Metra board members voted unanimously recently against a fare increase for 2019, saying additional money for operations and new equipment should instead come from the state.
Board members also stressed that Metra needs to spell out to lawmakers exactly what service could be cut over the next few years if the commuter rail agency does not get the money it needs. Cuts could include entire lines.
"The truth is we’re going bankrupt," said Metra board member Don De Graff of south suburban Cook County.
The vote came after Metra staff at the agency’s monthly board meeting presented a preliminary budget that proposed a possible 25- to 50-cent fare hike for 2019. The commuter railroad has raised fares six times in the last seven years and has seen declines in ridership.
"A fare increase only puts a Band-Aid on a gaping wound," said board member Tim Baldermann of Will County. He said the state has "kicked the can down the road for decades" in terms of funding, and suggested the possibility that Metra may have to cut lines without adequate state help.
"We cannot solve our problems on the backs of our riders," said board member John Zediker of DuPage County.
The state has been without a capital bill since 2009. Last year, the CTA, Metra and Pace all decided to raise fares in response to state funding cuts. Sales tax revenues, which help fund public transit, have been down, in part because of sales on the Internet instead of in brick-and-mortar stores. The state also imposed a surcharge last year on the administration of sales taxes, which cut into agency budgets.
Metra staff proposed a preliminary 2019 operating budget of $828 million if there are no fare hikes, and a capital budget of about $211 million. The agency has said it needs $1 billion in capital funding to get into a state of good repair.
"That’s $800 million short. That’s no way to run a railroad," said board member Steve Messerli of Kane County.
Metra has been plagued this summer by delays brought on by breakdowns of air conditioning in cars, overcrowding and other problems. It also has had to pay about $400 million for positive train control — a federally mandated safety system.
In 2014, the Metra board approved a 10-year, $2.4 billion modernization plan that had called for fare increases every year to improve its rolling stock. But board members said on Wednesday that plan was passed with the optimism that the state would provide more money.
Metra CEO Jim Derwinski said he did not know what the service cuts could look like. He said the railroad will work on providing a new message to lawmakers and stakeholders, such as mayors of communities served by Metra.
"It could mean cutting service, it could mean less stations, it could mean less service during the day, it could be a period of time during the day. It could mean a whole line," Derwinski said, speaking to reporters. Derwinski also said he was going to Washington, D.C., on Thursday, despite the approach of Hurricane Florence, to talk to legislators about the importance of federal funding for transit.
Metra lines with the lowest annual ridership include the Heritage Corridor to Joliet, with 730,000 trips in 2017, and the North Central Service to Antioch, with 1.7 million trips, out of a total of 78.6 million trips for the whole system.
Metra board Chairman Norman Carlson acknowledged that the state, struggling with its own budget problems and trying to meet the needs of schools and social programs, may not have any more money to give.
"We may, and I underscore may, have to implement the service cuts. Do we want to? No," Carlson said.
Also Wednesday, professor Joseph Schwieterman, a transportation expert from DePaul University, presented a report to the board showing the economic value of Metra to the region. The report found that each Metra rider benefits nonriders every year by $4,699 through reducing congestion, crashes, roadway maintenance, parking needs and pollution.
The report found that 74 percent of Metra riders would switch to private vehicles if Metra service became unavailable.
Board members also praised Metra staff for keeping the service running safely and efficiently despite its need for more money. Metra is not facing the kinds of breakdowns seen on other commuter railroads, such as in New Jersey and New York.
"Among its peers, Metra has the best on-time performance, the lowest fares and the lowest operating costs," Carlson told the board.
Margaret Basch, an occasional Metra rider from Arlington Heights, said she wouldn’t mind higher fares if the service was better. "I feel like the train service has gotten worse in recent years," Basch said in an interview. She said when she goes to the opera, she has to build in an hour or two of extra time to account for train delays.
Check out the Groundhog Day celebration featured in the classic 1993 film of the same name starring Bill Murray. Attendees gather to see area groundhog Woodstock Willie leave his tree trunk home and predict if winter will stay or go. Should he see his shadow, winter will last for six more weeks, and if not, spring will arrive early. Or at least that's what the legend says.
Though February 2 is the official Groundhog Day Prognostication, Woodstock is holding a whole week's-worth of events leading up to Mardi Gras. Check the website for further details.
Ah, Valentine’s Day: When the pressure is, in fact, truly on. If you’re taken, you’re weighing whether to dish out at Chicago’s best fine dining. If you’re single, you’re probably out at your favorite bar trying to get laid. And if you’re somewhere in-between and don’t know whether you’re “doing” Valentine’s Day, well, best of luck. Regardless of your situation, we’ve got a slew of ideas to make celebrating this manufactured holiday one of your favorite things to do during the winter in Chicago. Or, at the very least, you’ll survive it.
