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Oct. 23 2009 — 4:30 pm | 38 views | 0 recommendations | 1 comment

Top Five Proposals To Privatize Chicago’s Snow Removal

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley’s recent 75-year deal handing the city’s parking meters to a private company for a mere $1.15 Billion suggets there is no lack of imagination at City Hall when it comes to schemes to sell out the public interest to lowball bidders.

Nonetheless, recent reports that the Mayor was, but is no longer considering privatizing Chicago’s snow removal services have inspired some brainstorming in advance of the snow storming.  Here then are five suggestions for how to package the deal:

1) A Real Taste Of Chicago: In what marketing people call a “value-add”, Chicago could turn snowdrifts into cold cash with a little creative branding.  Snow, being nothing more than lumpy water, could be sold off under an exclusive contract to an enterprising soft drink bottler.  After melting (and some filtration to remove the larger objects) the slushy scourge of winter could be on store shelves by January, marketed as a refreshing beverage.  Bonus: high levels of dissolved road salt in the product could make a unique and flavorful sports drink in the summer months.  Brand name?  Street Juice.   Oooh, that’s “edgy”.

2) Kitchen Chair Bonds: It’s a long-standing Chicago tradition during winter to “reserve” a street parking space by illegally placing home furnishings onto a freshly shoveled stretch of street.  By February, Chicago side streets look as if the city lost a war to an occupying dinette army.  Eventually, Streets and Sanitation crews collect the offending chairs by the thousands, only to send them to landfills.  But why waste these chairs?  Have we not learned from the financial news of the year that vast riches lie within items of dubious value?  What’s good for sketchy mortgages is good for these chairs: have the city raise funds for snow removal by issuing Kitchen Chair Bonds, debt backed by the value of thousands of seats collected by the city every February.  Because people gotta sit, and Wall Street will buy anything (as long as Iceland will buy it from them.)

3) Request Proposals From Mr. Plow  and Plow King: In nearby Springfield, a pair of snow removal contractors have been driving down costs by engaging in healthy free-market competition.  Chicago should entertain their proposals: because what could possibly go wrong?

4) Outsource Snow Command to Mumbai: MBAs (and the Mayor) know well the pleasures and profits of globalization.  Why endure bothersome union wages and pricey humane working conditions when the finest call centers in Mumbai, India stand ready to relieve the pressure on the bottom line?   City Of Chicago Snow Command is today staffed with dozens of full-time professionals directing snow removal efforts.  Unacceptable.  Why not pink-slip the lot of them, rewire the phones, data and video lines to the Indian subcontinent and put the task in the hands of an enterprising Mumbai service provider for pennies on the dollar?   Sure, workers would need some training – educational videos would need to be produced, including titles such as “What Is Snow?”  and “Archer, Lincoln and Clyborn Streets: The Diagonal Dilemma”, and “So Your Name Is Jugdesh: Should You Pick Jerry Or Jimmy As Your Phone Name?” but these issues haven’t gotten in the way of the banking industry, so they shouldn’t here.

5) Select A Marginally Qualified Chicago Contractor With Long-Standing Ties To The Mayor: There’s still time!.

Oct. 4 2009 — 1:06 pm | 15 views | 0 recommendations | 0 comments

Will Former CTA Boss Throw His Deputy Under The Bus?

Few public officials are as relieved by the Olympics announcement as Chicago schools head and former Mayor Daley Chief of Staff Ron Huberman.  On the day Chicago lost the games to Rio, the city Inspector General’s office released a scathing report on a “significant management failure” by Huberman in 2005 when he was head of the city’s 911 system.  According to the report, irregualrities in procuring communcations hardware from Motorola cost taxpayers $2.25 million for no equipment delivered.  As Fran Spielman at the Sun-Times reports:

In an explosive new report, the city inspector general’s office characterizes Huberman as so derelict in the oversight of a contract with Motorola while he was executive director of the Office of Emergency Management and Communications that he should be suspended if he still worked for the city.

Adrienne Hiegel, Huberman’s top deputy at OEMC in 2005, was accused of “altering documents” and failing to follow the city’s procurement procedures.

If Hiegel still worked for the city — instead of as a Huberman underling at the Board of Education — she should be fired, the 38-page report states.

At issue are the March 2005 signatures of Huberman and Hiegel on a voucher for 18,000 radio accessories supposedly delivered by Motorola. Only after they signed on the dotted line was the company paid the $2.25 million. It was the largest of 130 vouchers that Huberman signed during his 13-month stint at OEMC.

