One citizen's take on the Dick that makes Chicago tick.

.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

CHICAGO: OF THE CONNECTED, BY THE CONNECTED, FOR THE CONNECTED














You may have noticed by now that I abhor all the nonsense that goes on in our city government, including the man pulling all the strings - Mayor Richard M. Daley. One thing I just cannot stand is the people in this city that say "That's just how it is in Chicago" or "If you don't like it, move."

I say, why should I have to move? Don't we all have a right to a government free from corruption? And don't we have a right to question our corrupt government? The government is supposed to serve us. You know, all that "of the people, by the people, for the people" stuff. I mean, wasn't it Abraham Lincoln that said that? Isn't Illinois the Land of Lincoln? The least our politicians could do is live up to the words of our favorite son, the principles upon which this very nation was formed.

And just because corruption is how it is - or always has been - doesn’t mean it needs to continue that way. Until people wake up and realize that the corruption is costing all of us, nothing will ever change.

Now, you may be wondering, just how much does corruption cost us? Well former Chicago Alderman and current UIC professor Dick Simpson has an answer, what he likes to call the "corruption tax." Corruption Imposes Hidden Tax on Illinoisans

It’s the “corruption tax” – the extra money Illinois residents pay because of dishonest public officials.

People pay the tax when politicians give government jobs to unqualified cronies and contracts to expense-padding donors. They pay when public employees take bribes to overlook violations, when law enforcement spends millions prosecuting crooked politicians and when people are injured because of government misconduct.
And in the Chicago area alone, this corruption tax costs taxpayers $300 million every year. (Interesting note: What is the size of the estimated budget hole in Chicago this year? Oh, that’s right. $300 million.)

If you are interested, there is a great report by Dick Simpson and others in the UIC Political Science Department - Curing Corruption in Illinois: Anti-Corruption Report Number 1

What has come to be called "The Chicago Way" of corruption has also undermined the sense of political efficacy in voters. Why apply for a city or state job if you know only patronage employees or politician's relatives will be hired anyway? Why report corrupt officials, if you know they won't be punished and they may turn the powers of the government on you? Business owners-especially vulnerable businesses like restaurants and bars give campaign contributions to the aldermen because they are afraid of the city health inspectors or they might lose their liquor license if they don't.

Voters may laugh at times at the antics of public officials but in the end they feel powerless, lose their faith in government, and vote less often because the "fix is in."

It is time to end "The Chicago Way." There are many specific reforms to be enacted. But beyond all the individual reforms is the commitment to change. After more than a hundred years of graft and corruption, it is time truly to become the land of Lincoln rather than the land of "Where's Mine."

DALEY FACING ASSAULT OF OLYMPIC PROPORTIONS



















The attacks on Daley are coming from everywhere! Inspector General David Hoffman, Aldermen, Tony Peraica, No Games Chicago, and average citizens are stepping up and piling on with questions about the true costs of the Olympics in Chicago as Daley continues to fumble his way through this IOC contract situation. I love it.

And now, Alderman Howard Brookins is again pushing for a Wal-Mart in his ward, even after that big-box minimum wage veto Daley pulled awhile back. This Wal-Mart thing certainly doesn't help Daley's dealings with the city's unions, which are facing layoffs as the prospect of the Olympics creeps ever closer.

Big-Box Measure Returns to Chicago City Council:

With the city facing a $300 million budget shortfall and unemployment among African Americans topping 20 percent, Brookins said it makes no sense to block a $64 million project that would create 600 full- and part-time jobs.

Daley has said Brookins' request "is not gonna fly" because Wal-Mart backers "don't have enough votes." The mayor is reluctant to pick a fight with organized labor before the International Olympic Committee's Oct. 2 vote on a host city for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.

But Brookins said, "We can't wait for the Olympics. People are dying now. People are starving now. People are in stores now. There is no convenient time. There's never gonna be a perfect time. If we cannot stand up for the people in the worst economic downturn since the Depression, when can we stand up for people?"

Chicago Federation of Labor President Dennis Gannon told the Chicago Sun-Times last week that City Council approval of a second Chicago Wal-Mart would complicate negotiations aimed at crafting a package of union concessions needed to avert 1,504 city layoffs scheduled to take effect July 15.

"How in the world could they bring that up in the middle of what we're trying to do?" Gannon said of the union givebacks.

Besides a potential battle over Wal-Mart, Crain's is chiming in on the risks involved with Chicago's proposed Olympic Village: The Next Olympic Landmine
As aldermen prepare to debate whether to put Chicago on the hook for any operating losses from the 2016 Olympics, the construction of a $1-billion athletes village poses a far greater potential risk to city finances.

With as many as 3,000 units, the proposed South Side housing complex is the single costliest item in the $4.8-billion Olympics budget. Chicago expects private developers to pick up the construction tab, betting that they'll profit by converting the buildings to apartments and condominiums afterward.

But if Chicago is chosen to host the games, the city will have no choice but to cover any construction costs the private sector won't. That's what happened in London and Vancouver, which are slated to host the next two Olympics and had to write big checks when private funding for athletes villages collapsed.

And finally, there's an interesting post about this assault on Daley over at the Reader's blog Clout City: The Olympic Games Have Already Begun
The controversy over funding for the Olympics is hardly about funding for the Olympics anymore. It’s about whether Mayor Daley still gets to say and do whatever he wants.
...

In the past Mayor Daley has always survived his tough spots by letting his critics lose their nerve, get distracted, or simply self-destruct. The difference this time is that there are a whole lot more of them, and each day thousands are reminded of why they’re pissed off when they pull into a public parking space.

Now, if any of this will make a difference is yet to be seen. What Daley wants, Daley gets. But here's hoping that adage changes now. It started with the parking meter mess and is continuing with the Olympics. All I have to say is, I hope these constant attacks on Mayor Dick continue. Let's not lose our nerve, get distracted, or self-destruct. Daley's counting on it. Instead, let's help Mayor Daley lose his nerve, get distracted, and self-destruct. Then, maybe he will end up right where he belongs - behind bars.

Monday, June 29, 2009

CHICAGO 2016 - LET DALEY'S FRIENDSHIP SHINE



















That David Hoffman is at it again: City Watchdog Urges More Light on Chicago Olympic Bid

In calling for “much more transparency, much earlier in the process,” Hoffman referred to his recent report blasting Mayor Richard Daley’s handling of the city parking meter privatization. The City Council was given little time to analyze that controversial plan, which raised rates at 36,000 meters across Chicago.

“Whatever the motivation is for doing that at the last minute, the effect is to make opposition to that plan much more difficult,” Hoffman said. “There are hints of this same thing with what’s being discussed right now about the Olympics.”
...
Hoffman said the Olympics would be a good chance for Chicago to transform its abysmal reputation as a hotbed of public corruption. But 2016 also could cement that notoriety, he said.

“The question for us, I think, with regard to the Olympics, will be what will we be showcasing? Cost overruns? Clout? Corruption? Or a model to ensure that corruption does not creep in?”

