Don’t give One Central $6.5 billion in taxpayer money

It’s time for the public to drive the conversation and time for private developer Landmark to find someone other than taxpayers to take billions in risk for One Central. The state’s study will likely show there are better development uses for the money.

SHARE Don’t give One Central $6.5 billion in taxpayer money
A rendering of part of the proposed One Central Development, which would be built atop rail tracks west of Soldier Field.

A rendering of part of the proposed multi-billion One Central Development, which would be built atop rail tracks west of Soldier Field.

Landmark Development

Thank you, Sun-Times, for the recent editorial continuing to stand tall for the taxpayers of our state, this time with a one-two punch to the greedy $6.5 billion tax grab by private developer Landmark, which is proposing the 30-plus-acre mega-development One Central.

Former Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan orchestrated that huge taxpayer subsidy by shoehorning it into a last-minute 2019 bill lawmakers didn’t have time to read. The record shows there wasn’t even any mention, much less debate, on the subject.

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And what would we be buying with that $6.5 billion? A so-called transit hub the recent editorial makes clear isn’t needed. Except by Landmark, because, as Sun-Times business reporter David Roeder’s clear-eyed assessment notes, One Central “needs a state-funded transit hub to make the project viable.”

That’s not the responsibility of taxpayers. It’s Landmark’s job to make their project viable, not that of Illinoisans who have critical development needs across the state.

As much as Landmark would like to talk about its long-shot idea to keep the Bears in Chicago, taxpayers need to talk about the way Madigan dropped a handcrafted, $6.5 billion gift at the last minute so the merits could not be scrutinized.

Taxpayers need to talk about what a $6.5 billion package of true community development looks like. It’s time for us to drive the conversation and time for the private developer to find someone other than taxpayers to take the risk for its dream.

Hats off to state Rep. Kam Buckner for insisting on a feasibility study. A thorough, independent review will certainly conclude there are far better uses for $6.5 billion in tax dollars. Gov. J.B. Pritzker, please put the taxpayers back in control of this train.

Marj Halperin, South Loop
One Community Near South Steering Committee member

Apathy is dangerous when democracy is in danger

According to a recent report in the Guardian, over two years after the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, approximately 12 million American adults (4.4% of the adult population) believe violence is justified to restore Donald Trump’s presidency.

While not shocking, this number is sobering and should be taken very seriously. It’s not what pundits typically label an inflection point in history; rather, it’s a perilous moment, requiring us to unify and transcend our political silos in order to prevent the demise of democracy. I hate to sound like an alarmist, but we may be circling the drain.

To stand by, play the usual frustrating partisan political games and do nothing means acquiescing to the right-wing extremists, allowing them to dominate our nation’s discourse and in so doing take down the government as we merely look on in disbelief, no longer able to do anything.

I am not crying wolf. There is ample historical evidence describing the dangerous consequences of what could happen if we remain on the current apathetic path.

One partial solution might be to begin a serious national conversation about domestic terrorism, discovering how to recognize it and how to stop it — just as we successfully did after 9/11. That, it seems to me, would help begin to address the cause of the problem. But one thing is abundantly certain: The status quo is not a viable option.

Richard Cherwitz, Ernest A. Sharpe Centennial professor emeritus, Moody College of Communication, University of Texas at Austin

More public bathrooms on CTA

Let us get the CTA’s Red Line extended before any state money goes to a private venture (like One Central). And what is this deal that the state ponies up, but does not get ownership for 20 years?

I was really disappointed when the new Red Line stations were built on either side of 95th Street. Not a public restroom in sight. The Red Line goes from Howard Street (a stepping stone into Evanston) to 95th Street. That is over an hour in transit. Most people take a bus to a final destination. There is no parking at the 95th Street station.

I donated a kidney several years ago. I look for restrooms wherever I go. Instead of bundles of money for a transit hub far from other public transportation, install lots of public restrooms at the 95th Street Red Line station.

Janice Gintzler, Crestwood

Save gas, and the planet

I was happy to read recently that Ald. Timmy Knudsen (43rd) introduced an ordinance to cut back on idling internal combustion engines. Reducing idling is a very easy action that all drivers can do to cut back on air pollution and greenhouse gases.

The key is adjusting long ingrained habits. I used to start my engine first thing when I got in the car and then fasten my seat belt. Now, I do the reverse.

Some other suggestions: Drive-up windows are very convenient, but you don’t have to leave your motor running while you wait. While waiting to pick up passengers, no need to turn the car on until they’re all seated. Sitting in your car with the heat or air conditioning on, attending to the demands of your cell phone, or leaving the engine running for a grab-and-go purchase are behaviors that could easily be changed. Delivery vans and post office vehicles are some of the worst idlers. The only time a vehicle needs to idle is waiting at a stop light or sign.

Gas is expensive. Don’t waste it. Please, just shut your engine off if you are not moving, for the health of all of us and the planet.

Mary Griswold, Evanston

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