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The [Tuesday] Papers

"Coal City officials said Tuesday morning they believe it was a tornado that tore through the town overnight, hitting the high school as it came from the west, tearing up several homes and then heavily damaging a fire station as it left," the Tribune reports.

"Several people were rescued from basements and crawl spaces and five people were taken to hospitals with minor injuries, the officials said. They believe everyone has been accounted for in the town of 5,000 in Grundy County."

So it's not a disaster of global proportions, but the Red Cross is on its way. Which made me think it was a good time to post this ProPublica article about donor options in light of their investigative series about the Red Cross. If you haven't read it, now is a good time to do so.

Don't Save Ferris
"Navy Pier's Ferris wheel, an icon of the Chicago lakefront, will be dismantled this fall and replaced by a taller ride featuring temperature-controlled gondolas that will be ready in time for the pier's 2016 centennial," the Tribune reports.

Ten percent more Ferris-y!

P.S.: Calling the Navy Pier Ferris wheel an "icon" of the Chicago lakefront is a bit strong, no? More like an irritant.

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"Pier officials and Mayor Rahm Emanuel were set to announce Tuesday that the new wheel will rise to a height of 196 feet, almost 50 feet taller than the current wheel. Still, the new wheel will be 68 feet shorter than the original Ferris wheel, which was built for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago."

Because pension payments?

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"The Ferris wheel will cost $26.5 million, which includes construction and landscaping, said Nick Shields, a spokesman for Navy Pier Inc. Pier officials said public funds were not used to purchase the Ferris wheel, which has been privately financed by a loan from Fifth Third Bank to Navy Pier Inc."

Oh. So Navy Pier Inc. is paying for it - with interest.

And Navy Pier Inc. is . . . "the private organization that runs the government-owned tourist attraction."

Some history:

[In 2011] the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority - McPier, the government agency that owns the lakefront attraction - gave the clout-heavy operation a 25-year, $1-a-year lease that closed off public access to records showing how Navy Pier is run.

Previously, the McPier authority - overseen by a board appointed by the mayor of Chicago and the governor of Illinois - had to make public the pier's payroll, contracts and leases. Now, Navy Pier Inc. refuses to divulge those records. Its executives say that, as a private business, they don't have to.

Private as they wanna be.

Navy Pier Inc. was created in the waning days of former Mayor Richard M. Daley's administration. Its board includes Daley's daughter Nora Daley Conroy; two former Daley City Hall chiefs of staff, John Schmidt and Roger Kiley Jr.; and Daley's former campaign chairman Terry Peterson, who also chairs the Chicago Transit Authority board under Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Another former top Daley aide, Brian S. Murphy, is Navy Pier's chief operating officer. Murphy, 48, began his career as a Chicago cop and later held top management posts with Daley's streets, transportation and water departments before becoming first deputy chief of staff. He went back to the police department shortly before Daley left office and was making about $160,000 a year when he left for a job at Navy Pier in the spring of 2012.

At Navy Pier, Murphy's total compensation in 2013 was $241,426, including a $30,450 bonus. He is one of eight employees whose total pay topped $200,000 . . .

A son of Daley's longtime confidant, former state Sen. Tim Degnan, D-Chicago, is among the pier's highest-paid workers. Michael Degnan, a senior vice president, made $229,719 in 2013, including a $32,960 bonus.

So maybe the Ferris Wheel of Clout, with each "gondola" named after a former Daley aide or relative - or a current U.S. Senate candidate!

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"McPier reimbursed Navy Pier Inc. $12.6 million in 2013 for expenses related to the ongoing makeover of the pier, which will mark its 100th anniversary next year."

The Ferris wheel loan will be repaid - presumably from Pier revenues. But let's not pretend the public isn't backstopping it.

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The press release says Rahm has purchased a "world-class" Ferris wheel. Too funny.

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I wonder if CPS could teach classes on Ferris wheels. Not about them, on them. Put the kids on them, spin them around and save money on actual school buildings.

