (value $200).

Raffle sponsored by the East Village Association. Tickets are $5 or 5 for $20, available at the school week prior to event and on May 22 at The Boundary. Sellers will be in the playground at pickup and the office is willing to sell too.

All proceeds will go to music and art instruction during the day for our children. Time
to go a little out of bounds for a good cause.

EVA to sponsor LaSalle II PTO raffle

May 10 board minutes submitted by Dana Palmer

  1. Meeting notification signs: All board members signed up to pick up a sign and replace it prior to the next meeting. Scott Rappe agreed to map out locations for the signs and e-mail the board members regarding the locations they should place the signs. If a sign is missing Greg Nagel should be contacted.

  2. The bylaw amendment on respect has already been published in this month's newsletter. Marjorie Isaacson agreed to draft a welcoming statement that will include verbalization about respect that can be voiced at the start of all EVA membership meetings.

  3. Tom Tomek brought the board a request by the LaSalle II parent-teacher organization. He stated that the PTO is having an event at The Boundary on May 22 and would like to have a raffle. However, because the PTO has been in operation for less than 5 years it cannot apply for a raffle license. Therefore, the PTO asks that EVA apply for a raffle license for the raffle. This requires both signatures of the president and secretary of EVA. Some legal issues and concerns were raised. Neal McKnight and Tom Tomek agreed to work together with LaSalle II to clarify these issues before the license will be applied for.

  4. Aaron Bilton endorsed to EVA $330 from former East Village Neighbors funds.

  5. Neal McKnight is going to be working with arborist Mark Duntemann to survey Augusta Boulevard. The idea is to find a way of having trees planted along that boulevard.

  6. Guest speakers: It is too late to have the Board of Review outreach program come to the June EVA meeting because the Board of Review closes June 4. Greg Nagel suggested having a special night in the East Village community for the Board of Review outreach program. He will call the Board of Review to find out dates that this night could be arranged. He will also contact Ald. Joe Moreno's office to see if they can help champion the event. Aaron Bilton agreed that if a night is arranged he would request Commercial Park to allow us to use their community room. Both Aaron Bilton and Nicole Semple agreed to help Greg arrange this night.
  7. Greg Nagle will ask the West Town Chamber along with the SSA to be guest speakers at the EVA July membership meeting.

  8. Since the membership meeting in July falls on July 5, the board voted to change the meeting date to July 12 at the same time and location.

  9. For the June membership guest speaker, Tom Tomek suggested Peter Locke, who is into energy conservation. Tomek agreed to contact him and set it up.

  10. It was also decided that it would be nice to have local businesses start the membership meetings with a 5-10 minute presentation on services they offer. Greg Nagel stated he would e-mail the West Town Chamber asking for a list of local businesses that could present. Dana Palmer agreed to present on her business for the June meeting if no other business can be arranged in time.

  11. Nicole Semple has agreed to continue the process of transferring EVA business to a new post box and new bank.

  12. Dana Palmer agreed to compile a current list of membership that combines both EVA and past EVN members.

  13. Neal McKnight agreed to file tax exemption paperwork due June 2.

  14. Greg Nagel agreed to confirm with Alderman Moreno's office that his liaison will be attending EVA meetings.

  15. Aaron Bilton will contact LaSalle School as a possible guest speaker for September and Scott Rappe will contact Pritzker School as a possible guest speaker for October.

  16. New business: A new business is interested in the property at Ashland and Division on the southwest side of the street. However, the owner is asking for a lift of the liquor moratorium so that they can sell wine. According to Aaron Bilton, there are three different moratoriums in that area. The interest for EVA is that the property in question is currently in C class zoning. EVA has in the past pushed for the removal of all C zoning to B zoning. Also, EVA has been interested in improving the Polish Triangle. Therefore, EVA is debating whether allowing this business into the area may help improve the Polish Triangle, and B zoning may be an EVA precondition to lift the moratorium. However, the board was very concerned about the moratorium being lifted for this business only and for the one year time span only. Scott Rappe, Aaron Bilton and Neal McKnight have agreed to assess the pros and cons of the issue and the possibilities will be discussed at the next board meeting.

Attendance: Greg Nagel, Neal McKnight, Nicole Semple, Dana Palmer, Tom Tomek, Aaron Bilton, Marjorie Isaacson, Scott Rappe and Stephen Rynkiewicz. Meeting commenced at 6:38 p.m. Meeting adjourned at 8:52 p.m. Next membership meeting: June 7.

Alderman Moreno begins with a promise

Proco "Joe" Moreno III began his appointment as 1st Ward alderman with a commitment to the East Village Association.

Moreno promised EVA members he would follow the group's recommendation to extend Division Street's pedestrian street protections east to Ashland Avenue. That would maintain wide sidewalks and control parking options for future development near the Blue Line transit stop.

"I think our agendas are going to align very well," Moreno told about 40 EVA members gathered May 3 at the Happy Village's beer garden. "Any project that applies to zoning, I'm going to the [EVA] zoning committee and I'm going to take their recommendations very seriously."

    May 3 meeting minutes submitted by Dana Palmer
  1. Guest speaker was the new alderman for the first ward, Joe Moreno. Alderman Moreno voiced to EVA that he is interested in “community based solutions” to issues such as zoning. He mentioned that he is committed to the pedestrian designation extending to Ashland on Division. He also touched on some initiatives he has already started in his short time as alderman of the 1st Ward. These included having satellite offices at various locations in the ward to address the needs of the community, a self-funded graffiti removal team that is volunteer based and looking at foreclosure lists to have them cleaned and secured. Ald. Moreno touched on his ideas of using a phone tree to help combat violence and linking schools and business to alleviate funding issues.

