Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Eve of Destruction

As we sit on the precipice of a massive though modified tax increase it is useful to look at what "brung" us here to begin with. Big dollars for settlements on lawsuits against police misconduct, that's one! Municipal contortion to get the 2016 Olympics, that's another! A mayor who never met a TIF he didn't like, whew - it's gettin' hot in here! Let's not forget that old standby, City Hall corruption - you name the department and they got goin' on, know what I'm sayin'?! Lucky for us all, that at this particularly providential moment in time that at the state level there is a crack group of leaders whose special skill is infighting and insufferable pouting. Oh how I miss Romper Room! And the mayor has the clear unyielding vision to place at the mouth of the Chicago river, which of course runs backwards, a giant and great symbol of what every taxpayer will be getting over the next decade. They call it a "Spiral" but we all know what it really is... and what is really being done to us.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

The Creepier Family Secrets

Are the revelations about the Chicago Outfit the real secret? Or is it the close ties between the Outfit and the family that has dominated the 5th floor of City Hall? Which is worse the private (the Outfit) scheming to squeeze money out of a hapless populace or the public (the Mayors office with help from Don Timoteo Degnan) scheming to squeeze money out of a hapless populace. See John Kass' recent column about the intersection between the mob and the 5th floor. The cast of characters siphoning money out of the public trough is just dizzying. Not only are Chicagoans footing the bill for dazzlingly overwrought downtown development while regular neighborhoods lay fallow but we're also paying for hissy fits between felonious frat boys. You have to wonder, if your ALIVE and BREATHING instead of doing crystal latte while speeding to your condo along LSD, why city hall engages in so much sub rosa activity. Why do they protect police officers who abuse the public (see Michael Miner' Chicago Reader article here)?

Sunday, April 29, 2007

I guess we're not in Kansas any more!

Not to say I told you so, but I told you so. This week an article by Andrew Herrman came out in the Sun Times about how shenanigans (I call it so whenever anythings rigged in your favor, legally or not) by Pete "Super Red" Ueberroth to maintain USOC's lion share of Olympic revenue. It's obvious the 2016 Olympic Chicago Boys, all pals of the Mayor, think they're still in munchkin land with their Olympics bid but the world is a big place. Not until President Obama and Vice President Bill Daley can help salvage the reputation of the US by appointing David Axelrod Secretary of Good Publicity and Only Good Publicity (Rezko who?) will Chicago have a clear shot without troubles. And of course people across the world are ticked off at the US for a few other things too... what were they so upset about? I can't remember... I must be getting Reaganesque in my old age.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Duncan next?

Botched payroll, stolen laptops and a generally unfocused, unremarkable education plan at CPS may contribute to the "resignation" of Duncan. As demonstrated yesterday, if heads are going to roll it has to be now before the new City Council is inaugurated. Not because they can stop the carnage but merely because they can draw attention to the way the Mayor handles defeat and the sloppiness that comes with purges.

Alderman Moore, by quickly questioning Huberman's replacement of Kruesi, showed what happens when you have a council that feels it has enough cover to be critical of the way decisions are made by the Mayor. Let's see if anyone else has half a mind to speak up.

Expect the Mayor to continue to have that exasperated and scowling look on his face for some time to come. The only other face he has for a situation like this is the perspiration laden giggling he does when he's whistling past the graveyard.

So when your downtown (when you can afford it) and you hear the hammering for the new guillotine (those TIF funds come in handy!) going up across from City Hall don't be surprised.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

This just in...

Will the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce be sending bags of money and adulation to French Presidential candidate Nicolas Sarkozy in a desperate bid to bring not only expensive french bus shelters to Chicago but also special Sarkozy Water Cannons (shooting Chanel No. 5?) to control the Labor rabble? Who will the Higginbottoms look down on now that Dorothy Tillman is out? What Gore-Tex safety-taped jacket will Frank Kruesi wear to the unemployment line? Who else will be booted out to accommodate the wrath of the fearless leader of the fifth floor?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Let's all take a deep breath and let in sink in for a second...

Call it a drubbing, call it a spanking or call it a message from GOD (remember Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce - the commandment "You shall have no other gods before Me", so stop the mayoral worship).

