East Village's newest alderman

Last week Ald. Robert Fioretti got a testimonial on WGN radio from one of his constituents, guitarist Buddy Guy. The South Side clubowner had challenged the alderman at his victory party not to disappear till the next election, and Fioretti made good on his pledge not to be a stranger.

Now Fioretti gets to sample not only blues at Buddy Guy's Legends on Wabash, but ping pong at the legendary Happy Village on Wolcott. He'll be guest speaker at Monday's East Village Association meeting as the newest alderman representing East Village: Redistricting has pushed the 2nd Ward north of the Green Line to Diversey Boulevard and west of the Blue Line to Western Avenue.

Two years ago EVA prepared a white paper on East Village issues for incoming 1st Ward Ald. Proco Joe Moreno. For this transition EVA members give the briefing face to face, starting at 7 pm in the iconic Happy Village tavern, 1059 N. Wolcott Ave.

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Got stuff?

Commercial Park HUGE two day garage sale March 31 and April 1, 10am-3pm. Rent a table for $30 and sell their own stuff OR donate items to the park at 1845 W. Rice Street. Tax letter available upon request. Contact Georgiaburke@gmail.com to reserve your spot.

Crime texters

Cook County Crime Stoppers provides up to $1,000 cash awards for information leading to an arrest. Citizens can send anonymous tips to the police Crime Prevention Information Center by text message or SMS.

Enter the number 274637 (CRIMES) in the “TO” line. In the message box, type the word CPD, a space, and then the tip. Hit “Send” and you'll get an auto-generated confirmation. For details, check www.chicagopolice.org/txt2tip.

To report crimes in progress, dial 911.

Cooking tips at West Town library

Learn more about eating well for less in a 10 am program April 28 at the West Town branch library, 1625 W. Chicago Ave. Get insider secrets, expert tips and dietitian-approved strategies on how to shop for cooking gear, conserve energy in the kitchen and stock the pantry.

The event presented by Healthy Dining Chicago is one of the city's Money Smart Week programs on financial planning. A complete listing is at chicagopubliclibrary.org.

Personal safety: Don't be a victim

You’re often told not to be a victim of crime. How do you ensure that?

While no one can guarantee your total safety, you can lessen the chance of being a victim by making it more difficult for a would-be thief or attacker.

At home: Don’t be surprised

Keep your doors locked when home alone and lock your windows too when leaving the house for any long period. Open doors and windows are an invitation you don’t want to send. Turn your porch lights on at night and illuminate your backyard to ensure that anyone lurking there will be easily detected.

East Village Association 2012 directors tell their stories

East Village Association members on March 5 approved 2012 officers. Incoming president Neal McKnight filled out the board March 12 with these committee appointments to join vice president and planning co-chair Peter Locke, treasurer KK Goh and secretary Meghan Quinn.

Gladys Alcazar-Anselmo

As East Village Association president in 1997 and 1998 and board member for several years, I bring a historical perspective and experience to the 2012 board. I worked on the initial implementation of the CAPS program and spearheaded the preservation efforts that resulted in the city’s purchase of the Goldblatt’s building, now home to city offices and our local library.

I have more than 10 years' professional experience in municipal government, focusing on special projects and operations management. Currently I provide tailored management consulting services including program development and implementation, construction project management, meeting planning and documentation preparation. A graduate of DePaul University, I earned a Master of Arts in human services & counseling/ management and a Bachelor of Science in marketing.

Born and raised in the Logan Square community, I've lived in East Village for more than 20 years and know the commitment it takes for residents who want to improve their community.

Inmates give lowdown on gangs, drugs

By Molly Murray

This Saturday the 13th District will sponsor another "Keeping it Real" forum where you can hear directly from convicted offenders. This years subject is drug dealers and gang members. Please consider joining us.

Last year we talked to a forum of convicted burglar/robbers. They'll first tell you a little about themselves then why they did what they did, how they did it, when they did it - all the details. This is interactive so you will be allowed to ask any questions of them along the way.

Although our beat is not burdened with gang members, we are surrounded by them and with the potential closing of our station, we should hear what they have to say and maybe we will learn how to keep stake in our territory.

EVA files Red Apple liquor objection

The East Village Association board filed written objections Monday to a liquor license request for Red Apple Convenience, 2000 W. Damen Ave. Discussion with the owners failed to allay community concerns on crime, traffic and other concerns.

Owner Move N Pick Convenience had rebuffed a proposal to put its application on hold while trying to resolve community concerns. EVA in the past has been cautious in consenting to liquor licenses, which are rarely revoked.

