Despite the underlying threat of contracting COVID-19 aka the Trump Flu, I voted in the primary today.
The process was simple – it took me longer to walk to the polling location1 than it did to actually exercise my voting franchise.
I checked in, signed my name and address, using my own pen, gave my piece of paper to one clerk of the dozen or so, all of who were keeping several feet from each other, got my ballot smart card, went to the touchscreen. Again, there were enough voting machines that nobody was close to anyone else. Filled out my ballot, checked it twice, printed it out, and went to the optical scanner. Easy, peasy.
More than just the president is on the ballot, as is always the case. I am interested in my Congressman losing in the primary, as I think it is time for fresh blood. I’ve had a Google alert for my Congressman for years, and he seemingly does nothing newsworthy most months. In fact, sometimes it will be years before I read any tidbit of news with his name. Sad, really. What does he do all day? I assume he does some work, and he seems like a pleasant enough man on a personal level, but I would be pleased if he was no longer my Congressman.
[Danny] Davis faces a similar push for new blood in the 7th Congressional District, which spans from west-central suburban Hillside all the way to Lake Michigan, making it one of the most economically diverse in Illinois. He was elected to his seat in 1996, after having served for nearly two decades on Chicago’s City Council and then the Cook County Board of Commissioners.
Davis’ opponents criticize him for missing a lot of votes, saying he’s no longer effective. One of his young challengers, Clark, a veteran and teacher from Oak Park, identifies as a Democratic Socialist and has been pushing a heavily issues-oriented campaign. Clark snagged the endorsement of the Sun-Times. Kina Collins, a community organizer for health care policy, has aligned with the newly elected alderman of Woodlawn, who’s been pressuring the Obama Presidential Center for a community benefits agreement. Another Davis challenger, Schanbacher, is a human rights lawyer from Streeterville. She already has the endorsement of three downtown and lakefront aldermen in Chicago and the west suburbs.
In 2013, Lake Michigan reached its all-time recorded low, forcing ships to carry less cargo and leaving docks high and dry. Now, just seven years later, the lake is approaching its all-time high. Earlier this month, waters from a January 11 storm tore up the lakefront path, temporarily shut down portions of Lake Shore Drive, and forced the permanent closure of three Rogers Park beaches, which will now be covered with protective riprap.
Dan Egan, a Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reporter and author of The Death and Life of the Great Lakes, gave a talk at the Harold Washington Library four days after that storm. He spoke about climate change’s contribution to the lake’s rapid fall and rise, and why this is particularly threatening to low-lying Chicago. This week, I spoke with Egan about that same topic in more depth.
Fascinating interview, worth a read. One snippet that has been haunting me a bit:
EM: Over the years, Chicago built its shoreline outward into Lake Michigan using thousands of acres of landfill. Would we still have these problems if we had our original, natural shoreline?
I think the problems would be worse. Chicago was kind of a sag. It was lowland. It was built up — that’s why Chicago is where it is. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to put three more feet of water into that lake. Just think: we’ve been up six feet since 2013. What if we went up six feet from 2020?
EM: Then all the lakefront streets are underwater.
It would seem. But they already were when the storm came in a couple weeks ago.
EM: Could we end up back down six feet, if we don’t have a polar vortex and we go back to the evaporation we were having?
It could go down further than that. At five feet above the long-term average, we armor the coast, then all of a sudden it shrinks back ten feet. That riprap at Howard Beach, what’s that going to look like if the lake goes down? Do you go in and pull it out?
It’s a visionary idea for beautifying Chicago and lifting a community’s property values whose time has never come.
But might it come at last? There’s still an allure here for making no little plans, even if they are arguably unwise.
The idea is the Kennedy Expressway cap, a green oasis that could be built on a deck over the highway as it cuts its swath west of downtown. It would cover that unsightly traffic, diminish its roar and provide open space for a West Loop region that teems with new residents, offices, hotels and restaurants. Think of it as Millennium Park replicated about a mile and a half west.
Capping the Kennedy is a notion that’s been out there for years, always with a dream-like quality to it. It was included in the city’s 2003 Central Area Plan, its first comprehensive look at the downtown region since 1958, and it also was featured in a 2009 “action plan” update that cheerily set a goal of completing it by 2020.
As a friend said on Twitter, Chicago covered up lots of railroads, why not highways too?
Seems like I’m not the only to think those thoughts:
I was at a meeting last week called by Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. (27th) and the West Loop Community Organization where residents offered comments about a new hotel and apartment tower connected to an office building on the block just west of the Kennedy between Washington and Randolph streets. People liked the project overall, but talk inevitably turned to traffic management and lack of park space for an area that now has many young families. Residents said the closest parks, Mary Bartelme and Skinner, can be overrun. That’s when Burnett brought up capping the Kennedy. I asked him about it later. He said the project could tap into funds in his ward’s tax increment financing districts that may be close to expiring. “If we don’t use it, we lose it,” he said. “That money has to be distributed back to all the taxing bodies, so let’s use it while we can.’’