CPS Cash Credibility Crisis
"The Chicago Tribune published a self-recommending article over the weekend about Chicago Public Schools' pending cash crisis. Information in the article - which was provided by Ernst & Young - directly contradicts claims officials made in investor presentations and offering documents when the school system issued bonds only two months ago," expert municipal finance official and blogger Kristi Culpepper writes.

"Pledges, covenants . . . these things matter!"

Not in Chicago, Kristi.

Naive Nate
Nate Silver likes O'Hare airport, because "if you separate delays from everything else you experience at an airport, you can find the airport's underlying virtues."

Well, yes. Outside of being shot, how did you like the play, Mr. Lincoln?

The delays are the reason people hate O'Hare. Or, to put it another way, people hate the delays at O'Hare. They don't really hate the airport itself.

So Silver's premise is just wrong and weird.

But even worse is this:

"It's not O'Hare's doing, exactly, that Chicago has bad weather, or that both United and American decided to place a hub there, which substantially adds to the congestion."

These things just happen! Major airlines placing hubs at airports is as natural as high winds and thunderstorms! There is nothing to be done about it!

What Silver really misses is that the problems at O'Hare - including not the weather but how to adapt to it - derive from local politics. The $15 billion O'Hare expansion project is a boondoggle; a new runway has been built but the number of flights has not been sufficiently capped; and protecting the golden egg of clout has prevented a third airport from opening in the south suburbs that every significant policy group and editorial board supports.

Then Silver tries to back his view by using - wait for it - Yelp reviews. Which aren't so good for O'Hare! But he can explain it away.

I've never written about Silver before, but I've always thought his political and polling analysis was a wank. I was sorely disheartened to see him explode off the rocket pad; we need less emphasis on polling, not more. And his predictive data analysis is based on history, not current conditions or a future of our own making. That may work when assessing whether to employ the sacrifice bunt - though not without assessing current game conditions - but when applied to politics it is a deeply cynical exercise that merely reinforces the status quo. It's also not journalism.

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"San Diego has the 6th-best Yelp rating, but that's mostly on account of its lack of delays. In the residual (everything-but-delays) category that I call 'airport quality' in the chart, San Diego is about average, ranking 14th. The same general theme holds for Salt Lake City and Orlando. These are totally pleasant, adequate airports, but the fact that flights are rarely delayed there makes them seem a lot nicer."

The top desire of travelers at an airport is to leave on time. Silver has it backwards; it's the amenities at a place like O'Hare that can make it "seem a lot nicer" than it is - overpriced amenities to a captive audience. (P.S.: I like the Orlando airport; it's one of my favorites.) In other words, what Silver likes about O'Hare is designed exactly to exploit the fact that it sucks as an airport if your goal is to leave on time. In more other words, airport tortas are for suckers.

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"I hope people don't take the forecasts too seriously," Silver said in 2013.

As seriously as the millions of dollars you've made from them!

*

"Election-Svengali Nate Silver will stop blogging if he believes that his election forecasts begin to actually affect elections," Gawker noted then.

Paging the Innocent Bystander Fable of Journalism.

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See also:
* Nate Silver's Frivolous Failure.

* What Nate Silver Gets Wrong.

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BeachBook
* The CIA Can't Keep Its Drone Propaganda Straight.

* The Outrageous DOJ Gag Order On Reason.

* McDonald's Introduces McBike.

* Reverend Billy And The Choir Visit The Largest Tar Sands Refinery In The U.S.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Now more Ferris-y.



Permalink

Posted on June 23, 2015


MUSIC - The Week In Chicago Rock.
TV - Trump's Disastrous FCC Chair.
POLITICS - Filing: Walmart CEO Made $22.4 Million Last Year.
SPORTS - Canada Cuts Youth Hockey Injuries In Half.

BOOKS - America, We Need To Talk.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Beachwood Photo Booth: Wyoming, Michigan.


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