Thursday, July 31, 2008

Urban America: The New Solid South

An article of interest courtesy of Newsalert. Something to consider, if you must:
Ever since the 1930s, most urban areas have leaned Democratic. But in presidential elections, many remained stubbornly competitive between the two parties. As late as 1988, for example, Republican nominees won Dallas County and made strong showings in the core urban counties of Cook (Chicago), Los Angeles and King (Seattle).

Today, America’s urban areas have evolved into a political monoculture that increasingly resembles the “solid South” that provided a base for Democrats from the late 19th century to the 1960s. Since 1972, the year of the Nixon landslide, the Democratic share has grown 20 percent or more in most of the largest urban counties.

As a result, places where Republicans such as Ronald Reagan could once win a respectable share of the vote — including San Francisco, Philadelphia and New York City — by 2004 were delivering 80 percent or more to the Democrats. Even in the losing year of 2004, Democratic nominee John F. Kerry won almost every city of more than 500,000 people.
...
Race and income levels do not explain the emerging urban mono­culture, because the cause lies elsewhere: in the evolution of cities over the past four decades. The shift began in the late 1960s, when urban regions, from financial centers such as New York and Chicago to old industrial cities such as Detroit and Cleveland, began to suffer a massive exodus of predominantly white, middle-class residents.

This left behind an increasingly impoverished, highly minority population with very little proclivity to support conservative or even moderate Republicans. Today in some cities — mostly old industrial centers in the East and Midwest — this population remains dominant and is likely to vote in huge numbers for Obama. Most of these cities suffer poverty rates at least 50 percent higher than the national average.

At the same time, some other cities — such as New York, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Seattle and Portland — have done far better. They have done so by attracting a population of well-educated, white professionals. Pockets of this demographic, to be sure, also exist in some hard-hit industrial cities, but the new urban affluents tend to concentrate in cities with industries, such as financial services and media, that provide excitement and the prospect of high-wage employment in a glamorous setting.

Many new urbanites tend to be students or professionals enjoying city life during their first, highly experimental years of adulthood. At this point, they are most open to liberal ideas and causes; they have yet to worry much about taxes and crime, issues that drive people to the center. As they grow older, marry and raise families, many in this cohort — particularly those who do not ascend into the upper classes — leave the urban core for the suburbs or other more affordable regions.
Read the whole thing!

Guv downsizes construction plan

AP:
Lawmakers say Governor Rod Blagojevich has proposed ratcheting down the price tag of a statewide construction program and is abandoning a proposal to expand gambling to pay for it.

Top lawmakers who attended Thursday's meeting at Blagojevich's Chicago office say the capital plan would shrink from $34 billion to $25 billion.

It would be paid for in part by a partial lease of the state lottery rather than a large gambling expansion.

Representative Barbara Flynn Currie is already expressing skepticism about the lottery lease. She's a surrogate for House Speaker Michael Madigan, who skipped the meeting.
Also from the AP, Mayor Daley is about to be on his way to China to be a spectator for this year's summer olympics. No doubt a story because Chicago is a finalist to host the 2016 summer games.

Sincere or Sensationalizing

Sometimes this isn't a good thing, from the Daily Herald's Animal farm:

A year after a Minnesota bridge collapse sent people tumbling to their deaths, Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich reflects on the situation and uses it to try to prod approval of his $34 billion gambling-expansion-for-road-construction plan.

Here's the text of his announcement:

Governor Blagojevich recognizes anniversary of Minnesota bridge collapse

Governor applauds IDOT for diligence in keeping Illinoisans safe; emphasizes need for capital plan to address infrastructure needs

The governor doing what it is said he does best, govern by press release. Go over there to read the release itself. Via Capitol Fax! Read up on the continued negotiations on a capital budget.

95th CTA Terminal

I took some pictures around the terminal as I waited for a bus.


This is where you can catch a Greyhound bus. You can buy a bus ticket in the back of the station house here, where you can also board a 29 State CTA bus.
I should have attempted to capture people getting off a train that just pulled in from downtown. I should note that this was sometime in the morning.

Read another post about 95th Street here.

Free Grassroots training with Jesse Jackson Jr

From Prairie Blue State...
During the last six months of our work around the country, it became evident to us that potential activists who lived in cities did not have the opportunity to receive state-of-the-art political training. At 21st Century Democrats we believe that an essential component to Get-Out-the-Vote activities in urban areas is a trained force of people in precincts and wards who know how to speak to voters in their neighborhoods. We have been fortunate to work in partnership with Congressmen Jesse Jackson, Jr. & Alderman Sandi Jackson in Chicago to train activists in their communities.

Our plans call for training 500 urban activists in field skills such as targeting, door-to-door communications, canvassing, data collection and analysis, message development and other important elements for winning elections. We're excited about the political potential of all the people who have signed-up for these trainings. We look forward to working with everyone in the coming days and, of course, we strongly believe that these efforts will make our cities a better place to live in with equality for all.

Chicago, Illinois, with Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr.
Time and Date: 9 - 4pm, Saturday, August 2nd and 12 - 3pm Sunday Aug. 3rd
Venue: 1925 East 96th St; Chicago, Illinois
The training is free and you can RSVP here

Look at all this money!

With a hat-tip to Newsalert. The Sun-Times lists the campaign fund totals of all Chicago aldermen. Ranging from between $8 Million to $0. The man on top is Ald. Ed Burke of the 14th.

Last year when I covered the municipal elections on my own blog, I noted in this post at that time...
Why does Burke have over $6.5 million in his campaign fund when he doesn't even have an opponent?
Ultimately he did have an opponent whom he failed to keep off the ballot and that election turned into what might referred to in wrestling as a "sqaush" match. That race was incredibly one sided.

Still I have to wonder why should an alderman have $8 million in their campaign fund? I suppose for a local office even in a city the size of Chicago to be able to either win or hold a seat shouldn't require that much money, unless we go back to that post at Newsalert...
Very interesting.With $8 million that substantially more money than Mayor Daley's got. Alderman Burke has never had a real campaign opponent. Why would so many connected individuals contribute money to a single Alderman? Here is the proof that Ed Burke is the real boss of The Chicago Democratic Machine. He slates the judges and controls Chicago's tax code. Burke passes out the money and it appears many people want to give him some money.
So all that money has little to do with his position as an alderman. Perhaps it might be his role as the chair of the city council finance committee? Perhaps it might be related to his role as a Democratic committeeman?

Peraica giving back donations

News concerning the Cook County State's Attorney race from the Sun-Times:

One day after a Sun-Times story about political donations Cook County Commissioner Tony Peraica received from men with criminal convictions, Peraica announced he is giving the money back.

Peraica will return funds donated to him by the four men between 2001 and 2006. He accepted the donations before his current campaign for Cook County state's attorney, one of the county's top law enforcement jobs.

"It is true that my past campaigns did receive contributions from four citizens who ran afoul of the law. Because I believe the Cook County state's attorney should avoid even the appearance of impropriety, I will voluntarily return the $2,700," a statement from Peraica said.

One of the donors, Thomas Fazy, was murdered in 2004. Peraica will give his $400 donation to charity, spokesman Dan Patlak said.

Also Tuesday, Peraica demanded that his Democratic opponent, Anita Alvarez, return "more than 80" donations from employees of the state's attorney's office, where she has worked for 22 years.

Alvarez spokeswoman Sally Daly said the "small contributions" came from friends and co-workers.

Daley's plan makes more vehicles boot eligible

The city is trying to figure out how to plug a $400 million budget hole, enough for Daley to delay proposing a budget for the next fiscal year. So he's looking at using the revenue from parking tickets and essentially getting tough on those who amass tickets. You might get two tickets and get a boot under a proposal...

Motorists with just two delinquent parking or red-light tickets would face the dreaded Denver boot, under a revenue-generating plan introduced by Mayor Daley Wednesday that infuriated Chicago aldermen.

In 2002, City Hall raked in more than $8.2 million and wiped 242,000 old parking tickets off the books with a carrot-and-stick approach to scofflaws. A six-week parking ticket amnesty was followed by a three-ticket threshold for clamping on the boot. The previous trigger was five unpaid tickets.