Sarver said he still believes in the cap. If the experience of Millennium Park is a guide, the Kennedy cap “would generate billions in tax revenue for the city. It would be wonderful. That stretch of roadway is a real fissure in our city.’’ He said other cities, such as Dallas, have done well by relegating a highway to a tunnel and creating attractive public space above it.
“I think this really would be the kind of project that TIF dollars were intended for,” Sarver said.
The cost? Sarver estimates it at $50 million per block. If you did the stretch between Randolph and Adams streets, that would get you to $200 million. Others may suggest capping only two or three blocks.
The West Loop and Fulton Market has drastically changed in recent time, but there is dearth of greenspace. More greenspace is more better…
Boeing employees mocked federal rules, talked about deceiving regulators and joked about potential flaws in the 737 Max as it was being developed, according to over a hundred pages of internal messages delivered Thursday to congressional investigators.
“I still haven’t been forgiven by God for the covering up I did last year,” one of the employees said in messages from 2018, apparently in reference to interactions with the Federal Aviation Administration.
The most damaging messages included conversations among Boeing pilots and other employees about software issues and other problems with flight simulators for the Max, a plane later involved in two accidents, in late 2018 and early 2019, that killed 346 people and threw the company into chaos.
The employees appear to discuss instances in which the company concealed such problems from the F.A.A. during the regulator’s certification of the simulators, which were used in the development of the Max, as well as in training for pilots who had not previously flown a 737.
“Would you put your family on a Max simulator trained aircraft? I wouldn’t,” one employee said to a colleague in another exchange from 2018, before the first crash. “No,” the colleague responded.
In another set of messages, employees questioned the design of the Max and even denigrated their own colleagues. “This airplane is designed by clowns, who are in turn supervised by monkeys,” an employee wrote in an exchange from 2017.
In several instances, Boeing employees insulted the F.A.A. officials reviewing the plane.
In an exchange from 2015, a Boeing employee said that a presentation the company gave to the F.A.A. was so complicated that, for the agency officials and even himself, “it was like dogs watching TV.”
Several employees seemed consumed with limiting training for airline crews to fly the plane, a significant victory for Boeing that would benefit the company financially. In the development of the Max, Boeing had promised to offer Southwest a discount of $1 million per plane if regulators required simulator training.
Boeing has a real mess on its hands. Any future aircraft malfunction already has plenty of evidence of malfeasance ready to be presented in court.
Would you feel comfortable flying a Boeing 737 Max? I know I wouldn’t.
Boeing “expresses regret” about the communications being made public. Err, their PR team told them to say this:
Boeing on Thursday expressed regret over the messages. “These communications contain provocative language, and, in certain instances, raise questions about Boeing’s interactions with the F.A.A. in connection with the simulator qualification process,” the company said in a statement to Congress. “Having carefully reviewed the issue, we are confident that all of Boeing’s Max simulators are functioning effectively.”
“We regret the content of these communications, and apologize to the F.A.A., Congress, our airline customers and to the flying public for them,” Boeing added. “The language used in these communications, and some of the sentiments they express, are inconsistent with Boeing values, and the company is taking appropriate action in response. This will ultimately include disciplinary or other personnel action, once the necessary reviews are completed.”
With principal tenants signed up, the developer of a mixed-use project on the block east of Halsted Street between Randolph and Washington streets said he hopes to start construction this summer and finish the complex in three years.
Related, one of Chicago’s most active developers, is proposing a 550-foot-tall tower at 725 W. Randolph St. with an Equinox hotel and fitness club, plus 370 apartments. The Washington side, currently a Bank of America branch, would get a 250-foot-tall office building. Bailey said Bank of America and a Soul Cycle fitness club will anchor that building’s retail portion.
A four-story building at 737 W. Randolph St., home to the Haymarket Pub & Brewery, would be kept.
Three long years of construction related irritations with traffic flow, contractors skirting laws, clouds of diesel smoke, extra wear and tear on the local infrastructure and so on. Can’t wait to be woken up at 6:30 AM some Saturday mornings with the sound of pile drivers or whatever.
Finishing touches were made Monday on a yellow brick road in the Humboldt Park neighborhood to commemorate L. Frank Baum, who lived in the neighborhood when he wrote “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” and other Oz books.
Spanning 200 feet of the sidewalk at the corner of Humboldt Boulevard and Wabansia Avenue, the brick road surrounds a group of affordable housing town houses managed by Bickerdike Redevelopment Corp. that are on the site where Baum lived when he wrote the children’s novel in the late 19th century.
