Friday, February 25, 2011

New Five–Screen Movie Theater Coming to 53rd Street

posted by chicago pop

Well how about that. Sorry, all you 5th Ward Hairston voters, but the 4th Ward is really where it's at. We won't object to you coming north to spend your money.

From the University of Chicago:

The University of Chicago plans to bring The New 400 Theaters, an independent movie operator that will offer a mix of art, children’s and wide–release films, in the soon–to–be renovated buildings at 53rd Street and Harper Avenue.

Officials said the 10,149–square–foot theater plan includes five screens with state–of–the–art digital projection. One screening room will have tables placed between the seats for future lunch and dinner options.

The New 400 Theaters plans to discount tickets for students, seniors and children. General–admission seating will be below market prices, said theater officials.

“We believe students, faculty, staff and our neighbors will be very excited about having a new movie theater within walking distance,” said Kimberly Goff–Crews, Vice President for Campus Life. “As we talk to members of our community about how to enhance campus life, this is one of the ideas that comes up frequently.”

The agreement with The New 400 Theaters is part of a broader effort to revitalize the 53rd Street corridor as a focus of commercial, retail and entertainment activity.

Last month, the University unveiled plans to begin a major renovation of the commercial and theater buildings at 53rd Street and Harper Avenue, which are currently vacant. Five Guys restaurant, scheduled to open by year’s end, will be the first tenant. Additional tenants will be announced in the upcoming months. The University is also partnering with the City and community leaders to lead an ambitious redevelopment of the adjacent Harper Court property as a mixed–use complex.

“The theater, along with other strategic revitalization efforts, will bring added value to the area. It is one more piece of our ongoing conversations with the City and the neighborhood to build Hyde Park as a key destination on the South Side of Chicago,” said Susan Campbell, Associate Vice President of Civic Engagement.

The New 400 Theaters opened its first venue in Rogers Park in July 2009. That site, built in 1912 near Loyola University and formerly known as Village North, is one of the oldest continuously operating movie theaters in the country. Tony Fox, owner and operator of The New 400 Theaters, said the Hyde Park location was ideal due to its close proximity to the campus and the overall commitment from the community to upkeep its neighborhood.

“We are proud to bring our theater to Hyde Park, a place where people really care about their community,” said Fox. “My passion is community service, and we hope to continue in the same tradition as we have done in Rogers Park — to bring safe, reliable and sound entertainment to the area.”

Fox said his business partner, Tom Klein, will serve as general manager in Hyde Park. Klein is also the general manager for The New 400 Theaters in Rogers Park. He said they are interested in talking with Doc Films, the University student group that screens diverse films each quarter for students, faculty, staff and the community, to see if there are potential partnerships that could work in the new theater model.

The movie theater has a targeted opening date of fall 2012.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

South Side Politics is About to Change Big Time

posted by chicago pop

Redistricting is coming up in post-election 2011. While that normally entails some politically-motivated jiggling with the Chicago ward boundaries, given the 2010 census numbers showing dramatic reductions in the city's African-American population, it will directly affect the number of wards that currently exist on the South Side.

Greg Hinz of Chicago Business lays it out:

Huge areas of the city – particularly on the South Side –are dramatically under-populated. Such areas will have fewer aldermen under the one-man, one-vote rule.

The lowest is Alderman Pat Dowell’s mid-South Side 3rd Ward, now home to just 40,506 people – barely half of Mr. Reilly’s 42nd. Closely trailing is Alderman Tony Beale’s 9th Ward, with 43,530 residents.


Four other wards have fewer than 47,000 people each. Those are the 5th, with 46,263; the 7th, at 46,582; the 16th, with 45,955, and the 17th, with 45,993. They are represented by Leslie Hairston, Sandi Jackson, JoAnn Thompson and Latasha Thomas, respectively [italics added].

Since each new ward will have to have around 54,000 residents, at least one of the above wards is going to have to go or gobble loads of people from its neighbors. And most nearby South Side wards are way off, too – just not as much.

So there is going to be some major sorting of voters going on and Hyde Park-Kenwood-Woodlawn-South Shore will be right in the middle of it. The 5th Ward could disappear entirely.

