The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Last weekday of the winter

I get to turn off and put away my work laptop in a little bit in preparation for heading back to the office on Monday morning. I can scarcely wait. 

Meanwhile, I've got a few things to read:

OK, one more work task this month, then...I've got some other stuff to do.

Good morning!

Now in our 46th hour above freezing, with the sun singing, the birds coming up, and the crocuses not doing anything noteworthy, it feels like spring. We even halted our march up the league table in most consecutive days of more than 27.5 cm of snow on the ground, tying the record set in 2001 at 25 days. (Only 25 cm remained at 6am, and I would guess a third of that will melt by noon.)

So, what else is going on in the world?

And now, back to work.

Two local stories

As the State of Illinois starts abandoning the Helmut Jahn-designed Thompson Center in Chicago's Loop, the Governor's Office announced the state has purchased PepsiCo's old building at 555 W Monroe St:

The 18-year-old structure has 430,000 square feet of office space and has green certification for energy efficiency.

More than 1,000—and potentially 1,400—of the 3,500 state workers now based in downtown Chicago eventually will relocate to the new facility, starting in April, according to Ayse Kalaycioglu, chief operating officer of the Illinois Department of Central Management Services, which manages the state’s real estate needs.

About 900 of the employees moving to 555 W. Monroe will be coming from the Thompson Center, leaving 1,300 in the structure named after the named the former governor who championed its construction and mourned its declining fortunes. But they won’t be there long, said Kalaycioglu and Deputy Gov. Dan Hynes in an interview late yesterday.

I'm sorry to hear so many people calling the Thompson Center "so old" and "dilapidated" given it opened in 1984 and sits directly across the street from the century-old City Hall. But: "In comparison, the state says the Thompson Center has $325 million in deferred maintenance needs now, a figure projected to grow to $525 million by 2026." (I took the below photo about a year after it opened.)

The other story is that seven new pizza places have recently opened in the city, and I may have to try a few of them. That square of Bill's Original Tavern Pizza at the top of the article made me hungry.

The GOP continues to eat its own

Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), one of the ten GOP representatives who voted for the Article of Impeachment against the XPOTUS two weeks ago, finds himself on the outs with his party:

Kinzinger's future prospects depend largely on Trump's continuing role in Republican politics. If the party remains in thrall to the former president at every level, Kinzinger's perceived betrayal makes political survival, let alone advancement, uncertain.

What does Kinzinger want to do in 2022? "I don't know," he says. "Do I have an interest in a statewide run? I would say, a few months ago I was certainly going to look at it, and it's still not something I'm going to rule out. I also look at it and go, who knows what the new districts look like? Who knows if I belong in the party in two years?"

Some conservatives want Kinzinger to face consequences. The Winnebago County Republican Party is considering censuring him for his impeachment vote. State Sen. Darren Bailey called for the Illinois Republican Party to sanction him, and former Cook County GOP Chair Aaron Del Mar has predicted Kinzinger would not survive a primary. Politico reports he already has a challenger: Gene Koprowski, a former official at the Heartland Institute think tank.

"I think that people are not over what (Trump) stood for at all. In fact, they're more spun up about that than ever," says Richard Porter, a member of the Republican National Committee and a potential Illinois gubernatorial candidate.

But just what, exactly, does the XPOTUS actually stand for, other than himself? This question also vexes the Republican establishment (cf. the Republican party) in Arizona, where this past weekend the state GOP convention censured Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, former US Senator Jeff Flake, and former US Senator John McCain's widow, Cindy, for failing to show appropriate obsequience to the Spiritual Leader of the Party:

The sweeping — yet essentially symbolic — rebuke took place during a meeting to figure out how to move forward after the state flipped blue in November, narrowly giving its 11 electoral votes to now-President Biden.

McCain and Flake, both of whom endorsed Biden for president, were censured for their outspoken opposition to Trump and for their support of globalist interests, according to state GOP members.

In condemning Ducey, the party cited the governor's decision to enact emergency orders during the coronavirus pandemic that the committee said are unconstitutional and "restrict personal liberties."

Much of the meeting, held indoors at Dream City Church in Phoenix, was largely a pep rally for state Republicans who support the former president and his baseless claims of election fraud.

I wonder how long after the Republican party splits into the fantasy and reality factions before we hear cries of "c'est le sang de Danton qui t'étouffe?"

Big news from Springfield

Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan (D-Chicago/Clearing) will lose his job later today after serving in the role since 1983. Rep. Emanuel "Chris" Welch (D-Hillside) received 69 votes (of a required 60) in the Democratic Caucus this morning, making his accession to the Speaker's chair all but guaranteed when the whole House votes in a few minutes to elect the Speaker. Welch will become the first Black Speaker in Illinois history.