Now that Daley is scrounging for every available dollar to plug a $400 million budget shortfall, he wants to lower the bar even further -- to two tickets. The move would generate "tens of millions" of dollars in added revenue, officials said.

OK, but here's some bellyaching and some support:

"Two tickets is not somebody being a scofflaw. You can have two tickets easily -- and need an extra month to pay them -- just by overparking on one location on one day," said Ald. Helen Shiller (46th).

"That's a big mistake. It's too low, and it's too punitive. If you weigh the revenue against the impact on people, I don't think it's worth it. It creates a huge hardship. People need their cars. They're already limiting [their driving] as it is because of gas prices."

At a time when consumers are struggling mightily with layoffs, home foreclosures and skyrocketing food and fuel prices, the city has no business "adding to the hardship" with an unrealistically low boot threshold, said Ald. Freddrenna Lyle (6th).

"There are many people who have to drive and, try as they might, they get tickets because of density of the neighborhoods they live in. They miss that meter by two or three minutes and that's a ticket. It's not like people are purposely trying to violate the parking laws," Lyle said.

"For us to reduce the booting [threshold] from three to two will certainly provide the city with additional revenue because you'll catch so many more of our constituents. But, that's not the way we should try to balance the budget."

Police Committee Chairman Isaac Carothers added, "People are struggling already trying to make ends meet. To go to two tickets may be going a little bit too far. Two tickets is an awfully [low number] to come out and boot somebody's car. ... It just seems like we're doing so much to squeeze people when they're already in bad shape."

Revenue Director Bea Reyna-Hickey countered that Chicago can no longer afford to give a pass to drivers with two unpaid tickets.

"When we booted on five tickets, motorists hovered at four. Now that we boot on three tickets, motorists continue to not pay two tickets. This is significant revenue that, for the most part, is over one year old. We need to do all we can to collect it. We know it's in the tens of millions of dollars," Hickey said.

Read the whole thing see what else might be affected by this attempt to generate revenue for the city.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

While legislators fight, people are losing their homes

Rich Miller's syndicated column on the issues going on in state government right now. He isn't likin' it and there's plenty of Godzilla pictures. If that blog link isn't good enough for you read it over at the Southtown.

James Meeks Suportts Publick Skools

A commentary by Dan Proft:
Supporting more money for the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is not the same thing as being a supporter of public education.

This distinction is lost on both the media and our political class as witnessed by PR stunts like the one pulled by Illinois State Senator James Meeks yesterday.

Meeks wants to bus Chicago public school students up to New Trier High School in Winnetka on the first day of school to protest the disparity in funding levels.

While it may be that per pupil expenditures for the Chicago Public Schools (roughly $11,000 per student) exceed the national average, exceed the state average and exceed the averages of each of the collar counties in the metropolitan region, Meeks believes that because another district is spending more then, by definition, Chicago is not spending enough.

Senator Jimmy One Note has conveniently chosen not to address the districts that spend considerably less for considerably better results and the Chicago media are polite enough not to press him on this matter.

Meeks has also been spared having to explicate how only 6% of Chicago public school students will go on to earn a bachelor's degree by the age of 25. That appalling result comes with a $4.6 billion annual price tag.
Something else worth reading!

City’s Black banks stable despite soft economy

Good news from the Chicago Defender:

But business at Chicago’s four Black-owned banks remains upbeat despite the IndyMac debacle, record foreclosures and a dwindling job market.

“I disagree with anyone who says the banking industry is in a downturn,” said Walter Grady, president and CEO of Seaway Bank and Trust Co. “The banking industry is strong, and Black banks are thriving here in Chicago and elsewhere. And even though a lot of banks are involved in sub prime loans, Seaway does not do sub prime loans. If we cannot get you qualified for a conventional loan, then we deny your loan request.”

Seaway, headquartered at 645 E. 87th St., is Chicago’s largest Blackowned bank with $350 million in assets.

Grady added that Seaway currently has a $40 million mortgage portfolio and advises anyone renting to continue renting if they cannot get a conventional loan such as one with a fixed interest rate.

Read the whole thing! Also check out this story in the Chicago Defender about local black owned businesses making the Black Enterprise 100 list.

Today's Chicago Blues

A blog that I discovered today as it was noted as Blogger's Blog of Note!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Constituent sevice part 2

Courtesy of The Uptown Update. A constituent seeks an appointment with Ald. Helen Shiller in the 46th Ward and was told that if she doesn't like her neighborhood to move out. Also says that this is not her college campus and that she was only there to kick out the poor people. Very bad form, but check out the comments!

50 New Crimes in the 7th Ward...

While Sen Obama was Healing Europe.

From the Chicago Daily Observer via Newsalert!

Seventh Ward: Under new leadership

You can see her appearance on Public Affairs here. And then you can read this Defender article, read the whole thing when you get a chance and here's a little excerpt:
A resident of the Seventh Ward for the last 15 years, Ald. Sandi Jackson saw economic development become too stagnant in the ward, and residents’ requests ignored by her predecessors, former Alds. William Beavers and Darcel Beavers.

Enough was enough, she said, and she waged a campaign to give the Southeast Side ward new leadership.

Jackson ousted Darcel Beavers with 57 percent of the vote in the February 2007 aldermanic election. Mayor Richard M. Daley had appointed Beavers to the post after her father, William, won his county commissioner post.

The ward includes the Calumet Heights, Jeffery Manor, South Chicago and South Shore communities, and borders the 5th and 8th Wards.

Jackson said there were many issues in the ward that needed to be taken care of before any other items could be handled. But first she had to lobby to keep the unused funds from the annual $1.2 million aldermanic menu money that neither Beavers exhausted.

“We’ve had streets repaved, light poles painted, steel garbage cans put on the streets and speed bumps put in alleys and around schools. The constituents have been asking for those things for years and couldn’t get them,” Jackson said as she took the Defender for a walk through the ward.

Blagojevich calls another meeting with lawmakers

From Daily Herald:
Gov. Rod Blagojevich wants to meet again with Illinois' top lawmakers to work out a compromise on a massive statewide construction program.

Blagojevich says he plans to meet with key lawmakers on Thursday. The governor says three of the four legislative leaders have agreed to participate, but he's still waiting to hear from House Speaker Michael Madigan.

Madigan has previously declined to meet with the governor, saying such meetings are unproductive. He usually sends a surrogate.

The governor has been touting a $34 billion program to rebuild roads, bridges, schools and more. Supporters say it also would allow Illinois to capture about $9 billion in federal matching funds.

Aldermen turn to game show host on pet measure

From Clout St:
Aldermen promoting an ordinance to mandate the spaying or neutering of all Chicago cats and dogs expect a little help Tuesday from Bob Barker, the retired host of “The Price is Right” TV game show.

Barker is an animal activist who used to sign off his show by encouraging people to have their pets spayed or neutered.

He is set to speak at a hearing before two committees considering the ordinance, proposed by Aldermen Edward Burke (14th) and Virgina Rugai (19th). Under it, all cats and dogs would have to be spayed or neutered by the time they are six months old.

The goal is to reduce the number of homeless dogs and cats on city streets and help prevent random, unprovoked attacks, the aldermen said. Neutering pets reduces their aggressiveness, according to a study they cited.

Burke and Rugai introduced the bill last week after a pack of five pit bulls severely injured a South Side woman.

The aldermen said the proposal also targets gang members who operate dog-fighting rings.
Well if you read the whole piece there is some opposition. If I was a pet owner I would think it should by my decision as to whether or not I should spade or neuter my pets. Although I can appreciate what they're trying to do here.

City managers face furloughs

Sun-Times:
Two thousand city managers earning more than $75,000 a year will be required to take three unpaid furlough days by Dec. 31 to help ease Chicago's worst budget crisis in decades under a mayoral plan to be presented today before a City Council committee.

The Finance Committee is expected to approve Mayor Daley's $3 million furlough plan, triggering a period of shared sacrifice that's certain to extend to the city's unionized employees.

"We're looking at every option -- from personnel, programs and facilities to processes, cost recovery, grants and service. We are scrutinizing both sides of the budget equation -- cutting expenses and generating revenue," said Wendy Abrams, a spokesperson for the Office of Budget and Management.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported Sunday that Daley's preliminary 2009 budget is expected to include the largest shortfall in recent memory -- more than $400 million according to some sources -- setting the stage for service cuts, employee layoffs, unpaid furlough days or a combination of the three.

