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Illinois Politics

Clout Heavy Chicago Firm Gets $3.2 Million Contract to Rebuild Rosenblum Park… and More

(Illinois Tollway Oasis, Schiller Park, IL) – The Chicago-area currently has the highest gas prices in the nation, according to AAA.

(Chicago, IL) – April 6, 2012. The Public Building Commission of Chicago just announced last week on March 28 that it granted a nearly $3.2 million contract award to a clout-heavy firm for the redevelopment of Rosenblum Park on the city’s south side.

The board, chaired by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, voted on March 9 give the $3,183,000.00 contract to F.H. Paschen, S.N. Nielsen & Associates of Chicago, whose top executive, Frank Paschen, is a big campaign donor to Chicago and Illinois politicians, including 14th Ward Alderman Ed Burke, 9th Ward Alderman Anthony Beale and imprisoned ex-Governors George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich. Paschen gave Blagojevich’s campaign $10,000 in 2001.

F.H. Paschen, S.N. Nielsen & Associates also got a $8,747,000.00 contract in February for construction work on the Durkin Park Elementary School Linked Annex located at 8445 South Kolin Avenue.

The new park will be located at 1911 E. 75th Street

The project includes new baseball fields, renovation of a softball field, a new artificial turf practice football/soccer field, new basketball courts, walking trail around the park perimeter, as well as a play lot.

The new South Shore International College Prep High School was built on the former footprint of Rosenblum Park, with the provision that Chicago Public Schools would rebuild the Park with improved amenities when the old South Shore High School was demolished in early 2012.

Construction is scheduled to begin in Spring 2012 and the new park is expected to be complete and open in Fall 2012.

Wet vs. Dry – Next Tuesday, April 10, the Chicago City Council’s Committee on License and Consumer Protection meets to vote on 43rd Ward Alderman Michelle Smith’s proposal to prohibit the sale of alcohol on the south side of North Avenue between Sedgwick and Larrabee Streets, because too much booze abounds on North Avenue. Meanwhile, 30th Ward Alderman Ariel Reboyras is pushing a plan to open up liquor sales on West Armitage between North Lowell Avenue to North Kedvale Avenue because too little hooch flows there. The Committee meets in the City Council chambers at 11:00 a.m. Both measures are expected to pass. North Avenue residents know where they can go to drown their sorrows.

Peek-a-Boo, Cherubs – Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard yesterday announced that the installation of new security cameras at 14 high schools has been completed ahead of schedule and under budget, saving taxpayers $200,000. The new cameras were projected to cost $7 million with a completion date of May 1st, 2012.  The final cost came in at $6.8 million and was completed on March 31st.

The high schools that received the cameras include: Clemente, Hyde Park, Sullivan, Morgan Park, Orr, Marshall, Dunbar, Manley, Bogan, Wells, Senn, Juarez, Julian and Farragut. These schools were identified by virtue of their lack of virtue–arrests in or on school property, and crimes in or on school property reported by the police.

Introduced in 1999, the present camera system has a video recording system with 7,000-plus analogue cameras across 268 schools. Another 365 schools currently have no cameras–where gang enrollment is likely surging in those.

New Chicago GOP Party Chief Coming – Chicago Republican Party Chairman Eloise Gerson, who won a hard-fought, bloody contest on March 20 for her 42nd Ward Committeeman’s post against Tom Smithburg and William Kelly, 40.3%–30.2%–29.4%, is stepping down as party chief. The Chicago GOP will choose a successor before April 19. Gerson will keep her 42nd Ward party post. GOP State Treasurer Dan Rutherford waded into the controversial primary battle, endorsing Gerson.

Follow the Money – Quarterly campaign finance reports are beginning to dribble into the Illinois State Board of Elections. The Committee for Effective Government reported raising $0 in the last quarter that ended March 31 and spent $200, ending the period with $710.40 in its war chest. No comment… In the heavily Republican Barrington area, the Barrington Township Republican Organization did slightly better. It raised $2,030.00, spent $4,369.67 and end up with $2,668.40 in its sock drawer… Meanwhile, State Senator Mike Jacobs (D-Moline), coming off a big win over ex-State Rep. Mike Boland (D-Moline) for the senate seat, reported $2,000 in fresh contributions on Thursday, including $1,000 from the 3M Company.

Are You Listening? – The Senate Committee on Enterprise Zone Extensions held a hearing on Thursday in Chicago on a comprehensive proposal, Senate Bill 3688 sponsored by State Senators Michael Frerichs (D-Champaign) and Pamela Althoff (Crystal Lake), to reform and extend the Illinois Enterprise Zone Program. For its next hearing, the Committee moves to Peoria. It will be in the Red Cross of Central Illinois building on Monday, April 9 at 10:30 a.m.

Quinn’s Fuzzy Math – Newly-appointed State Senator Pat McGuire (D-Joliet) on Wednesday spoke out in favor of keeping the Illinois Youth Center in Joliet open at a legislative hearing of the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability, and took a swing at Governor Pat Quinn in the process.

“I respect the governor’s good intentions toward the people of Illinois,” McGuire added. “However, the proposal to close IYC Joliet appears to be rushed, haphazard, and narrowly focused on bricks and mortar. The administration today offered fuzzy math and vague plans.” Oof.

Don’t Quote MeRumor and gossip that’s not quite fit to print, but, what the heck, we’re including it anyway as a public service because we’re sure you’ll find it as titillating as we do… Reprieve – Governor Pat Quinn’s planned closure of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services Skokie field office has been reversed, according to a source… Can You Help? – Governor Quinn’s cabinet agency chiefs are planning to send letters to state vendors and social service providers urging them to lobby lawmakers on Medicaid and pension reforms to avoid steep cuts in other Illinois budget programs.

What Were They Thinking? – President Barack Obama is leading Mitt Romney in registered voters’ preferences for president in 12 key swing states, particularly among female voters, according to Gallup Editor-in-Chief Frank Newport… 52% of blacks who say they are following the news about the Trayvon Martin case very closely contrasts sharply with the 19% of non-blacks who are paying equally close attention. Overall, 72% of blacks say George Zimmerman is definitely or probably guilty of a crime; 1% say he is not. Non-blacks also say Zimmerman is guilty, by 32% to 7%, according to a new poll by Gallup.

Media Watch – Crain’s Greg Hinz this week linked GOP Treasurer Dan Rutherford‘s current trip to Israel as part of Rutherford’s plan to run for governor in 2014. Hinz tossed in the GOP primary mix 2010 Republican nominee State Senator Bill Brady (R-Bloomington), State Senator Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale), and U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Peoria).

What’s a Work Day? – Nothin’ Doin’ – Neither Governor Quinn nor Mayor Emanuel have any public events on Friday… Dinner Plans – Illinois’ Favorite Sun President Barack Obama and the First Lady mark the beginning of Passover with a Seder at the White House in the Old Family Dining Room, starting at 6:30 p.m.

About David Ormsby

David, a public relations consultant and blogger at The Huffington Post, is an ex-Press Secretary of the Illinois Democratic Party.


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