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Morning shorts

Tuesday, Sep 18, 2007

* Cook Co. prosecutors seek to audit firm with ties to the gov

* Undercover blogger gives insider’s view of police dept.

* Opening of abortion clinic in Aurora blocked; more here and here

During a hearing in U.S. District Court on Monday, Planned Parenthood attorney Chris Wilson argued that Aurora was “imposing a different review process … in response to political demands” and the protests that have resulted.

“There is no other objection other than the outcry over abortion services,” Wilson told Judge Charles R. Norgle.

Lance Malina, an attorney representing Aurora, told the judge the city was reviewing possible “material omissions” when Planned Parenthood, identifying itself as Gemini, was going through the permit process. At the conclusion, the city will decide whether an operating permit should be issued.

* SIU won’t appeal ruling on Poshard contract

* Poshard says he did not try to influence poll results

* Zorn: 72 year old judge is right to challenge the age-old practice of mandatory retirement

* Ameren unveils rate relief programs

* Energy firm gets notice for alleged pollution

* Vrdolyak’s lawyers seek to have indictment tossed; more here

* Sneed tidbit: Pssst… Sneed hears rumbles 2nd Ward Ald. Bob Fioretti may challenge U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush for his Dem committeeman seat. Hmm.

* Daley implies opposition to Children’s Museum move is racial

* Mayor questions race role in Grant Park debate

* DuPage pushes to hire prosecutors despite budget loss

- Posted by Paul Richardson        

33 Comments
  1. - Hey Rich - Tuesday, Sep 18, 07 @ 8:27 am:

    Any word on when they’re going to check into Rose International and the campaign contributions of their subs? A little more funny business at DCFS.


  2. - Showtime - Tuesday, Sep 18, 07 @ 8:33 am:

    It’s showtime for Alderman Reilly today. Does he buck the mayor and give in to the NIMBY children-haters who live in the Illinois Center residential complex, or does he risk angering these folks by siding with the Mayor, Ms. Pritzker, and the rest of the organized contingency advocating for the relocation?


  3. - David - Tuesday, Sep 18, 07 @ 8:51 am:

    Planned Parenthood created their own mess in Aurora by lying on permit applications and trying to hide their true plans. Honesty is the best policy.

    check out http://www.openlineblog.com for the full saga of what’s going on in Aurora.


  4. - bored now - Tuesday, Sep 18, 07 @ 8:53 am:

    i thought we already knew that fioretti planned to challenge rush for the committeeman position. is this really news?


  5. - RD3 - Tuesday, Sep 18, 07 @ 8:58 am:

    Daley using the race card to shove his wish on this museum is offensive.


  6. - fedup dem - Tuesday, Sep 18, 07 @ 9:00 am:

    I believe bored now is correct. When an insurgent aldermanic campaign is successful, it is assumed that the new alderman will either run for Democratic Ward Committeeman the following year or support an ally for the post. this is another case of lazy journalism by the Queen of Lazy Journalists, Michael Sneed.


  7. - Objective Dem - Tuesday, Sep 18, 07 @ 9:00 am:

    I think it is unfair to accuse the Illinois Center residents of being racist and children-haters. I don’t live close by and have no vested interest but I don’t think it is a good location.

    One reason is the area is suppose to be “free and clear” of buildings.

    The second issue is the idea of dispersing attractions. About 10 years ago, Blair Kamin at the Tribune won a Pulitzer for his writings on the Lakefront. One of his central arguments was that the city puts all the big attractions on the northside which creates traffic problems on the northside and leaves the southside lakefront a ghosttown.

    I find it hard to believe that there are not other equivalent/better locations for the museum. And how about locating it close to mass transit?


  8. - Cassandra - Tuesday, Sep 18, 07 @ 9:05 am:

    It does sound as though the KK Bio contract, which spanned Repub and Dem administrations, was set up to rip off DCFS and, by extension, the taxpayers.

    And it sounds as though the Mahajans were doing what many contractors do, “facilitating” things for powerful politicans including helping them
    obtain lucrative real estate deals as in the case of Mrs. Blago.