Handmade Market Chicago returns to beloved Ukie Village club The Empty Bottle for an October–April market. More than 30 sellers will ply their homemade arts and crafts for this monthly celebration of the local and artisanal.
|Venue name:||Empty Bottle|
|Address:||1035 N Western Ave
|Cross street:||at Cortez St|
|Opening hours:||Mon–Wed 5pm–2am; Thu, Fri 3pm–2am; Sat noon–3am; Sun noon–2am|
|Transport:||Bus: 49, 66, 70.|
Stave off the winter blues inside the Chicago Botanic Garden's Regenstein Center, where the greenhouses and gallery will be packed with more than 10,000 in-bloom orchids, featuring an array of hybrids. On Saturday and Sundays, the Orchid Marketplace allows you an opportunity to purchase the plants.
|Venue name:||Chicago Botanic Garden|
|Address:||1000 Lake-Cook Rd
|Opening hours:||Daily 8am–sunset|
|Transport:||Train:Union Pacific N to Braeside.|
|Price:||$10, members $8, kids and seniors $8|
Back at it again - enjoy over 40 whiskeys & wines and treat yourself to a fun and unique experience as we take over the iconic Joe's Bar on Weed Street! Previously known as Whiskey Wine & Moonshine - new name, new place, even better experience!
Your ticket includes:
Admission to tasting event
Souvenir tasting glass
Tastings of 40+ whiskeys & wines
Entertainment & more!
Other beverages and great food from Joe's Bar will also be available for purchase.
It's your right to vote! Each guest will get to choose between their top two (2) wines & top two (2) whiskeys with your award tickets to see what brands come out on top!
*Featured brands at the event will be released closer to event date.
NO REFUNDS/FEE FOR TRANSFER
Sat, February 18, 2017
1:00 PM – 5:00 PM CST
940 West Weed Street
Chicago, IL 60622
Motorheads, here's your chance to check out what's new in the world of cars. At this annual showcase, close to 1,000 different vehicles will be on display, along with accessories, auto-related exhibits, competition vehicles and collector cars.
|Venue name:||McCormick Place|
|Address:||2301 S Lake Shore Dr
|Transport:||El stop: Green to Cermak-McCormick Place. Bus: 3. Train: Elec Main to McCormick Place.|
|Price:||$12, kids and seniors $6|
Saturday February 11 2017 - Monday February 20 2017
Bring your appetite for the 10th annual Chicago Restaurant Week and get an introduction into Chicago's extraordinary culinary scene. Enjoy top fare at value pricing at restaurants throughout the city and surrounding suburbs.
There are multiple cuisines to choose from and many neighborhoods to explore. Visit EatItUpChicago.com for the full list of participating restaurants and their special menu offerings.Please note that participating restaurants may not serve all meal options (brunch, lunch & dinner), so we suggest you browse your options in advance.
Photos: Nellcôte, Gemini Bistro, Prasino, Quartino
The 2017 Black Creativity program, an annual tradition at the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago (MSI) kicks off on January 16 with a Family Day event, the annual Juried Art Exhibition and an Innovation Studio experience. The program, which is centered around Black History Month, invites students, teachers, families and the public to explore the legacy of rich contributions and achievements made by African Americans, while encouraging deeper interest in science and technology among youths.
The programming focuses on innovation, inspiring children to develop their creativity and become the inventors of tomorrow.
Join us for the Black Creativity Family Day on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, January 16, a free day for Illinois residents. Guests can participate in a collaborative art project, led by art educator Anayansi Ricketts. They can choose designs that represent science, technology and arts depicted in African culture that will be stamped onto one large group piece. This will be displayed in the Innovation Studio throughout the run of Black Creativity. Family Day also includes opportunities for students and families to meet and interact with STEM professionals in workshops called Jr. Science Cafés. The Juried Art Exhibition also opens to the public at noon on Family Day.
The Black Creativity Juried Art Exhibition opens January 16, 2017 and features more than 100 dynamic works - including paintings, sculpture and mixed-media - from African-American artists across the country, chosen by a panel of five jurors.
This longest-running exhibition of African-American art has been displayed annually at MSI since 1970. For the sixth year, a youth component offers opportunities for high school students to have their work shown in the exhibition. The Juried Art Exhibition is included in Museum Entry and is open through February 19, 2016.
From the exhibition, the panel selects first, second and third place overall show winners, as well as a winner in each medium category and overall in the youth category. The winners are recognized at a Juried Art Reception, held on Wednesday, February 15 from 6-8:30 p.m.
