Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Alderman Hairston's VIP Fireworks Parking

posted by Elizabeth Fama

57th St. Beach and fireworks, 7/4/2010.

Yesterday the Tribune reported that 5th-Ward Alderman Leslie Hairston reserved the 63rd Street parking lot on July 4th for an "afternoon anti-violence event." She said she distributed the spaces to "local organizations, vendors, and workers." Ordinary people driving to the fireworks were out of luck if they hoped to park there, even if they arrived early for the celebration.

So apparently free parking along the lakefront isn't a right, as Hairston has ballyhooed for more than a year, it's a privilege. I'd really like to know precisely who in her judgment merited permit parking at the beach on the 4th of July.

From the Tribune: "Hairston said....that she modeled the event after the Air and Water Show, where people have to walk to the area and have few parking options."

"'It's a bunch of bull,' said Alex Hall, 39, who arrived early hoping for a parking spot at the beach, where he has been celebrating the holiday since he was a child. 'We should be able to park and have our own Independence Day.'"

So much for Ms. Hairston's claim in April that spaces in the 63rd Street lot should be as accessible as possible to all Chicagoans, regardless of their means (Maroon, April 30, 2010). So much for her insistence that beach parking should be free. So much for her worry that installing meters is what "discourages people from using the parks."

And so much for the City's goal of making the fireworks more accessible and reducing congestion by moving the display from Grant Park to three separate locations along the lakefront.

I guess since Hairston paid an estimated $77,000 out of her discretionary funds to subsidize summer parking at 63rd Street, she figures she can be queen of the lot.


chicago pop said...

Hairston's parking giveaways are adding up.

Let's do the math.

Hairston spends approx. $77,000 of her discretionary funds to subsidize summer parking at 63rd street -- making it the lot for her private VIP events -- plus $52,000 "to pay overnight parking for 100 spaces at 55th Street and South Shore Drive" overnight through December 31 (most likely a sop thrown to condo owners in nearby high-rise towers), all coming to a total of $129,000.

$129,000. Fifth Ward residents, is this the best use of your money?

See relevant Trib article here.

Anonymous said...

I wish George was running against Hairston instead of Will Burns.

Richard Gill said...

The Alderman can say she "modeled" the pre-emption of parking after the Air & Water Show (an invalid comparison), but it's a cover for the stupidity - or perhaps arrogance- of piling "her own" event on the fireworks display which is one of the city's largest crowd-generating events. The Alderman's event could be held any day of the summer, with public parking remaining public.

What was she thinking? Maybe she wasn't. Or maybe she just regarded it as hers to do. After all, she blessed her ward with free beach parking, so she must have the power to take away parking per se. She is the Alderman, and Aldermen have far too much power in Chicago. I'd also like to know what idiots at the Chicago Park District went along with this nonsense? Leslie Hairston did not set up the no-parking signs and traffic barriers by herself.

Alderman Hairston was elected on a wave of promise and hope for change. That didn't bear fruit, so it's time to elect somebody else. I just wish I knew who.

mchinand said...

Are there typically any other events scheduled to take place at North Avenue Beach during the Air and Water Show? I seriously doubt it. Did the vendors at her event pay for space? Is there any record of her advertising the event or requests for vendors? Did the some of the proceeds go to any anti-violence groups?

mchinand said...

My questions above are things I'd expect to be answered in an article about this in the local newspaper. Do you think this will happen?

edj said...

I would prefer she spend her discretionary fund on fixing some potholes around the ward.

Why would the Park District do this? I am guessing it's easier to say yes than to say no and recognition that this would gain some publicity. She's been giving the Park District a hard time over this. I wouldn't put it past them that someone recognized that it might be embarrassing for her and smiled while saying, "Yes, Alderman Hairston." It's not their job to save her from herself.

I have to say that it was amazing that it was on the Sun Times Breaking News sight on the morning of the 4th. News travels fast.

rdb said...

It was on the Tribune's breaking news as well, in a story covering all the fireworks venues, so there's a decent chance lots of folks read the story.

Anonymous said...

Guys, we're just going to get her back again if nobody runs against her. I believe she ran uncontested in the previous two elections.

She's pretty much a failure as an Alderman but she knows how to butter up the local old cranks and NIMBYS who always vote and have lots of time to pump the neighborhood with pro-Hairston propaganda.

chicago pop said...

This blog is basically 80% devoted to laying out a campaign platform, free of charge, to anyone who is up for running against Hairston. She's clearly good at buying off opposition with perks (4th of July box seats) giveaways (parking set-asides at lakefront lots) and back-room deals for rich NIMBYs (the parking deal for 5490 that no one will talk about because they're all so damned ashamed of it), but if she keeps on running for election unopposed, then the dictum about absolute power corrupting absolutely will start to apply, and there may be more episodes like this one.

I wonder if there's is any money left for Hairston to hire another PR wizard to explain why she spent all the rest of her money on parking giveaways instead of pothole repairs in Woodlawn and Hyde Park.

IHeartLenoxLohr said...

In order for anyone to run against her, I think there are a couple of critical "relationships" to examine. Of course there is the Hyde Park contingent, but I think that the Woodlawn power players could make or break anyone's attempt at ousting LH. Because Woodlawn has been down on its luck for so long, these mafia-esque groups have basically operated unimpeded.

The Woodlawn Organization (WTO), Apostolic Church, and the Woodlawn Community Development Corporation, to name a few. I've actually heard stories of threats against people's personal safety when some chose to speak out against something one of these three supported. There are some relative newcomers, the WCPZ and the Woodlawn New Communities Program that seem to have strong, idealistic, uncorrupted directives. But the same players (plus u of c) are also involved behind the scenes, so how different can they really be? I think that anyone who runs needs to seriously investigate what is happening in that community before even publicly talking about running.

I think that getting Preckwinkle's OK is critical. Though an direct endorsement to run against LH is doubtful, a successful run could be sunk by Toni.

There is also the question of how the reallocation of the Ward boundaries could influence a run. If LH loses her little slice of Hyde Park to the 4th Ward and (god forbid) has to actually focus on Woodlawn, how would that change the game? If one has to live in the ward, then that shifts the pool of candidates.

When I talk with people about their running for office, the biggest fear is getting involved with the political machine or having to become a more public figure. So far, I haven't seen anyone (here, on this blog) even anonymously say, "I have the balls to do it!" (and i admit i don't have the guts either...)

jennifer said...

I am a newcomer to the community. I am glad that the Machine, Mayor Daley, is retiring from office. I hope that this will shake up the political scene and get the Aldermen's of all the wards working harder and/or scared. They have been living a good life for way too long. I looked at her voting record as well as the committees that she's involved in and i am glad that she's on some committees, however, there are some committee that she should be part of: crime, education, small business. Just to name a few. She represents some of the best parts of the south side and also some of the not so good areas. I purchased a condo and my real estate taxes are about 40% of the property, meaning in 3 years i would have bought another condo for my property taxes. Now I don't want to complain, I understand the reason and purpose of property taxes. But tell me why do I have to take my son to school on the North Side of Chicago? Why must I see drug dealers hanging out all the damn time? I don't understand it.
My point: It's time for a change.