January 31, 2009

My 2 Cents Worth

My 2-4 cents worth:

Beyond Moore’s email blast about the new commanders initiative on Howard Street and his support of it, well, why not make a list of methods in which Joe can be supportive and accountable?

Beyond whining and moaning behind a computer screen, how about putting aside past grievances and come up with a plan?

No matter what your perception of CAPS is, go to meetings and make changes if you don’t like it. Sadly, for NOH it means ‘contact Eva or Toni’ and make suggestions or vent. Why not get off your arses and tell the police your opinion(s) every second Thursday of each month at 7pm at 7450 N Rogers if you live in Beat 2422? Tell them in person in a public meeting – they’re the law enforcers. If you’re still not satisfied – do your research. Start block clubs all over the area – and get out and walk and watch and make a list of bad buildings. It’s more than just what’s happening in your space – what happens on one street eventually has its effect on another street. Whining isn’t the answer.

The largest burden should be on the alderman who rarely attends our beat meetings. Joe's next step, after attending the February meeting, should be a summit meeting with ALL subsidized building owners/managers North of Howard. Since many owners are absentee landlords, they don’t have a real stake in the neighborhood other than the monthly government check. They don’t live here or deal with the issues and its time they did their due diligence to earn their government handout.

IDHA and HUD should sit at the table and there should be no compromise on the enforcement of HUD rules in government subsidized buildings. Zero tolerance is the term isn’t it? Owners and managers should be contacting the 24th to review any felony arrests of their tenants and follow the guidelines. Period. If it sounds harsh – tell HUD not me.

Moore continued Orr's plan to create a low income hood - and Joe’s supporters lined up to make sure no subsidized buildings landed near them to disturb their peace or endanger them. “Put it North of Howard Joe.”

To NOH commenters - how about whining IF it’s a proven failure? How about whining after you’ve personally attended public CAPS meetings? How about following up with the group after you’ve implemented your plan for your specific area? The biggest challenge is the number of problem buildings. Don’t ignore the fact that the police didn’t create this neighborhood, Moore and Orr and their supporters did. So share the burden with the planner(s) and supporter(s) not just the police.

January 30, 2009

Kicked To Da Curb

Kicked to Da Curb

Cartoon courtesy of our neighborhood cartoonist - Tim Jackson

Blago's Exit Song

1974 humm...wasn't that a year of more political upheaval?

Mr. Kass, let’s name a few more.

Good luck Governor Quinn - Here's hoping the voters of Illinois will help with the fumigating process!

January 29, 2009

Facade Upgrade

This worker was preparing the wiring for the installation of new lighting at the Howard El exit on the north side of the street. He told me the new lights would be very large.


We discussed the risk factor of the large breakable lights versus the lights with protective covers. Hopefully our neighbors and tourists will respect the new lighting system. Unfortunately, this space has become a hideaway from the blue light on Paulina.

Well, here they are tonight and the space is much brighter.

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January 28, 2009

Xanadu - The Musical

Xanadu at Drury Lane is a fast moving musical and quite hysterical. We didn't see the movie in the 80's which made todays theatre excursion an interesting return to that decade and its music. The cast was great - and the performance was a real treat. Cast member and north side actor Julius Thomas' synopsis was perfect - it was great to 'laugh for an hour and a half'.

The musical just opened in Chicago on January 16th and there’s only one video posted so here are samples from the Broadway production of the smash hit.

The stage version...

Strange Magic

The original performers most of you will recognize

from Electric Light Orchestra

January 26, 2009

A Theme Song For Blago?

Maybe Blago should switch from poetry?

Oh no, I see
A spiderweb is tangled up with me
And I lost my head
And thought of all the stupid things I'd said

Oh no, what's this?
A spiderweb and I'm caught in the middle
So I turned to run
And thought of all the stupid things I'd done

And I never meant to cause you trouble
And I never meant to do you wrong
Ah, well if I ever caused you trouble
Oh no, I never meant to do you harm

Oh no, I see
A spiderweb and it's me in the middle
So I twist and turn
But here am I in my little bubble

Singing and I never meant to cause you trouble
And I never meant to do you wrong
Ah, well if I ever caused you trouble
Oh no, I never meant to do you harm

They spun a web for me
They spun a web for me
They spun a web for me

By: Coldplay

January 24, 2009

Take A Break

Say, how about starting the day with happy music With A Little Bit This?