    But when KK Bio was billing for nonexistent work, wasn’t somebody supposed to be minding the store at DCFS or CMS. DCFS is a well-staffed agency and presumably had people hired specifically to monitor contracts like KKBio. Were they asleep at the switch? Stupid? Or worse, were they in on the
    alleged scam?

    DCFS is one of Blago’s failed state bureaucracies (remember how he was going to reform it in 2003?)
    but I suspect that scams like KK Bio is alleged to have run could occur in any agency. That’s why we need watchers–watchers who stand in the stead of the taxpayers. We clearly can’t trust the pols to do it. Can we trust our highly-paid state bureaucrats?

    Hopefully, an audit would explain to us taxpayers what those watchers at DCFS or CMS did or didn’t do to prevent this type of alleged fraud.


  9. - Skeeter - Tuesday, Sep 18, 07 @ 9:15 am:

    Showtime,

    First, the people who object do not live in “Illinois Center.” That is a business complex a few blocks northwest. The people who object tend to be:

    1. People who believe that the park was intended to be, and should remain, open land without buildings; and

    2. People who live along Randolph on the New East Side and realize there are zero roads feeding into the potential new building.

    It is clear that Showtime is not familiar with 42, so hopefully this will be of assistance. The Daley Bicentennial Plaza is tucked at the end of upper Randolph, where the street dead-ends. The plaza itself is below street level. Getting to it is difficult, and there is almost no way that the road as configured can handle the additional traffic.

    Meanwhile, the best known proponent of the new building is a Catholic Priest who has yet to do anything at all to root out child abuse in his own archdioese. If he really cared about children, then Rev. Michael Pfleger would be picketing outside the Cardinal’s residence rather than getting into a debate about whether a museum should move about three blocks.

    It is nice to see that, for a change, the residents of 42 will have been heard. Alderman Reilly has held at least nine public meetings on the issue, which is about nine more than Natarus would have held. If the rest of the City Counsel follows Alderman Reilly on this, then hopefully we can avoid some of the bloated spending and poor choices made by the prior alderman.

    It was on Natarus’s watch, of course, that we had the massive boondoggle of overspending with the Millenium Park project, which was completed about six years late and at about triple the original budget. Those of us in 42 can also thank Natarus for the Spire project, a 150 story builing that also has almost no way for traffic to enter.

    As a 42nd ward resident, I can tell you that it is a welcome change to have an alderman that cares about 42.


  10. - Levois - Tuesday, Sep 18, 07 @ 9:21 am:

    Second City Cop is a good blog. Now that they’ve made the Sun-Times they may get some new exposure.


  11. - Squideshi - Tuesday, Sep 18, 07 @ 10:22 am:

    Kudos to Lisa Madigan for going after Midwest Generation. Of course, Midwest Generation A/K/A Exelon A/K/A ComEd A/K/A PECO Energy A/K/A etc. is the master of using operating and holding companies to “compartmentalize” their liability and “judgement proof” their business. What good does it do to sue Midwest Generation if, as an operating company, it technically has little or no assets (The facilities and equipment may be owned by Exelon–the parent company–and leased to Midwest Generation–the operating company; or Exelon–the parent company–may charge Midwest Generation–the operating company–management fees nearly equal to any profit generated.)


  12. - amy - Tuesday, Sep 18, 07 @ 11:35 am:

    If you live at about Randolph and Lake Shore Drive,
    isn’t Daley Bicentennial Park a neighborhood park for you and your children? Doesn’t the park have
    classes and a community hub like my neighborhood
    park? If the museum moves in, it is for the
    use of all, but, what about the neighborhood park?
    It is unfair to deprive the kids and even the adults who live there
    of their own, unique community. I sure would
    not want the museum to take over my neighborhood
    park.


  13. - Ken in Aurora - Tuesday, Sep 18, 07 @ 11:39 am:

    Re: the Aurora Planned Parenthood fiasco

    I’m embarrassed to be an Aurora resident. Why do these people feel they have the right to intrude on another’s life? I’m no fan of abortion, but I absolutely respect the right of each individual to choose what’s best for themselves. The intolerance of these protesters makes me ill.


