Letters to the Editor

Urge inspection of potential safety hazards at Metra in Hyde Park

To the Editor:

Urge inspection of potential health and safety hazards in Metra properties in Hyde Park.

The Metra retail properties under the tracks are using unsafe and illegal methods to address water damage in ceiling supports. Gutters are not legal to be installed inside, yet Metra has installed gutters in their retail stores. This is potentially dangerous to health and safety. The gutters invite mold and weaken the wooden beams that date back to the 19th century. Metra wanted me to put gutters in my store, but I refused.

Past incidents have occurred…in the property that was the florist shop, 1551 E. Hyde Park, where the ceiling collapsed (property was quickly boarded and bricked over and concealed following that incident); The Popcorn Lady, also sharing the same address, 1551 E. Hyde Park, where mold damage and improper installation of gutters was uncovered by an independent inspector (Raths, Raths, and Johnson, Inc. as seen on part 1 of the YouTube video); and the bike shop on 53rd was forced to close its door in the spring of 2015.

I am told that city inspectors will only investigate upon specific complaints about gutters or if the ceiling collapses. I want to prevent any further incidents by having the city inspectors investigate these potentially hazardous situations before “the ceiling caves in”.

Check out more of my story on YouTube. Go to “The Popcorn Lady”, Part 2.

Next call City Hall at 312-744-5000 or 311 and report this to the building inspectors and the Health Department.

It is suggested that you call later in the day to avoid frustration of calling during their “peak hours”.

Thank you for your assistance. You CAN make a difference.

The Popcorn Lady
Glorious Confectionery Lenoir, Inc.

Supreme Court denies citizens a chance to vote for non-partisan redistricting

To the Editor:

“You have sat here too long for any good you are doing. Depart, I say, and let us be done with you.”

Oliver Cromwell speaking to the Rump Parliament May 14, 1653.

For the second time in a strictly partisan vote the state Supreme Court has denied the citizens a chance to vote for non-partisan redistricting. As before, Speaker Michael Madigan’s lawyer led opposition to this initiative. Over a number of years, the legislature has passed supposedly balanced budgets, but only with accounting gimmicks to cover deficits. We all remember the state income tax increase, with the promise from state leaders, including Rep. Currie, to pay down the backlog of bills and pension obligations. Growing budget shortfalls have now even depleted the state’s ‘rainy day’ fund. The legislature and the governor seem incapable of finding an approach to solve the state’s growing fiscal problems.

Public officials readily turn to ‘revenue enhancements’, by which they mean taxes as a solution. There are few attempts to decrease the cost of government, say by decreasing the excessive number of governmental units in Illinois. Could legislators cut back on expenses in Springfield and in District Offices? Will unions contribute to deficit reduction?

To be fair, the present budget mess in the state is not solely the fault of the legislature. Governors, both Democratic and Republican, have signed the legislature’s proposals without much pushback. I have always thought that a professional political class is essential with the complexities of modern society. However, if our current political leaders do not begin to bring the state out of the present fiscal morass, maybe Oliver Cromwell’s remonstrance with the Rump Parliament will prove that history does not repeat itself but often rhymes.

Alfred L. Baker

Thank you for your concern for our kids

To the Editor:

A warm thank you to members of the Hyde Park/Kenwood/Bronzeville community from Mothers and Men Against Senseless Killings (MASK) for your generous donations to our school supply drive for children in Englewood. We were out collecting four times in the neighborhood, and were overwhelmed by how many of you, from all walks of life, gave so much.

We distributed those supplies on Sunday, September 4, at our block party at 75th and Stewart – a fun-filled event with more than 300 people, basketball and a bouncy house, face-painting, a DJ, and lots of good food (all donated). We gave out 100 backpacks and 30 uniforms to kids from kindergarten to high school, and had school supplies left over to give to area schools.