Earlier this year, Daley ordered $20 million in mid-year budget cuts to brace Chicago for the impact of an economy "in recession." Roughly $250,000 of that savings came from suspending non-critical out-of-town travel and by "encouraging" city managers to take more unpaid furlough days.

Now City Hall will stop "encouraging" and start mandating furlough days.

Block Club University This Weekend

Apparently this event will be held at Truman College in Uptown on August 2nd. I wonder if they allow people from all over the city to attend this event. Info courtesy of the Uptown Update.

EDIT: Also from Uptown Update, their blog apparently is no longer accessible if you work for the city of Chicago. I hope this one doesn't suffer the same fate.

Morton Grove Eliminating Gun Ban

More fallout from DC v. Heller courtesy this morning of CPR:
Morton Grove, which is just north of Chicago, passed its handgun ban in 1981. But now, in light of a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, the village is set to get rid of it. Richard Krier is the mayor. He says Morton Grove doesn't have the same problems with gun violence that big cities like Chicago do.

KRIER: It never has been a very big issue. We don't have the crime here. We're you know, 20- 22,000 residents strong here. Very small, nice community, pretty residential and haven't had that issue.

Krier says few people showed up to testify in favor of the handgun ban at the last village meeting and he expects the board to be unanimous in doing away with it tonight. The Evanston City Council will also consider the issue tonight at its city council meeting. City lawyers there say, "It appears clear that a total ban on handguns...is unconstitutional on its face." Chicago still plans to go to court to defend its ban.
Well handgun bans are unconstitutional no matter how Chicago defends their laws by saying that the 2nd Amendment or perhaps any of the bill of rights only applies to infringement by the federal government.

Blog updates

If you've subscribed via email and you're not getting any updates there's a good chance that you haven't confirmed your subscription. Check your spam folders or your junk mail and see if you got an email from Feedburner to confirm your subscription. Beyond that just re-enter your email address and be sure to check for it.

Just a reminder, however, that you can always subscribe with the use of a feed reader. Look for an orange rounded cube and next to it the words, "Subscribe in a reader". You can use any program such as Google Reader, Bloglines, or My Yahoo. In that case you will get blog updates live.

Subscribing by email allows a digest for those posts published by the time the email is distributed. I set that time for in the morning between 5AM and 7AM. Let me know if there is another time anyone wants to consider. Thanks!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Aldermen skeptical of Mayor's plan to take over trash collection

I heard about this story in today's Chicago Business Today, however for today's purposes here's a story from the Sun-Times:
Chicago businesses and residential high-rises would see their refuse collection costs drop and recycling rates rise under a plan to divide Chicago into roughly 15 districts with an exclusive waste hauler for each one, a top mayoral aide said today.

Despite those assurances from chief environmental officer Sadhu Johnston-and the potential for a windfall for Chicago taxpayers---business groups and downtown Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) remain skeptical of the revolutionary change.

The mayor’s plan would impact 1.9 million tons of waste and recyclables generated each year by commercial, industrial and institutional customers as well as multi-family buildings.

The Daley administration would divide the city into roughly 15 districts and choose one waste hauler for each district after competitive bidding. Existing refuse collection contracts would be phased out over a 15 month period.

The city would collect an administrative fee to oversee the program that has ranged from 2 percent of gross revenues in some cities to as high as 22 percent in Miami.

"The free market is better able to generate advantageous pricing than a monopolistic system," said Michael Cornicelli, executive vice-president of the Building Owners and Managers Association.
If done right, hopefully privatization can be a good thing. Who says a government has to do everything?

Meeks Plans Student Protest On First Day Of School

From CBS 2 Chicago. I think I might have heard something about this on a broadcast from Meeks' church. You can watch Salem Baptist Church services on WJYS-TV Channel 62:
Firebrand minister Rev. James Meeks has asked Chicago high school students to ditch the first day of school next month to make a point about school funding.

Meeks said he wants the students instead to show up in affluent Winnetka, at New Trier High School, as a protest over unequal school funding.

Chicago Public Schools officials said that would be a costly mistake.

Ninety percent of students at CPS high schools are minorities; per pupil spending is about $10,000. At New Trier High School, enrollment is about 90 percent white and per pupil spending is about $18,000. Meeks said there's a connection.

"As African Americans and Hispanics, we're asking all parents of Chicago Public School students to not send their children to school on the first day. ... join us to board buses and enroll your child in the wealthy, well-funded Winnetka school district," Meeks said.

The move could cost Chicago Public Schools a lot of money. For each absent student on the first day of class, Chicago would lose out on $110 in extra state funding.
This is an issue mind you, funding of public schools. There is surely bellyaching over the fact that the public schools are funded largely by local property taxes. In addition to that I understand that the state isn't offering a lot of money for public schools. Hmm maybe I should research where Illinois is at as far as educational funding.

Of course, there are those people who don't agree that more money for the schools will solve the problems of the schools. At the same time we should consider that there is inequalities between school funding between poorer communities vs. affluent communities.

How diverse is your ’hood?

Here are some stats about Chicago's diverse neighborhoods and here's another story about diverse neighborhoods in Chicago. Both links via Built Chicago.

ICE Theater: Chatham 14

I took this photograph yesterday after I saw The Dark Knight. You can read my formal review of that movie here.

This cineplex has been open for over 10 years and it's certainly great that all I have to do is go to 87th street just off the Dan Ryan to go to the show instead of having to travel to either Ford City or River Oaks as had been the case before these theaters opened.

Often I would catch the matinée shows, so I can't attest to what you might find during the evening shows. On this day I took in an early movie and it wasn't packed but nor was it empty. So if you don't do crowds I would suggest that you go to the movies as early as possible. Let say before the 3 o'clock shows.

I rarely buy concessions so I can attest to that. I normally eat popcorn although they sell candy and nachos in addition to soft drinks. If you got plenty of time before the show there's even a video game area. The bathrooms are very clean so that shouldn't be a problem.

If you go into a theater well expect there to be people literally talking to the screen. As had happened in the Dark Knight. One time I saw a Star Trek movie here and a guy looking that the film next to me literally bumped into my arm in one scene of that film. I'm sure this kind of activity probably offends you if you're enjoying a movie, but then it's usually not a problem by my experience.

If you want to see a movie and you live on the south side and you don't want to leave the city, come on by these theaters. Check out the Inner City Entertainment (ICE) website under local businesses in the side bar.

I would like to note that they once owned theaters near 63rd and Western and in Lawndale near Roosevelt and Homan but those theaters are closed. I looked them up after I drove by their Lawndale location to see that theater boarded up.

Here's a Cinema Treasures page on the Chatham 14!

$24,999 for 'positive press' for Stroger

I'm sure some could see this as a waste of county resources. From the Sun-Times:
Tired of getting "pummeled by the newspapers every day," Cook County Board president Todd Stroger's administration has decided to counter with a new magazine overseen by county officials.

Publisher/editor Theresa Tracy said Cook County magazine would be "independently published" and a "credible, compelling and valuable resource" for county residents.

But county officials have the final say on what's published. And Tracy accepted $24,999 from Stroger's administration last November to launch the magazine -- $1 under the amount that would have required the approval of the full Cook County Board.

Tracy said there should be no "perception that we were just a house organ."

But, according to an agreement between the Stroger administration and Tracy obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times, county officials were seeking a "non-threatening news environment that ensures regular, positive press -- to counter-balance negative press often found in the mainstream media."

Tracy also agreed to give the Stroger administration final say on whether to distribute the magazine.
...
The cover story is an interview with Stroger that starts by asking him, "How are you feeling these days?" There's also a short obituary for Stroger's late father and predecessor as county board president, John H. Stroger Jr., who died in January. It misspells his name.
...
But don't expect to get your hands on a copy. Stroger spokesman Eugene Mullins said he has 5,000 copies of the issue in his office -- and that's where they'll stay.

