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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Prentice suit amended, but not as judge intended?

Posted By on 02.12.13 at 05:55 PM

  • Save Prentice Coalition

Last month, Cook County Circuit Court judge Neil Cohen gave the National Trust for Historic Preservation 30 days to fix up its lawsuit against the City of Chicago and the Commission on Chicago Landmarks over their haste in giving preliminary landmark designation to the former Prentice Hospital and then taking it away, all in a single afternoon.

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.

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Friday, February 8, 2013

The landmarks commission stages a Prentice do-over, with the same result

Posted By on 02.08.13 at 06:07 PM

  • Deanna Isaacs
  • NU's Eugene Sunshine and commissioners after the vote
The hero of the Prentice Hospital saga wasn't there on Thursday, when the Commission on Chicago Landmarks voted once again to take back the landmark designation it had given—and rescinded—in a single day last November.

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.

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Monday, January 28, 2013

Groundhog Day: Landmarks Commission will vote on Prentice

Posted By on 01.28.13 at 03:21 PM

Wait a minute: haven't we been here before?

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?

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Friday, December 14, 2012

Mayor's allies protect City Council from plan to protect your tax dollars

Posted By on 12.14.12 at 10:00 AM

Ameya Pawar has the nerve to think the citys legislative branch is separate from the executive branch.
  • Ameya Pawar has the nerve to think the city's legislative branch is different from the executive branch.
First-term alderman Ameya Pawar is careful to emphasize that he's not an opponent of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's. He doesn't go around criticizing the mayor and he doesn't want to fight with him, largely because he hasn't had any reason to.

"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.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

City Council gets in the spirit of giving, approves Rahm's billboard deal

Posted By on 12.12.12 at 06:01 PM

Mayor Emanuel: Happy holidays! Now pass my freaking privatization deal.
  • John H. White/Sun-Times Media
  • Mayor Emanuel: Happy holidays! Now pass my freaking privatization deal.
Since it's the holiday season, 27th Ward alderman Walter Burnett Jr. took the opportunity Wednesday to remind his colleagues of the true meaning of voting for the latest city privatization deal.

"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.

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Friday, December 7, 2012

Court date set in battle to save Prentice: January 11

Posted By on 12.07.12 at 03:42 PM

This should be interesting: in Cook County court today Judge Neil Cohen said he'll hear oral arguments January 11 on the city's motion to dismiss a suit filed last month by preservationists trying to keep Northwestern University from destroying the former Prentice Women's Hospital building, which it owns.

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.

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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Aldermen raise serious questions about billboard deal, then advance it anyway

Posted By on 12.04.12 at 08:25 AM

Despite intense study, not even Alderman Ed Burke could figure out what the hells up with the city's latest privatization deal.
  • Al Podgorski / Chicago Sun-Times
  • Despite intense study, not even Alderman Ed Burke could figure out what the hell's up with the city's latest privatization deal.
You know they did.

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.

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Friday, November 30, 2012

Here comes another city privatization deal forged behind closed doors

Posted By on 11.30.12 at 10:00 AM

Rahm Emanuel doesnt need a business degree--or a bidding process--to know when hes cut a good deal.
  • Sun-Times Media
  • Rahm Emanuel doesn't need a business degree—or a bidding process—to know when he's cut a good deal.
This is one of three posts to win a Peter Lisagor Award for Blog, Individual Blog Post, Affiliated.

One hundred and fifty-five million bucks is a lot of money. Or maybe it isn’t.

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.”

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Friday, November 23, 2012

Abbate case is just the tip of the iceberg in city legal payouts

Posted By on 11.23.12 at 10:00 AM

A federal jury awarded Karolina Obrycka $850,000 after she was beaten by an off-duty Chicago police officer.
  • Tom Cruze/Sun-Times Media
  • A federal jury awarded Karolina Obrycka $850,000 after she was beaten by an off-duty Chicago police officer
If only it were an isolated incident.

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.

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Friday, November 16, 2012

Why your alderman (and mine) always votes yes on the Chicago city budget

Posted By on 11.16.12 at 10:00 AM

Alderman Ed Burke: befuddled that anyone would vote no on Rahm Emanuels budget
Mayor Rahm Emanuel made a keen observation after the City Council voted 46-3 to approve his 2013 city budget on Thursday:

"Reform never ends."

It's true—the reform process has been under way in Chicago for decades, yet somehow things just never seem to get fixed.

Take the city's $8.3 billion budget as an example. Passing it was essential, the mayor said, to "right a ship that had gone wrong."

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