Thursday, July 3, 2008

If You're Going to Get Fleeced, You Might As Well Enjoy It

For the past several weeks, construction crews have been tearing up and subsequently repaving the street in front of Haus Jansen. The upshot is that the street is now very flat, and therefore a very agreeable surface for driving—and, even more so, biking (which I've recently resumed doing fairly regularly to get to and from work, what with high gas prices and all).

Our four-year old Cecilia offered her terse observation on the new street: "It's so black."

Quite right, she is.

I also had to chuckle to myself, as her comment reminded me of this scene from This Is Spinal Tap:

Less than a block away from Haus Jansen, where said road improvement project commences (as well as a mile and a half north, where it ends), is a sign that says this:

The first thing you likely noticed about this sign is that it says, "Road Improvement Project".

The second thing, though, that you likely noticed about this sign is that it says, "Todd H. Stroger".

Todd (I ♥ Nepotism) Stroger, as the sign indicates, is the president of the Cook Crook County Board of Commissioners.

The first time I saw this sign, a couple of thoughts ran through my head. First, I wondered how many palms were greased in order to secure this particular project.

Now, my attitude on public works project like these is this: If you're going to get fleeced, you might as well enjoy it.

As of Tuesday, Cook Crook County has the highest sales tax in the country. Our local property taxes are also #@&?!% high too.

That said, we know we pay through the nose. So, any time my family and I can reap the benefits of our egregiously high taxes, I'm personally happy.

So while I'm glad we have a freshly paved street, there are countless other streets countywide I've traversed that are a heckuva lot worse than ours used to be. Hence my musing as to how much graft/patronage/sweetheart deals were involved in this particular project.

Second, seeing this sign reminded me of something that perhaps most folks who grew up in and around Chicago simply take for granted. To wit, the ubiquitous appearance of names of elected office bigwigs on publicly financed signage.

I began to notice this when I first moved to Chicago in 1996 and saw "Mayor Daley's X Project" or "Mayor Daley's Y Task Force" or "Mayor Daley's Z Special Event" signs all over the place. (Although I must admit I've never seen a sign for "Mayor Daley's Rat-Infested Public Housing Complexes".)

That's strange, I thought.

Little did I know that's just the way things are done around here.

1 comment:

sunnyday said...

That's funny because it didn't occur to me that signs announcing the public about so-and-so projects on the street can be devoid of the name of the local official supposedly financing the project! Here, even streamers that congratulate some school's graduating students or greeting a town a "happy fiesta!" always have the name AND photo of the official. As for road projects like that, whenever there wasn't any official's name on the sign, I had just assumed there was no more space on the sign to put it in, har har.