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.

43rd Aldermnanic Forum Live Now on WBEZ 91.5

The debate has not yet started at the Chicago History Museum. I am listening from my home office. They have introduced the race as one of the most competitive in the city.

More information, including what looks like it will be an audio download upon completion can be found here.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Obama Captivates UIC Pavillion

My friend, Shelley Scott, just e-mailed this photo of Obama from his rally today at the UIC Pavillion.

Check out Dick Cheney in the second row with the Obama sign tucked under his chin.

Even he's ready for change.

Shelley believes it's a bit too early to choose a candidate, but that didn't stop her from titling her e-mail "Hope."

Yes, indeed.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Vi Daley's Campaign Responds to Post on Big Box Vote

Earlier this week, I posted about how I had no idea why Vi voted the way she did on the Big Box store ordinance. (See post here.) It was an example I used to make a larger point about my frustration with her communications with the ward.

Her campaign manager, Tom Bowen, was kind enough to e-mail me promptly with her rationale for the vote. He said, "All you had to do was ask."

This reponse, I think, kind of drives home my point about the alderman putting the onus on the constituents to keep abreast of what's going on in the ward. That attitude surprises me. After all, who is working for whom?

Furthermore, here's Vi's statement on her vote, taken from her written response to the IVI-IPO questionnaire:

I voted against it both times in the City Council. I agonized about this decision and, in the end, I was not dissuaded of my belief that some areas are in desperate need of such developments and services. If this ordinance would have prevented new jobs from coming to the South and West Sides, then I do not feel it’s my prerogative to vote against the interests of people I do not represent. As to the residents of the 43rd, many in the business community make a very persuasive argument when they argue that it is unfair to discriminate against a business simply based on size, a legislative flaw in the ordinance.

I abhor the practices that some of these companies employ to lower their costs; however, I believe the regulations we put in place to address this matter must apply equally to all businesses. The minimum wage increase was a good first step and we have many more to make. We should also concentrate on bringing in good corporate community members and businesses that follow good labor practices and use them as models for the kind of businesses we want in Chicago. And finally, I support increases in the minimum wage for all workers so that everybody benefits from such an increase.

Okay, so that seems pretty rational and thoughtfully considered. Why doesn't she broadcast her stance on her votes more widely? It would help her enormously.

This every-candidate's-armchair-campaign manager is completely stumped.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Feb. 8 Aldermanic Forum Follow-up

I have been battling strep throat for the past week and am likely headed to my second round of antibiotics. If you attended last night's aldermanic forum, please share your thoughts and comments. Thanks!

Car Found & At Least 196 Crimes in Lincoln Park Area in Last Two Weeks of January 2007

Our car was stolen off the street about a week ago. (See post here.)

Today, we got a call from the police that it was found a day after it was lost at the end of our block in a private parking lot. The towing company, who also has responsibility for towing cars out of that lot, had it.

My husband had to pay more than $300 to retrieve his car. It was not damaged or broken into, which suggests to us that no one ever drove it. We didn't recall exactly what our mileage was on it, but it hadn't changed significantly while it was away. John's expensive athletic watch, which was in his work-out bag, was still in the car.

I believe the car was towed away in some kind of stinky extortion effort by the towing company.
We've reported it to the police. We're following up. I'll keep you posted.

Then, last Saturday night, we received a call from friends on the 1800 block of North Howe that their front door had been kicked in! And, their giant tv set was carted away along with a second, smaller tv. Thank god they weren't home.

Take a look at this:

Between January 17, 2007 and January 31, 2007, a 15-day period of bone-chilling cold, there were 196 crimes within a one mile radius of 600 West Willow (represented by the black diamond). (I chose this address at random because it's kind of in the center of the area where I live.)

The map above right represents the location and types of crimes. It is taken from the police department's Citizen's ICAM.

Red circles = Crimes against Persons
There were 28 total.
18 battery, 3 assault, 5 robbery, 1 weapons violation, and 1 offense involving children.

Green squares = Property Crimes
There were 151 property crimes total.
33 Criminal damage, 7 deceptive practice, 75 thefts, 20 criminal trespasses, 11 burglaries, 5 motor vehicle thefts (We're one of them).

Blue Triangle = Crimes against Society (Narcotics in this instance)
There was 1.

Red Circle inside Yellow Circle= Crimes against Persons (Domestic Violence)
There were 7 crimes against persons/incidents of domestic violence.
5 batteries, 1 assault, 1 offense involving a minor.

Green Square inside Yellow Circle = Crimes against Property (Domestic)
1 Criminal Damage.

Yellow Triangle = Other and Undetermined
8 Undetermined.
1 Interference with a public officer, 3 other offenses, and 4 non-criminal

All I'm saying is it was mighty cold during the time frame that all this crime was going on, and I'm not at all happy with those numbers. It's not okay by me.

