Category Archives: Chicago

Vasquez argument in 40th ward race vs. O’Connor: He’s an organizer . . .

. . . and he has our back, as he says in his flyers and was doing in December, 2017, as in this picture from his web site.

Andre the community organizer doing some organizing, 

 

The alderman of your dreams, right? Standing up at city council meetings, socking it to the miserable capitalists who are stealing shirts off backs.

Like in the 40th Ward, where not too many years back, Amundsen High was a mess, as a class of ’04 graduate recalled in conversation last week — gangs, drugs, metal detectors at the entrance. She and her husband with their child voted with their feet three years later, decamped in 2007 for Du Page County, their present home.

The school later got $28 million for fixing up (on its way to top-notch status), thanks to the incumbent and his contacts and know-how. The unbiased observer would call that having our back.

Or the resident of a block east of Winnemac Park who told me a year or so ago of her  and her neighbors’ regular morning routine in those bad old days of painting over gang graffiti on their garages. Now, she said, the big problem on the block for some is that the brand new street lights are too bright.

On the other hand, according to Vasquez’s publicist, the 40th Ward “is an area that could be the model for the corruption that exists in local government across the United States.”

Oh boy. Woe is us, living in a slough of corruption. No wonder we would want a new alderman who has quite recently devoted himself to bullhorn activism.

Just what the ward needs.

40th Ward Chicago Alderman O’Connor the Democrat vs. challenger Vasquez the Socialist, Amundsen High School, 3/18/19

The 40th Ward is “under attack” by people who “think differently” from the people of this ward, 36-year incumbent alderman Pat O’Connor said at the March 18 Amundsen High School League of Women Voters of Chicago forum  in preparation for the April 2 runoff election in which he is opposed by the Democratic Socialist candidate Andre Vasquez.

Some people “say things,” he added in his opening remarks, referring to Vasquez’s history as a “battle rapper” (ending “about eight years ago”) whose lyrics became an important focus of the O’Connor counter-message as the evening ran on. (It is presented in alarming detail on the “Truth about Andre” site.)

Vasquez, 39, apologized for the offensive lyrics and said he would continue to do so, noting his age at the time (from his days at Lane Tech in the mid-’90s — by his count “more than 1,000 battles,” only seven losses — to 2011 or so) as partial explanation but also taking offense and marveling at O’Connor’s using the words in a public forum. His audience in the packed auditorium burst into laughter at this.

Also in his opening remarks, O’Connor touched on the main portion of his theme arguments, his achievements as an alderman, by citing the $28 million he (“we”) had gotten for this high school in the heart of the ward.

Vasquez, on the other hand, first runner-up in the crowded Feb. 26 primary election, as the son of immigrants (from Guatemala), married father of two, now an AT&T field manager after a relatively short career as entrepreneur and other jobs leading to his present position.

He was to feature during the forum his background as immigrant son, born in the U.S., and his wife and children as motivation for running for office and serving “the community” — a term he was to use frequently in this forum as focus for his future efforts.

Early on, he announced his eagerness to promote “affordable housing,” even to the point of using rent control to achieve it. He was to embrace other phrases and policies of standard “progressive” usage and goals. His campaign is endorsed by Democrat Socialists, of which he is a member.

O’Connor on the other hand spoke repeatedly of working for the same goals systematically, using means at hand in a city and state where the leaning is palpably leftward and government stands ready — to a fault, some say — to meet citizen needs.

Vasquez called for frequent town hall meetings, wants TIF money to go to schools, not to a mayor’s “slush fund.” Applause at this from a supporter brought immediate reminder by the alert and businesslike League of Women Voters chair that applause was to be held to the end. She further noted that such applause reflected badly on the candidate applauded.

On zoning changes, for instance, as a community-outreach example, O’Connor said all changes are decided with “the advice and consent” of residents. Vasquez replied that “the community” should decide such matters, implying that such is not currently the case and (apparently) that there was need for a sort of regular plebiscite (popular vote) to decide even small issues. As it is, he said, the Chicago “political system” is “not fair.”

Vasquez declared himself opposed to giving money to the proposed new Police Academy — first responders training academy, O’Connor called it, for firefighters and paramedics in addition to police. He declared opposition also to the Lincoln Yards development, also not a 40th Ward matter, instead wanting such funds to be “invested in neighborhoods,” rather than used to support “administrative bloat.” He sprinkled his commentary with such blanket analyses and accusations, O’Connor in each case offering at least plausible rebuttal. This was the last mention of bloat, however, Vasquez perhaps realizing it smacked more of slogan than argument.

