Sunday, November 28, 2010

Bridgeport (11th Ward) Aldermanic Election

Steve Vance runs a local business blog. He's helped start a Bridgeport neighbors group on facebook, too. He is going to ask the five Aldermanic candidates for the 11th Ward some questions. It looks like we have five candidates!
  • James Balcer – Current 11th Ward Alderman. Office at 3659 S Halsted Street.
  • John Kozlar – University of Chicago student, Canaryville Little League coach.
  • Steve McNulty – No information at this time.
  • Carl Segvich – Ran for 11th District Cook County Commissioner, lost to John Daley. Currently the elected 11th Ward Republican Committeeman.
  • Jay Verdugo – Lawyer at Anthony J. Peraica & Associates since 2008.

Steve's questions look like a soft effort, so we hope he asks them to answer a few difficult questions like these:

What exactly is the job of an alderman? Describe what you are supposed to do.

What is your overall vision for the future of the 11th Ward?

What will you do to help create jobs in the ward?

How can you use your office to improve the overall quality of Life in the neighbohood?

How will you help businesses in the neighborhood? What specifically can and will you do to enable new businesses to start in the Ward?

Can you explain what the Tax Increment Financing Program is?

How will you use the Tax Incremental Finance money for use in our ward?

Will you help bring back the 31st Street CTA bus line?

Will you help community groups start community gardens on city owned vacant lots?

Where do u think the gang problems are in the Ward? What will you do to address the gang problems in the ward?

What improvements are needed in our public and private schools?
What can you do to help improve the education of our children ?

What City of Chicago Services are you in favor of privatizing? And how would you do it?

Are you in favor of Live/work spaces for artists and other Creative Industries? What can you do to help rezone industrial properties to be converted to live/work spaces?

How will you improve our civic services: road repair, sewer repairs, etc?

Are you a supporter of Labor Unions?

Do you consider yourself a "green"? Are you in favor of sustainable urban practices?

What will you do to improve race relations in the Ward?

What can you do to help citizens of the Ward deal with unethical foreclosure of their properties by local banks?

How accessible will you be to the citizens of the Ward? Please explain how the average ward resident can contact you about an issue they are concerned about.

We'll be keeping close attention...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Bridgeport Art Walk Weekend

If you ever wondered what the hell this Brideport Art scene is about. Now is the time to figure it out..

From Friday October 15 to Sunday October 17, 2010 many spaces and artists in Bridgeport will be opening their galleries and studios for you to come and investigate.

Download a map someone made over here (it is a MS word doc)

Here are a few things we have going on..

Friday Oct 15, 7-10pm
Michael Gloss
@ Eastern Expansion

244 W 31st Street

Friday Oct 15, 7-10pm
Wave Int’l invites you to open Issue 01 with them from 7-10pm


Sat. Oct. 16th 8PM - 1:00AM
Lumpen magazine party
@ Co-Prosperity Sphere

3219 S Morgan Street

Our bar Maria's will be ready for you, too.
960 W 31st street

Aron Gent photography>

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Maria's Packaged Goods & Community Bar opens in Bport

Kaplan's Liquors has turned into Maria's Packaged Goods and Community Bar.
Check it out when you are on the corner of 31st and Morgan st.

Also Gabriel Villa is showing new work at the Co-Prosperity Sphere.
The show is rad.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Tribune Finds that "Bridgeport paves way"

From The Chicago Tribune August 13, 2010:

Bridgeport paves way
Local artists find community, culture in a new part of town, 1 mile from Pilsen

Long before Comiskey Park became the Cell, even before there was a new Comiskey Park, two brothers emigrated from China to a Near South Side neighborhood called Bridgeport. They lived on the North Side for the first few months, right on the lake, but they were grand-scale visual artists and needed enough space for a large studio. Not to mention, as non-English speakers, they wanted to be close to Chinatown. Bridgeport was the most logical choice, geographically and economically: It was located within close proximity of native Chinese speakers (and food), and its abandoned warehouses were practically a steal. It was 1987, and the brothers had found their home away from home.

More than 20 years later, Realtors have learned to sell Bridgeport based on its two most significant residents, past and present: Mayor Richard M. Daley and the Zhou brothers.

"We were the first artists in the neighborhood," says DaHuang Zhou (pronounced "joe"), the younger of the two. He's sipping an iced coffee prepared by one of his employees at a cafe in a large art center, both of which bear his name. "We wanted to create a special stage for artists. This was our only dream for a long time."

