Monthly Archives: November 2015

Murdoch Tweets that Sale of the Chicago Tribune is Imminent

Rupert Murdoch: Rupert Murdoch - World Economic Forum Annual Meeting Davos 2007: Photo courtesy of worldeconomicforum at
Rupert Murdoch – World Economic Forum Annual Meeting Davos 2007: Photo courtesy of worldeconomicforum at

Using Twitter as his platform, Rupert Murdoch, co-chairman of News Corp as well as 21st Century Fox, announced the likely sale of the Chicago Tribune. Also on the chopping block is the Los Angeles Times.

The Trib will be purchased by a Wall Street firm, while the LA Times will go to local investors, including the philanthropist Eli Broad.

It was only last September when the board of directors at the Tribune said that the Los Angeles Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune were “a cornerstone of our company’s portfolio and a key component to our success in the future.”

No further information about the sale was either tweeted or made available. Murdoch did tweet that he had no interest, and did not say who the buyers were or when the sale would take place.

A spokesman for the LA Times referred all questions to a Tribune Company spokesman, but that spokesman could not be reached.

Someone speaking on behalf of Eli Broad did not want to comment on the rumor.

Other newspapers published by the Tribune Company include the Wall Street Journal, the Baltimore Sun, Hartford Courant, Sun Sentinel and Orlando Sentinel.

Chicago Rental Costs Not So Bad Says New Zillow Study

The Chicago River as seen from the Lake Street Bridge. Photo by Mike Boehmer.
The Chicago River as seen from the Lake Street Bridge. Photo by Mike Boehmer.

A new study conducted by Zillow puts the median rent across Chicago at what turns out to be a not-so-high $1,642 per month. Just compare that figure to a typical rental in San Jose, the Silicon Valley town outside San Francisco: $3,398 per month.

According to Zillow’s study the Chicago figure is pretty average for the United States in general, only slightly higher than $1,382 per month. Additional good news for Chicagoans is that their rents seem to be holding pretty steady in comparison to the rest of the country. Rentals in Chicago only 1.4 percent this past year, compared to an increase of 4.5 percent in the rest of the US.

It is expected that rents in downtown Chicago will be eased when new construction there is completed.

The cheapest rentals out of 35 of the country’s largest cities are in Pittsburgh where the average stands at only $1,097.

Northwestern Pritzker School of Law Alumni Awards Luncheon

Six alumni of the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law were recently honored at the third annual Northwestern Pritzker School of Law Alumni Awards Luncheon. Held on October 23rd as part of the Alumni Weekend and Reunion 2015, the ceremony included more than 120 alumni, faculty, administrators, families and friends to honor alumni. The Northwestern Pritzker School of Law includes a vast array of esteemed professors and faculty including Esther S. Barron, Geoff Richards, Bernard Black, Alyson Carrel and many others.

The 2015 Alumni Award Recipients included Distinguished Alumnus Award to The Honorable Horace Ward. The Emerging Leader Award went to Keating Crown and Esther Joy King. The Volunteer Service Award was given to Steven Elrod, while the International Alumnus Award went to The Honorable Paul Lemmens. The Dawn Clark Netsch Award for Public Service went to Russlynn Ali.

The recipients were all awarded for their dedicated service to their professions, for giving back to the community and for representing Northwestern with their commitment and their expertise.

Certainly, each award is thought out with the utmost care. Dean Daniel B. Rodriguez personally honored each of the recipients. It is as a result of the excellent work of the faculty and professors such as Bridget Arimond, Michael R. Barsa, Geoff Richards, Leigh B. Bienen and many others that the alumni achieve at such a high level.

Frankie Sullivan’s Rude Music Company Suing Huckabee’s Campaign

Survivor at Sweden Rock 2013. Photo by Staffan Vilcans
Survivor at Sweden Rock 2013. Photo by Staffan Vilcans

Frankie Sullivan, co-writer of the hit song “Eye of the Tiger” and owner of “Rude Music” is suing Mike Huckabee’s presidential campaign organization for “unauthorized public use” of his song.

Rude Music filed the lawsuit in federal court in Chicago. The suit demands that the campaign committee and everyone associated with it refrain from playing the song in public. It also seeks monetary damages for an undisclosed sum.

The complaint states that the song, which is copyright protected, was played at a rally in support of Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk that was jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, without permission from the copyright owner, namely, Rude Music.

Frankie Sullivan, who is a founding member of Survivor, lives about 40 minutes outside Chicago in Palatine. “Eye of the Tiger” is an iconic song released in 1982 and co-written by guitarist Sullivan and keyboardist Jim Peterik. It was written at the request of writer, director and star and star of the movie Rocky III, Sylvester Stallone, to be the movie’s theme song. The song became number one on song popularity charts, and won a Grammy award as well as People’s Choice awards, and this information ws included in the suit.

The lawsuit states that the use of the song was no accident. “Mr. Huckabee is sophisticated and knowledgeable concerning the copyright laws, both as a private individual and media-savvy business owner,” it says.

Blue Cross Raised Premiums by Almost 18 Percent for 2016

Healthcare Premiums Going Up in Illinois
Healthcare Premiums Going Up in Illinois

Residents of Illinois are seeing the cost of healthcare skyrocket for 2016, with some insurers charging as much, and in some cases even more, that 40 percent above last year.

The Affordable Health Care Act enters its third year with enrollment underway  since  November 1. The lowest-cost plans in most of Illinois counties saw a 15-20 percent rise this year, according to the Illinois Department of Insurance.

