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Climate Change and Cities

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99 in the Shade
99 in the Shade

I moved to Chicago in 1994, and the heat-wave of 1995 surprised me. I was used to living in extreme heat in Austin, several of my cheap apartments didn’t have air conditioning. But Chicago was not culturally or politically prepared to deal with the heat of that summer. This year’s heat-wave was taken a lot more seriously by city officials, as Eric Klinenberg reports:

the most visible human drama of climate change is happening in cities. Cities are not merely the population centers where dense concentrations of people are trapped and exposed during dangerous weather events. They are also “heat islands,” whose asphalt, brick, concrete and steel attract the heat while pollution from automobiles, factories and air-conditioners traps it. City dwellers experience elevated heat at all hours, but the difference matters most at night, when the failure of high temperatures to fall deprives them of natural relief. For the most vulnerable people, these “high lows” can be the difference between life and death.

Americans began to take urban heat seriously after 1995, when a record-breaking heat wave — three days of triple-digit heat — baked Chicago. Ordinarily, heat waves fail to produce the kind of spectacular imagery we see in other disasters, like earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes and floods. Heat doesn’t generate much property damage, nor does it reveal its force to the camera or naked eye. Heat waves are invisible killers of old, poor and other mostly invisible people. Until the summer of 1995, medical examiners and media outlets often neglected to report heat-related deaths altogether.

But the great Chicago heat wave changed things. It caused so much suffering that at one point nearly half the city’s emergency rooms closed their doors to new patients. Hospitals were not the only institutions stretched beyond capacity by the heat. Streets buckled. Trains derailed. The power grid failed. Water pressure diminished. Ambulances were delayed.

There were “water wars” in poor neighborhoods, where city workers cracked down on residents who opened fire hydrants for relief. There were surreal scenes at City Hall, where members of the mayor’s staff declined to declare a heat emergency, forgot to implement their extreme heat plan and refused to bring in additional ambulances and paramedics.

And there was Mayor Richard M. Daley, telling reporters: “It’s hot. It’s very hot. But let’s not blow it out of proportion,” while the morgue ran out of bays and the medical examiner had to call in a fleet of refrigerated trucks to handle the load. When the temperatures finally broke, 739 Chicagoans had died as a result of the heat wave.

Chicago learned from the disaster, and today it is a national leader in planning for the next acute heat emergency. The city compiles a list of old, isolated and vulnerable residents, and public workers contact them when dangerous weather arrives. City officials and community organizations promote awareness and encourage residents to check in on one another. The local news media treat heat waves as true public health hazards. Everyone knows how perilous the new climate can be.

Unfortunately, Chicago keeps getting reminders. In the early July heat wave, despite its improved emergency response system, Chicago reported more heat deaths than any other city or state. And this week the Union of Concerned Scientists released “Heat in the Heartland,(PDF)” a study that reports an increased incidence of dangerous hot weather throughout the Midwest in the past 60 years, including elevated evening temperatures and more heat waves lasting three days or longer. Along with Chicago, the report singles out St. Louis, Detroit, Minneapolis and Cincinnati as being at risk, but also cites public health research predicting more heat waves in towns and cities throughout the Midwest and Northeast.

(click here to continue reading Is It Hot Enough for Ya? – NYTimes.com.)

Help Me Make It Through The Night
Help Me Make It Through The Night

Rising temperatures are not just a concern for the future. Dangerously hot weather is already occurring more frequently in the Midwest than it did 60 years ago.

The report, Heat in the Heartland: 60 Years of Warming in the Midwest, presents an original analysis of weather data for five major urban areas — Chicago, Cincinnati, Detroit, Minneapolis, and St. Louis — as well as five smaller nearby cities.

The results from the analysis are clear: Hot summer weather and heat waves have been increasing in cities in the nation’s heartland over the last six decades on average. The report documents this trend, explores its health implications, and looks at what the largest cities are doing to adapt to these changes and protect their residents.

High temperatures can lead to dehydration, heat exhaustion, and deadly heat stroke. Very hot weather can also aggravate existing medical conditions such as diabetes, respiratory disease, kidney disease, and heart disease.

Urban populations, the elderly, children, and people with impaired health and limited mobility are particularly susceptible to heat-related illness and death.

