The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Long weekend

The Apollo Chorus of Chicago performed yesterday with the Peoria Symphony, which involved two 3-hour bus rides and two complete runs-through of Händel's Messiah. Coming up this week, we have two full rehearsals, two community outreach events, and two more performances next weekend.

Then after a committee meeting Monday, I'll actually have...one night off.

So there's a lot going on this month.

But today, I need a nap.

What's he doing?

Eddie Lampert's hedge fund proposes to buy Sears for $4.6 bn:

The bid from Lampert’s ESL Investments includes about 500 Sears and Kmart stores, headquarters and distribution centers, and Sears brands and businesses including Kenmore, DieHard and Sears Home Services.

“ESL believes that a future for Sears as a going concern is the only way to preserve tens of thousands of jobs and bring continued economic benefits to the many communities across the United States that are touched by Sears and Kmart stores,” Lampert’s hedge fund said in the letter sent to Sears’ investment banker Wednesday and filed Thursday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The $4.6 billion offer includes up to $950 million in cash that would be funded by a new loan and a $1.8 billion credit bid, in which ESL would swap Sears debt it holds for ownership of a newly formed company. Other financing includes an estimated $1.1 billion from taking on Sears’ obligations to honor Sears Home Services protection agreements, gift cards, and loyalty program points.

ESL’s offer would also depend on its ability to secure financing and the Bankruptcy Court’s approval.

Others interested in acquiring Sears’ assets have until Dec. 28 to submit bids under the timeline approved by the Bankruptcy Court. If other bids come in, the auction would be held Jan. 14.

Why, though? He's just going to kill it anyway.

An example of why Rauner lost

Crains' Springfield, Ill., correspondent provides a vignette showing why Bruce Rauner couldn't get anything done in his one and only term as Illinois governor. A bill the governor supports got lost in the shuffle between the Illinois House and Senate, prompting him to send a nasty letter to the press before sending it to Senate president John Cullerton. Why didn't the governor just use his legislative liaison office? Rich Miller explains:

[T]he governor's office employs a large number of people who get paid to lobby legislators. If this issue was so all-important to Rauner, then why not have one of his liaisons contact Bush in the months before the veto session began?

I made similar remarks on my blog, and [Rauner adisor Mischa] Fisher reached out to say it was not the "role of the executive branch to shepherd legislation back and forth between the two chambers."

Um, yes, it is. "Why even have legislative liaisons if you're not going to use them?" I asked. "To communicate the governor's position on legislation as it moves through the two chambers," Fisher replied.

Did he not realize that this is exactly what I was talking about? There was zero communication with the Senate until the final hours of the veto session. Fisher replied that "making sure it wasn't lost is what the governor's letter is intending to do."

J.B. Pritzker beat Rauner by half a million votes last month and will be sworn in January 14th. Rauner will "return to private industry," in the parlance of politics. Pritzker, one hopes, will be able to get a bill passed before the end of his first term.

Why Chicagoans might feel down lately

I complained this morning that we haven't had much sunlight so far in December. Just now, the Illinois State Climatologist reported that November's weather sucked too:

It was a cold and snowy November in Illinois.

  • The statewide average temperature for November was 1.8°C, which is an impressive 4°C below normal, ranking November 2018 as the 8th coldest on record.

Looking at meteorological Fall (Sept, Oct, Nov), temperatures for the season ended up near normal in southeastern Illinois, and between 1-2°C below normal as you head northwest toward Rockford and the Quad Cities.

And it was gloomy.

We might see sun later today. Updates as events warrant.

Two Illinois anniversaries

First, today is the bicentennial of Illinois becoming a state, which involved a deal to steal Chicago from Wisconsin:

If Illinoisans had played by the rules to get statehood, Chicagoans would be cheeseheads. By all rights, the Wisconsin border should have been set at the southern tip of Lake Michigan when Illinois was admitted into the union, 200 years ago Monday.

That would have made a 60-mile strip of what’s now northern Illinois a part of southern Wisconsin. Stripped of the smokestacks of Chicago’s factories, Illinois’ landscape would have been dominated by grain elevators and dairy barns. But that didn’t happen.

The fix was in, even as the state of Illinois was conceived.

It's a good story. Today is also the 75th anniversary of Pizzeria Uno opening in Chicago, which introduced deep-dish pizza to the masses:

Pizza had been around the city’s Italian cafes for decades.  It was served in tiny wedges, and mainly used as an appetizer.  Even on a full pie the crust was wafer-thin.

The pizza at Pizzeria Uno was going to be different—cooked in a deep dish, with a thick crust and heaps of cheese.  Who came up with this innovative style?  Riccardo?  Sewell?  Their chef, Rudy Malnati?  The debate goes on.

