End of the Road for Division Street

Dear Readers:

Division Street was an experiment – along with California Faultline in L.A. – by the good folks at NBC Universal. With the launch of new local sites such as NBCChicago.com, the NBC folks have decided to shut down Division Street and Faultline. In turn, I will be increasing my contributions to NBCChicago.com, including material that you might have otherwise found here, and of course you can still read me at The Beachwood Reporter. Thanks for reading me here, and I’ll see you there.

Defensive Daley Disinforms

“Mayor Richard Daley today scoffed at complaints that next month’s increases in parking meter rates would affect people in many Chicago neighborhoods,” the Tribune reports.

“The mayor said there are ‘very few (meters) in the neighborhoods. It’s about 80 percent downtown – 80, 85 percent downtown in 2 or 3 wards. It’s not in the communities’.”

Whoa!

“In fact, of the city’s 34,264 metered spots, about 8,100 are in the 42nd and 2nd Wards that cover downtown. That’s only about one-fourth of them, not the four-fifths Daley claimed.”

Hey, no one said Daleyland was a reality-based community.

Poll: Keep Ryan in Jail

“Two-thirds of adults in Illinois (66%) are opposed to a presidential pardon for former Governor George Ryan, according to a new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey in the state.

“Just 23% say Ryan, the Republican convicted on federal corruption charges in 2006, should be pardoned. Eleven percent (11%) are undecided.”

Perhaps the poll’s most interesting finding is this:

“Members of Ryan’s own political party are more unforgiving than his former political opponents. Sixty-seven percent (67%) of Republicans oppose a pardon versus 59% of Democrats. Twenty-six percent (26%) of both parties favor pardoning Ryan. Among those unaffiliated with either major political party, just 15% support a pardon, while 77% oppose one.”

I can only guess that a segment of Democrats think Ryan’s death penalty moratorium should play into this.

Via Progress Illinois

Ryan Watch

More members of Illinois’ congressional delegation have weighed in on the possible commutation of George Ryan’s prison sentence. All are in the No category:

* Jesse Jackson, Jr. (Democrat)
* Judy Biggert (Republican)
* Debbie Halvorson (incoming Democrat)

Democrats Bobby Rush and Dan Lipinski didn’t return phone calls to the SouthtownStar, the paper reports.

Chief of Cash

The New York Times delves into what it calls “a little-known episode of Mr. Emanuel’s biography” – you know, those 36 months in which he made $18 million working as a mergers & acquisitions guy.

My favorite part is this:

“Confidants of Mr. Emanuel’s said he decided to try his hand at business because he wanted financial security for his family, before eventually returning to public service.”

Oh, the sacrifices he’s made for us!

“He had a number in his head to make enough for the family,” one of Rahm’s brothers, Ezekiel, told the Times.

And he fell just short!

Going Blue

From Chicagoist:

“As if it hadn’t yet, we can now firmly say Obama merchandise has jumped the shark. Or something like that . . . “

Parking Pablum

Let’s not let the always dependable Bea Reyna-Hickey, the city’s revenue director, go unnoticed.

“The Chicago Sun-Times reported in August that Chicago Police officers had written 84,000 fewer tickets than last year and were on pace to end the year with a 9 percent dropoff from the 1.63 million police-issued tickets in 2007,” the paper reports.

“At a City Hall news conference Monday, Reyna-Hickey at first attributed the ticket plunge to drivers who ‘take their parking more seriously’ and are less inclined to park illegally.”

If only – though we should all drive and park to the letter of the law just to spite the mayor, who is depending on our violations to balance his budget.

“But, questioned further, she said, ‘Police [ticketing] has decreased . . . Clearly the police have a lot of other important things to tend to.”

The moral of the story: Always question further. And take your parking seriously.

Mr. Clean Wasn’t

Seemingly out of the blue, Ald. Ed Smith has written to President Bush requesting not only that George Ryan’s sentence be commuted, but that former Ald. Larry Bloom be pardoned.

Of course, nothing just happens out of the blue in Chicago politics, so I’m sure there’s a backstory we’re not privy to yet. But let us now take a moment to remember Bloom’s crime, and ponder whether he, of all felons in Illinois, deserves forgiveness.

Bloom, you may recall, was stung in Operation Silver Shovel, having accepted $14,000 in bribes from FBI mole John Christopher. A lousy $14,000!

He pled guilty to a felony tax charge and served six months in the famed federal retreat in Oxford, Wisconsin, where he was probably laughed at by other Chicago pols for his meager haul. Bloom was released in 1999.

He shared a prison wing with three former aldermen, Virgil Jones, John Madrzyk and Jesse Evans; a former Water Reclamation Commissioner, Tom Fuller; and a former state representative, Bruce Farley. “We didn’t have a name for our wing, but we’d call `quorum’ every time we walked down the hall,” Bloom joked to Sneed after his release.

Hilarious, don’t you think?

If Bloom had been any other pol, it would have been easier to take. But Bloom’s real crime was to deepen the cynicism of our local political culture because he wasn’t just any other pol – he was Mr. Clean. From Hyde Park. An independent. A reformer.

Continue reading

Obama Punts

“Add president-elect Barack Obama to the growing list of politicians across Illinois issuing statements this week about former George Ryan being released from federal prison,” NBCChicago.com reports. “He doesn’t have an opinion.”

You know, I wrote the other day over on the Beachwood that I wasn’t going to spend the next four years saying “I told you so,” but that doesn’t mean I’m never gonna say it. So consider it said.

Conrad’s Clemency Con

“Conrad Black is pinning his hopes on clemency from U.S. President George W. Bush as a last-ditch effort to get out of jail early, and he wants his former publishing company to foot the legal bill,” the Toronto Globe and Mail reports.

That’s right – Black wants the Sun-Times Media Group to pay the legal fees associated with his clemency bid.

Apparently Jim Thompson didn’t offer him pro bono services like he’s done with George Ryan. Thompson, of course, was on the audit committee of the Sun-Times’s former corporate board when Black was looting the company.