Tagmayoral election

Links between Emanuel’s campaign donors and their building projects

The Tribune called out Emanuel’s appearance at a press conference as an endorsement of a locally-designed skyscraper (Studio Gang and bKL Architecture) to be built by Wanda, a Chinese development company – it has yet to receive any approval. Photo: Ted Cox, DNAinfo.

The Chicago Tribune reviewed the campaign contributions of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s top donors and linked each donor to how it does business with Emanuel or the city. The article overall discussed how easy it is for Rahm to raise more money than what’s probably necessary to be elected a second time.

The Tribune graciously provided this data as a simple table which I’ve republished here in order to add links to building permit information from Chicago Cityscape. The website I’ve developed lists company and person names in an immediately searchable form. Currently there are over 90,000 companies, architects, and property owners that have received a building permit since 2010. Use the Illinois Sunshine database to find out who’s contributing to whom in the Chicago election.

Note: You’ll see “listed under [many] names” for several companies; this indicates that the Chicago building permit database uses different spellings, or the company has changed their name.

[table id=1 /]

Neither the article nor this table are meant to indicate any wrongdoing – campaign donations are public and it’s common to receive them from companies that do business in Chicago. It’s the extent that the donation appears to pay for favors or favoritism over other donors (which may be competing companies), or what’s right, that determines when immorality becomes an issue (a connection that’s hard to demonstrate).

Chicago mayoral candidate scorecard: Transportation

There are six candidates who want to be Chicago’s next mayor. What are their views on transportation?

EI = Environmental Illinois, a statewide environmental advocacy organization. Note that ALL candidates answered YES to all of EI’s questions asking about if they support certain green and sustainable transportation initiatives. I provide links to the answers of the candidates who had additional comments (Del Valle, Emanuel, Walls).

Candidate View Plan
Carol Mosely Braun Wants to double transit ridership and bicycling usage. Link. No plan at this time
Gery Chico Supports diverse, sustainable, and active transportation, including transit. No plan at this time.
Miguel Del Valle Supports diverse, sustainable, and active transportation, including transit. Complete streets. View plan details: One

View answers to EI questionnaire.

Rahm Emanuel Supports diverse, sustainable, and active transportation (think walking and biking), including transit, freight, and high-speed rail. Complete streets. View plan details: One, Two

View answers to EI questionnaire.

Patricia Van Pelt Watkins Unknown at this time No plan at this time
William “Dock” Walls Unknown at this time No plan at this time

View answers to EI questionnaire.

This post will be updated as more becomes known. If you have information, share in the comments below or email me.

Three of the six candidates pose for a photo after the community and environment forum downtown sponsored by Friends of the Parks.

More transportation analysis:

I should note that contrary to the belief of many Chicagoans (and perpetuated by the implications of at least one candidate), the Chicago Transit Authority is a quasi-governmental agency (or “municipal corporation”) created by the Illinois state legislature. A detailed description from Chicago-L.org:

The governing body of the CTA is the Chicago Transit Board consisting of seven members, of which four are appointed by the mayor of Chicago and three by the governor of Illinois. Each’s appointment must be approved by the other. Each board member serves a seven year term, staggered to minimize abrupt changes in policy. The board chooses a General Manager (changed to “Executive Director” in 1976 and now called “President” since March 1992) to oversee day-to-day operations. The first board took their oath of office September 1, 1945, with the first Executive Director, Walter J. McCarter, taking office in 1947.

The board, at least since Frank Kreusi, has always hired the president that Mayor Richard M. Daley chose, although it is not the mayor’s responsibility.

Emanuel releases plan for safe bicycling in Chicago. I reconsider.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention in the original post that Rahm gave a press conference on Sunday at Rapid Transit Cycleshop in Wicker Park (the bike shop doesn’t endorse any candidate for mayor). More photos from the event here and here.

Before Sunday, January 30th, 2011, when candidate for Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel released details of his plans for bicycling in Chicago, I was a big fan of Miguel Del Valle (read my earlier posts).

I was excited by what he included and it made me think that someone’s been to New York City recently (or knows someone else who did), or Rahm watched Randy Neufeld talk about ten great ways to make bicycling great in Chicago.