In other news:

  • The Illinois legislature ended its previous legislative session earlier today by passing a 700-page criminal justice overhaul bill that ends cash bail and requires every law-enforcement officer in the state to wear a body camera, among other reforms. Governor Pritzker is expected to sign the bill this week.
  • Ross Douthat holds out hope that the "divide between reality and fantasy" in the Republican Party may lead to the party's disintegration.
  • Earth's rotation has picked up a tiny bit of extra speed that may require negative leap second soon.

Too bad those shorter days haven't added up to a quicker end to the current presidential administration. At least we have less than a week to go before the STBXPOTUS is just some guy in a cheap suit.

Christmastime is here, by golly

Thank you, Tom Lehrer, for encapsulating what this season means to us in the US. In the last 24 hours, we have seen some wonderful Christmas gifts, some of them completely in keeping with Lehrer's sentiment.

Continuing his unprecedented successes making his the most corrupt presidency in the history of the country (and here I include the Andrew Johnson and Warren Harding presidencies), the STBXPOTUS yesterday granted pardons to felons Charles Kushner, Paul Manafort, and Roger Stone. Of the 65 pardons and commutations he has granted since becoming president, 60 have gone to people he knows personally and who have committed crimes on his behalf. Maggie Haberman and Michael S Schmidt say he's at his most unleashed as he tries to avoid leaving office the loser he is.

In other news:

Finally, enjoy this performance of the "Hallelujah" chorus from Händel's Messiah released just a few moments ago by the Apollo Chorus of Chicago:

Chicago to provide free Covid-19 vaccinations

The city's plan would vaccinate every adult who lives or works in Chicago in 2021:

Initial vaccine doses will be sent to all 34 hospitals in Chicago, city officials said. Health care workers who treat COVID-19 patients or are at high risk for coronavirus spread will be first to receive it, city officials said.

After health care workers, vaccines will be prioritized for a broad group of people including residents and staff at long-term care facilities, individuals at high risk due to underlying medical conditions, people who are 65 and older, and workers in “essential and critical industries.”

Much of the situation remains in flux, officials said, but the city is working through its plans while awaiting federal guidance and vaccines. As the vaccine becomes more widely available, the city will rely on providers including doctors’ offices, pharmacies, federally qualified health centers and hospitals to help distribute doses.

To help ensure equitable access for Chicago residents, the city also will be using centralized sites such as some City Colleges as mass vaccination sites aimed at health care workers who aren’t based in hospitals, [public health Commissioner Dr. Allison] Arwady said.

Vaccines won’t be mandatory for residents, Arwady said, but as the vaccine rolls out further, she anticipates that some industries such as airlines might begin requiring customers to get vaccinated. She said the city will also be encouraging residents to get vaccinated.

“My goal is to really have done the work to build some of that trust so that this is something that people are feeling excited about as opposed to being a major point of discussion,” she said.

We're finally seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. But if people keep behaving like spoiled children, we'll all have trouble getting to it.

Happy Monday morning!

To thoroughly depress you, SMBC starts the week by showing you appropriate wine pairings for your anxiety. In similar news:

Time to take a walk.

Vandal 1 and Vandal 2

Two women have stealthily implemented the proposed name-change of Stephen Douglas Park to Fredrick Douglass Park:

This is the first time the vandals have spoken about their crime, which involved adding a very official-looking extra “S” to every park district sign in Douglas Park, a year and a half before Chicago’s Park District actually decided to change the name this September.

“It had started to bother me, and I would wonder, ‘Why is this park not named after Frederick Douglass instead of Stephen Douglas?’” said Vandal No. 2. “It just seemed wrong and obvious.”

Some incredibly persistent middle-school students from Village Leadership Academy were responsible for getting the vandals and many others to think about this.

It’s an insult for the park to be named after a slaveholder, they argued beginning in 2017, especially when it would be so easy to rename the park for an African American hero. They argued the park district could just add an “S” to the end of Douglas to change the park’s namesake from Stephen Douglas, the former Illinois senator who profited from slavery, to Frederick Douglass, the abolitionist.

The park district’s board of commissioners is slated to finalize the park’s name change this month, after Frederick Douglass and his wife Anna. Official signs are expected to go up after that.

Apparently Park District employees caught the women more than once, but, not having any instructions to fix the signs, did nothing. Welcome to Chicago.

The evening and the morning of the third day

Because it's 2020, we're still counting votes. And that's not all:

And the counting goes on...