Unless you prefer this, or this, or a different version

All Time Classic Happy Song

Music always brightens the spirit - hum a little song today.

January 22, 2009

Don't Whine 'Why We Can't"

From today's Chicago Tribune:

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama announced on his first day in office Wednesday that he is freezing the pay of the about a hundred White House employees who make over $100,000 a year.

The freeze would hold salaries at their current levels. It is part of a presidential memorandum being issued Wednesday when Obama attends a swearing-in for staff at the White House.

In a statement, Obama said “families are tightening their belts, and so should Washington.”

Aides making above $100,00 include the high-profile jobs of White House chief of staff, national security adviser and press secretary. Other aides who work in relative anonymity also fit into that cap…..."

So the President from Chicago makes a bold statement and takes action. Now when is City Hall going to follow his lead and freeze those annual automatic aldermanic salary increases? If these progressive liberal lakefront dems want to ride on the Obama wave, then let’s see them follow his example.

Cook County has plenty of pork fat in need of a slow boil to drain off excess. Its tiring and yes, insulting to read these Admissions and Excuses

“The more than $1.3 million cost of mailing notices required by state law to make those types of assessment changes could be more than the county can afford.”

Come on pols…we’ve just seen your lavish parties and before that we witnessed the massive dollar amounts raised for an election. Yet you embarrass the spirit with an excuse of why we can’t instead of yes we can for a mere $1.3 to mail revised assessments! As for the time crunch – just make it! The rest of us have to meet revised deadlines at work, what’s your excuse?

January 20, 2009

Today Is The Day

Our new President has inherited massive problems and issues to deal with.
Good luck Mr. President – and may all the representatives and senators grab a mop and bucket and do their fair share.

Clean Up Crew

Courtesy of our local cartoonist, Tim Jackson.

Check out Tim’s website

January 19, 2009

Vacant Building Registration Etc.

Bosworth commented: “24 hours later and the vacant, now burned out building is still not boarded up and secured properly. The police are no longer posted out front.

Since school is out today, I hope some curious children don't wander into that mess and get hurt.”

I can’t seem to find any vacant buildings registered on this stretch of Howard Street, Chicago IL 60626. All city departments are closed in observance of King Day so anwers aren’t readily available. A non-city employee stated the owner has 24 hours to board up the property. The question is does the 24 hours span from the time of the fire or the time of notification to the owner?

Vacant Building Registration

Vacant Building Ordinance

Amendment to Vacant Property Ordinance Section 13.12.125 [PDF]

Other information from City website

As I mentioned to a long gone ward 49 staffer in a conversation about the long vacant Broadmoor East – How could you NOT know its been vacant for years thanks to a squatter fire? Then I stated that if I were alderman the first thing I’d do is put up a map of my ward with pushbuttons indicating vacant buildings, problem buildings etc.

No wonder Joe thought I wanted his job. I’d like it if he just performed his job without partiality. The City can't collect this data without individual wards taking the lead in providing it.

January 18, 2009

Morning Fire In Vacant Howard Street Buildings

The all too frequent sound of sirens sometimes goes unnoticed – especially on a cold day. But when I looked out the window, it was too close to ignore.

Approaching Howard Street there were several fire trucks and police cars blocking traffic as the firemen extinguished a fire that appears to have started in the vacant Howard Tire Shop and spread into the adjoining vacant Little Mel’s Hot Dog joint.

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The salt truck arrived to salt down the frozen water that had spread across Howard Street after the fire had been extinguished.

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Investigators comb through the interior of the Tire Shop. Note the red candle on the counter and the makeshift closet for the jeans.

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Here's what remains of Little Mel's interior that's apparently been used as storage.


These properties were purchased by Robert Coe for a condo development and have been sitting vacant for some time. A security guard from a nearby building told me he'd reported seeing flickering lights in the Tire Shop - probably squatters candles. A 311 report was made recently about the long-vacant Chinese Restaurant to the east being unsecured by vandals or squatters.

It seems the ony change that comes to Howard Street here is through catastrophes.


Community Meeting On These Properties

January 16, 2009

Other Frigid Chicago Days

The table with Rank Temperature Dates in the left column insert revives a memory or two.