So what does Rahm say? (Specifics in bold.)

  • Chicago lags behind many other cities in the rate of new bike lanes each year and providing bike parking in buildings. – Yep, check San Francisco, Portland, and New York City.
  • He will build 25 miles of new bike lanes each year and prioritize protected bike lanes. Great, Chicago will finally catch up on this sought-after bikeway over 12 years after one was installed in Davis, California. New York City installed several miles of this (“cycletrack”) in Manhattan in 2008 and continue today.

New York City’s first protected bike lane, or cycletrack, on 9th Avenue in Manhattan’s west side. Will Rahm’s administration install something like this in Chicago before 2015?

  • “…initiate a review of [the Bike 2015 Plan’s] goals and timelines to identify opportunities to expand the plan and accelerate the pace of implementation.” Right on. This needs to be done so we know our progress.
  • “…create a bike lane network that allows every Chicagoan – from kids on their first ride to senior citizens on their way to the grocery store – to feel safe on our streets.” Hey, that’s exactly what Randy said: Make bicycling for everyone, “from 8 to 80.”
  • Rahm will have the Bloomingdale Trail open and functional by the end of his term. The abandoned, elevated rail line promises to be an important part of the bikeway network, but also a neat recreational facility.

The Bloomingdale Trail is an elevated railroad viaduct (at 1800 North) running from Lawndale Avenue east to Ashland Avenue (possible to Elston Avenue). It is just under 3 miles of uninterrupted, car-free transportation for people walking and bicycling. Photo by Kasey D.

  • Make an ordinance that says buildings with over 200 workers must install indoor bike parking. More than their desire for workplace showers, people who bicycle to work (or are considering it) want a secure place to store their bike for 8+ hours.
  • Double the number of on-street bike parking, including in neighborhoods. This is another point Randy made – there must be a place to park one’s bike at home!

There are many opportunities in Chicago to install bike parking for neighbors. Not everyone can fit their bike inside or bring it up to the fifth floor. Bike parking could occupy a section of a wide parkway, or be in the street, providing space for 16 bikes where only 1 car can fit. Photo by Jonathan Maus.

So far, no other candidate for mayor has released such a detailed and specific plan to include bicycles as a part of Chicago’s transportation system.

Del Valle on Walmart stores and good governing in Chicago

This is juicy. I went to a friend’s house tonight (along with 40 other people) to hear and talk to Miguel Del Valle, candidate for Chicago mayor (the election’s on February 22). After he talked about his issues, we asked him questions on different issues or to expand on what he said earlier.

Someone in the audience asked about Walmart in Pullman. I’m not sure of the exact question, but Miguel answered: “I support a living wage. If I was mayor, I would not have vetoed the ‘big box ordinance’.” (Mayor Daley initially supported the big box ordinance that would have set a minimum wage for workers in stores of a certain square footage but vetoed the bill after it was approved by the city council.)

Not wanting to lose an opportunity to talk about such a contentious issue (now quickly becoming one for New York City), I spoke up and mentioned to Miguel that Walmart plans 30 more stores in Chicago (a few people gasped at the thought of this) and asked, “How do you feel about that?” He replied:

How do I feel about that? It won’t be my job to feel something about new Walmarts in the city. That’s the city council’s job. I want to liberate them [he said this on Wednesday night]. I want there to be an open, deliberative process, with debate and transparency. I want there to be public hearings in and outside the council chambers. Let the proponents speak, and let the opponents speak. Whether or not there should be more Walmarts in Chicago is up to the aldermen and their constituents to decide. There are areas in Chicago where stores that sell fresh groceries don’t want to move in, but Walmart is – people are willing to take what they can get.* What is appropriate in one neighborhood might not be appropriate for another, but that is not for the mayor to decide. The citizens must choose.

(I can’t believe I paraphrased his response so well. I mean, I rode home in 2°F cold so my body is really tired.)

One audience member wasn’t sure what it meant to “liberate aldermen” and asked, “Can you describe what that looks like?” She was curious about Del Valle’s “proposal” to have a democratic process in the city council chambers. He explained that the citizens elect aldermen to represent them when making and passing bills. It’s the mayor’s job to control the flow of bill introductions and voting.