In fact, no such radio accessories were ever delivered by Motorola, nor did the city need them.

The relationship between the two public servants is persistent – Heigel has followed Huberman from office to office in the past.  Is this her stop, or did the Olympics news deluge keep her on board by bumping Huberman’s name off the front page?

via Report rips Huberman’s oversight of contracts :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: City Hall.

Oct. 2 2009 — 12:13 pm | 51 views | 1 recommendations | 4 comments

Eight Reasons Chicago Was Rejected For 2016 Olympic Games

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1) Despite city proposals, the Graft Toss, 400-Meter Cash-Stuffed Envelope Delivery and Pothole Hurdles all rejected as Olympic events.

2) IOC committee members confused and frightened by bellowing Oprah Winfrey.

3) In an oversight, Olympic torch runner routed past Mrs. O’Leary’s barn.

4) Frank Gehry design model for Olympic Stadium mistaken for nouvelle cuisine dessert, tragically eaten during presentation.

5) Rio De Janiero thong bikini slide show scheduled after Tinley Park thong bikini slideshow.

6)  Selection Committee distracted by rash of YouTube clips of wordless, giggling, hand-rubbing South Side real estate speculators.

7) Plans by Mayor Daley to privatize entire Olympics in a 75-year $1 Billion deal met with disfavor.

8 ) In retrospect, Weiner’s Circle on Clark St. identified as poor choice for exclusive concessions contract.

Sep. 30 2009 — 10:34 pm | 8 views | 0 recommendations | 0 comments

Jesse White: Allegedly The Snuggliest Man In Illinois Politics

When adjectives flow concerning Illinois pols, seldom does snuggly come to mind.  Craven, sure.  Treacherous, double-dealing, foul, base and indicted all come far more easily than snuggly.  Nonetheless,  one very impressed blogger at Gaper’s Block has chosen his words with something less than circumspection in the case of Secretary of State Jesse White, who yesterday announced his bid for re-election.

The Snuggliest Man In Illinois Politics

No big shock, Jesse White is running for reelection. Who doesn’t love this guy? He reminds me of at least five dozen relatives I have. And, yes, before everybody starts leaving comments about all the horrible people he’s raised money from or how long it takes to get your license, I get it. I’m not saying he’s the World’s Greatest Secretary of State. More like the World’s Greatest Grandpa.


White, whose office has been marked by a stretch of reasonably scandal-free governance plus improvements in wait times at DMV offices could not be reached at press time for comment on the suggestion of future plush toy likenesses of the Secretary appearing at tollway oasis gift stores.

Gapers Block : Mechanics : Chicago Politics – The Snuggliest Man In Illinois Politics.

Sep. 23 2009 — 7:56 pm | 27 views | 0 recommendations | 0 comments

Kirk Out: GOP Senate Contender Learns The Unemployed Vote, Too

When called upon to vote on extending unemployment benefits, US Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Illinois), the leading contender for the GOP US Senate nomination somehow failed to oppose the “moral hazard” of state “handouts”.  Rather than play ideologue to the Illinois Rush Limbaugh audience  and vote against the benfits extension, Kirk ducked out of the vote altogether.

The decidedly un-Republican move comes during a run of double-digit unemployment in Illinois that undoubtedly has Kirk thinking twice about backing the free-market fundamentalism that proves so popular on AM radio, yet so wanting in the real world.

Kirk spokesman Eric Elk said the congressman issued a statement into the record that he  was “unavoidably detained” but would have voted for the jobless-benefit extension as he had in previous roll calls last year.

Regardless of the back-and-forth, the shots are a reminder of how important Kirk’s voting record and attendance is being tracked and will be put in play by Democrats—even well before the primary election. It’s also an indication that despite some unrest over Kirk among conservative Republicans, Democrats believe he will be the primary winner against at least a half-dozen GOP primary challengers trying to appeal to the party’s base.

One GOP Senate primary contender, Patrick Hughes, a Hinsdale developer, is holding a rally in downtown Hinsdale this evening. Hughes, a political newcomer, has been courting conservative voters as he tries to gain name recognition across Illinois.

Clout St: Kirk’s non-vote on jobless benefits extension leads to partisan political sniping.

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    Rob Warmowski is a lifelong Chicagoan with the scars to prove it. He is a freelance writer, educator, comedic screenwriter and animation producer. He contributes to the Huffington Post, covers the White Sox for Can't Stop The Bleeding, and created the web animated satirical series Officer Bob. Rob is underway on his first book, a nonfiction work entitled "English For Robots" and prefers to write about himself in the third person.

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