|America's only zoo free of charge located downtown on Chicago's Lakefront.|
Tuesday night is a very underrated drinking night but don't tell anyone lest word get out and those packs of overgrown frat boys start jacking it up for us old pros. I stopped in at the recently reopened The Red Lion Pub (TRLP) to knock a few back and lo and behold if the place wasn't nearly jam-packed. I also intended on getting a few more details to do my formal introduction of TRLP but Colin (the proprietor) was busy as a beaver pulling pints while correcting some uppity grad student on some Shakespeare he had mangled. He had his hands full just keeping my whistle whetted...I did keep him busy.
|Lincoln Park Conservatory|
I was talking to a very nice gal, and longtime regular, 'D', of our shared enthusiasm over TRLP's rebirth when another gal walked in and was warmly greeted like the longtime friend she is of our charming host Colin. After she tucked herself into a very well pored Red Zin, introductions were made and this charming lady turned out to be none other than Lincoln Park's 43rd Ward Alderman Michelle Smith. For those of you not familiar with Chicago politics, the 43rd Ward is probably only behind the 42nd Ward (which encompasses the Gold Coast, Magnificent Mile, River North, etc.) in the pecking order of most influential wards. My new drinking buddy (I wonder if she'll start referring to herself this way at official functions) is the boss of the tony Lincoln Park neighborhood and Old Town, which contains the priciest residential real estate in the Midwest. I usually don't immediately warm up to politicos but I really liked her as she's a straight shooter and, like the rest of us, fed up with the corruption and financial mismanagement. Unlike the former alderman in my ward, she doesn't use her position as alderman and former hotshot prosecutor and corporate lawyer to make herself rich while placing relatives in cupcake government 'jobs' with fat salaries and fatter pensions while being unqualified.
|Theatre on the Lake in Chicago's Lincoln Park|
My old drinking buddy, Dutch, also stopped in with his cousin/business partner and I made introductions as Dutch & Cousin own a booming boutique hamburger joint nearby who just so happened to need some Aldermanic assistance (something about the sidewalk/alfresco dining, etc.). Michelle (my belle) was on it. I was impressed. I gave Colin my subtle little "the Lady will have another Red Zin" gesture and we resumed our discussion on Chicago, politics, TRLP, etc. until she begged off having to get home and up early to see that her constituents are well governed. I am starting to think that might actually be the case in Chicago's 43rd Ward.
UPDATE 8/9/2014: I got a very nice email from Alderman Smith and separately from her staff that give me further hope that green shoots of reform and competence are starting to take root in Chicago politics. As mentioned in a previous post, The Den will profile and promote the people and institutions that are helping Chicago become The Great American City it needs to be. We would like nothing more than to sing the praises of Alderman Smith and her staff as a shining example of highly ethical and competent governance across 6 continents (and counting). We will keep a close eye and report our findings.