Best new evidence that Chicago ain't ready for reform

The new soccer field in Lincoln Park

Remember that deal cut a few years ago between the Park District and the Latin School, whereby the school would kick in $900,000 and get first dibs on a splendid new-turf soccer field at the south end of Lincoln Park? Outraged reformers rose up and declared the scheme a shameful misuse of precious park space and a classic example of them that has getting, while the have-nots get naught. For instance, nearby Lincoln Park High would have to keep playing its games on a field in Oz Park that the Reader's Ben Joravsky wrote "may be the worst in the city." Its most notorious deficit—"the manhole cover covered with a scrap of carpet." Thanks to the reformers, a judge kiboshed the deal and the Park District gave Latin its money back and built the field on its own. The results? A Latin spokesperson estimates the school uses the field about "85 percent" as much as it would have used it as co-owner. Meanwhile, over at Lincoln Park High, retiring athletic director Dartha Hoskins says the Park District has offered it the new turf field at a rate of $225 an hour—a price the school can't afford. So Lincoln Park still plays its boys' soccer games in Oz Park (which is considered too dangerous for the girls, so they travel to other fields miles away). In the evenings the field swarms with teams from private recreational leagues, proving what a good idea it was to build the field in the first place. So Latin comes out ahead, the Park District comes out ahead, the bar teams of Chicago come out ahead, and for the public schools it's the same old same old. But when wasn't it? —Michael Miner