Yesterday's aldermanic run-off (there's that phrase again) proved to be the titanic struggle everyone anticipated. The results clearly are disturbing for City Hall. Witness the mayors confused and dismissive response to Gary Washburn of the Tribune today. The mayor does not want anyone but staffers and presumed allies to know just how ticked off he is.

But you have to imagine that when other big city mayors like Villaraigosa in Los Angeles or Bloomberg in New York hear about what went down they're going to take it very seriously. After all here is the mayor of Chicago, often imitated by others - even the President, getting his wings clipped by the unions. They're bound to think if these unions could organize against the democratic machine in Chicago what can they do to me here in _______________(fill in city here).

Lets hope also that all of this run-off puts to rest the notion that the mayor is a friend of Labor. The Mayor is a manipulator of Labor and an abuser of Labor. A friend , in real terms, I think not. In fact to say that the mayor was a friend of Labor is like saying that Bush is a veteran.

So now the mayor, instead of paying attention to the handful of alderman who regularly might oppose him, has more than a quarter of the council to worry about. May not seem like much now but in real terms it is a phenomenal shift. All sorts of people who previously had sleeper positions in the council, like president pro-tempore, might have to be pressed into service. Why, they might even need to have a majority whip... for whichever part of the democratic party you're affiliated with. Make no mistake, a great leviathan like effort will be made by the fifth floor of City Hall to compromise all of the newly elected alderman. But there is more of them now.

And what does this all do for the Olympics in 2016? Not until this fall will the city be able to formally push for Chicago to the IOC. Then onto the international stage where Chicago is competing not just as Chicago but as the United States selection and all of the baggage that goes with it. In October 2009 the IOC will make its decision and then the ball really starts rolling: Who gets contracts? What will labor agreements look like (thaaats riight!)? Who will have to be ejected from their homes by eminent domain to make way? Who will control the spigot on cost over-runs? How will different standards for security impact the disposition and behavior of the Chicago Police Department? So many questions and, really, so little time.

In 2011 we will have the next municipal elections and the argument will be that you can't switch horses (or generals or some such thing) at such a critical point. Let's hope that our new alderman will be able to set some precedents to protect the residents of our fair city. If not our only hope is US Attorney Fitzgerald.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Where did I put the 21st - I know its around here somewhere...

Ah yes... the 21st ward. The Jackson operation can't afford to lose this one even if it strains their currently cozy relationship with the unions (the enemy of my enemy is my friend). Expect this to be a dogfight. By rights Brookins should win but this is Roseland and Pullman and these can be very independent minded if they are not reaping benefits from Brookins representation. Perhaps it was not wise to bring in Staples -its just more resources for your opposition.

Monday, April 16, 2007

To the Victor Go the Spoils, Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Olympic Bomb

This Chicago neighbor is filled with a deep and abiding sense of sarcasm at the prospect of tomorrows Run Off ( a somehow apt way of describing aldermanic races and sewers).
So here it goes:
2nd Ward - I suspect demographics and DPD like gerrymandering of the ward conspire to make Fioretti a foregone conclusion. But who cares? Its not like he'll really have control of the ward.
3rd Ward and 16th - A twofer! Alderman Dorothy Tillman seems to be vying with Alderman Coleman for over the top performance in a Drama of their own creation. Even if they win, which I don't believe will happen, they're still both losers (in the High School sense, ya know - forefinger and thumb to the forehead). Both ignored their constituents for so long that one of the few ways of guaranteeing votes was to give jobs to family members. Both are desperate and God only knows what they will resort to tomorrow.
15th Ward - I'd go with a Jewel employee any day in a race in a regular neighborhood like the 15th ward. Ms. Simmons Stovall would do better in the rarefied environs of Beverly than West Englewood and Chicago Lawn. Here's hoping Ms. Foulkes can have her cake and eat it too.
18th Ward - The only mystery here is what job or favor is Paul Stewart holding out for.
24th Ward - Come on guys! The South Side is pouring money into Chandlers opposition. That'll work real nice - that's a better gambit for getting the incumbent elected than whining about union influence. I can see it now, West Side neighbor opens door to South Side organization election worker "Your from where and ya work for who? Uh huh - ya sure I'll vote for whoever you want."
32nd Ward - The only excitement I expect from this preening ward is a duck waddling around yelling "Matlak!"
35th Ward - Now here is a "Battle Royale" separated by a mere consonant! Will Richard "Top of the Desk this Morning to ya" Mell prevail? Or will newly minted City Clerk Del Valle maintain his hold in the continuing proxy battle with Mell. You say Colom , I say Colon, Lets call the whole thing off.
43rd Ward - Do I care? Do I really, really care? There's so much money, self interest and liquor swilling around this ward that Alberto Gonzalez could be Alderman and what difference would it make?
49th Ward - For the Swift Boat veterans to creep their way into an aldermanic campaign in Chicago just makes me feel tingly all over! I expect incumbent Alderman Joe Moore to redeem himself and duck innards everywhere.
50th Ward - Alderman Stone is cagey. Instead of whining about unions, he highlighted all the union support he has in his literature. Except for the most important union. The one whose leaders he testified for as a favor - Laborers 1001. The guys who were part of the "Outfit". So that gives you an idea of who Ald. Stones buddies are and why you should expect a classic Down and Dirty fight in the 50th Ward. Good Luck Ms. Dolar.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

