Thursday, June 15, 2006

The weakest link

I'm often told accidents don't happen by accident in Chicago. When I hear such things coming from normally reasonable people, I tune out. I reply with some stock response about conspiracies or a favorite quote from Tocqueville: "In America, there are factions, but no conspiracies."

In planning matters, we are repeatedly hearing Ald. Vi Daley passing the buck on "accidents" that keep happening under her watch. Just yesterday, I was told by a zoning expert that the alderman must have lied to Lincoln Central Association regarding the passage of a minor zoning adjustment for the development at 1932 N. Burling, the biggest McMansion yet to come to Lincoln Park. At a meeting on the matter, as reported in LCA's newsletter:

"Neighbors strongly objected to the height increase. Ald. Daley interrupted, informing the crowd that the city’s zoning administrator had already granted the request, because immediate neighbors had not objected. One neighbor whose property adjoins the site had not been notified, however. Ald. Daley suggested he file a complaint." (Lincoln Central Association, Spring 2006, p. 4)

Oops! "Already granted the request"? My expert told me that Zoning Administrator Tom Smith would never make a move without an alderman's approval. He strongly believes what really happened was that Ald. Daley probably passed the buck and allowed Smith to be the bad guy for a change which she herself had tacitly approved. And my source has probably attended more zoning hearings than some of the Zoning Committee's own members, so he knows what he's talking about!

We already heard last year that the historic Hayes-Healy building next to the Fullerton El was "accidentally" demolished by the CTA when "landmarks division [sic] officials mistakenly approved a demolition permit for the project." (Ben Joravsky, "Above the Law: Why is the Armitage el stop exempt from historic preservation?" Reader, March 3, 2006, p. 8) Oops again! And as if that weren't already enough, Mrs. Daley also claimed that a "miscommunication" between three agencies caused the CTA to go ahead with changes to historic station lightpole and handrail treatments that the community didn't get a chance to disapprove of. (ibid., p. 9)

And I've heard other stories. How many accidents are going to happen in this ward?

The worst part about these community process tragedies? Had Mrs. Daley properly used her power and leadership authority, most of these things probably would not have happened. And if so many "accidents" are really happening without her approval, she should not be sitting on her hands, she should be inciting a riot. Instead, she hides behind a shield of helplessness.

When people I know start indulging in conspiracy theories, my eyes tend to glaze over. But tacit approvals, passing the buck, the "done deal" plea, feigning helplessness? These are things that don't require full-blown conspiracies. All you require is a weak link.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

One thing you failed to post is that this Alderman (Vi Daley) uses neighborhood associations, city officials, select constituants and even your neighbors dog, to pass the buck on decisions she will make anyway.

I have seen her deny zoning changes and other decisions with one objector and approve projects with hundreds of objectors present.

She does this regardless of any monetary loss or rights inflicted by her poor behavior--and there are no rules--just the ones she changes along the way to deny your agenda.

The bottom line is she does what she wants, uses aldermatic perogative extensively, and then finds someone to blame "her" decision on.

Get your head out of the sand Vi--and get some "you know whats". Be a leader and be accountable.

Beware--she may just kick your dog.

9:37 PM  
Blogger Peter Zelchenko said...

I have mentioned this before. It is why I want to introduce a wider community process, so small cabals won't be able to force community process and I as alderman won't be able to blame anyone else.

8:49 AM  

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