The Innovation Studio, which provides a creative space to inspire young inventors about future possibilities and opportunities in STEM, is another element of Black Creativity. Powered by guests' own curiosity and inspired by science-related challenges, guests will have access to a variety of materials and tools to create and prototype their solutions to issues in space travel, sleep and more. A gallery highlighting past and current African American innovators serves as inspiration.
The space will be open to the general public daily beginning January 21 through March 4; facilitated session times are offered at various times throughout the day. The Innovation Studio is included in Museum Entry.
Museum Hours: 9:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Family Day: January 16
Juried Art Exhibition: January 16 - February 19
Innovation Studio: January 21 – March 4
#2, #6, #10, #55, #X28
Hamilton is the story of America's Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, an immigrant from the West Indies who became George Washington's right-hand man during the Revolutionary War and was the new nation's first Treasury Secretary. Featuring a score that blends hip-hop, jazz, blues, rap, R&B, and Broadway, Hamilton is the story of America then, as told by America now.
Photo credit: Joan Marcus
There is a maximum purchase limit of 6 tickets per household.
A select number of premium seats will be available for all performances and some increased pricing during the holidays.
The Chicago production will conduct a day-of-show lottery for every performance beginning on Tuesday, September 27. Forty-four day-of-show tickets will be sold for every performance for $10 each. Seat locations vary per performance; some seats will be located in the front row and the boxes. Visit www.BroadwayInChicago.com/HamiltonLottery for available lottery performances.
Blue and Red Lines - Monroe
Orange, Green, Pink, Purple (rush) and Brown Lines - Adams/Wabash
#29, #62, #145, #146, #147, #151
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 13, 2017
BLUE MOUNTAIN LAKE, NY… Adirondack Experience, The Museum on Blue Mountain Lake (ADKX) is celebrating its 61st season with the new interactive exhibition exploring the spirit, history, culture, and people of the Adirondack region. Life in the Adirondacks is the largest permanent exhibition on ADKX’s stunning 121-acre campus. The immersive installation combines authentic objects from ADKX’s collections—including guide boats, vintage railway cars, and a aturalist’s cabin—and interpretative materials with leading-edge digital technologies and hands-on activities. ADKX is located in Adirondack Park, the largest protected natural area in the contiguous 48 states, comprising six million acres (one fifth of New York State) of forested mountains, pristine waterways, and 105 towns and villages.
The new 19,000-square-foot installation, featuring over 300 artifacts, was five years in the making with the help of experts in museum design. The rich history of the Adirondacks is revealed through the stories of people who were drawn to the region, how it shaped those who came, and how it was shaped by them. Voices from indigenous Abenaki and Mohawk communities are a key part of the narrative. The installation also explores the natural splendor of the area, conservation efforts, recreational opportunities, and regional industries.
“Life in the Adirondacks” continues ADKX’s proud tradition of our cutting-edge visitor engagement program established by the museum’s founder, Harold K. Hochschild, six decades ago,” said ADKX Executive Director David M. Kahn. “Just as we embraced modern devices available in the 1950s, the new installation provides visitors of all ages with the latest technologies and tools to enjoy a fully immersive, multi-faceted experience of the Adirondacks. Visitors may continue their indoor/outdoor journey ofdiscovery at our other thematic exhibitions, on nature walks, and by participating in our diversity of programs.”
Life in the Adirondacks begins with a video in the Wilderness Stories Theater, introducing visitors to the beauty of Adirondack Park and themes explored throughout the installation.
“Call of the Wilderness” presents the wide variety of individuals, past and present, who came to the Adirondacks including Verplanck Colvin, who oversaw the first reliable survey of the region in the 19th century; Theodore Roosevelt, who learned he’d become the 26th President while vacationing in the Park in 1901; conservationist and outdoorsman Clarence Petty; and American artist Frank Owen. Canoes, stage coaches, a train car, a station wagon, and snow mobile are on display and visitors may tour a private railroad station and Pullman car, with audio soundscapes, that once transported millionaires with L&N Railroad executives like August Belmont, Austin Carin, and Henry Walters. Visitors can also sit in a real guide boat, learn to row it, and virtually glide across an Adirondack lake. For the first time in the Museum’s history, the habitation of Mohawk and Abenaki people within the Adirondacks is explored. “A Peopled Wilderness” uses artifacts, video interviews, music, a language-learning station, and stories of contemporary indigenous people. This section was produced by ADKX in collaboration with the Akwesasne Cultural Center and the Abenaki Cultural Preservation Corporation.
