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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Aurora Housing Authority (AHA) Misleads Community, Taxpayers, Schools, Residents and Elected Officials on Excuse for Redeveloping Failed Jericho Circle Complex | UPDATE: Lawrence Urges Mayor to Take Action and Demand Resignations; Chairman Gerry Jones Ousted

***see below for important update

In recent months, the Aurora Housing Authority (AHA) has explained the reason why they are ignoring the community, taxpayers, school district, Alderman Rick Lawrence and Mayor Tom Weisner's clear statements and veiws that public housing not be redeveloped on the site of the dysfunctional and deplorable Jericho Circle public housing complex is because they were being "forced" to by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to provide a replacement.

Their excuse for the delay in demolition of Jericho Circle is based upon their claims they must first come up with a plan for redevelopment.

Not true.  Misleading.  Inaccurate.  False.

In other words, AHA and its dysfunctional Chairman Gerald Jones have been lying.

An investigation by OpenlineBlog has reviewed communication between the Aurora Housing Authority and HUD regarding the demolition of Jericho Circle.

In the approval letter by HUD for the AHA to proceed with demolition of Jericho Circle, they clearly state the following:

"24 CHR, Part 970.31, eliminated the requirement for one-on-one replacement housing units.  Therefore, the AHA is not required to provide for replacement housing, and the Department is not required to fund replacement housing."

It's not HUD that is asking for Jericho Circle to be redeveloped.  It's the AHA itself and its addiction to keeping its failed housing models continue to warehouse people in horrific conditions.

We urge the immediate resignation of Gerald Jones, any board members and staff of the AHA that has knowingly and willfully engaged in deceiving the community-at-large.

Furthermore, we urge the City of Aurora to immediately proceed on condemnation of Jericho Circle and to evacuate all residents on an emergency basis until such time the hazardous property can be permanently demolished.

***UPDATE - FRIDAY January 21, 2010

On Thursday, Alderman Rick Lawrence called for the removal of AHA Chairman Gerald Jones and the Board, citing the information regarding uncovered regarding the misleading statements by AHA.

In an open letter to the Mayor and Aurora City Council (see inside comments for letter), Alderman Lawrence stated:

So, what should we do now that we know they have misled us, cost taxpayers millions, created difficulty for our schools and forced residents to live in substandard conditions?

At the minimum, I suggest we demand the resignation of the AHA Board members who have overseen the operation, process and lack of open, honest dialogue.

We must redefine our approach toward public housing and how to insure they are accountable to the community, residents, schools and taxpayers.

On Friday, Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner responded by ousting AHA Chairman Gerald Jones, who's term had  apparently expired several months ago.

Jones, who in November lost his county board seat to Monica Silva, said the mayor "declined" to reappoint him.

Sources say Jones was not willing to leave on his own.  At a public meeting in December about Jericho Circle, he blasted Weisner by saying he "changed his mind" and first supported the rebuilding of Jericho Circle, then opposed it.

Lawrence and Weisner strongly oppose any rebuilding of Jericho Circle and have been urging the rapid demolition of the dysfunctional complex that has been forced residents to live in substandard conditions.

In a statement released late Friday, Lawrence said he the firing of Jones is a good start, but there's much more to be done, others responsible for creating the situation and a new approach must be taken toward public housing and making it accountable to the community, schools and taxpayers.

Jericho Circle will soon be a pile of rubble, but in the meantime, Gerald Jones, one of the symbolic leaders of Aurora's old-guard, status-quo problems, bites the dust.


Anonymous said...

Weisner should do a Richard Daley impression, and send bulldozers in during the dead at night and knock down any empty units, like Daley did to Miegs Field.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, that way he could be just as big of asshole.

Anonymous said...

He already is that; maybe even bigger. But on occassion it's appropriate, like when dealing w/ the AHA. Think about how bad AHA is -- they manage to make Weisner look good! I didn't think that was possible.

