Quick Hits Elgin – April 28, 2022

Quick Hits Elgin – April 28, 2022

Cancelling Nightmare ain’t just about the money

During my regular Thursday morning WRMN appearance a couple of weeks ago, I posed the question, “Instead of asking the City for another half million dollars, why don’t the fine Nightmare on Chicago Street folks apply for grants and seek more corporate sponsorships?” And while I’ll stand by that theory and continue to encourage them to do so, it turns out that cash wasn’t nearly the only considering in calling off this year’s popular Elgin, Illinois, fall festival

With Mayor Kaptain recovering from knee replacement surgery, I turned to City Councilperson Rose Martinez to better understand the Council’s “wait ‘til next year” decision.

As you might imagine, the largest fly in this year’s ointment is businesses and municipalities can’t hire enough people, much less secure the requisite volunteers for an event of this scope. And how can you guarantee attendees’ a fun and safe time for everyone when you’re short-staffed?

The downtown restaurants and bars are facing a similar dilemma. Rose said the eminently popular Elgin Public House fears being unable to bring in enough servers to handle what will likely be overflow crowds.

To make matters worse, we’re still dealing with the COVID instigated supply chain issues (it’s NOT inflation). They will eventually correct themselves, but for now it’s going to be a greater risk for those same establishments to stock up on kegs of beer because it costs so much more to do so. And after three years on hiatus, this year’s Nightmare attendance was by no means guaranteed.

And that’s the easy part, too Those variable are somewhat predictable and reasonable adjustments can be made, but there are possibilities that no one can accurately gauge.

Weather for example. There’s always a danger of a late October rainy cold snap putting a damper on the event, but that exposure will be greatly magnified by the lack of volunteers and increased costs. Not to mention the fear of some new COVID subvariant could drive people away from the festival as well.

So, while I laud those folks who got the City Council to reconsider bringing the 2022 Nightmare back from the grave, in the end, I have to side with Councilwoman Martinez and Elgin Events Coordinator Kate O’Leary who correctly believe cancelling the event was the prudent thing to do.

We can all look forward to great Nightmare next year.


Nightmare is back!

And speaking of risks, apparently writing a column on the day the city council will be discussing an issue is just as perilous as putting on a major late fall event in the waning days of the COVID era.

Because with the Elgin public having unequivocally spoken through social media and in person, Councilmen Corey Dixon and Steve Thoren changed their votes such that Nightmare on Chicago Street will rise from the dead and make its triumphant 2022 return after all.

I’m convinced this outpouring of citizen support for the event worked for two reasons. The vast interest demonstrated after the event was canceled quickly allayed any attendance fears. And the folks who protested the festival’s temporary demise generally did so with respect and fact-based arguments.

And that’s exactly the kind of approach that tends to work whenever a citizens group seeks relief from a governing body. Some still believe that shrieking, howling, and the rending of garments is the way to go, but this Elgin City Council reversal proves otherwise.

Given that that most of the major risks remain in place, were I on that city council dais I would’ve persisted in voting “no.” But now that it’s back on, my fondest wish is for it to become the most successful Nightmare yet.


He’s running! (Well not really, but he is)

Some stellar sources had me convinced that Elgin Mayor Dave Kaptain would not be running for a fourth term. Of course, Dave isn’t running anywhere until his knee fully heals, but during a lengthy conversation with Hizzoner I have to say there was no hesitation in his voice about giving it another shot.

Dave Kaptain

My well-grounded suspicion is that Councilman Corey Dixon’s impending entry into that contest swiftly disavowed Dave of any retirement thoughts. Dixon’s propensity to “buy” votes – I mean hold “free giveaway” events – notwithstanding, considering how the Mayor destroyed Carol Rauschenberger by a two-to-one margin in 2019, Corey might want to rethink his candidacy.

He doesn’t even have the “Rauschenberger” name to fall back on.

Oh! And speaking of Councilman Dixon, have any of you noticed how he’s suddenly more silent than a Blue Lives Matter supporter at an Elgin Community Task Force on Policing meeting? Dixon used to court the press and erupt with glee whenever he was quoted, but now there’s nary a phrase to be found.

Apparently, even he realizes that the stench of a disastrous citizen police task force he so wholeheartedly supported is starting to rub off on him. Regardless of his newfound shyness, my plan is to make sure that stench sticks.

When I pressed the Mayor as to what might have specifically incited him into to running a fourth time, avoiding the bait he simply said, “The people deserve a choice so bring on the candidates.”

Particularly when you consider the alternatives, Mayor Kaptain will certainly have this journalist’s full support going forward.


And speaking of the Elgin Community Task Force on Policing

It’s mercifully dead in the water pending the City Council debate on whether to hand another 90 grand over to Kearns and West, the task force’s incompetent consultant moderators, who not only fail to show up for meetings, but they can’t seem to tell the difference between legal and illegal proposals.

And that’s on top of the $160,000 they’ve already received for presiding over this unmitigated task force catastrophe.

Think about it! Had the City not thrown that money directly out a second floor Douglass Street window, the Council would already be halfway towards paying the extra Nightmare on Chicago Street freight.

The Council will begin those contract extension discussions in mid-May.

Meanwhile, because she lives in a reality that bears no resemblance to anyone else’s, Councilperson Tish Powell told reporters, “I will say I really believe the full council is going to be interested in hearing from the task force in terms of what direction the task force is going in.”

First, no one’s interested in hearing from them, and if by “direction” she means straight into the ground then she’s actually dead on because that’s the only place that group is headed. Having spoken to a number of councilmen, I’d be more than surprised if that extra 90 grand is approved, and when it isn’t, Elgin’s real nightmare will finally come to an ignominious end.


One more thing…

Apparently unhappy with my authentic depiction of him, task force member Walter Blalark openly declared that he and his 4,000 Facebook friends would soon “take care of me” during the public commentary segment of an April meeting.

Since I’m nothing if not magnanimous, in an effort to grease those skids I raciously attempted to “friend” the Pastor on Facebook. C’mon! How can his horde descend upon me if we’re not social media buddies first?

But it’s been at least three weeks and Walter still hasn’t accepted my generous Offer. The temerity of that man! Doesn’t he realize that I have feelings, too? If you prick me, do I not bleed? If you tickle me, do I not laugh? If you poison me, do I not die? And if you wrong me, shall I not revenge?

Though I can certainly think of a better use for the word “prick” right now.

Did Bill also coin the phrase “all talk and no action” because that quote also seems appropriate under the circumstances.

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