Wednesday, March 28, 2007

the plop thickens

So, who does currently own the property on the 7300 block of Clark St. where the new fire station is to be constructed? That seems to be one of many questions of the day.

Hugh said that the City is in the process of "taking" it.

There are two separate parcels:
PIN 11-30-420-055
7322-7332 N CLARK strip mall including Mega Wash

PIN 11-30-420-054
7334-7352 N CLARK strip mall including Supermercado Morelia

Rpdude said that listed the taxpayer for 7334-7352 N Clark as taxpayer is former Cook County Clerk Stanley T. Kusper Jr., but this information appears to be out of date. Hugh did a little more digging and found the taxpayer listed as I. Mejia and the property owner listed as a LaSalle Bank Trust going back to 2002. Interesting that Kusper apparently owned the property for years and sold it when the fire station location was set.

Looks like the fire station site is not yet public property, so we can't use that as part of an argument to get Joe's other public-improvement-as-blatant-political-ad sign removed. Doesn't mean we can't otherwise object to it via 311 on the grounds that it is a political advertisement in sheep's clothing.

but wait, there's more...

Just when it seemed that the "Hillary 1984" hoopla had died down, there's more about why Apple Computer didn't sue the creator of the Youtube video.  A previously unknown party owns the rights to "1984."  Read more here.   Yes, folks, truth can be stranger than fiction.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

no paper, no plastic

San Francisco's Board of Supervisors voted 10-1 to prohibit petroleum-based plastic checkout bags at large markets and pharmacies and mandated the use of biodegradable plastic and recyclable paper bags in their place.

This is step forward for San Francisco. Would Chicago consider such a move? I hope so, if Mayor Daley is at all serious about making the city greener and more eco-friendly.

commuting by bike

A lot of folks are talking about commuting by bike due to the impending quagmire of red line/purple line/brown construction around Belmont and Fullerton. Commuting by bike can be a great stress reliever. I thought I'd provide a few resource links for those of you who are considering it.

Safe Bicycling
Local Bike Shops - includes some user reviews of shops
Commuting Resources
Online Chicago Bike Map - available in hard copy from most local bike shops and via online request
City and State Bike Laws
CDOT Bike info page
Chicagoland Bicycle Federation - more resources

Riding with a local club can help you to get familiar with local bike routes and learn the ins and outs of getting around the city by bike.

Helmets - If you're riding around without one and wondering if you should get one, I've got a few words for you. You may not have many crashes where you hit your head. You may think "I'm a safe rider. I don't have accidents. Why do I need a helmet?" No matter how safely you ride, no matter how high your skill level, an unseen pothole or careless driver can always cause an accident. If that one unexpected moment leaves you lying on the pavement after hitting your head, chances are you'll be grateful for the helmet. I and several friends have had that experience. Without a helmet, I probably would not be able to write this now. It's your brain. It's your choice. And if you ride with your kids, asking them to wear a helmet without wearing one yourself doesn't exactly set an example. Chances are they'll take the helmets off when they're out of your sight if you don't wear one yourself.

Riding in the city can be a great experience, and commuting by bike can be the ultimate liberation from the CTA's woes. Let's be safe out there!

Monday, March 26, 2007

in the red

The New York Times ran an interesting article about the CTA's woes.

Many people I know (and friends of friends) are buying new bikes and preparing to commute by bike on a regular basis to avoid the crowded trains and delays on the El, or are seriously thinking about it.

Others are switching to Metra, which is about to increase service on the UP North line to meet added demand. Those added runs will be welcomed. Lots of people have already switched to Metra. In recent weeks, the 6:00 run leaving downtown has been packed, sardine packed. People are standing in the aisles and vestibules and every seat is full. The conductors are saying that the train is nearly empty after Central St. (Evanston). I notice huge groups of people getting off at Ravenswood and Rogers Park, much larger than a year ago.

Meanwhile, Joe Moore made another genius move, sending an e-mail a few days ago asking people to write to or call Frank Kruesi of the CTA asking that construction be delayed until the CTA can come up with an alternative to the 3-track operation that is about to begin at Belmont as the station reconfiguration gets more involved. Geez, Joe, these plans haven't exactly been a secret. If you were really paying attention to the needs of the 49th ward, you might have done something like this months ago, or even come up with some alternative suggestions.

early voting

Pick a site - Any site - VOTE EARLY

The law now allows any person to vote early during the 22nd through the 5th day preceding an election. Any voter may cast a ballot during this period at any of the Early Voting sites offered - regardless of the ward in which they live.