Vasquez furthermore was opposed to “aldermanic prerogative” — which oddly enough reduces power of the citywide body in favor of the local. (Oddly in that his predilection for “community” is more likely to signal preference for locally based governance than citywide, in effect giving more “power to the people,” to use a populist battle cry of the ’60s that once inspired activists throughout the nation.)

He argued that wards are not “fifedoms,” meaning fiefdoms, and added that as alderman he would “speak out” against other city council members who he thought abused their authority. (Ever in protest mode, coming across as a scrappy, if genial, fellow.)

Discussing water testing, O’Connor detailed the numbers of tests sent to building owners and the numbers returned with results, arguing that the city was paying for such testing, if not doing it for owners.

He further objected to Vasquez’s making blanket statements and citing figures without telling where he got the figures. It’s a basic requirement learned in any debate class, he said: you have to give your sources.

To which Vasquez replied that since his parents were repeatedly “priced out” of a neighborhood and having to move every two years, he had attended as many as four schools in eight years and had never been in a debate class. He said nothing about the need to source data.

On the importance of recycling, he again brought up his two children, saying it was in part for their future that he promoted recycling. As alderman he would offer “help to the community” in this and “would advocate with landlords,” presumably recalcitrant ones, sounding a warning of sorts from a community organizer, such as he was at one time, according to his campaign web site.

“We need to do this,” he said.

Asked about LGBTQ issues, Vasquez bemoaned their plight in search for “meaningful lives,” receiving some forbidden applause again. These are people, he said, who “feel sad to be left out” of the greater society.

Not so, said O’Connor. “I work with them all the time. They are not sad but happy and energetic, involved. Gays are not unhappy in this ward, including my three lesbian daughters. We celebrate that, as in the recent wedding of one to her wife. I celebrate diversity, I live it every day.”

About the racial divide and how make blacks feel at home, Vasquez offered a “little history lesson” about segregation and discrimination, then listed percentages of racial and ethnic groups in the ward, the least of which was 16 per cent black and concluding there was “room for improving that.”

As for availability to the community, O’Connor pointed to his being at his office every Monday night.

V: He should be out “in the community,” said Vasquez, and not expect people to come to him, should have regular meetings with groups “on the ground.”

On charter schools, O’Connor said he supports good schools, public or otherwise, called it “a canard” that TIF takes money from schools, as Vasquez had said earlier.

Vasquez said the recently opened Waldorf school — in a major public school building that had been empty for many months — was an improvement. But for whom? he asked. For those who could afford it, he said, adding that in general, resources are taken away from public schools.

He did not connect this with charter (public) schools or Waldorf, a private school that provided a much needed market for a major school property, in effect adding to resources for public schools.

He also called for “small farmers’ markets . . . have a committee established” to achieve that.

In final comments, Vasquez, saying, “I’d better stand up,” half way thru his closing three minutes, criticized O’Connor for his support 30-plus years ago for the Vrdolyak 29, a mostly white bloc of aldermen who opposed Mayor Harold Washington during Washington’s first term.

“He knows nothing about the timeframe,” O’Connor told the Sun-Times after this forum. “When Harold Washington was re-elected he put me into a leadership position . . . Mayor Washington had dinner at my house. [Vasquez] comes from a time where if you disagree you have to hate one another — I come from a time where you can disagree but you can be friends, you can still have a dialogue and what’s what we had back then.”

Blase Scores “Hat Trick” – Pope Taps 3 Auxiliaries for Chicago

Cardinal Cupich consolidates for some big pushing on a national scale.

In the works for quite some time from his seat on the Congregation for Bishops, Cardinal Blase Cupich’s much-anticipated backup has arrived – at Roman Noon, the Pope named three auxiliary bishops for the 2.4 million-member archdiocese of Chicago: Fathers Ron Hicks, 50, the vicar-general; Mark Batosic, 56, until now chaplain of the Cook County Jail; and Robert Casey, 50, until now pastor of the city’s St Bede Parish.

Young, vigorous, accomplished, eminently appointable.

Cupich’s first batch of deputies since his arrival in late 2014, the bishops-elect were all classmates at Mundelein and ordained priests together by Cardinal Joseph Bernardin in 1994. With the triple nod, the number of Stateside auxiliaries added to the bench within the last two years now stands at 25.

Preparing the way for winning the next national bishops’ meeting vote for head man. And for proliferation of future bishops in charge of whole diocese.

Francis’ man in Chicago and the U.S. gains a lot here.

via Whispers in the Loggia

Get a load of main street mainstream post-SOTU offerings . . .

. . . as delivered by Chi Trib, faithful as ever to its lib-Dem convictions.

Tension grips Congress as Trump calls for unity, then touts GOP agenda
Karen Tumulty and Philip Rucker [Wash Post!]

