Saturday, November 03, 2007

TPWWL Moves to - Chicago

Effective today, I have "gone live" as the Guide for Chicago Locals. You can find the site here. is A New York Times Company, and I am pleased to have this opportunity. After three years of blogging here for "love and comments," (as Pound's Wendy McClure once described it), I will be paid to blog about Chicago.

I'll be taking my e-mail address down from this site and substituting it with my new address soon. I hope you'll stop by and see what's up at the new site. I'm the only one behind the Chicago content curtain, so to speak, so I'd appreciate your feedback, ideas, and visits. It's definitely a work in progress as this site always was, too.

I'll leave The Place Where We Live up, but this will probably be its last official post. As you'll note from the previous post, it's been a year of transitions for me. Or, I should say, attempted transitions. (No new home.) But, I'm very pleased that the answer that has come through all this writing is that I get to belong to the entire community, not just once spot of it. And, that feels nice.

Peace to all who come to this post. Thank you for reading.


Monday, May 07, 2007

Welcome Back to the Beaches!

"The month of May not only brings proverbial flowers, but it also brings back the sun worshippers, dog owners, baby jogger owners, sightseers and, unfortunately. . .trash.

My husband and I volunteer for the Alliance for the Great Lakes, and I serve as a beach captain for North Avenue Beach. We organize clean-ups five times a year. Our kick-off clean-up was on April 14 to coincide with Earth Day.

It was a sunny day, but gloves and hats were the preferred attire as the wind was whipping across the beach, pulling in the cool winter air from Lake Michigan. We organized a small group of volunteers to comb the beach for trash."

This is an excerpt from an article by Ann Hopkins Avery, who warmly ushered me into the realm of beach stewardship at North Avenue. She wrote it for the Great Lakes Town Hall. Read her full article here.

I was among that small group of volunteers with her in April. The beach was disgusting, filled with cigarette butts, plastic wrappers, and plastic bottle parts as she has described. I personally removed a queen-sized bed sheet from the sand. Someone else carried up a wooden boat ladder.

Our lakes need a lot of TLC. I had never heard about the Great Lakes Town Hall before I learned of Ann's article, but it's a meaningful meeting place to start learning more if you're interested and want to help.

[Another good place, of course, is the Alliance for the Great Lakes.]

Saturday, May 05, 2007

How many People Died in the Chicago Fire?

I often find myself asking this question whenever the topic of the fire comes up.

You hear about the devastation, the rebirth, the cow, but rarely do you ever hear about victims. That omission just doesn't fit with how Americans tend to relate to disasters, including historic ones.

For instance, doesn't it seem like there would have been some notable memorial for the victims of the fire erected by now given the great standing this event has in our city's history?

Or, if there were no victims, isn't that a remarkable aspect of the fire that's worthy of greater attention?

The Newberry Library took a stab at answering the question in 2003. Basically, they don't know how many. Maybe about 300. Their remains were probably left and built over. You can find the full explanation here.

[I just stumbled across this photo of a recent memorial statue erected at the site of the (supposed) start of the fire.]

Photo courtesy of the Chicago Landmarks Commission here.

Friday, May 04, 2007

No Parade This Saturday

The artist and Old Town resident Jenny Roberts (whom I've blogged about before here and here) throws a No Parade tomorrow, Saturday, May 5, as part of the Lumpen Version 07 Festival. Read more about the No Parade here.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Lincoln Park Community Organizations - What are the Benefits?

Vi Daley's run-off election seemed to reveal a lot of issues with our community's organizations. If you check in with the comments still blazing on this blog's recent "Vi Daley" post, you'll see some of it.

In my pre-election comments, I complained that I thought our community was sliced and diced into so many different groups and organizations that it didn't help foster a sense of community, build consensus, or allow us any collecctive voice or power to address situations that affect us all (e.g., zoning, Children's Memorial Hospital).

Others think the organizations lack financial transparency.

On the other hand, the community groups do contribute a lot -- the festivals, like the Sheffield Garden Walk and Old Town Art Affair, are arguably very enjoyable events with long histories and wide participation.

Here's a list of community organizations in Lincoln Park* that represent neighbors and residents.

Diversey Harbor Lakeview Assn
Gold Coast Neighbors
Lincoln Central Assocation
Near North Property Owners
Mid-North Asscociation
North Dearborn Association
Old Town Merchants & Residents
Old Town Triangle Association
Park West Community Assocation
Ranch Triangle Assocation
Sheffield Neighborhood Assn
Wrightwood Neighbors

What are the positive things and benefits these organizations bring to our community? Please comment.

Here are the ground rules of this forum:

  1. I will do a follow-up post for debating the organizations' drawbacks, so I will delete negative comments left on this post.
  2. Whenever possible, please mention the community group by name.
  3. You may be anonymous, but please choose a "handle" like "ChicagoABC" or "JohnDoe45" to post under, so we may better follow the debate among anonymous commenters.

    So, what do you really appreciate about these community organizatons?

*The only place I could find this list was on Alderman Vi Daley's website, to her credit.

The Artist Project: New Scenes from Chicago's Urban Landscape

I've got Band-aids on both big toes from walking the remarkable ArtChicago on Monday. What a visual feast!

The Artist Project offered independent artists a seat at this sprawling art market's table.

Many of them explored Chicago's urban and natural landscape as their subject matter. Here are two.

William Dolan
William Dolan's work is at right. The first painting is called "Blue Caprice. "The second one is titled "The Corner Revisited."

I love the way Dolan captures the edgier sides of the city with croppy, up-close compositions and vibrant colors.

You can find out more about him at his website here.

Hiroshi Ariyama
Hiroshi Ariyama is a printmaker. He displayed images from a series he's been working on called "Our City, Our Neighborhood."

This one below is called "Distant Storm." I really enjoyed the way his graphics reduced Chicago scenes to their essence. He isn't just capturing moments, he's making them seem captured and held still, sort of like postcards do.

You can find Hiroshi at the Ariyama Studio online here.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Off-Topic: Paparazzi Post

My older brother, John, lives in Brooklyn and helps run a tv lighting company called Liberty Lighting. In other words, he's a gaffer. And, he's really, really good at it.

So good that Barbara Walters always hires him to light her for her interviews and feature shows. You can see her at left in this photo without his lighting.

Occasionally, he sends us photos from his celebrity shoots, and I e-mail them out to my friends like the proud sister I am. Thought I'd run one here, too.

[Okay, that's really Murray from Sesame Street.]

Friday, April 27, 2007

For Sale: Lincoln Park's Last Little Worker's Cottage

No corner in Lincoln Park better exemplifies the changing built landscape of this neighborhood than Howe and Armitage.

That's where you'll find this little blue gem from 1886. It's dwarfed by the three-, four-, and five-lot palaces that have risen all around it. Now, it's a complete anomaly.

Sadly, it's probably also awaiting its slaughter.

It's been for sale at least since 2005 when I took these photos. (Although little about it has changed.) The asking price is $575K for 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, a sizable yard and a finished basement.

The listing sheet reads, "Renovate. . . or tear down and build your own in the Lincoln School District." There will be no internal showings. You have to buy it "as is." There are renters living there now, but they are on a month-to-month lease, according to the listing.

One of the things that has probably saved it from the bulldozers so far is its small lot size. It's only 17 x 80 versus the standard 25 x 125. That makes it more difficult for developers to extract a profit from it.

I'm often in the middle on preservation issues. In general, I'm sympathetic to the notion that we should preserve aspects of our built history. I don't think we should rush to tear everything down. I'd prefer, in many instances, that we try to renovate buildings and find creative re-uses for them. I don't immediately assume newer is better. I think a diversity of structures is healthiest for a neighborhood.

However, I also think private citizens should have a solid amount of freedom with their properties. Because I'm in the market for a new-to-me home, I can see that newer can frequently be better or more affordable than older. I'm a big fan of modern design and architecture, and I recognize that envisioning and building "the new" is a necessary and important part of our culture.

Should this building be saved?
I don't really think it's the very last cottage in Lincoln Park. But, I don't know for sure. Is anybody counting?

I do think this little cottage is meaningful to our neighborhood. It adds to the visual diversity of our streetscapes. It maintains a dignified scale and offers authentic charm. It reminds us of our shared history.