Unlike voting absentee, you DO NOT need an excuse or reason to utilize Early Voting. However, those who vote during early voting cannot vote again on Election Day. A list of all early voters will be provided to the judges of election prior to the opening of the polls.

For the 12 wards with Aldermanic run-offs, the Chicago Election Board has established an Early Voting site in each ward, plus another at the Election Board offices, 69 W. Washington St., Lower Level.

Early Voting will begin March 26 (today) and end April 12, 2007 for the Supplementary Aldermanic Election.

March 26-April 12, 2007
Monday-Saturday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sundays: 9 a.m. to noon


2nd Ward - Mabel Manning Library, 6 S. Hoyne Ave.
3rd Ward - Chicago Bee Library, 3647 S. State St.
15th Ward - West Englewood Library, 1745 W. 63rd St.
16th Ward - Sherman Park Library, 5440 S. Racine Ave.
18th Ward - Wrightwood-Ashburn Library, 8530 S. Kedzie Ave.
21st Ward - Woodson Regional Library, 9525 S. Halsted Ave.
24th Ward - Douglass Library, 3353 W. 13th St.
32nd Ward - Pulaski Park, 1419 W. Blackhawk St.
35th Ward - Logan Square Library, 3030 W. Fullerton Ave.
43rd Ward - Lincoln Park Library, 1150 W. Fullerton Ave.
49th Ward - Pottawattomie Park, 7340 N. Rogers Ave.
50th Ward - Warren Park, 6601 N. Western Ave.
Election Board Headquarters, 69 W. Washington, Lower Level

REMEMBER: If you are registered to vote in one of these wards, you may use ANY of the sites above during Early Voting. On Election Day, voters who did not use Early Voting may cast ballots only at their assigned polling place.

Each early-voting site is equipped with touch-screen stations. The touch-screen stations are loaded with every type of ballot.

Pollwatchers are allowed to monitor early voting.

Early voting ballots will not be tabulated until the close of the polls on Election Day (April 17).

This information comes from the Board of Election Commissioners site.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

slumlords want Moore

I apologize for the blurry photo. That train was moving. As you can see, this sorry building on Glenwood and its sign (storefront, lower left) are quite visible from the red line.

You can't miss the large dumpster out front. Anyone know what's happening next with this building? Another stealth condo conversion, perhaps?

Thursday, March 22, 2007

no rules

The revelation of ParkRidge47's identity shows that the old rules of political campaigning don't seem to apply anymore.

An individual took independent action in a way that reflects on his employer's business relationship with one of the candidates. The candidate did not ask that the Youtube video be taken down. Apple Computer, whose ad was altered to create the video, did not ask that the video be taken down. No lawsuits were filed.

More DIY actions seem likely in the future. I'm curious to see exactly what forms they may take.

Kheris hits the nail on the head

I thought this was a rather apt assessment of the 49th ward aldermanic run-off. Well said!

public comment sought on extending Red Line

The CTA is seeking public comment on extending the Red Line to 130th Street. This Trib article gives details.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

the mystery continues

There are some interesting theories out there about the identity and motivation of the mysterious ParkRidge47. If he/she is ever revealed, wouldn't it be a scream if it turned out to be Steve Jobs? What's your $0.02?

a brave new world

The emergence of the Hillary 1984 Youtube spot raises a lot of interesting questions. How and where do we get information on political candidates? Who is responsible for the material? How does it compare to official campaign "spin?" Is the source an independent grassroots voice, or is it actually disinformation from the campaign that is designed to appear as independent?

In case you're not up to speed on this, a digitally re-edited version of Apple's 1984 Think Different ad has appeared on Youtube, posted by someone using the pseudonym ParkRidge47 (referring to Hillary's hometown and year of birth). It ends with a link to, but Obama's campaign says they had no part in creating this ad.

The explosive growth of blogs and Youtube is rapidly changing the political campaign process, creating many grassroots opportunities to affect campaigns from the outside. It is much easier to expose questionable campaign donors and other information that usually would not see the light of day in the pre-digital age.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer ran a relevant news article on the phenomenon.