#3 -25.0 Dec. 24, 1983 -

Union Station was packed with holiday travelers – we were among the lot. Our train, the Southwest Chief, was delayed as were other trains. The Chief usually departed at 6:00 PM – but that frigid Christmas Eve it finally rolled out at midnight.

The station hadn’t been renovated yet in 1983 and, if anyone remembers, the entrance to the trains was a pretty large open drafty space. We lugged our suitcases to the restrooms and added more layers for the long wait.

The delay wasn’t that the train hadn’t arrived in Chicago – the delay was waiting for the toilets to thaw. We departed that night with one working toilet – on the car we were assigned to! Needless to say, there was a lot of traffic from the lounge car.

Our exit stop was Christmas Day around 6:00 AM. It was one of 3-4 times I missed saying ‘Happy Anniversary’ to my parents in person on Christmas Eve.

January 14, 2009

It's OK To Be Disconnected

Banning cell phone usage

If you’re driving, focus on the road. If there’s a passenger, focus on the road. There’s nothing more nerve-wracking than a driver who’s looking at the passenger instead of the road ahead. The same applies to drivers talking on cell phones. We all know it doesn’t take long for someone to spin out or run a light and it can happen when a driver is focused elsewhere.

Then there are the public space intrusions!

The northbound subway ride is usually relatively quiet – until the train surfaces just before Armitage. Suddenly there are conversations popping up everywhere – with invisible people. No doubt everyone has heard some of the outlandish conversations loudly interrupting the ride. One recent one I couldn’t help hearing went like this: “Oh, Steve was soooo sick last weekend. He’s a beer drinker but Saturday night he was drinking scotch and soda at the party. He must have had 5-6 of them in pint glasses. He spent Sunday on the couch…..”

One morning on a packed purple line, a man was having a business conference call on the ride downtown. The train swayed tossing some of riders off balance resulting in verbal noise. He had the audacity to scowl at them though they had invaded his private office with rude behavior. It only opened the door for more conversation from those who paid the same amount for a train ride to work.

Then there are the walkers and talkers. They have catch up conversations with friends, arguments with lovers, and aren’t aware of their surroundings or the traffic lights. It would be prudent to offer a study on how many pedestrians are mugged or hit by vehicles because they were paying attention to their conversation instead of the street.

Cell phones are a necessity and I have one. But it’s the second phone my family and friends use if they’re trying to reach me. Otherwise, the conversation can wait until I’m home….where there are no distractions like muggers, or drivers running lights. Statistics on these incidents should be available too.

It’s really OK to be disconnected. Get to know yourself, read a book on the train, look out the window and just daydream!

January 13, 2009

Political Pipes Burst In January Cold

NBC - The Many Moods of Dick Durbin

As predicted, the Senate stumbled on the walk the walk part of the phrase. Burris latest uncovered ties to Blago are brushed aside in part thanks to ole time politickin' from Bobby Rush et al.

This Tribune article is more informative and relevant for many Chicagoans. Why? Apparently politicians are miserable plumbers if they can't remedy Blago's latest burst of revenge.

January 11, 2009

Speaking From The Heart

The opening of a new firehouse for Engine Company 102 at Clark and Jarvis was a grand moment for the dedicated men and women who will serve there. Like the police, they are on the front lines everyday working to protect our community.

Mayor Daley, with solid recognition of the life threatening work firefighters do, gave the keynote address to hundreds of community residents and public officials gathered for Saturday's ribbon-cutting at the shiny new facility. The ceremony was truly a wonderful celebration of the fire department’s commitment to its mission. I took my family, and our kids really enjoyed the donuts and the firehouse tour.

Later, Chicago Fire Commissioner John W. Brooks rose to make his own welcoming speech. He said he felt a need to make a personal comment first, before starting his official remarks. Commissioner Brooks then recalled a particularly tragic and sad moment in Rogers Park's history. It was Sunday, September 3, 2006 when five Ramirez family children and a sixth child died in a fire in their apartment at 7706 N. Marshfield.

Many of us immediately remembered that Labor Day weekend. It was national news for days, and we united as a community to raise funds and give support to the devastated families.

Commissioner Brooks said he hoped that this new firehouse would at least serve as a memorial to the children who lost their lives in that blaze.

