Today’s Headlines for Tuesday, August 3

  • Tributes to MLK Planned on 50th Anniversary of March Through Marquette Park (DNA)
  • The Tribune Looks at the NIMBY Reaction to the Dodge Avenue Protected Lanes
  • Evanston Lifts Rules & Fees for Cabbies to Level Playing Field With Lyft, Uber (Tribune)
  • Hopkins: Need for Security Guards in Wicker “Higher Priority Than Bike Racks” (Tribune)
  • Police: Fender-Bender Leads to Arrest of Driver With a Bag of Drugs in His Mouth (DNA)
  • TOD Across From 35/Archer Orange Stop Would Have 36 Units, 3 Parking Spaces (Curbed)
  • Edgewater Observer: Granville Should Be Designated as a Ped/Bike-Priority Street
  • What Would the Streets of Chicago Look Like With No People? (Curbed)
  • “The Railcar” Theater Game Takes Place on a Runaway Blue Line Car (Chicagoist)
  • Public Input Meetings on West Town Master Plan Scheduled for August, September (DNA)

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  • ohsweetnothing

    So the actual businesses in the SSA area say private security isn’t needed, the actual numbers say private security isn’t needed.

    But (I’m sure all very levelheaded) calls to the Ward office and a woman who finds Southport Corridor comparable to the Milwaukee Ave corridor feel private security is needed.

    Which one of those two groups actually votes? There, I just showed you Aldermanic policy analysis 101. This is terrible government admin in action.

  • rohmen

    Perception and reality when it comes to crime often don’t match up in the average citizen. In Boystown and Lakeview, for example, there’s been an uptick in crime, but it’s still a “safe” neighborhood in many peoples’ minds, and much safer than it was 15 to 20 years ago. That doesn’t stop my brother’s partner (who isn’t from Chicago) making statements that they need to move because he’s afraid to walk down the street.

    As you allude to, crime is one of the very few issues that gets an alderman booted in a primary, so while I agree that they shouldn’t just cave to perception, it’s going to happen any time the perception of crime starts getting out of hand. The dirty side of democracy in action, but better than most alternatives.

  • ohsweetnothing

    I don’t disagree with you here, but my main beef isn’t the textbook overreaction to the perception of increased crime (although I do have a major beef with that too…it’s just a different issue than what I’m trying to narrowly focus on here), it’s that the solution is the Alderman basically trying to strongarm an administrative body who’s actual members are paying extra taxes for a specific purpose into spending said money to appease what non-SSA assessment payers *believe* is happening.

    That’s not really democracy in action…that’s the “tiny tyrant” mentality of the way our city’s government is organized. See also: zoning, patio licenses, signs, stop signs, etc….

  • rohmen

    And here’s where I always have a question with regards to the functioning of SSAs. My understanding is that a “committee” controls the funds, but it always seems like a respective SSA-area’s Alderman is who comes up with the plans as to how they will be spent. Does Hopkins have a seat on the committee? Is his “vote” really all that matters?

    If not, and the majority of owners truly are against it, what’s Hopkins doing (besides just announcing a plan to the press) to strong arm them here? I mean, I guess if they don’t follow his bidding, things like “permit issues” could start happening (and that type of strong-arming has obviously happened previously in Chicago), but the business owners seem pretty vocally opposed (and not afraid of retribution from Hopkins apparently) to this happening, so what’s the real chance the SSA follows through on this? Or is there more division out there among business owners on the issue than is being reported?

  • ohsweetnothing

    SSA budgets and contracts with the City have to get approved by the City Council every….2 years I believe (I don’t think it’s annual). I imagine it would be very difficult for an SSA to get approval if the Alderman of the respective Ward does not support the budget/contract/bylaws within the legislation. In fact, I believe it traditionally gets introduced into the Council by the respective Alderman. Hopkins could theoretically just sit on it.

    Good point re: maybe there are more business owners that support this.

  • Cameron Puetz

    Can we move past branding anyone who criticises a bike lane design as an anti-bike NIMBY? It’s needlessly confrontational, and counterproductive in the way it automatically dismisses any input from key stakeholders. No one has suggested that there be no bike infrastructure on Dodge. Cyclists and neighbors have both been critical of the specific infrastructure installed. Instead of disparaging anyone who isn’t 100% on board as a bunch of NIMBYs and dismissing their concerns out of hand. Let’s hear people’s concerns and try to build better designs that improve everyone’s experience.

  • Carter O’Brien

    That’s the way our City government operates, but it’s actually not the way it’s organized.

    On paper Chicago has a strong Council-weak Mayor system. Alderpeople are first and foremost legislators, they aren’t service providing departments. But to be fair, it is the constituents who generally thrust them into that role, calling the alderman’s office for loads of issues that should be handled through the 311 system under the idea that the alderman’s request gets prioritized.

    There’s certainly some truth to how that plays out on an individual case-by-case basis, but in the big picture it’s a very futile way to run municipal government, which is we have 50 aldermen while Los Angeles has 15.

  • Carter O’Brien


    And this isn’t directed at Cameron whatsoever, but I’d suggest that in general, people give the term NIMBY a rest or at least let it fallow.

    It is thrown around these days in a boy-who-cried-wolf fashion that almost always undermines the point being made, as most commenters don’t seem to understand what it actually means.