(click here to continue reading Heat in the Heartland: The Growing Health Risks of Heat Waves and Hot Summer Weather in the Midwest (2012) | Union of Concerned Scientists.)

Now if only someone could come up with a good (non-financial) reason for the Tea Party and other GOP factions to support a national policy dealing with climate change…

Written by Seth Anderson

August 5th, 2012 at 8:21 am

Mitt Romney’s campaign is attempting to link Barack Obama to the corruption of Chicago-style politics of a different era

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Whatever Gets You to the Light
Whatever Gets You to the Light

Amusingly, Jacob Weisberg has much the same reaction as I did to the nonsense phrase: Chicago Style politics, but expresses his disdain a bit more forcefully, in an article that begins…

If I hear one more person accuse the Obama campaign of practicing “Chicago-style politics,” I’m gonna kick all his nephews off the park-district payroll.  I’m gonna send some precinct captains over to straighten him out. Mitt Romney and his surrogates don’t understand what Chicago-style politics means. No one seems to have told them that it’s been gone for 25 years. And they don’t get that Barack Obama, in his Chicago days, never had anything to do with it.

Chicago-style politics, in common parlance, refers to the 1950s-1970s era of the Richard J. Daley machine. If you want to read a great, short book about that world, I recommend Boss by Mike Royko. The strength and durability of the Daley machine was its ethnically based patronage network, a complex system of obligations, benefits, and loyalties that didn’t depend on televised communication with a broader public.  It was a noncompetitive system that in its heyday had a lock on urban power and the spoils that went with it.

One of the most memorable phrases from that era comes from a story often told by former White House Counsel Abner J. Mikva, who described attempting to volunteer on a local campaign in the late 1940s.

“Who sent you?” asked the cigar-chomping 8th Ward precinct captain.

“Nobody sent me,” replied Mikva. “We don’t want nobody nobody sent.”

The machine was dominated by the Irish and centered in Bridgeport, the rough-and-tumble neighborhood that was the ancestral home of the Daleys. Bridgeport’s antithesis has always been the liberal, multicultural enclave of Hyde Park, the University of Chicago neighborhood where the Obamas—and Bill Ayers—live. (The other thing the precinct captain told Mikva was, “We don’t want nobody from the University of Chicago in this organization.”) Hyde Park’s 5th Ward was the only one out of 50 to elect an independent alderman until the late 1960s, when political reformers like my parents and their friends on the North Side began to challenge the Daley machine. 

By the mid-1980s, the independents had mostly finished off the Daley machine—thanks mainly to the Shakman decree, still very much in force, which prevents any political consideration in hiring, firing, and promotion, with the exception of a thin layer of policy positions. This meant that when Harold Washington, a black machine politician turned reformer, was elected in 1983, he controlled only a few hundred city and county jobs, instead of the 35,000 Daley had at his disposal. By the time the younger Richard M. Daley was elected mayor in 1989, the Chicago machine was, like the Italian Mafia, more legend than force. Chicago-style pizza still exists. Chicago-style politics, equally deplorable in my view, no longer does. 

(click here to continue reading Mitt Romney’s campaign is attempting to link Barack Obama to the corruption of Chicago-style politics of a different era. – Slate Magazine.)

Written by Seth Anderson

July 24th, 2012 at 8:38 am

Posted in Chicago-esque,politics

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Chicago Style Politics is Ancient History

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The Written Word A Lie
The Written Word A Lie

Whenever I hear a bloviator utter the phrase, “Chicago-style politics”, I stop listening to what they are trying to say. Richard J Daley died in 1976, and so did his “style” of politics. Richard M Daley’s style did  not depend upon the same ruthlessness, nor does Barack Obama demonstrate any of the same traits. Seriously, read a book about him, like “Boss” or something by Mike Royko.

Not that facts get in the way of political campaigns…

With Chicagoan Barack Obama in the White House and his hometown famed for cutthroat politics, it was perhaps inevitable that rivals would seize on guilt by geography to try to discredit him.

The city’s latest star turn as villain to Republicans began in recent days as Mitt Romney, Obama’s all-but-certain challenger in November, fumed while Democrats intensified attacks on his finances, tax returns and record as a private equity manager.

“Chicago-style politics at its worst,” the former Massachusetts governor and Bain Capital founder declared in a refrain quickly picked up by his campaign surrogates.