Yes, that is the question. But I think we know the answer: cost overruns, clout, and corruption. It is the Daley Way. I mean, why else do Daley and all his cronies have such a boner for the Olympics in Chicago? You do know the Chicago 2016 motto is "Let Friendship Shine," right? And that is exactly what Daley and his friends are gonna do - they're gonna shine with all the Olympic coin pouring into their crony hands, while we lowly taxpayers foot the bill.

IT PAYS TO BE RICHIE'S FRIEND















Did you know that Daley's friends who own Millennium Park's Park Grill restaurant do not have to pay for water, gas or garbage collection? The Illinois Appellate Court has also affirmed that they do not have to pay property taxes either, getting them out of a $350,000 tax bill.
Park Grill’s ownership group includes Timothy Degnan, a political ally of Mayor Richard Daley, and Fred Barbara, a friend of the mayor, and Matthew O'Malley, the managing partner of Chicago Firehouse Restaurant, 1401 S. Michigan Ave., who had an affair with a Park District official before the agreement was signed.
Damn, I wish I was your friend Mayor Daley. Sadly, being the mere peasant that I am, I pay for all of these things - water, gas, garbage, and property taxes. Seriously, Dick, you should take me up on that date offer, I think we would totally hit it off. Then, maybe we could work one of these sweet deals for me.

MAYOR DALEY IN HIS OWN WORDS II

The conversation is fiction. The words are his own.

WTD PRESENTS: HISTORY LESSON - NO GAMES CHICAGO BOOK OF EVIDENCE















Looking for some light reading to do while you're basking in the sun this summer? Why not read the No Games Chicago Book of Evidence for the International Olympic Committee: Why Chicago Should NOT Be Awarded the 2016 Olympic Games. Or, as I like to call it, Little Richie Daley's Big Book of Corruption.

Here's how it starts:
Dear Members of the International Olympic Committee:

We are citizens from Chicago, Illinois who are opposed to our city hosting the 2016 Olympic games.

We see four major reasons why Chicago should not be awarded the Games.

(1) Lack of Finances. Our nation, state, county and city are broke and running massive deficits. There's no way to guarantee that we will have the many billions needed to complete the work needed. Chicago is famous for going way over budget on any large construction project it tackles.

(2) Lack of Competence. Our state, county and city are notoriously corrupt and populated with incompetent officials who line their pockets and make choices based not on effectiveness or the public good, but rather on how much money can be made by friends and family members. This directly translates into bloated construction projects that go massively over budget and suffer repeated delays. (Block 37 is a project that is 30 years old and still incomplete, Millennium Park was just four years late). Also, there are a number of very high-ranking corruption investigations under way and our former Governor faces trial in 2010. It's entirely possible that many of the Chicago officials the IOC has been working with may be under investigation.

(3) Lack of Infrastructure. Our city is falling to pieces around us. Our roads are pitted with potholes and our mass transit system is badly in need of repair and upgrading. Regrettably, there are no plans for improving it over the next few years and we seriously doubt whether it can do the job of moving the crowds that come with a summer Olympics.

(4) Lack of Public Support. Despite what you are being told, the people of Chicago DO NOT want the games. When people realize that they will be picking up the tab for the games, they oppose the bid by an overwhelming majority.

We have compiled a small collection of articles that document these concerns. We'd like to call your special attention to the April 2, 2009 column by Ben Joravasky, a prominent Chicago investigative reporter. His "Open Letter to the IOC" sums up our position.

We hope you will heed our wishes and grant the 2016 Olympics to another city.

No Games Chicago
You'll have to read the rest for yourself. Of course, if you have been paying attention, much of the book is old news to you. But hey, read the articles again anyway, just to remind yourself how much you love Dick Daley. And if you haven't been paying attention...I know, I know, the flowers!...They are SO beautiful. But there's more to a city than its beauty. Like its ugly crooked mayor, for instance. So remove your head from Daley's rear and listen up.

Hopefully, the IOC has taken some time away from their busy bribe-taking schedule to read these thoughtfully compiled 159 pages. I especially like how No Games Chicago included the "comments" section of that gem from Rick Telander. (Applause)

So again, Chicago citizens, International Olympic Committee members, curious onlookers, pay attention. Read. The. Book.

Or, you can just take Mayor Daley's word for it. But we all know he is a liar.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

CHICAGO OLYMPIC VILLAGE, POPULATION $$$























The next step in Daley's Olympic Quest is the city's acquisition of the Michael Reese Hospital for the Olympic Village. Think Chicago taxpayers aren't going to pay for the Olympics? Think again. Daley's reaching into his big bag o' TIF money for this very special occasion. Yep, that's right. Your property tax dollars.

Though some have questioned the risks involved with this deal, the first domino falls this week: With Michael Reese Deal, Chicago will Commit Money to 2016 Olympics Bid
Chicago taxpayers will be locked into the city's first financial commitment related to its 2016 Olympic bid on Tuesday if the scheduled closing on the $86 million purchase of the Michael Reese Hospital site goes as planned.

This foray into large-scale real estate development comes three months before the host-city selection. The International Olympic Committee will choose between Chicago, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo on Oct. 2.

The acquisition of the Olympic Village site carries substantial risks, given the moribund state of the credit markets, which has created wrenching problems for Vancouver and London. Both cities have had to bail out their respective Olympic Village projects, which, like Chicago's, were supposed to have been privately financed.

And for Chicago, those struggling projects hover like specters, raising any number of questions. Will the lending spigot have opened sufficiently by 2012, when work is slated to begin? Will the city's glut of new housing units have been absorbed by then? Will Chicagoans line up for condos and rental apartments that won't be available until 2016, and only after they have been crash pads for several weeks for about 16,000 visiting athletes and coaches?
Nevermind the risks, city officials are optimistic and Daley said so. And so we forge on. Don't worry, if it doesn't work out, us taxpayers can always pick up the bill. Happy to do it, Dick, happy to do it. (kisses rings)

HOFFMAN! APPLY DIRECTLY TO THE FOREHEAD!



















More headaches for Daley from the city's Inspector General: Chicago Inspector General Wants Daley to fire HR Commissioner
Mayor Richard Daley’s personnel chief allegedly lied during an investigation of City Hall hiring abuses and should be fired, the city’s inspector general recommended today.

Homero Tristan should lose his job as commissioner of the Department of Human Resources because he tried to cover himself when inspectors asked why he failed to report an alderman trying to exert clout for a city worker from his ward.

Tristan, hand-picked by Daley a year ago, has been repeatedly criticized since then, including by a federal court monitor who said Tristan’s department has failed to follow basic rules to keep city hiring free of politics.

In his report today, Inspector General David Hoffman said Tristan violated a federal court order governing city hiring by not reporting the incident with the alderman and “made matters worse” once an internal investigation began.

So not only is this Daley-picked employee overseeing violations of the federal Shakman decree, but he is also a liar. Sound familiar?