Bickerdike also plans to install a tile mosaic mural on a low wall engraved with a line from the movie adaptation of the novel: “There’s no place like home.”
I need to go there one sunny afternoon and take some photos.
I didn’t know this when I moved to Chicago, but my grandfather lived in an apartment in Humboldt Park. I have always meant to take my own photo of the specific address (1627 North Humboldt Boulevard, Chicago, IL).
Cannabis is legal for adults to consume in Illinois as of this morning. Amazing. I’d visited Amsterdam for a week in early 1990s, so I knew it was theoretically possible for governments to allow citizens the freedom to chose whether to consume plants, but I did not think it would happen in America in my lifetime. Happy to be proven wrong.
The Chicago Tribune reports:
Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton purchases edible gummies as Sunnyside Lakeview opens in the first minutes of legal recreational marijuana in Illinois.
Dispensary employees at Rise took orders from customers outside in line to speed up the process. There were outdoor heaters, and free coffee hats and gold bead medallions.
The dispensary also hired a steel drum player to play outside, adding a little “Red Red Wine” to the proceedings.
and this is among the good outcomes to Democrats winning elections:
On the day before recreational cannabis becomes legal in Illinois, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced he was pardoning more than 11,000 people who had been convicted of low-level marijuana crimes.
“When Illinois’ first adult use cannabis shops open their doors tomorrow, we must all remember that the purpose of this legislation is not to immediately make cannabis widely available or to maximize product on the shelves, that’s not the main purpose, that will come with time,” Pritzker said to a crowd at Trinity United Church of Christ on the Far South Side. “But instead the defining purpose of legalization is to maximize equity for generations to come.”
The 11,017 people pardoned by Pritzker will receive notification about their cases, all of which are from outside Cook County, by mail. The pardon means convictions involving less than 30 grams of marijuana will be automatically expunged.
Pritzker and other elected officials said they believe Illinois is the first state to include a process for those previously convicted of marijuana offenses to seek relief upon legalization of cannabis.
They began lining up at 2 a.m. in the cold, with fold-up chairs and blankets in tow. By 6 a.m., when Dispensary33 in Andersonville opened, the line, composed of people from all corners of the city and beyond, stretched for more than five blocks.
Trevor Seyller of Lakeview was first in line to buy legal recreational weed as it went on sale for the first time in Illinois. He waited four hours in temperatures below freezing for “the fun of it” — and for history.
“It’s been a long time coming, this is an historic moment,” Seyller said.
Charlie Wells drove three hours from Madison, Wis. to be among the first few in the line. He said he skipped celebrating New Year’s Eve to take part in the state’s legalization of recreational marijuana.
“It’s the end of prohibition and it’s a lot safer than drinking,” Wells said. “I’m here because my state doesn’t have it yet.”
Dispensary33 — named for 1933, the year the prohibition on alcohol was lifted — is located at 5001 N. Clark St. To help patrons battle the cold, Dispensary33 put out a few propane heating lamps along the Argyle Street.
Personally, had plans to go join the party and photograph people in line, but decided to wait until tomorrow or even next week to visit a dispensary. My days of being an all day smoker are long gone. Don’t get me wrong, I plan on purchasing something from a dispensary in the near future, but I didn’t feel enthusiastic enough to brave the below-freezing weather to be first in line or anything. By spring, the supply shortage should be addressed, presumedly.
Kudos to Illinois! Time to queue up the Reefer songs!
Before Frank Lloyd Wright became an internationally-recognized name in the world of design, the architect spent many years in Oak Park, Illinois, designing homes for Chicago-area residents. Wright got his start working for the famed Sullivan & Adler firm from 1888 to 1893, and it was under the tutelage of Louis Sullivan specifically that Wright began to explore the elements that would eventually lead to the Prairie School movement. For the rest of the 1890s and the first decade of the twentieth century, Wright continued to live and work in Oak Park and designed dozens of structures here.
Oak Park’s federally designated Frank Lloyd Wright/Prairie School of Architecture Historic District boasts the world’s largest collection of Wright-designed homes, and by studying his work in Oak Park, we can get a good read on the architect’s evolution.
For fans looking to explore on their own, here’s a rundown of the 25 buildings in Oak Park that were designed or remodeled by Frank Lloyd Wright. Map points are listed by direction, starting from the north and heading south.
In honesty, I don’t know much about Paul Vallas’ campaign for Mayor, but any idiot who spam texts me at 12:33 AM should not be allowed near public office. There is now zero chance I will vote for this jerk.
I always thought that Sam Zell was the worst owner the Chicago Tribune ever had, but Michael Ferro seems much worse.