Anonymous said...

Weisner is letting Jerry Jones hang out to dry. Weisner was pushing this a year ago then when it became a issue for his West side pals he dropped the idea.
Lets not forget Jones was given a fund raiser and robo blast from the Mayor in his losing battle to Monica Silva. Silva race showed the hate out there for Weisner in the first ward.

Ald. Rick Lawrence said...


Mayor Weisner and Members of Aurora City Council,

As we all know, there is wide disagreement between the City of Aurora and the Aurora Housing Authority (AHA) on many issues.

During late 2009, the AHA finally agreed to demolish Jericho Circle, Maple Terrace and sell off their single family homes due to physical and financial conditions as recommended by their own consultants.

In January 2010, AHA told residents, the school district and the City of Aurora that Jericho Circle would be vacated prior to the start of the 2010-2011 school year. As we know, that never happened. Residents and schools, who had relied on the AHA's statements, had to then adjust. AHA Chairman Gerry Jones blamed the school district in public statements for not calling them to know their latest intention.

Later in the summer of 2010, we learned the AHA decided neither to demolish Maple Terrace nor sell off single family homes.

Furthermore, instead of demolishing Jericho Circle, they now planned to rebuild it. This was a surprise to myself, the mayor, school district, residents and community. AHA claimed this was a requirement by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

They also told residents, the school district and city that funds for relocation vouchers were not available, blaming HUD for the delay.

Fast forward to November and December 2010, AHA held two public meetings, one for residents of Jericho Circle and one for the community to explain the timeline of demolition, vouchers and rebuilding Jericho Circle.

During that same period, the mayor and myself made it clear in public statements we did not support any rebuilding of Jericho Circle and further stated the current residents should not be forced to continue living in substandard conditions.

The public meeting in December was overseen by AHA Chairman Gerry Jones and Board Member Al Schuler.

Both made several statements that HUD would not have approved the demolition of Jericho Circle without a plan to rebuild it and replace the housing. They also told residents approval by HUD of the vouchers in part relied on the mayor's further support of the AHA's plans for Jericho Circle.

Attached is the letter date stamped September 7, 2010 from HUD to the Executive Director of the AHA approving the demolition application for Jericho Circle.

On Page 2, the first paragraph states:

"24 CFR, Part 970.31 eliminated the requirement for one-for-one replacement of public housing units. Therefore, the AHA is not required to provide for replacement housing, and the Department is under no obligation to fund replacement housing."

This clearly contradicts the statements by Jones and Schuler that HUD required any rebuilding of Jericho Circle as a condition of approving demolition. In fact, HUD made it clear to AHA that it was NOT required and that HUD would not fund any rebuilding.

Ald. Rick Lawrence said...


An attached memorandum also shows AHA was not accurate about the relocation vouchers for residents of Jericho Circle. On Page 3 of the memo, under "Relocation" it states:

"When the application was developed and transmitted to the Department, 93 units proposed for demolition were occupied. The AHA has submitted certification regarding the relocation as required by the 24 CFR, Part 970.21(e)(f). The AHA estimated the relocation costs for the remaining residents to be $450,000, which includes moving expenses, counseling/advisory services. The funds for relocation are allocated under FY2010 Capital Fund budget. The housing resources offered will be Housing Choice vouchers. HUD also recommends that AHA grant housing search extensions up to 180 days, if needed to house large families and persons with disabilities."

During the December meeting, Jones and Schuler stated Mayor Weisner "changed his mind" as it pertains to the rebuilding of Jericho Circle. In the attached memo under "Mayor / Local Government Consultation" there is a claim that Mayor Weisner supports the AHA plan, which we all know is not true based upon the public statements by the mayor emphatically opposing any rebuilding plan for the Jericho Circle site.

It seems the AHA has a patter of misrepresenting the truth and situation to everyone.

So, what should we do now that we know they have misled us, cost taxpayers millions, created difficulty for our schools and forced residents to live in substandard conditions?

