Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Times They Ain't A-Changin'

Posted By on 11.20.08 at 03:11 PM

This just in from New York: "A new wind is blowing in Chicago."

According to a New York Times article by former Tribune scribe Jeff Zeleny, Chicago "is basking in a moment of triumph."

The main reason, of course, is that the country elected Barack Obama president.

But there's more: "A spire is finally poised to be placed atop the Trump Tower here, bringing the skyscraper to 1,361 feet, the tallest American building since the Sears Tower was built three decades ago."

Also, "a new Modern Wing for the fabled Art Institute is set to open next spring, including a Renzo Piano bridge to Millennium Park."

And a whole bunch of famous locals--Rick Bayless, Scott Turow, Jeff Tweedy--think Chicago's a wonderful place to live.

Look, I like Chicago too. And I was overcome with joy on election night as well. But, c'mon, people, let's be real-- a new wind? To me, it looks, smells and feels like the same polluted gusts.

Yes, Trump built his tower, but the downtown condo market is so soft that even the great Donald is having trouble peddling the units.

And, true, a nice new bridge will soon connect the Art Institute to Millennium Park, which, by the way, was so over cost that we had to sell a bunch of parking garages [scroll down]  to pay off the bills.

Even as president-elect Obama marches off to Washington to change the world--with Rahm Emanuel, Valerie Jarrett, and David Axelrod in tow--Mayor Daley and his hacks are cutting up the underfunded spoils of their seedy little empire.

In the race to replace Emanuel, they're conniving to figure out how to muscle out the only true independent, Cook County Commissioner Mike Quigley.

In the city council, they're staving off bankruptcy by booting more cars, increasing fees on garbage collection, and holding back on hiring new police officers.

Mayor Daley's dream to expand O'Hare Airport all the way to Alaska, or wherever, is stalling because, like pretty much everyone tried to warn him, the airlines are too broke to pay for it.

To fund the proposed Olympics--another big-ticket mayoral dream we can't possibly afford--Daley sold Midway cheap (I'm starting to think the Indians got a better deal for Manhattan), and continues to siphon property tax dollars away from our cash-starved public schools.

We still have public school kids running in hallways because we still don't have one indoor public running facility; and they're planning to kick the softball teams, tennis players, joggers, nature lovers--in short, ordinary, taxpaying park users--out of Washington Park to free it up for an Olympic stadium. Just as the mayor and his minions continue to look for new ways to loot the TIF accounts to move the masses out of the near south side.

Have I mentioned our world-class public transportation system? As I write this, the train that runs outside my house has stopped. I'm sure there's a good reason, though at the moment it's not apparent. The conductor is looking out the window. Wait, wait--an update.... The train's moving, at a crawl. Ah, yes, high-speed rail comes to Chicago. Oh, by the way, the CTA is raising its fares.

In short, it's business as usual in Chi-town: treachery, back-room deals, bad planning, wasteful spending, land grabs, and robbery of the poor to benefit to the rich. Sweet home, Chicago.

The more I think about it the more I realize Obama was smart to get out. He realized it would easier to be elected president than clean up this town. 

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