Ed Gillespie, a former Republican National Committee chairman, accused the Obama campaign of using “classic Chicago-style politics” to try to splatter mud over Romney’s credentials.

To Rove, the attacks on Romney were “gutter politics of the worst Chicago sort.”

Former New Hampshire Gov. John H. Sununu took it further: “Can you imagine coming out of Chicago politics, where ‘politician’ and ‘felon’ are synonymous? You’ve got two governors in prison today,” he told CNBC, conflating the misdeeds of Chicago Democrat Rod R. Blagojevich with those of downstate Republican George Ryan.

Dennis Goldford, an expert on presidential politics at Drake University in Des Moines, said the Republican imagery was an attempt to insinuate that Obama is a disciple of a throwback big-city political organization built on muscle and seediness.

“It strikes me as odd, because Obama was really not part of that old-style Chicago machine,” Goldford said, adding that the strategy seems geared toward swaying older voters who remember lore about the Richard J. Daley era in Chicago.

“But for college students, history is yesterday,” he said.

Politically, there’s less risk for Republicans in ripping Chicago than virtually anywhere else in the country. The city votes reliably Democratic, and Chicagoans have been known to take a perverse pride in their city’s tough-guy political reputation.

Even Obama has played it up in the past. During his 2008 run for president, he quoted from the movie “The Untouchables,” in which Sean Connery describes the “Chicago Way”: “He pulls a knife, you pull a gun.”

And without question, Chicago has seen a goodly share of high- and low-profile officials and operatives shipped off to prison over the decades, and Republicans would like to prod voters into thinking that some of that dirt surely must have rubbed off on Obama.

But political wrongdoing knows few geographic bounds. On a per-capita basis, North Dakota endured more than twice as many federal corruption convictions as Illinois over the last decade, according to Justice Department data. And politicians don’t complain about North Dakota-style corruption.

Chicago may be in the cross hairs of conservative political stereotyping because of Obama, but the city has company.

San Francisco, home of House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and a hotbed of liberal causes, is often referred to in sneering tones on the campaign trail. Boston and its environs get picked on as a nest of effete intellectuals, even by Romney — who holds two Harvard degrees, served as Massachusetts governor and maintains his official voting address there. The spin is that if Romney can govern successfully in Massachusetts, he can do so anywhere.

Still, bashing Chicago has developed into something of a reflex among partisan finger-pointers. Some hail from parts of the country with less than pristine political reputations themselves.

In Louisiana, a City Council candidate from suburban New Orleans in March accused a rival of stealing a political consultant, and said that such “Chicago-style tactics will backfire,” according to media reports.

(click here to continue reading On campaign trail, Chicago’s a popular villain – latimes.com.)

Blago Jogging on May Street
Blago Jogging on May Street

We’ve discussed1 which state is the most corrupt, and by most measures, Illinois isn’t even in the top2 ten, despite what is frequently shouted on television. And yes, even though Illinois has had several governors sent to prison, Illinois still isn’t the worst.

For instance:

The stories go on and on. Open records laws with hundreds of exemptions.  Crucial budgeting decisions made behind closed doors by a handful of power brokers. “Citizen” lawmakers voting on bills that would benefit them directly. Scores of legislators turning into lobbyists seemingly overnight. Disclosure laws without much disclosure. Ethics panels that haven’t met in years. 

State officials make lofty promises when it comes to ethics in government. They tout the transparency of legislative processes, accessibility of records, and the openness of public meetings. But these efforts often fall short of providing any real transparency or legitimate hope of rooting out corruption. 

That’s the depressing bottom line that emerges from the State Integrity Investigation, a first-of-its-kind, data-driven assessment of transparency, accountability and anti-corruption mechanisms in all 50 states. Not a single state — not one — earned an A grade from the months-long probe.  Only five states earned  a B grade: New Jersey, Connecticut, Washington, California, and Nebraska. Nineteen states got C’s and 18 received D’s. Eight states earned failing grades of 59 or below from the project, which is a collaboration of the Center for Public Integrity, Global Integrity, and Public Radio International. 

The F’s went to Michigan, North Dakota, South Carolina, Maine, Virginia, Wyoming, South Dakota, and Georgia.  

