Archive for the ‘Chicago-esque’ Category
Chicago related, duh
More of Daley’s sad legacy…
The parking meter company took in more than $80 million from meters across Chicago in 2011, according to documents it filed this week with city officials.
Chicago Parking Meters’ financial performance last year slightly exceeded projections of Wall Street analysts, who have rated the company a smart investment, said Matthew Hobby, an analyst with the Standard & Poor’s ratings agency.
For $1.15 billion, paid upfront, the City Council approved a plan championed by then-Mayor Richard M. Daley in 2008 that privatized Chicago’s 36,000 meters for 75 years. In a deal that was widely criticized for selling taxpayers short, Chicago Parking Meters was given the right to keep all meter revenues until 2084. Drivers have since seen sharp increases in parking rates under the deal.
After leaving office a year ago, Daley, along with his former corporation counsel and two top press aides, went to work for Katten Muchin Rosenmann LLP, the law firm that handled the parking meter deal for the city.
Since the meter deal took effect, city officials have paid the parking meter company more than $2 million in what they call “true-up adjustments” to make up for parking spaces taken out of service.
The amount billed for those adjustments skyrocketed in the first nine months of the 2011 budget year, to $14 million — a sum Emanuel is refusing to pay. The company hasn’t submitted its claim for the last three months of the year yet.
In an April 5 letter to Chicago Parking Meters chief executive officer Dennis Pedrelli, Emanuel’s chief financial officer, Lois Scott, blasted the way the company calculated those adjustments for last year, calling its invoices “legally and factually erroneous.”
Scott said that, under the parking meter deal, City Hall should be determining how much money Chicago Parking Meters is owed for those out-of-service meters — something the Daley administration had allowed the company to do.
(click here to continue reading Chicago parking meter company wants more money; mayor balks – Chicago Sun-Times.)
It might be fun to attend this, but on the other hand, I like to sleep in a bit on Sundays.
Union Station 225 South Canal Street, Chicago, IL 60606
When: 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., Saturday, May 12 General Admission: Free
Now in its 5th year, National Train Day is back to celebrate train travel and the ways trains touch the lives of people with events across America. This year, festivities will highlight the unique perspective passengers enjoy as they take in the vastness and beauty of the American landscape, from cities big and small, to country vistas and everything in between, when traveling by rail. As part of National Train Day, each major market event features live entertainment, interactive and educational exhibits, kids’ activities, model train displays and tours of Amtrak equipment, freight and commuter trains, and notable private railroad cars.
(click here to continue reading National Train Day In Chicago.)
Every year on May 1st there is some sort of demonstration or rally in front of the Haymarket Riot Memorial statue. Here are some photos from yesterday’s events. Double click an image to embiggen.
Join ILHS at our annual May Day ceremony and commemoration of the Haymarket Martyrs. Benedicto Martinez Orozco, a leader of the Mexican union federation Frente Autentico de Trabajo, will preside over mounting a plaque from our Mexican brothers and sisters in the FAT. Then join the May Day demonstration assembling at Union Park at 12 noon and marching to Federal Plaza at 1:00 PM. This May Day demonstration, initiated by Occupy Chicago, is sponsored by a host of local unions and community groups.
(click here to continue reading May Day 2012.)
InterContinental Chicago aka Medinah Athletic Club, originally uploaded by swanksalot.
South Tower, designed by architect Walter W. Ahlschlager. Click here for lightbox version.
The Medinah Athletic Club building was intended to combine elements of many architectural styles. At the eighth floor, its Indiana limestone facade was decorated by three large relief carvings in ancient Assyrian style. Each frieze depicted a different scene in the order of constructing a building, with Contribution on the south wall, Wisdom represented on the west wall and Consecration on the north. (According to an article in the Chicago Tribune from Sept 16, 1928 entitled “Building art inspires panels”:“The friezes were designed by George Unger, in collaboration with Walter Ahlschlager, and carved by Leon Hermant. The figures are costumed in the period of the building, which is that of an old fortress in Mesopotamia in Xerxes time, about 5th century BC.