  2. Bylaw change vote: Stephen Rynkiewicz proposed to have the first sentence of Article 10 of the bylaws to state “General meetings should be held monthly and open to the public.” No objections were voiced. Greg Nagel seconded the motion and the group voted unanimously in favor of the motion.

Moreno said he quit his job last month as sales manager for union printer Buhl Press to take Mayor Daley's appointment as 1st Ward alderman. "Alderman isn't a full-time job, it's an overtime job," Moreno said. By way of introduction, he suggested that volunteerism is in his blood — his parents volunteered at a Catholic Worker house. Moreno studied at Augustana College and DePaul University, both affiliated with religious institutions, and his 14 years living in the ward included service on the Jose De Diego local school council and Humboldt Park Social Services board.

A volunteer graffiti-removal team is one of his first projects, using materials purchased through early campaign fund-raising. His Saturdays have included trips to inspect foreclosed homes with the ward superintendent and open hours throughout the ward (one came the following weekend at the Dominick's grocery at 2021 W. Chicago).

Answering a question from member Marjorie Isaacson, Moreno said he would consider ways to give 1st Ward residents a more direct vote on projects, such as a participatory budgeting ballot that Ald. Joe Moore of the lakefront 49th Ward sponsored last month. Moreno hedged his endorsement, noting the format would have to account for the ward's diversity.

On crime, Moreno suggested a phone tree as a tool to spread neighborhood alerts.

On schools, he suggested La Salle II magnet school may be falling short of a commitment to draw half its pupils from within 1½ miles and that he would use mapping software to audit enrollment. EVA has proposed the radius be drawn to within ¾ mile.

Moreno also suggested high schools were not improving as fast as elementary schools and that parents wanted more proactive moves to improve the learning climate. "A lot of [young] people are not interested in education when they walk in those doors, let's be frank," Moreno said.

City services such as street sweeping could be handled more efficiently if crews were not limited by ward boundaries, Moreno proposed. He suggested that crews could accelerate garbage hauling during the week to add recycling pickup on Fridays, and stated that city administrators had not "formally or informally" proposed a privately run water department.

Finally, Moreno suggested that the ward would propose using city discretionary funds next year for "green alley" improvements such as permeable surfaces or catch basins, and that budgeted money was still available for tree planting. Homeowners who want a tree on their parkway should make the request by calling 311.

EVA board meets 6:30 pm Monday at Leona's, 1936 W. Augusta

The board meets the second Monday of the month (the week after the membership meeting) to plan the next month's activities. An agenda is not yet available, but items are likely to include plans for a wine shop at Division and Ashland.

This month the board meeting location shifts to Leona's Restaurant, where East Village Neighbors meetings had been held. All meetings are open; minutes will be available on this website.

Wine shop uncorks Division-Ashland plan

The owner of Galleria Liqueure, 3409 N. Southport, and Galleria Wine & Liquor‎, 1559 N. Wells, is asking the East Village Association to allow the city to lift a liquor moratorium on the southeast corner of Division and Ashland. Here he explains his plan to open a wine store at the former Washington Mutual bank location at the Polish Triangle. EVA members next meet on Monday, June 7.

By Benjamin Pourkhalili

Before we discuss any business, allow me to discuss my passion for Chicago. For the last 20 years, I've served several communities with services and businesses geared to suit the needs of each unique location.

I'm genuinely devoted to the improvement and gratification of local customers and pride myself as a local and small businessman. Eight years ago, I opened the first Galleria Fine Wine and Spirits shop on Wells just south of North Avenue in Old Town. We've slowly grown into one of Chicago's destination wine shops with more than 600 hand-selected wines, 300 spirits and over 20 craft beers.

My staff is extremely knowledgeable, polite and beyond willing to provide exemplary customer service. To add to our neighborhood commitment we offer free wine tastings hosted by industry professionals every Saturday from 3 to 6 p.m. and will deliver to any customer nearby. To boot, we're dog-friendly.

Needless to say this consumer-driven approach was successful and in 2007 I opened my second Galleria on Southport and Roscoe with the same results.

For the past few years I've been asked, "When are you going to open something in Bucktown?" Through my research, I found no fine wine shops near Ashland and Division. I feel this designation is key, because I do not wish to install a liquor store into any neighborhood. I despise businesses that disregard the ebb and flow of a community by forcing themselves and their soulless approach onto individuals who didn't want them to begin with.

What I want is to provide Bucktown with a wine shop that reflects the tastes and desires of the community — a shop that caters to specific needs, be it a rare bottle of wine for an anniversary celebration or a six-pack of Chicago-brewed beer. The goal is to keep Bucktown happy. A win-win, if you will.

I know, this sounds great, but I need your support. If you lift the moratorium on Division between Ashland and Wood, just by saying so, you'll give me an opportunity to provide another great Chicago neighborhood with the finest wine, beer, spirits and service in the city.

I understand you may have concerns regarding the moratorium lift and I'm sure you don't want your streets littered with more liquor stores. This is a concern I understand as well, but allow me to point out that there are already three liquor stores within two blocks, and no one of sound mind would wish to open a fourth within these two blocks. I believe I'll be offering a boutique wine shop that could potentially become a great asset to the neighborhood.

I look forward to working with all of you.