I spoke with Commissioner Brooks after the ribbon-cutting ceremony. He said the fire, the deaths, and especially the circumstances that led to this preventable tragedy are still fresh in his memory. For about six months before the fire the Ramirez had family lived in their apartment with no electricity. It had been turned off because of unpaid bills. At night, the family used candles for light. What was worse, the fire department also reported, was that there were no working fire alarms in the apartment.

Commissioner Brooks told me that initially he hesitated to raise memories of such sadness at the ribbon-cutting event. The commissioner understood that some might consider his remarks to be politically incorrect. (Recall: after the fire the city’s news media was filled with reports on the apartment building’s owner Jay Johnson, with details of his hefty political donations to our local alderman, and with allegations of Johnson’s negligence in maintaining the fire alarms.)

Commissioner Brooks said he felt it was important to never forget what happened in our community and also to point out the need for working fire alarms and other fire safety measures in every home.

I congratulated him. Fire Commissioner Brooks “spoke truth to power” in his own way, in a message heard by our mayor, our alderman, and our neighbors.

By Michael J. Harrington

Between Snows


The city snow plows came through last night about nine o'clock.

Snowy Street

Didn't Matt Smith, Streets & San, ask people digging out vehicles to please not dump the snow back into the street but onto the parkway?

Sunday at the beach:

Howard Street Beach Howard Street Beach GEDC0003

Playtime in the park:

January 10, 2009

Snow Scenes

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The Wolf Moon

Tonights full Wolf Moon will be the biggest and brightest of 2009. Tonights weather forecast for Chicago is mostly cloudy but we may get a glimpse.

Engine Company 102

There was a large turnout to greet the Mayor at the ribbon cutting ceremony at the new firehouse. Engine Company 102 at 7340 N Clark is officially open.

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Mayor Daley Commissioner John Brooks Award Firemen1.10.09

BigRedFireTruck1.10.09 RibbonCutting

Rich's Angels

Clearing Blagos Fog, Clearing Chicago's Sidewalks

Blago refers to the hard working people he paraded before the cameras that he allegedly helped by reciting yet another poem. When he spoke of his parents struggles, I thought of mine and their parents before them. I thought of that rural area where I grew up where everyone knew their neighbors. Granted, there was the usual amount of ‘snobbery’ but everyone worked, everyone banded together when there was a common cause.

Getting food stamps or joining the welfare wagon was the last and final option – it was known as pride not an entitlement. Kids would be out on a day like this offering to shovel walks or driveways. Grown men would outfit their trucks with plows to clear driveways, alleys and side streets. They still do and they don’t always expect payment. It’s known as being a good neighbor.

Fast forward to this morning: Those with snow blowers will do their walks and parking areas only. Or they may clear their parking area and forget about pedestrians. The bands of boys I saw on Howard Street last night will not be out with shovels making a few bucks by offering to shovel snow. But they may be out later doing a more lucrative job.

Our front sidewalk on city property is clear for now. I’ll finish the path on the front steps later. It is NOT city property and the only people who need to be inside the gate are the residents and the mail person, And thank you neighbor for dropping off the bags of salt since we don’t own a car. Of course, there's no reimbursement from the city, no entitlement for clearing their walks!

Blago’s alleged wrongs to the taxpayers It sounds like BAU - Business As Usual doesn't it?

January 8, 2009

Walking 101

Don’t make promises if you can’t keep them. All the bluster and thunder about not seating Burris seems to be a lot of noise with no rain. Senators across the country are caving in like naughty children being reprimanded by a parent. And Jessie White’s being portrayed as the bad guy in their backpedaling – but we taxpayers aren’t supposed to notice this.

Who counseled Jesse that he did or did not have to sign? Our fearless slider, Dick Durbin turned into mush to appease Obama who switched gears too. It’s a little late to worry about damage control over the corrupt political mess known as Illinois politics. At least spilled milk can be mopped up relatively quickly.

The mess of Illinois has been bilking taxpayers for years and it seems it will continue unless voters get their own program. Long after January 20’s event is over, we’ll still be manipulated by this crowd. They will continue to spend millions jetting about trying to charm us for a vote here and a vote there. Now they’ve proven to the world they can talk the talk but stumble miserably when it’s time to walk.