The theme of the panels as explained by Mr. Unger, was inspired by the history of construction of any building. The south panel starts the story. Here a magnificent cortege is displayed. This panel, termed Contribution, signifies the getting together of treasures for the construction of the building. In the west panel, facing Michigan Avenue, a ruler is shown with his counselors and an architect is shown bringing in a model of the building planned. The north panel shows the consecration of the building after it has been built. A priest is sacrificing a white bull whose blood will be mixed with crushed grapes and poured into the earth. A monkey trainer and his animals are shown. Since the animals represented bigotry in the ancient drawings, they are shown here in leash as symbolic belief that bigotry has no place in the Masonic order.”) The figures in all three scenes are said to be modeled after the faces of club members at the time of its design. Three Sumerian warriors were also carved into the facade at the twelfth floor setback, directly above the Michigan Avenue entrance, and remain visible today.
The exotic gold dome, which is Moorish in influence, originated as part of a decorative docking port for dirigibles – a notion conceived before the Hindenburg disaster in 1937. Years later, the building would lose several feet with the dismantling of an ornamental canopy on the small turret north of the dome. This chimney-like structure was originally intended to assist in the docking of these air ships, but it was never put into use. Inside the dome, a glass cupola and spiral iron staircase resembling the top of a lighthouse led down to the hotel’s upper elevator landing.
Never took a good photo of this building before last month.
Fun for your May Day celebrations: pretend you are part of the black helicopter One World Cabal of Illuminati, as explained by The Straight Dope’s Cecil Adams:
Just exactly what event are the Russians and Red Chinese commemorating on May 1 each year? I have yet to find any birthday or important event relating to communism/socialism that occurred on May 1. Someone once told me, though, that May 1, 1776, was the birth date of a group called the Illuminati, which was alleged to be a clandestine group devoted to one-world government. Is it so? Please enlighten.
— Bob B., Dallas
Better grab yourself a sandwich and a beer, Bobberino; this is going to take a while. The Illuminati play a leading role in what is without doubt the muthah conspiracy theory of all time, stretching back at least two centuries and probably as far as the Pleistocene epoch, to hear some tell it.
Adherents of the theory, who for the most part are right-wing fruitcakes, claim it explains every social upheaval from the French Revolution of 1789 through the Russian Revolution of 1917. The Illuminati are said to be the guiding force behind a vast international cabal involving the Masons, German and/or Jewish socialists, the Bolsheviks, and revolutionaries of every stripe, whose principal aim is either the establishment of a totalitarian one-world government, the destruction of Western civilization, or both. This ain’t no foolin’ around, apocalypse fans.
Let’s start with the easy part. May Day, an international celebration of worker solidarity observed principally in socialist countries, traces its origins back to the eight-hour-day movement in the U.S., and specifically commemorates the 1886 Haymarket Riot in Chicago, of all places. (We learn this, incidentally, from the Great Soviet Encyclopedia.)
At an October 1884 convention in Chicago, the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions, later to be reorganized as the American Federation of Labor, declared May 1, 1886, to be the date from which “eight hours shall constitute a legal day’s work,” as opposed to the nine- or ten-hour days then prevalent.
Why May 1 is chosen is not clear. Among other things, it happened to be the date of the traditional May Day spring festival, celebrated in Europe (and parts of the U.S.) since medieval times. But other American labor groups had earlier suggested other days, such as the Fourth of July.
(click here to continue reading The Straight Dope: Does May Day actually commemorate the birth of the Illuminati?.)
Coincidentally–although some would say it’s no coincidence–May 1 is also the date that a secret society called the Illuminati was founded in 1776 by a Bavarian university professor named Adam Weishaupt. Although the group’s precise aims are a little murky, the Illuminati were apparently dedicated to the abolition of organized religion and the nation-state–in short, they were anarchists. Such ideas were not uncommon at the time; Enlightenment thinkers like Rousseau had vaguely similar notions.