  14. - Skeeter - Tuesday, Sep 18, 07 @ 11:43 am:

    Amy,

    Millenium Park has some programs for kids (Wiggle Worms, etc.). I’m not sure about the area around Bicentennial Plaza. I can tell you that the Cancer Survivor’s Park (at the far east end) is a great place to escape from everything.

    The people who live in the area expect that people from outside will be using the park. There is no real view among most that “this area belongs to us.” Instead, the view is “this area should remain relatively quiet, as it currently is.” Maintaining close to the status quo is more of an issue than creating a park just for the neighborhood.

    There is just no way for people to get into the park, and moreover, who wants to see another building taking up park space? If so, where will that end?

    Finally, I am not sure that anyone trusts Mayor Daley with another building project in that area.

    We saw what happened with one park — late and massively overbudget. Has he given us any indication that a new major project can be done on time and on budget? What is the Mayor’s track record here?


  15. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Sep 18, 07 @ 11:58 am:

    As a former resident of that neighborhood, I have this to say…

    What Skeeter said.


  16. - amy - Tuesday, Sep 18, 07 @ 12:15 pm:

    thanks for the info, Skeeter (and Rich). I just
    think there is too much going on in the park and
    I cannot imagine another large institution invading
    the quiet. the people who live in the highrises
    are community residents. they deserve to be treated
    with respect in their community.


  17. - Pat collins - Tuesday, Sep 18, 07 @ 12:19 pm:

    the Aurora Planned Parenthood fiasco

    Well, they got a little too clever for their own good. In mnay parts of zoning and planning you are SWORN in. Seems like PP was a little loose with the truth. AGAIN.


  18. - Objective Dem - Tuesday, Sep 18, 07 @ 12:24 pm:

    I’m a fan of Millenium park. I don’t mind that it took a few extra years to build, that happens in complex projects. And while I think the costs should have been better controlled, some of the cost “overruns” were additional projects such as the Harris theater and the added cost of features like the Cloudgate sculpture.

    I do have one negative comment about the park. The Harris theater and those two wart like buildings on its east and west sides should not have been allowed to stick out of the ground so much. They violate the “free and clear” concept. The children’s museum would be a similar intrussion that isn’t necessary.


  19. - Pat collins - Tuesday, Sep 18, 07 @ 12:38 pm:

    SCC blogger It should be a tenet of journalism that if you discuss a blog or website, you give the URL in the story.


  20. - Anon - Tuesday, Sep 18, 07 @ 1:10 pm:

    Alderman Reilly has come out against the Museum, and I strongly commend him for it. The Mayor’s racial comments are ridiculous, and demonstative of how he is beginning to lose touch with reality. Power does that. The Mayor is playing with fire if he tries to go around the local Alderman, particularly after the financial disaster at Millenium Park.

    If Bicentennial Park is underused, scrap it and create a bird sancutary, duck pond, prarie preserve, or ANYTHING but this overgrown Chuckie Cheese, which is just a monument to someone’s emotional need to credit themselves for “Doing Good.” Kids can learn a lot from preserves for birds, ducks and prairie grass, too, and maybe better lessons at that!


  21. - irishpirate - Tuesday, Sep 18, 07 @ 1:49 pm:

    On the Children’s Museum issue,

    First, I don’t believe the opposition to it has any significant racial component. It is much simpler than that. The people around there see that as THEIR neighborhood park and they want to keep it relatively quite and unused. Which that section is. There are also legitimate concerns about traffic.

    Second, the complaints about Millennium Park cost overruns don’t take into account that the scope of the plans changed dramatically as the years went by. It’s like planning to buy a Pontiac Vibe and then getting a Corvette and saying it cost more than you expected. Millennium Park is a great asset to the city of Chicago. The huge increase in real estate values near there are largely due to the presence of that park and tourism has gone up because of it.

    Third, the slap at Father Pfleger because of the church sex scandal is BS. It was a cheap shot. The scandal was horrific but the people to blame are the bishops who ignored it and the priests who did the molesting. Pfleger may be a pain, but he is a GREAT priest. Go take a look at his parish and compare it to almost any other parish in the city. Black or white. You may hate his politics, but the man has made a difference.