(click here to continue reading State Integrity Investigation overview: 50 states and no winners – State Integrity Investigation.)

Footnotes:
  1. but I’m too lazy to look through my vast archives at the moment []
  2. bottom?? []

Written by Seth Anderson

July 24th, 2012 at 6:44 am

Posted in Chicago-esque,politics

Tagged with ,

Chicago train system: Called the L not the El

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Station hopping shuffler
Station hopping shuffler

Since I was looking for this Chicago Transit Authority citation recently, I’m posting it here so I can find it easier in the future. Proper usage is important, especially if you know there is a proper usage.

As far as I could tell, Grid Chicago didn’t actually make this a blog post, but their Twitter conversation was picked up by a few outlets, including the Chicago Tribune:

You may have wondered, as you climb aboard a CTA train: Are you about to ride the “El” or the “L”?

Grid Chicago, a blog devoted to energy-conscious transit issues in the city, asked on its Twitter feed last week which usage people prefer — the single “L” or the longer “El.”

Among the responses came one from the official CTA Twitter account:

That’s not to say the “El” isn’t used, despite the fact that only parts of the city’s rail system are elevated. Time Out Chicago, a publication devoted to covering arts and entertainment in the city, is among those preferring “El.”

“El” can also be found in some book references. For instance, in his 1947 collection “The Neon Wilderness,” Chicago author Nelson Algren refers repeatedly to the “El.”

“She put her hat on the dresser and sat by the window, looking out at the night-fuming neon all the way down Congress to the El,” Algren writes at one point. Though, in fairness, some credit (blame?) East Coast editors for changing the usage.

(click here to continue reading Chicago train system: Is it the L or the El? – Chicago Tribune.)

I’ve had a few of my photos published by Grid Chicago – they are good people, and have a good mission. Check ‘em out…

Written by Seth Anderson

June 30th, 2012 at 9:03 am

Posted in Chicago-esque

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Wolf Point complex

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Wolf Point 1832
Wolf Point 1832

I follow news of this proposed new construction at Wolf Point quite closely as it is only a few blocks from me. The current plan calls for 1,200 parking spots – which means an area with limited traffic flow is going to get more congested. Additional feet of river walk areas will be pleasant. Ideally, there would be just a huge park right there instead, but that’s not realistic. I’m neutral on the proposed plan – I’m sure it will change a bit before the buildings are completed.

I’m also pleased that the developers are not requesting public subsidy dollars to build it, at least at the moment.

Chi developers give first glimpse of proposed buildings
Developers-give-first-glimpse-of-proposed new buildings

Blair Kamin of the Trib mostly likes it:

Touting what would be downtown Chicago’s largest new real estate development since the 2008 financial crisis, representatives of the Kennedy family and three financial partners are providing the first glimpse of a proposed three-tower office and apartment complex on a historic but long-underutilized site along the Chicago River.

The project, whose cost is pegged at more than $1 billion, calls for a slope-roofed office building of 925 feet, which would be Chicago’s eighth-tallest structure. Another office building and an apartment high-rise would bring the project’s combined square footage to nearly 3 million square feet, more than the biggest skyscraper of the boom years, the 2.6-million-square foot Trump International Hotel & Tower.

The plans, made public at a community meeting Tuesday called by Ald. Brendan Reilly, 42nd, and attended by more than 300 people, are for the triangular Wolf Point parcel to the southwest of the Merchandise Mart. The Kennedys sold the Merchandise Mart in 1998, but still control Wolf Point, once home to pioneer taverns, a hotel and trading posts.

…the new project, whose developers are not requesting a public subsidy, would dwarf River Point. Its highest tower, whose prow-like edge would jut toward the river at Wolf Point’s south end, would rise to a height of 925 feet.

The other office tower, projected to be 700 feet tall, would occupy the site’s eastern flank, next to the Merchandise Mart.

Completion of the skyscrapers, which would be marketed to law firms, corporations, professional service firms and tech firms, is not envisioned until 2018 for the south tower and 2020 for the east tower.

(click here to continue reading Developers give first glimpse of proposed complex at Wolf Point at junction of Chicago River branches – Chicago Tribune.)