By and by it occurred to Weishaupt that he could multiply his influence by infiltrating existing lodges of Masons. The Masons, themselves a secret society, seem to have originated in England, and by Weishaupt’s time were well established throughout Europe. Although they were decentralized and had no overriding political program, the Masons had attracted a fair number of freethinkers, who to some extent took advantage of the group’s clandestine character to discuss Enlightenment ideas. Masons were suspected of being anticlerical, and had been condemned on several occasions by the Catholic Church.
Weishaupt’s minions succeeded in gaining influential positions in many Masonic lodges in Germany, Austria, and elsewhere. Characteristically, though, only the top leaders of the Illuminati knew the full extent of the group’s radical plans. Weishaupt, who claimed to have been inspired partly by the Jesuits, set up an elaborate hierarchy complete with secret signs, ceremonies, and codes in which members were gradually given additional knowledge as they rose in rank.
Eventually, though, some of the Illuminati quarreled, and disgruntled ex-members went to the authorities with lurid stories. In 1785, the alarmed Elector of Bavaria ordered both the Illuminati and the Masons suppressed. Numerous incriminating papers were confiscated and later published throughout Europe, creating a widespread panic that secret societies were plotting the violent overthrow of all civilization. This probably would have died down eventually, except for one thing: on July 14, 1789, the Bastille fell to a Paris mob, and the French Revolution began.
We now take leave of Reality, and enter the twilight world of Total Paranoia. Not much is known about what happened to the Illuminati after 1785. Some of them went underground, and several may have been involved in various plots over the following few years. Whatever the truth of the matter, rightists began churning out an immense volume of books and pamphlets blaming the Illuminati for . . . well, just about everything.
(click here to continue reading The Straight Dope: Does May Day actually commemorate the birth of the Illuminati?.)
Another new neighbor:
CHICAGO-Summit Design + Build LLC is underway on construction on City Winery Chicago, a fully operational urban winery and tasting room, restaurant with outdoor wine garden, concert hall and private event space at 1200 W. Randolph St. in the West Loop. The building is a former refrigerated food distribution warehouse built in the early part of the 20th century, is being renovated into a 33,000-square-foot contemporary winery and hospitality facility. Opening is scheduled for August.
(click here to continue reading GlobeSt.com – Duke Signs Leases for Three Industrial Tenants – Daily News Article.)
Still too high if you ask me1
Samuel Zell, the real-estate mogul behind the disastrous leveraged buyout that plunged Tribune Co. into bankruptcy, came out the biggest loser in an inter-creditor fight over expected payouts from the Chapter 11 proceeding.
Judge Kevin Carey of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Del., found Mr. Zell’s investment ranked dead last in the Chapter 11 payment priority competition, “at the bottom of Tribune’s capital structure.” Mr. Zell’s claims are junior to $759 million of claims from holders of the so-called Phones notes, the judge said.
Mr. Zell has labeled the Tribune LBO “the deal from hell.” The two-step transaction in 2007 piled an additional $8 billion in debt on the publishing and broadcasting operation, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy less than a year later. Tribune publishes the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and other newspapers as well as TV stations.
(click here to continue reading Sam Zell Ranks Last Among Tribune Creditors – WSJ.com.)
- or numerous people who work, or once worked, for Mama Tribune [↩]
The retail space in R+D 659 has never been leased in the history of the building – it has sat vacant since 2006. Especially since there will not be a garage here, I’m happy to have Fiat as a neighbor.
Fiat of Chicago hopes to open its 12,900-square-foot dealership at 647 W. Randolph St. by July, says Carmelo Scalzo, who will co-own the dealership with his father Antonio Scalzo. They chose the location, on the ground floor of the 15-story R+D 659 condo tower, largely because of its location next to the highway, Carmelo Scalzo says.