It feels like the winds of change are blowing in a big way. We've certainly seen plenty of local examples, such as our 49th ward aldermanic run-off. I'd imagine that political campaigns may be very different 10 years from now, as grassroots efforts increase in prominence and influence. Power to the people! Keep on blogging!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

blue bag blues

A local protest song (MP3)...

If you haven't otherwise gotten this info, there is now a drop-off recycling site in Rogers Park at 6441 N. Ravenswood, available 7 days a week during daylight hours.


Containers: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #7 (All containers should be emptied and rinsed clean.)
• Aluminum & Steel Cans, Tins, Trays & Foil
• Milk & Juice Cartons
• Milk & Juice Jugs (#2 clear plastic resin)
• Glass Bottles and Jars - (clear, brown, green) No window glass,dinnerware or ceramics.
• Drink Bottles (#1 clear and green plastic resin)
• Detergent & Fabric Softener Containers (#2 colored plastic resin)
• PVC Narrow Neck Containers (#3 plastic resin) & Plastic Resin Narrow
Neck Containers
• Grocery Containers, such as six and twelve pack rings & margarine
tubs (#4 plastic resin)
• Grocery Containers, such as yogurt cups, and narrow neck syrup &
ketchup bottles (#5 plastic resin)
• Plastic Buckets, such as kitty litter containers (5 gallon size
maximum) No metal handles.

Paper Fiber
• Newspaper, including inserts (remove plastic sleeves)
• Cardboard (no waxed cardboard)
• Kraft Bags (brown paper bags), Magazines, Catalogs and Telephone Books
• Office, Computer, Notebook & Gift Wrap Paper (no metal clips, spirals, binders)
• Chipboard (cereal, cake & food mix boxes, gift boxes, shoe boxes, etc.)
• Carrier Stock (soda & beer can carrying cases)
• Junk Mail & Envelopes (no plastic cards, stick on labels or unused stamps)
• Paper Back Books (no hard cover books)

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Jazz: America's classical music

Jazz is one of America’s homegrown musical genres, but it has been treated like a less favored stepchild for much of its history. In its early days, some of the finest jazz talent was found in the brothels and saloons of New Orleans. Its roots are closely linked with blues, but it has followed a slightly different path over the years.

The Tribune recently ran an excellent article about Thelonius Monk's musical legacy.

There are excellent sources for listening online. The links below offer a small selection of what’s out there.
WDCB Chicago/Glen Ellyn
WDNA Miami
Danish Radio Copenhagen

I’ve often wondered why jazz, in all its variations, is so underappreciated by the general public. At its simplest, it offers catchy toe-tapping tunes. At its deeper levels, it has developed a level of complexity and eloquence to merit the label "America's classical music." In the broad spectrum of jazz, there is a flavor for anyone.

Friday, March 16, 2007

urban birdwatching

I stopped by Central Camera on my lunch hour to pick up a little pair of binoculars - perfect for urban birdwatching. They should do fine for checking out our little winged friends. They're also bright and crisp enough to read license plates while observing drug deals. TGIF!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Green choices - shopping and how we get there

[part 3 in a series]

Taking reusable tote bags to the store (any store, not just the grocery store) instead of taking home lots of plastic shopping bags also reduces oil consumption. Plastic bags are not accepted in most recycling programs. Too many of them end up as shredded garbage festooning trees and shrubs. The only practical way that many of us can recycle them is by giving them a second use as small household garbage bags or for scooping up after dogs. A reusable tote bag is fairly inexpensive. Many stores sell them for less than $10. They can be washed occasionally and used for many years. My oldest is about 15 years old and still going strong. Over that time, that one tote bag has taken the place of hundreds of plastic bags. I have several tote bags, so I have enough to handle most shopping trips.

Buying products with less packaging also reduces energy consumption. A product encased in a lot of plastic uses more oil than one in simple cardboard packaging. The plastic may or may not be recyclable.

We can choose to shop closer to home when possible, going on foot, by bike or by public transit (CTA, Metra, Pace) instead of driving. For heavier loads, I use a trailer with my bike.

If we don’t need to use a car on a daily basis, I-Go and Zipcar now have many locations in Chicago and nearby suburbs. These car share programs make cars available in increments of ½ hour, making them much more affordable than traditional full-day car rentals. I’ve used I-Go for several months now. In an average month, I get a car 3-4 times for a few hours at a time, at an average cost of $15-20 per trip. No parking tickets for a car that sits on the street most of the time. No additional maintenance costs. No worries about having to move the car for street cleaning.