I'll be watching for some kind of follow-through from the police, and I'll be listening mighty carefully to our aldermanic candidates for their take on the situation.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

43rd ward Aldermanic candidate Michele Smith Comments on TPWWL

Michelle Smith, candidate for 43rd ward alderman, stopped by TPWWL the other day and made this comment on one of my posts:

Dear Jennifer,

Thank you for the nice comment about Melissa. Melissa is working hard, along with many others, to get the word out about my campaign. I'm proud that Melissa made a good impression - one of the reasons I'm running is because I believe that representatives of the alderman's office should be helpful and welcoming to constituents.

I also agree with your post concerning the lack of transparency of the alderman's activities. I hope you find that my website,, tells you where I stand on the issues facing our ward - and I'm committed to having a customer-focused, open aldermanic office.

I think the best way to decide how to vote is to compare the candidates by attending one of our upcoming candidate forums -

Feb. 8 - Peggy Notebart Museum

Feb. 12 - LIVE Radio Broadcast, Chicago History Museum (I believe you need to show up at 8 am or 8:30 am)

Feb. 15 - Church of Our Savior

Feb. 22 - Chicago Tonight, WTTW

Details are on my website. Feel free to call my office at 312-643-1511 anytime. Michele Smith 312-643-1511

Monday, February 05, 2007

43rd Ward Aldermanic Race Heats Up: Robo Calls & Vi's Real Challenge

I got my first 43rd ward election campaign Robo-call tonight. I almost hung up.

But, then, dear readers, what kind of post would that make?

So I hung in there instead. (Despite my being in the middle of coaxing frozen food and canned goods into an approximation of dinner.)

The recorded robo-caller was a woman who blasted Vi Daley for being in Mayor Daley's pocket. I spent most of the call trying to figure out if the voice belonged to one of Vi's two female opponents. It didn't.

The caller (eventually) made two points loud and clear: She did not like Vi and she was endorsing Anyone but Vi.

Robo lady then concluded, "Paid for by SEIU PAC." That would be the Service Employees International Union.

I think this is some payback for Vi from the unions who were apoplectic about her failure (and the mayor's) to support an ordinance that would require big box stores to pay their employees liveable wages (ie, more than minimum wage). The unions believed that was a fair and just thing to do. Mayor Daley basically said you can't legislate against some businesses and not others.

Now, a couple of points about this.

The robo-call was probably completely ineffective and a total waste of money. 98% of the people who got the call hung up right after receiving it just like I wanted to do.

And, what did they hear right before they hung up? The first two words out of the caller's mouth:

"Vi Daley."

So, for 98% of the recipients that was a pro-Vi Daley call.

Second, note I didn't say anything about why Vi Daley voted against the big box ordinance.


Because I have no idea why.

Vi seldom if ever directly informs her entire electorate about her votes and the rationale behind them. I suspect that if you see her often or know her personally, you might have an idea about her motivations. But, that does little for the rest of us. She has a respectable website for her ward and an e-mail newsletter, but she doesn't take advantage of them to explain what legislation and official business she's been working on.

The newsletters I get from her office are filled with breezy items about street cleaning schedules and businesses opening up. That's all fine, but rarely have I seen an explanation of her day-to-day activities as our alderman. What committee meetings has she attended? What resolutions/ordinances has she introduced? Whom has she been meeting with? How has she voted and why? Has she cut any ribbons lately?

She may have fantastic reasons for voting against the big box issue, but how are we supposed to know what they are? How are we to trust she's acting honestly when she does so little to promote transparency in her office? I recently read that she has an almost flawless attendance record at City Hall meetings. Wouldn't it benefit her, too, to disseminate this information?

Almost every ad piece that I've received from Vi's campaign shows photos of her talking face-to-face with constituents. That's a wonderful attribute, but it should only be one tool in her box. Vi Daley's strategy for communicating with her constituency and promoting a democratic ward is woefully inadequate.

That's one reason she's feeling the re-election heat.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Built Chicago, YoChicago: The Web Catches up to the the City

Interesting and Helpful pointed out a new website called Built Chicago. Their tag line is "A site dedicated to architecture, planning, and real estate in Chicago."

They join the well-established YoChicago, "A Fresh Look at Chicago's Homes, Apartments, and Neighborhoods" in talking about all things Chicago built.

I'd say in general that YoChicago seems to enjoy Chicago's new buildings, transactions and non-stop change (the good and the bad) while Built Chicago seems to monitor the details, large and small, with an appreciation for the overlooked and forgotten. (Like the post featuring this photo of the Cook County Hospital taken by an "urban explorer.")

Any true Chicagoan has had the conversation where they explain to out-of-staters why they live here and not say California or New York City. You already know how that tired justification goes, so I'll say this instead:

The two most remarkable resources we have in our daily lives are our built environment and our lake. They are wonders. True Chicagoans love them both for as many reasons as there are south siders. I hope Yo and Built spur more sites just like them and help us dig deeper into the rich environment of our lives.

And, while you're adding them to your links or GoogleReader (if you haven't already), add one more: Chicago Wilderness.

Then, your Chicago Appreciation In-Box will be truly full.