Being the great leader that he is, Mayor Daley had nothing but praise for this Homero Tristan fellow.
Daley called Tristan "dedicated," a "family man" and a "good civil servant," and said he had not read Hoffman's report.
Kinda sounds like the mayor's defense of Robert Sorich. You know, Daley's federally convicted former patronage chief.

Although the sentence was lighter than it could have been, U.S. District Judge David Coar was sharply critical of Robert Sorich, saying Sorich sat at the top of a corrupt operation.

It’s corruption with a capital C,” Coar told Sorich. “There’s nothing good about what you did. I don’t give a hoot if this is going on for 200 years. It stinks. It stinks.”

Saints, every last one of them.

Friday, June 26, 2009

YOU'RE WELCOME.

The Chicago Tribune has a really cool picture up. Check it out:








(photo via Chicago Tribune)


Looks kinda familiar.

DALEY HOPES YOU STOP THAT!

























Oh Mayor Daley, I know someone out there believes the words that come out of your mouth, but it's definitely not me.

Daley Seeks to Reassure Taxpayers on Olympic Plans:
But Daley stressed he’s not expecting losses. He said the Summer Games haven’t lost money in the United States since 1972 and that Chicago 2016 expects to the games will generate $20 billion in new economic activity.
...

“I would never take members of this City Council for granted, the taxpayers or anyone. I don’t know why people are trying to get this impression. I hope you stop that,” Daley said.
So, the Olympics are going to generate $20 billion in new economic activity?! And Daley doesn't take the City Council or the taxpayers for granted?! And he has no idea where we got that impression?! WTF is this guy smoking?

You know what Dictator Dick, I hope YOU stop.
Stop awarding contracts to your friends and family.
Stop the tax increment financing.
Stop selling our assets.
Stop the Olympics.
Stop the lies.

But you won't. So I won't either. I won't stop thinking that you are the biggest crook in the entire state of Illinois.

WTD PRESENTS: A MAYOR DALEY RANT FROM A STRANGER - PARKING IN CHICAGO




















This week, I have watched while city police and tow truck drivers circle the block like vultures, preying on the poor car owners who didn't notice the temporary "No Parking 9Am-4PM" signs posted all over the place. While I take great pains to check on my car everyday to avoid being snared by one of these traps, I can't help but feel angry when I see the city treating its citizens this way, especially when absolutely NO WORK is being done on the street to necessitate the ticketing and towing that is taking place. By my estimate, I'd say the city has amassed at least $5,000 in parking tickets and towing fees this week from just this one block alone...Just because people dared to park on a public street in King Daley's Kingdom.

Awhile back, while wasting time on the internets, I came across this rant on a music blog called The Decibel Tolls. The rant has nothing to do with music. Instead, it's about parking in the City of Chicago, and it pretty much sums up my feelings on the subject. The rant also mentions the blog The Expired Meter, run by Chicago's own saint, the Parking Ticket Geek. Definitely check out both of these blogs! And fight your parking tickets...Don't give Daley another dollar he doesn't deserve. Here is the aforementioned rant:

So last week, a booter was shot on Chicago’s south side, and is still in hospital. What’s a booter, you ask? Well, a booter is one who boots your car. Specifically, a booter is an employee of the City of Chicago’s Department of Revenue. After three accumulated parking tickets, a DoR representative will visit your car and attach a big yellow Denver Boot to your front drivers’ side tire. Then, they present to you a big orange sticky note on your windshield that reads like it was penned by Darth Vader: “Your vehicle has been immobilized by the City of Chicago.” The police don’t do this, interestingly, it’s exclusively the jurisdiction of the Department of Revenue, and as such, parking ticket issuing is strictly a business venture over law enforcement. We can thank Mayor Richard M. Daley for that, pictured below as both a caricature and a pretty vile man who laughs at us Plebeians.

The notion of parking in Chicago is a strange thing. Chicago is in a sort of nether region between New York/San Francisco and Los Angeles. Chicago is not as densely designed as New York or San Francisco (where most people don’t even bother owning a car), making the notion of parking in the city plausible, but infinitely more built up and less sprawled than Los Angeles (where you need a car), making parking very difficult. As such, there are many people like me who have a car in the city, but don’t use it. I drive my car twice a month, usually for the reasons of moving it for street cleaning or the like. But if I want to leave the city, I need it. This isn’t Europe.

Chicago maintains a myriad of tricky parking regulations, and they vary from neighborhood to neighborhood. Just in my neighborhood alone, you must keep track of which streets are cleaned on which day(s) of the month, which streets have upcoming construction projects, and whether the Cubs have a home game or not, in addition to general parking no-no’s like yellow curbs and loading zones. It’s more modus operandi to have a ticket on your car than not. I usually spend about 30 minutes looking for parking. I check my car twice a week to make sure it’s still there. This is why I don’t drive.

Now, with the city strapped for cash, the DoR is becoming even more rigid in ticketing and towing cars. They’re cutting costs where they can, such as eliminating the amount of booters in a specific zone (and thus, eliminating “safety in numbers” for tougher neighborhoods), and coming up with extremely corrupt schemes to quickly and surreptitiously ticket cars. The Expired Meter has a great story about an “uprising” in Pilsen when they tried this and the people in the neighborhood took a stand. The police sided with the residents, and you had a clash amongst city employees. Explosive.

Most people will not fight tickets, out of hassle or lack of understanding that they indeed can fight, so this is a great way to generate extra income. One of the reasons the aforementioned Expired Meter exists is to give the public information on how to fight tickets and other violation notices. And they’ve found that there’s a disturbingly high percentage of completely bogus tickets issued, with the mindset that most people will just tuck their tail inward and pay the fee.

Which brings to me the point concerning the aforementioned assault. Certainly this story raises safety concerns, and like repo men, a booter is a dangerous position to hold. Dangerous enough to where the city issues bulletproof vests and equips DoR vans with security cameras.

Another important aspect of this story that has not, to my knowledge, been discussed is what this story says about public reaction toward overzealous municipal policies. This is the general policy in Chicago: when the city needs money, instead of cutting out pork barrel projects or adjusting budgets and salaries, they go after motorists, common people, first.

In doing this, the city illustrates a textbook example of class struggle. The wealthy can afford to shell out $200+ per month for personal parking, or own luxury condos that come equipped with a parking garage. As for the rest of us, we deffer our automobiles to the street curb.

Mayor Daley’s response to complaints about booting policy is, verbatim: “just pay your parking tickets.” Sure, a 6-year-old could understand that. But it’s not that easy. Each ticket usually costs between $30 and $100, and doubles within a month. If you can’t afford parking, that suggests that you live somewhat hand-to-mouth. Your car is boot eligible after three tickets (and because of the current economic crunch, an ordinance is being reviewed in council to lower that number to two). [WTD EDIT: This ordinance has passed.] Not everyone can drop this money immediately. These are, obviously, hard times for many people - people who work full time but still have trouble getting the bills paid. If you can’t pay your tickets, the city will boot and tow your car, so add a $60 boot fee and a $150 impoundment fee to whatever your parking violations fees add up to.