"I was asked to review it and decided not to distribute it -- not because of content, but errors and omissions in the article" about John Stroger, Mullins said. "Judging on grammatical stuff -- something misspelled or that's not a complete sentence -- falls back on the president. And this is a Cook County magazine. I have to find a way to get rid of them. I'm not distributing them."
Yeah, a waste indeed! Via Newsalert!

And another post about this magazine by Marathon Pundit.

City Faces $400 Million Budget Shortfall

Sun-Times:
Top mayoral aides have been meeting privately with union leaders to prepare them for the loud noise they'll hear this week, when Mayor Daley lowers the budget boom.

Daley's preliminary 2009 budget is expected to include the largest shortfall in recent memory -- more than $400 million, according to some sources -- setting the stage for service cuts, employee layoffs, unpaid furlough days or a combination of the three.

One union leader, who asked to remain anonymous, said Chief Financial Officer Paul Volpe and Intergovernmental Affairs Director John Dunn tried to prepare him for the worst.

"They said it's going to be very bad. I said, 'There's always a black hole when we're in negotiations.' They said, 'This is more than a black hole,' " the union leader said. "They're looking for cooperation. They're probably looking at unpaid furlough days again. They said that could be one of the ways we could show a cooperative effort."

The mayor has already tied his own hands by promising to hold the line on property taxes on the heels of last year's record increase.

With expenses rising, real estate transfer taxes plummeting and sales taxes down as strapped consumers cut spending, painful budget cuts appear to be the only alternative. Other cities and states are facing equally painful choices.

"Food prices go up. Gas prices go up. And expenses go up. The dollar is losing value continually. We are in a serious financial crisis in America. I keep saying that. People look at it and, maybe, dismiss it. But, I think we're in a much more serious financial crisis than people . . . believe. It's gonna have a long effect on this economy," Daley said Friday.

"It's not gonna be decided by one budget. It is gonna be over a period of years that you have to make some tough decisions. . . . You don't threaten people you're gonna have layoffs and all that. . . . You have to work together, and you have to find out how you can come through this crisis as quickly as possible."

And how does he propose to do that while holding the line on taxes?

"You work at it. . . . You roll up your sleeves, and you start working, and you look at it. You just don't have magic answers today. You look at each department, 'What are you doing?' and find out how you can correct this," Daley said.
Via Chicagoist!

Recall Could Be Big Debate at Con-Con

From CPR:
One amendment being talked about is recall, where voters would get the chance to give elected officials the boot before the end of their term. State Representative Jack Franks recently tried to pass a recall bill in Springfield, but it ultimately failed. He says recall helps hold officials accountable.

FRANKS: It looks as though the only way that we're able to get the ability for recall is through a constitutional convention just because the entrenched special interests will always beat it if it comes up for a vote.

But state Senator John Cullerton argues a convention could open the door to wrong-headed changes to the constitution. He says recall could be an example of that, especially if judges were to be removed from the bench.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Bring back Marshall Field's!

For those of you who still misses shopping at a store named Marshall Field's, a website devoted to bringing back that prestigious nameplate.

http://fieldsfanschicago.org/

Only 37% of Black Males in Chicago Public Schools Graduate High School

Channel 7 writes:

"Fifty years after Brown (v. Board of Education), less than 50 percent of African-American males are graduating high school," said John Jackson, President Schott Foundation.

Young black men are having a harder time graduating high school than their white counterparts, according to a national study released Friday by the Schott Foundation.

In the 2005-2006 school year, the Chicago school district graduated only 37 percent of the total number of black males enrolled versus 62 percent of white males.

While the numbers are similar to other large urban centers, they are quite unfavorable when compared to Prince George's County in Maryland, for example, which includes the Washington, D.C. area. There, for that same year, nearly the same number of black and white male students graduated.

Read the whole thing. I also wrote more about this on my own blog.

Via Newsalert!

Blagojevich & Jones: Dumbest Budget Cuts Ever

Check out this post at Illinoize talking about the recent budget cuts perpetrated by the governor towards programs designed for drug treatment. It springboards off of this CBS2 article:
One of the governor's cuts was $55 million in funding for drug- and alcohol-treatment programs that the federal government would have matched penny-for-penny. The cut has forced programs across the state to shut down and many of their tens of thousands of clients are likely to end up in jail, costing taxpayers far more.

At an Alsip site called "A Safe Haven," women trying to kick addiction to drugs and alcohol get enough help that their children can live with them, even if they've previously been taken away. Beginning Monday, though, all 120 of the women and kids there will have to leave.

Demetria Woods said, "not knowing where we're gonna go, what happens next, where will we live, the children … how this affects us is overwhelming.

Anthony Cole, vice president of the Haymarket Center, said, "It means you're gonna have increased homelessness, increased people committing crimes, increased neglect and abuse of children, increased burden on Cook County Hospital, increased burden on mental health institutions, because where else can these people go?"

Haymarket got a letter from the state Wednesday; their award-winning addiction-treatment center is losing nearly $4 million.

Come next Monday, they'll be forced to close half the beds in the detox unit. Recovering cocaine user Porcha James said she is thankful she and her son are already in.

"Without Haymarket and places that provide treatment or recovery, I and my son of 12 would be homeless, I would probably be selling drugs or doing lots of other illegal activity," James said.
I can sympathize with Anthony Cole who had to resort to what I would call hysterics because he's not getting government money for his programs and that he might be forced to cut back services. On the other hand because he's not getting government money doesn't mean it's the end, that is if he gets his fundraising chops going. He can still get money surely.

Still it's unfortunate that such a service is so easily cut by a governor still embroiled in his feud with the state House of Representatives and it's speaker. At least that's how the current budget battled is portrayed.

Does Chicago’s Gun Turn-In Work?

From CPR:
Diana Rivera, who supervises youth outreach workers for the Little Village Community Development Corporation, says the exchange is a great way to get a gun away from a kid. “If it’s taken away before they have the opportunity or a reason to use it,” she says, “it might make a lasting effect on a person’s life.”

Some others disagree. Frankie White-Hampton, who works with ex-offenders for the Westside Health Authority, says the city’s gun exchange mostly nets weapons that are not in use. “I don’t think it’s effective for decreasing the shootings in Chicago,” she says.

White-Hampton says the program also masks underlying causes of violence. Those, she says, include unemployment and a lack of educational opportunities.
In some respects I would rather gimmicks like this than an outright ban. Especially if there are issues with gun violence and evidence suggests that a ban doesn't curb the violence. I just hope that the money received for the gun isn't used to purchase another gun, especially if that individual has criminal intent.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Anita Alvarez

This is an old video, but the Democratic nominee for Cook County State's Attorney is interviewed on this cable access program, The North Town News Magazine. Vid was uploaded on May 14th. Duration is about 20 minutes.

Floor Debate in the House of Representatives

Watch the video here from the Illinois Channel. I wish I hadn't gotten to it before now, if I had gotten to it sooner you'd have more than a few days than about three now in order to watch this segment. You can watch it online or on CAN-TV and if you watch it online the featured programming will change on Monday.

For this segment that took place in the Illinois House here's a description:

From the House Chamber of the State Capitol in Springfield: members met to debate the Governor's recent veto of spending in the new state budget, but floor debate began with objections by some members to statements made in an earlier committee hearing by State Representative Monique Davis of Chicago. Following those objections, we hear debate on a bill that would increase funding of State Police vehicles.

Duration for this segment is about 15 minutes.

Cook County unemployment rate

Courtesy of CPR:
Cook County's unemployment rate rose to 7.6 percent in June - almost a full percentage point jump in just one month. Each of the collar counties also saw a rise, and the trend continues across the state.

Illinois' 102 counties - all of them - have seen unemployment increase over the past year. The state's highest unemployment rates are at its southern tip: topping out at 11-percent in Hardin County, near the Kentucky state line.

I suppose it's safe to say the state isn't doing very well right now. At least Cook County isn't doing that bad considering the unemployment rate although I hope the rate doesn't continue to rise. It would be bad news considering this high sales tax that we have in Cook.

Via Newsalert!

Messed up!

You just might have your car parked in your driveway but unfortunately if an official finds your car they'll still boot it. Maybe it doesn't matter, but this car isn't even parked on the street!

