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Cappleman: nothing to discuss

After weeks of ignoring an invitation to a community forum, Alderman James Cappleman has informed organizers he won’t be attending the event — which will be held outside his office, after Capplemn apparently pressured a local church to cancel.

The Organization of the Northeast and Lakeview Action Coalition are holding an accountability meeting at 6 p.m., Thursday, March 21 at the ward office at 4544 N. Broadway.

It was originally scheduled at the People’s Church, but Rev. Jean Darling said she “got pushback from the [church’s] board and from the alderman.”

She said she didn’t know what the meeting was about when she agreed to host it, and “I don’t like [the groups’] polarizing approach…I don’t care for the Alinsky stye.  We want to be about reconciliation and trying to work together.”

Cappleman has refused to meet with ONE since last summer, when the group objected after he held a “groundbreaking party” for a developer who planned to raise rents at the Lawrence House, an affordable highrise at Lawrence and Kenmore now in foreclosure, said housing organizer Mary Lynch-Dungy.  She said Cappleman had promised to work to keep Lawrence House affordable during his campaign.

Organizers offered to meet with Cappleman’s office to discuss the forum’s agenda, Lynch-Dungy said. But after Cappleman’s assistant acknowledged receipt of the invitation, nothing more was heard until Tuesday evening, when the groups were sent a copy of a statement to DNAinfo, she said.

Cappleman’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The alderman has been in the news for his attempts to boot a Salvation Army food truck out of the ward, shut down “cubicle hotels,” and stop people from feeding pigeons or taking shelter in bus stops.  There were unconfirmed reports Wednesday that homeless people camped under the Wilson underpass at Lake Shore Drive had been removed by police.

Affordable and low-income housing is a divisive issue in Uptown, but for the alderman to refuse to meet and discuss the matter with major organizations representing constituents is remarkable.

ONE is a long-established coalition of 80 congregations, ethnic associations, businesses, schools and social service agencies, and LAC has nearly 50 institutional members.   Both groups are committed to preserving affordable housing and maintaining the economic and racial diversity of the north lakefront.

An agenda for the meeting sent to the alderman’s office sought commitments from Cappleman to back Ceasefire’s anti-violence work in the ward and to support local schools threatened with closing.

The groups were also asking Cappleman to set aside 20 percent of units as affordable housing in a redevelopment of the Maryville Academy site that’s receiving a $30 million TIF subsidy, and to encourage the city to use the leverage of huge building code fines to press owners of the Chateau Hotel to stop displacement  of tenants and preserve the building’s affordability.

About 80 residents of the Chateau are looking for new apartments but with little success, said Mary Tarullo of LAC.  She points out there are long waiting lists for any supportive and subsidized housing.

Evictions are not expected while cold weather persists.

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Category: housing, Uptown

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