Now let’s go to the south side. South Chicago has a lot of poorer, economically devastated neighborhoods - just like the one where the booter was shot. You see many of these people in a pretty desperate situation, people who were not granted privileges in their life (contrast to neighborhoods like Lincoln Park, where most people are the dreaded “trust fund babies” and sit around in cafes all day). You have lots of people that just lost their retirement this month. You have people who can’t afford to live in their homes anymore, due to internal forces such as a personal employment issue, or external issues, such as gentrification. All that shit compounds on the collective psyche of a community. And to top it all off, here comes the Department of Revenue wanting a few hundred dollars from you for keeping something you own, your car, inside the city proper, because the municipal government cannot manage their funds. So what does that lead to? The person who represents these trumped-up parking policies, a DoR working man who has nothing to do with these policies and is just putting food on his table, is shot in the lower back.

This isn’t just an issue of “oh snap, south Chicago is crayyy-zeeee,” this is a reaction to governmental numbskullery. This is a reaction to a pristine example of injustice and a city government run amock. This is a reaction to the innate socioeconomic bias in the city’s parking regulations. “Just pay your tickets.” If people could, they would - if for no other reason to avoid the hassle. But many can’t, and when you reach a dead end, you make irrational choices. That’s the issue here. The city would do good to take notice of this, both the logistical and safety concerns of their city employees, as well as the message sent from the citizens they govern.

It’s just a cryin’ shame that this DoR employee had to pay the price for corruption. And it makes me want to jettison the fuck out of Chicago very soon.

photo via Chicago Reader

Thursday, June 25, 2009

THIS SONG'S FOR YOU DICK

In honor of Michael Jackson, I dedicate this song to you Mayor Daley.


I know your game
What you're about...

The word is out
You're doin' wrong
Gonna lock you up
Before too long
Your lyin' eyes
Gonna take you right
So listen up
Don't make a fight
Your talk is cheap
You're not a man
You're throwin' stones
To hide your hands
You know you're bad. You're bad. Really really bad.

CITY COUNCIL WANTS DETAILS. WHEN DO THEY WANT THEM? NOW!
















Looks like some of our aldermen, still hurting from the parking meter mess, are getting all rebellious on King Daley. And their little secret meetings with the Chicago 2016 did nothing to help. They plan to hire - get this - independent experts to evaluate the Olympic insurance policies as well as the Olympic construction budget. What a novel idea, huh?

“If, through their own-foot dragging, they don’t present us with information in time for us to conduct an independent analysis, I would have no choice but to vote the entire package down. The old, ‘Trust me’ just won’t fly anymore,” [Alderman Joe] Moore said.

Ald. Willie Cochran (20th) said the City Council is bolder and wiser after the furor caused by broken, overstuffed and improperly calibrated parking meters and the steep schedule of rate hikes tied to the 75-year lease.

“We have been bitten by the lack of information from this past fiasco. I’ve learned early. Everybody has learned. We are taking those mistake-ridden decisions and moving forward,” Cochran said.

“I never want to be in a position ever again to be held accountable for making a vote on something without having adequate input.”

That's right aldermen, you are allowed to demand answers when taxpayer money is involved. You don't have to just blindly support whatever the mayor proposes. You can even use independent analysis. Like big boys and girls. Now go do your homework. Or no dessert for you.

MAYOR DALEY IN HIS OWN WORDS

The conversation is made up. The words are his.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

MORE OLYMPIC NEWS - SECRET MEETINGS AND A BOLD MOVE BY TONY PERAICA

















Nothing like open, honest government: Olympics bid team to hold secret meetings with aldermen today

Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd) said he believed the committee and mayor’s office were responding to the concerns of aldermen, who have agreed to setting up a tax increment finance district to pay for Olympic infrastructure and back a shortfall of up to $500 million—but no more.


“I think the citizens have seen what they did when they went to Switzerland, and as far as I can tell, people are making a lot of calls to their aldermen,” Waguespack said. “We’ve already seen the story from 2016 change one too many times.

“We have e-mails just flooding in the office now,” he added, saying his constituents were urging the aldermen to commit no more money.


Ald. Manny Flores (1st) is drafting an ordinance he plans to introduce at next week’s City Council meeting that would block the city from making any further commitment.

Even better, Cook County Commissioner Tony Peraica is taking legal action against Mayor Daley's blank check for the Olympics:
Cook County Commissioner Tony Peraica today requested that Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez and Attorney General Lisa Madigan initiate quo warranto proceedings against Mayor Richard M. Daley for committing the taxpayers as guarantors for the cost of the Chicago 2016 Olympic Games.

“I am taking this action on behalf of the taxpayers in response to Mayor Daley’s actions – which were unilateral, without express authority, and without approval from the city council,” said Peraica. “Like most people, I am a fan of the Olympic games, but not if they leave the taxpayers on the hook for a huge price tag that wasn’t even approved by the city council.”

If the Attorney General or State’s Attorney do not respond to Peraica’s request within 30 days, he will petition the Circuit Court of Cook County for leave to file the quo warranto proceedings as an individual on behalf of the People of the State of Illinois.

“As a Cook County Commissioner, I have a duty to protect the best interests of the people I represent in the 16th District,” said Peraica. “And right now, those people are hurting, looking for work, and wanting a government that spends their money legally and wisely.”

Gotta respect this move by Tony Peraica. He's bold enough to go right at Dick Daley. Looks like Cook County Commission William Beavers isn't the only "hog with the big nuts" around here. Tony Peraica...I applaud you.

As Ben Joravsky of the Reader is saying: "Go Get 'Em, Tiger!"

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

MORE EVIDENCE THAT DALEY REALLY DICKED US WITH THIS PARKING METER LEASE




















As if we didn't need another reason to hate Daley's parking meter lease. Now, a new study shows the City Gave up Control of Streets in Meter Privatization:

Although the city is free to remove meters or change rates and hours of operations, Chicago Parking Meters LLC must be compensated for the loss of revenue at a rate that assumes “a car were parked in the space for 24-hours-a-day in the Central Business District,” the study said.

“This means that every potential project on a street with meters — including bus rapid transit, bicycle lanes, sidewalk expansion, streetscaping, pedestrian bulb-outs, loading zones, rush-hour parking control, mid-block crossing and temporary open spaces — are dictated, controlled and limited by parking meters,” the study said.

“These restrictions severely limit innovative planning for bicyclists, pedestrian and transit users. The loss of the potential for bus rapid transit on most streets over the next 75 years is one of the most disappointing losses.”

Of course, this information shouldn't be surprising to anyone with a brain. But it does show why it is important for our city council to stop and think things through before signing away a city asset. Now we are stuck with little control over parking policy. For 75 years. Awesome.

