Where we're going, we don't need... roads | Bleader

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Where we're going, we don't need... roads

Posted By on 03.19.09 at 11:58 AM

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Pothole outrage spreads from the RedEye to Mother Tribune:

Chicago's Olympic priorities: City repaves park roads first

"The work raised questions for some who that fear taxpayers will suffer as the city directs scarce resources toward impressing Olympic officials."

No shit. But if you think directing scarce resources towards merely impressing Olympic officials is a pain, keep in mind that if we impress them we actually have to host the Olympics.

"The city wants to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on temporary Olympic arenas while many neighborhoods face a critical shortage of park and sports facilities. The public schools still have no indoor tracks or batting cages—haven’t they heard we have winter in this town? And the Park District’s so broke—especially after agreeing to pay $22 million for its new Streeterville headquarters—that it’s forcing youth leagues and community groups to foot the bill for new fields and play lots, and instructional time at swimming pools has been cut." - Ben Joravsky, 7/10/08

"Most outside observers rank Chicago as a long shot to win the games. But don’t underestimate Daley’s determination: he’s like Ahab, obsessed with the great white whale. Schools, parks, trains may fall apart, folks may be forced from their homes by taxes and gentrification, but Daley’s going to get his games, ship be damned." - Ben Joravsky, 10/25/07

"Earlier today Mayor Daley told reporters that, yes, the Reader had it right all along: he was planning to pay for the Olympics with money out of his favorite slush fund--the TIFs.

"'You should have listened to what Ben told you two years ago," Daley said. 'Of course, we're paying for it with TIF money. C'mon, people, don't be stupid! Do you think it's going to pay for itself?'

"Just kidding! He didn't actually say any of that. But Lori Healey, formerly the mayor's chief of staff and now the president of the Chicago 2016 bid committee, told aldermen today that the city would be paying for the proposed Olympic Village with TIF dollars. 'If the city is selected to host the 2016 Summer Games, it will carve out a new TIF district from the existing Bronzeville TIF to help fund new roads, sewers, and other infrastructure needed for the Olympic Village,' she said, according to an article in Crain's." - Ben Joravsky, 1/12/09

-

I'm not really surprised, or even complaining. In his masterful history of Robert Moses, The Power Broker, Robert Caro describes how the straw that broke the great bureaucrat's back was a small playground near Tavern-on-the-Green in Central Park. Moses, who had tyrannically reshaped the city in his own image with little interference from the establishment and just a little damage from the smaller city papers, tried to pave it and put up a parking lot. Let's let Caro take it (a large excerpt, but it is a 1,000+ page book):

"On the seismograph on which Moses recorded public tremors, in fact, the Tavern-on-the-Green protest had barely registered. Twenty-three mothers? He had just finished evicting hundreds of mothers rather than shift a single section of his Cross-Bronx Expressway a single block! He was at that very moment in the process of displacing five thousand mothers for Manhattantown, four thousand for Lincoln Center!"

[snip]

"For once, when [Stanley Isaacs, ex-president of the borough of Manhattan] tried to explain to the press the philosophy behind Moses' projects and what was wrong with that philosophy, the press paid heed to the explanation - even on the editorial page of the newspaper that had been Moses' staunchest defender for thirty years.... [O]n April 20, the Times carried an editorial that, while it perpetuated the Moses myth, also contained statements that were, coming from the Times, especially remarkable....

"If this were land somewhere else there would be nothing to get excited about....

"Those who protest do so belatedly. We plead guilty, like the rest, to tardiness. This is regrettable. But the principle on which protest is based is no less valid, and ordinarily Mr. Moses would be its chief defender against those who would destroy a blade of park grass.

[snip]

"Now, in a single day, over a single dispute - a dispute over a hollow in the ground and a few trees - that image had cracked."

Okay, it's unlikely that the Paving of Payne Drive will be Mayor Daley's "Battle of Central Park," but when it does come, it wouldn't surprise me if it came over something comparatively easy to comprehend.

Mostly, I'm saying: get used to it. Not that it won't be fun:

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