The Sun-Times Embraces the Nanny State

From Reason magazine who not too long ago ranked Chicago on top of the list of cities for its nanny state policies:
I see. It's the intent of the laws that matter, not their actual consequences. Good to know.

I love Chicago. But Chicago was a world-class city long before it started instituting traffic and surveillance cameras, taxing bottled water, banning foods that offend interest groups, and shutting down taverns. Here's a thought. Maybe the Nanny State stuff is making a vibrant and livable city a bit less vibrant and livable. Maybe, just maybe, Mayor Daley and the Board of Aldermen's suffocating paternalism is part of the reason why Chicago is losing population faster than friggin' Detroit.

Read the whole thing, I think it would be worth a read, whether you agree or disagree. Via Newsalert!

Another interesting posts
Reason Magazine: Chicago the worst city for personal freedom

Thursday, July 24, 2008

I hate to mention it

This picture was taken at about 4:50 PM and thanks to the rain from earlier in the week this puddle is back.

Chicago Will Fight to Keep Gun Ban

The city of Chicago remains defiant according to this CPR report:
Attorneys for the city of Chicago are planning to defend the city's gun ban, and Thursday they told aldermen how they plan to do it.

Mara Georges, the top lawyer for the city, says that a recent supreme court ruling striking down Washington D.C.'s gun ban doesn't apply to Chicago because a city is different than a federal jurisdiction.

GEORGES: What would have to happen for it to apply to Chicago is that the district court would have to fail to follow well established supreme court precedent.

Georges says in the past, the Supreme Court has explicitly ruled that some of the amendments in the bill of rights apply to states and cities—for example, the right to a lawyer. But the court was silent on other amendments, such as the one at play here, the right to bear arms. Georges says lacking clear direction, a city like Chicago is free to regulate guns.
In other news the suburb of Wilmette, Illinois has repealed their gun ban! Both stories are via Newsalert!

The cost of Chicago jobs

Steve Bartin from Newsalert writes another article spring boarding off of the announcement that MillerCoors will make Chicago their headquarters and the subsidies they have received from city government. Here's an excerpt but go read the whole thing:
In the same week as the MillerCoors announcement, some rather grim news for Chicago and Illinois was released. The Illinois Department of Employment and Security reported that the “Illinois unemployment rate for June was 6.8 percent, climbing 0.4 percent points from May. The number of unemployed increased for the second month in a row, rising by 26,900 to 463,900 unemployed individuals, and reaching it highest level since June 1993.” To put things in perspective, last month, while the Illinois unemployment rate was 6.8 percent, the national unemployment rate was 5.5.

While Illinois and Chicago give MillerCoors the $20 million welcome, America’s largest retailer is an object of derision in Chicago. Wal-Mart was allowed to open its first store in Chicago’s city limits after a protracted fight in the City Council. The pro-union Chicago Aldermen have prevented any more Wal-Marts in Chicago. The thousands of jobs Wal-Mart could have provided Chicago’s poor and working class will not happen.

The taxpayers are allowed to subsidize MillerCoors with $20 million (for 400 jobs) in Chicago, but having several Wal-Marts employing thousands of job seekers is not to be in Chicago. Instead of challenging Chicago’s City Council to open up the city to an aggressive anti-union company, Mayor Daley wants organized labor peace. The organized labor calm is necessary to bring the Olympics to Chicago in 2016. Chicago didn’t have much domestic competition from other U.S. cities bidding on the Olympics because it’s a money loser for taxpayers. Mayor Daley, the unions, and businesses with heavy clout view the Olympics as a great heist with high tax tolerant Chicago taxpayers left with the tab.

Tony Peraica on Public Affairs

As per usual you can watch this program here!

Pervasive Problems at Cook County Jail

I posted part 1 that was over at Illinoize but Cal Skinner from the McHenry County Blog has more about the issues at Cook County jail here. I noticed that there isn't a link to his part five in that post, but part five is posted over at Illinoize.

Governor contradicted on $1 million 'mistake'

From the Tribune:
The confusing controversy over Gov. Rod Blagojevich's decision to give $1 million in state assistance following the Pilgrim Baptist Church fire has a new twist—the founder of the private Chicago school that got the money is contradicting the governor's statement about what happened.

Blagojevich has maintained that he wanted the money to help the historic church but bureaucratic mistakes sent it to the school.

In her first interview since the controversy over the money erupted this spring, Elmira Mayes, the founder of the family-run Loop Lab School, said Blagojevich personally promised her the money.

Mayes said the governor visited the fire site and talked with her as she was sifting through debris from her burned-out school, which had rented space from the church. She did not recall the governor's exact words but "he told me he would help build the school and give $1 million."

Mayes' account raises fresh questions about the Blagojevich administration's efforts to clean up their boss' campaign promise gone awry. Blagojevich has since pledged a second million dollars to the church and ordered a review of whether the state should recover the money given to the school.
Not a fan of the governor, but I'm going to be fair to him for once. They lady who runs the school that got the money instead of Pilgrim Baptist Church isn't any more credible to me. From what I understand even when the school got a million dollars it didn't seem to manage the money very well. Still this story is very much a mess and perhaps it's a good thing that Rob Sherman is making an attempt to stop any more exchanges of money. Personally I'm a big fan of strict oversight over money not necessarily stopping public funds to be used to rebuild an historic building.

Via Newsalert!

Daley Denies Property Tax Hike for Schools

From CPR:
Chicago Mayor Richard Daley says there will be no property tax hike next year to help the city's cash-strapped schools. That's while the school district faces a $97 million budget gap.

Mayor Daley says Chicagoans have to deal with enough these days. High prices for gas, food. And don't forget recent tax hikes from Cook County, the state and Daley's own City Council. So the mayor says there will not be a property tax hike for the schools this year.

DALEY: I mean, I'm sorry, you have to make decisions, set your priorities. You have to do that. That's why you're elected. It's a very difficult time.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Cook County Democrats Defend Highest Sales Tax in Nation

CLTV story about the debate yesterday over repealing the Cook County sales tax. Via Newsalert!

Newsalert: Cook County Board Chairman: 'I'm doing a damn good job'

Well I'm sure that there are some people who would disagree with that, Mr. Stroger. Newsalert blogs about an article from the Sun-Times. I heard him say this yesterday on WBBM-TV's 5 o'clock news. This story revolves around a vote that would have repealed the county's sales tax that failed yesterday:

When the rather long-winded arguments were over, Board President Todd Stroger said he is irritated by the constant criticism of his administration.

"I'm doing what's best for the people. That's how I'm running the government. And until this place falls apart, then I'll step up and say, you know what, I screwed up," Stroger said. "But until then, I'll tell you I'm doing a damn good job."

On July 1, the county's portion of the sales tax increased 1 percentage point -- a penny on the dollar -- to 1.75 percent, giving Chicago the highest sales tax in the country at 10.25 percent.

You know this seems bashful and not in a very nuanced way.

BTW, his campaign is being fined for violating state campaign reporting rules.

The Perfect Memorial Accidentally

From Cultural Chicago:
Though no one, to my knowledge, died as a direct result of what happened twenty years ago in June, the date still belongs on a list with those of three better known Chicago tragedies: the Great Fire, the Eastland Disaster and the death of Harold Washington, respectively. Because it was on that last date that the selection was announced for the winner of the design-build competition for Chicago’s new public library. It was to be named in honor of Washington – who had suddenly died in office just a half year before – Chicago’s first African-American mayor and a driving force behind the city’s effort to build the facility.
...
On the positive side, at least the city got the site right. (Hint, hint, Chicago Children’s Museum.) Then way – way – down on its luck, the South Loop has since become a lively locus of higher education, the library complementing the presence of other cultural institutions, including Columbia College, De Paul University, John Marshall Law School, Robert Morris College, Roosevelt University, Jones College Preparatory High School and the International Youth Hostel. And for the facility itself – for everything it has to offer the citizens of Chicago and visitors to the city – we can and should be thankful. It is a wondrous civic resource, functional quirks aside. (Explain to me again why the library itself doesn’t really start until the third floor.) Then again, how much greater a tragedy would it be if the HWLC even failed in the use for which it was specifically designed? But just as its functionality is all internal, this is a building best enjoyed from the inside; the treatment of the interiors in general is pleasing, highlighted by the Winter Garden, an especially fine public space. So take with you into the HWLC the temperament of the Parisian who lunches at the base of the Eiffel Tower, because it’s the only place in the city where he doesn’t have to look at the damn thing.

