Sunday, January 21, 2007

Lincoln Park bridge tender lives on West Side

Preservation Chicago was just on WBEZ. The organization's president, Jonathan Fine, lists our Lake Shore Drive pedestrian bridge as on their 7 most endangered list for 2007. It's interesting that most of us in Lincoln Park have to depend on my old friend Jonathan -- who lives way over in Ukrainian Village -- to inform us about what's happening right in our backyards. Preservation Chicago's mention is the first most of us in Lincoln Park have heard about this. We need an alderman who will communicate these things to us.

Suffice to say, Jonathan, that as alderman of the 43rd Ward, I will tolerate only restoration of this historic bridge. I'm sure neighbors agree. We could use better pedestrian access to the lakefront. That is hampered not by this beautiful bridge, but rather by the fact that Lake Shore Drive has been turned into an superhighway. I'll give the Campaign for a Free and Clear Lakefront ample airtime on that subject when I take the podium.

Monday, January 08, 2007


(Also known as, "While Vi slumbers, Part III")

Well, that's a nice pool of diarrhea on my stairs. I wonder what drunken reveler from the Lincoln Avenue bars decided to use the entrance to my home as a toilet. All I know is that I'll have to clean it up. This happens four or five times a year. The rest of the year it's urine all over the walls and into the windows.

I sat down with Vi Daley to talk about the problems in 2005. I was very friendly.

I simply asked her for some support, that's all. One little meetng. I asked her for some help in getting additional trash cans on the street (she said it would cost too much), getting the alley blocked off on weekend nights (she said it would be a fire hazard), getting better lighting in the alley (she mumbled something about doing it and never did), trying to keep the kids from using it as a toilet (she said there was nothing she could do about it), getting a couple more cops onto the detail (pled poverty), and fixing the traffic problem (more mumbling).

Since that time, three of my apartment windows have been smashed, all by drunks on Friday and Saturday nights. My friend across the street has had his plate-glass window smashed, by another drunk. And every weekend night it's urine, garbage, feces, yelling, screaming, vomit.

I didn't come to Vi Daley to vote the block dry. I didn't come to her to whine about all of the trash on the street, or about the weekly urination festivals. I didn't come to lambaste her and then walk away and expect her to do all the work. I came as a concerned and proactive resident willing to do something for the block. I simply asked, very nicely, for her help. And she simply stared at me in disbelief.

How has she acted to correct the problems? She hasn't lifted a finger.

But she did choose to levy an additional tax on residents and let the chamber of commerce decide what to do with the $150,000 every year. No real meeting of the minds was ever held regarding this tax. In fact, the residents seemed to be saying "no" to the tax. And when I came to the commissioners to ask for a few hundred dollars to help replace my neighbor's plate-glass window, they turned their backs on us and decided to discuss $800 flowerpots instead, the same flowerpots that we told them long ago that we didn't want.

(Part I)
(Part II)
(Tax hypocrisy)

Sunday, January 07, 2007

It's David v. Goliath in many wards

Unless we really raise some hell, you won't see much press about this, but over a hundred hard-working candidates are right now being threatened with removal from the ballot by legions of election attorneys in the employ of the most powerful incumbents and wealthiest candidates in the city.

I have been doing what I can to help many of these candidates. But this is simply unjust. David Tirado in the 36th Ward is up against fifth-term candidate William Banks, probably the second most powerful alderman in the city. He has over $800,000 in his campaign account and is objecting to every candidate. Banks amassed over 10,000 signatures, more than the total voter turnout in the last aldermanic election. We have called it monopolization of the voter pool and have taken legal action to attempt to thwart it, but our challenges are being kicked out by the hearing examiners. The original actions were written by Asst. State's Attorney Daryl Jones, who is running against Emma Mitts in the 37th. I wrote two responses, one for dozens of candidate who received objections and a follow-up one for all responses.

It's not enough for these aldermen to sit pretty term after term without a challenge. When they are challenged, they budget tens of thousands of dollars to combat all comers. The least-funded candidates suffer the most, getting distracted from actually campaigning because they could spend week after week in frantic appeals to stay on the ballot, leading all the way up to the election and sometimes afterward.

We had rumors in the 43rd Ward that we all were going to be challenged by Marty Oberman or someone else. This sent candidates with less funding into a panic and caused us to chase after many more signatures than we really needed. I also anticipated objections from the better funded candidates and filed objections against all three of them, arguing the Tirado-Jones suit. So far, hearing examiner John Ashenden has denied my request to remove Tim Egan from the ballot nor even acknowledge our argument that a maximum signature limit exists in Chicago aldermanic elections. There's one for ward committeeman, and the law for alderman is ambiguous on the point.

(See the List of 191 candidates with petition objections)
(See my Petition to Truncate Signatures)
(See the Joint Response to Daley, Smith, Egan Motions to Strike)
(See the Media Advisory)

43rd Ward Candidate Forums

By request, upcoming forums and other events for 43rd Ward aldermanic candidates (yes, me too):

Thursday, Jan. 11, 6-8 p.m. IVI-IPO "Meet and Greet the Candidates" at Excalibur, $50.

Thursday, Jan. 11, 8 p.m. Wrightwood Neighbors Assn., Sheffield Neighbors Assn., RANCH Triangle Assn., League of Women Voters candidate forum for 43rd Ward candidates, at DePaul Cortelyou Commons. (32nd Ward candidates precede us at 7 p.m.)

Monday, Jan. 22, 6 p.m., IVI-IPO endorsement session, at Lincoln Park Library.

Saturday, Jan. 27, 10 a.m. Citizen Action endorsement session, at the Chicago Hilton, 720 S. Michigan.

Thursday, Feb. 1, Mid-North Assn., Park West Community Assn., Diversey Harbor-Lakeview Assn. candidate forum, probably at the Notebaert Nature Museum.

Thursday, Feb. 15, 7-8:30 p.m. Lakeview Action Coalition, United Power for Action and Justice, Jane Addams Senior Center, Metro Seniors in Action candidate forum, at Church of Our Savior.

Friday, Feb. 16, 3:30 p.m., Abraham annual dental checkup. Hey, how did that get in here?!

There are also articles expected from Inside and Old Town Triangle Association. That's all I know of so far. I also will be posting my position papers and also questionnaires solicited by various organizations.