At the minimum, I suggest we demand the resignation of the AHA Board members who have overseen the operation, process and lack of open, honest dialogue.

We must redefine our approach toward public housing and how to insure they are accountable to the community, residents, schools and taxpayers.

Anonymous said...

More proof that the government cannot run anything. Abolish and forbid any AHA type of disorganization, period.

Anonymous said...

Nice spin, Openline. So Weisner fired Gerry Jones "in response" to Lawrence's letter, huh? According to the story in today's Beacon,

"But Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner has already set the ball in motion to bring changes to the board.

Gerry Jones, who served on the Aurora Housing Authority board since 1995 and most recently as chairman, said Friday that he is no longer on the AHA board.

“As of two weeks ago, my term was up and the mayor declined to reappoint me,” Jones said."

So according to Jones, he got fired a couple of weeks ago. But it was in response to Lawrence's letter, Openline? Wow, Weisner must be able to see the future. I don't like Weisner, but here's one of the few occassions he actually does something right, and you want to give the credit to Lawrence.

Anonymous said...

Don't give Weisner or Lawerance credit it was public perssure.

Let's not forget Leisner robo called all the Ward 1 homes for Jones in November (something that probably cost him the election).

Last year Leisner was for more public housing. If you want to give credit, that should go to Dr Rydland of the West Aurora School District.

By the way Jones term is up 9/30/11 he took the fall for Leisner. Jones is still a paid member of Quad County Urban League that is still receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars for losing kids on the street and getting them killed.

The kid who the Beacon never revealed was suppose to be in school that day and in fact had not been seen for a week even though East Aurora and the City where paying for him. This is yet another Leisner cover-up on the horizon

Anonymous said...

I don't know if the Beacon even knew who the kid was because in the article they wrote about it they said the city was still running the investigation. So what is the city, urban league and district 131 hiding. It seems we cover up mistakes for some but still keep making the same ones over and over to protect people. We as voters have to take some of the responsibilities of this because we keep voting the same people in because even thought we know they cover up things there are things we get from those elected officials. Until we the people vote for the people we know will do the will of the whole and not some this will happen again and again.

Anonymous said...

Is that the same urban league run by the WHIZZ's lady friend that keeps getting all the public loans and city money for her real estate empire?

Anonymous said...

By the way Superintendent Jerome Roberts uses Gillespe address on Lincoln as his East Aurora address to comply with his contract. He still lives in Shorewood.

Anonymous said...

Both school districts and Leisner have good reason to cover up the death of this child.

Here are the facts Leisner at one time to keep his gal pal in business would pay 100% of Alternative Education he city in to the Urban League. Recently he dropped the payment to $90,000 per district because of budget problems. Another words bait and switch. Of course residents would not know this because the money comes from Community in Schools run by none other than Theresa Shoemaker daughter of Arlene long time democrook. Community in Schools is the new Youth Department even though they are a Private Organization. Now the taxpayers have no accountability as to who gets paid. This is nothing more than a slush fund of Leisner's cronies.

A student attending Urban League and these are troubled students on the verge of dropping out or joining a gang basically sits in front of a computer the entire day receives no social worker, no teacher/student interaction, no counseling or class room instruction in individual subjects. God forbid you are Bilingual or your parent is because they can not communicate with you. No classroom instruction is provided in Bilingual as well. This is a problem since d131 teaches about 50% of their classes in Spanish. So why would you use a program that can't service the students. D129 is no different both districts continue to expel Bilingual students and put them on the streets because they have no place to send them.

In the case of the boy who has shoot he had not been at Alternative School that week. Nobody even checked. At East Aurora if you do not come to school a automated phone call is made to your home in Spanish. It is my understanding the parents did not even understand he was not in school.

Ask the School Districts the Graduation rate of kids going through that program it has about a 100% drop-out rate.