The moms and men of MASK have sat outside every day for two summers on one of the most crime-targeted blocks in Englewood. Our model is simple: we provide a safe place to be, some good food, conversation and games, and consistency and love. Every week, more and more people come out to the block and help each other, and get to know each other as a community. Our founder, Tamar Manasseh, who grew up in Englewood, went to school in Hyde Park, and now lives in Bronzeville- started this movement in response to what we all feel: “How can we help stop the violence that is taking so many of our children?” She has pulled together many of us (come join!) who have wanted to do something. We are now a 501(c)3 organization with members from Hyde Park, Kenwood, Englewood, Bronzeville, Woodlawn, and even Logan Square. Most important, there hasn’t been a single murder on the block or nearby since June 2015 when we started.

What can helping to stabilize one area of a community do? It’s a good start. It’s doing something, not just talking about it. We are growing groups (even on Staten Island and in Evansville, Ind.) and we aren’t stopping! So…thank you for knowing that all children are OUR children, and that all communities are interwoven. If you want to know more about MASK, please go to our website at www.getbehindthemask.org and “like” us on Facebook.

Tamar Manasseh
Michelle Burbea
Hoffman
Colleen O’Leary and
the moms and men of MASK

Wooded Island news: good and not-so-good

To the Editor:

There is good news and not-such-good news about the Osaka Japanese Garden and the Wooded Island.  The good news is that it is very likely that the fence surrounding the Island and lagoon will come down sometime next month.  The not-such-good-news, depending on one’s perspective, is that the occasion for this will be the undoubtedly media-heavy event surrounding the “unveiling” of the Yoko Ono Sky Landing sculpture on the Island.

The work of creating the concrete foundation for the Yoko Ono piece is now underway.  The base will be clad in marble.  Eventually, if not in time for the “unveiling,” the fence and walkway now on the west side of the Japanese Garden will be removed, and a new fence enclosing the Garden and the sculpture will be erected, dramatically changing the experience of being in the Garden.  Lovers of the traditional Osaka Garden may be unhappy; those who fancy the new may be pleased.  In any event, the north end of the Wooded Island will have been permanently changed.

Policy questions remain: Who is paying for the major infrastructure work that the installation requires?  Who is paying for the sculpture?  Who will own it and maintain it?  What about security? With the Darrow Bridge closed, where will visitors park?  What about public restrooms?  Jackson Park Watch has asked these questions of the Park District Board of Commissioners numerous times, with no response.

Other questions concern the consequences, not only for the Garden, which may well become not only a tourist attraction but a revenue-generating event location, but also importantly for the tranquility of the Wooded Island and for the birds and other wildlife that find shelter in the nature sanctuary it hosts .

And finally, all of this has occurred with no community input, but instead, apparently under the sweeping authority granted Project 120 by the secretive MOU executed between the Park District and Project 120 in 2014.

We already have commitments concerning community input on Project 120’s proposed pavilion/music venue, and we need to make those stick.  Now we need to ensure that the top-down process used to bring Yoko Ono’s sculpture to the Wooded Island does not set the model for decision-making concerning the Obama Library and its impact on the Park.  Please join us to that end.

Brenda Nelms and Margaret Schmid
coordinators, Jackson Park Watch
http://jacksonparkwatch.org

jacksonparkwatch@gmail.com

Celebrating the return of the nurse midwife unit at U. of C.

To the Editor:

I celebrate The University of Chicago Hospitals for re-opening its nurse midwife unit this month. I was one of the pregnant and new mothers who led the protest to stop the closure of the practice 13 years ago.  I feel vindicated and elated that the University of Chicago (U. of C.) now sees nurse midwifery as essential in obstetric care and childbirth. Nurse midwifery is seen as a less medically interventionist approach. Closing that practice caused many in the neighborhood to seek that kind of care elsewhere.

In 2003 when the new head of obstetrics at the University of Chicago Hospitals decided to close their nurse midwife practice they said it was because of the costs.  It angered past and present patients because we valued their down-to-earth and accessible approach. We were mostly low risk women who held in high regard their personal services in a high tech hospital setting in our neighborhood.

Recently when I spoke with Erin Irwin MSN, CNM, Director, Midwifery Services at University of Chicago Medical Center, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology she told me our protests made a difference to her personally.