What is truly remarkable about the HWLC, however, is how, through the unpredictable law of unintended outcomes, it so appropriately honors the memory of Harold Washington. Perversely, and despite everything going against it, there could possibly be no more fitting way to commemorate him than this. Washington was, after all, a man of humble means and a lifelong bibliophile, so naming the central public library after him was infinitely apropos. But more to the point, his premature death left an equally limitless legacy of unrealized potential. And when we look at this unfortunate edifice, how else can a longtime Chicagoan possibly react to it than to lament: Oh, what glory might have been!
If that's a perfect memorial tell that to the people who created this memorial on Vernon Avenue in the 6th.
You can read more about that memorial here!

Free publicity for Peraica ends with tax re-vote

Daily Herald:

Tony Peraica lost twice Tuesday.

The first defeat was a foregone conclusion: His effort to roll back a wildly unpopular 1 percentage point sales tax increase had been widely acknowledged as doomed because no "yes" votes on the county board had indicated they would reverse their votes.

The second loss, however, was more subtle. Against Peraica's wishes, he lost an effort to defer the measure to the September board meeting, thus losing future free publicity he had managed to generate from his anti-tax proposal.

Peraica would benefit from the free publicity to compete against his better-funded Democratic opponent in the race for Cook County State's Attorney's Office, Anita Alvarez.

Alvarez had $167,957.29 in campaign funds on hand at the end of June while Peraica had just $43,522.87.

Peraica denied the move to defer was an effort to milk publicity for another two months. He contended that he wanted to defer because two potential swing voters, Commissioner Roberto Maldonado and Commissioner Earlean Collins, had asked for more information so they could consider the measure.

This story goes back to the whole money advantage by Anita Alvarez. Via the Capitol Fax morning shorts.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Questions about money, effectiveness of city gun buy-back program

Clout Street. Well I was hoping there was a bit more about why gun buy-back programs aren'r effective. All this article shows is some opposition, but not enough in details. Although I do hear that if one got cash for guns, they could turn around and buy another gun. I suppose that could be negated if the city offered gift cards instead.

Owner of food & liquor store stands up for community

From the Chicago Tribune:
Amid the neon beer advertisements, a handwritten sign in the window describes a program in which the store's owner will give $125 to any person turning over a gun to Chicago's 14th District police.

A second sign warns that the N-word is not to be used inside, even jokingly. A third, reads, "Aqui No" or "Not Here," inviting readers to think of activities—such as gang affiliation or drug use—that will not be tolerated in this neighborhood.

These messages look out from the windows of La Borinqueña, a Humboldt Park food and liquor store named after its Puerto Rican origins, where owner Raymond Figueroa wants patrons to look past the liquor and read his message.

"Sure, it looks like a contradiction," Figueroa said. "The liquor store is an afterthought. The initial thing was to make sure that we keep the flavor of the community. It's a center point. People will go and buy their beer just about anywhere. And if they have this place that's been there for 30 years, then I'll keep it that way. What is important for me is that I'm able to make a difference."

The 60-year-old attorney—a former domestic relations judge and former Chicago alderman whom everyone calls "Judge"—is using his corner of the world to reform a neighborhood. While seeing more and more building rehabs and new construction, these blocks east of the actual Humboldt Park on the city's Northwest Side are still battling some of the crime that was once more prevalent.
Solving the problem of inner city crime surely takes the efforts of not only politicians or even the police but everyday people willing to find ways to solve a problem. It also helps if groups of people work together for that same purpose to solve a problem.

The End of White Flight

Not really a Chicago angle to this although there is a chart to consider which looks at percentage change in the white share of the population. If you go to this Wall Street Journal article you would see graphs for other cities such as San Francisco, Atlanta, and Washington, DC. Those cities are the focus of that article:
Demographic readjustments can take decades to play out. But if current trends continue, Washington and Atlanta (both with black majorities) will in the next decade see African-Americans fall below 50% for the first time in about a half-century.

Meantime, in San Francisco, African-American deaths now outnumber births. Once a "natural decrease" such as this begins, it's tough for the population to bounce back, since there are fewer residents left to produce the next generation. "The cycle tends to be self-perpetuating," says Kenneth M. Johnson, senior demographer at the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire.

There are myriad factors driving the change. In recent years, minority middle-class families, particularly African-Americans, have been moving to the suburbs in greater numbers. At the same time, Hispanic immigrants (who poured into cities from the 1970s through the 1990s) are now increasingly bypassing cities for suburbs and rural areas, seeking jobs on farms and in meat-packing plants.

Cities have spent a decade tidying up parks and converting decaying factories into retail and living space. That has attracted young professionals and empty-nesters, many of them white.
It's a very interesting read if you're interested. At the moment this might be a problem in Chicago in or around the loop. You know this quote raises my eyebrows. I wonder if it raises a few with you...
"The city is experiencing growth, yet we're losing African-American families disproportionately," Mr.(San Francisco Mayor Gavin) Newsom says. When that happens, "we lose part of our soul."

Cook County Board rejects sales tax increase repeal

From Clout St:
After a lengthy and emotional debate peppered with political accusations against Cook County Commissioner Tony Peraica, the County Board voted 10-7 on Tuesday to reject his proposal to repeal the county's new 1 percentage-point sales tax increase.

Peraica (R-Riverside) is running for state's attorney against Democrat Anita Alvarez in November and foes were quick to blast him for what they said was political opportunism---especially after Peraica tried to put off debate until Sept. 3---a time when voters are more likely to be paying attention to the campaign.

Cook County Board President Todd Stroger, whose administration sought the tax increase, agreed with several commissioners that Peraica only made the repeal effort to bolster his campaign for countywide office.
...
Commissioners Forrest Claypool and Mike Quigley, both Chicago Democrats, joined Peraica and other Republican commissioners in voting for the repeal. "We have to face the facts," Quigley said. "That's all anyone is talking about out there."
I just saw this on the CBS2 news at 5 PM. There was a lot of debate going on at the county. Todd Stroger was on tape saying that he'll only say he messed up when things fall apart.

July Chicago Public Schools meeting

The District 299 blog has an agenda for the CPS School board meeting scheduled for Wednesday. The agenda itself is a PDF file, so make sure you have Adobe Acrobat on your PC.

Learn South Side "L" History

Check them out over at Woodson Library on 95th & Halsted on August 14th. Want more info go to the Red Eye transit blog Going Public. There's even a link to a MS Word document that serves as a flyer.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Fear Of Ordinary Citizens Behind "No" Vote Push

Rich Miller's column about those forces who oppose a con-con (constitutional convention) for the state of Illinois:

So, the fox says to the farmer, “Hey, don’t fix the hen-house door, just buy more chickens.”

That’s pretty much the same advice that you, as Illinois voters, are about to be spoon fed.

Big business, big labor and some “good government” groups have teamed up to urge a “No” vote this November on the Constitutional Convention ballot question. They’re planning to spend $3 million on TV and other advertising.

Illinois voters are given a choice every twenty years about whether to call a “con-con,” and in 1988 the ballot question was defeated.

The entire Illinois establishment was opposed to a constitutional convention back then, including most newspapers. But 2008 is a whole lot different than 1988, when the political world was pretty stable here and most things were on track.

“A mess” hardly begins to describe our current state political situation. Some have suggested that voters might be so fed up with our political disaster that they will vote for a constitutional convention with the hope that something - anything - might change.

It was obvious during a conference call with reporters last week that “fear and loathing” will be the message of the “No” campaign.

Please go read the whole thing. I've talked a lot about this potential con-con over time on this blog. While I'm sure there are more than a few arguments I've posted in favor, I certainly can't wait to provide those arguments against a con-con in Illinois.

Oh and check out the ensuing discussion in the link I provided for this column.

Columnist marks 35 years

You may not know who this individual is. The column isn't any papers we might see on this part of town. All the same if you visit his personal website you can read many of his columns and while his beat might be the north-northwest side of Chicago and the suburbs of that area, you can read his column to check out the rest of the city and the Chicagoland area.