Wolf Point
Wolf Point

Kevin Dickert of Curbed Chicago adds:

Kenig, Lindgren, O’Hara, Aboona (KLOA) conducted the traffic study on behalf of the developer. In collaboration with CDOT, it focused on six intersections. Without delving into too much detail, the study concluded that area traffic will be negatively impacted by the addition of these buildings. However, the added congestion will be mitigated to some degree by the site’s proximity to a myriad of transit options. The CTA stop at Merchandise is within a few blocks. The Olgilvie Transportation Center is less than a mile away. And there are numerous CTA buses routes. KLOA suggested alternatives such as biking to work or using car-sharing programs to lessen traffic impacts.

Here are some other tidbits we gleaned from the meeting: The project will create an investment of over $1 billion in Chicago. It will add around 1,000 feet of riverwalk. Landscape architects want to reorient the riverwalk so that pedestrians are not separated from the immediate riverside by a layer of foliage, as is currently the case. To this end, a bulkhead will be installed. We were assured that no parking structures will be visible. There are also plans for terraced seating with grasses and plantings similar to the portion of riverwalk at State and Wabash. Lastly, before the development can proceed, a change must be made to the existing zoning governing the property. Jack George, real estate attorney working on the project, said he plans to file the amendment with City Council today.

(click here to continue reading Renderings Revealed and More at Wolf Point Meeting – Development Update-O-Rama – Curbed Chicago.)

Streaking Home
Streaking Home

Evening at Wolf's Point
Evening at Wolf’s Point

Take What You Think Will Last - Copper Blue
Take What You Think Will Last – Copper Blue

Written by Seth Anderson

June 1st, 2012 at 9:00 am

Joe Ricketts Finds New Role in Anti-Obama Campaign

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Gotta Support the Team!!
Gotta Support the Team!!

I assume Mayor Emanuel, or his staff, reads the New York TImes, and so any iota of a chance of taxpayer money for Wrigley Field renovation is gone, thankfully. Also telling that Mitt Romney cannot seem to control his own party, or else Willard is too big of a coward to say publicly what he says privately to Tea Party donors.  

Mr. Ricketts is continuing to play a provocative role in the effort to defeat Mr. Obama.

He is involved in another effort slated for this summer, a documentary film based on a widely criticized book, “The Roots of Obama’s Rage” by Dinesh D’Souza, which asserts that Mr. Obama is carrying out the “anticolonial” agenda of his Kenyan father.

Mr. Ricketts’s aides said he was one of roughly two dozen investors, providing only 5 percent of the film’s budget. But his involvement shows how the more strident attacks against Mr. Obama, which Mr. Romney’s aides view as counterproductive, continue to find backing even as the Republican Party and the Romney campaign seek to keep the focus on the economy.

The episode involving the proposed Wright advertisement put new attention on the ability of wealthy donors, working with groups independent of the candidates, to shape the presidential race, and stoked further debate about whether outside groups were driving politics to become increasingly negative.

It also made Mr. Ricketts, who founded TD Ameritrade and is the patriarch of the family that owns the Chicago Cubs, the subject of intensive scrutiny and left his family’s business empire exposed to political backlash. He has refused several interview requests since The New York Times obtained a copy of the proposed Wright campaign. He is not affiliated with the Romney campaign, although he shares a legal adviser with Mr. Romney in Ben Ginsberg, the prominent Republican lawyer in Washington.

(click here to continue reading Joe Ricketts Finds New Role in Anti-Obama Campaign – NYTimes.com.)

Written by Seth Anderson

May 26th, 2012 at 8:31 am

Posted in Chicago-esque,politics

Tagged with ,

President Bronislaw Komorowski of Poland visits Chicago

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Polish Alma Mater
Polish Alma Mater

I’ve often heard people say Chicago has a large Polish population, seems as if it is true. With numbers like this, of course there is diversity of opinions…

[President Bronislaw] Komorowski, who made his first visit to Chicago for the NATO summit, also met briefly with Mayor Rahm Emanuel. At a meeting with the Tribune’s editorial board, the president said the nearly 1 million Polish-Americans in Chicago — the largest population outside Warsaw — are an asset, and the city should take advantage.

During a morning visit at the Polish Consulate, Komorowski saw two opposing sides of how some Polish-Americans in Chicago view his government — one by young professionals who want to forge stronger ties with their homeland and another by older immigrants who want his party kicked out of office.