    NIMBY doesn’t mean “people who don’t like the same things I do,” or “supporters of the status quo,” it refers to people who use various governmental infrastructure but don’t want to have externalities associated with that infrastructure in their own neighborhood.

    Prisons. Landfills. Railroad crossings. Things we all as citizens either need or benefit from, but don’t want to
    be inconvenienced by.

    Bacon lovers who don’t like the smell of industrial hog waste? NIMBYs.

    (see today’s Tribune:

    Chicagoans who throw anything in the trash, ever? NIMBYs.

    (We’ve all been NIMBYs since the landfill ordinance in the
    80s prohibited any more dumps within the City limits, so let he who lives without styrofoam packaging or greasy pizza boxes cast the first stone)

    Bike lanes don’t even close to meeting the NIMBY litmus test. Most people that hate them don’t want them anywhere. It’s not a “not in my backyard” issue, it’s a “they’re a waste of money and we shouldn’t have
    to share the streets with bikes and hell no, no bike lanes with MY tax dollars” issue.

  • Historically aldercritters have never been legislators first.

    Chicago has been, since the instantiation of the city council, an elected feudalism. If you want anything done or any issue addressed, you petition your lord (aldercritter), who maintains good order and oversees service delivery within their fief. If you think they do a good job, you repay them periodically with fealty (votes).

    People moving here from out of town often find Chicago maddening, because they think the Council are legislators and then have no idea how to get anything addressed in a timely fashion.

    (the answer is to bring your ward office donuts/cookies/goodies once or twice a year, make sure you know the admin assistant’s name, and call when there’s an issue the staff should know about)

    It was always intended to work like this, from the Gilded Age right on down to today … though today we look at other cities’ governments and think ours SHOULDN’T work that way, because councils should be legislatures or something. They’re not. They’re area managers who also pass ordinances.

  • Carter O’Brien

    You’ve got some good points, but I think it’s a stretch to call them area managers – area middlemen, maybe. Shakman changed all that old school precinct/ward heeler business. Aldermen don’t pick up trash or recycling, trim or plant trees, fix potholes, etc, nor do they direct those services – that’s why the more progressive ones make their discretionary budgets an open/transparent process, they get charged for special requests. This is worth a read:

    This is worth purchasing and reading multiple times:

  • planetshwoop

    SSA in my area is very much focused on splitting the funds collected for improvements to businesses who sit on the board of the SSA, ie most of the funds distributed for improvements went right back into their pockets. Since it’s split across wards, not much alderman involvement. But totally shady.

  • Jeremy

    People (Bruce Rauner, Ken Griffin, Koch brothers) starve government of funds to provide services to taxpayers, then encourage gov’t to hire corporations to provide those services.

    If the city hired police officers, all money the city spends would go to city employees. By forcing the SSA to hire corporations like Garda or Securitas, a portion of the money is going to corporate profits. The CPS/Aramark contract is a perfect example of how the public-private contracts have failed taxpayers.

  • They directed trash right up until Rahm took it away from them, just recently (or, rather, they had the power to goose trash collection by making a single phone call, same thing).

    Just because some people are trying to MAKE aldercritters into simple legislators doesn’t mean it’s a good fit for how the system has generally functioned, and how it was initially set up.

    I agree that open budgeting for menu funds is nice, but what it’s doing is a feudal lord accepting widespread input from the vassals about what improvements need to be done within the fief, not any action compatible with being “just a legislator”.

  • Carter O’Brien

    I’m the VP of the Chicago Recycling Coalition and we’ve met/worked with DSS for decades.

    What ward offices had was essentially a designated point staffer within DSS, but that’s not the same thing as actually managing the department… not even close. What Rahm did was put DSS on a grid system, which was long overdue given how gerrymandered the wards are. Aldermen of course like to take credit for having a blue bin distributed, but they are essentially just line-jumpers in the 311 queue. You’d never see USPS, UPS or Fedex make deliveries based on ward boundaries for a reason.

    The “system” of which you speak was founded on property speculation and seizing land from the Native Americans. The Lager Beer Riot in 1855 was when the WASP ruling class was given their first wake up call that Chicagoans were people of multiple nationalities not accustomed nor willing to be bossed around like peons or serfs.

    Independent of anyone’s feelings regarding whether they perform their job correctly (not to mention legally) or not, the City Council’s job description is what it is.

    They are not feudal lords, and perpetuating that myth is IMO enabling the vicious cycle of why things in this City do not work.

    This is not to say I disagree with you in terms of how aldermen describe themselves and what they do during campaigns and other public speechery. Many are snake oil salesmen, no doubt – and very skilled in that regard. My mother was hired during the Harold Washington administration to then newly-created Board of Ethics, where she worked for over 20 years. She could tell you tales that would curdle your blood differentiating between what that office was *supposed* to do as set up by Mayor Washington, and what assignments were dumped on it during Daley’s reign.

  • J. Geoff Rove

    This Hopkins guy needs to go back to Beverly or whatever south side shamrock patch he came from.
    Just put back the police patrol staffing levels that existed when the 13th district on Wood was open. What dimwit leprechaun merged Wood st. with the new district down on SIXTEENTH street ??