It's almost 150 years old. It was built just 16 years after our neighborhood was incorporated into the city of Chicago. According to a guide the Chicago Commission on Landmarks publishes called Your House Has a History (download it here), it is a classic worker's cottage.
It would be a meaningful loss to see it go.

Unfortunately, we lack a cohesive enough community to stand up and say, "Hey, all you rich people buying lots and building mega-homes nearby, could you please throw this one in as a gift to your community? It's important to us. Alderman Daley, what about the loss of this home in our community? Is that okay with you?"

Maybe the rich people could donate it as a tax-write off to the Chicago History Museum who could use it as a study annex, sort of like the the Art Institute's Roger Brown Study Collection on Halsted. Or, maybe it could be a children's center or a garden and a small park. Perhaps a retail shop might like it and extend the Armitage shopping district a bit further east. Any of those choices might protect it for the community to enjoy for years to come.

But, honestly, there are plenty of historians who can speak more knowledgably about this building's importance, or lack thereof, rather than me.

My main point is that just thinking about this building's fate reveals a lot. The election already showed how little our community discusses our future. Demolishing this house might reveal how little we honor our past.

Here's a link to where you'll need to register and type in 625 W. Armitage.Here's Zillow, but you need to register and type in the address: 625 W. Armitage.

Here's my favorite Lincoln Park realtor.

2013 Update on this home from folks at Kale Realty

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Are the Cicadas the Y2K story of the Year?

I'm already tired of hearing about the cicadas.

I can't help but wonder if it's going to be a big nothing like Y2K was. You know, with global warming and all that. It's entirely possible the cicadas won't know to come out this year.

The Trib adores the story. This morning's front page features an article by an oh-gosh bride who had envisioned a ceremony outside. But, oh yuck. "Can you imagine yelling your vows (over the sound of the bugs), waiting for something to land in your hair?" she states. "It's just so gross!"

Then there's the Trib's sentence that tries to justify the article: "Cicadas don't bite or carry diseases, but they're probably not the most welcome wedding guests."

Yup, at best it will be pretty remarkable and at worst mildly annoying.

Hold tight. One way or another this, too, shall pass. They're predicting by early July.

(Go here to hear what the cicadas may sound like. I must say, it's a bit startling to think it will be the soundtrack of this summer. Glad I heard it now. Sounds and photo courtesy of Professor Janet Stein Carter at the University of Cincinnati - Claremont College.)

Back Online: More on Vi

You guys rock. Thanks for all the comments blazing on my previous post while I took some more down time.

Just a few more comments on Vi's re-election and what you've posted:

- I wrote that people re-elected Vi due to her leadership and experience. I really don't know that. I was just giving her the benefit of the doubt. A more accurate statement would have been that voters decided to keep her rather than fire her. The reasons are probably as numerous as the voters.

- I do hope Vi Daley will step up her engagement communication with the community and find some innovative ways to do that. I recommend she set up a blog like my virtual friend The Blogging Mayor of Round Lake aka Bill Gentes. (His blog, by the way, turns 2 today! Happy blogirthday, Bill!)

He uses his blog to keep his constituents up to date about road closings, police promotions, non-profits, election results, local merchants, and lots of other news big and small. His blog is a great example of leadership, community engagement, and how to share civic knowledge. He's even been invited to lecture on building community through blogging.

Just something for the folks over at Vi's to begin thinking about. And, don't forget a comments section!

-I think one of the things that surprised me the most about the 43rd ward aldermanic race was how much the word "puppet" got thrown around. Say what you will about any of the candidates, but I find the puppet idea just so implausible. Ridiculously beholden to someone on certain issues? Influenced unduly by others? That I buy.

-Thank you very much to Rachel Goodstein and others for their kind comments about the blog.

-Finally, regarding our house search. It is true that most of the single family homes in our price range and with the features we are seeking are not located in Lincoln Park. But, I want to be absolutely clear that I am not throwing myself a pity party.

I am deeply grateful for and more than satisfied by our budget. I by no means want to suggest otherwise. I am sorry, though, to possibly be leaving Lincoln Park. We've been very happy here. I'm hopeful we won't end up going very far.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

It's Vi's Victory

Well, Vi's victory last night was clearly decisive. No doubt about it. While her fellow incumbents fell to their spirited opponents or clung to their seats by a thread, Vi was way out ahead of Michele Smith. Clearly, voters felt her leadership and track record were worthy of her keeping her job.

She raked in 4,347 votes to Smith's 3,798 with 98.31% of the vote in. (These numbers from the Trib here.)

Congratulations to Vi and Michele for an important campaign that percolated a needed discussion throughout our community. I do hope we'll continue to see Smith, Zelchenko, Goodstein, and Egan engaged and present in this community.

The other interesting fact was that the number of voters who turned out was down just about 900 or so from the February election. 9143 voters turned out in February (unofficially). With 98% of the votes in, 8145 turned out for the run-off.

Meanwhile, here at our ranch, our contract fell through yesterday on the house we were hoping to buy in what is now Scott Waguespack's ward. Sigh.

I'm also signing off for a while. I need to re-group.

Happiness and peace to you and yours.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

What's Taking So Long?

The 43rd ward election results seem to have ground to a stop. What gives? Here's the Trib's site. I'm going to bed. I'll see in the a.m. who is our alderman.

Night, night. Sleep tight.

Update: A-ha. Here's what's going on courtesy of the Trib.

Vi out to Early Lead, but Race Not Called Yet

The Chicago Tribune is posting race results here. So far, Vi Daley leads Michele Smith 3242 to 2854 with 71.19% of the precincts reporting. Meanwhile, Ted Matlak and Joe Moore are trailing their challengers by inches. Stay tuned.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Who has the edge? Vi or Michele?

The campaigning is fast and furious. E-mails from Tim Egan. Post-it notes on my front yard gate from Vi Daley. Neighbors from Old Town mailing on behalf of Michele Smith.

Are you planning on voting tomorrow?

I am one of those people who shows up at just about every election no matter what. I believed all that stuff in elementary school about how other countries wished they had a right to vote like we do so we should take advantage of it. I like thinking about all the women who fought so hard for my right to vote less than a century ago. Who am I not to turn out after they worked so hard and endured so much?

I'm wondering if the day will favor Vi and the status quo or will Michele supporters be more motivated to show up at the polls?

What will be will be. Can't wait to see.

UPDATE: Here is a timeline of women's suffrage in the U.S., which should be spelled sufferage, shouldn't it? It took 144 years for women to get the right to vote. Now, are you telling me, ladies, that you're too busy to get out tomorrow and vote for one of two female candidates just 77 years later? I sure as heck hope not.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Where the hell have I been?

Well, here's a hint. Mr. The Place Where We Live and I have been out having a BLAST of the "wish you were here" variety.

We also signed a contract on a home in a ward other than the fighting 43rd. It's a consuming process with inspections and all that, so I've missed a few of the main (in) fights and televisiony things going on between Michele Smith & Vi Daley.

What have you heard lately? Who won the tv debate?

Is Michele buying too many drinks and breaking all kinds of rules? Is Vi just too entrenched with her cronies to ever ask her community what it thinks? Have you early voted?

Can either candidate use the word "lies" any more often without needing to buy a vowel?

Stay tuned. We're baaaack.

UPDATE: I should probably clarify that this isn't really a picture of us. I would never marry a guy who would wear a necklace like that.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

43rd Ward Election Run-off: The Calm Before the Storm

Before TPWWL heads out on spring break (totally, dudes), here is the latest in the 43rd aldermanic run-off that pits incumbent Vi Daley against Michele Smith. See you in April!

  • Ms. Smith rung the bell of my home while out canvasing the neighborhood. She was kind enough to share her opinions about her positions and fill me in on the latest news from the campaign front as she sees it.

Somewhere in the midst of the conversation, my two-year old daughter, who I was holding in my arms, stuck both fingers in her ears while Ms. Smith was talking. It was like a page out of Politician Training 101. Mom was mortified. The candidate was diplomatic. The daughter thought she was very, very funny.

  • Mark your calendards now for April 9. Vi Daley and Michelle Smith will appear on Channel 11's Chicago Tonight. This is great news as I think Vi Daley did herself a real disservice by avoiding the show during the first go-round. Good for her for stepping up to the plate. This opportunity will serve the community well, and I'm guessing it will be the only opportunity for voters to see the candidate's side-by-side.