How will this play for Hyde Park politics? Chances are it will make it harder than ever before for the neighborhood's tradition of "independent" politics -- detailed so well in Rebecca Janowitz's book -- to get translated into action on a city-wide level, as Hyde Park gets swallowed up in an even larger ward unit. Whatever news ward or wards comprise Hyde Park and other South Side neigborhoods will be even more geographically diverse, with all the political challenges that entails.

On the other hand, there is a slight possibility that all of Hyde Park-Kenwood might wind up within the same ward -- as it had been within the 5th Ward for most of the 20th century -- for the first time since it was split in two in 1981 under Mayor Jane Byrne.

That would not be good for Alderman Hairston. But it would be good for Chicago. The question is whether the New Boss would come to view a more powerful Hyde Park neighborhood as most of his predecessors have, i.e., as something to be avoided.

4th Ward to Burns - Yay! 5th Ward to Hairston - Boo!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Early Results for 4th and 5th Ward Races: Burns and Hairston Leading

posted by chicago pop

Source: Chicago Tribune/Associated Press, accessed 8:20PM

4th Ward Alderman

82% of precincts reporting
Updated 8:12 p.m.
Source: Associated Press

Candidate Votes Pct.
Burns 7,032 64.8%
Bolden 1,032 9.5%
Yokoyama 1,014 9.3%
Scott 754 6.9%
Rumsey 531 4.9%
Miguest 331 3.1%
Williams 156 1.4%

5th Ward Alderman

78% of precincts reporting
Updated 8:12 p.m.
Source: Associated Press
Candidate Votes Pct.
Hairston 5,485 61.5%
Miles 1,989 22.3%
Ross 594 6.7%
Hightower Chalmers 488 5.5%
Tankersley 360 4.0%

Monday, February 21, 2011

5th Ward: Vote for Anne Marie Miles

[This was originally posted as "A Worthy 5th Ward Challenger: Anne Marie Miles" on November 24, 2010]

posted by chicago pop

Fifth Ward Alderman Leslie Hairston has been parked in the same political spot for a while now. Unfortunately, the meter has expired, but her car is still there. It's time to call the tow truck. Other people would like to park there.

As of this past Monday's filing deadline, 9 candidates have received the call from dispatch, and are currently on the ballot to take Leslie Hairston's parking spot at the job she has held, with very little to show for it, since 1999.

We think this crowded field is a good thing. The factors that have contributed to stasis on the City Council, and indirectly in the 5th Ward, have slackened considerably in 2010. Chicago city politics, like politics on the national level, are currently wide open and tumultuous.

This does not bode well for status-quo politicians who have preferred to coast on complacency. Hairston is an incumbent in a time of anti-incumbent sentiment. Her bread-and-circuses approach to discretionary spending reveals a lack of long-term vision for the ward. Employment opportunities in the ward, which would have benefited from 200 new jobs had she helped shepherd the Doctors Hospital project, remain scarce. The major city players who have supported her in the past are leaving the picture -- both Mayor Daley and 4th Ward Alderman Toni Preckwinkle.

There are thus good reasons for challengers to take on the 5th Ward Alderman. On the basis of her record, Leslie Hairston is vulnerable in ways that she was not in any of the previous three elections. Even if more than half the field drops out before the end of the year, the current Alderman will still face at least one qualified opponent worthy of the 5th Ward's historic tradition of independent, visionary politics: Anne Marie Miles.

We had the pleasure of meeting and talking with Anne Marie several weeks ago, and are very pleased that such a strong candidate has officially entered the ring for the February 2011 aldermanic elections. Before too long, we'll be interviewing Anne Marie Miles on HPP to give readers a better sense of who she is and where she comes from.

For now, though, we'll let her speak in her own words.


From an undated letter to the editor shared with HPP:

I am running for Alderman of the Fifth Ward of Chicago, because I believe that the Fifth Ward no longer represents the independent voice of reason that it once was for so many years. Over the last decade that voice has diminished and is now on the brink of extinction.