While Poland leads European countries in economic growth, Chicago and the rest of the U.S. have not kept pace with other foreign investors in his country, Komorowski said. Putting his own spin on a famous statement by President John F. Kennedy, he told the young professionals: “Ask not what Poland can do for you. Ask what you can do for Poland.”

Komorowski encouraged the 35 college students and other young adults to take an active role in shaping relations between the U.S. and Poland. He urged them to lobby politicians for policy reforms, such as the Visa Waiver Program, and to consider running for office themselves.

“I see a climate here that I dream of in Poland,” Komorowski said. “You have a great attitude, independence and ambition.”

Several of the young professionals said they wanted the president to know that they support Poland and value their Polish heritage as well as their American citizenship.

“We wanted to introduce the president to a perspective of what Polish-Americans look like today, not just immigrants but second and third generations that are interested in their community and giving back as well,” said Agnes Ptasznik, 30, an assistant Illinois attorney general who attended the event. “Their parents and grandparents had to take hard jobs, and they invested in them, and it paid off.”

(click here to continue reading President Bronislaw Komorowski of Poland visits Sen. Mark Kirk – chicagotribune.com.)

Not all his visit was dumplings and pierogis though…

Music and Dancing
Music and Dancing

As he sat among the successful lawyers, doctors and business people invited by Polish Consulate General Zygmunt Matynia, about 50 older Polish-Americans gathered on the sidewalk outside the office in the Gold Coast neighborhood, waving Polish flags and chanting “traitor.”

The protesters are among a group of Poles and Polish-Americans who contend that the 2010 plane crash in Russia that killed Polish President Lech Kaczynski and 95 others, including his wife, was no accident but an assassination. They claim that Komorowski, whose opposing party won in a runoff election afterward, has stood in the way of an international investigation.

“They don’t represent the true Poland,” said Casey Panek, an 80-year-old Salem, Wis., resident who left Poland more than 40 years ago. “There are too many (communist) agents in the government in Poland. It’s not completely red, but it’s pink.”

Written by Seth Anderson

May 25th, 2012 at 7:53 am

Posted in Chicago-esque,politics

Tagged with , ,

Did She Get the Job?

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I wonder if she got the job? What did the job interviewer make of this interaction? Did they believe who they were talking to?

Rahm on the CTA

Rahm on the CTA

I hope this is real, and not posed, nor Photoshopped, because I love it. Look at the woman’s expression, and the woman sitting behind her… 

 As far as still mingling with us commoners, Mayor Emanuel still rides the L to City Hall, sometimes anyway…

Yes folks, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel still is riding the “L.” In fact, he says he rides the Brown Line twice a week from his home in Ravenswood Manor.

(click here to continue reading Mayor Rahm: King of the “L” | CTA Tattler.)

Written by Seth Anderson

May 24th, 2012 at 10:45 pm

Posted in Chicago-esque

Tagged with ,

Ricketts family Screws Up

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 Chicago Cubs

Chicago Cubs

Talk about stupid moves: the New York Times reported today that Joe Ricketts, founder of TD Ameritrade, and patriarch of the family that owns Wrigley Field, is planning to spend at least $10,000,000 on attack ads targeting President Obama, bringing up old smears, and doing whatever nasty tricks the PAC can come up with to defeat Obama.

 Except that the Chicago Cubs are trying to get money from former Obama Chief of Staff, and current Chicago Mayor, Rahm Emanuel, to pay for renovations on Wrigley Field. Ooops.

The Cubs are trying to work out a deal with the city that would involve using $150 million in city amusement taxes for a $300 million renovation of Wrigley Field.

The presidential campaign issue was widely viewed as threatening to upend the delicate talks between the family and city and state government. A mayoral aide said Emanuel was furious when he read about the anti-Obama ad proposal.

At City Hall, it did not go unnoticed that part of the Ricketts family is asking for taxpayer support while gearing up to spend millions on a presidential campaign. The mayoral aide described that as hypocritical.

The Emanuel aide said the Ricketts family has tried to contact Emanuel to discuss the situation, but the mayor declined the overture. Publicly, Emanuel did not have an immediate comment on how the effort by Joe Ricketts might affect those talks. “I’ll have some conversations on that later — comments rather,” Emanuel said.

