Friday, April 11, 2008

Inside the Mind of A Chicago Alderman

posted by chicago pop

Skulls of Notable Aldermen
(Chicago History Museum Collection)

For folks who were wondering what in the world 5th Ward Alderman Leslie Hairston could have been thinking when she decided to remove a heavily used bus stop near the University of Chicago, there was apparently no need for psychoanalysis. It was all about Chicago-style ward politics. You, big University, do things without asking, I take away your bus stop.

So the 171 bus stop at University and 57th is back. And so is the Editor's Blog. And thanks to the Maroon, we have a more nuanced sense of just what this bizarre little episode was all about.

Here at the vast underground complex of caves that is HPP headquarters, the emerging consensus seems to be that 5th Ward Alderman Leslie Hairston, who had initially made the broadly unpopular and sudden decision to remove the stop, with some shifting of rationale along the way, was engaged in a little tit-for-tat with the University for not following due-process in its transportation planning.

When the elephants fight, so the saying goes, the grass gets trampled; the grass in this case came close to being the riders of the 171 route, which might have made a point, but would have been asinine public policy.

Thanks in part to solid Maroon coverage letting us know what was going on, that didn't happen. So perhaps Hairston, as HPP analyst Elizabeth Fama has suggested, was "flexing her muscle," in anticipation of what the U of C's transportation guy Brian Shaw suggests might have been a wake-up call for the University as its South Campus projects come on line adjacent to Woodlawn.

Gunboat diplomacy, neighborhood style. Lessons learned all around, I suppose.

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