It's not like Daley and the City Council weren't aware of parking and road use issues all over the city. There's been talk about all sorts of road improvements for years. And these improvements are necessary to make roads safer and quicker for pedestrians, buses, and bikes. Now, I wonder if these things will ever happen. And if so, how much more will these improvements cost us?

Kind of pokes a hole in Daley's justification for this lease - that the city shouldn't be in the parking meter business. Of course it should be...parking meters are an integral part of parking policy. Besides, I always thought the city did a great job managing parking, at least from a revenue perspective...you know, all those bright orange souvenirs they leave on our cars.

Thanks to the Active Transportation Alliance for this study. Now everyone go yell at Daley and the City Council. Rescind. The. Lease. Now.

WHAT, DALEY WORRY?

















So if you're like me, you may be wondering why the US Attorney that brought you the Blago Indictment hasn't stepped up and arrested Mayor Daley for something, anything. After all, this is the same US Attorney's Office of the Northern District of Illinois that fancies itself to be "aggressively prosecuting public corruption." With an entire section of the US Attorney's Office devoted to Public Corruption and Organized Crime, what is taking so damn long? Dick's been mayor for 20 freaking years!

Just like this guy in the video below, I want answers. "I want to know why Patrick Fitzgerald allows Daley to exist as mayor." And I want those answers to be Daley in handcuffs. Come on Fitzgerald. Wipe that smirk of Daley's face.

DALEY'S WORD IS LAW. THE REST IS JUST DETAILS














More on this Olympic insurance plan we've been hearing so much about. We get to hear a lot about it, but no one gets to see any details until Daley is ready: Chicago's 2016 Olympic Bid: Aldermen may not get details on city's revised bid for another two months
After Mayor Richard Daley triggered furious reactions last week by saying the city would take full financial responsibility for hosting a 2016 Summer Games, he promised to bring the details to the City Council for further discussion.

But the head of Chicago's bid team said Monday that information about the city's revised financial guarantees may not be disclosed for two months while additional insurance coverage is arranged.

"We can't go to the City Council today," bid team leader Patrick Ryan said at a press briefing Monday. "We'd look like dummies because we don't have it all complete."
Nah, the only ones that look like dummies are the Chicago citizens that continue to tolerate this shit. I've given up being outraged. Now I just laugh.

More over at Clout City: Deja vu all over again
So let’s recap: Behind closed doors the administration crafted a complicated ordinance that has a big impact on city life and the municipal budget, then presented it to aldermen for hasty approval. After little debate the aldermen complied. Some time later the full implications came to light, and aldermen became furious that they were blindsided. When pressed, the administration still didn't say exactly what it’s up to. Aldermen, facing unhappy voters in their wards, threatened to get angry and do something about it.
Just another day in Chicago I guess. I'm laughing a lot these days.

SOMEBODY CALL THE FIRE DEPARTMENT, THIS ONE'S OUT OF CONTROL






















Our tax dollars hard at work: Costly 911 Center Remodeling Called a Waste
The Daley administration spent $480,000 to modify 911 center consoles to accommodate 17-inch monitors instead of the current 15-inch models, even though the consoles themselves were about to be replaced, a source said.
...

OEMC spokesperson Jennifer Martinez insisted that the fix cost $3,600 per console or $386,000.

She defended the decision to modify consoles scheduled to be replaced.

"We're still in negotiations [with the furniture contactor]. It could be up to a year before we see new work stations," Martinez said.

"In the meantime, we do not want to risk public safety. It's critical to public safety to have the latest technology on the 911 floor. We want to equip our call takers and dispatchers with the most up-to-date equipment possible. It's the balance between that and finances" that the city is attempting to strike.

A couple of questions come to mind: Who is this unnamed vendor that got this contract? I'm willing to be the vendor's got clout. And we all know, clout=money. Also, if 17 inch monitors are so vital to public safety, why didn't we have them in the first place? It's not like these things just came out. And if monitor size matters so much, why isn't the city installing 20+ inch monitors that are common today? Is two inches of screen surface really so important that we need to waste money like this, especially when our city budget is hurting so bad? Don't even get me started on all the rumors I have heard about our new state-of-the-art 911 call center having technological issues and going down often. Couldn't be true.

Monday, June 22, 2009

I LIKE THIS IDEA. WHADDYA SAY RICHIE?













A Tribune reader has a great idea for how Mayor Daley can pay for his Olympics:
Olympic Bid Committee Chairman Patrick Ryan, backed up by Mayor Richard Daley, insists the city's financial risk for taking full financial responsibility for the 2016 Olympics is extremely remote (Daley ups the ante for 2016 Olympics).

If Ryan and Daley truly believe this, then they should have no problem pledging their personal wealth toward the Games. Come on, Mr. Ryan and Mayor Daley -- sign a contract that says before any city money beyond the existing guarantees is spent on the Olympics, your own money will be spent.
Since they are so confident the Chicago Olympics won't come in over budget, this shouldn't be a problem for them, right? And don't tell me you can't afford it Dick, I know that's a lie. Just look under your mattress.

WTD PRESENTS: HISTORY LESSON - MIKE ROYKO AND RICHARD J. DALEY

















If you don't know who Mike Royko is, please leave this blog and never come back. I kid. Seriously though, please familiarize yourself:
But where Daley often drew on the worst side of ethnic Chicago--its tolerance of corruption, its parochialism and racial prejudice--Royko spoke to its better instincts. A neighborhood populist, he celebrated the corner tavern and the weekend softball game. But Royko also challenged white Chicago's prejudices, skewering bigots who tried to keep a white couple that had adopted a black baby out of their neighborhood or a funeral parlor that didn't want to bury a black soldier killed in Vietnam. In the column he wrote the day after Harold Washington became the first black person elected mayor of Chicago, Royko began with one of his inimitable openings, "So I told Uncle Chester: Don't worry, Harold Washington doesn't want to marry your sister."
You can think of Royko as the original John Kass, a constant thorn in the side of Mayor Richard J. Daley, the original Chicago Boss.




















Check out this classic column by Royko. The more things change, the more they stay the same...or as Alderman Mathias "Paddy" Bauler said in 1955, "Chicago ain't ready for a reform mayor."

What's Behind Daley's Words? (February 16, 1973)
Several theories have arise as to what Mayor Daley really meant a few days ago when he said: "If they don't like it, they can kiss my ass."

On the surface, it appeared that the mayor was merely admonishing those who would dare question the royal favors he has bestowed upon his sons, Prince Curly, Prince Larry, and Prince Moe.

But it can be a mistake to accept the superficial meaning of anything the mayor says.

The mayor can be a subtle man. And as Earl Bush, his press secretary, once put it after the mayor was quoted correctly: "Don't print what he said. Print what he meant."

So many observers believe the true meaning of the mayor's remarkable kissing invitation may be more than skin deep.

One theory is that he would like to become sort of the Blarney Stone of Chicago.

As the stone legend goes, if a person kisses Ireland's famous Blarney Stone, which actually exists, he will be endowed with the gift of oratory.

And City Hall insiders have long known that the kind of kiss Daley suggested can result in the gift of wealth.