The Whole World Is Watching!

In what appears to be some kind of cosmic force operating in Chicago a third recorded police fight is found. Of course not to be outdone by beating sprightly barmaids and fighting with businessmen this latest incident involves Terry Abbate, brother of Anthony "Smackin' da St. Pauli girl" Abbate, fighting with an off-duty police officer from the District of Columbia* on St. Patricks Day no less. We believe God has an extraordinary sense of irony and history when it comes to Chicago.

Reports from our far flung associates in other municipalities say that these incidents, especially the first one, enjoyed special prominence in nightly broadcasts about the city of "broad shoulders and kicks to the groin". Given the contemporary media's bent for playing found video to the point of infinity and beyond the Mayor must have been overjoyed to see news about home while on vacation. While in the City of Lights he got to see the City of Fights.

Time was in Chicago that on the night of the big fight everyone would gather around the radio set to hear the broadcast of the "Brown Bomber"** vs. "Poor Schlub". It was all legal of course. With any luck those days can return to our fair metropolis . The Mayor loves video cameras. He wants them everywhere! Think how fortunate the city is. They could raise revenue this way. Someone talk to this weeks fresh faced budget director!

So after countless hours of seeing and hearing about these officers Olympian efforts to subdue the citizenry, and even fellow officers, I have just one bit of advice to the boys in blue with pugilistic tendencies - The Whole World Is Watching.

* For Bernie's precinct captains in the 50th ward, the District of Columbia is our nations capitol - not a Latin-American country. Just trying to help you overcome your ignorance and prejudices...

** For those of you under the age of 70 this refers to Joe Louis, the great boxer, and one time resident of Chicago. No need to tell Bernie's boys. They saw Joe Louis fight.

Monday, April 2, 2007


Just what is Phil Cline the fall guy (besides the obvious) for? Is it his disagreement with Dick Devine that led to his ejection? Is this because of public safety or the Olympics bid? Finally, does this actually do anything to affect the situation that may have caused him to resign?

Mayoral Zealot Takes Over Trib

Chicago billionaire Sam Zell acquired the Tribune Company as everyone within earshot of a TV or a Tribune owned media venue knows by now. Sam Zell is identified by a Trib (eeggaad! put that away) article, "How Daley Campaign Keeps the Cash Flowing" February 18th '07, as fourth among the Mayors top contributers. Far be it for me to presume that the Tribs already "Aw Shucks! He's justa Mayor who can't say no!" editorial policy will nose dive into outright adulation and batting eyelashes, but money is money. What we're really concerned about is that they not start ejecting the fine reporters they have on staff. Those reporters plus John Kass and Jon Hilkevitch are the only thing that has redeemed the Trib in our eyes. That and the fact that the Cubs still haven't been to the World Series.

Surrender Dorothy!

