Deleterious Impact Public Nuisance Hearing Solicits Community Feedback

By at March 19, 2012 | 2:14 pm | Print

This past Friday, The Pipeline came across a post on the Greater Goethe Neighborhood Association’s message board soliciting the community’s participation in an April 17th hearing at City Hall’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection [BACP] chambers to discuss “BACP Status- 2135 N. Milwaukee IG#12-AT-351.”

Please try and attend the April 17th, 11:30am hearing at City Hall, 8th Floor, in regards to the impact Congress Theater has had on the community,” wrote Ronda Locke, 1st Ward Ald. Proco Joe Moreno’s Director of Community Outreach.

As some of you may know,” Locke continued, “the Alderman has been facilitating conversations between Congress Theater and the Community. There have been some commitments made by Congress management but have not yet been honored and therefore, upon review with the 14th Police District Commander, the Alderman has requested that we pursue Deleterious Impact/Public Nuisance proceedings.

We need community representatives to attend the meeting and be willing to express the issues and the impact that the patrons of Congress has had on their quality of life. The city’s corporate council will mediate and if commitments are not honored Congress could possibly lose their liquor license. If you would like more information on the process, please see the following link. Please spread the word– open to all. We understand that the room can only hold 50 people and we are hoping that we can continue the positive engagement by this community and work out some positive outcomes.”

Since Locke’s post, there have been dozens of messages in reply, though mostly from neighbors of the Congress who are puzzled by her request.

The first response came from Joe Kopera, a community advocate that has spent over five decades of his life just a block away from the Congress and was recently honored by Ald. Moreno with an Honorary Parkway.

“The Congress Theater has always been and continues to be a good neighbor. Yes there are problems here and there but this action is not necessary. They have always been willing to work with the community. Get real people work with them and stop this unnecessary action,” Kopera wrote.

Gwen Kasper, Principal of Sabin Magnet School, 2216 W. Hirsch, weighed in. “In all my dealings with representatives from the Congress Theater they have been nothing but responsive and supportive. I‘m glad to read someone else is sticking up for all of them at Congress Theater,” she shared.

What does this mean? Are people trying to get the Congress Theater shut down? Did the rape, that was totally unrelated to the practices at the Congress Theater, get people so upset that they want to take it out on someone and shut down this neighborhood theater?” wondered Brian.

Kathi wrote, “Over the years I have attended concerts there as have my children. If for one moment I thought it was a dangerous environment I would not let them go. I’m happy to have it as part of Logan Square, it is one of if not the largest attractions for our neighborhood. The farmers market in Congress has been another wonderful addition to our community. Are the people sending out these emails really trying to help the community or are they trying to shut Congress down for personal reasons? I’m wondering if they have anything personally to gain from the demise of Congress? This sounds like a personal vendetta to me as I have not seen one valid point made by our community leaders. Leaders please lead us, tell us specifically what Congress has done wrong?”

Kathi’s question, posed and posted on Friday, has remained unanswered as of today by our Community Leaders who started the dialogue.  Only Victoria Schmidt, who is not to this reporter’s knowledge a known community leader, took it upon herself to deflect accusations of a personal vendetta.

Earlier today, Schmidt wrote, in a response to this reporter’s post, “We all see the merit of The Congress in this community.  I do not have a vendetta  (it’s not personal).”

In Schmidt’s postings, she focuses her energies on the drug culture associated with electronic/dubstep music. Schmidt was also the first commenter to juxtapose the Congress against a nearby venue, V-Live, at 2047 N. Milwaukee.

“As promoters, V-Live and The Congress are indeed rivals for the same shows.  I would like to clarify one point regarding my use of “impeccable standards” as applied to V-Live.  In order to receive a zoning upgrade for increased capacity, they had to agree to a restrictive covenant which outlined impeccable standards,” Schmidt replied.

Photo by Philin Phlash

The entry of V-Live, a nightclub/restaurant once called the OK Corral, into the discussion proved timely.  Former governor Rod Blagojevich went to jailthis past week to serve a 15-year prison term, and it was only a few years ago when Blago’s campaign adviser, Christopher Kelly, died of a drug overdose after being banned from V-Live.

Per a Sept. 16 2009 Sun-Times story, Kelly was ordered to be held without bail for his role in an $8.5 million O’Hare Airport contract fraud, and “The government’s request came after Kelly got into what one source described as a shouting match with an owner of V-Live Club. Kelly had demanded to see the club’s books. He had invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in the business through his girlfriend, Clarissa Flores, sources familiar with the exchange said…..  After his guilty plea, Kelly agreed not to go near the club at 2047 N. Milwaukee.”

Just one month after Kelly, banned from V-Live, killed himself, Ramiro Guevera, age 17, died on V-Live’s premises from a gunshot to his head, per this NBC report. The gunman fled, and four other men got into a fight and were arrested.