He gave the example of the parking meter deal: The ordinance was introduced one day and voted on the next day. This wouldn’t happen if Del Valle was mayor because he would require debate, transparency, hearings, and such. As mayor, he would immediately engage Morgan Stanley to try to renegotiate the terms of the lease. Unlike The Urbanophile, Miguel does not believe the city can buy back the meters – they’re far too valuable at this point.

He wants to make a structural change – the way governing should be but hasn’t been during the Daley administration. I support him in this effort.

*I would prefer that our TIF dollars be used for what they were designed for: improving the economic conditions in blighted areas. TIF money is supposed to be used to pay for capital projects that would not occur in that area if not for the TIF funding. Maybe Pete’s Fresh Market or Roundy’s needs a bit more incentive. The Walmart contribution to the tax rolls is not all it’s cracked up to be! Also consider how big companies like Walmart, and now Costco in the Illinois Medical District, consistently receive tax brakes. These are the very companies that can most afford paying taxes.

Environment and community – the latest Chicago mayoral forum

Guess what. Rahm Emanuel didn’t show up. We all predicted that. He’s got his own style of campaigning and corporate Los Angeles fundraising – we’ll see where that gets him when no one knows why they should vote for him. Andy Shaw, an excellent moderator, explained how he called Rahm’s campaign office and basically was brushed off: “Thanks for telling us how to run our campaign” they said.

I brought my friend’s Apple iPad to the Marriott ballroom for the Community and Environment Mayoral Forum last night so I could “liveblog” the messages from the three candidates, Carol Mosely-Braun, Miguel Del Valle, and Gery Chico. But that didn’t happen because Marriott Magnificent didn’t provide “complimentary wifi” (as the staff member called it) to the attendees. I could have brought my laptop, but then you would have delayed updates and we couldn’t have that!

So instead I sent tweets to my 500+ followers on my dumb phone with 9 keys on its keyboard. Here are the 35 short messages about the forum, mostly unedited [edits/additions in brackets], in reverse order (last to first):

  • This was the best mayoral forum [I’ve been to] so far. (final tweet)
  • Braun: this election is about the future direction of the city and we need a city Council that is a real legislative body. [I think she was alluding how the city council has been a group of pushovers under the M. Daley administration]
  • Del Valle says we can’t achieve perfection but we have to continue reaching for it [that seems realistic]. Make neighborhood schools the anchor of the community. [He explains that he doesn’t want parents to have to struggle to decide if they should send their children to the school down the block, or the school across town. All schools should be good.]
  • Chico says running for mayor is the highlight of his life. “I want my grandson to be proud of Chicago.”
  • Chico wants to make a city where families want to stay.
  • Del Valle thinks the next mayor will be a one term mayor. It will be painful as the next mayor makes a lot of tough decisions. [I think he was really serious about this. If he believes it, then I think this says something about his rationale for becoming the next mayor.]
  • Braun: someone on Wall Street decided to make $10 billion the failure of Chicago city Council approving parking meter deal [this one was really hard to put into 140 characters – the way she spoke this message was much better than how I summarized it]
  • Chico looks better [in my eyes] with every new word he utters.
  • I like what Del Valle says but the way he talks needs to be refined.
  • Too many people are leaving the community and environmental forum and We’re talking about green jobs.
  • We need to educate the public on role and function of Metropolitan Water Reclamation District. Make water meters mandatory. [Del Valle]
  • Chico wants audit on water supply to ensure we have the cleanest. Water meters should be installed at every home and business to conserve.
  • Del Valle says he will liberate the 50 aldermen and demand open deliberation [open meaning that he would invite and encourage the public to come].
  • Del Valle says fast track park development to take the place of vacant lots and abandoned homes.
  • Chico agrees with Del Valle. Must talk to Springfield and Washington (filled with Chicagoans) more often.
  • Del Valle: Mayors need to go to Springfield more often. Gun control. Pensions. Transportation formula.
  • Braun says more bike lanes and pedestrian zones so people don’t have to compete with dangerous traffic.
  • What 3 priorities do you take to Springfield? Braun: address school & transit funding formulas. income tax. state not paying for teacher pensions.
  • Del Valle says if the candidates’ proposals are so good, why didn’t we do it before?
  • Chico says get rid of Ward based recycling and switch to grid. [Note: Recycling is based on which Ward you live in, but pickup within the connected Wards is based on a grid.]
  • Chico on downtown: In the summer you run into the flip flop crowd. 20 years ago you’d have seen tumbleweeds.
  • Andy Shaw is a good moderator. Environmental forum.
  • Braun says shut down the plants. Del Valle says City Council needs to vote on Clean Power Ordinance [which includes cleaning up or shutting down]. Chico says clean up or close down. [My favorite part of the forum. I’ve lived in their polluting domain for four years, in Pilsen and Bridgeport.]
  • Fisk and Crawford plants: What steps would you take to clean them up? This is my question of the year as I’ve lived near there for 4 years.
  • Chico talking about his rep as school board president. Oversaw building new schools and rising test scores.
  • Chico also telling us how much of a Chicagoan he is. Talking about Neighborhoods Alive, living on South Michigan Avenue.
  • To be a world class city, we need world class neighborhoods. Can’t happen until we do away with food deserts. -Del Valle
  • Del Valle says all candidates tonight will have same answers. But Del Valle talking about how true a Chicagoan he is.
  • Del Valle ribs Rahm for not showing up at forums. Forums are a very good way to meet Chicagoans.
  • Braun says the earth is “all of our mother”
  • Braun talking about her environmental chops as state legislator and senator.
  • Andy Shaw warns of tough, green questions ahead. At the environmental forum.
  • Tomorrow will be 4th forum of Andy Shaw that Rahm Emanuel will miss.
  • Brendan Reilly gives “a big downtown” welcome to Braun, Del Valle, Chico. (first tweet)