DaHuang and ShanZuo Zhou's dream came true in 2004, when the brothers purchased an enormous 84,000-square-foot warehouse building on 35th Street and built the Zhou B. Art Center. It houses two vast exhibition spaces, multiple galleries, the cafe, a gift shop and offices. It's the epicenter of their empire, built over two decades.

On the day I meet DaHuang Zhou, I ask him how many lots he and his brother own in the neighborhood. He paused before answering, as if counting in his head. "Nine," he says finally, borrowing my pen to outline little squares on a piece of paper marked with an upside-down T, representing 35th and Morgan streets. He drew a box for the Zhou B. Art Center on 35th, and in the middle of Morgan another to indicate their studio. Another square marked the residential building in which visiting artists are housed. He outlined a lot for the sculpture garden they designed and built in 1997, and next to that the Zhou brothers Art Foundation, established in 1991.

The Zhou brothers, of course, are just two residents in this slowly burgeoning neighborhood.

Slow is the typical pace in Bridgeport. Nestled in a pleasantly low-traffic wedge of the Near South Side (bordered to the west and north by the Chicago River, to the south by Pershing Road and to the east by railroad tracks), it's quietly residential with more than adequate amenities. It is increasingly becoming one of the most ethnically diverse neighborhoods in the city, yet maintains its Irish Catholic pride and long history of political residents, including five Chicago mayors.

Daley moved out in 1993. But artists have moved in.

Down the street from the Zhou B. Art Center is the newly christened Bridgeport Art Center, known until a handful of months ago as the Artists of Eastbank. Building manager Drago Batar changed the name of his 10-year-old business, located in the former Spiegel catalog warehouse, to reflect its transition to a multidisciplinary building. Painting, drawing and sculpture artists — about 45 of them — have populated the lofty warehouse for years. Batar says the number of photographers is increasing, and in the next few months he plans to lure ceramicists with a brand brand-new clay center on the sixth floor, awash in natural light from the sea of skylights.

Batar says the local artists' community used to be centered in Pilsen, a mile northwest across the expressway. Not anymore. "Five or six years ago, (the community) started shifting to Bridgeport," Batar says. "Pilsen's real estate prices went up, and more artists started coming here."

And why not? The art is the icing.

A modest collection of cafes and historically rooted restaurants are there, including Polo Cafe and Catering, which has occupied a Morgan Street four-flat for a quarter-century. Chef-owner-innkeeper Dave Samber is quick to name-drop the Zhou brothers when quizzed about the locals. But his patrons are mostly suits and families. A chalkboard in the foyer, featuring drawings by artist and former neighbor Jacqueline A. Harrison, features detailed mayoral portraits, including Richard M. Daley — who used to live within walking distance. Samber keeps a piece of chalk with his name on it (literally) to score a signature when the time comes.

Up the street, the neighborhood's next generation of artists down dark Guatemalan brews at Bridgeport Coffee, which hosts live jazz as enjoyable as its BLTA (bacon-lettuce-tomato-avocado) wrap. A few doors down is Co-Prosperity Sphere, an independent alternative cultural center opened in 2008 by longtime local art enthusiast Ed Marszewski as a bricks-and-mortar home to his various endeavors. He bought the building, junk piles and all, from a guy he met at his mother's bar, Kaplan's, up the street. The lofty space now holds frequently rotating art shows, storefront installations and the offices for Marszewski and his wife's nonprofit, Public Media Institute, which produces a half-dozen art-centric publications and programs annually.

Marszewski, like the Zhou brothers, embraces the neighborhood's opportunity. Later this month, he and his brother will re-open Kaplan's as Maria's, in honor of his mother, with a beverage program and potential for more. Meanwhile, he frequents the decades-old, buzzed-in-entry Bernice's Tavern (established 1965, as the sign boasts). It shares a strip of Halsted Street with crate-digging destination Let's Boogie, which continues to stock new (not used) vinyl and tapes, despite the shrinking market; and organic eatery Nana, whose successfully eclectic brunch (chilaquiles, house-made granola, bacon hash) prompted last month's expansion to dinner.

The best place to contemplate all that Bridgeport has to offer is one of the oldest: McGuane Park, which has been in the neighborhood for 105 years. Perched from the lofty hill above Halsted and 29th streets, you can see the whole neighborhood. And it's quite a view.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Mayor wants to sell off recycling program

After selling off the skyway and municipal parking meters the Mayor wants to sell the city's blue bag recycling program. Next Up: Water.

