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The [Thursday] Papers

I'm not sure if the city has a Ministry of Parks yet, but it's getting awfully heavy-handed when it comes to its vaunted green space.

Consider this report in today's Tribune:

"For more than 20 years, park volunteers have planted shrubs and weeded flower beds in the city's more than 500 parks. They've shown up at park meetings and advised officials on how to fine-tune athletic programs and plan park improvements.

"But volunteering may not be that simple anymore.

"Proposed park guidelines would require volunteers to submit to background checks, supply three non-family references and agree to not grant media interviews."

In other words, the city wants to make it harder to voluntarily water a public magnolia - or whatever - than it is to actually get a paying job with the Daley administration, which doesn't even require that you still be living.

And a gag order on park volunteers? Why stop there? I can see the movie in 50 years: The Chicago 2.8 Million!

"Advisory council members, who recruit volunteers for everything from planting to park cleanup days, say if adopted, the proposed rules will discourage people from getting involved."

Gee, you think?

"Advisory council members say the new guidelines may be an effort by the Park District to restrict park advocates' voices, especially with regard to the city's bid for the 2016 Olympics. Most Olympic venues will be in the city's parks, and at least one park advisory council has voted to oppose plans to put Olympic field hockey stadiums in its park."

These would be the Chicago Olympics, not the Beijing Olympics. I know it might be hard to tell the difference.

"Park advocates also point to advisory councils' opposition to other projects, such as the Lincoln Park Advisory Council speaking out against the Latin School's proposal to build an athletic field in Lincoln Park, and the Kenwood Park Advisory Council's efforts to prevent the expansion of a baseball field. In the case of Kenwood Park, advisory council members were told their group was not recognized."

Park advisory councils are now being disappeared.

"No one had a record of the advisory council even existing," parks Supt. Tim Mitchell told the Trib.

The council couldn't be found anywhere! Not even in the park . . . on weekends . . . planting shrubs.

"The volunteer groups recently have taken a greater role in fundraising. With the Park District increasingly dependent on outside funding for capital improvements, the advisory councils have stepped in, convincing state and local elected officials to contribute hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"'We want to make sure the funds are being used for what they're being slated,' said Jessica Maxey-Faulkner, a Park District spokeswoman."

But park advisers find it curious that "the Park District is seeking accountability from them, yet failing to make any commitments that funds they raise will go toward designated projects."

Oh, don't worry your pretty little head about that. The city doesn't need your help when it comes to accountability and parks.

Grant's Tomb
Meanwhile, Fran Spielman reports today in the Sun-Times that "influential aldermen predicted this week that Daley has at least 30 votes to approve the project over strenuous opposition from local Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd)."

Is that a "prediction" or does Daley have the votes securely in pocket?

"By my count, they don't have the votes," Reilly told Spielman.

Reilly has proposed a couple dozen alternate sites, but museum president Jennifer Farrington says "We're pursuing this site exclusively."


"After laying low for several months huddled with PR powerhouse Hill & Knowlton, museum officials are embarking on a new offensive - and that pretty much describes it - in its unpopular effort to move to Grant Park," I write in "Museum Melee" over at Division Street.

I think I just committed synergy. Let me know if it's too annoying.

Love Is . . .
Continues to surprise.

Thank You . . .
Herb Peterson.

Precinct Captain
"Mary Mitchell is on assignment."

Huh, I wonder what the Obama campaign has her working on.

Change and Hope
On the other hand, this is the sort of photo that makes you want to vote for the guy.

For Pete's Sake
"The Orland Park Village Board could vote on a proposal for the new Petey's II at 161st Street and LaGrange Road as soon as April 7," the Southtown reports.

"The restaurant would be allowed to keep serving its moderately priced steaks, chops, pasta and Greek specialities in the existing building until the new building is finished later this year.

"Peter Kattos, owner of Petey's II and Petey's Bungalow, a sister restaurant in Oak Lawn, declined to comment on the plans.

"'I don't know nothing about it,' Kattos said. 'Please leave me alone.'"

- spotted by Scott Buckner

Middle Class Mess
Our very own Kiljoong Kim will be a facilitator next week at a big-time conference on the decline of the middle class.

The News Swami!
Way better than this guy.

The Beachwood Tip Line: No references necessary.


Posted on March 27, 2008

MUSIC - Lyric Opera Strike Settled.
POLITICS - USA Today's Op-Ed Disaster.
SPORTS - SportsMonday: Come On, Vic!

BOOKS - Chicago Book Haul: The Dial.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Chicagoetry: West Town Blues.

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