She watched the Hyde Park pro-midwife activism with envy as a clinic in a low-income neighborhood of Chicago where she worked at the same time was closing and no one made a peep. She also said the U. of C. Midwife practice has its work cut out for them in terms of gaining the trust and business from the neighborhood.

After having spoken to Irwin I feel bolstered by her motivation as a caregiver. She recalled a pivitol experience at the start of her career, being touched by a low-income mother whose baby Irwin helped deliver.

“Thank you for taking such good care of me even though I have a public aid card,” the woman told Irwin who was stunned by the woman’s expectation of lesser care.

Thirteen years ago, the closing felt demoralizing. But now as the practice reopens, hearing the administration’s support and Irwin belief that a nurse midwife’s care during childbirth is a human right, I feel more correct than ever that I was a part of a righteous battle.  Now I know that our efforts paid off.

Dina Weinstein

Thank you Hyde Park for supporting Woodlawn Voices and Visions

To the Editor:

Thank you for the coverage last week of our program and our Aug. 20th showcase. We filled the 130-seat screening room of the Logan Center, and our diverse audience engaged in robust debate regarding the subject matter of the documentary shorts produced by our students and debuted that day.

Hyde Park has been and continues to be a great friend to our program, Woodlawn Voices and Visions. While our mission focuses on young people in Woodlawn, we have relied heavily on Hyde Park to realize our vision. The Logan Center has been an invaluable partner, as has been the Quaker House. Our individual supporters, who are critical to our success, include many Hyde Parkers. After School Matters and CAN TV round out the list of essential partners.

Our original mission was based on a vision to develop a community center in Woodlawn anchored in nonviolent social change programming. We continue to search for a viable space to fulfill that vision and see Voices and Visions as a demonstration of what’s possible with such a resource in our community. Our city, constantly in flux and especially hard for the young, the elderly, and the poor to navigate, requires of our communities special support for our most vulnerable neighbors, such as a community center would provide Woodlawn.

Thank you to all who attended. Our videos will be posted online at voicesandvisions.org. If you sign up there, we can also let you know about future screenings and conversations.

Gabriel Piemonte
Co-founder
Woodlawn Voices and
Visions

Less is more for Jackson Park

To the Editor:

With the siting of the Obama Library in Jackson Park, and expansive talk of a “Museum Campus South”, it is even more important that plans for the rest of Jackson Park get more scrutiny.  As the surrounding neighborhood develops and land is sought to relocate the displaced track and athletic fields, there will be increasing pressure to build inside the rest of the park.  Some may see the music pavilion on Northerly Island as a model for the development of other parts of Jackson Park.

But the use of one corner of the park for an important new library and museum does not justify sacrificing the remainder of the park. Any additional development in Jackson Park should not be judged simply by how many tourists can be drawn to the South Side. If that were the measure of success, why not also build a casino and a roller coaster?

In addition to the upcoming Obama Library construction, Jackson Park has recently had the Army spend millions to restore its fish and wildlife habitat, Yoko Ono is supposed to install a sculpture next to the Japanese Garden, the Darrow Bridge will remain closed for several years, and Project 120 is proposing a music pavilion to the east of the bridge that would require removing at least a football field’s worth of trees.

Wooded Island and its surroundings are a rare piece of urban wilderness. The Army’s project was undertaken recognizing the “important migratory bird, fish and wildlife habitat within the natural portions of Jackson Park” with “the potential to provide pond, fringe marsh, sedge meadow, savanna and woodland habitat.” Residents from the surrounding neighborhoods treasure the park as a nearby, quiet place to walk, fish, bird watch and picnic.  Plans for any additional structures in the park should be vetted through extensive community engagement. Common sense would suggest that such plans take into account the Obama Library design, and that reopening the Darrow Bridge should be a high priority.

Jackson Park is not a blank slate in need of new development. It is hard to imagine there is another natural area in Chicago facing so much change in such a short amount of time. In this case, less is more.

