David Axelrod has jumped back into politics. The former adviser to President Barack Obama has been elected president of his condo board, and he’s already in the fray.
Didn’t anyone tell him about the rough-and-tumble world of condo board politics?
Residents at Water Tower, where he and his wife, Susan Axelrod, have a four-bedroom home, are taking issue with the redesign plans of nearby Seneca Park and Eli M. Schulman Playground. The two spots sit next to each other — an oasis in the shadow of Michigan Avenue high-rises.
For years, the park and play lot have been locked up at night to keep out homeless people who might favor the grass as a place to sleep.
Now comes a $3 million, privately funded project that will bring in new landscaping and playground equipment. And instead of being a fenced-in space, the park will have new fencing on three sides and open up toward the east, facing the Museum of Contemporary Art.
“It’s going to make it sunny and more accessible,” said Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd), who added the project will include security measures.
Water Tower residents tell me they’re worried about safety given part of the park will be open for anyone to walk in.
Axelrod, who now works as director of the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics, didn’t immediately return a request for comment.
But he’s corresponded with Hopkins about his neighbors’ concerns.
The alderman said, “Regardless of final design, I can assure you there will never be an encampment for homeless people at Seneca Park.” He said a modified design with a fence “is still on the table.”
Hopkins said there will be another public meeting to discuss the plans for the park.
Bill Strong’s birthday bash
It was supposed to be a surprise party, but Bill Strong knew all about the bash put on by his wife, Sandi, to honor his 65th birthday.
It was a Hawaiian theme, and Strong pulled the surprise by wearing a floral aloha shirt — sans tie! Many in the crowd have never seen him without one.
Strong is chairman of Chicago-based Longford Capital Management and a longtime GOP fundraiser. A few years ago he was named finance chairman of the Illinois Republican Party. He’s a former co-CEO of Morgan Stanley’s Asia Pacific operations in Hong Kong. And he chaired John McCain’s Illinois Finance Committee in 2008.
He’s also an old friend of Bruce Rauner, so no surprise the governor popped in to wish Strong a happy birthday.
More than 200 guests attended the bash at the MCA Warehouse. Some came from as far away as Hong Kong, Singapore, Sydney, Rome and London. Childhood friends from Indiana were there, too, including Marc Summers, who’s starred in “Mr. Double Dare” on Nickelodeon and “Unwrapped” on Food Network.
Strong’s wife made a cake topped with a plastic corral and horses — because the last time he remembers a big birthday party he had a cake like that.
And Mayor Rahm Emanuel, another friend, declared April 1, 2017, Bill Strong Day. No fooling.
Hello, Mrs. Robinson
Notable names at a presentation for the Obama Library Center last week made a beeline to the front row before the program began.
It seemed everyone who was anyone wanted to shake hands with the regal woman in a blue coat sitting up front. Marty Nesbitt even gave her a hug.
Who was it? Marian Robinson, the mother of former first lady Michelle Obama.
Robinson wasn’t part of the presentation, but she beamed as architects and foundation leaders shared their dreams of the museum transforming the South Side.
It’s home to Robinson, after all.
Robinson said she’s glad to be back in Chicago and “in the resting stage” of her life. She stays busy visiting with friends and extended family and enjoys the restaurant scene.
Robinson travels back and forth to D.C. too, she says. “I like to see the kids.”
Chicagoans step up for Tim Kaine
Penny Pritzker and Bryan Traubert are hosting a fundraiser at their Chicago home for former vice presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine.
“As you may know, he is up for re-election . . . and we expect it will be the most challenging re-election of his life,” the invitation says.
Cost to attend the April 17 event ranges from $1,000 to $10,000.
Other co-hosts include Clayco CEO Bob Clark, Ariel Investments CEO John Rogers Jr. and GCM Grosvenor CEO Michael Sacks and his wife, Cari.
Pritzker is back in Chicago after working at the White House and Traubert, an ophthalmologist, has been studying at Stanford University on a fellowship.
Read more Taking Names at shiakapos.com.