The Chicago Tribune can turn off its clock; Chicago officially hit -17°C a few minutes ago.
The Chicago Tribune's home page this morning has this counter, which as a native Chicagoan I have to call pretty whiny:
Yes, it's colder right now in Chicago than at the North Pole, and yes, we've only had 44 days in the last 139 years when the temperature failed to go above -17°C, but this counter just seems silly. And it's so short-lived: we'll be out of the danger zone by noon today.
Now, a counter ticking down the 4 days, 4 hours, and 1 minute until Barack Obama is sworn in as President? Not silly at all.
And Crain's had a story this morning to warm my heart: Goose Island Beer is now available in Washington, just in time for a Chicagoan President to drink it.
In no particular order:
Three cheers for the US Airways crew who executed a good landing in the Hudson River this afternoon. I'm not joking: it's hard enough to glide any airplane after a total power loss, something else entirely to land on water without flipping the plane or sinking immediately. That all 155 passengers got out means Capt. C.B. "Sully" Sullenberger and his first officer deserve medals. Let's remember that one kilometer in either direction would have led to a horrible outcome. This wasn't a 20-mile glide from 30,000 feet over flat farmland; this was a crippling bird strike at 3,000 feet over Manhattan.
My cousin and I got our Cubs home-game tickets today, all 13 games worth. Woo hoo! First game: Friday April 17th against the Cardinals. But before that, as part of my continuation of the 30-Park Geas I'm considering going to Houston to see the Cubs on April 7th.
- I had a third point, but at my age I feel lucky to remember the first two.
 After a good landing all the passengers get out safely. After an excellent landing you can use the plane again.
 Yet another reason to declare open season on Canada geese. Disgusting birds.
 Speaking of geese...
The other-worldly cold that parked over Alaska at the end of December has now schlumped down to Chicago. For the first time since 3 February 1996, we've got more than 24 consecutive hours of temperatures below -18°C—officially bottoming out at -23°C overnight at O'Hare. (This is nowhere near the record set 15 January 1972 of -33°C.)
You know, between this weather and their annoying governor, I'm wondering about whether we should have admitted the state in 1959....
It's official: Roland Burris will sit his ass in the U.S. Senate seat previously occupied by Barack Obama's ass tomorrow, restoring the Illinois tradition Obama interrupted of having seriously flawed junior senators. Seriously. The seat was previously sat in by Peter Fitzgerald, Carol Moseley-Braun, Alan Dixon...despite Adlai Stevenson III being in the seat as well, you kind of have to go back to Everett Dirksen to find another person we can actually be proud of in there. I recommed a quick perusal of Wikipedia's list for a chuckle.
Forgot to mention: today the only governor we have will swear in the Senate whose first order of business is holding his impeachment trial. Fun times, fun times.
Dawn Turner Rice, like a lot of people, found the 1960s-style race-baiting of Roland Burris' supporters disturbing:
Perhaps the real architect of this fiasco is Blagojevich who, although ham-fisted in almost every other regard, handled this skillfully. He knows his way around racial politics. He was the one who gave Rush the platform at the news conference announcing Burris' appointment. Blagojevich knew he couldn't, with any great effect, warn reporters not to "hang" or "lynch" his appointee.
In related news, the only governor we have (for the next three weeks, anyway) released nine reasons why he's great, which Eric Kleefeld summarizes: "He is a proud and strong progressive...and a complete megalomaniac."
On a flight this evening I read the actual Illinois Supreme Court opinion in the matter of Burris v. White, and found, at the end, this helpful bit of advice for His Royal Ego the Appointee:
The registration of the appointment of Mr. Burris made by the Secretary of State is a "record of paper" within the meaning of [15 ILCS 305/5(4)]. A copy of it is available from the Secretary of State to anyone who requests it. For payment of the normal fee...Petitioners could obtain a certified copy bearing the State's seal.