Bona fide leadership is sorely lacking, while there are many issues in the ward that are not being addressed; constituent services are at the top of that list, especially when voters cannot receive coherent responses to justifiable concerns. Constituents continue to wait for communication on education programs, crime prevention, broken pavements, potholes, gutters and tree limbs.

I became utterly committed to run for alderman, when I learned that in a summer with the highest youth unemployment rates in years, vital ward funds were being used to pay for parking spaces for people who live in the co-ops and condos along the lakefront. How many summer jobs could have been created for Fifth Ward residents with that money -- over $100,000.00 -- in Ward funds -- spent on free parking spaces, most of which were never used.

The priority of the Fifth Ward must be economic revitalization. Concern for community, children and senior citizens must be at the very top of that agenda. Common sense leadership is required in City Council; leaders who are willing to confront issues urgently affecting the city, and who can provide a productive plan for economic development, encouragement for children to graduate from high school, and facilitate increased community program development.

I bring a strong commitment to the Fifth Ward where I have resided and raised a family, since the 1990's. I bring renewed energy and resources, and will relentlessly call upon business leaders, parents, educators and youth program directors, to ensure the revitalization of the historic Fifth Ward community and its place in this great city of Chicago.

From a campaign press release of November 23, 2010:

Anne Marie Miles is an advocate, community activist and a loyal, passionate Fifth Ward supporter. She is involved with parent associations and local community groups focused on improving children's lives and reducing teen violence. Miles is the former Secretary and President of the University of Chicago Comer Hospital Service Committee, and has worked for Chicago Volunteer Legal Services providing free legal services to lower income residents. She is currently on the steering committee of Safe Youth Chicago of the Union League Club of Chicago.

Hairston Fail #4: Taking Credit for Stuff that You Basically Didn't Object To

posted by chicago pop

Above is a reproduction of some of the more humorous campaign literature to emerge from what may be Leslie Hairston's first attempt to really convince voters that she has accomplished something. As nothing seems quite so factual and objective as a map, we are here presented with a color-coded and exhaustive geographical index of stuff that, presumably, would not be included if Leslie Hairston had not been in office. If it has happened since 1999, we are to take it, Leslie made it happen.

For real?

Let's unfold it and take a look.

As far as we can see, wherever a small business, a nonprofit organization, or a private housing project is concerned, the folks deserving the credit are the entrepreneurs, fund-raisers, administrators, developers and businesspeople who came up with the ideas, capital, and elbow grease to make things happen.

Or maybe we are just unaware of Hairston's role as the driving force behind Zaleski and Horvath Market Cafe's opening on 57th Street. (Not mentioned, curiously, is the closure of Hans Morsbach's University Market in the same space -- does she get credit for that, too?) Likewise, Hyde Park Animal Clinic and Maravillas, both long-time Hyde Park businesses, were relocated with the help of the U of C in preparation for the demolition of Harper Court. Hairston claims credit for them as well.

Other interesting claims are "Shoreland Restoration" -- which came quite close to being "Shoreland Abandonment" as a result of Hairston's threat to can the project if MAC didn't cave in to the self-interested demands of a small group of neighbors. The millions of dollars being sunk into restoration of the Del Prado building on Hyde Park Boulevard must also be grace à Leslie Hairston, not MAC Properties.

Best of all is "New Housing F," Solstice on the Park, which Hairston can take credit for simply not blocking. Which of course is all the credit she should get, because it hasn't yet and may never be built.

On it goes, the list of things-not-blocked. The methodology is not terribly precise or transparent. If it exists now and didn't before 1999, it all reflects the glory of Alderman Hairston. If it's gone -- like the Cafe Florian on 57th Street -- it isn't listed; and if it simply changed hands -- as with Cafe 57, formerly Istria, also on 57th Street -- it is also listed. The new LED pylons at the Midway crossings, the Chicago Park District landscaping and pedestrian underpasses at 57th and Lake Shore -- was there any conflict involving these projects that required real leadership? Did the initiative for these originate in the 5th Ward office on 71st Street, or did Hairston just not object when other entities took the initiative?

Not objecting is, of course, the inverse of objecting, and the fact that items can be lined up this way as being a credit to the Alderman for simply having happened, points to the ridiculous concentration of power in the hands of all Chicago Aldermen.

