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The [Thursday] Papers

"Holy Name Cathedral is so thoroughly woven into the fabric of Chicago's life that it transcends its Catholic core," Blair Kamin writes.

"A rival of Al Capone once was murdered on its front steps.

"When Pope John Paul II visited Chicago in 1979, he came to the cathedral not once, but twice - for performances by Luciano Pavarotti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

"Now dwarfed by ungainly residential towers, the Gothic Revival cathedral at 735 N. State St., dedicated in 1875 and designed by Brooklyn architect Patrick Charles Keely, is a beloved throwback to the decade after the Great Fire of 1871 when the pinprick spires of churches, not the crowns of skyscrapers, ruled the skyline. Its 210-foot spire, at the time the highest in Chicago, made it the Sears Tower of its day."

Also on Kamin's Skyline blog:

* Protecting the city's historic buildings from fire: A warning from 2006

* Fire in Cathedral roof reignites conversation about how to safely renovate historic structures

Note: I am in no way endorsing the use of "reignites" in this headline.

School Tools
"Mischelle Sumpters knows a thing or two about school closings in Chicago," Micah Maidenberg writes in the Chicago Journal.

"Sumpters, a parent of three and resident of the Circle Park apartments near Ashland and Roosevelt, has seen the last three Chicago Public Schools she enrolled her youngest children in shuttered."

The story is called "Vagabonds of CPS: Near West families jostled when neighborhood schools are shuttered."

Park Politics
"The superintendent of the Chicago Park District has sweeping new powers to lease green spaces across the city to the 2016 Olympics Committee, potentially without prior public review," the Chicago Journal reports.

"Under the new rules, unanimously approved by the Park District's Board of Commissioners Jan. 28, General Superintendent and CEO Tim Mitchell will be able to sign a variety of agreements handing over the use of parks across the city to the 2016 Committee.

"Such agreements normally require approval from the board in a public meeting. Now, only those leases that bring the Park District more than $10,000 would go to the board for a vote."

Look for a lot of $9,999 leases.

"Though few people commented on the Olympics during the Jan. 28 meeting, board president Gery Chico took several minutes before the vote to justify the move to the audience.

"'These are rather extraordinary commitments we're making,' Chico said. 'On the other hand, this is a rather extraordinary opportunity'."

It's always during "extraordinary" times that people in power choose to suspend the rules for their own purposes. And when are times extraordinary? Whenever the rules need suspending.

Chicago Abroad
"A woman is awaiting sentence after admitting pushing over a stilt-walker who was handing out flyers for a nightclub," the Sentinel of England reports.

"Kerrie Harrison appeared at North Staffordshire Magistrates' Court yesterday and pleading guilty to common assault on Joanna Flude on November 10 last year.

"Harrison assaulted Ms Flude, in Hanley town centre at 10.40pm, as the experienced stilt walker was handing out flyers for Chicago Rock Cafe in Trinity Street and Foundry Street.

"Ms Flude was wearing a Supergirl outfit at the time, as well as her 4ft stilts, with her head being about 9ft above the ground."

Freedom Smothered in Crib
"Less than three years after it's original opening in a low-rise annex to Tribune Tower, the McCormick Freedom Museum has announced it will be shutting its doors on March 1," Lynn Becker writes at ArchitectureChicago PLUS.

"The museum was a mixed bag, but it was a bright, welcome respite to the sprawling galleries of conspicuous consumption outside, a/k/a the Mag Mile. It was a bracing counterpoint reminding us that - the way we spend our average days notwithstanding - freedom is about far more serious things, with far serious demands, than the freedom to choose from an infinity of cell phone models."

Becker reviewed the museum upon its opening here.


I also reviewed the museum upon its opening, writing that "It's easy to make fun of the Freedom Center, but freedom geeks will also be inspired." The piece is "Freedom Museum Rocks Acceptably."

Better still, our very own Natasha Julius and Tim Willette wrote the incomparable "Freedom Museum Exhibits We'd Like To See."

Asset Ass
"Mayor Richard Daley reaped a windfall and avoided further budget cuts when he secured fast-track City Council approval of a 75-year lease of the parking-meter system, but an economist's analysis concludes he also gave up hundreds of millions down the line," the Tribune reports.

"The complex agreement, the first of its kind in the United States, nets the city a one-time cash payment of nearly $1.2 billion when the deal is closed this month.

"But the city could have earned $1.5 billion - in today's dollars - if it kept the meters and simply raised rates to the same levels it granted the winning bidder, according to H. Woods Bowman, a professor of public service at DePaul University."

This is not the first examination to conclude that the parking meter deal will short-change taxpayers.

"On Monday, we received word from the Mayor's Office that a deal was to be signed with Morgan Stanley," Ald. Scott Waguespack said at the time. "While I did receive the draft ordinance, no financial analysis was forthcoming, so my staff and I put together our own financial analysis to determine if the $1.15 Billion was a good deal or not.

"According to our analysis, the city would receive about $1.5 Billion if we sold as is.

"If we quadruple the prices of some meters, as Morgan Stanley will do on January 1, 2009, and increase again by 2013, our analysis shows that the actual value over 75 years is closer to $4 Billion."

Maybe the mayor is the one who should go to business school.


It's entirely possible that the city could have crafted a deal more beneficial to the taxpayers. But as the Chicago Journal wrote, it's "Hard to know what history will say about meter lease because no one discussed it."

Then again, it was an extraordinary opportunity at an extraordinary time, so the rules of democracy were suspended.

The More Things Change


The Beachwood Tip Line: First principles.


Posted on February 5, 2009

MUSIC - A Plan To Pay Musicians.
TV - Jonathan Pie: Back To School.
POLITICS - 5 Things An Angry Old White Man Wants To Say.
SPORTS - Triple Crown Tomato.

BOOKS - How The Post Office United America.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Premature Ejaculation Market Exploding Quickly.

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