Chicago neighbors tried to count how many times Ald. Tillman used the term "disingenuous" to describe her opponent Pat Dowell on City Desk this Sunday, but we finally gave up. Ald. Tillman who tried to accused Ms. Dowell of being in the pocket of the unions promptly showed she was in the pocket of developers a few minutes later (listing all the high ticket projects she was pushing). Were I a resident of the third ward I'd be asking myself "Why didn't Ald. Tillman once mention me as a constituent?" and her tepid response to questions about city hall corruption were almost Tribunesque. In fact Ald. Tillman mentioned the Jackson (dynasty) family more often than residents of her ward. Let's hope this desperation keeps up. It'll be entertaining at least. How beneficial it is for the people of the third ward is another story.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Hitherto Unknowns (Will He or Won't He)

Its nice to see that the 18th is still up for grabs. Apparently the wards family feud hasn't quite been settled yet. Perhaps Mr. Stewart is holding out for better plum pickings.

Word on the street is that the 11th might be giving a hand to Ald. Shirley Coleman to fend off her challenge in the 16th. I will be saying a prayer that one day the Back of the Yards will have one alderman instead of the half dozen or so that appear to have jurisdiction there. Hey we could do a Berlin style airlift!

Any bets on how long it'll take the Stone camp to get down and dirty with opponent Naisy Dolar. Stone's last strong challenge from Hank Rubin led to accusations that Mr. Rubin, who is Jewish, was antisemitic. If the Stone family wants to hold onto this fiefdom they doubtless will concoct another such whisper campaign. Or maybe this time they'll take credit for their words.

Alderman Joe in the Fightin' 49th is doing his best to waddle to victory. Although the contentiousness amongst the various groups (or persons with too much time on their hands, like me) makes it seems like east Rogers Park is to liberal pontiffs (or pundits if you like) as Pilsen is to community activists. There just ain't nobody that's happy there.

More ward wallowing to follow.

Rogue Bad Apples and Power Strippers

It makes you wonder. Aside from the fact that two incidents were reported in the course of a single week, Officer Abbate has been on the force for 12 years. So when did this problem start? Just in February? Or has it been going on for sometime but this is the first time it has been caught on videotape? In the other case, six police officers were involved and one of those was a Seargent. I would be hard pressed to regard that as rogue conduct. It sounds more like sanctioned conduct or at least sanctioned by someone. What will be the price tag for the "Corruption Tax" for these two latest incidents? Why would these police officers commit these acts with such impunity - is it just because they are police officers or is there something else which they believe is protecting them? Is it a Higher Power or is it a fifth floor power? So many questions...Carol Marin writes an excellent column today about the legacy of this recent police corruption. And lastly, can anyone tell Chicago neighbors what it means to strip someone of their police powers? Did they use kryptonite? Better than stripping these officers, when will they be arrested?

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Aaarrrggghh! I forgot this!

So consumed am I with the onslaught of news about corruption and police
beatings that I forgot this important celebration of Nelson Algren'
birthday at the ACME Art Works 1741 N Western at 8:00 p.m.. Admission is $10 and $5
for Seniors and Students. For more info log onto
www.nelsonalgren.org and be joyful for Gods sake!

Friday, March 23, 2007

How to Ward off insanity

Someone please tell me it matters who wins the 2nd ward run-off. I look at the map and I talk to people who live there and one thing is abundantly clear, the mapmakers screwed over the folks in this ward but good. It's as though the Department of Planning and Development mapped this ward instead of the usual cabal.

The first time ever I saw his face

Please read John Kass' column today about the illustrious Al Sanchez and Kass' first encounter with him. Also note how easily the Mayors Machine drops someone by the wayside who is not part of the 11th ward cabal.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

What Does HDO Really Stand For?