Local lawyer and columnist Russ Stewart writes his column talking about his 35 years writing and analyzing local politics. It's very good!

Blagojevich fundraising pace slows but still likely tops in state

I wonder if anyone things that if it hadn't of been for the fundraising operation of the governor and his willingness to use it helped the man win re-election in 2006. Personally I honestly didn't think he would make it.

Clout Street:

Gov. Rod Blagojevich raised "just under" $2 million during the past six months, which would leave him with between $3.5 million and $4 million in the bank, according to campaign spokesman Doug Scofield.

That's far less than the embattled Blagojevich raised during a comparable reporting period---the first six months of 2004, two years before the next round of statewide elections. Back then, Blagojevich raised $4.9 million and spent only $877,000, which left him with more than $10.2 million in the bank heading up to his successful for a second term in 2006.

But Scofield said the governor is pleased with his fundraising results. He said over the last 12 months he's raised about $4 million, which is "right in the ballpark" for previous 12 month periods. Still, Scofield acknowledged that the governor has not spent time fundraising because he’s been dealing with budget battles with the legislature and his plan last year to rearrange the state’s tax structure.

"The governor has spent as little time fundraising in the last 18 months than any time since he’s run for governor," Scofield said.

It should be noted that the Capitol Fax blog was also looking at financial filings from around the state today as well.

Tale of the take

Clout City takes a look at this years State's Attorney race:
Arguably the biggest local election this fall will be for Cook County state’s attorney, where Democrat Anita Alvarez will try to hold off Republican Tony Peraica. If you think about it, Alvarez is kind of a Peraica Bizarro (if it’s not the other way around). Peraica, a former precinct captain for Bill Lipinski, lost a couple runs for office as a Democrat before switching parties and winning a suburban seat on the Cook County board in 2002. Now he encounters the stench of Democratic Party corruption everywhere he turns, and without fail finds it loathsome and campaign-worthy—he just can’t find enough opportunities to talk to the press about problems with the county jail, the county sales tax, or the county board president
Then there’s Alvarez, a prosecutor who in her first political campaign promised to reform the office where she’d worked for 20 years. Since stunning several veteran elected officials by winning the Democratic nomination, she’s stopped talking about political corruption, police misconduct, crime-fighting, community outreach, the price of tomatoes, or pretty much anything else while quietly making the rounds of Democratic ward meetings and fund-raisers
Their success at fund-raising the last few months is similarly dissimilar, according to reports just filed with the state board of elections: she’s raised gobs of money from a long list of insiders; he hasn’t. She looks like she’s going to have a party apparatus working for her; he couldn’t find a party apparatus if he wanted to. She’s taking money from some of the very people she criticized in the primary; he can only dream of such lucrative, uh, flexibility. She’s—well, you get the point.
If you read the whole thing you'll see that as far as money Alvarez has the advantage.

New Illinois Jobs Numbers Point to Needed Reform: Totalitarianism

A commentary by Dan Proft:
Instead of the pretense of representative democracy, we should submit to one of those charismatic, totalitarian dictators with the Captain Kangaroo get-up who makes people disappear.

After all, isn't that what the "Chicago 9" are doing?

The Chicago 9 are the nine Chicago Democrats who live within about five squares miles of one another and who control more than $70 billion worth of government and more than 125,000 public sector jobs in Illinois.

[The 9: Daley, Blagojevich, (Lisa) Madigan, White, Hynes, Giannoulias, Jones, (Mike) Madigan, Stroger]

It was reported last week that the Chicago 9 had made more than 6,000 private sector jobs in Illinois disappear between May and June. Only four states in the nation lost more jobs during that period.

The Chicago 9 have Illinois' unemployment rate at a robust 6.8%, nearly 25% higher than the national average (5.5%), and at its highest point since June 1993.

As with your old school despots, the Chicago 9 are not fond of dissent and so over the last decade they have created more than 727,000 Illinois refugees who have sought sanctuary for their families and their pocketbooks in other states.

As a result of this mass exodus, Illinois will lose at least one Congressional seat after the electoral remap in 2010.
This is a good read. I hope it gets you thinking.

Daley 'not mad' at Blagojevich

This was news over the weekend. Late last week the governor suggested bringing in the Illinois State Police and/or the state National Guard to help crime fighting efforts in Chicago:
Mayor Richard Daley said Saturday he isn't mad at Gov. Rod Blagojevich for offering the Illinois State Police to help him with Chicago's "out of control" crime problem.

But the mayor, in his first public comments since the governor offered the law enforcement assistance before consulting Daley, did suggest that people "should be careful" in their public comments.

"No, I’m not mad at the governor. There's so many good things. You can never get mad at anyone because when you get mad it changes you. You get disappointed in people and these are good things that we bring out," Daley told reporters. "So if I were ever to get mad at anyone I’d just get disappointed because many times what you say can have a huge effect on an issue. You should be careful about what you say at all times."

Asked if he was insulted by Blagojevich’s move, which some critics interpreted as political payback in an ongoing spat between the two Democratic leaders, Daley said he wasn’t going to take the bait.

"No, I’m not mad at him. I'm not upset with him," Daley said. "He said it. He has to live with those words."
Rich Miller blogged about this story also. Things might not be pleasant because Blagojevich by his actions undermined a thin skinned mayor. I suppose we'll have to see.

BTW, I recall many years ago that the state police was once located near 83rd Street on King Drive. They were once housed in a former Jewel Store and it seemed like a brief time until a church moved into the property. That lot is currently vacant a fire destroyed the former grocery store buidling. The only thing on that lot is a building housing a laundromat. It was just north of the grocery store.

Just a little neighborhood history in relation to this story about state help for the crime problem in the city.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

A side of soul and charm

Read the whole piece, just another neighborhood institution to keep in mind if you're looking for something to do one night after work or something:
On the South Side, music clubs take all shapes and sizes. At the direction of Joycelyn Hunter, East of the Ryan, a converted banquet hall and hotel at 914 E. 79th St. in Chatham, now hosts jazz nights, soul bands, poetry, special nights dedicated to steppers and the occasional wedding. Hunter took ownership of the club two years ago when she was looking for a new direction in her life after her husband died. She gave the building a face lift with the hope it would help give people in the neighborhood a positive recreational outlet.

"There is a need for something like this on the South Side," she said. "It was a challenge."

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Chicago: Life in the fast frame

I had no idea that a grocery store near 87th and the Dan Ryan was the setting of a Hollywood motion picture...
87th Street and the Dan Ryan Expressway ***

This former Cub Foods, as Donaldson's Grocery, is the battleground for rival assistant managers, played by Seann William Scott and John C. Reilly. Here, Scott's character confronts kids who hit him with a Yoo-hoo bottle. A typical South Chicago grocery store, cleverly used both inside and out.
The film in question is called The Promotion.

Check out other Chicago film locations in the Tribune.

Oil Prices Down, But When Will Gas Prices Follow?

WBBM-TV talks about gas prices:
You may have heard that oil prices are way down, but if you filled up your tank today, you know that gas prices are as brutal as they ever were.

As CBS 2's Susan Carlson reports, oil prices have been dropping like a rock from a tall building lately. This month, we have seen the most severe plunge since the early 1980s.

Over the past week, oil prices fell by nearly 11 percent. On Friday, prices rose modestly again, above $131 a barrel, as news of an output cut in Nigeria helped to halt the sharp decline.

"It's been an incredible drop, unlike anything we've seen in a lot of years, and it probably means great things for Chicago consumers," said Phil Flynn, Vice President and Senior Market Analyst for Alaron Trading.

Part of the reason for the drop in prices is a decline in demand. Prices at the pump are so astronomical that some people have just quit driving.
There is certainly no one way that'll solve this crisis, however, I'm OK if there is a need to drill and pump up more oil. Of course oil is a finite resource and thankfully some of us have decided it's simply not worthwhile to drive and are either taking public transit or riding their bikes to get around. Of course it could also be said people are fed up with the high gas prices right now.

Forrest Claypool on the Cook County sales tax

On July 13th, the county commissioner appeared on WBBM-TV's Eye on Chicago.

