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The [Tuesday] Papers

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Hilco Hokum
"Hours after taking office, Mayor Lori Lightfoot signed an executive order stripping aldermen of their unbridled control over licensing and permitting in their wards. On Saturday, the mayor's decision to start delivering on the central promise of her corruption-fighting mayoral campaign came back to haunt the residents of Little Village," the Sun-Times' Fran Spielman claims in her weird, ongoing war against the mayor.

"Armed with a city demolition permit that local Ald. Mike Rodriguez (22nd) was powerless to block, a sub-contractor hired by Hilco Redevelopment Partners demolished a 95-year-old smoke stack at the site of a shuttered coal-fired power plant without abiding by the safety measures it had promised to implement."

In Spielman's (ahistoric) world, aldermen armed with aldermanic privilege for decades used that power to prevent incidents like this from happening. Up until Lightfoot took office, the Crawford Coal Plant and Hilco's redevelopment efforts were pristine models of civic responsibility!

"On Tuesday, Rodriguez said he would have delayed the smokestack demolition if he could have and twice tried to do just that, only to be told by the city the project would proceed."

How interesting that Rodriguez says this today, given what he said in the aftermath of the demolition, as I noted Monday:

"There was no public meeting to warn neighbors. When Ald. Michael Rodriguez (22nd) learned about the planned implosion, he asked Hilco to notify neighbors via letters in English and Spanish. Those notices were mailed earlier this week, Hilco spokeswoman Julia Sznewajs said. Rodriguez did not send his own notice to neighbors.

"A canvass team also dropped flyers at homes near the site on Friday, [Sznewajs] said - hours before the demolition. The developer posted an implosion notice on the project website on Thursday."

It gets worse for Rodriguez:

"Asked why he didn't push to postpone the demolition, Rodriguez, the freshman alderman who represents the area, said 'there was conversation' but with city permits issued, he felt he 'didn't have a say in that matter.'"

Rodriguez told the Sun-Times that "I wish I had communicated it to residents, and I did not. And for that I am very sorry."

I'm sorry, but that doesn't cut it.

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"The city's Department of Buildings gave a green light to the demolition nearly two weeks ago, and local Ald. Michael Rodriguez, 22nd Ward, was on board but didn't inform residents of the event until Friday evening," WTTW-TV reports.

My understanding, based on the reporting, is that Rodriguez didn't inform anyone. But he was "on board."

"I did learn about this incident - this permit - about a week before the events," Rodriguez told Chicago Tonight on Monday.

So he had a week - and did nothing.

"I obtained a commitment from the developer to inform the community of what was about to happen. I acknowledge that once I finalized my research and knew that the city had given this permit and there was no way we could delay or cancel the process, I should've gone online and let folks know what was going on. It was a mistake. It's a mistake I acknowledge. It's something that will never happen again under my leadership."

That's a different tune than Spielman is reporting.

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"Rodriguez also said Hilco assured him the dust was going to be contained."

I'm not absolving Lightfoot or her administration, but that's the same thing they're saying.

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Back to the Sun-Times. Enter aldermen eager to regain their privilege prerogatives.

"[Ald. Brian] Hopkins noted that, during his first-term as alderman, he presided over 'one the most extensive demolition projects" in Chicago's history - on the site of the massive Lincoln Yards project.

"That complex demolition included: Finkl Steel; a 100,000 square-foot fleet maintenance facility with more than 20 underground storage tanks filled with hazardous chemicals; a rubber recycling company; a tannery; and a variety of other large industrial structures.

"I was consulted every step of the way. Involved in the decision-making process. The dust mitigation, the environmental remediation, scheduling it at a time when it would be less disruptive to the neighborhood," Hopkins said Tuesday.

Sure you were, aldermen. You were consulted but Rahm ran the show. That's the same administration, by the way, responsible for General Iron's shenanigans - though it's absolutely true that the Lightfoot administration has let them continue. But let's not pretend aldermanic privilege prevents ill-considered demolitions; far more often it has been a tool of that very thing.

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"Contrast that with the way the city handled aldermanic involvement in this," Hopkins says. "Ald. Rodriguez was merely notified at the last minute."

But he just said he tried a couple times to stop the demolition. And speaking of last-minute notifications, he made none to his constituents.

"He wasn't told he had veto authority. He wasn't asked for permission. He was simply informed this was happening. It's the exact opposite of what I went through."

Good. It's not clear yet to me the extent of Lightfoot's screw-up, but I'd hate to leave this sort of thing in the hands of hack aldermen.