(click here to continue reading Ricketts family moves to control fallout on Obama attack ad – chicagotribune.com.)

Assholes. I hope they don’t get a single dime of taxpayer money. In fact, the city ought to use the power of eminent domain, and seize control of the stadium until the Ricketts divest from it. Sell the Cubs to Mark Cuban, he’s much smarter than these tone-deaf idiots. 

Las Vegas Showgirls
Las Vegas Showgirls

The media buy for the proposal (source document here – PDF) includes advertising on Meet the Press, Face the Nation, the History Channel, the Weather Channel, TNT, Anderson Cooper’s show on CNN, Fox and Friends, of course, aerial banners to fly over the Democratic Convention in Charlotte, blanketing the Charlotte airport with 15 screens running this clap-trap four times an hour, full page 4-Color newspapers ads, and more. 

No Corporate Welfare for The Ricketts

more from the NYT on the Rickett plan:

Timed to upend the Democratic National Convention in September, the plan would “do exactly what John McCain would not let us do,” the strategists wrote.

The plan, which is awaiting approval, calls for running commercials linking Mr. Obama to incendiary comments by his former spiritual adviser, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., whose race-related sermons made him a highly charged figure in the 2008 campaign.

“The world is about to see Jeremiah Wright and understand his influence on Barack Obama for the first time in a big, attention-arresting way,” says the proposal, which was overseen by Fred Davis and commissioned by Joe Ricketts, the founder of the brokerage firm TD Ameritrade. Mr. Ricketts is increasingly putting his fortune to work in conservative politics.

The $10 million plan, one of several being studied by Mr. Ricketts, includes preparations for how to respond to the charges of race-baiting it envisions if it highlights Mr. Obama’s former ties to Mr. Wright, who espouses what is known as “black liberation theology.”

The group suggested hiring as a spokesman an “extremely literate conservative African-American” who can argue that Mr. Obama misled the nation by presenting himself as what the proposal calls a “metrosexual, black Abe Lincoln.”

A copy of a detailed advertising plan was obtained by The New York Times through a person not connected to the proposal who was alarmed by its tone. It is titled “The Defeat of Barack Hussein Obama: The Ricketts Plan to End His Spending for Good.”

The document, which was written by former advisers to Mr. McCain, is critical of his decision in 2008 not to aggressively pursue Mr. Obama’s relationship with Mr. Wright. In the opening paragraphs of the proposal, the Republican strategists refer to Mr. McCain as “a crusty old politician who often seemed confused, burdened with a campaign just as confused.”

“Our plan is to do exactly what John McCain would not let us do: Show the world how Barack Obama’s opinions of America and the world were formed,” the proposal says. “And why the influence of that misguided mentor and our president’s formative years among left-wing intellectuals has brought our country to its knees.”

The plan is designed for maximum impact, far beyond a typical $10 million television advertising campaign. It calls for full-page newspaper advertisements featuring a comment Mr. Wright made the Sunday after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. “America’s chickens are coming home to roost,” he said.

The plan is for the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., to be “jolted.” The advertising campaign would include television ads, outdoor advertisements and huge aerial banners flying over the convention site for four hours one afternoon.

The strategists grappled with the quandary of running against Mr. Obama that other Republicans have cited this year: “How to inflame their questions on his character and competency, while allowing themselves to still somewhat ‘like’ the man becomes the challenge.”

Lamenting that voters “still aren’t ready to hate this president,” the document concludes that the campaign should “explain how forces out of Obama’s control, that shaped the man, have made him completely the wrong choice as president in these days and times.”

(click here to continue reading G.O.P. ‘Super PAC’ Weighs Hard-Line Attack on Obama – NYTimes.com.)

Look, if Papa Ricketts wants to attack the president with his own TD Ameritrade money, well, I don’t like it, nor their moronic intentions, but I don’t object. However, the Ricketts simultaneously having their hands out to take my tax money is just wrong, and I hope Mayor Emanuel tells them to fuck off, in those words.  If I had a TD Ameritrade account, I’d close it right away. You should close yours right away.

