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The Alarming Downward Spiral of Downtown Chicago: Is A Comeback Possible?

When Navy Pier opened as a re-imagined tourist attraction in 1995, it was a white elephant project 50 years stalled. Several mayors and many City Hall department heads had tried but failed to make retail use of the half-mile jut into Lake Michigan. When Navy Pier finally opened, its face-lift was behind schedule and over budget. Of course it was.

Love or despise its current personality — the gaudy signage, pricey thingamajigs, perpetual wafts of roasted nuts — Navy Pier is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Midwest and Chicago’s top attraction. Families flock to the pier for shopping and dining, and breathtaking views of the city’s striking skyline. That would be in a normal summer, in a normal tourist season, in a normal year.

But nothing about 2020 has been normal. Navy Pier, like much of downtown, has been closed on and off, its lights dimmed and Ferris wheel still. The coronavirus pandemic and the civil unrest that tore through the city in multiple waves this summer took a phenomenal toll on the once-sturdy retail infrastructure of downtown. In just a few months, equally as breathtaking in its swiftness, Chicago feels defeated. It looks it.

Property owners are worried about their investments. Condo owners are putting their homes up for sale. Corporate tenants are breaking leases. Work-at-home mandates are forcing companies to rethink office space. If you’ve been downtown lately, you might have anticipated a tumbleweed rolling across Michigan Avenue.

Are we witnessing the death of downtown?



In the EEO Complaint, Officer Mallory Lutkin outlines an incident from Aug. 19, 2020.

“I responded to the area of 2900 Glenarm on a disturbance while District 2 officers were arresting an armed party and officers had been assaulted. Upon my arrival I was advised to hold a perimeter post to secure the scene as a large crowd was gathering. While on this line I had my body worn camera activated,” said Officer Lutkin in the complaint.

Before getting to the details, this video from the local KDVR News outlet has video of the Councilwoman in action, tearing into the police and then encouraging the “protesters” to get the police to get into a physical confrontation with them and then sue them.

This is pretty amazing. A sitting member of the City Council was not only joining in with the protests (which is perfectly her right) but publicly launching verbal attacks on the police. For the record, the cops were there cleaning up and relocating a homeless encampment to connect the residents with public resources available to the needy. But Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca immediately began berating the police, telling a Black officer that she should be “ashamed of herself” for performing her duty. A second (White) officer with her was told that she “expected that” from the White guy. She referred to her own police department as the “attack dogs” of the Mayor.

Read the whole thing, and watch the video of the mini-de Blasio hurling insults at someone who is effectively another government official.

At the end of the video, the newsreader notes that “the board of ethics will take this up tomorrow morning at its monthly meeting; the five member board will make a decision if it has jurisdiction, and if so, they’ll decide if they need a hearing and further investigation, or if the complaint should be dismissed.” And of course, it’s the latter: Denver’s Board of Ethics dismissed the complaint, citing a lack of jurisdiction.

However, a lack of jurisdiction is not a ruling on the merits. Hopefully this isn’t the end of the line for Lutkin’s complaint against CdeBaca. At a minimum he’s created a strong campaign video for the opponent of the self-described “democratic socialist” in the next election.



h/t Ed


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