Clout City

Friday, October 30, 2015

Tax on tickets to Lyric Opera and the CSO? Not for now.

Posted By on 10.30.15 at 01:45 PM

click image The Chicago City Council's Progressive Caucus wants to apply the amusement tax to Lyric Opera and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. - (FLICKR/DAMIAN ENTWISTLE)
  • (Flickr/Damian Entwistle)
  • The Chicago City Council's Progressive Caucus wants to apply the amusement tax to Lyric Opera and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

Chicago’s laws can be confusing, even to the folks who make them. And in a city scraping for pennies to stay afloat, a pair of grand palaces of culture can attract attention. Like glittering Fabergé eggs, just sitting there looking rich.

So it was that in the run-up to the City Council’s budget vote this week, the Progressive Caucus came up with a list of revenue-generating amendments including one intended to add a 9 percent tax to the cost of tickets for two of the city’s major cultural engines—Lyric Opera and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

It would be so easy. All the council would have to do is delete a paragraph of the Municipal Code.

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Friday, May 1, 2015

Cassandra Francis explains her departure from Friends of the Parks

Posted By on 05.01.15 at 08:31 AM

Cassandra Francis is going far, far away.
  • Friends of the Parks
  • Cassandra Francis is going far, far away.

Friends of the Parks president Cassandra Francis inspired some creative speculation last week, when she abruptly left her job.

Francis, who'd been there only a year, was in the midst of two high-profile battles on behalf of FOTP—attempts to keep both the Lucas Museum and the Obama presidential library off Chicago parkland.

Before that, she'd headed up Mayor Richard M. Daley's stillborn plan to build an Olympic village on the Michael Reese hospital site after spending more than a decade in the real estate executive ranks at U.S. Equities Development, among other jobs.

At FOTP, she was suddenly on the opposite side of the power structure she'd previously been part of—taking on the mayor, the president, the billionaire filmmaker, and all those among the public who'd be happy to see the Star Wars museum on what's currently a parking lot, and the Obama library on a portion of historic Frederick Law Olmsted-designed Washington Park.

So the speculation swirled.

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Friday, April 3, 2015

Which mayoral candidate will be better for the arts?

Posted By on 04.03.15 at 02:30 PM

All right, so Rahm gets to the theater more.
Accelerate Culture, an initiative of Arts Alliance Illinois, has released the answers to a set of arts-related questions it recently submitted to both candidates in the Chicago mayoral race.

Their responses look a lot like what we've already seen in the debates: Rahm is very good at rattling off checklists of specific accomplishments likely to be more dazzling than meaningful. And Chuy is mostly equipped with generalizations, good intentions, and plans to appoint folks to study the problem.

Of the ten questions put to the candidates, the one that got the most succinct response was this:

What was the last local cultural institution or performance you attended? When?

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Monday, November 24, 2014

What's number one on Friends of the Parks' watch list? We'll give you one guess

Posted By on 11.24.14 at 03:57 PM

  • Courtesy Lucas Museum of Narrative Art

It's culture vs. nature on the first-ever Friends of the Parks annual Top Ten Watch List of Endangered Parks and Open Spaces, released today.

The two lakefront parking lots between Soldier Field and McCormick Place that are the proposed site for the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art have the number one slot on the FOTP list.

The next four slots belong to potential sites for the Obama Presidential Library. They are: Jackson Park, South Shore Cultural Center, Washington Park, and Harrison Field.

In the announcement, Friends of the Parks president Cassandra Francis cites expected Cook County population growth over the next 30 years of almost 17 percent—or 850,000 people—as the reason why "it is so important to preserve and expand our city's open natural areas."

Here's the full list:

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Friends of the Parks files suit to stop the Lucas Museum

Posted By on 11.13.14 at 08:52 AM

Museum Wars: The court battle is on
  • Courtesy of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art
  • Museum Wars: The court battle is on

Friends of the Parks says it will make good today on its threat to go to court to stop the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art from building on a lakefront site owned by the Chicago Park District.

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Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Great Chicago Fire Festival sets into motion the Great Chicago Spin Machine

Posted By on 10.09.14 at 12:30 PM

The Great Chicago Fire Fest experiencing technical difficulties
  • Brian O'Mahoney/For Sun-Times Media
  • The Great Chicago Fire Fest experiencing "technical difficulties"
After its pathetic fizzle last Saturday, I thought I'd never again have to write about the Great Chicago Fire Festival. A failure like that speaks for itself.