Written by Seth Anderson

May 17th, 2012 at 3:51 pm

Mayor Daley’s Legacy

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Picasso on The Cross
Picasso on The Cross

Eric Zorn lists a few of the problems Richard Daley left for his successor. There are others that could be added, such as the Silver Shovel investigations, or even the continued abuse of TIF monies for real estate developers, but that’s a post for another time, as these ten are pretty devastating when you consider the bad place the City of Chicago is in because of Daley.

Wednesday marks the anniversary of Mayor Rahm Emanuel tagging in for Daley, yet even at this chronological distance, the former mayor continues to be a looming baleful presence in the news, more a subject for fury than nostalgia.

Consider, in no particular order, these 10 things:  

1. Recent revelations that Daley took advantage of obscure provisions in the law not only to avoid more than $400,000 in pension contributions but also to boost his retirement pay to $183,778 a year.

2. News that the dreaded privatization of parking meters in 2008 was worse than we thought: Chicago Parking Meters LLC, which has been cheerfully jacking up rates since buying 75-year rights to meter revenue for $1.15 billion, is billing the city $14 million for the offense of taking meters out of service for repairs and other street closings, and pursuing an additional $13.5 million claim related to parking for the disabled.

3. Headlines announcing that Daley, who quickly burned through most of that $1.15 billion parking-meter payout in an effort to conceal a structural deficit in city finances, was hired by Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP, the law firm that — wait for it! — billed the city $663,000 for helping negotiate the parking-meter deal.

(click here to continue reading Change of Subject: Daley, a year later— No thanks for the memories.)

Mayor Emanuel
Mayor Emanuel

and this might be the worst:

5. The ever-growing realization that toward the end of his 22 years in office, Daley was frantically moving money around and playing budget tricks instead of taking on the painful job of resetting priorities to restore the city to fiscal health. “That set of choices has been avoided over the past decade,” said Emanuel one year ago of the $636 million budget shortfall he inherited.

“We cannot ignore these problems a day longer,” he said.

“Because of the appalling lack of stewardship by you-know-who,” he did not say.

Mayor Daley did some good things for the city, I won’t deny it, but at what cost? Is having a sparkling downtown worth all the corruption and crony capitalism?

Written by Seth Anderson

May 16th, 2012 at 7:45 am

Posted in Chicago-esque,government

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Chicago parking meter company wants more money from Chicago

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Put Money in the Parking Meter or else!
Put Money in the Parking Meter or else!

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.)

Written by Seth Anderson

May 4th, 2012 at 1:10 pm

National Train Day In Chicago

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300 S Jackson - Ilford Delta 100
300 S Jackson – Ilford Delta 100

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.)

Got the Wine Country Blues
Got the Wine Country Blues

Written by Seth Anderson

May 4th, 2012 at 8:22 am

May Day 2012 – Occupy Chicago – Haymarket

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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.)

In The Brightness of the Day
In The Brightness of the Day

Be A Non Violent Activist
Be A Non Violent Activist

Tuning Up - May Day 2012
Tuning Up – May Day 2012

#Occupy May Day 2012 at the Haymarket
#Occupy May Day 2012 at the Haymarket

Baby Blood - May Day 2012
Baby Bloc – May Day 2012

Chinese Delegation - May Day 2012
Chinese Delegation – May Day 2012

Stop Government Crimes
Stop Government Crimes

May Day Celebration - 2007
May Day Celebration – 2007

Occupy Barrier
Occupy Barrier

CPD on Bikes -May Day 2012
CPD on Bikes -May Day 2012

More photos here, or here (Flash)

Written by Seth Anderson

May 2nd, 2012 at 8:03 am

InterContinental Chicago aka Medinah Athletic Club

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InterContinental Chicago aka Medinah Athletic Club
InterContinental Chicago aka Medinah Athletic Club, originally uploaded by swanksalot.

South Tower, designed by architect Walter W. Ahlschlager. Click here for lightbox version.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/InterContinental_Chicago

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.

Written by swanksalot

May 2nd, 2012 at 7:49 am

Is May Day actually commemorating the birth of the Illuminati?

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May Day Parade
May Day Parade

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 

Rotating Snakes

Cecil replies:

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?.)

Drummers May Day
Drummers May Day

May Day 1995
May Day 1995

May Day
May Day

And then…

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?.)

Written by Seth Anderson

April 27th, 2012 at 7:39 am

Posted in Chicago-esque,religion

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