From Chicago Now:
Facing mounting criticism over a painfully slow roll out of blue cart recycling, reports say that "Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Tom Byrne is working on a plan to privatize recycling to shave as much as $40 million off the $60 million annual cost."

+ The BI are pretty much against selling off public assets but we think the city's recycling program is ineffective and is a wasteful greenwashing campaign. Blue bagging is bullshit. Lets do the right thing and retire the blue bag program and come up with a better solution instead.

Danger! Coal Fired Power Plant just Two Miles Away!

Local artists and the Chicago Rain Forest Action Network posted warning signs over many locations on the south side including this one on Morgan St near 32nd Place.

We found this information at the Just Seeds Blog:

RAN Chicago teamed up with local artists to raise public attention to the Fisk and Crawford coal-powered plants on Chicago's near south side that have been poisoning the air for decades. Both Plants are located in highly populated neighborhoods - primarily Latino neighborhoods - and have operated with outdated equipment and safety standards that has made Chicago one of the worst cities for air quality in the US. Exposure to these plants has led to an average of 40 deaths a year and high rates of asthma and other upper respiratory ailments. The kicker is that these plants do not even benefit Chicago residents. Most of the power produced is sold on the open grid to Ohio and Pennsylvania while community residents (not to mention the ozone layer) suffers, while company execs get rich.

Local groups - LVEJO (Little Village Environmental Justice Organization), PERRO (Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization), RAN Chicago, and others are calling for the plants to be closed and for the end of burning fossil fuels as an energy source.

Friday, June 11, 2010

An Accident at 31st and Halsted

Today we passed by this wreck at the corner of 31st and Halsted by the 9th district police station. An officer at the scene wanted to arrest me because she said that it was illegal to take photos of accident scenes. I told Officer Williams, that if what she was saying was true then it seems unconstitutional to me. She replied that it was illegal because of Nine Eleven and wondered if i was going to post the images to facebook or twitter! I guess blogger counts!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

VFW Post 5079 At 3202 S May

Monday, May 31, 2010

Recent Mayor Daley news and bloggable items

"Mayor Daley's criticisms of lawmakers at the state and federal level are always widely reported. His inconsistency and hypocrisy should be part of the story as well."
From Mayor Daley: The Incomprehensible Adviser.

How to Distract a Press Corps:
Mayor Daley's incendiary comments did just what they were probably meant to: bury the lead.
- Chicago Reader

and the must read:

The Shadow Budget: Who Wins in Daley's TIF Game

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Chicago Teachers Union News

There is a chance that Education "reform" might happen in a more positive manner in Chicago. Corporate style reform that Obama and Daley like could end.

From Counterpunch:

IF REFORMERS in the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) win union elections June 11, it will shake up City Hall, rattle teachers unions--and provide a rebuke to President Barack Obama's education policy."

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Olympics Bill

Crain's reports Chicago’s unsuccessful bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics cost a total of $70.6 million, according to its final income tax return, released Monday.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Alderman Balcer wins award for censoring art mural in Bridgeport

Last year you may have heard about how Alderman Balcer censored a mural in Bridgeport at the beginning of Version 9 Festival. On April 13 The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression gave this incident a 2010 Jefferson Muzzle Award.

Announced on or near April 13 — the anniversary of the birth of Thomas Jefferson — the Jefferson Muzzles are awarded as a means to draw national attention to abridgments of free speech and press and, at the same time, foster an appreciation for those tenets of the First Amendment.

Here is the entry:

3) Chicago Alderman James A. Balcer

The private owner of the property and the artist have a right to some due process before an alderman simply orders troops out.”

- Ed Yohnka of the ACLU reacting to Chicago Alderman James Balcer ordering the painting over of a mural on private property.

For claiming the authority to destroy a work of art based on his personal assessment of the work’s content, a 2010 Jefferson Muzzle goes to…Chicago Alderman James A. Balcer.

In the spring of 2009, the owners of a building in south central Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood sought to have a mural painted on the outside wall of the building as part of an upcoming arts festival. Artist Gabriel Villa devoted two weeks painting a work that he admits was intended to be provocative. The large-scale mural featured three police cameras, each emblazoned with the Chicago Police Department logo and an unusual icon: a crucified Christ, a deer head, and a human skull. Said Villa, “I wanted to create a platform for dialogue but the mural was never given a chance.”

Chicago Mural: Before

BEFORE Alderman Balcer’s Order.

Chicago Mural: After

AFTER Alderman Balcer’s Order.