After 28 years away from the U.S., Milan-based based Fiat SpA, which also owns Chrysler, began selling its Fiat 500 model here last year and has already opened dealerships in the suburbs. Since its American return, the company has rolled out a publicity blitz including television advertisements featuring Jennifer Lopez and Charlie Sheen. Fiat of Chicago aims to generate its own attention with visibility and easy accessibility to hundreds of thousands of drivers a day.
“With the right signage, that’s about the heaviest traffic there is in Chicago,” says Greg Kirsch, principal at New York-based Newmark Knight Frank, who represents retail tenants in Chicago but was not involved in this deal. “It kind of follows what Mercedes did on North Avenue. That was a good example of taking advantage of the expressway traffic. The rental income from billboards alone can be tens of thousands of dollars a month, so why not use the high visibility and make it convenient for the customer at the same time?”
The Scalzos already own and operate Volvo of Oak Park. They sought out the Fiat brand because Antonio Scalzo worked as a Fiat technician in his native Calabria, Italy, before coming to the U.S. and eventually owning his own Fiat and Alfa Romeo dealership in Berwyn and later Maywood. “It was an opportunity for my father to get back to his roots with Fiat and Alfa Romeo,” Carmelo Scalzo says. “We’ve been pursuing it for a couple of years, and with our history and heritage they thought we’d be a good fit.”
The younger Mr. Scalzo says he plans to sell 600 Fiats a year out of the dealership, which would give it one of the highest volumes in the country. When the higher-end Alfa Romeo brand returns to the U.S. in 2013 or ’14, those sports cars will become available in the Chicago showroom, he says. That will create price ranges from about $16,000 for the Fiat 500 to more than $60,000 for some Alfa Romeos, Mr. Scalzo says. Fiat of Chicago will have a bright, red-and-white showroom — or “studio,” as the company calls it — with high ceilings. It will not have a service garage.
(click here to continue reading Fiat dealer, parking on Randolph, aims to turn heads on Kennedy – News – Crain’s Chicago Business.)
Maybe the Scalzos want to purchase some Chicago-esque photographs to hang in their showroom?
Warm, indeed. Abnormally warm in fact, and not just in Chicago
Records are not only being broken across the country, they’re being broken in unusual ways. Chicago, for example, saw temperatures above 26.6°Celsius (80°Fahrenheit) every day between March 14-18, breaking records on all five days. For context, the National Weather Service noted that Chicago typically averages only one day in the eighties each in April. And only once in 140 years of weather observations has April produced as many 80°Fahrenheit days as this March.
Speaking at a high-dollar Chicago fundraiser hosted by Oprah Winfrey as the city basked in June-like weather last week, President Barack Obama admitted to being “a little nervous” about global warming: “We’ve had a good day,” Obama said. “It’s warm every place. It gets you a little nervous about what’s happening to global temperatures. But when it’s 75 degrees in Chicago in the beginning of March it gets you thinking … ” “Something’s wrong,” Oprah interjected. “Yeah,” Obama said. “On other hand we really have enjoyed the nice weather.”
(click here to continue reading Record Heat Wave Grips US. But Is It Climate Change? | Mother Jones.)
I wonder why Maria Pappas is tied in so closely to the scum at the Heartland Insitute? I’ve voted for her in the past, but would have to reconsider that in the future. She’s probably about to switch parties in any case, and join the Tea Baggers.
Heartland also planned to spend $210,000 to help Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas tour the nation to speak about municipal debt, according to one document. Pappas lost to Barack Obama in the 2004 Democratic primary for a U.S. Senate seat. Pappas confirmed this in a phone interview, saying what Heartland was doing was exposing a “financial tsunami” of municipal debt.