So it goes like this - its the late 80's, Chicago's first Black Mayor has died. The current Mayor can get elected but it's gonna take awhile as all of Washington's presumptive heirs and his enemies try to outgun each other. So he takes a new friend a, city worker, who is "Hispanic". This fits perfectly. Under Washington the alderman got cocky, too power hungry and they forgot their place. The same old tactics of compromise and favor couldn't work with these alderman - not yet. But what can be done this time is something that was done long ago when the machine was in its infancy and Cermak was Mayor. The current Mayor could take "Hispanics" from the oldest part of that community, the south-east side, and spoon feed them favors until they become a loyal army of street workers. He wasn't going to deal with those upstarts in Pilsen and Little Village who called themselves Latinos. They were too volatile, too arrogant and had been too close to Washington. Ironically the still divided African-American community would provide the opening to get elected that Washington had so insolently stolen from the current Mayors grasp. Once it was evident that the HDO was gonna gain power and favor. African-American leaders who felt isolated and marginalized in past and current battles would flock to curry favor with the new Mayor, a reincarnation of the old, sort of like Bush 41 and Bush 43. That began the long nightmare of Al Sanchez' rise to power along with Victor Reyes and other thugs. So this Mayor is in it deep. He's been in deep for a long time. So when he distances himself now with reforms, remember that he is just biding his time while a new patronage fix is constructed with say an Olympics and other new tricks.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Feds cause downtown delirium

OK, first I gotta get this off my chest. What are they smokin' up there in the Trib editorial board room? Do they have an oak panelled room with grow lights? The city finally agrees to constraints on their hiring practices and a 12 mill pool of money to take care of their past hiring screw ups and the best the Trib editorial writer can come up with is "Wednesday's agreement on a new protocol for enforcing rules against illicit patronage hiring and promotion at City Hall is an upbeat chapter in a decades-long legal drama " Upbeat chapter (I can almost hear the champagne bubbles tickling their noses)! Then they go on to list a labored litany of new tasks that the city appointed inspector general will have to address to create this new upbeat chapter. In essence we have a shadow city hall that now hires, make sure inspections are proper, making sure contracts are on the up and up and so on and so on. Doesn't that sound odd? Is anyone awake down...oh....oh no no... UP there at the Trib? It's depressing and maddening to think how much work, effort and MONEY will go into policing city government. So we have the Mayor, also known as the inspector general, who is supposed to protect the citizenry and the Olympian Mayor who continues to wheel and deal. Phew! Thank God everythings settled.

It's as though John Kass were writing for another paper entirely. And the author of today's editorial at the Trib is gazing out through a THC haze at the river saying "That inspector general dude is awesome mannn!"

As long as we have this two tiered system of governance we will not be moving "Toward an honest City Hall". To do that would require massive electoral and judicial (as in US Attorney Fitzgerald prosecutes Scooter Degnan) regime change, not just of the fifth floor but of the City Council (getting there almost..) Cook County Board President, Chair and structure of the Cook County Democratic party and a few hundred or so of the weasels that feed at the trough downtown.

So how can the Trib editorial board do this. First they could take the advice of one of their columnists and CONNECT THE DOTS. There are twelve aldermanic races coming up for run offs and some one should ask them what as a city council member they are going to fight for so that it is no longer necessary to have an inspector general with such an extensive workload. Part of the problem of corruption in Chicago is the tepid if not privileged response of the Trib. This concludes the rant for the day.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Can I use you as a reference?

Thanks to fellow blogger the Marshfield Tattler, whose link is on the right, for "hipping" folks to this blog.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Dirty Dozen

Twelve run-offs! Not ten. Any run-offs in municipal elections was thought to be a thing of the past. Like maybe under Big Bill Thompson or sumthin, geez! These are the following with occasional editorializing: 2nd Madeline Haithcock , 3rd Dorothy Tillman , 15th Theodore Thomas (retiree), 16th Shirley Coleman (Holy Hack), 18th Lona Lane , 21st Howard Brookins Jr. , 24th Michael Chandler (He is Not Worthy), 32nd Theodore Matlak (Ye Olde Machine Hacke), 35th Rey Colon , 43rd Vi Daley , 49th Joe Moore (Defend the goose!), and 50th Bernie Stone (Pre-Historic Hack). If only Danny were in the mix we could have Hack, Numero UNO. That's nearly a quarter of the council that voters are unhappy with. Only one ward is a genuine open seat (15th). Hmmmm, if only they had the power to do good........ We shall have to see what mayhem ensues as prospective candidates jostle for the Mayoral nod.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Green the Morning after

