The Urbanist’s Chicago: Talking Points

Photo: Scott Olsen/Getty Images (2)

Meet the New Boss
Trying not to be the same as the old boss.

Richard M. Daley was, relatively speaking, still a popular mayor when he decided to forgo another term in favor of family time and the lecture circuit. But that doesn’t mean he handed Rahm Emanuel a clean civic slate. Here, four messes that have spilled over from the Daley era, and the steps Emanuel has taken thus far to clean them up.

1. A $587 million deficit. The day after his May 16 in­auguration, Emanuel announced ten budget cuts, which would trim $75 million from Daley’s final budget, including slashing senior-management payrolls for city commissioners by 10 percent.

2. School leadership vacuum. Daley closed out his final term with a Bloombergian misfire: appointing a businessman with no educational experience as public-schools superintendent. Emanuel has named a new CEO: Jean-Claude Brizard, a two-decade veteran educator and administrator from the Rochester school district.

3. Crime in marginalized areas.Daley’s police superintendent, Jody Weis, was criticized for failing to redeploy beat cops into high-crime neighborhoods. New acting superintendent Garry ­McCarthy has temporarily borrowed 500 cops from other units and redeployed them on the city’s most crime-ridden corners.

4. The parking-meter-privatization debacle. In 2008, much to many Chicagoans’ chagrin, Daley handed off the city’s 36,000 parking meters to a group led by Morgan Stanley. This January, rates were hiked to more than $4 an hour downtown, and now pay boxes are popping up in neighborhoods that never had meters. Emanuel promised a Loyola Park audience in late April that he would look into the possibility of negating the unpopular 75-year contract.
—Mark Guarino

Second City, First in Kvetching
Three locals register their municipal complaints.

Jennifer Beals
Actress, The Chicago Code
Complaint: “Why is there no meaningful recycling in Chicago? You come into the Art Institute with a plastic water bottle and you have to put it in the garbage. It’s very frustrating!”

Jacky Hackett
Software-development manager
Complaint: “The city currently bans food being prepared on a food truck. They claim it’s for health and sanitary reasons, but it’s really because restaurants are afraid of the competition.”

Cathy Halley
Online editor, the Poetry Foundation
Complaint: “I heard that the shortest legal limit for a yellow light is three seconds, and that’s what the lights are in Chicago. It’s like a game of chicken. Seriously, try crossing the intersection of Broadway and Bryn Mawr—those mother-effing drivers will run your ass over.”

Baseball Crossfire

Photo: Scott Boehm/Getty Images (2)

The Sox Fan
Wrigley Field is the most beautiful ballpark in baseball, but unfortunately it’s soiled on a daily basis by the Chicago Cubs. I don’t like the lovable loser. I played sports—I don’t like losing. And those aren’t baseball fans. Those are ex-fraternity jerks. The most charitable thing I can say about the Cubs is that the park is a tabernacle of baseball. When the Sox play up there, I do go—and I wear my Sox cap.” —Tony Fitzpatrick, artist

The Cubs Fan
“How could you not love [Sox manager] Ozzie Guillen? He’s a man who speaks his mind. And Comiskey Park (I refuse to call it U.S. Cellular Field) has good churros—fried dough with chocolate or crème jammed in there. But otherwise, I’ve got nothing good to say about the Sox. If you are thinking of growing a mullet and don’t know which style to go with, go to Comiskey.” —Andy Sokol, realtor

I’d Die to Live There!
Culture writer Jessica Reaves on the most sought-after apartments in a city that loves its high-rises.

The Urbanist’s Chicago: Talking Points