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"An alderman knows that he [or she] will be held responsible for negative consequences of any decision like this. So an alderman is going to approach it much more cautiously," Hopkins said. We use our aldermanic authority to protect neighborhoods. That's been taken away from us."

Just arrive in Chicago, alderman? Because that's exactly the opposite of the damage aldermanic privilege has wrought on Chicago's neighborhoods.

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"When the COVID-19 crisis subsides and there's no longer such extreme justification for mayoral authority to be solely concentrated in the hands of one person, we should go back to the way it's always been in Chicago, where the people who are elected by and accountable to the neighbors are making decisions that affect the neighborhoods."

Steno Spielman publishes this - and her editors allow it - but in the lead of her story she says Lightfoot stripped aldermen of this power within hours of taking office. COVID-19 has nothing to do with this; it's not like she declared emergency powers to weaken aldermanic privilege so she could demolish a smokestack.

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"[Ald. Byron] Sigcho-Lopez argued Lightfoot's decision to 'centralize power' has had 'unfortunate and shameful consequences' in Little Village. The same could happen with a concrete plant in his own ward that he is trying desperately to stop.

"She can try to point fingers all she wants. But at the end of the day, the departments issued the permit in the first place. She has to own this as much as Hilco owns this," Sigcho-Lopez said.

So the city should not have issued permits to demolish Crawford? I thought we wanted that menace destroyed. Issuing the permits was not the problem. The problem is whether any demolition should take place during the coronavirus crisis, and particularly in this case, why Hilco didn't follow its mitigation plan to prevent flooding then neighborhood with dust.

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"The developer whose weekend demolition of a former coal plant in Little Village sent massive dust clouds into the working-class community has acknowledged not following a plan it gave city officials that would've prevented the situation, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Monday," the Tribune reports.

Asked Monday why the city didn't stop the implosion despite some community opposition, Lightfoot said city departments and Little Village Ald. Mike Rodriguez had been in touch with the developer.

"All of us were assured that there was a very specific plan, that there would be water on site, and that they would be using the water before, during and after to make sure that a dust cloud didn't migrate off site," Lightfoot said. "Obviously, that didn't happen. My understanding is Hilco has now acknowledged that they did not follow the plan that they had told us and I think told the alderman. If we had known, obviously, that they weren't going to do what they said they were going to do, we wouldn't have allowed this to go forward."

Is that true? And if so, why didn't Hilco follow the plan?

"The company did not return messages seeking comment over the weekend or on Monday."

You suck, Hilco. I won't even tell you to get it together, I just want you gone.

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P.S.: The mitigation plan should be a public document, right? Why haven't we seen it yet?

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New on the Beachwood . . .

TrackNotes: Racing In The Time Of Coronavirus
The betting windows are still open; the horses go on.

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Trump Sues Wisconsin TV Station Over This Ad
'Exponential Threat.'

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The Worst Movie Ever Made
"It's on another level, man."

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ChicagoReddit

Anyone else see the car who drive into wet cement in the intersection of harrison and Racine? from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

View this post on Instagram

Imperial Hotel, Japan: Lobby Lantern Fragment 1923 (demolished 1965) Frank Lloyd Wright, Architect American, 1867-1959 Stone, Terra-cotta, unglazed brick, and glass; installed with interior light Photo Credit: Alice Lowe for the Illinois Art Crawl at the Architecture and Design, Gallery 200, Art Institute of Chicago #ArtandDesignMatters #FrankLloydWright #ImperialHotel #admMuseumSupport #admIllinoisArtCrawl #architecturedetail #architecture #architect #ArtInstituteChicago #VisitChicago #VisitIllinois #letsgotothemuseum #Chicago #Illinois #ChicagoIllinois #artmuseum #arthistory #arthistorian #architecturehistory #architectureanddesign #artanddesign #architecturefragment #artcurator #museumcurator #artgallery #museumexhibit #hotelhistory #lantern

A post shared by Art & Design Matters (@artanddesignmatters) on

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ChicagoTube

"Chicago" / GODAMN x Makla

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BeachBook

Stockholm's Subway Network Is The World's Longest Art Walk.

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Bears-Inspired Baseball Uniforms.

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TweetWood
A sampling of the delight and disgust you can find @BeachwoodReport.

Is there an incorruptible media organization in all the land? Seems not.

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The Beachwood Q-Tip Line: Outer ear only, please.



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Posted on April 14, 2020


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