What we do know with more certainty is that, when big projects were on the line in Hairston's 5th Ward, they typically didn't happen. We've outlined how Target Stores -- considered at two separate locations on Stony Island -- didn't happen. You can decide whether PopinNuts Gourmet Popcorn ("New and Reinvested Businesses #21") makes up for that or not. We've also outlined how a modern hotel -- supported by the Museum of Science and Industry, the University of Chicago, and much of Hyde Park, and also on Stony Island -- didn't happen.

Likewise, the beautiful pedestrian underpass at Lake Shore Drive and 57th adjoins the collapsing Promontory Point, the current decay of which reflects more realistically on Hairston's leadership than any single retail opening she cares to list.

So about this map you might say, to paraphrase the suggestion offered by Yahoo or Mapquest whenever plotting a route online, "it's a good idea to do a reality check." Before plotting a trip, or casting your vote.

Hairston Fail #3: Leslie's VIP Lot at 63rd St Beach and Other Parking Give-Aways

[This essay was originally posted as "Alderman Hairston's VIP Fireworks Parking" on July 6, 2010]

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.

[Editor's note: Alderman Hairston claimed in a letter to the editor of the Hyde Park Herald (December 15, 2010) -- 5 months after the above post was originally written -- that the total subsidy for the lot at 63rd Street Beach was $42,000 rather than $77,000. At present there is no way to verify this claim. See further discussion of this issue here.]

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Anne Marie Miles Receives Support from Local Ministers in Fifth Ward Races

posted by chicago pop

A press release from the Anne Marie Miles campaign:

Disgruntled South Shore Residents Rally around Candidate

CHICAGO – February 19, 2011– Anne Marie Miles, candidate for Fifth Ward Alderman, has been receiving resounding support for her campaign by a number of South Side ministers and South Shore residents resolute in removing incumbent Leslie Hairston from office.

With her campaign office on 71st Street, in the heart of the South Shore neighborhood, Anne Marie Miles has positioned herself as a viable challenger to current alderman Hairston. A recent pastor’s luncheon given in her honor was led by Pastor Martin of Grace and Peace Ministry, Bishop Jakes; Pastor Earnest Franklin; Rev. Dukes; Pastor Elaine Smothers; Pastor V. Johnson; Evangelist Dora Jones; Rev. Larry Johnson; Pastor Shirley Hall and Dr. L. Whatley. The ministers endorsed Anne Marie Miles for Fifth Ward Alderman and prayed for her success.

The support for Miles in the community is so strong that Archbishop Lucius Hall who heads the Broadcast Ministers Alliance of Chicago, invited Miles to be interviewed on his radio and cable TV shows. The cable TV show “Broadcast Minister Alliance Presents” will air four times this weekend on Channel 25 and on WGRB-AM 390.

Those that thought that Miles would not connect with South Shore residents do not understand the Fifth Ward, noted Miles. “To imply that my campaign would not resonate with all voters, including those who live in South Shore, Grand Crossing and Woodlawn, underestimates the intelligence of people who have simply had enough from an alderman whose accomplishments are minimalistic at best.” Miles continued, “South Shore and Hyde Park have a rich history that has been diminished by a career politician whose office is just blocks away from abandoned buildings, empty lots, and one of the hot spots for crime in the city.”

Miles ran a successful Elder Law practice for some twenty years, in which she advocated for the rights of, and improved the conditions of the elderly and incapacitated. Additionally Miles holds a Masters of Public Administration from Long Island College and an LLM in Tax Law from John Marshall law School.

Anne Marie Miles is an advocate and community activist who is involved with parent associations and local community groups focused on improving children’s lives and reducing teen violence. Miles is the former Secretary and President of the University of Chicago Comer Hospital Service Committee, and has worked for Chicago Volunteer Legal Services providing free legal services to lower income residents. She is currently on the steering committee of Safe Youth Chicago of the Union League Club of Chicago.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

How Could Chicago's Aldermanic System NOT Be Corrupt?!

