G-8 Summit Moved to Camp David

Big News!!

The Group of Eight meeting will be moved to Camp David, according to the White House, but the gathering of NATO allies and the International Security Assistance Force will go on in Chicago as planned in mid-May.

Camp David will more closely approximate the remote settings in which the G8 leaders prefer to gather. Summits in large cities typically see clamorous protests, while those in the countryside are calmer and more sedate.

via Chicago Tribune.

Of course this has absolutely nothing to do this this:

The Occupy movement is likely to escalate months before the Sept. 3-6 event. A slew of extremist organizations, some tied to Obama, are preparing protests to coincide with major NATO and G-8 summits slated for Chicago in May.

Foreshadowing possible violent confrontations, some of the same radical trainers behind the infamous 1999 Seattle riots against the World Trade Organization have been mobilizing new protest efforts geared toward world summits.  …

One endorsing group, which calls itself the Committee to Stop FBI Repression, is also a main organizer of the protests being scheduled for Chicago’s NATO and G-8 summits in May.

via Klein Online.

And then there’s this:

“To facilitate a free-flowing discussion with our close G-8 partners, the President is inviting his fellow G-8 leaders to Camp David on May 18-19 for the G-8 Summit, which will address a broad range of economic, political and security issues,” the White House announced this afternoon. “The President will then welcome NATO allies and partners to his hometown of Chicago for the NATO Summit on May 20-21.”

Maybe I’m reading English here, but that sounds like the president concluded it would be harder to have a “free-flowing discussion” in Chicago—yet still wanted to throw Rahm Emanuel a bone. NATO summits don’t generally excite people as much as meetings of the most powerful money guys in the world.   …

Not even a carefully crafted statement from the City Hall press machine could conceal his disappointment: “We wish President Obama and the other leaders well at the G8 meeting at Camp David and look forward to hosting the NATO Summit in Chicago. Hosting the NATO Summit is a tremendous opportunity to showcase Chicago to the world and the world to Chicago.”

So far, aldermen haven’t been briefed. “Do you think this administration tells us anything?” says Second Ward alderman Robert Fioretti, who for months has been wary of Emanuel’s behind-the-scenes summit planning.

via  Bleader @ Chicago Reader.

It’s safe to say there is a LOT more to this story than we’re being told.  Of course we’ll never find out.  But it can be a lot of fun to think about.

And lastly… only time will tell if this move will reduce the protests.

Aldermen Push For What?

This is just insane:

On Sunday, Aldermen Deborah Graham (29th), Robert Fioretti (2nd), and Toni Foulkes (15th) joined members of the Chicago Teachers Union, Action Now, and a group of parents and community safety advocates for a press conference urging Mayor Rahm Emanuel to make the Vacant Property Safe Passages Ordinance a priority.

If approved, the ordinance […] would require daylight watchmen to guard schoolchildren as they pass by vacant properties near public schools.

“Recently, the mayor said he cares so much about student safety on the way to school that he’s installing speed cameras,” said Aileen Kelleher, Action Now communications director, during a phone interview Tuesday. “We’re saying if you care so much about safety this ordinance should be your number one priority.”  …

This most recent push for the Vacant Property Safe Passages Ordinance comes just three months after the city passed a law requiring vacant property owners, whether an individual or a bank, to pay to register and maintain their abandoned buildings.  Similarly, last week Gov. Pat Quinn introduced a new program aimed at rehabilitating foreclosed homes in Cook County.

With November’s ordinance in mind, those in support of the Safe Passages law say vacant property owners should also foot the bill for hiring the proposed watchmen.

“We want the guards to be hired from within the communities where the vacant buildings are so that it’s also a job-creation program, because along with the housing crisis there’s also an employment crisis,” said Kelleher.

Additionally, the ordinance would levy fines of up to $500 if the building’s mortgage holder fails to provide a watchman between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.

via Progress Illinois.

This can never pass.  Nothing good can come of it.

According to Illinois Statute — namely 225 ILCS 447 the Private Detective, Private Alarm, Private Security, Fingerprint Vendor, and Locksmith Act of 2004 — every one of these “watchmen” would be required to have a PERC.  The statute provides that:

 “Private security contractor” means a person who engages in the business of providing a private security officer, watchman, patrol, guard dog, canine odor detection, or a similar service by any other title or name on a contractual basis for another person, firm, corporation, or other entity for a fee or other consideration and performing one or more of the following functions:   …

See 225 ILCS 447.

This means that anyone who’s going to watch these houses must take and pass a 20-hour course with test.  They must also not have been convicted of a felony and submit their fingerprints for a background check.  Despite the requirements, it’s not uncommon to see these jobs listed on Craigslist for $10-12/hour.

The proposed ordinance would require watchmen (or watchwomen I would assume) to be present between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. or 8 hours per day.  That’s $80 per day in pay for someone to basically sit on their duff and read the paper in front of a vacant building.  Of course the real cost (vacation, medical, workemen’s comp, payroll taxes, overhead, training, etc) would mean that the property owner would likely be charged more like $120/day.

