Here's the statement the coalition issued today:
Today, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Landmarks Illinois moved for a voluntary dismissal of their complaint in Cook County Circuit Court, signaling the end of their legal challenge against the City of Chicago and the Commission on Chicago Landmarks. The Save Prentice Coalition issued the following statement:
Which left Northwestern University, owner (but no lover) of the distinctive Bertrand Goldberg structure, free to blow it to smithereens.
The judge mused aloud that the preservationists could have charged violations of constitutionally guaranteed due process, but hadn't. And since they hadn't, he said, there was nothing he could do.
As in, "case dismissed."
Unless they changed things.
So they did.
And since he wasn't there, the vote was unanimous.
Clear as the rubber stamp slapped on a mayoral order.
So that's one huge obstacle out of the way for Northwestern University, which owns the 38-year-old Bertrand Goldberg-designed structure, and wants to destroy it, immediately.
Late last week, the Commission on Chicago Landmarks posted an agenda for its February 7 meeting that contains a couple of surprising items at the bottom of the list.
First, they're going to consider a report from the Department of Housing and Economic Development on the impact of landmark status for Bertrand Goldberg's Prentice Hospital building, which Northwestern University wants to tear down.
Then, there's to be a vote on rescinding landmark status for Prentice on the basis of that report.
Could the commissioners have forgotten that they already did this?
"Every single time I've had an issue, the mayor's office has worked with me," says Pawar, who's voted against just two mayoral initiatives since being elected to the City Council last year.
Pawar (47th) admires how Emanuel has vowed to do all he can to shore up the city's finances. As the mayor reminded aldermen on Wednesday: "I said we were going to change the way we look at things around here . . . to make sure taxpayers are being protected."
Yet Pawar is still astounded that minutes after Mayor Emanuel uttered those words, his top council ally moved to kill a proposal from Pawar that would protect the taxpayers.
"Happy Hanukkah!" Burnett said during the City Council meeting. "And just like the miracle that kept the oil burning, we have to keep the oil burning here in the city of Chicago."
Aside from honoring the Festival of Lights, Burnett's point appeared to be that the city needs the money it will collect from turning over public space to a private billboard company for the next two to three decades. Most of the council agreed—the measure passed 43-6.
The plaintiffs in that suit, Landmarks Illinois and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, maintain that a vote last month by the Commission on Chicago Landmarks to take back protective designation it had just granted the Bertrand Goldberg building was illegal.
Meanwhile, as Reader columnist Ben Joravsky reported this week, the Northwestern University student paper revealed that Mayor Emanuel was privately advising the university to mount a public-relations campaign to bolster its position, even as he was claiming to be objectively weighing the arguments of both the university and the preservationists.
A Chicago City Council committee signed off Monday on Mayor Rahm Emanuel's latest privatization deal—even though, after nearly five hours of testimony, aldermen still didn't quite know how it added up for taxpayers, what its shortfalls might be, or exactly which companies were included in putting it together.
In more than a few places, they weren't even sure what the contract said.
"As I tried to go through these documents over the weekend, I have to admit, I don't really have the expertise to understand them," said Ed Burke, who's read a few contracts in more than four decades as an alderman and attorney.
Mayoral aides were happy to help.
It’s more than most of us have to spend on holiday gifts this year. But is it the right price for letting a private company put up dozens of billboards on public land around the city for at least 20 years?
I don’t have any idea. You probably don’t either. And the people getting ready to authorize the deal certainly don’t have a clue.
That would be the aldermen in the Chicago City Council, whose budget and zoning committees are scheduled to weigh in on the billboard agreement Monday morning.
“Is it a good deal at $155 million? I don’t know,” says Joe Moreno, alderman of the First Ward. “Could we get $300 million? I don’t know. We’ve never leveraged these assets before.”
Last week a federal jury ordered the city of Chicago to pay $850,000 in damages to bartender Karolina Obrycka, blaming a police code of silence for her 2007 beating by off-duty cop Anthony Abbate. The jury also found that investigators all but shrugged off the attack until a video of it surfaced weeks later.
Almost as soon as the decision was announced, a debate was underway about the award. Some argued it seemed relatively low given the viciousness of the assault. City officials vowed to fight it, even though they've already devoted an estimated $5 million to the case. Abbate, though, joked about the cost of the verdict to the Sun-Times: "I think I got a Visa card in my wallet."
Yes, the whole thing is a real knee-slapper. Meanwhile, the taxpayers are left with the tab—again.