One of the iconic features of the Adirondacks is the Great Camps built at the turn of the 20th century for wealthy urban vacationers looking for a wilderness experience but with modern comforts. “Roughing It” features the stories of those who instead came to settle or escape urban plagues like tuberculosis. The log cabin of Anne LaBastille, an author and naturalist who championed the pioneering life for women, is on display.
Using its expansive collection of artifacts related to outdoor work (including a snow roller, ice saw, and jam boat), the ADKX presents the stories of Adirondackers working in the wilderness in “Adirondack Tough.”
Among the occupations examined are historic underground iron mining and today’s open-pit garnet mining. An interactive activity allows visitors to virtually break up a log jam and understand first-hand how treacherous it was to be a lumberjack in the late 19th century. Work like maple sugaring and ice harvesting are also represented.
A section on the history of Adirondack Park features a giant walk-on map of the region. A multi-screened media experience gives voice to the many different perspectives of people who live, work, and visit the Adirondacks today including those employed in forest management, water quality, and protecting the natural environment.
For additional information, call 518-352-7311 or visit www.theADKX.org.
Distinguished Guests, including our Presidents and First Ladies, government officials, foreign dignitaries, and friends: Jeb, Neil, Marvin, Doro, and I, and our families, thank you all for being here.
I once heard it said of man that “The idea is to die young as late as possible.” (Laughter.)
At age 85, a favorite pastime of George H. W. Bush was firing up his boat, the Fidelity, and opening up the three-300 horsepower engines to fly – joyfully fly – across the Atlantic, with Secret Service boats straining to keep up.
At 90, George H. W. Bush parachuted out of an aircraft and landed on the grounds of St. Ann’s by the Sea in Kennebunkport, Maine – the church where his mom was married and where he’d worshipped often. Mother liked to say he chose the location just in case the chute didn’t open. (Laughter.)
In his 90’s, he took great delight when his closest pal, James A. Baker, smuggled a bottle of Grey Goose vodka into his hospital room. Apparently, it paired well with the steak Baker had delivered from Morton’s. (Laughter.)
To his very last days, Dad’s life was instructive. As he aged, he taught us how to grow old with dignity, humor, and kindness – and, when the Good Lord finally called, how to meet Him with courage and with joy in the promise of what lies ahead.
One reason Dad knew how to die young is that he almost did it – twice. When he was a teenager, a staph infection nearly took his life. A few years later he was alone in the Pacific on a life raft, praying that his rescuers would find him before the enemy did.
God answered those prayers. It turned out He had other plans for George H.W. Bush. For Dad’s part, I think those brushes with death made him cherish the gift of life. And he vowed to live every day to the fullest.
Dad was always busy – a man in constant motion – but never too busy to share his love of life with those around him. He taught us to love the outdoors. He loved watching dogs flush a covey. He loved landing the elusive striper. And once confined to a wheelchair, he seemed happiest sitting in his favorite perch on the back porch at Walker’s Point contemplating the majesty of the Atlantic. The horizons he saw were bright and hopeful. He was a genuinely optimistic man. And that optimism guided his children and made each of us believe that anything was possible.
He continually broadened his horizons with daring decisions. He was a patriot. After high school, he put college on hold and became a Navy fighter pilot as World War II broke out. Like many of his generation, he never talked about his service until his time as a public figure forced his hand. We learned of the attack on Chichi Jima, the mission completed, the shoot-down. We learned of the death of his crewmates, whom he thought about throughout his entire life. And we learned of his rescue.
And then, another audacious decision; he moved his young family from the comforts of the East Coast to Odessa, Texas. He and mom adjusted to their arid surroundings quickly. He was a tolerant man. After all, he was kind and neighborly to the women with whom he, mom and I shared a bathroom in our small duplex – even after he learned their profession – ladies of the night. (Laughter.)
Dad could relate to people from all walks of life. He was an empathetic man. He valued character over pedigree. And he was no cynic. He looked for the good in each person – and usually found it.
Dad taught us that public service is noble and necessary; that one can serve with integrity and hold true to the important values, like faith and family. He strongly believed that it was important to give back to the community and country in which one lived. He recognized that serving others enriched the giver’s soul. To us, his was the brightest of a thousand points of light.
In victory, he shared credit. When he lost, he shouldered the blame. He accepted that failure is part of living a full life, but taught us never to be defined by failure. He showed us how setbacks can strengthen.
None of his disappointments could compare with one of life’s greatest tragedies, the loss of a young child. Jeb and I were too young to remember the pain and agony he and mom felt when our three-year-old sister died. We only learned later that Dad, a man of quiet faith, prayed for her daily. He was sustained by the love of the Almighty and the real and enduring love of our mom. Dad always believed that one day he would hug his precious Robin again.