    Fourth, labeling it as a “racial” issue was an act of political genius on the Mayor’s part. This is the equivalent of what he did when the Repubs tried to “steal” O’Hare and he formed a pact with Gary, Indiana. Reilly is about to get his head handed to him in the council. I don’t agree with it, but it amuses me and I admire the audacity of it all. When I read it last night I chuckled. The Leprechaun King, Daley, still has his mojo.

    Fifth, that ward is to important to let the neighborhood groups and consequently the alderbeast have total control over zoning and development. I understand politically what Reilly is trying to do here and with the LakeShore Athletic building, but NIMBYism is wrong in Uptown or downtown.


  22. - Showtime - Tuesday, Sep 18, 07 @ 1:55 pm:

    “I sure would not want the museum to take over my neighborhood park.”

    c’mon. That’s just lunacy. The net decrease of recreational Grant Park or Bicentennial plaza open space that the museum’s facility would occupy is practically zero. Not to mention the fact that the museum’s plans will renovate a horribly depreciated park facility.

    Not close to public transportation?? Anyone who has ever taken the el to Milennium Park knows that the new museum location is a short, leisurely walk (over the Cavalatrava bridge) from either the el station on Wabash or the Metra’s Randolph Street station.

    In terms of vehicular traffic, I suggest that 90% of the people going to the museum in this location would park in the Milennium Park garage or the East Monroe garage, neither entrances of which require driving on or near Randolph.

    The person who said that Randolph dead-ends didn’t mention that this is the current location of the city’s towed-car lot. Why not use this issue to convince the city to move that somewhere else?

    The residents of the New East Side remind me of the groups who live near O’Hare fighing the airport’s expansion, only worse; instead of fighting the expansion of an economic engine their fighting against a fantastic cultural destination and a bunch of four year-olds.

    And noise? How is a mostly-underground museum going to contribute negatively to noise issues? There’s a bandshell right there! Not to mention Jazz Fest, Blues Fest, Lollapalooza, Taste of Chicago.

    This isn’t any more of a 42nd Ward issue than Milennium Park was. Reilly made a mistake here and I suspect he’ll regret it.


  23. - cleanairguy - Tuesday, Sep 18, 07 @ 1:56 pm:

    As for case against the coal power plants, its more than just the AG filing suit. Several organizations, including several health advocates and environmental groups also filed separately on the same issues. Like the AG, we have also been complaining about the plants being allowed to emit too much black smoke (”exceeding Illinois opacity regulations”) since 2003. After EPA refused to stop the still ongoing violations, we sued. Groups included Respiratory Health Assocaition of Metropolitan Chicago, Sierra Club, Environment Illinois, Little Village Environmental Justice Organization, Citizens Against Ruining the Environment and the Environmental Law and Policy Center.


  24. - Skeeter - Tuesday, Sep 18, 07 @ 2:07 pm:

    Irishpirate raises an interesting point.

    When the plans for Millen. Park were approved, something different was contemplated.

    What gives anyone any confidence that the same will not happen to the Children’s Museum? “We are just going to use the footprint of the ice rink.” Sure, until Mayor Daley decided that He wants to expand it, just as He decided to expand Mill. Park.

    When this Mayor talks about Big Projects, people need to ask questions, but this Mayor tends to change his mind and those changes tend to cost us money.

    I’m sick of using my tax dollars for his “legacy.


  25. - irishpirate - Tuesday, Sep 18, 07 @ 2:35 pm:

    Skeeter,

    Millennium Park was largely built with private money. The changes that occurred were largely because rich donors demanded them. The same can be said of the proposed Children’s Museum.

    I don’t doubt the final “product” will look different that what is proposed today. I also have little doubt Reilly and his torch carrying militia of highrise dwellers are going to be beaten on this issue. Hell, if the Leprechaun King really wants to make a point he will get a bill passed dealing with both the museum and the Lake Shore Athletic building. Throw in the proposed Children’s Memorial site in the ward also. I suggest Reilly get a prescription for propecia to slow his soon to be accelerated hair loss. I know a great place from New Zealand.


  26. - Skeeter - Tuesday, Sep 18, 07 @ 2:44 pm:

    “Highrise dwellers”? Is that supposed to be an insult?

