Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Can someone loan Chicago a city planner? How about you, Kansas City?

Memo to city mayors from Barbara Byrd-Bennett
Someone, please help me. I need to borrow a city planner ASAP. 
Our guy, Babbit or Babbitz, whatever his name is useless. We have no plan. Rahm is making me close 54 schools in the next few months and I don't have the slightest idea what do do with all those boarded-up buildings. Until we can sell them, we will have to spend $1 million a year just to heat and maintain them.
I've been telling angry community folks that this is a cost-saving operation and promised them that the vacant buildings wouldn't be turned over to charter schools. No believes me of course and my credibility rating has sunk lower than Rahm's -- if that's possible. 
We've already sunk the city deeper in debt over the next 20 years by borrowing $360 million from Rahm's banker friends at high interest rates, to make the receiving schools look more attractive. 
Plus, I already have 24 school buildings sitting empty which I've been trying to sell since last summer. So far, no one seems interested. Duh! The longer they sit empty, the harder it is to sell them. Now all I need is dozens more boarded-up buildings blighting the south and west sides and I will have a full-scale rebellion on my hands led by that big fellow over at KOCO. Rahm will blame me for his political woes and send me packing, like he did J.C. 
So please, send someone, quick. How about you, Kansas City? You loaned your own school district a city planner. How about loaning one to me? I hate to think we're modeling ourselves on K.C., but any port in a storm, as they say.


  1. You act like blighted buildings and deeper debt with high interest to Rahm's banker buddies wasn't part of the plan all along.

  2. No acting here at SmallTalk, Anon. I come out and say what I think, using my real name. We're just trying to seek truth from facts. Do you have any? You may have your theories, as many of us do. But if you have evidence of a plot, please share with the rest of us.

    1. Sorry, I don't mean to be Anonymous, but I don't have any of the available profiles supported by your blog. Name's Dienne, and I'm rather vocal around the educational blogosphere. Sorry, should have signed myself last post.

      As far as facts, not really, but when enough events pile on each other to make a trend, I think it's rather dangerous not to look it square in the eye. Your brother has had this post linked for a while: and I think it's on target. Based on my previous prediction successes, I'd make a lousy fortune teller (I never thought cell phones would catch on for one thing), but I see strong signs that many currently depressed areas will become (intentionally) more blighted to the point that Rahm will be "forced" to come in a sweep away the "debris". Then I think we'll see any number of questionable real estate deals with large tracts of land trading hands for pennies to Rahm's developer friends (financed by his banker friends). Within a decade or two many, perhaps most of the current poor depressed areas of Chicago will be brand-spanking new $500,000 and up loft/condo/townhouse/single family home developments full of affluent white folks, especially on the West Side where the Blue and Green Lines are both quite convenient. And the sad thing is, I think most people will hail Emanuel for all of this because it will "beautify" the city and make it "safer".

      Just speculation, yes, but I think it's better to speculate now than to be blindsided later.

  3. Thanks Dienne. Not much to argue with there. The whiten-izing (and rich-enizing) of Chicago has been going on for quite some time and the current round of mass school closures, privatization, and other forms of dis-investment are a big part of that picture. There been a radical decline in the black population of the city. Some even call it "ethnic cleansing" making room for the new techies and professionals to return to the inner city from which their parents fled a few decades ago.

    So you and I and a few others (hopefully more) are in agreement. Now we need to paint the picture, tell the story,(I guess today we say, re-frame the narrative). I hope we hear more from you. Thanks again for coming out in the open.

  4. Yes, it's been happening slowly over the 20+ years I've been in Chicago, but in keeping with the new "we can't wait" meme, I think Rahm is going to step it up rather briskly, especially since I think he has his eye on the presidency in the very near future. What took a decade or more to happen at Cabrini Green could happen within a couple years on the West Side. School closings are just the first step.

    You and I may be in agreement, but how do we get other people to understand - or care? You and Fred have had some go-arounds with Eric Zorn lately, and he's actually one of the more reasonable and sympathetic people in the media. If we can't even get through to people like him, what hope is there for the rest of the media, and if we can't get to the media, how do we get to the people? As worthwhile as I find your blog (and Fred's, and Diane's, and many others), I haven't been able to convince anyone else to join the party, and it hasn't been for lack of trying.

    Keep up the good work,


  5. Not sure what party you want them to join, but I do know that the majority of the people oppose what Rahm is doing to the schools. My only point was, that's different that sharing your (or my) analysis or theory about why he's doing it.

  6. How about talking to Carol Marin?


Agree? Disagree? Let me hear from you.