He loved to laugh, especially at himself. He could tease and needle, but never out of malice. He placed great value on a good joke. That’s why he chose Simpson to speak. (Laughter.) On email, he had a circle of friends with whom he shared or received the latest jokes. His grading system for the quality of the joke was classic George Bush. The rare 7s and 8s were considered huge winners – most of them off-color. (Laughter.)
George Bush knew how to be a true and loyal friend. He honored and nurtured his many friendships with his generous and giving soul. There exist thousands of handwritten notes encouraging, or sympathizing, or thanking his friends and acquaintances.
He had an enormous capacity to give of himself. Many a person would tell you that dad became a mentor and a father figure in their life. He listened and he consoled. He was their friend. I think of Don Rhodes, Taylor Blanton, Jim Nantz, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and perhaps the unlikeliest of all, the man who defeated him, Bill Clinton. My siblings and I refer to the guys in this group as “brothers from other mothers.” (Laughter.)
He taught us that a day was not meant to be wasted. He played golf at a legendary pace. I always wondered why he insisted on speed golf. He was a good golfer.
Well, here’s my conclusion: he played fast so that he could move on to the next event, to enjoy the rest of the day, to expend his enormous energy, to live it all. He was born with just two settings: full throttle, then sleep. (Laughter)
He taught us what it means to be a wonderful father, grandfather, and great grand-father. He was firm in his principles and supportive as we began to seek our own ways. He encouraged and comforted, but never steered. We tested his patience – I know I did (laughter) – but he always responded with the great gift of unconditional love.
Last Friday, when I was told he had minutes to live, I called him. The guy who answered the phone said, “I think he can hear you, but hasn’t say anything most of the day. I said, “Dad, I love you, and you’ve been a wonderful father.” And the last words he would ever say on earth were, “I love you, too.”
To us, he was close to perfect. But, not totally perfect. His short game was lousy. (Laughter.) He wasn’t exactly Fred Astaire on the dance floor. (Laughter.) The man couldn’t stomach vegetables, especially broccoli. (Laughter.) And by the way, he passed these genetic defects along to us. (Laughter.)
Finally, every day of his 73 years of marriage, Dad taught us all what it means to be a great husband. He married his sweetheart. He adored her. He laughed and cried with her. He was dedicated to her totally.
In his old age, dad enjoyed watching police show reruns, volume on high (laughter), all the while holding mom’s hand. After mom died, Dad was strong, but all he really wanted to do was to hold mom’s hand, again.
Of course, Dad taught me another special lesson. He showed me what it means to be a President who serves with integrity, leads with courage, and acts with love in his heart for the citizens of our country. When the history books are written, they will say that George H.W. Bush was a great President of the United States – a diplomat of unmatched skill, a Commander in Chief of formidable accomplishment, and a gentleman who executed the duties of his office with dignity and honor.
In his Inaugural Address, the 41st President of the United States said this: “We cannot hope only to leave our children a bigger car, a bigger bank account. We must hope to give them a sense of what it means to be a loyal friend, a loving parent, a citizen who leaves his home, his neighborhood and town better than he found it. What do we want the men and women who work with us to say when we are no longer there? That we were more driven to succeed than anyone around us? Or that we stopped to ask if a sick child had gotten better, and stayed a moment there to trade a word of friendship?”
Well, Dad – we’re going remember you for exactly that and so much more.
And we’re going to miss you. Your decency, sincerity, and kind soul will stay with us forever. So, through our tears, let us see the blessings of knowing and loving you — a great and noble man, and the best father a son or daughter could have.
And in our grief, let us smile knowing that Dad is hugging Robin and holding mom’s hand again.
Dear High School Parents:
It’s no secret that college is expensive. The cost of tuition alone can be discouraging. However, with the right tools, you can learn to unlock more financial aid and help your child afford even that dream school that today seems out of reach.
Where do you find those tools? That’s where we come in. My College Planning Team is offering FREE workshops in your area to help parents navigate the financial college planning process and reduce their student’s college costs. Our experts work with over 80 nonprofit venues in the Chicagoland area to help high school parents prepare financially and academically for college. Our one-of-a-kind workshops give parents the free tools they need to unlock greater opportunities and greater savings for their college-bound children.
We are coming to your area soon. Please visit My College Planning Team and Eventbrite to find a FREE college planning workshop near you today. You may reserve your seat either via Eventbrite or by contacting the venue directly.
If you have any questions about our workshops or the registration process, please let me know. In the meantime, our team looks forward to sharing their insights on cutting college costs at one of our upcoming workshops.
You can afford college. We’ll show you how.
Community Outreach Director
My College Planning Team