  • My new favorite high school student in the ward, Jake CP, who is Chairman and Host of Jake's Chicago Politics, has endorsed Michele Smith for alderman. Jake formerly backed Tim Egan, but did not join him when Egan threw his support to Vi Daley. He's my new favorite high school student, not because of who he's endorsing (remember, I'm truly neutral in this race), but because it's just so exciting to see someone his age get knee-deep into his local politics.

Here's the YouTube link: Enjoy.

  • Inside Lincoln Park reports that Smith received the endorsement of the IVI-IPO organization and the Fraternal Order of Police, Chicago, Lodge #7

  • Meanwhile, an abbreviated version of Tim Egan's letter endorsing Vi Daley without the Bill Kurtis murder part (which I've previously posted here), arrived in the mail on Vi Daley letterhead with Egan's name on the envelope.

  • My in-box has been pretty quiet from Team Vi. Other than an invite to join her team for to march in the St. Patrick's Day, I don't have any other updates for you. Please post if you know of some.

Haiku You: University of Chicago Holds a Contest

Four-hundred and nine University of Chicago alumni submitted haiku poems for a contest sponsored by the University of Chicago Magazine. The poems had to be about the university somehow.

Giuliana Fargnoli Champman, AB '96, won with this charming little number:

Japanese tourists
standing around the Atom
photograph themselves

Friday, March 16, 2007

St. Patrick left these at the Field Museum

From the American Memory Collection of The Chicago Daily News.

The archive description reads: "Four Irish relics related to St. Patrick on a table in the Field Museum in the Loop community area in Chicago, Illinois. 1907."

He probably put them in the coat check while he was looking at the dinosaurs, and then, when he got back to Ireland, he found the stub in his wallet and went, "Oh, jeez."

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Coming Soon: Ruffled Smoked Salmon & A Helluva Mortgage

Lucien Lagrange, the architect whom I've described previously (here) as a French man right out of Central Casting, will be hosting a preview of his newest project at 2520 N. Lakeview on Thursday, March 29 from 4 - 8 p.m.

Is it possible to measure the mortgage by the menu? You tell me:

Ruffled Smoked Salmon on Black Rye Bread

Minted Cucumber Creme Fraiche and Fresh Mint

Medium Rare Breast of Duck with Yellow Tomato Relish in Petite Cranberry Muffin

Grilled Zucchini Roulade

Tomato Scallion Compote and Chevre Cheese

Brie and Apricot in Phyllo Flower

Beef on Petite Rolls with Wasabi Sauce

Phyllo Spinach Triangles with Bearnaise Dip

Almond Tuilles, Fresh Fruit Tartlets, Petite Chocolate Eclairs, Lemon Squares, Chocolate Carmel Finger Brownies, and Petite Black Bottom Cakes with Ganache Rosette

So, hmmm, let's see, you take the petite beef rolls with wasabi sauce divide them by the number of phyllos add to it the number of fruit tartlets squared and, my friends, I think you're gonna see starting prices around $2 mil.

'Tis a shame I won't be in town to attend. But, you can. Go here to sign up.

[Note to 2520 Developers Ricker-Murphy, I don't think Mr. Lagrange capitalizes the first "g" in his last name per his company's website here. You may want to fix that on your website.]

Monday, March 12, 2007

Tim Egan: Bill Kurtis Tried to Get Me Killed, In My Heart I Know Vi is the Right Choice, and Other Tales from the 43rd Ward Aldermanic Front

Tim Egan e-mailed his statement about why he will be endorsing Vi Daley in the run-off. He entitled it, "A Vision for the Future."

He writes:

There is much to be said after experiencing the eye of the storm view in a campaign for Alderman in the City of Chicago.

Educational is the first word I would use to describe two years plus on the “Chicago Stump.” Secondly, but most important, is the great pride in the hard work and dedication of so many supporters, family and friends. There was some bitter disappointment in commitments promised and not delivered, but that was outweighed by the outright hilarity in some things that came our way.

One of my favorite memories is when the Chicago legend Bill Kurtis tried to get me killed. The famed news anchor and incredible voice and I were at the Center For Performing Arts fundraiser several months ago along with about 300 others waiting in the hallway for the arrival of Mayor Daley.

As usual the Mayor’s advance team arrived to secure the room and looked the full professional part with wired earphones and trench coats in place. It was the first time I had ever met Mr. Kurtis but was happy to have a conversation about the campaign, given he is a 43rd Ward constituent.

Then he tried to get me killed.

Mr. Kurtis suggested that the best way to get a picture with the Mayor and be on the front page of the newspapers was to “lunge” at him as he walked by. Because Mr. Kurtis’ voice is mesmerizing I didn’t catch his direction at first and then it hit me, he was trying to get me clipped by those real looking, gun carrying bodyguards.

I mentioned that a person my size lunging anywhere near the Mayor would not be around the next day to run for anything and seriously hoped Mr. Kurtis was kidding. That guy has the straightest face in TV history and I really couldn’t tell.


Our campaign team presented a Positive Acton platform that was drowned out by a forest pillaging negative tête-à-tête. Where are the environmentalist endorsements when you need them?

As much as I long for cheap shot politics to be abolished, it’s unfortunately here to stay. As the only Aldermanic candidate in the City of Chicago to attend the Campaign For Political Reform luncheon with former Illinois State Senator Peter Fitzgerald, I also keep my hopes up that massive campaign financing reforms will come to fruition sometime before then next turn of the century. Spending over $250,000 for an Aldermanic seat is ludicrous and massive reform city, state and countrywide is so necessary.

The spending frenzy, especially the bashing of opponents in my opinion is an insult to everyone’s intelligence and something our campaign stayed very far away from.

In the end, we did alright and I want to thank our troops who were the highlight of the entire campaign. We had help from 43rd Ward residents, Lincoln Park Chamber of Commerce members, family, friends and as much silent support as you can garner in Chicago. We played it straight and stayed above the usual political idiocy and tried to pound home our Positive Action message. It did garner support with
almost 1,100 voters and I am thankful to each and every one of them.

The big question on the minds who are interested in the 43rd Ward about who I would support was answered by ABC TV on Friday, March 9th at 5 pm. My support for Alderman Vi Daley comes down to two simple truths. I polled some of our most ardent and dedicated supporters in the most democratic fashion possible and an overwhelming majority will be voting for Alderman Daley.

In my heart, I know that Vi is the right choice for the next four years in our

I have full faith Vi Daley will represent my supporters, my family and myself in the City Council. Vi has served two terms as 43rd Ward Alderman and two terms as Chief of Staff to a former 43rd Ward Alderman. She has been in the ward for over 30 solid years and I have confidence in her knowledge of the system.

While her administration has had the shock of not garnering more than 50% of the popular vote, I believe Vi will make the steps necessary to increase communication and improve her constituent service plan in the next four years.

After spending time with Michele Smith at community forums, TV & radio interviews and on the streets of the 43rd Ward campaigning, I can honestly say from my heart that she did not earn my vote. As I head to the polling place and cast my vote for Vi in April, it is because in my opinion her campaign did not lay positive ground work on behalf of the residents of the 43rd Ward.

Smith has offered critizicism of the Lincoln Park Chamber of Commerce, but never joined as a member. She has guaranteed no future high rise development on the Children’s Memorial site as complete campaign rhetoric. She has promoted her support for the 7% tax cap, but so did all of the candidates and Vi has been championing that cause for years. Who wouldn’t?

Most importantly, parts of the 43rd Ward truly reflect a village within the city. And the negative campaigning and lack of positive ideas does not lend itself to a very village like atmosphere.

No deals where made and my hands were not washed by any other hands, which will be automatic assumptions. Hey, I just paid another round of parking tickets that we were tagged with during the last few weeks. So no free passes have been granted. Voting for Vi is my choice and the choice of my family.

As for my future, you’ll hear from me again as I have promised my supporters. My candidacy was for the purest reasons and those reasons have not changed. I am definitely looking forward."

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Egan Throws Support Behind Daley in Run-Off

ABC Channel 7 reports here that Tim Egan is backing Vi Daley in the run-off. Hmmmm.

Vi's reaction as quoted in the article:

"I met with him and I think he ran a good campaign and he has some ideas that I will be working with him on."

Opponent Michele Smith's reaction as quoted in the article:

"The overwhelming majority of the voters voted for change. They responded to our campaign because it was about the issues, about development, property taxes, waste."