(click here to continue reading INFLUENCE GAME: Leaks show group’s climate efforts.)
from the DeSmogBlog documents:
We [Heartland Institute] have tried in the past to host half-day (or shorter) programs in state capitals, with mixed success. We plan for eight such events in 2012, with some of them perhaps using Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas as a draw…
Maria Pappas, Cook County (IL) Treasurer, has discovered that municipalities and other taxing districts in Cook County are much deeper in debt than is widely understood, or even understood by elected officials in Cook County. She has documented a looming financial crisis, driven largely by employee pension and health care promises, that could have catastrophic results for residents and businesses in the county. She warns that other counties in the U.S. are probably facing similar disasters. She’s eager to speak out on the issue not only in Illinois, but nationwide.
Heartland has agreed to work with Treasurer Pappas’s staff and other allies on three things:
(a) a research and publishing effort that results in one or more Heartland Policy Studies that factcheck, report, and interpret the Treasurers’ findings,
(b) a national communications campaign consisting of distribution of the studies, news releases, op-eds, and other promotional activities, and
(c) a national speaking tour featuring Treasurer Pappas, perhaps with events in state capitals held in conjunction with our allies in a dozen or half-dozen states. We anticipate that this project will cost about $210,000. The anonymous donor has pledged $105,000 toward this project. We are circulating a proposal to potential donors.
We don’t yet know exactly what Ms. Pappas and her buddies were going to say, but odds are it won’t be a liberal position. In the same document (PDF), Heartland also plans to:
- circumvent the FDA and get drugs approved without study
- continue to spread lies about climate change, and fund scientists without morals to do so
- Operation Angry Beaver – support incumbent Governor Scott Walker in his bid to avoid recall in Wisconsin
- Push for more “Charter” schools
- Outreach to the 1 Percenters in the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and other bankers, and libertarian-friendly financiers
- Get their anti-climate change agenda taught in K-12 school systems
- Push for more hydraulic Fracking
and others. None of these projects are for the betterment of humanity, just for enrichment of the few. Sad to note that a member of the Democratic Party and the current Cook County Treasurer is a fellow traveller with the Heartland Institute.
Pleased to read of these projects going forward despite the city’s budgetary woes. Investing in infrastructure is nearly always worth the expense, in the long run.
Several major projects remain on the city’s lakefront docket, aiming to complete the makeover that began nearly a decade ago and create an unbroken, 3-mile stretch of green jewels. Up first is a do-over for Navy Pier. Remade just a decade and a half ago for $225 million, the current version is widely seen as a pavement-heavy, retail-dominated tourist trap.
The new scheme, shaped by the pier’s owners and Gensler design, envisions new green spaces, sculptures and pools to go along with a redesign of the shopping arcade and family pavilion. A design competition is underway. Several favorites – including Rem Koolhaas, Zaha Hadid and local architect and recent MacArthur “genius” winner Jeanne Gang – have already been eliminated.
The finalists, announced a couple months ago, include James Corner, designer of the High Line, the Danish firm BIG, and Chicago up-and-comer UrbanLab, which won several awards for its visionary Growing Water proposal a couple years ago.
The winning design is to be announced in mid-February, after a public viewing period of the finalists’ proposals, starting February 2. The project, which is scheduled for completion for the pier’s 100th anniversary, is budgeted around $200 million.
Just west of the pier, the Navy Pier Flyover is set to begin construction this year at a cost of $50 million. An elevated overpass for bikers and pedestrians, the flyover will increase safety and reduce the bottleneck on the busiest section of the lakefront trail, near Grand Avenue and Lake Shore Drive. Plans also include ramps and pathways leading to the pier itself and nearby DuSable Park.
A new section of Grant Park is also in the offing. New York architecture firm Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates has laid out a detailed plan for the $30 million remaking of the park’s north end, expected to begin this fall. It includes a climbing mountain, a skating ribbon, rather than a rink, and a handful of meandering trails, green spaces and sculptures. The work should be completed in 2015.
(click here to continue reading A Green Revolution in Chicago – Design – The Atlantic Cities.)
and slightly more on the Grant Park project:
Long-awaited designs for renovating north Grant Park finally were unveiled at a recent meeting conducted by Gia Biaggi, director of park planning for the Chicago Park District. The meeting was one of several public gatherings sponsored by the Grant Park Conservancy (GPC) and the Chicago Park District (CPD) over the last 18 months.