This is what happens when career politicians get involved in people lives. This child could have been saved. Leisner, Gillespie, Shoemaker, and the administration of both districts have this boys blood on their hands.

Anonymous said...

Everyone know Roberts lives in Shorewood and it is in his contract that he can the board loves this man so much he could live about anywhere and they wouldn't mind. He stayed at the other place for awhile because he was split from his wife.

The child had part of a responsibility also in his death. He chose to get a gun and go after someone.

The Alternative School is not prefect but when people complain some say well if we don't do this they kids will be out in the street. Is there some kind of pay back to people I believe so but some voted the Mayor back in and I think Gillespie was one of them so the Mayor owes her something. Weisner should do what he is doing with AHA and get a whole new group in there that is really concerned about the trouble students and not their own projects.

Anonymous said...

Weisner is only after Aurora Housing because there was a lot of complaining go on in the West Aurora Schools. West Aurora purchased more slots at the Urban League after a internal study showed a 98% drop out rate. Yet West backed this useless program paid Urban League more money and got rid of Jericho Circle. Look at past news clips Weisner was saying Jericho was great to re-build. Rumor was Vaughn head of the Dunham fund brokered a deal. West Aurora had about 300 students coming out of that development lowering there test scores.

Vaughn another Weisner crony heads the Duhman Fund. Duhman Fund paid over a million dollars to build the new Urban League. Corrigan & Clark donated building plans and managed the project free shaking down many of Leisner donors for Gillespe. Now Gillespe can't afford the building so Leisner supports her by shaking down the schools. Yet she is not qualified to run the program.

Yes the kid is responsible for his actions but maybe with professionals involved things may have turned out differently.

By the way Jerry Jones is still on the Urban League Board.

Anonymous said...

Jerome Roberts has said nothing about this his spokes-person Muhammed long time Leisner backer and recipient of thousands of dollars in donations for Boys II Men from the city covered up by calling it The Pathways program to the newspaper. The fact is my taxes should go to pay city services. The schools should handle their own Alternative School. The students should either be expelled or kept in a public school with trained professionals.
It is another Leisner cover-up and Jones was talked to by Gillespe to get out.

Gillespe is on the park board and is funneling money back to Leisner to pay for his over budget park programs.

Roberts should have never been allowed to use a district contractor address.

Anonymous said...

Roberts should have never been allowed to use a district contractor address.

I'm not a fan of Roberts but where did he use the address? There is nothing in his contract that says he has to live in the district. In fact the board after finding out he is legally blind didn't let that out until someone said something.

Anonymous said...

The board didn't "let out" that Roberts was legally blind because under the American's with Disabilities Act the employer must make reasonable accomodations to allow someone w/ a disability to keep their job. Only if the nature of the job and the nature of the disability is such that the employer can't make reasonable accomodations can the employer then take action, i.e. switch the employee to another job or terminate them. In fact, terminating someone w/o making reasonable accomodations is against the law. In the case of a school superintendant, being legally (or even totally) blind probably wouldn't be cause for termination because his computer can be set up to read documents to him, or his secretary can do so. If the district tried to terminate him, it'd end up costing them a lot of bucks in lawyers, court costs, fines, etc.

Anonymous said...

Roberts legally blind he is a member of Rotary and comes every Monday and never wears glasses. He seems to drive himself and find the food on his plate. He never talks much often sits by himself and returns emails on a smart phone, again the buttons are small he finds that. My impression of him is he is not much of a politician. He did fix the finances and when he gave a report on the District I did not realize that so many children did not speak English at all in his District.

Gillespe is a member of Rotary as well the two never speak. But yes she and Shoemaker are cronies of the Mayor.

Anonymous said...

Who pays the hundreds of thousands of dollars to the bus companies to get the kids to the alternative schools?????????

Anonymous said...

West Aurora Schools do pay to bus Alternative school kids to the Urban League on Farnsworth. Since they have busing they go to their homes and give them front door service only to drop out.