Before the Chicago Avenue store opened in November, president Irar Sweiss indicated the store would open with or without a liquor license. The same family owns the Citgo gas station at 1949 W. Augusta Blvd.

Board members had concerns about liquor sales because of persistent crime and vagrancy linked to Chicago Avenue liquor stores. It was unclear whether an East Village liquor moratorium or the proximity to Dominick's Finer Foods would allow package sales at Chicago and Damen.

Red Apple applied for the license Feb. 15, and Sweiss asked Feb. 29 to discuss its business plan at EVA's meeting the following Monday. EVA's Neal McKnight provided questions to be answered beforehand, and some were addressed in a Red Apple presentation forwarded to board members about three hours before the meeting at Happy Village, 1059 N. Wolcott Ave. "Since opening Red Apple, the corner is now vibrant with light, cameras are visible inside and out, and the corner is sprawling with activity," the presentation said.

Partner Omar Sweiss (pictured) spoke to EVA members but could not respond immediately to requests to negotiate on hours and other issues. In a March 8 e-mail, Irar Sweiss said the license application would not be withdrawn. EVA directors meeting four days later agreed further movement was unlikely within the city's 40-day public comment period. EVA's objection letter follows.

Recycling comes to 32nd Ward – finally

By Marjorie Isaacson

Ald. Scott Waguespack announced that the long-anticipated blue recycling carts will be delivered to one- to four-unit residences later this month. This will end the tradition of 32nd Ward residents surreptitiously transferring bags of recyclables to blue carts belonging to their 1st Ward neighbors.

The blue carts will be dropped off on the sidewalks; residences are responsible for moving them to the alley, where they will be collected every two weeks.

Side order at Roots

A no-trucks parking sign is on the way for the 800 block of North Winchester Avenue, according to 1st Ward staffer Ronda Locke. Till it's installed (possibly fall) a delivery obstacle course may face drivers near Roots Handmade Pizza.

Managing partner Scott Weiner is working on it. He confirmed last month that the restaurant at 1924 W. Chicago Ave. does not plan to add a carryout window on the side street "at any point," and will follow the delivery and cafe protocols negotiated with the East Village Association in June. The agreement calls for annual meetings with EVA.

Roots and the adjoining Bleeding Heart Bakery Cafe share a loading zone on Chicago Avenue, but often it's parked in.

Curfew hours for minors

By Molly Murray

It's that time of year when everyone is out and about because of the nice weather -- maybe a little earlier than normal. In any event, there is a curfew law that I'm sure not everyone is quite clear on.

Following are the ages and times for the the law. Please make sure to pass along to your family and friends in the city. If you see children out on the street past curfew time, please call 911. An officer can check to see if they are in violation and take the appropriate action.

Federal case alters Chicago election landscape

Tuesday's primary election isn't just about the Republican presidential race. Chicago Democrats had to take notice when State Rep. Derrick Smith, who represents much of Ukrainian Village, was arrested this week on a federal bribery charge.

Smith remains on the ballot, and for some observers he remains the favorite against Tom Swiss, a onetime Cook County Republican Party director running as a Democrat. The Chicago Tribune "retracted" its endorsement and suggested several ways the race could play out, including a Democratic replacement or independent challengers in the November general election.

Democratic ward committeemen may be called on to replace Smith. The 1st Ward, which includes East Village, features an unusual three-way committeeman contest. Incumbent Jesse Ruben Juarez faces Ald. Proco "Joe" Moreno and lawyer Anne Shaw, active in the Save the 13th District police-station campaign.

All three candidates answered the Independent Voters of Illinois-Independent Precinct Organization questionnaire, which asked how they would include voters in the decision to replace candidates. Juarez said he would look to his ward organization for direction. Shaw stated that there should be public meetings. Moreno pledged to follow the results of a community vote.

The East Village Association does not endorse candidates and bars them from serving as officers. Juarez and Shaw are EVA members, and Shaw was vice president in 2004.

In the redrawn 32nd Ward, incumbent John Fritchey withdrew last month, leaving Ald. Scott Waguespack uncontested in the committeeman election. Ald. Bob Fioretti is sole committeeman candidate in the 2nd Ward, which now includes West Town; he's the invited April 2 EVA meeting speaker. Secretary of State Jesse White, Smith's onetime boss, is the unopposed 27th Ward committeeman.

Ward committeemen also slate candidates for judge. Various bar groups rate their qualifications, and the Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice website provides links to the evaluation results. But committeemen put judges on the primary ballot, which is why judicial candidates will be out this weekend handing out fliers, palm cards, emery boards and the like.

Check your polling place or registration status for the March 20 primary at the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners website.