I hope everyone had a wonderful St. Patricks. And here's hoping all those protestant newcomers to Chicago didn't make too much of a spectacle of themselves on the day that "everyone's Irish" and if they did I hope they had some baggies and a small shovelling tool to make amends. It's wonderful to be Irish. Remember the IRA? That ragtag group of angry young men and women who made a stand at the Easter Uprising. Those were peat bog Irish not the lace curtain (almost English they are, with their class snobbery) Irish that have come to plague some cities. I'm Irish too but not in a way that would make the Pope happy. None the less like the great Parnell I can turn my back on my protestant brethren who caused, and some still do, pain and indignity and suffering to Irish Catholics. I'm not too fond of the protestants that settled this nation either.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Before I forget

The Chicago Reporter did an excellent article about the under belly of Chicago's political power. The Money, The Thugs, The Chills and thrills. And ya know... after this weeks revelation of possible impropriety on the part of Curie LSC chair Tom Ramos it just makes ya think. He works for Streets and Sans, as a seasonal laborer, he's boorish and petty and when city hall nailed him he changed his vote (a fine party member!). Could he be part of the HDO? Has he circulated for the Mayor? While the city's leading lights of educational policy wring their hands about principals and principles the Mayors thug army of precinct workers continue to wreak havoc on the streets and in the neighborhoods. It should come as no suprise that Mr. Ramos would not allow translation for non-english speaking members (it wasn't pertinent to the ultimate goal), after all the HDO is no more interested in in the rights of Latinos than William Dawson was a defender of African-American rights. The HDO is interested in one thing: trading jobs, city jobs, county jobs, menial jobs,powerbroker jobs and in this instance a principals job. As my dear friend used to say "Where is the Love"? It would help the voters and residents of Chicago if the wine and cheese set that works downtown could realize that the Mayors power is built precisely on this type of thuggery and all the pretty things downtown and on the North side, and now Bronzeville and east Taylor street, rest on the electioneering labors of cheap street enforcers such as the HDO. But you have to leave your ivory officer towers and go out onto the streets in real neighborhoods on election day.


The love just keeps on growing at Block 37! A lawsuit filed earlier this week and reported on in Crain's Chicago Business ensures that Block 37 will continue it's reputation as Chicago's magical Disneyland of City Hall's failed development efforts. Ohh I can just feel the love. Maybe Channel 2 could do live broadcasts from the vacant lot. We could all await the status reports... "there still hasn't been any movement here...". Maybe students at Gallery 37 could do artistic inerpetations of the grand empty space that once was their home. Then they could move on to the roof of city hall, another inaccessible space for Chicagoans but far more bucolic... the bird, the bees, the worms ahhh... nature! Alright enough brainstroming I'll leave that to the genius's huddled around the Olympic cauldron on the "Fifth Floor".

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

This just in ...

A precinct captain was seen running, yes running, down Clark street with an Olympic torch headed for the fifth floor of city hall in a practice run for 2016. A baby blue helmet was seen bobbing behind the precinct captain a mere hundred yards away. One hopes the prior Mayor's order to "shoot to kill all arsonists" is not being applied here. In 2016 the Olympic torch will be used to light a cauldron in the Mayoral chambers rather than the customary lighting at the stadium.

Profiles of Courage

Alderman Toni Preckwinkle finally decided she had had it with the Olympics Juggernaut and voted no at today's city council meeting. Too little too fast to make a judicious vote on the matter. Can we really trust the Mayor's projections for the cost to taxpayers as well as the "private fundraising"? What's been happening in London lately ( under "Red" Ken) any way? I'm sure all of Parliament is enthusiastic at the prospect.

Running the gauntlet of reporters at the Federal Courts Building to become new Olympic Sport

Many believe that after US Attorney Fitzgerald uncovered criminal mayhem at City Hall that tthe Mayor suddenly came to his senses and cleaned house and thus corruption and double dealing was banished forever. Let us pause a moment and contemplate the Mayors Olympian efforts. New stadium, new housing, new sports venues and so on. Well by golly these things will require substantial construction contracts (Thank God, since school construction has slowed down)! Its 2007, the Olympics in Chicago will be in 2016. That's only nine years we have to make a buc..., I mean make the city shine for our international visitors. What? you're impugning the our motives for supporting the Olympics in Chicago! After all there must be substantial oversight by the IOC. The IOC is surely one of the premeire institutions of integrity. Well then who else?