The project will transform Grant Park between Randolph and Monroe Streets and from Columbus Drive east to the Cancer Survivors Garden. It grew out of the need to replace the interior of the Monroe Garage, which supports Daley Bicentennial Plaza. With the garage closed, workers have almost completed the interior work. In Phase II, they will repair the garage roof; because of its position below the park and beneath the plaza, they must remove almost 20 acres of park land to complete this phase.
“We decided on a new park design because of this,” said Bob O’Neill, GPC president. “We will begin breaking ground in the fall of 2012 and remove the garage when summer is over. Hopefully, they’ll start doing the park in 2013 and open in the spring of 2015. It’s an enormous project, but to do it right, we can’t do it any faster.”
The park will offer a variety of unusual amenities, to make it attractive to as many people as possible. The project budget is about $30 million, but O’Neill would like it increased by another $20 million from corporate and private sponsorship. Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, the landscape architecture firm chosen to design the project, strives for environmentally sustainable landforms offering “fluidity.”
One amenity under consideration is a waterfall that would become a wall of ice in winter. Van Walkenburgh explained his philosophy that a park can provide more than a network of paths by introducing rolling landforms that create diverse usage; have naturalistic planting; mitigate noise, wind, and sun for comfort; and offer untraditional play areas for children.
He wants to make “one of the very best playgrounds that America has” for kids in North Grant Park. Besides the traditional swings and play equipment, he plans to create innovative play spaces using green materials and nature to encourage exploration and imagination and add diversity to children’s enjoyment. The firm will fill the park predominantly with green space, water, natural materials, and landforms winding around and flowing naturally through the park.
Sculptures scattered throughout the winding paths will enhance the experience. North Grant Park will be both active and passive.
The active area will allow visitors to interact with the environment, explore nature, and “roll in the grass and play in the snow,” Van Walkenburgh said. The current design includes a climbing wall and ice skating; a circuit of trails will allow people of all ages to wander among trees and engage in imaginative play.
Passive enjoyment will come from benches allowing visitors to rest, observe, and “feel one with nature,” he said. “The intention is to mix it up and give people choices.” Van Valkenburgh noted the park’s urban component, an important feature that will offer cafes, beer gardens, green markets, and places where people of all ages can gather.
(click here to continue reading Gazette Chicago » Officials reveal Grant Park renovation plans to public.)
The bike trail gets pretty funky by Navy Pier, especially on a warm, summer day, so this is good news.
The Navy Pier Flyover, a proposed overpass that’s been touted as a safety boon for bikers and pedestrians on the heavily-traveled lakefront trail, is slated to get a big chunk of money that could make the project a reality.
The proposal envisions a half-mile bridge that would deliver walkers and pedalers across the Chicago River and over a thorny intersection at Grand Avenue and the lower level of Lake Shore Drive. Just west of Navy Pier, the junction is widely known as a magnet for high-risk traffic, channeling thousands of day commuters and tourists by the hour.
Running 18 miles in total, the trail begins at Hollywood Avenue on the city’s North Side and reaches down to 71st Street on the South Side. But the area near Navy Pier is one of the busiest parts of the whole path, and most in need of help, according to Chicago Department of Transportation spokesman Brian Steele.
The flyover project, passed before the city’s plan commission in February, currently touts a price tag of $49.1 million. Part of that bill could be footed if the proposal makes its way into the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program, a federally-funded reimbursement initiative that is managed by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning and aimed at tackling transit-pollution issues in the region. CMAP, which oversees infrastructure and transportation projects in Northeastern Illinois, is considering forking over $11.3 million to help with the construction of the bridge in two phases. That’s just one of 350 applications — totaling requests of over $1.8 billion — that the agency is currently reviewing. The program has between $350 and $400 million dollars to dole out for projects running through 2016.