I tried to give equal attention to all candidates, but there’s obvious bias in all of the tweets because of my limited space to write and also because I only tweeted what I thought would be interesting to readers (“sound bytes,” I guess).

Lastly: Both Mosely-Braun and Del Valle want to build more bike lanes and “pedestrian zones” (not sure what they meant by this) to ensure these users’ safety. Awesome! Del Valle even went so far as to say that he would like to see bike lanes on Grand Avenue at Milwaukee Avenue (an intersection he sees often and alluded to wanting to improve it). This is in addition to him bringing up how the parking meter deal sucks for Chicago because it removes the City’s ability to control its own streets.

Mayoral candidate Miguel del Valle’s view on sustainable transportation

Active Transportation Alliance executive director Ron Burke wrote a blog on Friday (January 14, 2011) about his meeting with mayoral candidate Miguel del Valle (the current Chicago City Clerk).

Despite those caveats, he talked about his fondness for bicycling, its importance to the city and how his son is an avid cyclist. He also talked about one of the reasons he opposes the city’s parking meter contract, and has joined a lawsuit to overturn it: It’s because it limits the city’s ability to take away parking spaces for building bike lanes and sidewalks, and slowing traffic. We [Active Trans] share these concerns! [emphasis mine]

This meshes with a report Active Transportation Alliance released in June 2009 but recalled parts of the report five months later. But the message that report gave us remains true today and Miguel del Valle is repeating it. Margo O’Hare wrote announcing the report:

This limits any potential projects that use streets with metered spaces: bus rapid transit, bicycle lanes, street festivals, sidewalk expansion, streetscaping, pedestrian bulb-outs, loading zones, rush hour parking control, mid-block crossing, and temporary open spaces. The City’s ability to use streets in fresh, people-centric ways is now dictated, controlled and limited by the arrangements and penalties within the parking meters lease.

In November 2009, the Chicago Reader reported how the Active Transportation Alliance was going to release a new version of the report. Mick Dumke wrote:

Yet Monday night the Active Transportation Alliance inducted Mayor Daley into its “hall of fame,” and the group will soon release a new version of the report—screened beforehand by city officials—that will recant many of the criticisms it made in June.

Said Rob Sadowsky, “On behalf of the Active Transportation Alliance, I would like to simply state that we should not have published this report. I am embarrassed that it not only contains factual errors, but that it also paints an incorrect interpretation of the lease’s overall goals.” Regardless of any errors or misinterpretations, the original report’s essence will prove to be correct and foretelling: The City lost control over its own streets, the most basic and widely used element of neighborhoods and our  transportation system.