Posted by Elizabeth Fama

I got a giant flyer in the mail yesterday, from my incumbent alderman. Unfolding it, I see a map and a list of her accomplishments since 1999. Under the column "New & Reinvested Businesses" there are the names of some new-ish ventures (Open Produce, Jimmy Johns, Z&H) and some old ones (Walgreens, Hyde Park Animal Clinic). It led me to wonder, exactly what does an alderman do to help businesses get started or "reinvested" in his or her ward in Chicago?

The answer, as far as I can tell, is "not obstruct." Apparently, if you're starting a business, there are approximately a million hurdles that the City puts you through: forms to fill out, zoning approvals (let alone variances) to obtain, licenses to purchase, and inspections to survive. Then, at the very end, the alderman puts his or her John Hancock on a final form that basically says it's OK with the alderman that you're opening this business. Without it — no matter how well you hurdled up until that point — your business can't open.

I'm not an expert, so local entrepreneurs should feel free to correct me, but it sounds like the alderman has point blank veto power over every business in the ward that wants to open, to remodel, to "reinvest," or to install an outdoor sidewalk patio.That means every business is afraid of him or her. Every business feels like a campaign contribution is probably a good idea, even if it hasn't received direct pressure to do so. Why is this one signature necessary, with all those City hurdles? Do all cities do this?

How could this not end in corruption?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Anne Marie Miles at 5th Ward Forum, Sat. Feb. 19

posted by chicago pop

Don't know Anne Marie Miles?

Here's a chance to find out more, at a candidate forum this coming Saturday. Line her up with the others and see what you think.

Format: All of the candidates have been invited to speak. Only one candidate will be in the room at a time. They will make a brief presentation and then answer questions.

Date, Place, and Time:

Saturday, February 19, 2011

"The Parkway," 6720 S. East End Avenue

Candidate Q&A begins at 3PM.

Q&A with Anne Marie Miles: 5PM.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Aldermanic Candidate Anne Marie Miles on issues Facing the 5th Ward

From Anne Marie Miles campaign website, her take on local issues affecting the 5th Ward:

1. (a) What are your three highest priorities for your ward?

i) Economic Development, with specific attention to “green” development, i.e. solar or urban farming.
ii) Increased educational opportunities, and
iii) Public safety.

1. (b)What do you regard as the most critical issues facing the ward? If elected, how would you go about addressing them?

i) I will create a Ward wide Advisory Council to focus on plans for Economic development, with specific attention being given to opportunities in “green” industries. For example there are many grants available for urban farming initiatives which create local sustainable jobs.
ii) The money -- over 100K -- which has been spent from ward funds on providing free parking spaces will be used to leverage monies and services available from programs with proven track records that provide needed services to students in school.
iii) The Fifth Ward is served by two police districts. The Alderman’s office can facilitate an exchange of information regarding criminal activity when appropriate. Further, innovativemethods of crime prevention must be explored, including the expanded use of emergency boxes.

2. Is there a need for a reconfiguration of the transportation system for the ward? Do you have suggestions for changes to the public transportation system? Do you have suggestions for changes that will make the ward friendlier for pedestrian traffic, or for automobile use?

The current configuration of the transportation system will be reviewed in light of recommendations regarding economic development in the ward. An issue of changing the location of a bus stop to enhance safety for children has been raised and will be

As I have walked the Fifth Ward, the issue of parking has been raised repeatedly. The parking situation caused by commuters who drive in to Fifth Ward to avail themselves of free parking while commuting to downtown jobs must be evaluated as should summer parking issues. The Ward Wide Advisory Council will address the parking issue. Some type of residential parking permits may be considered.

3. Are there significantly underdeveloped areas (or empty spaces) in your ward? Do you have suggestions for the uses of such spaces? Are there specific areas that can be developed to encourage retail, provide green space, or increase the availability of affordable housing?

There are a number of vacant lots on Stony Island and South Chicago. These lots should this may include urban farm initiatives. These lots may also be used to provide affordable housing as may infill lots in the interior of the ward.

4. What is the proper procedure for the management of TIFs? Should the ward have more or fewer TIFS? What is your view of the value of the TIFs that are now in place in the ward?