Even at $100/day, that’s $3,000/month… just to have someone watch a vacant property.  Who can afford to pay that?  The property owner will essentially be left with two options:  tear the place down or rent it out for someone well below market value.

Given that one can get a building (single family house on a single lot) torn down and hauled away for $10,000-20,000 (depending on the size and condition of the place,) it stands to reason that anyone who expects their place to be vacant for a long time to just may be better off just tearing the place down.  The property owner can also now save on taxes (vacant land is hardly taxed) and insurance as well.  This will minimize the property expense over the long-haul.

Equally problematic is that the ordinance may force the property owner to place anyone as a tenant in the property regardless of rent.  If you’re going to charge me $3,000/mo to keep the place empty and secured then it’s just better for me to find someone, anyone, who’s willing to stay in the place for $10/mo.  The question is then who’s renting the place for $10/mo?  Maybe someone who shouldn’t be living next to a school in the first place?

And there’s the rub.  What makes these people think that a tenant on the property would be better than having the property vacant?  Would you rather have your child walk by a vacant property or Jeffery Dahmer’s place?

Of course if the city was at full police strength wouldn’t there be more cops on the street looking over these places?  I’m just say’n.

The article states there are 19,000 vacant properties in the city.  At $3,000 per month that’s $57,000,000 in new costs that would have to picked-up by property owners each month.

That’s $57,000,000 in monthly transfer payments from “property owners” to  “guards to be hired from within the communities where the vacant buildings” exist.  Annually that a $684 million tax on property owners in the city.

It’s a complete joke.  Just like paying mommies to walk their children to school when they should be doing it anyway.


No Tax Refund if You Owe Parking Tickets


Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday referred to people and businesses with unpaid city debts as “the deadbeats and the delinquents” after winning City Council approval to intercept their state income tax refunds to collect millions of dollars.  …

At every level we have protected the taxpayers of the city of Chicago by not raising property taxes, not raising or creating an income tax, not raising a sales taxes, not raising a gas tax,” Emanuel said. …

Under the diversion measure approved Wednesday, Illinois income tax refunds of those who owe will be redirected to the city, possibly as soon as this spring. …

The citys measure, made possible by a state law that took effect in December, will affect individuals and businesses that received final notices for debt owed on parking tickets, red-light citations and administrative hearing judgments.  More than 100,000 people and businesses owe the city about $80 million, but refunds wont cover all of that, officials said.  About 51 percent of the debt can be traced to addresses outside the city, the administration said.

Ald. Robert Fioretti, 2nd, one of the aldermen to vote against, described the citys administrative hearing system as “a kangaroo court” that needs to be fixed before income tax refunds are diverted to the city.

via Chicago Tribune.

As someone who does a little bit of legal practice over at 400 E. Superior I can attest to what a kangaroo court it is.  The process dealing with building violations is so bad that I truly believe they simply make it up as they go along.  It’s not quite as bad with parking tickets but it’s still a case of any given Sunday as to whether the judge will follow the law or not.

New Ward Map Confusing? Try Getting a Garbage Can

Excellent points raised by Greg Hinz over at Crain’s.

Ask folks at City Hall whether new or old wards apply for purposes of voting, zoning and distribution of services and the like and, after a couple of shrugs, you’ll get a multipart answer fit for an SAT test.  …

“We’re dealing with the old aldermen,” another official says.  But, just to be safe, the city also is consulting with the new aldermen, too, in the many cases in which blocks or whole neighborhoods are being moved around.  Suffice it to say “there’s at least two aldermen involved in every issue,” that source adds.  “It’s a fairly complicated issue.”  …
Officially, the new map goes into effect upon publication and approval of the official Journal of City Council proceedings….  But the lines on the new map are so contorted to protect incumbents and racial and ethnic minorities that doing so immediately is all but impossible.  For instance, the council majority and Mayor Rahm Emanuel pretty much hate Ald. Bob Fioretti, 2nd, a rabble-rousing independent sort with a bit of hot dog in him.  So they carved up and parceled out his current ward on the Near South and Near West sides and created a brand-new ward two miles north—not a square inch of which is in Mr. Fioretti’s current ward.  As a result, a 3½-mile stretch of Roosevelt Road that’s now pretty much within the old 2nd Ward has been divided among the new 3rd, 4th, 11th, 25th, 27th and 28th wards.  Man, I’m glad I’m not the executive director of the Roosevelt Road Improvement Association.

via Crain’s Chicago Business.

I have no idea how this can be permitted to stand.

Ward Map Gerrymandered

Really?  We didn’t know.

Residents in this area had hoped Chicago’s new ward map would put homogeneous communities in the same ward. Those hopes were dashed on Jan. 19 when the Chicago City Council passed one of the most gerrymandered maps in its history.

Second Ward resident Barbara Burchjolla summed up local frustration when she said, “After the Jan. 19 City Council meeting, I am embarrassed to call myself a Chicagoan. The council action memorialized Chicago’s decades long reputation as the most segregated city in America. And I’m tired of living on the plantation we call Chicago electoral politics.”

via Gazette Chicago.

Worth reading.