I look forward to voting for a mayoral candidate who opposes Mayor Richard M. Daley’s parking meter “lockout” with Morgan Stanley and other investors.

Along with the parking meter lease came the removal of approximately 30,000 high-quality bike parking spaces.

I’ve written a few times about the mayoral election, including the two forums I’ve been to (one at UIC about the economy and higher education, and the second about public school systems at the Chicago Teachers Union).

Chicago Flame reports on the recent UIC mayoral candidate forum

Alyssa Cherwak writes in the Chicago Flame, the University of Illinois at Chicago’s student newspaper. Obviously, someone took better notes than I did. She’s got the real dirt for us, quoting the candidates for mayor throughout the article :

“What are the qualifications to be mayor of the city of Chicago?” asked Ryan Graves. “Be eighteen years old, a registered voter, a city resident, in no debt to the city, and no felony convictions. I meet all of these qualifications.”

After the forum, Danny Davis and Miguel del Valle started talking to reporters.

Don’t vote for this guy

Will the next Chicago mayor be the same kind of urban planner like Richard M. Daley was? Will they build new parks and libraries at the same time they sell off infrastructure at a fraction of its value or abuse Tax Increment Financing funds?

I attended the UIC mayoral candidate forum on Wednesday to find this out. There was some talk about creating an open and transparent government (Patricia Watkins), with budgets that a 5th grader could read and spending denoted for each Ward or Community Area (I really like these ideas).

One candidate, Fredrick White, wants to support the building of a water bottling plant that would bottle water with “CHICAGO” on the label and have it sold in local stores and restaurants in order to create jobs (I don’t like this idea at all).

Fredrick K. White is probably telling the audience to visit his website.

I liked Miguel del Valle’s responses to the question about paying for higher education and ensuring the University of Illinois is funded. He recommended better integrating the community colleges and supporting the 3+1 program, where the final year of a bachelor’s program is completed at a university.

At least two candidates want to create technology parks, one even saying he wants Chicago to become the Silicon Valley of the Midwest. Another said Chicago can become the hotbed for nanotechnology development (William Walls).

Whatever was said, it wasn’t said by Fenton Patterson. I can’t recall anything he said. When responding to questions, he swaggered to the front of the stage, pulled his jacket back, stooped his head down, mumbled something that didn’t answer any question that was asked. His demeanor looked like that of a detective on [insert name of cop TV show here] ready to grill a perpetrator.

This forum was the first step in weeding out bad candidates like Fenton Patterson.

More of my work on the Chicago elections:

UIC hosts Chicago election season’s first forum

I’m following the race for 11th ward alderman as well as for mayor of Chicago – the election is going to get wild. It’s mild right now, though.

On Wednesday, the University of Illinois at Chicago hosted a forum in Student Center East (750 S Halsted) featuring 10 candidates for mayor. Out of the 20 candidates registered with the Board of Elections, 10 didn’t come. Noticeably absent were Rahm Emanuel, Carol Mosely-Braun, and Gerry Chico.

We’ve got some weirdos running for mayor of Chicago.

I’ll be uploading some video footage I recorded but I also tweeted a few times during the forum. Here they are in reverse chronological order:

  1. Ryan Graves says Rahm Emanuel gets corporate donations for favors, “not because they like the guy.”
  2. Some attendees upset at Ryan Graves use of word illegal aliens. They muttered they prefer undocumented. Same thing or not?
  3. Ryan Graves needs a better answer on higher education. Hu gave an excellent response.
  4. Ryan Graves actually knows what TIFs are for. #UIC mayoral candidate forum.
  5. Chicago’s 77 community areas from the 1950s still going strong today at #UIC mayoral candidate forum.
  6. Frederick K White wants to make a Chicago water bottling plant. #UIC mayoral
  7. #UIC mayoral candidate forum going well. Too many single issue platforms though.

I wrote so many times about Ryan Graves because I’m excited that he’s running. He’s 27 years old and I admire his efforts so far. I think that as long as he remains sane during the campaigning, he will be a good person to consider for mayor in the coming decades.

I wish that was me with the Apple iPad, live-tweeting the event.

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