The entire TIF program must be re-evaluated in terms of economic feasibility in this economic climate. That being said, while the TIF program continues the Fifth Ward is entitled to its share of the economic benefit. I will work to create other TIF districts to
benefit the Ward.

While the current TIF program is in effect, I would support the Proposed Sweet Home Chicago ordinance designed to aid in stopping foreclosures.

5. What problems do you see in the present level of public services (e.g. garbage and litter pickup, street maintenance, park maintenance, police presence) in the ward? What can the alderman do to address those problems?

The delivery of constituent services has been a major concern of Fifth Ward residents. There are numerous complaints about garbage collection, potholes, park maintenance. Yet this must be viewed in the context of Chicago’s budgetary crisis. In order to reduce costs and provide equal or better services, I believe that the City must go to a regional system of garbage pickup. This move alone would save 30 Million dollars.

On a local level, rather than use Ward Funds to pay for free parking some portion might be used to augment street maintenance and park maintenance services.

6. Do you see any significant problems with real estate zoning in the ward? Do you believe that upcoming issues can be effectively resolved through individual variances, or is there a need for zoning review or for zoning revisions in any specific areas of the ward?

The Fifth Ward Advisory Council which I will create will address the issue of zoning review if it becomes apparent it is needed as the Council focuses on economic development and affordable housing issues. If urban farm initiatives are being considered then zoning issues would be addressed in that context.

7. What is the alderman’s role in addressing the popularly perceived inadequacies in the public schools? Do you have proposals for additional youth-oriented programs in your ward?

I would make the majority of the monies from the Ward budget which were spent on free parking spaces available for additional youth-orientated programs. As a member of the Safe Youth Chicago steering committee of the Union League Club, I have realized that one important consideration is not to re-invent the wheel, but to use funds to support programs with a proven track record. Examples of programs that I would consider providing funding for include Youth Guidance, After Schools Matter, Boys and Girls Clubs.

It is the educators, including school administrators, who are in the best position to advise me on what programs they need and what services would provide the most benefit for their students.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Hairston Fail #2: Stony Island Dead Zone

posted by chicago pop

You don't have to be an urban planner to get that Stony Island Avenue from 56th Street south to the Skyway on-ramp should be one of south side Chicago's major retail stretches. It's got traffic, it's got land, and it links together middle class Hyde Park with middle class Chatham. The resulting market dynamism has the potential to bring jobs and services to these and surrounding communities.

Yet, to read the city's major papers, or to ask Leslie Hairston what has been accomplished on Stony Island since she took office in 1999 -- 12 years ago -- you get the same answer, repeated over and over again: Starbucks.

That's right, one Starbucks. In 2004. That was 7 years ago.

Voters should ask themselves just how far an Alderman can coast on a cappuccino.

If we ask the editors of our distant and less than diligent city papers what has happened to Stony Island since then, a question which they evidently failed to pose before they made their 5th Ward endorsements, they probably have no idea. Because the development deals that DIDN'T happen under Hairston far outweigh the deal that did -- that one, single Starbucks.

What DIDN'T happen under Hairston's tenure was the construction of a much-needed and job-generating hotel at Stony and 58th. What DIDN'T happen was the construction of a Target Store (considered at two separate locations on Stony) and associated retail complexes.

In both cases, Hairston lost jobs because she ran scared of unions, though her ward has some of Chicago's highest unemployment. In both cases she vacillated, unsure what path to tread between contending parties, and was ultimately outmaneuvered by bands of vocal activists. Any inventory of Hairston's 5th Ward legacy must include a dry 39th precinct.

Confronted with conflict, Hairston's leadership style is clear: "A pox on all your houses, you guys sort it out and get back to me." The contrast with outgoing 4th Ward Alderman Toni Preckwinkle couldn't be more plain. Preferring to act as a referee, Hairston sits it out until the game is over, it's clear who has won, and she can safely take the winner's side. No broader vision is offered. Meanwhile, big projects collapse or move elsewhere -- like the 4th Ward, where a hotel will most likely go up at Harper Court.

So go get a coffee at the Starbucks on Stony Island Avenue and 71st Street. You'll be able to inspect the vacant lots and empty buildings down the street with your eyes wide open.