People from all over the world visit Blarney Castle so they can kiss the chunk of old limestone and thus become glib, convincing talkers.

So, too, might people flock to Chicago in hopes that kissing "The Daley" might bring them unearned wealth. Daley, or at least his bottom, might become one of the great tourist attractions of the nation.

The Blarney Stone has become part of the living language in such everyday phrases as "You're giving me a lot of blarney."

That could happen here too. People who make easy money might someday be described as "really having the gift of the Daley bottom."
And here is Royko's tribute to King Richard I:

If ever a man reflected a city, it was Richard J. Daley and Chicago.

In some ways, he was this town at its best -- strong, hard-driving, working feverishly, pushing, building, driven by ambitions so big they seemed Texas-boastful.

In other ways, he was this city at its worst -- arrogant, crude, conniving, ruthless, suspicious, intolerant.

He wasn't graceful, suave, witty or smooth. But, then, this is not Paris or San Francisco.

He was raucous, sentimental, hot-tempered, practical, simple, devious, big and powerful. This is, after all, Chicago.

Sometimes, the very same Daley performance could be seen as both outrageous and heroic. It depended on whom you asked for an opinion.

Don't feel too bad for Mayor Richard J. Daley. Royko was hard on the aldermen too:
I've always enjoyed Chicago's aldermen, and I believe that if they went away the city would be a much poorer place for their absence. Just how much poorer, I didn't know, because it would depend on how much you can stuff in a suitcase.

WTD PRESENTS: A MAYOR DALEY RANT FROM A STRANGER - "MAYOR DALEY IS OUT OF CONTROL"



"He is out of control. Mayor Daley is out of control. And we need to put the kibosh on him."

THE CITY THAT PAYS


















Mayor Daley likes to give your tax money to his friends and family.

City Spends $22 Million on Rent and Look Who's Getting It:
The city of Chicago spends more than $22 million a year leasing property, usually from clout-heavy landlords and often at higher rents than other tenants pay, a Chicago Sun-Times investigation has found.
...

In all, the city's Department of General Services says it has 75 leases for properties the city uses for such things as libraries, offices, warehouses and clinics.

But the list -- provided by the mayor's staff in response to a Sun-Times records request -- appears to be incomplete. It doesn't include, for instance, the warehouse at 3348 S. Pulaski that the city has occupied on a month-to-month lease since it was acquired by Vanecko and his partners in 2007. City Hall has paid them more than $480,000 in rent over the past 15 months.

...

Among the Sun-Times' findings:

-The city pays the most per square foot for a branch library in Chinatown -- more even than it pays for downtown office space.

-The city has three leases with landlords who are clients of the insurance brokerage run by the mayor's brother, Cook County Commissioner John Daley.

-Two of the city's landlords have hired the law firm of Ald. Edward M. Burke (14th) -- in one case to win a cut in their real estate taxes on property leased to the city.

When you pay your property taxes, see that extra money added to your restaurant tab, or fork over $50 for a parking ticket, just remember who is getting rich while your taxes and fees rise. All this money from taxes and fees, all this money from the sale of the Skyway, parking garages, and parking meters...and the city is still broke! The city that works...for the connected cronies of our crooked mayor.

TELANDER STRIKES AGAIN
























Oh Rick Telander, I heart you. First this, and now this:

A Bidder Pill to Swallow: Mayor Daley and his pals want trust but don't deserve it
The most dangerous four words in the world are these: Trust me this time.

That's what you hear from Mayor Daley and his 2016 Olympic-bid cronies. Those four words.

Forget the incessant city scandals that Daley knows ''nuttin' about.'' Forget the Daley relatives and pals lined up ass-to-elbow, snorting at the money trough. Forget the lakefront airport torn up in the middle of the night, the neighborhoods where school kids have as good a chance of getting shot as going to a four-year college, the police department that has had its morale ripped up and beaten to a pulp.

...

But don't forget this: Mayor Daley, Pat Ryan and all the other rich guys in on the Chicago Olympics bid are saying, like a chorus of spring peepers in the Great Bog of Clout: Trust me this time.

Trust the carpetbaggers and money-grubbers and imbeciles and would-be Pharaohs. They will take your money, people.

They will.

They always do.

Our mayor is so crooked, he's getting hit in the sports pages. Wake up Chicago! Call your Alderman, protest, give money to No Games Chicago...DO SOMETHING! Or we will all pay for Daley's over-priced Olympic pipe dream. The evidence is there - O'hare, Millennium Park, Block 37 - all ridiculously over-budget. Just like Telander said. "They will take your money people. They will. They always do."

Friday, June 19, 2009

ALDERMAN FLORES IS MAD AND HE'S NOT GONNA TAKE IT ANYMORE

via Progress Illinois



You might be onto something here Manny. Keep it up.

ROLAND "TRAILBLAZER" BURRIS





















Hahaha. Roland Burris. The name is enough to make me laugh, but then there's this gem from Wired: Burris' Shock Discovery: the Pentagon has Research Labs!
How lame of a Senator is Roland Burris, the hack brought in by Illinois’ indicted ex-governor to take Barack Obama’s seat? The guy has himself an appointment to the Armed Services Committee. Which means he oversees the Pentagon, in theory. But during last week’s proceedings of that committee, Burris seemed genuinely shocked to discover that the Defense Department devoted so much time and money to science and technology.

You’re saying that [the armed] services have their own research laboratories going?” he asked Zachary Lemnios, the administration’s nominee to be the Director of Defense Research and Engineering — the Pentagon’s geek-in-chief. Then he asked Lemnios — pronouncing his name “Leonis” — the follow-up question you’d expect from a son of the Chicago Machine: So does that mean you’re the guy in charge of all that research cash?

Oh Burris, you are truly an embarrassment.

Full transcript available by clicking on the article link above.

In other Burris news, he will NOT be facing perjury charges. I'm shocked- SHOCKED! - by this information. What a fine representative of the State of Illinois we have. We should all be very proud. Big thanks to Rod Blago. I can't wait till old Trailblazer Burris is replaced by someone better - like Lisa Madigan. Hahahaha.

CHICAGO OLYMPICS? NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO. NO!














Wow. The Chicago Tribune has three articles addressing Mayor Daley's lies about Chicago taxpayers' liability for the Olympics games. Of course, the Tribune still endorses the Olympics in Chicago, even as evidence mounts that Mayor Daley and his band of crooked cronies cannot finish anything on budget and without lining their own pockets at our expense. I'd respect the Trib a lot more if they didn't support the mayor's Olympic dreams at all. But I guess this is as good as we are gonna get.

First, the Tribune's editorial board urges the City Council to do its job: An Olympic Accounting
Yo! City Council! Step in. The city's entire Olympic bid needs a slow and careful vetting in your chambers.

