We went to the beach yesterday.
A couple of hundred other folks were there too.
It wasn’t really beach weather in Chicago.
In fact, it was cold, blustery and it had rained all morning.
There is still a sandy beach at our neighborhood’s Humboldt Park.
In past summers the beach would also have water. This summer the Park District Board has decided that our 40-year old beach is too expensive to maintain.
They call their decision a water conservation project and are removing the recreational facility from the park, claiming it will save a million dollars.
There is no other swimming facility for little kids in the area.
Nobody from the Park District board came to Humboldt Park to explain to those gathered for the Beach Blanket Sit-in why it costs a millions bucks to fill the beach with water until Labor Day.
There has been water on that site since the park opened in 1877, designed by William Le Baron Jenney and Jens Jenson.
Why can the Park District afford to waive a million dollar service fee to the National Football League when the League put on the Fan Show extravaganza at Grant Park, but are short of money for kids in Humboldt Park?
This is the Rahm reality of city priorities.
Amy Vega of the Humboldt Park Advisory Board told me the problem is bigger than the beach. She says funding for the large park is less than many much smaller parks in other neighborhoods. And the funding has been cut each year for several years.
Kids who play at the parks’ many baseball diamonds have no nearby bathroom facility to use.
The local alderman Roberto Maldonado was a no-show.
The huge park attracts people from wards all over the north and northwest side. Yet there were no elected public officials with us at Humboldt Park yesterday.
Rahm’s Park District board includes Avis LaVelle.
LaVelle is VP of Corporate Affairs for Northstar Lottery Group which manages the Illinois Lottery. She is well-connected.
She also runs LaVelle Consulting Services.
LaVelle was the go-to person in town when Cintra-Macquarie bought the Chicago Skyway from her former boss, Mayor Richard M. Daley. Cintra is the largest privatizer of public road-ways in the world.
Prior to that LaVelle served as both Daley and Bill Clinton’s press secretary and was appointed to Daley’s Chicago Reform School Board in 1997.
Also on the Park District board is Don Edwards.
Don’t be surprised when I tell you that Edwards is a hedge fund manager.
He is the Managing Principal of Flexpoint Ford, LLC, a private equity investment firm with $1 billion under management focused on healthcare and financial services.
Before founding Flexpoint, Mr. Edwards was a Principal at GTCR, a Chicago-based private equity firm with more than $6 billion under management. During his eight-year tenure at GTCR, Mr. Edwards served as head of the firm’s healthcare investment effort.
You remember GTCR?
That’s Bruce Rauner’s private equity firm.
You also might recall GTCR and its healthcare investment efforts from when it came under investigation for fraud in connection with the deaths of patients in their nursing homes.
No surprise that the voice of corporations is well represented on Rahm’s Park District board.
No surprise that they gave a million dollar gift to their NFL corporate pals.
No surprise that the voice of neighbors and kids in Humboldt Park aren’t represented on Rahm’s Park District board.
And that none of Chicago’s elected officials seem to give a damn.
Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners: 312 395 0143
Alderman Roberto Maldonado: 773 395 0143
Alderman Joe Moreno: 773 278 0101
Alderman Carlos Rosa: 773 887 3772
Alderman Scott Waguespack: 773 248 1330
Alderman Walter Burnett: 312 432 1995
Mayor Rahm Emanuel: 312 744 3300
The next Park District board meeting is June 10th at 3:30 at 541 North Fairbanks. Humboldt Park neighbors are planning to attend.