The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Not the intended post

I was going to post about the virtues of the Cubs and the T-Mobile G1, but the latter revealed its limitations while I used it to extol the former. Suffice to say: Cubs won, G1 tied, and it's time to go inside.

When $1 billion changes hands, someone gets rich off crumbs

The Chicago Reader has another article on the Chicago Parking Meter Debacle, this time examining who got rich off it:

Not only did William Blair advise the city on the deal—it came up with the idea in the first place. Then it provided the city with the only estimate it ever received of what the system was worth and coordinated the bidding process.

Two other financial services firms and three law firms were brought in to assist. All were given no-bid contracts for the work, and all appear to have political or personal ties to the Daley administration (which is not unusual for the way the city of Chicago does business).

The financial advisers were each paid a share of what the city made in cash on the lease deal. William Blair received 0.375 percent of the payout, or about $4.3 million, according to records obtained from the city through a FOIA request. The others, Gardner Rich and Ramirez & Company, each received 0.0625 percent, or $722,813. The attorneys’ fees added up to another $1.3 million. All told, the city paid its legal and financial advisers more than $7 million for their work on the deal.

Yeah? So where's mine?

I've got a bad feeling about this...

Chicago mayor Richard Daley has possibly committed the city to an enormous public expense for the 2016 Olympic Games:

Faced with losing the 2016 Summer Games to competing cities offering full government guarantees, Mayor Richard Daley made an about-face Wednesday and said the City of Chicago would sign a contract agreeing to take full financial responsibility for the Games.

In a worst-case situation, such as severe cost-overruns or a catastrophic event, the agreement could leave taxpayers on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars or even more, a scenario Chicago's bid team acknowledges but insists is far-fetched.

Um...in what universe are cost overruns on a Chicago public works project "far-fetched?" The Tribune's editorial board wonders who's really on the hook:

The mayor's spokeswoman, Jacquelyn Heard, says...[t]he financial commitment...will fall on the Chicago 2016 committee, the group that's organizing the city's bid.

Well, hold on a minute. If the Olympics lose money, the IOC wants somebody to pick up the cost. So if the Games are a bust and the losses blow through the public and private guarantees, the Chicago 2016 committee will pay the rest of the tab?

How? By taking up a collection among its members?

I'm beginning to feel like a Christian Scientist with appendicitis...

Ribfest

Parker has slept soundly most of the day after he and I walked up to Ribfest yesterday. The round-trip took us about 2 hours (not including stops) and 12.8 km.

We sampled five restaurants. Parker didn't give me any notes, so these are all mine, in descending order of enjoyment:

  • Lincoln Restaurant, 4008 N. Lincoln. Tasty. Tug-off-the-bone, not too much sauce, tangy KC-style, good lean ribs.
  • Irish Bistro, 3905 N. Lincoln. An Irish pub with ribs? Yes. And not too bad. Fall-off-the-bone style, with a "whiskey marmalade" sauce that had a good bite.
  • Chicago BBQ (no address) certainly had the most entertaining sign (see below). Parker kept trying to bolt out of line because of the smoke their cookers put out. Tehir meat tasted good, and I liked both their "sweet and sassy" and chipotle sauces. Good smoke flavor. Apparently, though, I'll just have to wait for the next rib festival (Naperville this summer?) to try them again.
  • Fireplace Inn, 1448 N. Wells. This was my favorite last year. This year, though, they phoned it in. I still liked their sauce the best, but this time the dazed-looking kid at the booth just gave me some random meat and bones with way too much sauce.
  • Hickory's BBQ, 1234 N. Halsted. Not bad, but nothing special: tender but just OK meat, grilled dry with sauce added after. The sauce was tangy but not interesting. I couldn't tell what it needed, but somehow it just fell a little short.

Unfortunately, both Parker and I experienced some discomfort in fairly short order after leaving the festival. He had a tiny bit of every sample I had, so I'm pretty confident either one of the ribs wasn't all right or possibly a sauce was off. We are both undeterred, however, and we'll be back next year.

Coolest June ever, so far

Chicagoans: you haven't imagined it. This has been the coolest June on record, though the forecast calls for a warm-up this coming week:

The cloudy, chilly and rainy open to June here has been the talk of the town. So far this June is running more than 12°F cooler than last year, and the clouds, rain and chilly lake winds have been persistent. The average temperature at O'Hare International Airport through Friday has been only 59.5°F: nearly 7°F below normal and the coldest since records there began 50 years ago.

It's also been wet. Very wet. So far this year we've had 499 mm of rain, 35% above our normal 369 mm, with more falling as I write this.

Welcome to East Seattle.

Parking meter vandalism

The City is seeing more incidents of systematic violence against meters—this time in Andersonville.

I have a hypothesis, with some of the evidence to support it coming from my own head. Before the parking meter lease, people mostly accepted that feeding parking meters was part of our civic responsibility. We drive on the streets, which are a public good, so we should do our part and pay the $1 per hour or so for the privilege of parking on them. Now, however, a private company gets the money from the meters, which adds a profit motive (and, incidentally, up to $3 per hour) to parking meter collections. In other words, the mood has shifted from cooperative (it's our city, after all) to adversarial (who's getting the money?).

I should make it clear, I don't condone vandalism of any kind. But I understand, and even share to some extent, the feelings that cause it in this case. The proper thing to do, I think, is simply to boycott the parking meters. Starve them; don't beat them to death. But continue to let aldermen and the Mayor know why.