SSA #33's 2017 budget gets approval from Hopkins and Moreno


Commissioner Joe Hall discusses line items with Alderman Hopkins (r), while David Ginople, Marcy Huttas and Jose Rivera listen

Brian Hopkins, 2nd Ward Alderman, agreed to sign off on SSA #33 (Wicker Park/Bucktown) 2017 Budget and said that 1st Ward Alderman Proco "Joe" Moreno also agreed, after the SSA commissioners moved funds out of several budgeted line items to increase the General Safety/Security Programs line item from $20,000 to $50,000 at another special commission meeting, Tuesday morning, Aug. 2. 

The meeting was held because neither Hopkins or Moreno believed that a newly created line item for $20,000, which was in response to their first request, did not meet the aldermen's ask of up to 10% of the SSA's 2017 Budget ($1.2 million) to fund private security guards. Initially, the aldermen backed up their position by saying that they would not approve the SSA's 2017 Budget if money was not earmarked for private security guards

During the Tuesday meeting, commissioners and SSA Program Manager Jessica Wobbekind went through the budget line by line, identifying where they thought dollars could be taken and moved to the new line item Safety and Security*. Four line items were decreased by $5,000: Bicycle Transit Enhancement; Community Grants; Streetscape Elements; and Façade Enhancement Program, while Public Art was decreased by $10,000. 

The commissioners' vote to make this change was unanimous**. The commissioners present were Rebecca Dohe, David Ginople, Joe Hall, Marcy Hutas, Wayne Janik and Brent Norsman. 

In thanking the commissioners for their cooperation and recognizing that their action was a gesture of good faith, Hopkins said, "I am willing to work with you going forward and I do have more flexibility than my public comments may have indicated. 

"You are doing the right thing for the right reasons. I pledge to be much more collaborative than I have been." 

Alderman Scott Waguespack, 32nd Ward, who has approximately 47% of the taxpaying SSA property pin holders in his ward and has been in support of their budget from the beginning, said, "Our whole community appreciates the years of volunteer work the SSA #33 Commissioners have dedicated to helping make Wicker Park Bucktown a great place to do business with our residents and guests. 

"Through joint efforts with the Clean, Green and Safe Committee, especially Mr. Wayne Janik, the WPB has become a cleaner and safer community and I am happy he will continue to lead this committee. I will continue to work closely with the 14th District police in bolstering their resources and continue to fight for the appropriate manpower and resources our local government should provide for the entire WPB community." 

SSA Commission Chair Brent Norsman during and after the meeting pointed out that, “Safety has always been a priority for us. Maintaining a vibrant and inviting neighborhood is our focus, from placemaking and activation to trash and graffiti removal. Well-managed and active public spaces are safer spaces. We look forward to investigating additional ways we can contribute to the Wicker Park Bucktown neighborhood, and creating safety programs that are meaningful, effective, and a responsible use of taxpayers’ money.” 

Huttas who heads the Guide Development committee said that the timing is perfect for the aldermen and the public to be more involved in creating the new Master Plan. 

The next public planning meeting will be held on Tues., Aug. 9 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Wicker Park Field House,1425 N. Damen Avenue. A series of potential future projects will be presented and discussed, with community members providing input on which projects are of greatest value to the Wicker Park Bucktown neighborhood. 

WPB SSA #33 received the American Planning Association’s National Planning Excellence Award for Public Outreach in recognition of extensive and ongoing community involvement for their 2009 Master Plan

*This new line item is to "create programming to increase safety and security in the neighborhood." 

**Also present at the Monday meeting were: Jose Rivera Jr., Chief of Staff 2nd Ward; Kimberly Bares, Interim Director of the Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce (WPBCC). WPBCC is the service provider for SSA #33; Beth Sholtis, WPB Assistant Program Manager; Jordan Lopez, SSA intern and this reporter.



Is Hopkins new to the area?

Is Hopkins new to the area? He doesn't seem to know anything about Wicker Park and Bucktown and he doesn't know that we pay pretty high property taxes for the Chicago Police to protect us. Privatization of the Police is just another way to reduce the officers on patrol and replace them with rent a cops like they have at malls. In Chicago that means some friends of Hopkins or the mayor are going to be getting the rent a cop contract.

Jose Rivera was recently

Jose Rivera was recently moved to 2nd ward office from Ed Burke's finance committee to facilitate the creation of a private security contract for the firm Burke owns: SDI Security. Hopkins has strong-armed the SSA into diverting taxpayer funds into a "security account" Current listed officers of SDI are Michael Pedicone & John Huels Jr., both notoriously caught up the Operation Haunted Hall scandal in 1999. Bet you a million dollars SDI gets the contract from SSA#33, albeit with a gun pointed at their heads

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