No statement per Egan's site.

Egan backers, will you, too, be backing Daley in the run-off?

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Lynn Becker: "The Farwell is Toast"

Lynn Becker reports here that the Farwell will be gutted. He writes,

"In a a dazzling display of raw political power and overwhelming self-deception, The Society for the Protection of Wealthy Developers, formerly known as the ommission on Chicago Landmarks, voted this morning to demolish the landmark Farwell Building on North Michigan and remount the surviving elements of its facade on a new structure.Voting in favor the motion were Chairman David Mosena, John Baird, Lori Healey, Lisa Willis, Ernest C. Wong, Phyllis Ellin, Christopher R. Reed and Ben Weese. The sole commissioner not to drink the Kool-Aid and voting no was Edward I. Torrez. The other commissioners kept repeating the mantra of "This is not a precedent. This is not a precedent" as if trying to convince themselves that it could actually be true."

Press 1 if you Plan to Vote for Vi Daley. (So we can hit you up for some form of support and maybe ignore you.)

Press 2 if you plan to vote for Michele Smith. (So we can write you off.)
Press 3 if you are undecided. (So we can work on you.)
Press 4 if you are not planning to vote in the election. (So we can ignore you.)

When "the machine" quite literally called today, the robo voice identified herself as being with Vi's campaign. After I pressed 3, I was disconnected. No smoozy "Goodbye" or "Thank you." Just a genuine click.

This can't be that effective for them, can it? Really, what are they going to do with information if it's not what I've described above? There are two registered voters in our household. How do they know who they're talking to? How do they know six-year olds aren't responding?

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

No Word from Tim Egan's Camp - FYI

Although Tim expected to make a statement on Monday about his intentions for the run-off, I'm guessing that life has intervened and he's taking the time he needs to be with his family right now. Or, perhaps he's mulling over how he'd like to proceed. Maybe both.

I'm sure he'll let us know what's up when he's good and ready.

UPDATE: Here's the March 5 statement from Tim's campaign site, but that does not overtly state his plans. Anonymous, who posted about Tim's plans, obviously believes s/he knows something I don't. That, of course, is entirely possible.

Dear 43rd Ward Supporters & Friends,

The experience of running for 43rd Ward Alderman over the last two years plus has been more than wonderful, it has brought me friendships that will last a lifetime.

We all have great memories that will also last a lifetime.

I was prompted to run for Alderman by neighbors, friends and family because they believed my hospital administration and community service background would be perfect for the office. My run had the purest intentions and although the outcome was less than perfect for our team, we are energized by the positives.

We put out an army throughout our campaign; an army made up of 43rd Ward residents, business associates, charitable organization friends and even those I played sports with and against. More importantly, our team was bolstered by my family. More cannot be said about the support of the dedication shown by my wife Marlena. I could not ask for a better partner, mother to my children and friend.

Then there are my brothers. We three Irish siblings have lived up to legend by being the best of friends and the toughest of opponents. But true heart was displayed at the 2626 N. Lakeview polling place throughout the day on Tuesday, Feb. 27th.

My 44 year old brother Terry played the roll of poll watcher for our team and did a great job keeping an eye on things. Three weeks ago he was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease and my family thought it best to keep it from me during the election. My brother, facing the abyss of a disease with no proven cure, worked like a champion.

Heart, as I've said, is the greatest of life's characteristics and with my brother in the lead our campaign showed plenty. There are many "thanks" to be passed around and they belong to those who stuffed envelopes, made phone calls, labeled, placed door hangers, hit the streets and so much more.

Our "team" and our "army" were unmatched, from friends who helped financially and to those who dedicated much of their free time; I owe them all a ton of gratitude.
And to the almost 1,100 voters who believed in our message and our vision for the future,


That said, we're not done. My heart is dedicated to community service and my hope is for great things to come in the 43rd Ward. Please keep in touch and keep visiting our website, we're keeping it going and we'll keep promoting safety and community involvement.

Thanks once again and I look forward to seeing all of you throughout the run-off election in April and at all the 43rd Ward neighborhood functions right around the corner. See you soon.


Ideas about Place (and Travel): Wendy McClure

I stumbled across I'm Not the New Me at the Brown Elephant thrift store recently. It's a memoir, and I adore it.

It's written by fellow Chicagoan Wendy McClure, who blogs at a site called Pound. The book, to her enormous credit, grew out of the blog. She writes about her struggle to lose weight in a snarky world that expects it of her. Chicago is her backdrop.

Here's an excerpt that reveals a bit of her thoughts about this place:

"We're taking the Chicago Skyway out. The road vaults up to the Skyway bridge that takes us over Calumet City, over barges and water treatment plants and electrical towers and big tanks of God knows what. We have to roll up the windows when we cross over into Indiana, through Hammond and Gary. The first hour of any trip east from Chicago takes you through panoramic swaths of industrial stuff, all of it ugly, all hell, and we love it. It makes Indiana into an epic."

I love that stretch in a weird way, too. It kind of reminds me of Pittsburgh. My grandfather worked in the steel mills there, and the ugliness of that industry had an inexplicable, captivating charm. Of course, that could be the nostalgia talking.

But, it did seem that any moment while driving around there, we might stumble across a mysterious passage. I imagined it would lead to the enormous pot of molten steel my grandfather used to talk about. One time, he said, a man fell in, and they had to bury the entire pot because his body would never be found and the steel would never be any good.

[Other fave memoirs of late: Eat, Pray, Love and The Glass Castle.]

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Lynn Becker: Bid Farewell to the Farwell After All?

Lynn Becker tracks the continuing saga of the stripping of the Farwell Building's landmark status in favor of a parking lot here.

It's not surprising that the win earlier this year by preservationists was tentative at best. It's back on the docket for this Thursday.

Interested citizens can attend or send an e-mail to the Deputy Commissioner as outlined below.

Unfortunately, Lynn's post was written the day before Alderman Burton Natarus was ousted by Brendan Reilly in the municipal election. Does anyone know how Reilly feels about the proposal on the Farwell?

One of TPWWL's readers forwarded the meeting scoop as such:

Please attend the meeting on Thursday or please send an email to Deputy
Commissioner, Brian Goeken at

Commission on Chicago Landmarks – Special Meeting Farwell Building

Thursday, March 8, 2007 9:00 a.m.

(Please be early to sign in to speak)

Cook County Commission Board Room
118 N. Clark Street, 5th Floor (East
Chicago, Illinois

Read TPWWL's coverage of the last Commission on Chicago Landmarks meeting here.

Photo borrowed from Lynn Becker's Blog, ArchitectureChicago Plus

Friday, March 02, 2007

Tim Egan: "Family News Has Put This Election in Clear Perspective"

Sad news from the Egan camp.

I received this earlier today in response to my inquiry for a post-election statement or comment. (I am in the process of e-mailing all the candidates for statements/responses should they care to share them.)

I was certainly sorry to hear this news and wish Tim and his family well. Expect to hear a statement from him on Monday.

Tim wrote,

"The aftermath has been extremely difficult for my family and not because we lost the race. We have had some devastating family news that was held back from me during the election. Strength and courage is what I respect most in life. And while the news is heartbreaking, what has happened and how my family is dealing with it is a Profile in Courage.

Understandably we are all several steps behind our usual clear communications and timely responses.

I have also stopped many of our supporters from posting blogs on your site that deal with the stupidity of Anonymous posters. Plant? Half Baked? It's astounding that people would make comments with no base and be coward enough to do so anonymously. These false accusations are a Profile in Cowardice. Trust me, I am the most easily accessible of all the candidates, I beg for the Anonymous to make themselves known and contact me directly. I would love to have one-on-one meetings that quell any ridiculous accusations. For the record I've had as many face-to-face meetings with Marty Oberman as I have with Peter O'Brien... all of which got me nowhere with the two "machines".

This very personal family news has put this election in clear perspective. At the appropriate time, I will release a statement on The Place Where We Live. It will explain who I am backing and why. Until then, tell your bloggers if they want to take cheap shots, I'm still answering 312.714.4409 and I will be glad to carve out some time to interface.



Note: DO NOT EVEN THINK of posting any comment that is not kind and considerate. I will delete you and turn the comments off.