Especially when there's a crowd of 30,000 chilled witnesses, including the governor and a clearly chagrined mayor, waiting, waiting for the heavily hyped, multimillion-dollar, jaw-dropping spectacle that never happened.

And the rueful evidence—the three little slapdash houses that wouldn't burn—still sitting on the river.

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Friday, September 19, 2014

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the name-dropper

Posted By on 09.19.14 at 10:01 AM

Mayor Emanuel and President Obama at OHare Airport in May.
  • AP Photo / Paul Beaty
  • Mayor Emanuel and President Obama at O'Hare Airport in May.
Obama's Name Dropped from Planned CPS High School
—headline yesterday in DNAinfo Chicago


September 18, 2014: Mayor Emanuel announced today that the city will honor President Barack Obama by not naming a Chicago Public School after him. Emanuel confirmed that the city's next selective enrollment high school won't be called Barack Obama College Prep, as the mayor had originally decreed. Emanuel acknowledged that the name had sparked controversy because the $60 million school is slated for the affluent near north side, which already has a selective enrollment high school. "We take community input seriously in the months before a mayoral election, so we will look for other possible names," Emanuel said.

October 13, 2014: A spokesperson for Mayor Emanuel dismissed reports that the next selective enrollment high school would be named Whatever I Damn Wanna Call It College Prep. The spokesperson said the reports stemmed from a "joshing" remark the mayor had made during a meeting with aides.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Who will pick Fifth Star Awards winners?

Posted By on 07.22.14 at 07:00 AM

Chicagos flag will still have four stars
  • Chicago's flag will still have four stars.

The city announced yesterday that it will recognize "exemplary Chicago artists and arts institutions" with the Fifth Star Awards, a new honor that'll be presented in a free program at the Pritzker Pavilion on September 17.

The program will feature "a diverse lineup of performances," and will coincide with the start of the Expo Chicago art fair.

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Friday, April 4, 2014

If you want to know why our aldermen are such mayoral rubber stamps, Dick Mell has the answer

Posted By on 04.04.14 at 05:00 PM

Papa Mell offered some revealing observations about how Chicago politics really works at the Hideout earlier this week.
  • Michael Jarecki/Sun-Times Media
  • Papa Mell offered some revealing observations about how Chicago politics really works at the Hideout earlier this week.

If I were Mayor Rahm, I'd say that our opening-night gig at the Hideout was such a smashing success that Mick Dumke and I should replace David Letterman when he retires.

But alas, I'm not blessed with the mayor's magical ability to spread the good news even when there isn't any and he has to make something up.

So let me say this about Tuesday's show—not bad for a couple of rookies.

I'd like to thank everyone who showed up, especially our three guests: current aldermen Proco Joe Moreno and Scott Waguespack and former alderman Richard Mell.

Videographer Peter Holderness was on hand to film the event. And he captured some classic moments, like Waguespack explaining the city's strip-club law, Mell describing the pain he feels in his ass, and Moreno defending his proposed ban on plastic bags.

That said . . .

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Thursday, November 14, 2013

A new name for the Chicago Cultural Center?

Posted By on 11.14.13 at 03:37 PM

  • John Picken

Bridgeport alderman Jim Balcer introduced legislation at yesterday's City Council meeting that would rename the Chicago Cultural Center for the late Eleanor "Sis" Daley. Balcer told the Sun-Times that he's acting on a request from the Daley family.

But the first time this idea came up, Sis Daley quashed it herself.

Back in 1972, when her husband, the first Mayor Daley, was ignoring calls to preserve the building and threatening to tear it down, Sis had spoken up for it. She's commonly credited with saving it at that juncture. But when the Tribune's John Kass suggested, years later, that the Cultural Center should therefore be renamed for her, she nixed it:

"Thank you so much, but no thanks . . . Chicago is a better name for that building . . . and it means more to all sorts of people," she said.

(The background on all that was the subject of this column I wrote nearly two years ago, when there was talk of naming the building for Sis's daughter-in-law, Maggie Daley.)

Sis was right then, and she's still right. The Cultural Center, built more than a century ago, paid for by the citizens, and famous as the People's Palace, has the only name it needs.

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