Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Metra Towers - Part 3 of 3

posted by richard gill

This post concludes the epic trilogy regarding Metra control towers in and near Hyde Park. The first two installments are in Hyde Park Progress posts dated May 22, 2009 and March 7, 2010.

The refurbishment of the 51st Street Tower has been accomplished, including removal of the top floor and general repair of the structure (photo above). The building now houses electrical and signal equipment. As mentioned in my March 7 post, it might now more properly be called the 51st Street Bungalow.

Ain’t it amazin’. The rehabilitation and re-use of a building actually got done in Hyde Park. Way to go, Metra.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Hairston 5th Biggest Spending Alderman in Chicago

posted by chicago pop

And what is there to show for it? Free parking at 63rd Street Beach?

In 2009, Hairston blew through 99% of her expense account, or $73,244 out of $73,280, putting her at #5 out of 50 aldermen in terms of spending.

In case you missed the Tribune's story on aldermanic expense accounts this past April:
Although the city is trimming personnel and services to cope with declining revenue, aldermen say they rely on the beefed-up expense accounts to tend to ward needs. The accounts were more than doubled to $73,280 per ward by Mayor Richard Daley and the City Council in 2008.
Hairston's 2009 expenses are itemized here.

Hairston Panders to Voters with Free Beach Parking (Those Who Can Get It)

posted by richard gill

Fifth Ward Alderman Leslie Hairston has announced plans to use money in her ward menu budget to pay for public parking this summer at the 63rd Street Beach, according to a story dated April 30, 2010 in the on-line Chicago Maroon. This follows on the Chicago Park District’s implementation of parking charges this year at its facilities citywide.

It is not the intention of this posting to delve into the various merits and drawbacks of implementing parking-for-pay where it was previously free. That has been covered heavily on this blog and almost everywhere else.

It is, however, the intention of this posting, to question the validity and the Alderman’s motivation for using public money to enable people to avoid paying a legal tax. Parking fees are, after all, a user tax. Is this what the menu budget is supposed to be for? There are other far-more pressing needs in the ward, one of which is the miles and miles of broken pavement and teeth-rattling potholes still left over from last winter. Then there are youth issues, crime issues and other things.

As for motivation, the Alderman says she’s against making people pay to park at the beach and will fight against it. Sounds sincere, sort of. But let’s not forget that it’s a hot-button political issue, and Alderman Hairston wants to get re-elected in February 2011. Voters always remember a political freebie.

Yes, be sure to remember. If you live in Chicago, you pay for Alderman Hairston’s “free” parking at the beach. Remember that in February…..February 22, to be specific.