Wednesday, June 23, 2010

In Rogers Park, They're Putting Lipstick on Pigs

49th Ward Alderman Joe Moore wants to paint over the crumbling infrastructure of CTA and Metra underpasses in Rogers Park. It's like putting lipstick on pigs. Moore is good at coverups. We are all still wondering what happened to that box of ballots in the April 2007 aldermanic run-off election, for example, and we'd love to know what kind of paper Moore and convicted check kiter Robert Creamer used to exchange in a back office. Another kind of coverup that the Rogers Park alderman is good at: Putting lipstick on a pig. While CTA and Metra underpasses are crumbling throughout the city, including his own 49th Ward, Moore wants murals on the rusting steel and crumbling concrete. It won't improve the underpasses one bit structurally, of course, and undoubtedly some folks will not be pleased with the artwork that will finally be applied. In the photos here, we see crumbling CTA infrastructure. Is Moore trying to get this fixed? Nope, but he's elated that pretty paint will soon be applied to underpasses such as these. (Above: CTA underpass at N. Glenwood and W. Pratt. Left: Crumbling underpass at Jarvis CTA station, one block from Moore's 49th Ward Service Office.) Moore and his leftist pals seem to have a phobia about blank spaces. If a wall is simply white or gray, it reminds them of how empty their own lives are and so they try to fill it with something, anything, just to fill it. They did this a few years ago by hiring an artist to apply a dreadful mural on the Morse Avenue CTA underpass (photo below). After the garish thing was completed, the Morse underpass was still crumbling. The only difference the mural made: Instead of a white, crumbling structure, the Morse underpass became a crumbling structure painted in a garish, day-glo psychedlic acid trip vomit motiff. The mural has not reduced the level of crime near the station and it has not motivated businesses to move onto Morse Avenue. The mural was nothing more than a public relations stunt by Moore. Today, the mural is peeling, cracking, and stained by water that leeches through the crumbling cement (see two photos below). While the Morse Avenue Mural project was underway in 2008, Moore and others spoke dreamily of a "Mile of Murals" project along the CTA elevated tracks in Rogers Park, already well past the promised date of August, 2007. That didn't happen, in part because CTA backed out of the deal. Now, Moore has come up with an alternate plan, which he outlined in an email blast on Wednesday, June 23, 2010. "Calling All Artists!" screamed the headline of Moore's June 23 email, "Applications to Design an Underpass Mural Now Being Accepted." "Dear Neighbor," wrote Moore, "All Chicago-based artists are invited to submit a design for one of twelve murals that will grace the CTA and Metra underpasses in the 49th Ward. The 'Mass Underpass Murals Project' was one of the funding proposals that received voter approval in the Participatory Budgeting Election last April in which I gave the 49th Ward residents the power to determine how I would spend the 49th Ward's capital budget allocation." The "Participatory Budgeting Election" that Moore refers to was a publicity stunt back in April. Moore "asked the residents of the 49th Ward to decide directly how to spend his $1.3 million capital budget for 2010. Over the past six months, 49th Ward residents identifiedneeds, researched projects, and prepared full spending proposals. Beginning April 5, 2010, with early voting, and culminating in an election held on April 10th,2010, all 49th Ward residents age 16 and over, regardless of citizenship or voter registrationstatus, were invited to vote for their favorite ward improvement projects. Each voter was entitled to vote for up to eight (8) projects. Ballots were cast by 1,652 ward residents." (Source: 49th Ward Participatory Budgeting Initiative April 10, 2010 Election Result - PDF) The population of the 49th Ward is just over 60,000. There are approximately 20,000 registered voters, but Moore is very proud that 1,652 "ward residents" - including a few illegal aliens, no doubt - decided how to spend the $1.3 million capital budget. The items chosen are mostly laughable in these times of city budgetary crunches. The underpass murals will cost $84,000 ("estimated") and received an unimpressive 740 votes. Compare that to these more practical items: "Additional Benches and Shelters on CTA 'El' Platforms" would also cost an "estimated" $84,000 but received only 487 votes. A "Traffic/Pedestrian Signal on Clark at Chase," estimated at $230,000, received only 494 votes. Another item, "Street Resurfacing: 1200-1500 W. Lunt," will cost an "estimated" $93,500 but received only 210 votes. In fact, it was a "runner up" project and received less votes than any other item. Another runner-up was "Intersection safety improvements at Clark and Farwell," estimated to cost a mere $2,600. That received 334 votes. So, painting over crumbling infrastructure is a higher priority in Rogers Park than is street resurfacing, benches and shelters on CTA platforms, and intersection safety. And Joe Moore is pleased as punch about that. One wonders what kind of idiots voted in Moore's "Participatory Budgeting Election" and why their priorities are so screwy. If you're an artist who is eager to rip off the taxpayers, you can apply to paint one of the murals here or pick up an application during regular business hours at Moore's 49th Ward Service Office, 7356 N. Greenview (at Jarvis). The following CTA underpasses are designated to receive a mural: Columbia, Estes, Farwell, Greenleaf, Pratt. The following Union Pacific (Metra) underpasses are designated to receive a mural: Estes, Farwell, Greenleaf, Morse, Pratt, Rogers, Touhy.