How Chicago checks new liquor licenses

East Village Association Board Meeting Minutes
March 12, 2012
Submitted by Meghan Quinn

Red Apple Convenience, 2000 W. Chicago Ave., made a presentation to EVA members March 5 on its liquor license application. At the board's request, Chicago Police Lt. Roy Whitmore outlined the liquor license review process. Whitmore had a previous conference call on the issue with Local Liquor Control Commissioner Gregory Steadman and Police Cmdr. Frank Gross.

There are 2 main reasons to deny a liquor license application: a law-enforcement objection or negative quality-of-life concerns from the community.

In a law enforcement objection, police looks at data related to crime occurring in the past year at the address and within a quarter-mile radius. It is unclear which data Cmdr. Gross will share, or if EVA must file a Freedom of Information request to obtain data.

Pizza Hut no more: Division-Ashland's new order

Architect and East Village Association planning co-chair Scott Rappe was an early advocate of a community vision for Division & Ashland. In this article for the Wicker Park blog Our Urban Times, Rappe traces past and current development plans at the East Village gateway intersection.

By Scott A. Rappe, AIA

After five years of uncertainty and concern, an empty lot at the southwest corner of the Polish Triangle finally may be getting the respect it deserves.

Still called the Pizza Hut site, this corner had been the focus of community concern for decades. At a zoning hearing in the 1980s, members of the nascent East Village Association were told that they were lucky to be getting any development in that neighborhood. Despite vocal community protest, a zoning change allowed construction of the chain restaurant. While its closing in 2007 was welcomed, years of apprehension followed over what would replace Pizza Hut.

Be a nosy neighbor

This advice was a standing headline in issues of the East Village Association newsletter a generation ago, and it still holds true.

At Monday's EVA meeting Molly Murray, the volunteer Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy coordinator for East Village, recounted the testimony of ex-convicts assembled by the Safer Foundation for a July police seminar: Burglars would steer clear of a neighborhood where a resident stops and asks if they were looking for someone.

And nosy neighbors get things done. Ronda Locke, 1st Ward police liaison, said that at the city's 911 call center not even gang mentions trigger a faster police response than a report of suspicious activity.

A thorough description of the suspect is what police find most valuable, said Lt. Roy Whitmore, filling in for Cmdr. Frank Gross as EVA members discussed neighborhood response to crime. That's everything from age, height and skin tone to shoes, jacket insignia and other clothing details.

Phoning 911 is the right call even in non-emergency situations, Locke said: The dispatch center can quickly move a call to the team that handles 311 city service requests. Operators often are more adroit in getting a police response than calls directly to the district. But it may take persistence or a supervisor's intervention, Locke admitted, because operators' skill levels can vary.

Bucktown expos cultivate green living

Sustainable resources are highlighted in two upcoming resource fairs at ReBuilding Exchange, 2160 N. Ashland: a March 28 Green Business Resources Fair for small business and the April 15 Going Against the Grain expo for DIY enthusiasts.

The free March event from 9 am to 1 pm is aimed at business owners, but a range of vendors will appeal to consumers, from the Chicago Green Restaurant Coalition to Greenheart Shop and the car dealer Green Wheels.

The April do-it-yourself fair from noon till 5 includes a market, food trucks and workshops representing crafts from bicycle maintenance and gardening to beekeeping and chicken keeping. There's a $5 cover and $4 New Belgium beers.

The Chicago Tribune this week profiled the ReBuilding Exchange's old-growth lumber salvage for home remodelers.

Pritzker hosts arts forum March 31

West Town residents willing to set aside a Saturday morning will play a role in setting Chicago's arts priorities.

Attracting standing-room crowds in the early going, the Chicago Cultural Plan hearings seek creative ideas for a cultural master plan. One of the town-hall meetings is set for 10 am to noon March 31 at Pritzker School, 2009 W. Schiller St.

The Cultural Affairs and Special Events department, reorganized in this year's budget cuts, is using corporate donations to conduct the survey. Its mandate is broad, touching on city facilities, school curriculum, festivals and international tourism. Critics are pushing for big plans and brass-tacks talk on paying for them.

Ideas are being collected on a city website and via social media too, but the town hall across from Wicker Park will connect culture-minded neighbors face to face.

CAPS meeting reminder - Beat 1322

Please join me this Wednesday 7pm at the Wood St. Police Station for our monthly CAPS meeting. Attendance is crucial during the next several months while we fight to maintain some sort of police presence in our station. Your voice and input is needed!!