    Yes, most people in 42 do live in highrises.

    And thanks for bringing up the Lake Shore Athletic Club. That was another situation where ALderman Reilly listened to the neighbors while Natarus had ignored them.

    That is why Brendan Reilly was elected Alderman. The prior alderman didn’t know anything about the residents and didn’t particularly care.


  27. - irishpirate - Tuesday, Sep 18, 07 @ 3:34 pm:

    “Highrise dwellers” was meant as a statement of fact. I did use it though in a way meant to be amusing: “torch carrying militia of highrise
    dwellers.” I also meant it to tweak YOU.

    Natarus was a joke. Reilly saw that, moved into the ward, and took advantage of that. I admire that. He is representing the desires of the most vocal residents of his ward. Perhaps the desires of most of the residents. What he is not doing is doing what is BEST for the Ward and the City. He is doing what the residents demand. They are not necessarily the same thing.

    If nearby residents were allowed to control development anywhere very little would be built. Expressways, schools, trains, malls etc would be shot down by the NIMBY crowd.

    Sometimes being a leader means explaining your position and then telling people to go to hell if they don’t like it. Reminds me of a story about a cabinet meeting Lincoln held. He had a vote on an issue. He asked for a show of hands. His entire cabinet was against the policy proposed. He was for it. The “ayes” carried the day.

    I knew Abe Lincoln. Abe Lincoln was a friend of mine. Brendan Reilly ain’t an Abe Lincoln. He’s too short and doesn’t have enough hair.

    Reilly is seemingly a decent bright guy who is doing what his constituents want. He will likely get reelected easily. He is also going to get a lesson in the power of Chicago’s Leprechaun King. He shoulda woulda coulda learned that lesson when he worked for Springfield’s Leprechaun King, Mike Madigan.

    I would be amazed if Reilly gets 5 votes to support him in the council. It will likely be Reilly and Fioretti standing nearly alone.


  28. - Skeeter - Tuesday, Sep 18, 07 @ 3:53 pm:

    If you are going to “tweak” me you need to do a heck of a lot better than that. [not to digress, but this is fascinating. Both “Skeeter” and “Tweak” are South Park characters. And you do remind me a bit of “Tweak.” Too bad you are intent on “tweaking” rather tnan making a coherent argument. You have yet to present any case as to why we should overturn 115 years of law to move a museum about three blocks.

    Further, I am amused that you, from outside 42, would know what is best for the residents of 42. The residents are right, and the alderman is right. Sometimes that happens.

    WIth regard to the vote: Who knows. Maybe you are right about the final outcome. It may be 48-2. Of course, if it does, those 48 better hope that the Mayor doesn’t decide to put some massive and unpopular project into their ward.


  29. - Showtime - Tuesday, Sep 18, 07 @ 4:05 pm:

    “Of course, if it does, those 48 better hope that the Mayor doesn’t decide to put some massive and unpopular project into their ward.”

    More accurate to say that 48 alderman DO hope the mayor decides to support a great institution like the Children’s Museum going in their ward.

    This is where Reilly is tone deaf. The council will support the move (though maybe not 48-2) because no other ward attracts the same attention from the mayor and the business elite. Reilly was wrong to think that a small, but vocal, minority of Chicago residents (the highrise militia) should prevail over a what is essentially a citywide issue.

    As far as “forever open, clear, and free” is concerned try to remember that the museum facility would be mostly UNDERGROUND and replace a building that is ALREADY THERE.


  30. - plutocrat03 - Tuesday, Sep 18, 07 @ 4:07 pm:

    This discussion about the relocation of the Children’s Museum is an example of the type of corruption that is deeply ingrained in Chicago and Illinois.

    Has anyone asked how many millions it will cost to move the existing museum 3 blocks? What are the real benefits to the ‘children’. What is the use for the current location? Who are the beneficiaries of all this churn?

    The stakes must be substantial to pull out the race card on this project. This is a perfect page from the national policy of demonizing your opposition when standard maneuvering does not succeed.

    This must be another proud moment for the Democratic Party. It is just like the good old days of the Soviet Union. This time the Commissar is is Little Richard. Who else are the apparatchiks? Where will the next strike com?