I should add that I had his permission to share this.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Dawn Clark Netsch Bean Post

I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to read the comments on this post on Peter Zelchenko's 43rd Ward blog before Tuesday's election, but the discussion by some of Vi Daley's campaign staff and the ward-oriented debate are still of note.

Michele Smith says "Thanks for your Support!"

Here is the statement from Michele Smith's campaign. I received it earlier today, but I've been out.

"Dear Friends,

Thank you for your support! We are very excited about the election results. Because of YOUR support, we forced the incumbent into a run-off election on April 17.

I would like to thank Tim Egan, Rachel Goodstein, and Peter Zelchenko for running strong campaigns. They showed up at the forums, knocked on doors, held coffees and shared their views with residents of the ward. Because of their efforts, the ward will be a better place to live.

In a multi-candidate race, a candidate must have a simple majority of 50% plus one vote in order to win outright, or the top two finishers participate in a run-off election. We made a very strong second-place showing, and the current incumbent received less than 50%. As a result, I'll be running as the only candidate against the incumbent on Tuesday, April 17, 2007.

Get involved! Contribute!

Our supporters are energized. There's clearly a mandate for change in this ward and I am eager to continue my campaign to give residents a true and decisive advocate in this community and in City Hall.

Get involved! Volunteer!

After more than 8 years in office, the incumbent has failed to win the confidence of the majority of residents in the 43rd Ward. I look forward to debating the issues with Mrs. Daley during the next phase of this campaign.

Thank you again for all that you do.


Michele Smith"

Very interesting. Smith is claiming a mandate for change while identifying Daley as an alderman who failed to win the confidence of the majority of voters.

The tone of Daley's letter vs. Smith's was pretty striking to me -- the old guard vs. the potential new one.

Let the games begin!

Vi Daley Says "More Work to Do"

The Vi Daley campaign e-mail newsletter just arrived. Here's her statement:

"Dear Friend,

I want to thank everyone for their hard work over the past 3 months. We did well in a crowded race but came up a few hundred votes short to avoid a runoff election on April 17th. I want to congratulate Tim Egan, Rachel Goodstein, and Peter Zelchenko on their valiant campaigns. They offered a number of worthy suggestions, and I look forward to working with each of them in the future on issues in the 43rd Ward.

While some of my supporters see this as a disappointment, I see this as an opportunity. This is an opportunity to continue engaging our neighbors in a discussion about our community.

On one side we have forces outside this ward that have waged a false, misleading campaign distorting and criticizing the work we have done together to make our community the best in the entire city. They have not run a campaign on real issues, they do not offer any real improvements for our lives, and they ignore the achievements we have made as a community. Their vision is not ours.

As our neighbors continue to hear this, I'm confident that they will ultimately reject it. I'm confident that they will agree with our vision which has been developed through experience and accomplishment in the 43rd Ward. This vision continues the progress we have made in our schools through innovative programs such as pre-kindergarten and healthy, organic lunches. It protects and improves the quality of life we so cherish while working to cap and stabilize our property taxes with real tax reform. And this vision is for sensible planning in our ward on which we have a long record to speak.

Our vision is something that I'm not only proud of but proud to run on. I look forward to comparing it to that of these outside interests and their candidate who has no record of any participation in this community.

The next few weeks will be tough, and I can't do this without your help. As knowledgeable members of this community, you have an important job in telling the story about this neighborhood and defending the progress we have made together. So keep the signs in your windows, keep talking to your neighbors, and let's keep working together on behalf of our community.

It's your voice that will matter six weeks from now on April 17th.

Thank you again for all your work and participation in this community. We have much more to do today, tomorrow and after this election."

So, it looks like Vi's tactic is to run on her lengthy record and pigeon-hole Smith as an "outsider" supported by outside forces. It will be interesting to read Smith's initial statement and how she chooses to posture going forward. (Please e-mail it to me if I've overlooked it at Theplacewherewelive (at) gmail (dot) com.)

I was surprised that Vi did not include any bit of concession to the sizable number of disgruntled constituents in her ward who voted against her. You've got to think that from a strategy point of view alone, if she voiced a little bit of willingness to change her approach, rather than offering a "business as usual" tone, it might have gone a long way toward sedating those who voted against her.

That being said, she's going to be a formidable force in this race given her long record in the ward and the oodles of good will she has built in many pockets of the ward. Not to mention, Mayor Daley has a war chest he barely touched.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

43rd Ward Turn Out Hovered just above 28%

According to the unofficial results of the Chicago Board of Elections, 9143 of us turned out. (That reflects all but two of the 59 precincts, which had yet to be included in the final count.) There are more than 32,000 eligible voters.

Thanks to the 43rd Ward Challengers: Egan, Goodstein, Zelchenko

Tim Egan came in third in the ward fight, with Peter Zelchenko and Rachel Goodstein following behind but close to one another.

I appreciated the positive attitude, neighborly spirit, and "stand-up guyness," that Egan introduced to the election. It will be very interesting to see whether he decides to throw his support to Daley or Smith in the run-off. Or, will he sit on the sidelines and say "forgeddabout it"?

If I were Daley or Smith's campaign manager, I'd be trying like heck to get him in my camp.

I also appreciated Zelchenko's big-picture view of our ward's role in making this city better and his advocacy for the little guy. He ran a meaningful campaign and is clearly a friend of the city's and the ward's.

Rachel Goodstein seemed to struggle a bit in getting the word out about herself. I admire her for the stance she took with the Meigs Action Coalition and for many of the ideas about the ward that she introduced to the election. The world needs more people with principled backbones like hers.

I highly doubt that she, Zelchenko, and Egan will remain strangers of the ward now that their bid for election is over. Hope I'm right.

Vi Daley vs. Michele Smith: The Battle of the Tough Cookies Begins

Wow. Wow. Wow. I did not expect a run-off in this ward (or Matlak's). I just thought the machine would roll along, indifferent to the voices of those not in charge.

Any way you look at it, last night was a big loss for Vi Daley and a big win for challenger Michele Smith. More people voted against Vi than for her. And, any way you look at it, more debate in this ward about our future direction is a big win as far as I'm concerned. The status quo needs a bit of re-examining, and the run-off will get us knee-deeper into it.

Will Vi be able to convince the ward she deserves to keep her job or will Michele Smith prevail in her bid for change?

Pass the popcorn. This is gonna be a good one.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Will there be a run off in the 43rd Ward?

According to CLTV, Vi's hanging just below the needed 50% of voter turnout for re-election while Michele Smith nips at her heels.

According to WGN/The Trib, here's how it breaks down so far w/ 83% of the precincts in:

Vi Daley -- 3,616 -- 48%
Rachel Goodstein -- 218 -- 3%
Michele Smith -- 2,494 -- 33%
Peter Zelchenko -- 331 -- 4%
Tim Egan -- 922 -- 12%

My gosh, by my count, Vi's opponents have earned 3,965 votes vs. her 3,616. Whatever the final outcome, Vi's taking it on the chin and does not seem to have the broad-based support from the ward that some have suggested.

And, how about Burton Natarus falling to the mat? That's the end of an era for sure.

Did Joe Moore really secure 50%?

Vote or Die

This is Tree Turner. He works at Swim Cafe, a favorite little spot of mine on Chicago Avenue. Yesterday, he was expressing what should be the mood for today.

You can find more about Tree, who has been called "the Kerouac of rap," on his Myspace page here.

(Note: To those mourning the good kharma and fine food at Hillary's Urban Eatery. Swim Cafe should be your new spot. Try the summer salad. Mmmmm.)
Thanks, Tree!

Monday, February 26, 2007

43rd Ward Lincoln Park Aldermanic Race: Voting Crib Sheet

Okay, so you've either been paying attention to this race or it's completely gone over your head. (And, it's hard to blame you for that, really.) Maybe you've noticed a boatload of junk mail and a few robo calls from da mayor lately.

So, whadda you do tomorrow, election day? Well, you've got to vote. Here are your 43rd ward choices for alderman and their accompanying websites:

Vi Daley-Incumbent
Tim Egan
Rachel Goodstein
Michele Smith
Peter Zelchenko

As I mentioned when I first started blogging about this race, I am not endorsing any candidate, so you'll have to do a little digging and deciding for yourselves.

Consider reading through all the posts featured on this blog over the past four weeks about the candidates here.

Many of the posts include some raucous comments from your fellow Interneteers and several of the candidates themselves have been generous enough to chime in, too.