Eric Ginsburg

Illinois legislature needs new ideas to temper the state’s political turmoil

To the Editor: 

The Illinois state legislature desperately needs new ideas to temper the state’s political turmoil, but the way we elect representatives prevents many groups with novel ideas from being represented in Springfield. While the Independent Map Amendment takes a much needed first step to reduce gerrymandering, single winner districts – where voters in each district elect only one representative – and the plurality election method – where candidates can win without a majority of votes – will continue to stifle competition. This method gives a plurality of the voters all of the representation in each legislative district and leaves voters outside that plurality without a voice in government.

Fixing this issue requires Illinois to look both to its past and to the future. Bringing back multi-winner districts – where voters in each district elect more than one representative – would return political power to the groups in each district that currently go without representation. Having more that one representative from each district enables each group in a given district to elect representatives in proportion to their strength in the electorate. Receiving a plurality of votes in a district would no longer translate into receiving all of that district’s representation.

Along with multi-winner districts, Illinois should also replace plurality voting with ranked choice voting, as suggested by the national electoral reform group FairVote. Ranked choice voting is simple. Voters rank the candidates in an election in order of preference: first, second, third, and so on. Then, the way votes are tallied prevents them from being wasted on candidates that cannot win or on candidates that will win with big margins. Ranked choice rewards voters for expressing their true preferences at the ballot box and takes away the need for them to vote strategically. As a result, the winners of elections mirror voters’ true preferences, creating a legislature as ideologically diverse as its constituents and opening up the legislature to more independents and third parties.

To improve Illinois, we need an inclusive political system that more accurately reflects Illinoisans’ voices. Illinois has a history of using innovative voting systems, and it is time to restore this legacy for the betterment of our state. Changing the way we elect representatives by returning to multi-winner districts and implementing ranked choice voting would make sure every voice has a seat at the table in Springfield.

Ben Fogarty

Certain ads at old Istria Cafe site are dangerous for kids

To the Editor:

I am writing this letter regarding the former location of Istria cafe near the 55th/ 56th/ 57th Metra Train Station in Hyde Park. This cafe had a delicious gelato shop. It was then transformed into another shop, which closed down quickly.

Now, the shop window has become an advertising point for many goods. While some goods advertised may be benign, such as takeout menus, there are also excessive advertisements for cigarettes; one of the cigarette ads has a number where people can call to order cigarettes. Given the amount of teens that use the station, advertising for illicit dealing of cigarettes, which could very well be targeted at minors who could not buy them normally, could be harmful to Chicago teens. As a 14 year old, I know that teenagers may not always make good decisions.

The vacant space should either be transformed into a train waiting area, cafe or shop, or it should remain vacant but with the windows being regularly cleaned of advertisements that advertise goods that may be harmful to some.

Best,

Aviva Corre
Hyde Parker since birth

Letter to the Editor response: Campoli’s “Egg” sculpture in Nichols Park should have a plaque

To the Editor:

Recently I made a close-up inspection of Cosmo Campoli’s “Egg” sculpture, now situated next to and on the north side of the Murray Language Academyon 53d Street in Hyde Park.

To my dismay, I could not find a plaque or any other kind of identification in the vicinity of the piece, stating either its title or the artist’s name. This is a shame. Campoli was a famous Chicago artist in the ‘50s. He was one of only three Chicago artists who were included in the Museum of Modern Art’s exhibition titled New Images of Man. For many years he was also an important and much-loved instructor at IIT’s Institute of Design.

ADVICE PLEASE: Who, or what agency, institution, etc., should be informed of, or appealed to, to rectify this unfortunate situation?

Thank you for your consideration.
Richard G. Sessions

*****

Mr. Sessions:

The sculpture that Mr. Sessions refers to in the letter, Bird of Peace, is a bronze statue whose body is shaped like an egg, and whose claws stand atop two more eggs. Its artist, Cosmo Campoli, created it in 1970 and it was dedicated to Nichols Park on June 3 of that year. It is affectionately known as the Nichols Park mascot and underwent a $10,000 restoration in 2004.