So on a wartime Friday evening in December, Pizzeria Uno opened with little fanfare.  Business was slow at first.  Gradually, Chicago-style pizza caught on.  By 1955, people were lining up outside in the cold, waiting to get in.

Longtime readers know that despite my Chicagoan heritage, I prefer New York-style big slices that you have to drain before eating. Preferrably bought from a window on 3rd Avenue around 4am.

Aviation-induced snowfall

Yesterday, a combination of moisture and cold caused snow to fall in a singularly odd pattern near Chicago:

Although no widespread weather systems were in the area to crank out snow, flurries were still falling across parts of the area.

These unusual phenomena were thanks to a supercooled atmosphere interacting with exhaust from a power plant and also the air flow around commercial aircraft.

Farther to the north, a bizarre radar signature in the shape of a loop showed up just northeast of the Windy City, out over Lake Michigan. It turns out this dash of winter was caused by aircraft landing at O'Hare International Airport.

Observations from the airport at the time reveal a temperature of 22 degrees and a dew point of 17 degrees, both well below freezing. Additionally, the closeness of the temperature to the dew point meant the air was near saturation. There was 82 percent relative humidity at the time.

It's likely that supercooled water droplets were present in this air mass. That means the water vapor was below freezing but couldn't entirely transition into ice crystals because of a lack of particulates upon which to freeze.

In this case, though, an aircraft - or many aircraft - passed through this layer.

Meanwhile, police and firefighters closed streets around tall buildings in downtown Chicago yesterday as chunks of ice came crashing down on them. (On the streets, not the firefighters.) You can imagine the commute.

Take my money!

CityLab just alerted me to a card game that I am going to order as soon as I finish this post:

The nail-biting drama of rush-hour congestion, shuttle bus transfers, and airport mix-ups—now in a deck of cards: It’s LOOP: The Elevated Card Game, developed by Chicago merchandiser Transit Tees. The game draws on the relatable pleasures and perils of using the Windy City’s elevated rapid-transit network, the venerable L; it’s a love letter to the joys of public transit, as well as an opportunity to mocking its abundant annoyances.

The gameplay is similar to UNO or Crazy Eights, but instead of matching numbers, suites, or colors, players match the L line or station. For example, if the top of the pile is a Brown Line card for the Washington/Wells station, you can play any other Brown Line, or another Washington/Wells card (as if you’re transferring lines in real life). The object of the game is to get rid of all of your cards first. The player who most recently used public transportation gets to deal.

Yah, total Daily Parker bait. There seems to be a lot of that lately.

All skate!

With Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel retiring this spring, we now have 21—count 'em, 21—people running to replace him:

For now, the list of 21 candidates includes: state Comptroller Susana Mendoza, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown, state Rep. LaShawn Ford, former U.S. Commerce Secretary Bill Daley, City Hall veteran and attorney Gery Chico, former Chicago police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas, former federal prosecutor Lori Lightfoot, businessman Willie Wilson, former Ald. Bob Fioretti, tech entrepreneur Neal Sales-Griffin, Southwest Side attorney Jerry Joyce, activist Ja’Mal Green, Austin Chamber of Commerce Director Amara Enyia and attorney John Kozlar.

Five other individuals submitted petitions but have not created official campaign committees with the state, did not have a campaign website or had not raised any money, all measurements of a campaign’s viability. Historically, such candidates often do not make the ballot.

In 1995, Chicago began holding nonpartisan elections, with a general election in February and a runoff election in April between the top two finishers if no candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote. In that era, the most candidates to appear on the ballot was six in the 2011 race to succeed retiring Mayor Richard M. Daley.

From 1901 to 1995, the city held partisan elections, with a primary in February and a general election in April. In that era, the most candidates to appear on a general election ballot was four in 1977, 1991 and 1995, according to the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners. City election officials said they could not say for certain the largest number of candidates to appear on a primary ballot from 1901 to 1995 without a trip to a warehouse to research election records.

Even with that caveat, 21 is likely the largest number to file for mayor since at least 1901, said Jim Allen, the election board’s spokesman.

Now I have to go read up on the 16 candidates who are actually running.

The inevitability of winter

Overnight, a major blizzard hit Northern Illinois:

As of 7 a.m., 188 mm of snow was recorded at O'Hare International Airport, the city's official measuring station. Crystal Lake got 193 mm and some areas of McHenry County got 333 mm, according to the National Weather Service.

The north suburbs and southern Wisconsin bore the brunt of the storm. A winter storm warning remains in effect after blizzard warnings issued Sunday night expired early Monday morning.

It was the fifth-worst November blizzard in Chicago history, by snowfall amount. In my neighborhood, Parker's morning walk looked like this: 

As expected, Parker enjoys this more than I do.