The [Thursday] Papers
"The second forum in as many days on using Chicago parkland for a Barack Obama presidential library again drew hundreds of people Wednesday, with arguments that boil down to the proposal either eroding valuable outdoor space or being an economic boost to the city's South Side," the Tribune reports.
"Park officials listened to comments in a gym and overflow rooms at the Washington Park field house for almost three hours, but it's unclear when the matter will come before the Park District Board of Commissioners for a vote on how to move forward with the land, Avis LaVelle, vice president of the board, said after Wednesday's public hearing."
Let us pause now to consider: Who is Avis LaVelle?
This is who.
From the Beachwood vault.
May 21, 2009:
Under pressure from aldermen to comply with the city's minority set-aside requirements" - because apparently doing so is optional - "LAZ Parking Chicago LLC has hastily assembled a team of subcontractors that includes former mayoral press secretary Avis LaVelle and Cortez Trotter, who was Chicago's first African-American fire commissioner before being promoted to chief emergency officer," the Sun-Times reports in "Insiders May Cash In On Meter Deal."
"LaVelle said she has been asked to help reverse an avalanche of negative publicity stemming from broken, overstuffed and mismarked meters that have infuriated motorists and triggered a spike in vandalism and a drop-off in on-street parking."
LAZ learned that one from the mayor: Don't fix the problem, fix the PR.
June 2, 2011:
"In the stairwells of the parking garages under Millennium and Grant parks, wires dangle from the red metal boxes that house emergency telephones," the Tribune reports.
"The phones, located on all levels, have been out of commission since mid-May because of a project to upgrade the system and won't be reconnected until July. That has left some garage users, forced to rely on spotty cellphone service, a bit nervous . . .
"Morgan Stanley, which leases the garages, is not required to provide emergency phone service but chose to invest in a system upgrade, leading to the temporary outage, according to a spokeswoman for LAZ Parking, which operates the facilities.
"'Because of the fact that you can use your cellphone, you don't really need to worry about the emergency phones,' said LAZ spokeswoman Avis LaVelle."
Then why invest in them?
"The system is being upgraded . . . to improve the quality of response."
To a higher quality than cell phones?
"[T]o reach the office in case they need help in a hurry."
Can't they just use their cell phones?
"The emergency phones are connected to the garage office, where attendants can dispatch a security guard or get help for a motorist whose car has a dead battery or other problem."
So not really for emergencies? Get it together, LAZ.
April 12, 2012:
"Meanwhile, Bombardier has in recent weeks rehired Avis LaVelle, a public relations consultant and longtime City Hall insider who also represented the company in 2006 and 2007 when it was negotiating the rail car contract.
"'My firm was engaged to increase Bombardier's visibility, put out positive information and ensure that people understand we build a quality product and that safety is the primary objective,'' said LaVelle, who worked for Mayors Harold Washington and Richard M. Daley and was appointed to the Chicago Park District Board by the current mayor."
From LaVelle's website:
"Bombardier was vying to win the CTA contract to supply new rail cars and needed to establish its presence in the marketplace without compromising the bidding process. A. LaVelle Consulting Services (ALCS) provided the Bombardier Transportation N.A. Senior Management with public affairs, media and government relations consultation in connection with consideration of its proposal to sell rail cars to the Chicago Transit Authority. Messages were developed for all impacted constituencies and strategies devised for the most effective delivery of these messages.
"Through an aggressive but targeted public, community and government relations campaign, Bombardier sought:
* To inform CTA officials, local government and business leaders of the growing presence of Bombadier as a part of Chicago-area commerce and industry.
* To educate key constituencies about the successful engagements Bombadier has with transit agencies in other major areas around the country and the world.
* To build a team of allies to welcome them into the market and feel comfortable with the company's products and level of customer service.
* To create a favorable impression the Chicago media market by highlighting and promoting unique attributes and initiatives of the Bombardier Transportation N.A. to specialty and general market media.
Mission not yet accomplished.
May 24, 2013:
"Former Mayor Richard M. Daley's staff was aware of major problems with the city's parking-meter privatization deal in 2010 - a year and a half before the costly issues publicly surfaced, according to hundreds of pages of documents released Wednesday by Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration," the Sun-Times reported on Thursday.
"The documents detail behind-the-scenes sparring between City Hall - under Daley and Emanuel - and Chicago Parking Meters LLC before Emanuel struck a deal last month with the meter company."
The fight was over those with disability placards parking for free at meters. But the biggest eye-opener in the documents to me was this:
The newly released documents also show the meter company paid former Daley press secretary Avis LaVelle's public relations firm $518,246 between 2009 and 2012.
LaVelle is the park's point person on the library issue because park board president Bryan Traubert has recused himself due to the fact that his wife is Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker.
Bottom line: LaVelle and the park board aren't going to protect the interests of the park district and its constituents (us), they're going to do whatever they are asked to do.
"Residents expressed concern [Wednesday] that not offering the park as usable land would give the Obamas reason not to locate their library in the Washington Park community," the Hyde Park Herald reports.
Really? That would be on Obama.
Here's a novel idea: Design a library that fits into the available space owned by the preferred bidder.
Also: Does anyone really think the Obamas haven't already decided whether they want the library in Chicago or New York? What is this all about, then? Finding an excuse to give the public for choosing Columbia or playing hardball with their own hometown to grab up more valuable resources for themselves?
"[R]epresentatives of Friends of the the Parks, the Washington Park Conservancy and Preservation Chicago stood up to oppose the project, saying it would remove irreplaceable green space from public access," the Sun-Times reports.
"Cassandra Francis, president of Friends of the Parks, suggested the University consider an 11-acre city and CTA-owned parcel west of King Drive, just across the street from the park.
"'The city should not be forced to make a choice between having the Obama presidential library on the South Side and losing valuable park space,' Francis said."
EXCLUSIVE! Rahm's Secret Plan To Save The Obama Library.
Naming Rights Deals Sweep Chicago Media
Ponce just the start.
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* Newspaper Execs Get Huge Bonuses While Reporters Wait For Raises.
* Illinois A Terrible Ten Tax State For Reasons Bruce Rauner Doesn't Understand.
* Illinois Facility Raided In Body Part Black Market Probe.
* Former Bear Leads Ohio Court Fight Against Out-Of-State Taxes On Athletes.
* DHS Agent Who Infiltrated Silk Road Worked Out Of Chicago.
* Caesars Division Heads To Bankruptcy Court In Chicago.
The Beachwood Tip Line: Check out any time you like.
Posted on January 15, 2015