Cosmo Campoli’s Bird of Peace sculpture in Nichols Park, 1355 E. 53rd St. - Spencer Bibbs

Cosmo Campoli’s Bird of Peace sculpture in Nichols Park, 1355 E. 53rd St.

-Spencer Bibbs

 

Campoli, who specialized in egg-related art, built the sculpture that stands at the 53rd Street entrance to Nichols Park near Murray Elementary School. The Nichols Park egg sculpture is one of many around the country. The most famous is “The Bird of Death” from the New York Museum of Modern Art’s 1959 exhibit, the “Images of Man.”

A Hyde Park native, Campoli taught at the Institute of Design at the Illinois Institute of Technology. His work was exhibited at the Hyde Park art center. He was particularly interested in conveying bird’s spirits in his works, most of which now belong to private collections.

Campoli is beloved in Hyde Park. A local Thai restaurant once named one of their dishes “Pasta Campoli” in his honor. In 2005, a group of Hyde Parkers assembled outside the sculpture to sing happy birthday to him.

While the sculpture does not have a plaque, it does have a nameplate that lies directly in front of the base of the sculpture and reads Bird of Peace, Cosmo Campoli, 1922-1997. Because the sculpture is located in the park, the Chicago Park District would be the city department to contact to request a plaque. The Chicago Park District’s Park Enhancement Committee would review the proposal, primarily considering issues of funding and the historical importance of the artwork before determining whether to grant the request.

A plaque in front of the statue that reads “Bird of Peace, Cosmo Campoli, 1922 - 1996.” - Spencer Bibbs

A plaque in front of the statue that reads “Bird of Peace, Cosmo Campoli, 1922 – 1996.”

-Spencer Bibbs

 

Hyde Park Herald

Op-Ed: Mikva’s Lesson on Democracy Resonates Today

I grew up four blocks away from Abner Mikva’s house in Evanston. In the late 70’s, my contact with then Congressman Mikva was limited to trips to his house on Halloween when he or one of his family members would hand out full size Hershey bars to the neighborhood ghosts and pirates. I appreciated his largesse so much that one year I changed out of my cardboard robot costume and came back to his door as “boy in wrangler jeans with metallic silver face paint” just to get another one of those jumbo chocolate bars.

As a member of a not-very-political Evanston family, I made the understandable mistake of assuming that the exclamation mark at the end of the myriad Mikva! tee-shirts worn by every third person in Evanston was in recognition of his confectionery generosity.

As a college junior at the University of Michigan, I spent the winter of 1990 interning at the Washington DC based Rainbow Lobby, an organization dedicated to election reform — long before election reform was a mainstream topic. The Rainbow Lobby battled to level the playing field for third-party candidates and independent voters. We challenged ballot access rules for third-party candidates, the partisan construct of the Federal Election Commission and the News Election Service, and we picked a fight with the newly formed Commission on Presidential debates in a case, Fulani V. Brady, that wound up on then Judge Mikva’s desk.

The case was groundbreaking. Lenora Fulani, the first African-American and woman to appear on the presidential ballot, was arbitrarily denied a place in the Presidential debates in 1988. Fulani sued to challenge the tax exempt status of the Commission on Presidential Debates, which the DNC and RNC had only recently established to guarantee direct party control over the fall debates.

We lost the case on the grounds that Fulani lacked standing to challenge the CPD’s tax exempt status. But Judge Mikva dissented most eloquently, and his words still echo today. He wrote “whatever its proper role in correcting imbalances and imperfections in the status quo, government certainly must not abandon its posture of nonpartisanship. The government of any democracy, let alone one shaped by the values of our Constitution’s First Amendment, must avoid tilting the electoral playing field, lest the democracy itself become tarnished.”

His words inspired me and many others to devote our lives to the advancement of democracy – which 25 years later continues to require vigilance.