The president sought to repurpose the term “Dreamer,” saying that it shouldn’t be an excuse to shortchange Americans’ economic prospects or safety.

NEWS & ANALYSIS

Winners and losers from Trump’s State of the Union address  [Wash Post]

Fact check: Trump’s State of the Union speech doesn’t skimp on exaggerations [AP]

Huppke: State of the Union just fine for those turning blind eyes to Trump

Notice the prominence of  Wash Post and AP. Once it was merely second-city lemming-ism, now it’s actual transferring Trib’s Eastern-seaboard models to its front page.

Question: Where would Trib be without the Wash Post and AP? Once there was a newspaper, now a . . . copy cat?

From the diaspora: Panhandlers differ, Out damned tooth . . .

From my observation post outside Starbucks: A “craft ice cream” truck tools down Bryn Mawr, 9 or so on a Tuesday morning.

We already have craft beer. What else? I’ll tell you what else, craft writing, as by Yours Truly and his ilk. Not crafty, though the temptation is always there.

Across the street, opposite corner, a young fellow in red shirt and wearing white do-rag is panhandling more aggressively — here in historic Edgewater — than I see on Clark Street a half mile west. He’s able-bodied, able enough to lean toward, though not into, passersby.

I gave him my usual buck a half hour ago, before planting myself here with iced coffee on an absolutely halcyon day, glorious in the low 70s, blessed with now a cool breeze, now a warming one, the Big Lake mere blocks away.

He took the buck blank-faced, in contrast with his Clark Street counterparts, whose responses are human enough — saying thanks sometimes, sometimes asking for more, in one instance asking me what I’m reading, for cryin’ out loud, taking the book of poems and reading from it aloud with a smile. Full of chatter when we met later on the Broadway bus.

For another I bought breafkast “britos” (burritos) at McDonald’s. Another time, barred by the manager apparently for border-line antisocial behavior, he asked me to get them for him, handing over two singles. Got life story from him in a series of encounters.

Another gave me a story on our first meeting: mother died day before, wife and three children hungry, he won’t get paid until Friday. My dollar led to request for more which proved unavailing.

Back to my post outside Starbucks, NE corner Bryn Mawr and Winthrop. Weekday, people on the run, in a hurry, except for the likes of me and a few other oldies with time to kill with over coffee, mine iced, sipped with a straw in violation of post-extraction rules.

Extraction was previous day, of a rear tooth long past its prime, like the mouth and entire body of its home for 80-plus annos.

And good riddance. It was not only “fractured,” as the dentist noted helpfully in the midst of extracting it, but infected, being (a) resting on a bone that is shrinking, as is the owner, down inches from his never exalted height physical and socio-economic. (If the tooth owner is shrinking, so is the bone that gives a tooth firm ground.)

And (b) located in area not easily reached by brush and floss and therefore vulnerable. It was doomed and had to go, which if it sounds like the plight of man on earth, so be it. Hang on and look to the heavenly father.

Extractor of this miserable excuse for a tooth deserves noting. She is the beautiful Dr. N., intelligent, impeccably professional, skilled, a 30-something Asian-American woman whom I decided to be of Chinese extraction, if I may use word in this context.

She is of coffee-with-cream complexion, alert, self-possessed, capable. If a tooth is to be extracted, how better than by the likes of her? (Two days later, patient is doing fine.)

More later from the Oak Park diaspora, North Side chapter . . .

Chi Trib front page clashing stories: two kinds of weeper . . .

The one on top weeps about diminished social services (always a grabber):

Senate health care bill takes a hit
CBO analysis: Uninsured would grow by 22 million,
costs would rise under Republican leaders’ proposal

The one on bottom weeps, sort of, about the cost of red ink for Chicago Public Schools (not much of a grabber):

Price for CPS loans: $70,000 a day in interest
Total cost could pass
$7M based on payback
date, financial woe

Make-up editors could have put them side by side as horns of the dilemma faced by lawmakers as regards public spending: 1) people want services, 2) government hasn’t got the money.

As for not having the money, move to the state’s (and city’s) fiscal crisis and see what Speaker Madigan and his Dems do not want in a budget and the governor does:

Democrats have resisted Rauner’s calls for mixing into budget discussions other issues including cost-saving changes to workers’ compensation, state-employee pension-benefit programs, and a local property tax freeze, among other things.

No, no, no, don’t touch our workers’ comp, state employees’ benefits, and property taxes, say Dems, clutching these items as dear to their hearts.

Later: As for “mixing into budget discussions other issues,” consider Madigan’s “non-budget demands,” as in the State Journal-Register,

including that Gov. Bruce Rauner sign a school funding reform bill that the governor has said he would veto.

