The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Can't you see this red "S" on my chest?

(Apologies to Bill Cosby.)

The Chicago Tribune reported today that Chicago needs more software engineers:

With a national unemployment rate of 9.6 percent, many people assume employers have their pick of applicants for any job, McCombs said. Not so. Within every down job market exist bright spots, which in Chicago means tech jobs, particularly for software engineers.

The continued growth of the Internet and mobile technology is fueling the increased demand for IT professionals, McCombs said. Computer application software engineers will be the fastest growing job category over the next eight years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which projects a 32 percent increase in the number of computer software engineers between 2008 and 2018. The total work force is expected to grow 8 percent during the same period.

... "I feel we're at 100 percent employment" for highly qualified software engineers in Chicago, said Zach Kaplan, chief executive at Chicago-based Inventables, an online marketplace for materials and technology. The company gets flooded with applications when it posts nontechnical jobs, but it struggles to find software engineers.

So, what about a software engineer with 17 years of experience and (soon to be) two graduate degrees? Would that be worth something to you?

No "Rich Whitey" on the ballot

Sometimes you can't make these things up:

Chicago election officials say crews will work overtime to reprogram thousands of electronic voting machines that mistakenly list a gubernatorial candidate's name as "Rich Whitey" instead of Rich Whitney.

Chicago elections board chairman Langdon Neal said 530 machines being used for early voting and an additional 4,200 destined for the Nov. 2 election will be reprogrammed and retested.

The mistake in the Green Party candidate's name appears on a review screen that allows voters to double-check their selections and not on the screen where the vote is registered. It also is not on paper ballots, Neal said.

Heavens, where does one go with this...

Parking meters stolen from the Loop

You'd think the parking-meter lease would get more popular over time, wouldn't you? Nope:

Twenty of the 90 kg electronic parking pay machines have been stolen throughout Chicago since Sept. 17, police department spokesman Roderick Drew said in an e-mail. It isn't known how much cash may have been taken from the stolen machines, he said.

"Area 5 Detectives have been working with LAZ Parking to address this issue. Residents who witness vandalism or suspicious behavior should call police immediately," Drew said.

Yes, so if you see someone walking down the street lugging an automated parking machine, you know what to do.

We'll miss Da Mare

I mean, who else could have come up with such a creative way for Chicago to run out of cash right after he leaves office?

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley is scheduled to detail the city's record budget shortfall on Wednesday. He's expected to announce plans to partially fill the $655 million defecit with money from leasing the city's parking meters and Skyway.

Dick Simpson heads the political science department at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He says it makes sense to use some of the money in reserves, but a lot of the cash meant to last the city decades has been used up in a few years.

Ah, the parking meter lease. Good deal, there.

Quick jog through the park

Today is the Chicago Marathon, and the weather is perfect—for watching it. The runners hope the temperature stays below 21°C, but it's creeping up.

No matter: here are the lead runners passing through Lincoln Park about an hour and a half ago:

Even more fun is when the great mass of runners stampede through, like these folks running a four-hour pace:

Let's hope it stays cool for them.

Update, 9:40 am: Defending champion Sammy Wajiru just won the men's race.

Follow-up on pipe bomb

I regret my headline from Tuesday. Apparently, the man committed suicide:

The young man who died in a pipe bomb explosion Tuesday in Evanston committed suicide after a nearly lifelong fight with depression, his family said Wednesday.

"We are devastated that our beloved son, Colin Dalebroux, lost his 15-year battle with depression," the family said in a statement from their home in Madison, Wis. "We know that Colin committed suicide."

It's one thing if he had died trying to hurt other people; quite a different thing if, as is the case, he took his own life.

Darwin award nominee?

This caught my eye this morning only because it occurred directly across the street from where I lived during most of 2007. Parker used to chase tennis balls in the tennis courts right near the scene:

A man walking his dog this morning near an Evanston middle school discovered a decapitated body, perhaps the result of a pipe bomb explosion, and some hours later police destroyed what they suspected was an explosive device in the vicinity.

He said his dog led him to the body of a shirtless man whose head was missing and whose legs were folded behind him. A shopping bag lay nearby, and there was a strong odor of what he thought was gunpowder.

The body was near tennis courts, between a fence and a pine tree, he said.

On returning home, he said neighbors told him they had heard a loud explosion between 4 a.m. and 4:30 a.m. He said police told him they had come out earlier to investigate the sound of the explosion but were unable to find anything at that time.


Chicago's election viewed from overseas

The Economist has picked up on Daley's departure:

After Mr Daley privatised the city’s parking meters, drivers filled coin slots with glue and docile aldermen briefly located their spines. Last year Mr Daley struggled to close a budget gap. This summer just 31% of Chicagoans thought he should seek re-election.

So who will succeed Mr Daley? The most promising contender may be Mr Emanuel. Whoever the replacement, he is unlikely to bring the dramatic changes that characterised the Daley era. But a new leader is overdue. “Simply put,” Mr Daley said, “it’s time.”

And the Guardian:

Speculation in Chicago and Washington DC quickly turned to [President Obama's chief of staff Rahm] Emanuel, who has long made public his interest in the job – while the timing could not be better from the White House's point of view. With a crushing defeat in the US midterm elections looming, the need for Obama to reshuffle his senior staff after November was growing.

Emanuel refused to comment on the speculation, saying in a statement: "While Mayor Daley surprised me today with his decision to not run for re-election, I have never been surprised by his leadership, dedication and tireless work on behalf of the city and the people of Chicago."

Note that Emanuel was my Congressman until being named Obama's chief of staff in November 2008, and he maintains a permanent residence in the city.

Another portrait on Morton's wall

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley will not run for re-election next spring:

Daley's public approval rating had dipped recently, with a Tribune poll earlier this summer showing that more than half of Chicago voters said they don't want to see him re-elected.

The poll found only 37 percent of city voters approve of the job Daley is doing as mayor, compared with 47 percent who disapprove. Moreover, a record-low 31 percent said they want to see Daley re-elected, compared with 53 percent who don't want him to win another term.

The mayor's administration has been buffeted by a spate of summer violence, a weak economy and a high-profile failure to land the 2016 Olympics. Dissatisfaction abounds, the survey found, over Daley's handling of the crime problem, his efforts to rein in government corruption and his backing of a controversial long-term parking meter system lease.

This isn't a big surprise, as President Obama's chief of staff Rahm Emanuel has hinted he wants the job—which he would never do without knowing for sure Daley was stepping down.

(Morton's Steakhouse, the best in Chicago, has portraits of the city's mayors going back to Daley's father.)