Enjoy, good luck, and V-O-T-E.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

43 Ward Aldermanic Challengers appear on Chicago Tonight

The four challengers for the 43rd Ward Aldermanic seat appeared on WTTW's Chicago Tonight tonight.

Just to set the stage: Tim Egan looked like he may be growing a mustache. Rachel Goodstein wore a necklace with a giant, vertical "VOTE" on it. Michele Smith wore lipstick that matched her hair color. Peter Zelchenko held a roll of masking tape.

The show featured the candidates in the order that their names will appear on the ballot, so I am, too. You'll find some representative quotes from their appearance below.

Vi Daley did not appear due to a "scheduling conflict." (Yeah, right.) What really ticked me off was that the moderator, Eddie Arruza, asked the candidates what Vi Daley had done well and what she hadn't done well. He pressed the candidates to answer the first part of the question and then he blew off the second part of the question! Then, he defended Vi Daley's position to them later when they mentioned the problems in the ward!

What is wrong with our media these days? They absolutely coddle people in power. I just don't get it. A democracy needs a press that presses its leaders, not helps them when they fail to show up and take responsibility for their office and their actions. I think that was completely disrespectful to the four candidates and a failure of journalistic responsibility.

Here are some notable quotes:

Michele Smith

"As a former federal prosecuter, a corporate executive for 15 years, the social action chair of the Chicago Sinai Congregation, and a ward resident for well over 20 years as well as a parent, I think I bring the kind of sophisticated expertise that's expected in the ward."

"What I really intend to do and what this ward needs is a comprehensive plan for the future. I intend to convene a ward-wide strategic plan so that we can have the input of the best in urban planning and make Lincoln Park and the Gold Coast a model of urban planning instead of what we have now, which is the neighbors have to ban together and sometimes and fight lawsuits in order to fight in appropriate development."

On Children's Memorial Hospital site: "That's the spot where we can hope to have a devleopment that we can be as proud of in Lincoln Park as our city is of Millennium Park. That should be a crossroads for our community."

Rachel Goodstein

"I have a very broad background in terms of education, business experience, and volunteer experience. It gives me a great depth about how the city works."

"One of the things that I have proposed in terms of how to deal with the communications is I've made a commitment. There are 59 precincts in the 43rd ward and to meet with each precinct on an ongoing basis --59, a day off. So that you get more involvement of people, but you also get them to know each other. . . There's litigation, but before you get to litigation. It' s a lack of not knowing your neighbors and lack of civility."

"I think the board of the CTA needs to be people who ride the bus and take the el, and they are not."

Tim Egan

"As a hospital administrator I maintain the practical, professional experience that's needed in our aldermanic office."

"We need new and aggressive forms of communication when it comes to development. There is a hysteria that happens in the 43rd ward that is unnecessary. We need to go out and reach the ward through every means possible. "

"Creating a ward-wide community committee for development is a great idea and it's very necessary, but at the end of every result, you need a strong leader to come in and make that final decision. . . Litigation is a huge part of the communication process in the 43rd ward. We have neighbors suing neighbors, neighbors suing businesses. We have a group of neighbors that sued a homeless shelter in the middle of our ward. We need a mediator to step in and take the heat and the middle ground."

"Children's Memorial has been a wonderful corporate neighbor in the 43rd ward. . . (Children's) is going to have a hand in who buys that property and what goes in there. So, I have full faith in their cooperation in the future."

Peter Zelchenko

"I grew up in the ward, and I know it better than any other of the candidates."

"The problems we're having are the result of the ward being run by a very small and exclusive cabal of people, some connected with community groups and others. Right now, what we're really seeing in the race is a kind of tug-of-war between Marty Oberman, who is Ms. Smith's Chinaman, and Vi Daley's people in terms of who is going to control the ward. I, and other candidates, want to develop a true community council forum where these interests are diffused a little bit better."

"Children's (Memorial Hospital) is an institution. It's a corporation, and we mustn't get too sentimental about it's relationship to the community. It's upping and leaving. There's a lot of rich opportunity for that as a real, walkable community-centered structure where we can maybe put the library and other things. We're going to squeeze every possible community benefit out of that space with the help of the community.

UPDATE: And, I meant to add, I think Vi's not showing up was a failure of her duty to her constituents. This was PBS for gosh sakes. Perhaps she doesn't want the job as much as she implies she does.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

(Lost) Black History Month in Lincoln Park: Pilgrim MB Church

I took these photos of the Pilgrim MB Church more than a year ago. It was located on the southeast corner of Willow and Burling and has since been torn down.

This church and its congregation were a joy to me, even if I did take it in from a distance. Every Sunday the street would be loaded with men and women and children of all ages dressed in their royal-colored morning best.

One Sunday, when I was just hanging out with a girlfriend of mine in front of my townhome, a mother and daughter walked by on their way to service. They were dressed in frilly, elegant spring dresses and poised, lacy hats as if they were just about to enter a movie set.

After they passed my girlfriend just shook her head and said, "Man, they put us to shame. Look at us hanging out in these crummy clothes with no intention of going to church."

Another time, I walked by the front doors of the church on a sunny weekday afternoon, and just as I passed, I heard a thunderous "GLORY!" There were 10,000 women in the choir loft. They stopped. Then seconds later, again, "GLORY!" I immediately envisioned the church like it was a cartoon building where the roof and doors would blow off and re-attach with every punch of the word.

According to some of the members I used to chat up on the sidewalk after Sunday services, the church was built in the late 1800's. It was crumbling at its foundation and you could see holes in the roof. The Pilgrim MB congregation had moved there in the late 1960's/early 1970's. Their original church had been at the corner of Blackhawk and Larrabee in 1956. They also had a few other locations in the neighborhood before settling in at Willow and Burling. (This is according to their website here).

"Much Prayed For" Parking

When I asked one of the congregants why they were moving he said it was because the church was beyond repair. That was probably true. To level it and build it again just didn't make sense to them.

Also, a lot of their congregants had moved away from the area. They wanted something closer to them that had ample parking. In fact, their website describes their new parking lot as being "much prayed for."
Chalking up the Losses

I chalk this loss up to the inevitable churn of change. It is no one's "fault." No lack of preservation activism or the overzealousness of a developer. The church was falling apart. The congregants had moved elsewhere. The real estate goldmine embedded in the property represented a new era for the congregation. Who can blame them for the choice they made? They're now located on west 91st Street in Hickory Hills.

New condos (or maybe townhomes, they're not done yet) are going up in the church's place and the rectory that sat just south of it. It looks like they may have arched windows that evoke a church, which is a nice nod to the site's history. The developer didn't have to do that.

But, there are other losses on my mind. One is the erosion of an African-American presence in our community, which I'm just really sorry to see. Another is the loss of a peaceful community of faith in our neighborhood. They had been here for fifty years! Now, they've just moved off, and it was hardly noted by anyone but the congregation themselves.

Another thing we lost is the specific type of life and activity the church brought to our neighborhood. Jane Jacobs, in her stunning insights about what makes city life rich, identified four elements that a vibrant neighborhood or city require.

Number one was this:

The district, and indeed as many of its internal parts as possible, must serve more than one primary function; preferably more than two. These must insure the presence of people who go outdoors on different schedules and are in the place for different purposes, but who are able to use many facilities in common.

In other words, churches, which are a bustle of activity on Sunday mornings or at random times during the week for weddings and funerals, perform a necessary part of providing a mix of activities to our neighborhoods. When we lose a unique hive of activity in favor of more residences which offer a different pattern of activity, we water down the vibrancy of the area.

We lose afternoons of collective choir practice, the unexpected moments of a funeral passing by, the royal-colored Sundays. All the things that help keep a neighborhood interesting, lively, and, well, like a city.

Tim Egan Comments on TPWWL

Tim Egan stopped by TPWWL to comment on my post about his appearance on YouTube. He wrote,

"Since you have been kind enough to give everyone an inning by inning replay of election coverage, please allow me to put in my first politico blog entry. I’ll go end to start in response to your U-Tube post.

Jake, the ‘dude’ who has endorsed my candidacy and made the rather gothic video is a 14 year old student with a love for politics. While the end product may be less than professional, it is the effort of a young man who is not even old enough to vote that should be applauded. He’s a very nice kid who lives in the ward, heads to the poll with his mother on election days and I am very happy to have received his vote of confidence.