Crafty fellow. Oh, and a Democrat.

Angela Bowman and friends with Cajun music at Hideout Dec. 29

Chicago’s Andrew Sa closes the evening off at 10, right after Hey Chere! at 9.

Hey, Chere!

Hey, Chere!

It’s the happiest sad music around! Inspired by the plaintive, wild sound of Dennis McGee and other Cajun greats, Hey, Chere! plays early traditional Cajun music, a close cousin to high-lonesome old-time and early country. Angela Bowman, featured on fiddle and voice, has taken this short step from country to Cajun, joined by Sean Colledge (Le Travaillant) on accordion and fiddle and John Huber (The Wandering Boys, the Lantern Kickers) on guitar and t’fer.

Evening begins at 8 with Steve Hinds and John Huber on fiddle and guitar. Fun!

A Leo man is promoted to everlasting life

He is Robert L. Hylard, who cashed in at 86 and remained loyal to his school to the end.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pat Hickey tells us about him.

He was

the Kid from VIZ [Visitation parish, 55th Street] who played in Leo’s Marching Band for four years, wrote for and helped edited the school news paper the Oriole, ‘trod the boards’ in every Leo Dramatic production from junior year on, and played lightweight football on the cinders and broken beer bottle glass of Shewbridge Field – the iconic home to Leo High School football, now Amos Alonzo Stagg Elementary.

He is remembered with affection.

The young African American, Mexican and Canaryville Irish kids who now attend Mr. Hylard’s Alma Mater knew him well. Bob Hylard made all of the football home games, most of the away and every Leo High School event that showcased the talents and skills of our young men a huge mark on his calendar.

Leo remains a boys’ school, vigorously supported and operated by its mostly (S. Side) Irishers, a haven of excellence in a rough neighborhood.

More about Leo here.

Ride the South Side with Leo HS pride and Clyde: a Hickey report

Leo HS Morning 2/11/2014 -I Ride With Pride and Clyde By My Side!

Leo+545+AM.JPG

I am blessed with a great life and the opportunity to work for Leo High School. I get to Leo at about 4:45 most days and start the boilers, do some paper work and get the one of the vans ready to pick up between seven and nine guys participating in early morning activities.

My crew is usually Cyde, Chris, TJ, Mick, Joe, Latrell, Caleb, Gaylon, and Sydney. I begin in Englewood at 74th & Normal, go to Grand Crossing at 66th & King Drive, take that beautiful, historic and inspiring Boulevard north to 35th and Dunkin Donuts!

For more more more . . . Take it away, Hickey . . .

The lakefront ride of Maggie B.

Our bike ride took us through the crowds of Fullerton, North ave, Oak St, and Navy Pier. And past that it was a blissful ride down to Promontory Point, where we swam off the rocks. A woman in her 70s told me the water was very nice, much better than yesterday, when it was quite chilly. This was confirmed by another bather of the same age, emerging from the water after swimming in from a far out place. Do you come every day, I asked her. Oh yes, it’s an addiction, she said. Today I swam out to the fifth buoy, then cut towards the beach, then back along the wall. I didn’t bring my goggles, I told her, so I’m not sure how far I’ll go. Do what you can, she said. So I did. Breast-stroked it to somewhere between the 2nd and 3rd buoy, then back to shore with a little backstroke thrown in.

Back on the rocks another bather inquired about what he had heard earlier from my conversation with the ladies. You biked all the way from Lincoln Square, he said? What is that, about 12 miles? I checked w/Cory and told him it was somewhere between 12 and 15. What about you, I asked, did you bike here? Oh I just live down the street. The rock-bathers grew from just a few to over a dozen in the hour we were there. Some teenagers, a serious eastern-European looking distance swimmer, some possible students. Swam, ate pear slices out of tupperware, swam some more, then back on the bikes to head north.

We passed back through the prairie restoration project all along the south shore. A Mayor Daley project, apparently. Well, it’s pretty good, I must say. We encountered concert-goers near Northerly Island, holding out fingers to signal the number of tickets they were looking to score. Phish was the band–a younger cousin of the Grateful Dead. We wove our way through them, ringing bells, and kindly shouting out “on your left” as we passed. The crowds were thinning but still strongly present at North Ave and Fullerton. Runners, bikers, families with kids wandering dangerously close to in front of us.

A beer was desired and the Clocktower Cafe around Addison proved to be the perfect spot. A quiet deck overlooking early evening golfers. It all felt right so I added a portobello sandwich to my order and fed myself. Back on the path, I parted ways with my companions at Wilson and worked my way through Uptown towards home. Just as I walked in the gate I felt the first raindrops coming down. They fall quietly now, as I sit, freshly showered, content from my day.

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