This is about as close as possible the Court can get to actually calling him dumb as a post. And he's our new U.S. Senator. Woo-hoo!
The Illinois Supreme Court denied Roland Burris' motion to compel Secretary of State Jesse White to sign Burris' appointment to the U.S. Senate. The court said, in essence, we can't compel him to perform a ceremonial function:
"Because the secretary of state had no duty ... to sign and affix the state seal to the document issued by the governor appointing Roland Burris to the United States Senate, petitioners are not entitled to an order from this court requiring the secretary to perform those acts," the high court wrote in its opinion. "Under the secretary of state act, the secretary's sole responsibility was to register the appointment, which he did."
Now, this presents a problem. Under the 200-year-old case of Marbury v. Madison, it's possible that the U.S. Courts can't compel the Senate to seat Burris, even though the Illinois Court says the appointment is legal under state law. I'm not a Constitutional scholar by any stretch. The President-Elect is, however, so it will be interesting to hear his opinion on where Burris stands (or sits) now that his state-level appeals are finished.
Despite Illinois' remarkable record of political corruption, today is the first time we've actually impeached the governor:
The vote by the House was 114-1.... Rep. Milt Patterson (D-Chicago) was the lone vote against impeachment.
A spokesman for the governor said he won't resign.
(I assume the spokesman meant the governor won't resign and the reporter was just being sloppy.)
The GOP once again fails to grasp the magnitude of impeachment as a last resort, and also the limitations of the legislature's power:
While the debate was free of partisanship, Illinois Republican Party Chairman Andy McKenna was quick to criticize Democrats following the impeachment vote.
"After six years of enabling and endorsing Rod Blagojevich, the Democrats who run this state waited until Illinois faced national embarrassment to act and are now voting to impeach a governor they worked to re-elect only two years ago," McKenna said in a statement. "To make matters worse, these same Democrats have fed this crisis by refusing to strip the governor of his appointment powers, and are helping to seat Blagojevich's hand-picked and tainted choice for United States Senator."
And for those keeping score at home, here is Illinois Constitution Article IV, Section 14 ("Impeachment"):
The House of Representatives has the sole power to conduct legislative investigations to determine the existence of cause for impeachment and, by the vote of a majority of the members elected, to impeach Executive and Judicial officers. Impeachments shall be tried by the Senate. When sitting for that purpose, Senators shall be upon oath, or affirmation, to do justice according to law. If the Governor is tried, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court shall preside. No person shall be convicted without the concurrence of two-thirds of the Senators elected. Judgment shall not extend beyond removal from office and disqualification to hold any public office of this State. An impeached officer, whether convicted or acquitted, shall be liable to prosecution, trial, judgment and punishment according to law.
Interesting times, interesting times.
...just left $153 million on the table:
Chicago and CTA officials have only themselves to blame for forfeiting a $153 million federal grant pegged to help ease traffic gridlock, U.S. transportation officials said Thursday.
The fumble marks a major setback in efforts to improve mobility in the nation's second most congested region. It means Chicago will be forced to put on hold a promising plan that would use bus-only lanes, special quick-boarding stations and high-tech traffic signals until city officials can try for funding from Barack Obama's administration.
Mayor Richard Daley insisted his administration was not responsible for the loss of the $153 million. "We did everything possible," Daley said at an event with CTA officials. He accused federal officials of being inflexible by refusing to extend a deadline to meet the requirements of the grant, which was considered a shoo-in since last spring when U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters signed an agreement with the mayor.
"Chicago waited too long to get their application submitted in full," said Doug Hecox, a spokesman for the Federal Highway Administration.
One of the fundamental omissions was that city and CTA officials failed to conduct an adequate number of public meetings, officials said.
The grant was contingent on the city's 2008 approval of congestion-pricing for parking meters, the lease of its parking meter system and related requirements.
At least it's warmer here than in Alaska, where some areas haven't had temperatures above -35°C in more than a week. (It's -50°C in Northway right now, for instance.)