Until all wards in the city have curbside recycling, the addition of local recycling centers makes real recycling (as opposed to the ridiculous blue bag program) more feasible for a higher percentage of city residents. Most of these locations have large dumpsters accepting plastics marked 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 7, aluminum cans and foil, tin cans, glass bottles, newsprint and magazines, phone books, white paper, and cardboard. If one recycles as much of these items as possible, one can reduce the amount that goes into the trash can by 50% or more.

The net impact of these little choices (and many others) can make a big difference in one's personal and household energy consumption.

house tours

I noticed a familiar face while reading the Tribune this morning. There's an article on house tours on the front page of the Your Place section, with a big picture of Ellen Eslinger in her beautiful Rogers Park living room. Too bad the online version doesn't have the picture.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Green choices - what we eat

[part 2 in a series - continued from yesterday]

Buying fruits and vegetables produced within a few hundred miles of your home consumes a lot less oil and generates a lot less pollution than produce from across the country or across the ocean. Given the limited selection in colder climates, opting for U.S. grown winter produce from across the country is a greener choice than produce from overseas. In the warmer months, we have farmers’ markets.

CSAs (community supported agriculture) are another option for local produce. This link gives information on how CSAs work and has additional links to find CSAs near you. CSAs work by subscription. For example, person A gets a subscription to Joe’s Farm for 20 weeks of crops. During the growing season, Joe’s Farm makes regular deliveries to a city or suburban location where A and other subscribers can pick up their box of produce for the week. Selection and quantity varies depending on what is ready for picking that week. Subscribers are effectively shareholders in the farm, providing capital for the farm’s operating costs and sharing its risks. They get an opportunity to reconnect with the natural cycle of growth and to share in the bounty if the year’s crop yield is exceptionally good. The farmer gains financial security, gets a better price for crops, and can spend more time and energy on farming that might otherwise be diverted by marketing efforts.

Another installment tomorrow...

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Green choices - what we buy

Little choices can make a big difference in terms of environmental issues. If we choose to use disposable plastic or foam cups or plates, they may or may not be recyclable, as many recycling programs only accept #1 and #2 plastics. That assumes that one chooses to recycle at all. Even if we do recycle, it does not negate the fact that oil is a key ingredient in manufacturing this plastic. More oil is required to transport the crude oil from its point of origin to a refinery, then a distilled portion of that crude from refinery to plastic factory.

Buying drinking water in serving-size or 1-gallon plastic bottles raises the same issues. Using a filter system and tap water from your sink (unless you have really horrible water) is a greener choice, as it uses only a small fraction of the plastic (and oil for transportation) required by buying bottled water on a regular basis.

Buying products with less packaging also reduces energy consumption. A product encased in a lot of plastic uses more oil than one in simple cardboard packaging. The plastic may or may not be recyclable.

More tomorrow....

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

in court

The turnout of concerned neighborhood residents at today's Jay Johnson housing court hearing was encouraging. The hearing itself (concerning 7700-7706 N Marshfield) was brief and procedural. Some folks in attendance expressed the opinion that the judge tends to be rather lenient and the case in housing court may not be terribly productive in the long run.

It was good to meet Craig, who I've only met previously in the blogosphere.

On the other hand, media exposure may make more of a difference. Channels 7, 9 and Univision were there, and a number of folks were interviewed. I can only hope that there will be future, deeper media exposure of Jay Johnson's role in making the community less safe and his longtime close connection with Joe Moore.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Housing court on Tuesday

Slumlord Jay Johnson is in housing court on Tuesday 3/6. See Craig's post here for details.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

register and vote

I'm guessing that most folks reading this are already registered to vote. If you're not already registered and are eligible to vote, I hope that you will consider registering before the 4/17 run-off election.

This page will allow you to check your voter registration status, polling place, etc.

If you are interesting in being a volunteer deputy registrar, click here.

For a voter registration form, click here.

Voter turnout in the 49th ward was a bit disappointing, only 34.84%, marginally better than the citywide average of 33%. For city totals by ward, click here. I did another version of this table, sorting the results by voter turnout (from lowest to highest), and sorting by # of registered voters (same order).

Noting the number of registered voters in the 49th ward vs. the population, I wondered what percentage of the non-registered residents were eligible to vote (adult U.S. citizens). Does anyone know how big that gap is?