January 7, 2009

Chisel This

Burris isn’t squeaky clean

Will these accomplishments be chiseled into his mausoleum?

From Capitolfaxblog.com

Beat 2422 Meets Tomorrow

The second Thursday of the month is the CAPS Beat 2422 meeting.

CAPS Beat 2442 meets tomorrow night 1/8/09:
Gateway Senior Apartments
7450 N. Rogers - Community Room
7:00 PM

January 6, 2009

What Change?

If Blago were a female people would probably call him a conniving bitch. Certainly there are equally nasty nicknames for males, but females are usually the target of any ‘B’ tags.

In this melodrama we have several B’s. We have Blago. We have the plantation politics of Bobby Rush. We have Burris claiming ‘we are the junior senator’ and that he’s down to earth and doesn’t showboat – especially in church. And, we have Barack Obama, the first black man elected to the office of President of the United States for starters.

Of course, Barack has been accused of not being black enough by Rush and, Rev. Jackson. But both jumped on the Obama train when it was time to promote him didn’t they? These nice guys had no problem taking advantage of the camera time given them did they? Barack was black enough then.

Even when Obama said ‘no’ to any Blago appointment, the ugly outdated politics still reared its divisive head didn’t it? The pot has been stirred and the odors emanating from it are as foul as ever.

B-lago Boy has certainly created a distraction from his own failings and is doing a terrific job of stealing Barack’s historical emergence as president in a few days. Blago should be ashamed of himself but his Narcissistic personality will not allow it. However, what excuse do Burris and Bobby Rush et al have to offer? Moments in the spotlight, inscriptions on the granite resume, and stirring the plantation politics pot are more important than being supportive of Barack’s request.

Is it really about having a person of color in the Senate seat or is it politics as usual in Illinois?

January 4, 2009

A Case Of Sheer Evil

This article is more than disturbing. Can this be the epitome of the social decay that has overcome this country? Blame it on the liberals or conservatives, blame it on the religious wackos, or blame it on the entitlement programs as you may see fit.

Just a few years ago it damn near took a miracle to get child support from some males who fathered children. The refusal to support the child(ren) is usually a combination of selfishness or spite toward the woman who left the relationship, but this is a case sheer evil.

January 2, 2009

Mr. Burris, please RTFM

Burris said if he is turned away at the ceremony, he won't make a scene.

"That is not my style. I am not seeking to be confrontational," he said. "I'm not showboating or styling to try to be making points for somebody. That's not me." Source

“If he gets the signatures, the Senate Committee on Rules and Admistration could refuse to seat him, citing Article 1, Section 5. Additionally, Sen. Dick Durbin could break tradition by refusing to walk Burris into the chamber. Blagojevich, however, has Senate floor priveleges and could escort Burris to his desk.” Source

Durbin called Burris twice to discuss the situation, but Burris never got the messages because he hasn't got his cell phone thing down. Source

Burris, his lobbying firm, his clients and a law firm that includes him donated $127,986 to Blagojevich since the governor took office. Burris himself gave $4,500 to the governor, including $1,000 last June. His lobbying firm, Burris & Lebed Consulting, gave $10,796 in cash and services. The law firm with which Burris is affiliated kicked in $5,000 for the governor. Burris' consulting firm has gotten $294,546.30 in state contracts under Blagojevich. Source


Burris has already made a scene by playing Blago’s game AND inviting Bobby Rush to join the news conference and do his race card challenging bit. But is that a surprise to anyone of any color? Do we not experience these political terrorists antics at every election in some form?

Maybe Burris should RTFM that came with his cell phone. Retrieving messages shouldn't be that difficult.

Perhaps Burris won’t make a scene but he’ll have a circus of others to do it for him, just like last weeks press conference. AND, it will be even more amusing to see how the big talkers in the Senate actually handle it. If they can talk the talk, let’s see if they can walk the walk and just say ‘no’.

Feel free to express the various scenarios from politicians dragging school children to hell and brimstone preachers, and Elvis descending on Washington. Makes you proud to live in Illinois doesn’t it?

One last thought, since the laws are so bloody weak and have too many loopholes, perhaps its time to do the lawyerly thing and dot all the I’s and cross all the T’s in a complete re-write. Corruption isn’t going away in Illinois so the least the lawmakers could do is spell out what happens under future corrupt governor circumstances.