Blue Cross is especially in the dog house with consumers. The state’s largest health care insurance provider raised its premiums by an average of 17.8 percent on individual policies regardless of whether or not they were sold on the exchange.

Other insurers also upped their rates, and some in an even more drastic way than Blue Cross. But since about 80 percent of those enrolled in ACA plans are insured by Blue Cross, they are the company facing the most consumer complaints. According to its rate filing, as many as 329,000 Illinois residents could be effected by the rate hikes.

Macy’s Considering Reinventing State Street Real Estate Usage

Macy's Department Store in New York City. Photo by Mike Strand
Macy’s Department Store in New York City. Photo by Mike Strand

The store on State Street in Chicago has been a symbol of business for over 100 years. Until nine years ago the building in the Loop housed a Marshall Field’s sign before switching to its new owner, Cincinnati-based giant retail chain, Macy’s. Now this grandfather of retail, and the inventor of the department store, says it is considering different ways to redevelop four of its flagship locations, including the one that takes up an entire block at 111 North State Street.

“We are just beginning an exploration to see what else we can do with the underutilized space in the building beyond the store,” Macy’s spokeswoman Andrea Schwartz said. “We have no pre-determinations at this point, except for the fact that this is a successful Macy’s store that will remain at this location.”

The announcement was made simultaneously with posting their disappointing third quarter data. The company would like to explore more creative ways to generate more income, with the possibility of monetizing its real estate.

Macy’s spokesman said that the redevelopment of the four flagship stores would be done in a way that “maintains a robust Macy’s retail store presence while also bringing alternative use into those buildings.” This could include joint venture projects “or other deal structures with third parties.”

The Chicago Christkindlmarket Boot is Back!


After a two year hiatus as a boot, the iconic Christkindlemarket mug is back in its beloved original form in honor of the market’s 20th anniversary. Over the years the boot-mug has become a Chicago Christmas tradition, often used to drink “glühwein” at the annual German Christmas market at Daley Plaza. (Glühwein is hot, spiced wine.)

The organizers of the popular market are charged with the responsibility of coming up with a new design for the mug each year. Despite the popularity of the boot shape in the past, the designers felt it would be a good change to introduce a regular mug-shaped mug in 2013 and 2014. To the relief of many, the 2015 mug has returned as a boot.

This year’s Chicago Christmas boot is innovative in other ways: Although white on the outside has been done, the red painted interior is a first.

The managing director to the Christkindlmarket, Maren Biester Priebe, says that the mugs are “quite coveted. This is a Chicago Christmas tradition.”

The market is scheduled to open on November 20th where mug-boots can be purchased for $7 each, including a warm cup of glühwein. If you want a mug before opening day, they can also be purchased on line as of November 13th, presumably without the wine.

Peet’s Acquires Majority Stake in Chicago’s Intelligentsia Coffee

Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea. Photo by: Antonio Vernon
Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea. Photo by: Antonio Vernon

Just a few weeks after acquiring Portland-based Stumptown Coffee Roasters, Peet’s Coffee and Tea announced last Friday it had purchased a majority stake in Chicago’s Intelligentsia Coffee.

Doug Zell, founder of Intelligentsia, said he sees the move as “interesting and rewarding.”
Zell launched Intelligentsia in October 1995. Its reputation grew as a small and independent coffee company, and now has branches in Los Angeles, New York and Chicago. Peet’s says none of this will change with the acquisition, stating that Intelligentsia will “continue to operate independently.”

“Peet’s recognizes that we are special and wants to provide a canvas that will allow more of the world to see the picture we are painting,” Zell wrote in a letter Friday. “Perhaps a good analogy is we’ve been showing our artwork at a local gallery and now have an opportunity for a spot at the Louvre.”

Everything special about Intelligentsia will remain the same says Peet’s, from the farmers that they get their beans from to the unique way they get their coffee. What will change is that now Intelligentsia will have full access to Peet’s resources and scale.”

In Chicago Restaurants Can Also Dress Up For Halloween

The Wieners Circle in Chicago. Photo by Victorgrigas
The Wieners Circle in Chicago. Photo by Victorgrigas

Iconoclastic hot dog stand known as “The Wiener’s Circle” went all out for Halloween, embracing the 1988 cult film “Coming to America” as its muse. The restaurant temporarily changed its name to McDowell’s, just like the fictional eatery in the film and the employees dressed in the costumes of the fast-food workers who were portrayed in the movie. Some patrons who came in on Halloween were confused, thinking the old restaurant had been replaced by McDowell’s, but were relieved to see that the old familiar hot dog was still on the menu.

In the real movie Cleo McDowell explains how his fast-food established is completely different than that other eatery with a similar name:

“They got the Big Mac, I got the Big Mick. We both got two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles and onions, but their buns have sesame seeds. My buns have no seeds.”

Wiener’s Circle manager Scott Brooker said that although the establishment was sold last month the new leadership will let the management continue selling their signature hot dogs that many say are the very best dogs in the country. Brooker explained what the Halloween costume was all about:

“McDowell’s just seemed like the best way to do it,” Brooker said. “We’re across from McDonald’s. They got the Big Mac, we got the Big Mick.”

Wiener’s Circle has become kind of a cult favorite itself. Located at 2622 North Clark Street, it has gained notoriety for its YouTube flicks as well as its totally authentic Chicago-style grilled hamburgers and hot dogs. The restaurant has also blossomed as a tourist attraction where visitors come to see some late-night antics which can include employees insulting customers and the famous “milk-shake.”

The Wiener’s Circle will maintain is new identity as McDowell’s until weekend’s end.