(click here to continue reading Congested lakeshore path could get cash for a revamp near Navy Pier | News | Skyline.)
Following up on my whine about not enough snow this winter, and too much rain, Tom Skilling writes:
Chicago received a hefty 3.84 inches of precipitation (water content) from Thanksgiving through January 2, almost all of it falling as rain. With temperatures around 30 degrees, the typical conversion from water equivalent precipitation to snow is about 10:1, so the 3.84 inches would convert to 36-40 inches of snow.
That is about as much as Chicago receives in an average winter. In a colder environment — with temperatures in the lower 20s — the water-to-snow ratio increases to about 15:1. That would theoretically yield between 55 and 60 inches of snow.
(click here to continue reading ASK TOM WHY: With all the rain we’ve had since Thanksgiving, what would the accumulation of snow have been if the temperature was around 30 degrees? – Chicago Weather Center.)
Now, four to five feet of snow would be enough snow that I’d be whining about summer instead…
It isn’t just my feeling this winter has been unusually mild, there are facts to support my contention:
Friday’s rain is just another of the meteorological oddities which have marked December 2011. The month, now running a 7.4-degree surplus and ranked among the mildest 12 percent of all Decembers on record over the past 141 years, is also, along with cities all over the Midwest, in the midst of a snow drought here. The month, typically Chicago’s third snowiest with 8.5 inches of snow and just behind January’s 10.8 inches and February’s typical 9.1 inches, is marching toward a midnight Saturday night close with only 1.7 inches of snow to its credit. That’s an amount which is one fifth (20 percent) the so-called “normal” tally for the month and just 10 percent of last December’s 16.2-inch total.
Lakefront hits 50-degrees Thursday; O’Hare tops out way above normal at 48-degrees, marking the 18th day at or above 40 this December. Mild Pacific-origin air swept into the area Thursday, sending Wednesday’s arctic chill with its 31-degree high packing. Readings Thursday afternoon surged 17-degrees higher, topping out at 48-degrees at O’Hare and Midway. Northerly Island on Chicago’s lakefront managed a 50-degree high. The reading was Chicago’s warmest in 10 days and marked the 18th time this month that temperatures have made it to 40-degrees.
(click here to continue reading Clocks tick toward December’s Saturday night close with just 8 percent of last year’s snow on the books – Chicago Weather Center.)
I’ve made a (mental) bargain with Chicago’s weather – I won’t complain about winter’s lack of sunlight, and general dreariness, if, and only if there is substantial snow for me to play in, and photograph. Despite Tom Skilling’s report of 1.7” of snow so far this winter, downtown Chicago has less than that. In fact, only once was any building dusted with a smidgen of snow, and it melted by the following day. Rain is difficult to photostroll in, at least with my current camera equipment.
Gee, thanks, Mayor Daley and your rubber-stamp city council! Privatization strikes again…
While Chicago’s infamous parking meter lease deal quietly celebrated its third anniversary the first week of December, the city was releasing documents chronicling more evidence the privatization of the city’s more than 36,000 parking meters turned out to be more costly for taxpayers than originally imagined.
Financial statements, released by the Chicago Inspector General’s office via their Open Chicago government transparency initiative, reveals what many critics of the lease deal had feared–the city would end up owing or paying Chicago Parking Meters, LLC millions of dollars in compensation when any sort of change or activity by the city impacts parking meter revenue for the company.
Financial statements for the company show that CPM has billed the city an additional $2,191,326 in “True-up Revenue” through the end of 2010.
As the notes from the independent auditor’s report by accounting firm KPMG LLP to the financial statements explains:
“The Company has an agreement with the City, whereby, the Company receives compensation from the City in accordance with the Agreements in the event that the City implements changes to the System, which reduces the Company’s revenues (True-up Revenue).”
These same notes reveal the city owed CPM $533,290 in True-up Revenue for 2009 and $1,658,036 for 2010.