Victory Night/Photo by Philin Phlash

In other V-Live news, Ald. Moreno held his election night victory party at V-Live in February 2011. Additionally, V-Live played host to the First Ward First kickoff on June 30, 2011.

The Pipeline’s currently using to gather numbers regarding V-Live’s campaign contributions to Moreno.

On October 8, 2010, Ald. Moreno went on a well-publicized ‘ride along’ with 14th District Police Commander Linda Flores, per this 1st Ward e-newsletter, just four months before Feb. 22, 2011 aldermanic and mayoral election.

In an Aug. 15th, 2011 interview with Wbez’s Jim DeRogatis, Moreno boasts:

“I shut down an illegal club on Milwaukee Avenue, where there was trouble and way too many people gathering at a restaurant that was being used as a club. They were not serving food; there was alcohol in there, there were thugs, fights, and girls being sexually assaulted. So we shut it down. One of the questions they asked me was, “Well, you’re supposed to be the music alderman.” I said, “Here’s the problem: On Milwaukee Avenue, I’ve got the Double Door, Subterranean, Debonair, the Crocodile, etc. These guys know how to do it. I don’t want them hurt because of what you’re doing. I don’t want someone saying, “Milwaukee Avenue is up for grabs; what the heck, shut them all down.” That’s a mini-E2-type situation that could have happened.”

Ald. Moreno/ photo by Philin Phlash

Rep. Berrios at the Health Fair, '10

While The Pipeline has no proof that the illegal nightclub in question was V-Live, it was speculated by some locals that the club “busted” by Moreno on Oct. 8, 2010 was V-Live.  In an post, “Where was that illegal nightclub on Milwaukee Avenue?, even Everyblock’s founder wonders where this mysterious club is that was featured in Ald. Moreno’s own e-newsletter, in Time Out and much later, WBEZ.

Per Metromix, V-Live books music shows from Aragon and Live Nation.

Ald. Moreno refers to his support of the ‘Empty Bottles of the world’ and SubT and Double Door in the WBEZ interview, and to accompany his words is a photo of him that was snapped inside of the Congress during the 2010 Back to School Health Fair, yet there is no mention of the health fair having occurred inside of the Congress.

Back to School Health Fair, 2010, pipeline file photo

Moreno says in the WBEZ interview, “But back to this whole national versus local interest thing: There is a back-to-school fair here in a couple weeks. Last year we gave away 1,500 backpacks. You know who supports this when I reach out? The Empty Bottle. The Double Door. The Girls Rock! Camp. To get some of the national guys like Bank of America? Forget it.

Perhaps that is a case of silence speaking volumes. How is it possible that considering the plethora of well-documented media circulating about our neighborhood’s ‘music loving hipster alderman,’ the Congress Theater is rarely mentioned by Moreno, though it’s the 1st Ward’s largest music venue and revenue generator?

Calvin Harris, March 17, 2012

Could it be too much of a stretch to entertain the possibility that the impending Deleterious Impact/Public Nuisance proceedings are less about the girl who got raped near the Congress, and a new music genre, and more likely related to the fact Congress is booking popular sold-out electronic/Dubstep shows that V-Live would like to capitalize on, along with Live Nation, Aragon, and most any venue owner?

Maybe it’s time for the hardworking folks in the City’s BACP dept. who will be evaluating Congress’s licensing on the 17th, to read how Ald. Moreno really feels about them. Again, a quote from Moreno from the WBEZ interview with DeRogatis.

Ald. Moreno

The problem is that the City Council as a whole doesn’t get the distinctions between the good, legal venues and the troublesome, illegal ones. They don’t get it. So, back to a Music Office, we definitely need some people who do get it. People who have been to these places, unlike employees in the business department for 25 years who are looking at the business licenses and fines who have never been to any of these places. I’m not saying you have to be an aficionado or a geek/fan about it. But they need to get it, and if they don’t get it, they have to want to learn it.”

As Moreno prepares to give City Hall’s Business Affairs and Consumer Protection workers an education on the music business, right down to the venues he perceives to be “good” and “legal” while exposing “the troublesome, illegal ones,” The Pipeline wonders what kind of impact musicians, fans of music, promoters, community pillars, and neighbors can make when they show their support of the one single venue that has opted out of the hype. April 17, 2012. 11:30am. 8th Floor. City Hall. Save the date. As Locke writes in her post, “please spread the word– open to all.”

Update: 2/20/12  According to Locke, the illegal club that was busted was Geisha Sushi, 1255 N. Milwaukee. Geisha closed last year.

The Pipeline is finding out if V-Live has ever had a BACP hearing at City Hall.

