The best line of the night: "This isn't a public input session. This is a groundbreaking ceremony."
Somehow, I lasted the whole three hours, and spoke with most of the tolling authoritarians present, at least one of whom forbade me from ever using his name again in print. However, flattery will get him (and them) nowhere.
Let's just say that in all conceivable respects, the gathering was thoroughly Orwellian. After the first hour, the logic became so circuitous that I feared having been drawn into an Escher drawing.
Yes, I made it a point to track down David Nicklies of the Bridges Coalition, which is connected to the Tolling Authority in most significant ways except for anyone actually admitting to it, and he repeated to me that all businesses always should be willing to sacrifice for the wider community benefit.
No, I did not ask Nicklies for evidence that he has ever followed this dictum.
With nuanced condescension, Nicklies then remarked that upon closer inspection, his comment in the morning paper to the effect that only 3% of the community opposes tolling was exaggerated; it's even less than that, he said.
Nicklies in person is even more of a dismissive, unctuous dirtbag than voluminous prior notice might have indicated. Two showers later, and I'm still not clean.
Here are a few photos.
David Hawpe presses the flesh with workers from the building trades prior to the start of the meeting. Hawpe, who escorted an chirpy, exhumed Leni Riefenstahl to the confab, happily left the premises before the public session began, having presumably made his point in private prior to the elevators being opened.
It was a farce from start to finish. If I can muster the strength, I'll churn out another column for the Thursday edition of the Tribune. If not, I probably will, anyway.