I look forward to seeing you on Wednesday. --Molly Murray

Lost dog on Wood Street

A dog was found this afternoon on Wood between Ohio and Erie. Male, tan, short hair with blue collar and super friendly. He was brought to 13th district (Wood St) and is currently waiting for Animal Control to pick him up. Please help pass along his picture so that maybe we can find his home before he's gone.

He is currently safe and sound in a cage at the police station but scared. Please call (312) 746-8350 right away if you know who this dog belongs to. Thank you!—Molly Murray

East Village Association 2012-2013 officers

East Village Association officers for the next 12 months will be chosen at Monday's meeting. Nominations will be taken from the floor for a membership vote at the Happy Village, 1059 N. Wolcott. The meeting starts at 7 pm. Here are the slated candidates:

Neal McKnight, president

For the past year McKnight has been an EVA director and co-chair of the Planning, Preservation & Development committee. The longtime resident of Chicago is active in a number of civic activities, and is a founding partner of the law firm McKnight, Kitzinger, McCarty & Pravdic LLC.

McKnight's practice focuses on insurance coverage disputes and commercial litigation. This background provides him with a unique understanding of Chicago’s diverse communities and the culture of Chicago’s legal community. The Tulane University law graduate is a member of the Illinois bar, the trial bar for United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and the bar of the United States Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

Peter Locke, vice president

Peter Locke, his wife Ronda and their two daughters have been residents of East Village for seven years on the 800 block of North Wood Street. He is honored and excited about the opportunity to serve as vice president of the EVA.

Peter is a co-founder and managing director of TerraLocke Sustainability Consultants, whose clients include the City of Chicago, Columbia College and State of Missouri. In addition to his work on sustainability-focused projects, Locke is on the board of Local First Chicago and Chicago Neighborhoods First, and he chairs the Chicago Sustainable Business Alliance's Public Policy Group. He regularly speaks on sustainability topics.

Prior to founding TerraLocke in 2008, Peter spent 15 years in the private sector as a business consultant. Peter holds an MBA from the University of Rochester in Rochester, NY, and a BA from Clark University in Worcester, MA. He looks forward to continuing the momentum of the organization and making the East Village one of the most livable, vibrant neighborhoods.

Kok Keng (KK) Goh, treasurer

It has been a year since I joined the East Village Association and served as treasurer, and what a year we’ve had! From the recent crime wave to the plans for a new development at the old Pizza Hut (finally!), it’s safe to say that I have learned a great deal about our neighborhood issues and the level of community involvement required to resolve them.

Just a quick background about myself: I grew up in Singapore, a city-state island about 9,300 miles away on the other side of our planet. I studied at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, worked as a management consultant, and am currently an investor in real estate projects. I moved to East Village just over a year ago and I’ve grown to love this neighborhood for its mix of inhabitants and blend of architecture.

But it’s serving on the EVA board that made me realize an important fact -- a great neighborhood takes years to build and minutes to lose. The recent issue we’ve had with the lifting of liquor moratoriums to accommodate CVS is just one such example. That this issue could exacerbate ongoing issues related to liquor sales never occurred to me until I got to listen to the community perspective. Needless to say, this experience and others like it has left me with a deep sense of appreciation for EVA’s role in shaping the neighborhood. It is from this perspective that I hope to continue contributing towards East Village’s development as EVA’s treasurer.

Meghan Quinn, secretary

Meghan Quinn is a second year Master of Fine Arts candidate at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago exploring projects in Architecture, Interior Architecture, Designed Objects, and Social Practice. Prior to moving to Chicago in 2010, Meghan was an architectural designer in Los Angeles, California and Austin, Texas, working on residential, commercial and landscape architecture projects. She is a LEED Accredited Professional with a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Southern California. Meghan is originally from Stockton, California and currently lives in West Town with her husband, Wesley, and their dog, Olive.

EVA Monday: 2nd time on crime

A year after taking over Chicago's Wood Street police district, Frank Gross has his second appointment with East Village Association on Monday. This time his command's days are numbered: Police Supt. Garry McCarthy closes two stationhouses today and Gross' 13th District squadroom will follow in the fall.

Construction of a replacement site in a merged 12th District began in May but stalled six months later when asbestos was discovered at 1412 S. Blue Island Ave., granting the 13th District a temporary reprieve. A working group to weigh the future of the Wood Street site is now being organized.

McCarthy's cost-cutting squad consolidation sharpens the neighborhood focus on 13th District crime. This year through Feb. 25 police report a Feb. 9 homicide at the Subway restaurant at 1129 N. Western; a Feb. 21 sexual assault on Warren Boulevard, 35 robberies (most recently Feb. 24 on the 2300 block of West Chicago Avenue) and 26 aggravated assault or battery incidents (four on Feb. 23 and 24 alone).