Except from a telephone conversation with Locke: “There is absolutely, positively no connection between V-Live, Live Nation, Aragon, and this hearing…   The reality is that these issues only tend to be problematic when there are certain types of music shows. We want the Congress to honor the commitments they’ve already made to the community.”  For a description of these commitments, visit this recap from a Jan. 10th Meeting with community members, Ald. Moreno, and Congress theater representatives.

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  1. […] on 1st Ward Alderman ‘Proco’ Joe Moreno, or Proco ‘Joe’ Moreno. The latest one seems to be suggesting that because of the Congress’ Theatre’s refusal to hire […]


  1. MetalMan, 3 years ago Reply

    As an avid concert goer, I go to shows at the Congress all the time. I think they go above and beyond their call to protect the patrons attending events there. Their security staff is very thorough in screening for contraband at the door. Security presence is visible throughout the venue, as well as up and down Milwaukee and Rockwell, and the adjacent alleys. I think they are doing absolutely everything possible to keep the area safe as possible.

  2. SouthLoopCharlie, 3 years ago Reply

    I’ve been to a lot of concerts at the Congress lately.. It seems like everything is well planned and secure.. Security presence is a bit over the top sometimes, but I guess that is necessary for safety and all that. Keep on, keep on Congress!!! You guys do a great job.. Thanks for all of the inspiring shows!

  3. Matt, 3 years ago Reply

    its called “Dubstep” not “dub step”

    • chicago-pipeline, 3 years ago Reply

      Thanks, we will correct to dubstep.

  4. P'd off resident, 3 years ago Reply

    Oh come on…Honestly, who here doesn’t think this is just more of the usual Chicago corruption? In my opinion this is just another example of blatant pandering to big business from one of the City’s most questionable alderman. The plastic bag banning alderman with a hard on for the transgendered, who’s is really into techno. Give me a break. I don’t see them coming down on the other venues in town that actually do create a nuisance for their residents. I mean like, who was there first?

    When I lived in Lake View 2 blocks away from the Vic, I had to put up with bottles and cans all over my front yard, people urinating Etc. That’s just part of life living in a big city. Just ask those who live around Wrigley. I certainly don’t remember the alderman having a crisis meeting over resident complaints or threatening to take away their livelihood.

    Sounds like more of the typical Chicago way of squeezing out the little guy. An alderman’s crony capitalism at its finest. Alderman come and go. The Congress has been there for more than 80 years. Its about time for the city to do its job and for the alderman to lay off.


  5. Audrey, 3 years ago Reply

    I attended Saturday’s concert and purchased $75 VIP tickets. When arriving upstairs at the VIP section, the security guard told me that I should have been given a wristband at the front door. I then went back to the front door to ask for a wristband. Every security guard I asked told me to ask a tall security guard in a green “paperboy” type hat. I kept trying to ask him politely while showing my ticket, and this man kept screaming at the top of his lungs, in my face, to stand back. This was most likely the worst that I have ever been treated in my life, and I was not doing anything wrong. He would not let me speak at all and just kept screaming in my face. I am a paying customer, and this is not Customer Service.

    This was terribly disappointing and practically ruined my night. I was treated as if I were a criminal, when actually I am a completely sober, paying customer. It is truly disgusting how the Congress allows its employees to treat its customers.

  6. Attrill, 3 years ago Reply

    I live very close to the Congress for nearly a decade and have had no issues with the events they hold there. I really appreciate that they have the Farmers Market there in the winter. I’ve had some issues with V-Live and Tini Martini letting out at 3 or 4 AM, but not enough to want them shut down just enough to call the cops a few times a year when things seem to be getting out of hand.

    That said, this piece has a lot of statements like “silence speaking volumes” and “Could it be too much of a stretch to entertain the possibility”. I have no idea what is driving the City Hall hearing, but did you attempt to get a comment from the Alderman’s office on your theories? If you’re going to accuse people of some sort of grand conspiracy you should at least contact the people and businesses involved for their comments.

    • chicago-pipeline, 3 years ago Reply

      Thanks and agreed. The Pipeline will ask the alderman’s office and businesses involved and update. Today is the day that The Pipeline works on our weekly newsletter, tons of emails about Easter egg hunts, art shows, fundraisers and a few other stories we are working on, but we will def expand on this topic.

  7. J Walker, 3 years ago Reply

    Your “sic” in the 4th paragraph is incorrect.

    • chicago-pipeline, 3 years ago Reply

      I will revert back to original. Thanks.