Today, American politics lies somewhere on the spectrum between rigged and dysfunctional. Voters are angry and distrustful of politicians and political institutions, most especially the political parties which have overstepped their bounds in many ways. 43% of Americans now identify as independents — a protest against the complete partisanization of every aspect of politics and government. Our democracy has become tarnished because lawmakers have indeed tilted the playing field in favor of party control and against new voices, new coalitions, and most especially the voters, as Judge Mikva warned 25 years ago.

And so the work continues and I hope he would be proud. As president of Open Primaries, a national political reform organization, we are working to push back against partisanship and enact public primaries so that everyone can vote for who they want, regardless of party. We’re an important voice in the growing voter empowerment movement. In September, I am coming back to Chicago to participate in a political reform summit sponsored by the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform at Columbia College. We will be discussing—among other issues like redistricting reform—“Illinois Primaries: How Open Are They?”

Abner Mikva recognized the danger of government itself becoming a platform for partisan politics many years ago. We would be wise to heed his words as we grapple with how to move our politics, and our country, forward.  I remember his words every day, just as I remember those chocolate bars.

John Opdycke
President of Open Primaries

A Wooded Island Problem?

To the Editor:

In the early 1890s, the Japanese government, striving to break free of cultural bonds that had shut it off from the western world for centuries, heard about the great World’s Columbian Exposition that was under construction in the burgeoning city of Chicago on the shores of Lake Michigan.  Eager to be welcomed by the West, the Japanese offered monetary support for the fair, now called the World’s Columbian Exposition, an amount exceeded only by that of the United States.

The Japanese made another offer as well, one that chief of construction Daniel Burnham could not resist.  The Japanese wanted to construct a special building, a “Ho-o-den,” or Phoenix Pavilion, and gift it to Chicago following the fair to celebrate the city’s rapid recovery from the Great Fire of 1871 and be a symbol of peace between the U.S. and Japan.

There was one problem.  The Japanese wanted to build the Ho-o-den on Wooded Island, the site that chief landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted had specifically designated as a place of respite and quiet reflection, far away from the noise and hubbub of the rest of the fair. Olmsted believed that such green space was necessary for urban living, and the Wooded Island served this important purpose within the fair’s well-planned city environment.

Burnham used his administrative skill to persuade Olmsted to change his mind about the Ho-o-den, which then was built by a cadre of handsomely uniformed Japanese carpenters brought to Chicago specifically for the task of building the Ho-o-den and a nearby Japanese tea house. Following Olmsted’s approval, the South Park Commissioners then agreed to accept the Ho-o-den on behalf of Chicago, and to maintain it as a permanent place to learn about Japan and experience Japanese culture.

The Ho-o-den and teahouse were instantly successful.  Both structures not only conveyed the spirits of democracy and community so important to Olmsted’s way of thinking, they left a lasting impression on visitors. Among them was young Frank Lloyd Wright, who developed a life-long fascination and relationship with Japan following his encounters at the fair, including ideas that led to his development of the Prairie style best exemplified by nearby Robie House.  Although the teahouse disintegrated shortly after the fair closed, the Ho-o-den remained an important feature of Jackson Park until destroyed by fire in 1946.

We now have the opportunity to reestablish this site, and recognize it as one of the most important sites reflecting U.S.-Japan relations for over 120 years.  Yoko Ono recognized this when she first visited the original site of the Ho-o-den in 2013. For her, this site has a unique and extraordinary past and future as symbol of peace. Not just between the U.S. and Japan, but among all people and all nations. In fact, we can all use more peace, not just internationally, but locally on our streets and in our parks. She has given us an opportunity to learn about our past and create the future together.  It is our responsibility to use it.

Frances S. Vandervoort
Jackson Park Advisory Council
Washington Park Conservancy
Robert W. Karr, President
Project 120

Stop gap measure a plus but the real work still lies ahead of us

To the Editor: 

Last week, just before the beginning of the new fiscal year, the General Assembly passed a stop-gap measure that provides much needed funding for our human service providers, our public universities and most importantly for our local schools to ensure they open on time in the fall.