(click here to continue reading Parking Meter Firm Bills City Another $2.1 Million | theexpiredmeter.com.)
Street festivals seem to be the biggest culprit:
According to the over 500 pages of contract with CPM, these events could include any situation which would require the city to remove a metered space from the system (installing a loading zone, moving a bus stop, etc.), or if a tax on metered parking is imposed by the city, or when metered parking is temporarily out of commission during a closure.
While removing a metered space is usually handled by adding another space or spaces elsewhere in the city to compensate CPM, the most likely culprit for this over $2 million is street closures.
Closure is defined as anytime metered parking is taken out of commission for a prolonged period of time due to any street work, be it to replace a broken water main, for street repairs or resurfacing or even for a street festival.
Under the terms of the lease, any time this occurs above an annual allowance, CPM can file a claim for the loss of potential revenue due to street closure.
But wait, there’s more indignity!
Last week Chicago Parking Meters, LLC sent the City a bill for $13.5 million in revenues they lost from motorists with handicapped parking placards parking for free in metered spots. Today our friends at The Expired Meter report the company also sent the City a bill for an extra $2.1 million in what they call “true-up revenue” related to street closures.
Our analogy comparing the parking meter deal to herpes becomes even more apt.
(click here to continue reading Parking Meter Company Bills City for Street Closures: Chicagoist.)
Incredible news, if it ends up being completed in my lifetime. Even if only some is completed, it will help filter out pollution from Gary, Indiana, and elsewhere from reaching downtown Chicago.
The largest urban park in the contiguous United States is coming to Chicago.
A new project, backed by at least $17 million from the state, aims to turn 140,000 acres of under-used and post-industrial land along the Second City’s southern rim into a public recreation hub called the Millennium Reserve.
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn hopes to add private funding to the project, figuring the reserve will boost the economy and create hundreds of jobs. Environmental groups have been calling for a makeover for the Calumet region for years. “The Millennium Reserve Plan represents the first viable, large-scale attempt to protect and enhance the Lake Calumet area through an integrated, cooperative approach to land and resource management,” the Sierra Club of Illinois said in a statement.
In comparison, New York’s renowned Central Park is a mere 843 acres. In fact, New York City itself has four or five parks larger than Central Park, depending on who’s counting. Still, its attractions include a zoo and wildlife center, a lake, a concert arena and a world-class restaurant, as well as an endless list of film locations.
Chicago’s largest existing park is Lincoln Park, a 1,200 acre lakefront stretch of ball fields and open space that includes a conservatory, a nature museum and a popular zoo. Though partially outside the city, the Millennium Reserve will put it to shame, upon completion. The first phase is scheduled to open in a few years.
(click here to continue reading A Plan for America’s Largest Urban Park – Jobs & Economy – The Atlantic Cities.)
I hope they utilize their learnings from the creation of Henry Palmisano Park in Bridgeport.
The largest open space project in the country is coming to the South Side of Chicago. The project aims to transform 140,000 acres of brownfields and other under-utilized land in the Calumet region into the Millennium Reserve — a public recreation hub teeming with plants, wildlife, trains and parks. The effort draws from President Barack Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative and state resources.
“Our state – we’re putting in $17 million in this mission of reclaiming land and building a special place of nature conservation,” Ill. Gov. Pat Quinn said Friday.
The announcement was made near 111th Street and the Bishop Ford Highway. Quinn said the hope is to leverage private money into the overall project. Local officials also say Millennium
Reserve will bring economic development and jobs to the area. The first phase won’t be finished for several years.
Environmental groups applauded the announcement and the project’s aims; for years several advocacy organizations have clamored for restoration and greenways.
In a statement, the Sierra Club of Illinois said: “The Millennium Reserve Plan represents the first viable, large-scale attempt to protect and enhance the Lake Calumet area through an integrated, cooperative approach to land and resource management by multiple state, local and federal agencies, as well as non-governmental organizations and the local economy.”