This financial commitment is an extremely critical issue. The Chicago Olympic bid has a $4.8 billion budget for construction and operations, and it projects a profit. But recent experience in other cities shows that Olympic costs can skyrocket in stunning fashion. The 2012 Games in London are expected to cost nearly three times as much as first budgeted.
Then, there's this one: Mayor Richard Daley's Decision to OK IOC Contract Puts Taxpayers in Deep End of Olympic Pool
Daley did this because he can. He now plans to tolerate an actual discussion of the Olympic contract in a City Council meeting sometime soon. That debate will have all the suspense of a People's Assembly debate over whether to send birthday best wishes to dear leader Kim Jong Il.

Now, Daley's second-in-command on the Olympic bid, retired insurance czar Ryan, is asking everyone not to worry.

That's what London's organizers said before they spent four times their original budget. Beijing's organizers exceeded the original budget by a factor of 10. The Athens Games' runaway $17.6 billion in spending helped boost the entire nation's budget deficit to 6 percent of Greece's gross domestic product.

Chicago 2016 will be different, we are told. The Chicago Games would have to log a $1.75 billion operating loss before bill collectors tapped into the taxpayers' treasury.

That would happen, said Sir Patrick of Ryan, only "if everyone was so inept that we go over" those guarantees.

Gross ineptitude? In Chicago? Not here in the land of the ill-considered parking project. Not here where Millennium Park came in at more than three times its original budget, and O'Hare's expansion is headed in that direction.
And finally: Olympics Funding: City Council in No Mood for Games
"I don't know where he gets the authority to do that," said Ald. Brian Doherty (41st). "We're supposed to be the watchdogs of the budget, and they've been very arrogant in doing whatever they want and not consulting us."

Ald. Manny Flores (1st), who plans to introduce an ordinance prohibiting the city from spending more than $500 million to cover any operating losses, said that "there has to be greater transparency on this."
...
"The whole thing needs a public hearing, no doubt about it," said Ald. Robert Fioretti (2nd). "In light of ongoing scandals and corruption issues, it erodes the confidence of citizens of this city in its government and the aspect of having the Olympics."
I'm not sure my confidence in the mayor's ability to accomplish anything without corruption and scandal could be eroded any more than it already is Alderman Fioretti. But you hold that public hearing City Council. I'm sure all you aldermen will approve whatever the mayor wants, just as you always do. Your "defiance" is just a show. And then the city can lay off a bunch of city workers, cut services, and still not plug our $300 budget deficit, while in the meantime the mayor sits on an enormous TIF treasure chest created solely by our property taxes, just waiting for the Olympic spending spree to begin. I dunno, maybe the mayor can raise our taxes (again) and write more parking tickets to make up the difference.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

PARKING METER MADNESS















It seems like Ben Joravsky and Mick Dumke of the Chicago Reader are the only reporters doing any real investigating around City Hall these days. And they keep coming up with some damning information regarding Chicago's parking meter privatization. An absolute MUST read if you live and/or park in Chicago: The Parking Meter Fiasco: Part III - The Insiders.
But our latest investigation—piecing together public documents, records of City Council hearings, interviews with elected officials and financial experts, company profiles, and previous news reports—reveals that there’s a lot more to the story:

- Not only did William Blair advise the city on the deal—it came up with the idea in the first place. Then it provided the city with the only estimate it ever received of what the system was worth and coordinated the bidding process.

- Two other financial services firms and three law firms were brought in to assist. All were given no-bid contracts for the work, and all appear to have political or personal ties to the Daley administration (which is not unusual for the way the city of Chicago does business).

- The financial advisers were each paid a share of what the city made in cash on the lease deal. William Blair received 0.375 percent of the payout, or about $4.3 million, according to records obtained from the city through a FOIA request. The others, Gardner Rich and Ramirez & Company, each received 0.0625 percent, or $722,813. The attorneys’ fees added up to another $1.3 million. All told, the city paid its legal and financial advisers more than $7 million for their work on the deal.

- At the same time they were helping the city prepare and conduct the bidding process for the parking meter lease, all of the financial firms, including William Blair, were working on other multibillion-dollar deals with the company that emerged as the winning bidder, Morgan Stanley. The overlapping relationships are in violation of the city’s own contracting rules.

- Partners in two of the three law firms hired to work on the deal had previously donated money to Mayor Daley’s campaign. City rules ban contributions to the mayor from employees of city contractors but don’t apply to law firms.

- Together the lawyers and financial advisers—not anyone in city government—determined who would control the parking meter system for the next several generations and how much money they’d make off it. But as private entities, none of these firms are required by law to disclose to the public how they arrived at their plan. And none would talk to us for this story.

I urge you to read the whole article. It is long, but it is worth every minute. While you're at it, read parts 1 and 2 of the Reader's series about Dick Daley's parking meter lease.

I wonder if Daley is shocked by the trouble this parking meter debacle has caused him. I hope he cries about it every night while praying Patrick Fitzgerald doesn't read the Chicago Reader.


photo via Chicago Sun-Times

ALDERMEN QUESTION DALEY'S NEW OLYMPIC GUARANTEE


















Following up on an earlier post about the mayor's new guarantee that we will foot the bill for any and all financial losses from the Olympic games...

With newfound boldness stemming from the parking meter mess, it seems some aldermen are continuing their interest in doing the job we elected them to do...they are actually questioning the mayor and his tyrannical quest for the Olympics. (Gasp!) Way to earn those $100K salaries guys! I am SO proud of you.

From the Chicago Sun-Times:
They argued that Daley has “no authority” to sign the host-city contract without Council approval.

“This is a big deal. He’s planning to sign an agreement that puts the city on the hook for an unlimited amount of money,” said Ald. Joe Moore (49th).

“Let them come before the City Council and explain to us why this is a safe bet for taxpayers. They can tell us they have insurance. They can make all the arguments they want to make. But, as elected representatives closest to the votes, we need to have a say in this. This is something that recent events have made all too clear. We need to exercise our authority as a check and balance on the mayor’s office.”

After the fiasco caused by Daley’s $1.15 billion decision to lease Chicago’s 36,000 parking meters, aldermen can’t afford to sit back, according to Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd).

“They made guarantees, and none of those guarantees have come true on the parking meter deal. I don’t think the Council will buy his guarantee of, ‘Don’t worry. There’s multiple layers of guarantees here,’” Waguespack said.

“The Council needs to be part of this process. The mayor’s office and 2016 needs to show us what those guarantees are and what taxpayers are on the hook for ... .I have no information right now that proves to me these backstops are genuine.”

I'm waiting to see what - if anything - the full City Council does about this. I'm sure they will still sign on to foot the bill for the Olympics, even as we face a growing budget deficit - $300 million and counting. But it is nice to finally see some aldermen asserting their rightful position as a check on the mayor's monstrous power.

Now maybe it's our turn to let the Mayor know how we feel. Or as Ben Joravsky at the Chicago Reader put it:
I've long thought that the Olympic bid is a cruel joke Mayor Daley is playing on his constituents--to see how much nonsense we'll swallow before we throw up. It looks like our tolerance is endless. How else to explain why folks aren't taking to the streets to stop this lunacy?