Neighborhoods on Wikipedia

Over brief period of time this blog has been in operation, I've probably linked to Wikipedia more than a few times. Some to talk about the neighborhoods or at least to articles that talk about certain concepts that I generally don't know much about or may not be able to provide a basic explanation of.

In any case, Proviso Probe offers a blog about what should go in a Wikipedia article about Proviso Township. I wonder what should go in a Wikipedia article about the various communities and neighborhoods comprosing the 6th? There is an article on the Alderman, but there isn't an entry on the character of the 6th.

Of course we can talk about the various neighborhoods and perhaps add more information about the various neighborhoods. Such as Chatham, Park Manor, Englewood, West Chesterfield, Roseland Heights, Chesterfield, and I'm sure there are others I haven't quantified. To be sure the articles you would see on Wikipedia are not necessarily on neighborhoods, but the officially designate community areas. Chatham, Roseland, Greater Grand Crossing and Englewood. Oh yeah here's an article on Chicago's Community Areas.

Personally I wish there could be more info provided for the character of Chatham. Aside from the fact that the area is comprised mostly of upper and middle income blacks and our access to public transportation via the Metra Electric on 79th Street.

You know for my tastes the most complete article I've seen for some of the aformentioned south side areas is Englewood. As for the others I wonder what should be added. It's OK to mention the problems, but what's good about these areas. Englewood may have a huge crime problem, but surely Englewood has something that could be an asset, especially if it involves the actions of the people making the place they reside better.

Drill now!

The Bench links to a site where you can sign a petition and add your voice to those people who seeks lower gas prices by drilling here in the states.

The sales tax sidestep

From the Tribune...
Chicagoan Giao Nguyen thinks it only makes sense for savvy shoppers to try to minimize sales taxes on their purchases. The 32-year-old software developer does that by buying books, consumer electronics and camera equipment on the Internet, where he often pays zero in tax and shipping, compared with the 10.25 percent sales tax he would shell out in Chicago.

"There is little incentive for me to buy locally," he said. "I'm just frugal."

Now, Nguyen is trying to make a business out of it, developing an iPhone application that will calculate sales tax no matter where you are and compare it with other areas.

He may be on to something.

Never has the incentive to avoid sales taxes been greater. Since July 1, Chicago's 10.25 percent tax has had the dubious distinction of being highest in the country, higher than New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Not so fast, warns the Illinois Department of Revenue. Avoiding sales tax by purchasing out of state or on the Internet is fraud, and on the relatively remote chance you're caught, you may have to pay penalties and interest on top of the tax you sidestepped. Illinois has a 6.25 percent use tax on items purchased elsewhere and used in Illinois. So that $300 you spent on Amazon.com—you owe the state $18.75.

"The rationale is to level the playing field and reduce or eliminate the incentive to go somewhere else to buy something," said Mike Klemens, spokesman for the Illinois Department of Revenue. "Your Main Street merchant shouldn't be at a competitive disadvantage."

Most people would agree with that in principle, but when it comes to saving money, their self-interest usually predominates. A 2003 study published in the Journal of Economic Psychology found that taxpayers view tax avoidance very differently from tax evasion, even though from an economic perspective the consequences are identical: less revenue flowing into government coffers.
Via Newsalert!

There's a lot to chew on in that piece so go read the whole thing. And in that brief passage I just posted, I could almost conclude your pocketbooks aren't supposed to win against this sales tax.

Pervasive Problems at Cook County Jail

Over at Illinoize, Cal Skinner discusses the Justice Department's report on conditions at Cook County Jail. I can't wait for Part 2!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Original Pancake House reopens; others with violations remain shut

According to Crain's Soul Queen on Stony Island remains closed after city inspections during the week.

Atheist Activist Seeks to Sue Governor

This atheist activist, Rob Sherman, is seeking to stop state funding of the historic Pilgrim Baptist Church...
Rob Sherman is known for his lawsuit that halted a moment of silence in schools. Now he wants to prevent the state from giving Pilgrim Baptist Church a million dollars to rebuild after a fire.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich has said the money is intended for a community center and administrative offices, not religious purposes.

But Sherman says that violates the constitution.

SHERMAN: What goes on in an administration building? That's where the church operates its ministry from. So Rod cannot stick the taxpayers with the cost of a church's ministry expenses.

The church has insisted the money won't fund religious activities.
It's noted in this brief piece from CPR that there has been a lot of controversy over state money for Pilgrim Church. For instance instead of going to the church that money went a school that was housed at Pilgrim instead of the church and this school didn't even manage the money. There was controvery over whether or not there will be a correction or indeed would another check would be cut.

This story is the subject of today's Capitol Fax question of the day.

Marathon Pundit on Gov. Blagojevich

Referred to in the title of his blog post as a "goofy governor":
Let's get back to Blagojevich. The Chicago Democrat is very unpopular--he has higher disapproval ratings than President Bush--and this is deep-blue Illinois. After his pal Tony Rezko's corruption conviction (Rezko got around), the local scuttlebutt was that a Blagojevich federal indictment was imminent. It will probably happen. Even if it doesn't, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, another Chicago Democrat, an ally of Mayor Richard M. Daley, might begin impeachment proceedings against "Blago."

Madigan and Blagojevich locking horns over the state budget. So to draw attention from his failures as governor, Blagojevich calls a press conference, and says "violent crime in Chicago is out of control." Meanwhile his legacy after five and half years as governor consists of grandstanding, obfuscation, fiscal gimmicks, and corruption.
While you're there check out his post on the oldest black municipality in the nation, Mound Bayou, Mississippi.

Fitz on Cook County Jail

Bill Barr discusses the issues found at the Cook County jail by the US Attorney's office.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Drain no longer perpetually clogged!

This picture was taken on July 11th, 2008.
This picture was taken today at about 5PM and there is no longer a puddle here! How dare that puddle not be here! I'm being funny and I'm glad that it's finally been drained.

RELATED POST
A drain perpetually clogged

Cook County Jail violates inmate rights, U.S. finds

From the Chicago Tribune:
The constitutional rights of inmates at Cook County Jail are systematically violated, according to the U.S. attorney's office in Chicago, which just released the findings of a 17-month investigation of the facility.

The jail is accused of failing to adequately protect inmates from physical harm by staff and other inmates. The jail also has failed to provide adequate medical care and sanitary conditions, resulting "in unconstitutional living conditions," a statement from the office said.

Federal authorities delivered a 98-page letter to Cook County Board President Todd Stroger and Sheriff Tom Dart on Friday, prosecutors said. The investigation began in February 2007.

The county now has 49 days to address the findings before any legal action is taken by the U.S., officials said. But federal officials made it clear that they hope to resolve the matter short of a lawsuit.
Via Newsalert!

From the July aldermanic newsletter

More than 400 Sixth Ward residents came to the Ward Office Thursday, June 19th to meet with a representative from the Tax Assistance Department hoping to take advantage of a new tax exemption for Long-Time Occupants. However, if you are 65 and older and receiving the Senior and Senior Freeze exemption, you have the best property tax exemption available at this time. For more information about the Long-Time Occupant Exemption, please call 312.744.1000.
I posted about this that night although the event was probably close to over when I finally post it.

Fire, aim, ready

The story I posted yesterday about state Rep. Monique Davis gets an update from The Capitol Fax. It is said that the only people who made the speech she made on prisons about race are the Republicans. I wonder if this could be considered an over reaction?

Chicago Is In A Real Law Enforcement Crisis

Paul Huebl discusses the policing situation in Chicago with him talking to police officers about this situation. While you're there check out his post on the 2nd Amendment rally from last Friday.

Houston, New York Has a Problem

Has nothing to do with Chicago, but I just wanted to share this anyway:
It looks even better once you take taxes into account. Federal taxes are roughly equal for the two families: about $7,000 per year. But under the Texas constitution, to enact a state income tax requires approval by statewide referendum — and two-thirds of the revenues generated by such a tax, if passed, must go toward reducing other taxes. As a result, Texas doesn't have any state income taxes. Nor, for that matter, does it have any city income taxes.
Read the whole thing! The article basically discusses how Houston, TX is a more welcoming city for the middle class than the City of New York. Via Newsalert!