    The only thing guaranteed is that the prime beneficiaries of this raid on the public treasury will NOT be the ‘children”

    How about a real story about the bond indebtedness of the city of Chicago along with the burden of Mayor Daley’s incredible use of TIFFs. Another house of cards which will fall someday.


  31. - irishpirate - Tuesday, Sep 18, 07 @ 4:09 pm:

    So YOU get to decide the museum should be moved 3 blocks? If you wanted to uphold the tradition of the lakefront being forever free and clear then Millennium Park would never have been built. The Museum Campus……..gone. In fact how does locating the museum in another section of the park uphold the “free and clear” tradition? OOOPs, it doesn’t. It just moves it further away from YOU.

    I don’t really give a rat’s ass what is best for the residents of the 42nd Ward on this issue. It may be in their best interests to not have the museum there. It may NOT be in the best interests of the city as a whole. I’ve looked at the issue and like Blair Kamin I can see room for improvement.

    I live in Uptown right near the lake. The massive Waveland Public Golf Course is right here. I don’t use it. Few residents here use it. I have little doubt that if it were turned into a large wooded area with picnic areas and walking paths it would be better for the residents of 46.

    You know what. If a proposal were made to do that I would oppose it. For some strange reason some people, likely highrise dwellers, like golf and it is in the best interest of the city as a whole to have a decent public golf course.

    Grant Park is NOT a neighborhood park. Wrigley Field does not belong to the neighbors. Wrigley has both negative and positive impacts on my life and lifestyle, I am that close, yet I don’t demand total control over how it is used.

    What I do demand is that they be good neighbors and constantly work to limit the negative impact of the stadium. The same should be demanded of the future location of the museum. Where ever it is eventually located.

    I suspect that after Reilly and his happy mob of Restoration Hardware flashlight carrying NIMBY’s is defeated some of them will actually like having the museum so close. I’ve been at the Navy Pier location and it is a great asset for kids.


  32. - Redbright - Tuesday, Sep 18, 07 @ 8:21 pm:

    CCM has outgrown its Navy Pier location and they want the benefit of the high traffic level of Mill Park.

    Anyone who has gone to meetings inland in Chicago always hears the same complaint: Why is everything on the lakefront? CCM doesn’t want to leave the lakefront but there are many communities that want the museum, starting with Logan Square.

    When/if the City Council has to vote on this, what they will be voting about is ‘alderman perogative.’ How many are likely to vote to ignore it?

    A perfect location for CCM is next door to the Adler Planetarium and within eyesight of the Shedd, which shares an identical visitor profile. It’s a parking lot right now so nothing green will be harmed; a building would improve the site. There’s plenty of museum campus parking at Soldier Field so losing the lot is not an issue. But who will stop this are the people making big bucks on the tailgaters at the Bears games. That is the only group with a vested interest in keeping the location all cement.


  33. - irishpirate - Tuesday, Sep 18, 07 @ 10:37 pm:

    How many alderman are likely to vote to ignore aldermanic prerogative? 45-48. Reilly can count on his vote and Fioretti’s.

    If you think Rich Daley is gonna lose this vote then you don’t know the Daleys. For good or bad the man does what he wants. He beat Reilly the moment he mentioned “race”.

    I’ve been to meetings inland in Chicago and I have yet to hear anyone complain about the lack of museums in their hoods. Lack of parkland, yes. Museums, no.

    Try to put it anywhere in this city and there would be NIMBY’s complaining. Put it at the Museum Campus and people will complain about the added traffic. Anyway that sorta goes against the idea of forever open and free even if it does just eliminate a parking lot.

    As for the idea that the Bears organization is stopping the Museum from moving to the Museum Campus take the tinfoil off your head.

    What this comes down to is some wealthy donors wanting to improve the area adjacent to Millennium Park and them having the ear of da Mare. I also suspect Da Mare sees it as a great location because of the adjacent park and parking. I tend to agree with hizzoner the Leprechaun King. I think the plan can be improved but the location seems ideal to me. But then I eat NIMBYS for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Make no small plans and fight those with small minds.


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