The best part of today’s installment in the Trib series on the Chicago zoning game comes at the end:
“After the committee hearing, [Hugh] Devlin approached project architect John Hanna outside the council chambers. He asked Hanna why he gave $3,000 to [Ald. Berny] Stone before last year’s hard-fought 50th Ward election, even though Hanna does not live in the ward.
“‘I get requests [for donations] all the time, from every alderman,’ Hanna responded.
“‘This money has a big effect on who represents my neighborhood here,’ said Devlin, a computer consultant who has lived in the ward since 1975.
“‘Politics is politics, you know?’ Hanna said. ‘Nice meeting you.'”
The next best:
“‘The public was given a direct voice into the process and now has an even greater voice than ever before in making decisions,’ said William J. P. Banks (36th), who co-chaired the Mayor’s Zoning Reform Commission and has headed the council’s Zoning Committee for almost 20 years – since Mayor Richard Daley took office.”
All evidence to the contrary.
“Now, it’s not to say that the aldermanic prerogative is out the door.”
Just look at the Children’s Museum.
“There is still just as much strength as there always was.”
As long as the mayor is on your side.
“It’s just that now aldermen are kind of forced to sit down with the general public and get their views.”
Oh for the days when aldermen weren’t “forced” to listen to their constituents!
“But nothing in the new zoning code actually requires aldermen to involve the public in the process,” the Trib notes.
No, but the new zoning code requires aldermen to do a better job pretending they care about the public’s view. That’s why they got a pay raise.
“Asked why the council’s zoning meetings are held at 10 a.m. on weekdays, when most people have to work, Banks noted that every council committee gathers during daytime hours and he has given no thought to changing that.”
They like to work under cover of daylight.
Finally, the Trib notes that a stated aim of zoning code reform was to “reverse the trend of new buildings that ‘tower over their older cousins,'” but instead the new code “actually dropped [an] old provision that made it more difficult” to do this.