Several months after taking control of the troubled Tribune Publishing Co. in 2016, Chicago investor Michael Ferro convened a session of corporate leaders from within his own news empire, including chief news executives from such storied papers as the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune and The Baltimore Sun.
The group of about 20 people trooped from Chicago’s iconic Tribune Tower on Michigan Avenue to an upscale restaurant nearby. In a private room, participants dined on seafood and steak while Ferro, then the company’s chairman, held forth on his plans.
His own net worth was newly in the nine figures. Associates and peers say Ferro held ambitions that were wide-ranging, even audacious, given the newspaper industry’s stiff headwinds.
At the dinner, as at other moments, Ferro railed against those who he felt were impeding him — including perceived rivals and competitors. Among them: the Southern California billionaire and civic leader Eli Broad, whom Ferro called part of a “Jewish cabal” that ran Los Angeles.
Early this year, however, Tribune Publishing made the first in a series of secret payments to total more than $2.5 million to avert a threatened lawsuit filed by a fired newspaper executive, according to three people with knowledge of the deal. That had the effect of keeping Ferro’s anti-Semitic slur out of the public spotlight.
The company agreed to secretly pay Maharaj more than $2.5 million, in installments, according to three people with knowledge of the pact. That financial obligation was not disclosed in corporate filings to shareholders and analysts. The payments started in the first quarter of this year, for which Tribune Publishing reported a net loss of $14.8 million. The loss was attributed to the company’s decision in December 2017 to pay Ferro $15 million in consulting fees even as he served as chairman and was the company’s controlling owner.
Even as the company cut back jobs in traditional newsrooms, Levinsohn and other executives acted to create a separate staff apart from the LA Times and its other newspaper properties. He planned to draw upon outside writers, some uncompensated or who would even pay for the privilege of being associated with the newspapers’ brands. Plans included a consolidated entertainment website called LA.com and the outsourcing of Washington coverage to the digital news service Axios. Neither of those initiatives came to fruition. (LA.com still says “coming soon.”) But the digital strategy, gravitas with scale, sparked distrust among journalists.
The kicker is Michael Ferro still owns 25% of the Tribune, or what’s left of it as Ferro’s hand picked lackies furiously fire writers and jack up executive compensation to pull whatever profits they can off while the Tribune still exists.
City nears takeover of North Side rail line, in move to create new public transit route.
Chicago is close to assuming control of abandoned railroad tracks that run through Goose Island, a key step toward creating a public transit route along the Chicago River on the city’s North Side.
On Wednesday, the City Council is expected to vote to take over rights to the Chicago Terminal Railroad line. The former freight train route could eventually become part of a transit way for buses or trains that the city wants to create from the edge of Lincoln Park and Bucktown to commuter trains at Ogilvie Transportation Center.
The route would boost public transportation options between downtown and an area of the North Side expected to see a dramatic influx of residents and office workers. The plan has the potential to reduce traffic and relieve crowding on the CTA’s Red, Blue and Brown Line trains.
A trip from Lincoln Yards — on land along the river between Webster and North avenues — to Ogilvie could take as little as 12 minutes under the preliminary plan, said Ald. Brian Hopkins, 2nd, whose ward includes much of the proposed transit route.
In the wake of a vote to approve a sale that would reportedly pave the way for the largest condos-to-apartments conversion in Chicago to date, a group of condominium owners in the River City complex have filed suit to block the more than $90 million sale, accusing the condo association board of working with the would-be buyers to essentially target and bribe certain unit owners to persuade them with secret “side deals” to vote to approve the sale.
The collection of condo owners, including owners on both sides of the vote to sell the South Loop condo complex to developer Marc Realty, filed their complaint in Cook County Circuit Court on Oct. 3 through attorneys with the firm of Chuhak & Tecson, of Chicago.…
According to the River City owners’ complaint, River City voters rejected two initial offers from Marc Realty for about $83.1 million and $92.2 million, respectively. In December 2017, unit owners appeared to approve a sale worth $100 million, with 79 percent of owners voting yes.
However, in May, Marc Realty terminated the sale, and then came back with an offer worth $90.5 million. About 77 percent of owners purportedly approved the sale at the lower purchase price in balloting that closed at the end of August.
However, opponents of the sale cried foul, and, according to the complaint, conducted an audit of the votes cast. They assert their audit indicates the purchase deal actually received only 72 percent of the vote.
Further, they alleged their information indicates the River City board worked with Marc Realty to hold the vote open, even though more than 90 percent of owners had voted, to allow the buyer to “bribe” as many as 35 owners with “additional consideration not set forth in the contract,” to change their votes from no to yes.
The complaint asserts this maneuver stands as a violation of the law, and should invalidate the vote, which they said “was the result of substantial misrepresentations .. to induce the owners to vote against their best interest.”