Over the course of the two years plus that I’ve been campaigning, there have been times that I’ve taken criticism for having a sense of humor. The opening of our video was really a poke at the ridiculousness of modern politics and its Hollywood trend. Some unfortunately didn’t get the joke and that may have taken away from the seriousness of the real message. A sense of humor I have been taught is a great sign of confidence and something to be respected and a tool that can be effective when used correctly.

Your post mentioned your concern about me not being aggressive in my outward communication. Please allow me to quell that concern. Since we have a little history I simply ask you to please recall that I reached out to you regarding the Coastal Clean Up and brought out our team of volunteers. It was a highlight of a great year last year and I thank you for putting together the whole program.

So far you’ve received our DVD, you have been contacted by a live volunteer by phone, received a hand delivered brochure and a copy of the Chicago Loop News that featured a front page feature story and my monthly column. If not by now, pretty soon, you will be receiving our campaign newsletter and a hand written note.

As far as establishing open lines of communication, I think I’ve nailed it. I take great pride in my communication skills and a priority as Alderman would be to establish crystal clear communications in my ward office.

When the opportunity arose for me to join the Communications Committee of a program called the “Year of the Child” many community leaders were invited to attend and contribute. Three of the five candidates were present at the first function. We have had two events already and they’ve been successful and I am proud to say that I have been a contributing member to this program. I just didn’t just show up to the free breakfasts like someone else (which is a shot – hey I’m still the positive candidate but this is a blog right?)…

You want me to be specific. On a regular work week day two years ago, I was at my hospital office when my wife called to tell me there was someone trying to break into our home. She was holding our one year old son in her arms and had just dialed 911. When the man pulling on the door couldn’t get in our home, he went across the alley and tried to get into another house only to do some self gratification on the back yard lawn. Police response was about an hour and half. We were told by the police that they were understaffed.

Had our home not have been secure, I probably would not be writing you as a candidate for Alderman, but as a childless widower in search of some desperate answers. An understaffed police department in a city that is on the cusp of being a top tier in the Global Economy is unacceptable.

The corruption and government waste that leads to massive tax increases is unacceptable. Not having a voice in the Chicago City Council is unacceptable. As I was quoted in the Chicago Tribune: “We’ve got a global thinking mayor and that’s great. But if doing a good job in the 43rd Ward means challenging the mayor here and there, then it has to be done.”

When I looked further into 43rd Ward issues I found that litigation in the ward is rampant. My favorite quote from Lincoln is “discourage litigation” and he was a lawyer. Good enough for Lincoln, good enough for Lincoln Park. I want to mediate neighborhood issues before they turn into nasty legal battles.

I am a hospital administrator who has the practical experience of dealing with very real and very serious problems. I want to lend my professional life of customer service and my dedication to community to the 43rd Ward. Staying in tune with my campaign, I will not bash the incumbent.

My intention is to bring a new vision and a new energy to the Alderman’s office. The 43rd Ward is the Place Where We Live and where my wife and I are raising our sons. If I can dedicate myself to helping others by improving all the issues in our ward, then it will be a better place for my family too.

By the way, the Egan staff will be heading out tomorrow to purchase flowers that are not waifish and since I’m the staff member who exposed our floral weakness, do you have any ideas where I can get replacements in February?

Please vote on Tuesday, February 27th and it is my hope that a majority of you do vote for me.


Lakeview Action Coalition Posts 43rd Ward Aldermanic Forum Results

You can find the questions and brief responses from the 43rd ward candidates from last Thursday's forum at the Lakeview Action Coalition's website here. LAC is not endorsing a candidate, so they've attempted to report the answers in as un-biased fashion as possible.

Vi Daley did not show. The LAC reports, "While this date worked on Alderman Daley’s schedule in early January, she had two conflicts and informed LAC through a letter on Friday, February 9 that she would not be attending."

Did anyone attend? How did your experience correlate with the LAC's grid of responses?

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

43rd Ward Aldermanic Election: Your Candidates on YouTube

I'm back, mons. Let's dig into it. Thanks to all the active commenters. Please continue to chime in as our 43rd ward aldermanic election nears.

Here is a run-down of all the candidates and their You Tube appearances. Perhaps y'all like your candidates via the tube?

[Also, please note, I just signed up for YouTube today. Better late than completely lame, right? To get to the video, please click on the highlighted names. I'll be damned if I can figure out how to embed them.]

Vi Daley

The only presence Vi Daley has on YouTube is a video entitled, "Vi Daley Clueless about CTA Cuts." It was uploaded by someone named LP Citizen. The audio is poor and there is no date or location attached to the video, but it's obviously Vi talking.

The poster identifies two of her quotes as especially frustrating, including her comment, "We're going to have to live with it." I don't have to rely on the CTA, so I'll leave it to others to assess how damning or not her comments are.

Tim Egan

Tim sent out a DVD to the ward (well, at least my address got it) as part of his direct mail campaign, but a fraction of it is posted on YouTube as well. It's titled "Tim Egan for 43rd Ward Alderman."

The video opens with some good-natured and hokey ribbing about the Hollywoodness of his approach, and then he introduces his several key campaign points.

In the video, he sits at a desk in a green polo shirt (with some droopy, waifish houseplants in the background - note to Egan staff, they need water). He speaks across the desk just as we might encounter him in his aldermanic office. He seems like he would be approachable and reasonable.

Clearly, Egan is trying to take the high road in this campaign to differentiate himself from the mud-slinging going on between Vi and Michele Smith. He seems to want to stay focused on his message rather than challenging the current alderman. That's a nice, neighborly approach as far as I'm concerned.

Unfortunately, I'm not sure I understand exactly how he would be different from Vi Daley as an alderman. He makes a lot of credible, nice points, but I just am not sure I'm getting why he is running against our incumbent. I think he may need to get more specific. I find his campaign terms of "rational commonground" and "positive action" very positive, but I just don't understand exactly how he intends to make those ideas play out.

I was also a bit disappointed to hear him say in this video that his communication strategy was to be readily available. That sounded to me like more of the same. "If you can't find me," he says, "you're not trying." But, will he try to find us? It sounds like Vi's campaign attitude of, "All you have to do is ask."

I should probably also mention that some seemingly random dude named Jake CP also endorses Tim Egan and it looks like he lit his video with a flashlight. Is it a spoof or for real? You decide.

Michele Smith

Smith has several videos on YouTube. In one she mentions she grew up on Long Island. Perhaps her anger is really New Yorker-ease?

Here they are:

Michele Smith for Alderman

You Need To Meet Michele Smith - 43rd Ward Promo (This is the best video of them all, from a purely film-making standpoint, I feel.)

Michele Smith - Candidate Forum Highlights Depaul University

Rachel Goodstein and Peter Zelchenko did not have videos on YouTube. But, I have linked to their websites for your reference.

UPDATE: My apologies. Peter Zelchenko does have a video, but it's on GoogleVideo. I'm so new to this. It is titled "Election 2007 Peter Zelchenko for 43rd Ward Alderman." You can find it here.

43rd Ward Candidate Peter Zelchenko Comments on TPWWL

43rd Ward Aldermanic candidate Peter Zelchenko stopped by the blog to comment recently. He wanted to set the record straight about his point of view on Vi Daley's vote on the Big Box ordinance.

He wrote,

"Vi Daley reported to me the night before the vote that she was voting against the Big Box ordinance because her friend Carrie Austin had asked her to. Succinct but senseless."

Find the original post and comments here.

Also, Zelchenko recently updated his blog with a post about the robo-calls from Dawn Clark Netsch. Find it here.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

43rd Ward Election Continues, but Hey Mon, Gone for President's Day Weekend

Never again, we said to ourselves last year, would we endure a Chicago winter without leaving for warmer weather at least once.

That little promise is paying off big time right about now.

See you next Tuesday. We're heading to Jamaica.

In the meantime, a very fine reverand e-mailed to remind me that tomorrow, Thursday, February 15 is the next 43rd Ward Aldermanic Candidate Forum.

Here are the details. Be sure to share your feedback in the comments section about how it goes.

Thursday, February 15, 7:00-8:45 pm
Church of our Savior, 530 W. Fullerton
Doors open at 6:30, and the forum will run from 7 pm - 8:45 pm.
All five candidates have been invited to this event.