TOM TRESSER FOR MAYOR



















This Tom Tresser guy is really becoming a personal hero of mine. You may remember him from yesterday's post or a prior Mayor Daley rant. You should definitely read his entire piece on the Huffington Post: Why I'm in Switzerland (Trying to Meet the IOC):

Why go?

Very simply -- to preserve our city's future. To prevent the piling up of massive debt. To prevent the displacement of people from their homes. To protect our parks. To say "Enough!" to the back room deals and pin stripe patronage and to take meaningful action against the small group of arrogant officials who have been running our city as their personal fiefdom for decades.

That's why we're here. That's why I'm here.

To back up a bit, I have to confess that I'm a good government geek. I'm an unreconstructed idealist. A reformer. A believer in independent, honest, grassroots-powered government. I stubbornly believe that government should serve the people and be an instrument for sustainable and equitable opportunity.

I get deeply frustrated and angry with the way Chicago has been run as a private ATM for a small group of politically connected families and their friends.

I'm embarrassed and saddened by the parade of corrupt state and county politicians and convicted Alderman (30 in the past 30 years?), TIF-funded sweetheart deals for fat cats and venal public employees who steal our tax dollars for work they do not do.

Keep up the good work Mr. Tresser and everyone at No Games Chicago. I really appreciate everything you are doing to fight Daley's quest for the 2016 Olympic games.


photo via No Games Chicago

NOT THIS VANECKO THING AGAIN!
























Yes, more news on the Vanecko city pension scandal.

First, a little history regarding the Vanecko family and their ties to the city...with some Mike Royko thrown in for good measure: Mayor Daley...His Nephew Problem...and Mike Royko

[Royko] was writing about another generation of Vaneckos and Daleys and a disease he called "payrolliaitis."

"It isn't anything that would show up through scientific testing," wrote Royko in 1965, "but Mayor Richard J. Daley is a carrier of a fast-spreading germ . . . called payrolliaitis. The symptoms are easy to spot. A person gets close to the mayor. Crunch -- the payrolliaitis bug nips him. He wanders off in the direction of a city, state or county agency, sits down at a desk, and his name breaks out on a payroll."

Royko was talking about the hiring of Robert Vanecko's grandfather, Dr. Michael Vanecko, whose son married the late mayor's daughter. Shortly before the wedding, that Vanecko went to work for the Chicago Board of Health. And later, his son, Dr. Robert Vanecko, was hired as the physician for the city's municipal pension fund. And now today we have the third generation, as his son, another Robert Vanecko, lands a $68 million deal with -- what else -- city pension funds. He severed all business ties with the deal only after the feds began subpoenaing records.

Also, it seems our glorious Aldermen want answers about the city's lease of one of Vanecko's buildings. So do I, city council, so do I.

Unless the city can prove it needed flexibility to get out of the lease quickly, it appears that the month-to-month lease was designed to get around the City Council, said Ald. Joe Moore (49th).

"It would seem to me that someone was trying to hide something," Moore said.

He added, "One of the reasons we have these meetings is so the public and ... media can know who's getting these leases. It begs the question why, in this particular case, it was done in what appears to be a secretive fashion. We are owed an explanation."

Anthony Pascente a spokesman for the city's Department of General Services, did not return repeated phone calls on the lease.

Despite weeks of questions from the Chicago Sun-Times, City Hall yet to produce a lease document or invoices to justify the monthly payments, at a rate of $3.83-per-square foot for 70,565 square feet of space, 20 percent of the warehouse.

You're right Joe Moore, someone IS trying to hide something from us and we ARE owed an explanation. Maybe you and your 49 friends could do something about that. In the meantime, I'll be here waiting for that explanation...Though I'm sure if old Dick Daley ever gives one, I will not believe it. Such is life in the city of Chicago.

PENSION REFORM...PRETTY PLEASE
























Following in the footsteps of former Cook County Board "President" Bobbie "Steal" Steele (and many others), a Daley insider will retire and collect two government pensions. The Sun-Times has the story:

By jumping through an early retirement window, Degnan got a lump-sum bonus of 10 percent of his annual city salary. He was also free to collect both a city pension and a CTA paycheck.

His May 31 retirement from the CTA means Degnan can now collect two local government pensions. His annual retirement check from the city amounts to roughly $92,208 or 80 percent of Degnan's highest city salary. After just seven years on the CTA job, he'll collect a $10,997-a-year CTA pension.

...
Civic Federation President Laurence Msall said Robert Degnan's double-pension is particularly galling at a time when under-funded city pensions threaten to saddle future generations of Chicagoans with a debt they cannot handle.

"It's a shining example of why the city's pension system -- and all other local government systems authorized by the General Assmbly -- need to be reformed and structured to what is economically reasonable for taxpayers, rather than insiders who are able to manipulate the system," Msall

I gotta say, as a taxpayer, I am very proud that I can offer up such a cushy retirement to a dedicated city worker. Nevermind saving for my own retirement. I'm just happy to help.

DALEY'S OLYMPICS: "THE CHICAGO WAY 2016"















First, Daley promised no taxpayer money would be spent on the Olympics. Then, the mayor and City Council guaranteed $500 million of OUR money to cover any shortfalls in paying for the Olympics. Our governor and state legislature soon followed with a $250 million promise. And then, of course, unspecified amounts of our property tax dollars/TIF money will be spent on the Olympic Village at Michael Reese Hospital...But that's not taxpayer money, it's Mayor Daley's money!

And now, Daley has again proven to be a liar, as we will now be on the hook for the full cost of the games. The Tribune reports:

The city and the bid had sent the International Olympic Committee a letter noting the city may have legal issues agreeing to some of the guarantees required in the standard contract, which requires the host city to take full financial responsibility for the Games. The IOC later replied that it expected everyone to sign the standard contract.

"We are going to sign it as is," Daley said after Chicago's presentation to the IOC this morning at the organization's headquarters in Switzerland. The city's speakers delivered that message to the members during the presentation.

And anyone who thinks that Chicago's Olympics will come in on budget needs only look at other over-budget projects the city has managed - Millennium Park, Block 37 - or to the significant cost overruns other Olympic host cities have run into - London, Vancouver.

I suggest checking out the No Games Chicago website for more information on this Olympic nonsense.

Also, check out another wonderful John Kass entry about the Olympics. Here's a highlight:
"We want the [IOC] members to walk away with a better understanding of Chicago and the team they would be working with for a Chicago Olympics," Doug Arnot, a Chicago 2016 official, was quoted as saying.

But do you really think you're going to get answers from the suits of the Chicago 2016 Committee? Of course not. You know better.

That's why we've put together a blue-ribbon panel of Chicago experts, including corrupt politicians, an Outfit boss, an indicted alderman, a mayoral nephew under federal investigation and others not accused of any crime, but who know how Chicago works, like a mayoral brother.

It's not Chicago 2016. It's The Chicago Way 2016.