The spending plan provides $1 billion in funding for higher education, including funds to resume the critical MAP grant program that so many of our students rely on to fund their college expenses.

It also provides additional dollars for CPS by putting more money through the poverty grant. These additional dollars will help us begin to deal with the district’s ballooning structural deficit that was created, in no small part, because the State of Illinois has serially underfunded CPS for decades.

It is important to understand, however, that despite these additional funds, the inequity in the funding formula itself went unchanged and therefore continues to punish poor students all across the state. This is yet another reminder that real work still lies ahead of us.

To be clear, this is an important step forward, but by no means does this constitute a cure for the devastation this governor has inflicted on the state of Illinois in his attempt to hold everyone hostage to his anti-union, anti-working family political agenda. There has been real and irreversible harm done to the entire state because of this governor’s political games that could take a very long time to fully recover from.

It is an outrage that it has taken the state this long to pass even a temporary stop-gap budget measure. I am hopeful that the progress made last week for our students, our social service providers and our most vulnerable is a sign of better days ahead.

I’m even more committed to continuing the fight for new revenue, a more equitable education funding formula and a complete budget that reflects the needs and priorities of our great state.

State Rep.
Christian Mitchell
(D-26)

Stop gap budget shows shared concerns across the aisle

To the Editor: 

Along with a bipartisan coalition of my colleagues, I proudly voted for a compromise that will allow schools to open on time, fund state government operations for the next six months, keep road and transit construction workers on the job and provide desperately needed relief to our human services providers.

This long-overdue action was a clear indication that despite our differences, many of our most central priorities are deeply shared across the aisle. When we lay aside partisan talking points and step away from lines in the sand, we can rebuild badly frayed trust and agree on the basics: education, public safety, investment in communities, health care resources and compassionate, quality services for the most vulnerable among us.

Our work isn’t done; many state functions will still only be funded through January, and passing a budget for the remainder of the fiscal year will require an even more difficult conversation about revenues. This is no time to return to the barricades. I will continue to engage in the working group process, which has made headway and possesses the potential to develop more sustainable solutions so we don’t find ourselves in the same situation this time next year.

We need to be honest with the people of Illinois about what it’s going to take to recover from the impasse and move forward toward a stronger future. I look forward to continuing this challenging but rewarding work so we can fund our shared priorities in a responsible way.

State Sen.
Kwame Raoul
(D-13)

There is no need to mar the middle of Jackson Park with another intrusive artificial object

To the Editor:

I submit that Project 120’s plan to put a music pavilion east of the Darrow Bridge in Jackson Park might not have been appreciated by the park’s designer, the landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. In 1891, he wrote a letter protesting the placement of a music hall on Wooded Island, saying that people should consider it “a place of relief from all the splendor and glory and noise and human multitudinousness of the great surrounding Babylon.”  In his public advocacy, Olmsted repeatedly showed that he understood the value in unbuilt spaces, saying for example that Presque Isle in Michigan, “should not be marred by the intrusion of artificial objects.”

Jackson Park is one of our city’s few remaining spots of urban wilderness. Birdwatchers come from far away to see the animals it draws, families come to picnic, many come to fish. As our population grows, such places become fewer and fewer, and as habitat decreases across the hemisphere, the number and variety of birds decreases as well.

The proposed pavilion will displace trees and green space, impair views, and bring extra noise, all unnecessarily. We already have many permanent music venues on the South Side of Chicago. Jackson Park itself already hosts the Chosen Few festival every year without the need for permanent structures. If the communities surrounding Jackson Park collectively decide, through a local, open process, that public land is needed for a new music venue, we can find a more appropriate location for it than in the center of a natural area.

Olmsted’s attitude was prescient. He was writing in an era before amplified music, before the Park was surrounded by road noise from traffic moving at highway speeds, before several bird species once found in Chicago went extinct.  Olmsted knew from experience what neuroscientists have since quantified, that a walk in nature has beneficial effects on the brain.  He would have understood that that there is no need to mar the middle of his park with another intrusive “artificial object.”

Eric Ginsburg