  8. Brian, 3 years ago Reply

    How do the journalism teachers feel about taking quotes from essentially anonymous message board commenters…and using them to publish another story? I always cringe a little when I see my words…borrowed from a neighborhood yahoo group…now broadcast in a news story in a new forum. You’ve done it here…and I’ve even seen my comments on WGN news…yet I could be posing as anyone, just using a first name. Might it be more responsible to e-mail someone if interested in a quote…getting their legitimate information, and asking if they’d mind being quoted in an article? I feel there’s a marked difference between a neighborhood message board and a news/press site. To be blunt, I see it as lazy journalism when one copies messages from a neighborhood message board and prints them as news. I value more research and using sources that want to be the basis for a story. -Brian

    • chicago-pipeline, 3 years ago Reply

      Brian, you’re right, it was lazy journalism on my part. Initially I was not going to write a story at all, since Nick Przybyciel, a masters candidate in the Medill School of Journalism, said he’d cover the topic for the pipeline, though after he returns from spring break on the 26th. That just seemed like too long of a time and I wanted to get the word out long before the hearing. Nick can ask one of his journalism professors when he gets back to school. I’d like to know too. Too often “new media” sites like the pipeline are struggling to do too many things at once, and I should have just linked to the board and contacted you directly to see if you wanted to be part of the story and in the future I will do that. And for the record, nothing in the e-pipeline is printed. The pipeline only prints twice each year and a lot of effort goes into gathering all the participation and advertising dollars to support the printing costs. I can assure you I would never print this story. It is more like a blog post. Admittedly a lazy one. As for the state of “REAL JOURNALISM,” the Chicago New Co-Op just went under, the Chicago Tribune just laid off 15 writers, and the Chicago Reader (which I’ve worked at as an ad sales rep and have had a couple freelance stories in just went up for sale.

  9. Lucy, 3 years ago Reply

    Wasn’t the illegal nightclub at Geisha Sushi? Hence why it is closed and has been for some time now.

    “Admittedly a lazy one.”-

    Lazy indeed, too lazy to ask some simple questions and make 1 or 2 phone calls to immediately quash your ridiculous conspiracy theory.

    “While The Pipeline has no proof that the illegal nightclub in question was V-Live, it was speculated by some locals that the club “busted” by Moreno on Oct. 8, 2010 was V-Live. ”

    Of course no proof, but you will throw the rumor out for all to read, that way people will take it as fact and be misinformed.

    Any plans for an update now that the mystery is solved. How about a scooby snack?

  10. chicago-pipeline, 3 years ago Reply

    Lucy- I did update the story with Geisha Sushi at the end.

  11. LB, 3 years ago Reply

    Thank you for this reporting. I live near the Congress and have attended concerts and events there. Everything was always very well run and they have been immediately responsive to community concerns. I’ve had the chance to talk to Eddie Carranza at length about his vision for the Congress to keep it as an independent music venue. Doing so would be such an asset to our funky, arty little neighborhood. The Congress has also been a good neighbor when it comes to community events. The trouble emanating from V-Live has been much greater. It really seems like there’s more than meets the eye with Moreno’s (and before him, Flores’s) issues with the Congress. If I had to choose between the Congress and the type of programming it brings to the neighborhood versus V-Live, I’d choose the Congress in a heartbeat.

  12. CHIdeas, 3 years ago Reply

    I’ve been following Moreno for the past few months and have noticed some shady dealings. Especially when it comes to his mini-me, Stuff-The-Ballot-Box-Johnny. Look for the manifesto STBBJohnny left as a comment.

  13. Interested party, 3 years ago Reply

    Mr. Elias,

    I believe many people in the community have a good relationship with Eddie and most of them still do. To respond to a portion of your post… In your post you state the following:

    “I too have had a good relationship with Eddie until he basically suggests that we’ve tried to force things upon him when he agreed to everything in front of neighbors including the community reps of the 1st Ward First.”

    It is my understanding that the Congress agreed to the following: 1) Increased lighting; 2) Increased security and security with neon vests; 3) Security Cameras; and 4) expanding the clean up area; and 5) signage to respect the neighbors, etc.. It is further my understanding, and I have seen it with my own eyes, that all five of the foregoing requests have been complied with. As to the community reps it is my understanding that they were allowed to participate but that they were to be volunteers and then they demanded to be paid and then were not cooperative with the security staff. What I understand to be the case is that, rather than being cooperative, they simply wanted to point out all the “bad” things and exaggerate what they claim to have seen. Believe me, I understand that you are an important part of the community just like all of those in the neighborhood, but we also have to be practical about this process. I just don’t understand how the process would get to a state where you have the City of Chicago lawyers involved when five of the six requests/promises have been complied with and the 6th (the “community reps”) was understandably not practical. Let’s look at the real issues in the 1st ward such as dealing with gangs and dangerous crime rather than continue to harass and attack a venue that attracts business and is an anchor of the community.

  14. Lucy Marry, 3 years ago Reply

    It seems to me everything is perfect planned and secure. Security presence is a little bit over the top sometimes, but I guess that is necessary for safety and all that.

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