Villa’s comment reflected the fact that immediately upon its completion, the mural was completely painted over on the orders of 11th ward Alderman James A. Balcer. Balcer initially explained that his order was not based on the mural’s content but the fact that neither Villa nor the building’s owners had obtained a permit as required by a local ordinance. “Everyone has a right to their opinion, but there’s limits. He has to follow the law, this artist, like everyone else.”

The problem with Balcer’s explanation is that Villa was following the law. News reporters covering the incident soon discovered that a permit was not required for murals on private property. Following this revelation, Balcer’s explanation for his actions changed somewhat, implying that he had in fact been motivated by the mural’s content. “If it’s a threat to this community, I’ll take it down. I believe that … [mural] was a threat.” Despite the fact that he was wrong about the permit requirement, Balcer was unapologetic for his action. “I acted on behalf of my constituents who were calling the ward office. I stand by that. I will not back down. I will not retreat.”

If this were a simple case of a government official misstating a permit requirement, perhaps a Muzzle would not be warranted. But the Alderman’s statements imply his actions were justified even if he knew no permit was required. Alderman Balcer is therefore claiming that he has the authority to destroy works of art based on his personal assessment of their content. In fact, the U.S. Supreme Court has clearly established that the Alderman’s order is the sort of arbitrary action by government officials that the First Amendment prohibits. For failing to appreciate this constitutional principle and his city’s own permit requirements, a 2010 Jefferson Muzzle goes to Alderman James Balcer of Chicago’s 11th ward.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Mayor Daley in The New Yorker

A fantastic feature, Evan Osnos', Letter from Chicago, “The Daley Show, is in the recent The New Yorker, March 8, . Kudos to the Mayor.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The BI in the NYT

The Bridgeport International was featured in the Sunday New York Times!
It was super hard to find copy and we had to go to the Dominicks on Roosevelt to get a copy.
Read the little shout out here!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Call for Articles!

The March issue of The Bridgeport International is in the works. We are looking for recipes, interviews with residents, and a few good stories about your favorite places, people and things in the neighborhood. Email for guidelines. Deadline is Feb 27, 2010.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Pull a Democratic Ballot on Tuesday.

The Democratic Party Primary ballot will be the most contested and interesting ballot to vote in. Please do you duty as a Bridgeportian. Vote Early and Often!

Statewide Candidates

United States Senator: #2 Hoffman
Governor: Dan Hynes
Lt. Governor: #19 Ricky Hendon
Attorney General: #23 Lisa Madigan (Unopposed)
Secretary of State: #24 Jesse White (Unopposed)
Comptroller: #27 Clint Krislov
Treasurer: #29 Robin Kelly

Congressional Candidates

US Representative 3rd District: #42 Jorge Mujica

State Cental Committeewoman 3rd District:
#51 Helen A Ozmina Barc (Running Unopposed)

State Cental Committeewoman 3rd District:
#53 Michael Madigan (Running Unopposed)

State Senator 1st District: We are leaving it blank

State Representative - 2nd District:
#74 - Josip ‘Joe’ Trutin

Cook County Candidates

President of Cook County Board: #95 Toni Preckwinkle
Cook County Clerk: #101 David D. Orr (Unopposed)
Cook County Sheriff: #102 Thomas J. Dart
Cook County Treasurer: #104 Maria Pappas (Unopposed)
Cook County Assessor: #107 - Raymond Figueroa
Cook County Board Commissioner: 111- John Daley

Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Commissioner:
You can vote for Three We only endorse ONE!
#84 - Mariyana T Spyropoulos

Reccomended: #167 Joanne F. Fehn

Your vote matters!


Here is a big fact: In our voting district a few hundred voters have the ability to upset business as usual.

If you plan on voting on February 2, 2010 for the primary ballot we suggest you check out for information on where your polling place is located. There is a reason they made the primary happen in the dead of winter. They really don’t want you to vote. It helps the incumbents.

We have made endorsements for the three parties running in the coming primary election: The Democrats, Republicans and The Greens.

Feel free to bring this newsletter with you to the polls.

However, you shouldn’t just rely on our opinion. We suggest you conduct your own research.

Try these papers and websites for advice: ( ) shows endorsements of candidates by everyone from the Chicago Sun Times and the Federation of Labor to the Homer/Lockport Tea Party.

Chicago Sun Times: check out their Voter’s Guide.

Chicago Tribune

Chicago Reader: You can read some of the best reporting about our local officials at the reader website. Start with the Clout City blog.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Download our First Issue!

The first issue of our newsletter is now available at stores and shops in the neighborhood.
Download a pdf copy as as single page document
or download one as a spread.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

woo hoo!