The traffic on this site is way up now that we're closing in on voting day. Here are the websites for the five candidates for alderman for your reference.

Vi Daley

Tim Egan

Rachel Goodstein

Michele Smith

Peter Zelchenko

P.S. Happy Valentine's Day. You make me feel like a sweepstakes winner.

Were there Vi Daley "Plants" on WBEZ's 848 Aldermanic Forum?

I e-mailed the people at Steve Edward's 848 to ask how they chose the citizens that appeared in in the WBEZ intro segment to the 43rd Ward Aldermanic Forum.

The comments-section erupted on this blog after the forum(here). Some folks thought the featured citizens were "plants" by Vi Daley's campaign. 848's producer, Aurora Aguilar, was kind enough to respond promptly. She wrote,
"(We) chose those interviewed simply by walking the streets of Lincoln Park and Old Town and asking random residents and business owners whether they would allow us to record their comments. The goal was to capture a variety of perspectives. I'm sorry if any of your readers felt there was a bias. Feel free to encourage them or anyone you know who might have comments or concerns about the forum to write to us at aaguilar (at) chicagopublicradio (dot) org."
Finally, if you missed the WBEZ forum, the audio is now available for download at 848's website, here.

Sincere thanks again to Aurora for the prompt response.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Vi Daley's Campaign Manager says Vi Believes McMansions are "Consistent with Community Goals"

Also,Tom Bowen reports that he wouldn't hire any one of his boss's opponents to shovel snow. Then, he thinks again, and says Tim Egan and Rachel Goodstein would probably do a good job.

Find these thoughts and more fireworks breaking out in the comments section of yesterday's post on the 43rd ward election here.

UPDATE: Here's a clarification of Tom's quote from the comments. He wrote, "“Vi said that they are consistent with community goals: less density and more green space, that's all.”

Marigold worth every R

One of my earliest posts on this blog, in January of 2005, was about the Reader's restaurant "finder." I mentioned how I loved to use their rated restaurants as a guidepost for choosing new places to dine.

On Saturday night, we picked the RRR-rated Marigold to try, and we weren't disappointed. It's the first truly upscale, high-end Indian restaurant I've been to in the city. Dee-lish and L-egant.

Monday, February 12, 2007

M.S. in Urban Planning at UIC - Third Semester Update

Matt, aka Kuz from Interesting and Helpful, was kind enough to respond to my request for an update about his graduate work. He writes,

"I'm taking 5 classes this semester, which should help push me far enough along to be able to work full-time and do my last 2 classes this fall.

The courses:517 Regional Planning, taught by Ron Thomas, executive director of NIPC, which will soon be CMAP. We're getting an all-access look at the bureaucracy and federal regulations that make planning for Chicagoland's future so difficult. No textbooks here; our speaker list is chock-full of planning and transportation professionals, though,which should be good.

530 Economic Development, taught by Phil Ashton. I've had Phil for three classes now; his area of scholarship is how mortgage lending practices affect urban areas. We'll start with theories about why firms locate in different places, then explore a lot of current economic development practices.

536 Urban Employment, with Nik Theodore. I did an independent study with Nik last semester about the day labor situation in Gompers Park last semester. This class will be heavy with employment policy, and evaluating various policies.

537 Environmental Economics, with Moira Zellner. This is my first class with Moira. Our text is "Environmental and Natural Resource Economics" by Tietenberg. We should end up exploring lots of different environmental issues and how economic theory should or should not guide our search for solutions.

594 Disaster Mitigation and Planning with Richard Roths (disaster consultant, formerly of FEMA) and James Schwartz from the American Planning Association. Here are two guys with immense experience in how to plan for disasters and recover from disasters. Hurricane Katrina was a big reason I decided to study Urban Planning, so I'm really looking forward to this class.

I'm also on the lookout for a summer internship in either real estate or government, so please keep your ears peeled."

There's no need to wonder why Matt's blog is named Interesting and Helpful is there? Thanks, Matt! This is great fun for all us armchair urban planners. If you'd like to read Matt's introduction to his program and his first semester update, you can find it here.

Follow up on Today's 43rd Ward Aldermanic Forum

Here's a quick wrap-up of today's WBEZ candidate forum.

We have five very compelling candidates, which this great ward deserves. The alderman's job, in many ways, is the most powerful in the city, but also the most thankless. I am truly grateful to all of them for their commitment and dedication to our community.

I also thought Steve Edwards did an outstanding job of introducing our ward and choosing highly relevant questions from the citizens present at the Chicago History Museum today. (If you attended, can you give an approximate size of the crowd?)

As I've mentioned, I am not endorsing any candidate in this blog, but I'm also incredibly undecided as a voter. Today's forum gave me a lot more to think about and did not provide the clarity I had hoped. (That's not a fault of the forum, but rather symbolic of the quality of the candidates who are running.)

Please add your reactions and thoughts in the comments section. Or, you can e-mail me at ThePlaceWhereWeLive (at) gmail (dot)com.

Vi Daley

Liked: Dealt with her critics in a rational, professional way. That's a requirement of the job as far as I'm concerned. She's also clearly knowledgable about her job, the ward, and the issues at play. She's a true professional. A lot of Chicagoans can't say that about their alderman.

Concerns: Did not like her plan for dealing with Children's Memorial Hospital. It was too piecemeal and lacked any kind of desire to create a cohesive vision for the community. Part of that point of view, I admit, is driven by my own frustration about the number of community groups in our ward. There should only be one group with a bunch of subcommittees. We have been divided and conquered, in my opinion.

She also said this about the three and four-lot McMansions cropping up south of Armitage, "It's really not a bad thing." She supported that by saying no one is complaining about it to her office. Hmmmm.

Tim Egan

Liked: He mentioned a "lack of vision" when it comes to development in the ward (esp. with regard to the McMansions.) Also liked that he thought one part of putting the lid on property taxes was tracking what the city is doing with the money already.

Concerns: However, he didn't seem to be able to articulate a plan for how he would do better other than to say he'd hold planners accountable. Not sure that's a workable solution.

Rachel Goodstein

Liked: Okay, truly loved that she was going to pull together a strategic envisioning committee for development in our ward. This, in my opinion, is exactly what is needed and is advised by experts on how to address the issues raised today. Vi Daley's strategy of working with nine separate community groups, some urban planners, and other experts does not sound to me like it will bring together a consensus and it leaves out citizens who are not well-connected to the community groups. Also, said she has strategic planning experience.

She's also very credible on her statement that if you're looking for someone to stand up to the mayor, she's the candidate. She is the former director of the Meigs Field Action Coalition.

She also called for transparency in what the city spends.

Concerns: Goodstein was pretty succinct in her comments. I did not hear much in her approach that concerned me.

Michele Smith

Liked: I thought her statements, "The look and feel of Lincoln Park is really under attack, " and "I fear we're losing the park of Lincoln Park" reflected two of my big concerns. She recognized disparity between Lincoln Park High School's IB program and regular program, which showed a great knowledge about the educational challenges in our ward and accompanying parental expectations.

Concerns: The comments I've heard offline and comments that have been posted on this site suggest she is a bit strident. Unfortunately, what I heard today supported that public impression. I found myself writing in my notes, "Man, she sounds angry." That is great when it fuels a passionate commitment to her community, which is seems to do. But, I also think she needs to begin showing her collaborative side pronto.

Peter Zelchenko

Liked: He said he was very concerned about "private interests taking over the public good" in our community. He looks at the city in a global way (meaning not just considering our ward), but he is a lifelong resident of the ward. He's an activist and was the one to most directly challenge the status quo, I thought. Also, I really appreciated his statement, "We pay the most property taxes in the city and should demand the best city services possible."

Concerns: The global point of view may challenge him as residents want to think ward-wise. I did find myself wondering whether he was running as a public service in order to help raise the issues he cares about and to challenge the status quo, rather than to primarily secure a win. He's very civic-minded and a committed activist. The city can't get enough of people like him as far as I'm concerned. The statement that the public schools are "adequate" did not reflect my standards as a parent and the level of expectations I think many other parents have.

(UPDATE: I just want to make a note about that last sentence, which sounds a bit snobby. What I meant is that many people hope to send their children to schools that are beyond adequate.)

I thought the candidates all did a much better job of addressing their solutions to development issues than keeping a lid on property taxes.

Please chime in.