Quote of the day: Bright lights, big city

Katie Tarbox at Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago

“Think of it like having a huge, permanent night light on all the time… it’s just a complete waste of energy.”

– Katie Tarbox, describing the constant stream of light passing from Jenner & Block‘s offices at 330 N Wabash Ave into her one-bedroom condo at Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago. Tarbox has taken to wearing two masks to bed, the Trib reports. (And yes, the paper beat me to the inevitable Kenny Rogers Roasters reference.)

Jenner will be out of the old IBM Building and into its new tower soon enough, I suppose, but this article still raises a couple of questions in my mind. Does Trump have strict covenants regarding window treatments? And did Tarbox think to visit Wabash Avenue at night prior to signing a contract?


  • It has been 30 years since my days at Jenner. During the years I was there a computerized system shut down the main lights on each floor after dark.

    We’d have to get up from our desk, go out into the hall and flip a switch that turned on one-quarter of the floor’s lights.

    If you see lights on at Jenner & Block after dark it’s because attorneys are at work. It wasn’t unusual to pull an all-nighter back in my day, and I suspect that’s become far more common.

  • futuredoc 10 years

    I feel no sympathy for this women. I read in the Red Eye she paid over 925K. Does this condo come with a personal chef, maid service, etc.This is an insane amount of money for one bedroom. I think people just want bragging rights and are trying to impress others so they can tell everyone they know “I live in the Trump Tower”.

  • Abuyer 10 years

    Definentally a “million dollar” view. What a moron, hey lady go buy some freakin shades!

  • Abuyer,

    Go buy some freakin manners and put an end to the name-calling. Save it for CribChatter.


    Hopefully you’ll do well enough in the future to gain some understanding of people who have some money. When you do, you’ll wonder how you ever said the things you say today.

  • Holly 10 years

    Setting aside the impact on condo owners, my first reaction was: Jenner & Block isn’t acting very “green,” are they? Wouldn’t it save money to turn the lights off at night?

  • garrett 10 years

    I think that window treatments would help. With good window treaments, I think tht most people could get a good night sleep in her unit.

    I don’t know what the minimum billing requirements are for Jenner, but I am assuming that they are at least 2,200+ to justify the large salary’s that they pay their attorneys.
    So I am sure that their attorneys are working around the clock and getting good use out of those lights being on.

  • Holly,

    The building was green in a number of ways long before it was fashionable.

    I apparently didn’t express myself very well. The lights were turned off automatically. Anyone who wants a light on has to turn it on every half-hour. So, if you see lights on the J&B floors, it means that there are people working.


    I’d guess – and at this stage it’s purely a guess – that most of the J&B attorneys are billing out more than 2,200 billable and pro bono hours, which means more hours of work than that. The state of the economy may be easing that up a bit these days.

  • futuredoc 10 years

    I wonder if people who live at the top of these skyscrapers ever think about what if there is a fire or an attack(sorta like 9/11) and they have to jump out of the window.

  • The more I read (and read about) this article, the more I wonder why the Tribune would publish it and whether it does anyone any good.

    Look first at what the Trib DOES report: Tarbox is the only person who has complained to the Trump staff about this problem. Presumably other buyers would be affected by Jenner’s lights — was any effort made to contact those residents?

    Now look at what the story leaves out.

    The Trib refers to Tarbox as a “magazine editor” who lives in a home priced at $952,000 or more. How many magazines published in Chicago pay a magazine editor enough to own a million-dollar home?

    Spend some time on Google and you’ll learn that Katherine Tarbox is a senior editor for the Chicago-based Realtor Magazine, “the official magazine of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® and the business tool for real estate professionals.” Might be a coincidence, might not. Is it relevant to readers? It might be to the dues-paying NAR members who make up Trump’s Koenig & Strey sales staff. I don’t know.

    Again, can a senior editor at Realtor Magazine afford a home at Trump? And wouldn’t she have considered this prior to buying her home? According to a commenter on the Tribune’s Web site who identifies herself as Tarbox, she didn’t buy the home at all. “I didn’t buy. That is an error in the article. I got one of the sweetest deals in Chicago real estate history.” If that’s the case, did the Trib devote a lot of space to the complaints of a single renter?

    And what about the question of window treatments? It’s not addressed at all in the story, and it was the first thing we wondered when we read it. It’s the one question that readers on the Trib’s site are asking over and over. Again, the commenter who identifies herself as Tarbox says she has “window treatments, blackout shades in fact, and I am getting a stronger weight installed,” which, if true, might have been a good fact to include in the original article.

    Finally, might this problem not remedy itself once Jenner moves into its new building? This never came up once in the Trib’s article.

    In the end, I see what’s supposed to be a good, common sense reminder to buyers — bright lights may shine into your windows — that raises more questions and levels more implications than it should.

  • Joseph,

    There are doubtless a substantial number of Chicago-based mag editors who can afford to buy in the Trump Tower, either based on current salary, equity from prior home sales, stock market winnings, inheritance, spousal earnings, etc. etc.

  • milly 10 years

    Bright ligts, boo-hoo, move to downtown DeKalb if you like the dark.

  • Jon 10 years

    This article looks like some weird attempt at a publicity stunt. Would the Tribune really run a front page story about someone who blew nearly a million dollars on a condo and apparently had no money left over to buy some shades or curtains? It’s sad how far downhill the Trib has gone.

  • Sam Block (of Jenner &) was said to have said that a lawyer’s role was to “defend poor helpless corporations against rapacious widows and orphans.” The phrase resonates nicely here.

  • Not only buy shades and curtains, but some bedroom furniture! Look at that tv tray end table, and is that mattress just on the ground? Maybe a uber low bed? Regardless, it looks like she just moved in, as in that day. Everything about this article seems weird. I’ll put this offer out to Ms. Tarbox; I’m in the NW exurbs, very dark at night, wanna trade? (That would be so sweet if you said yes)

  • The lady has already received far more than enough useless advice on how to live in the more than 600 comments at the Tribune site and in the typically ugly bashing at CribChatter.

    Let’s try to keep the discussion here on a higher level.

    Jenner has been repeatedly slammed on the Trib site for its purported waste of energy. I’ve already noted the way the lights in the building used to work. A point I haven’t seen raised in any of the voluminous commentary is the terms of the typical downtown office lease. The last time I looked at one of these (several years back) the buildings imposed a surcharge on the base rent for supplying lights and air-conditioning after normal working hours. Does anyone know if those terms still prevail?

  • Joe 10 years

    As a former big Chicago firm attorney (at current non-Chicago government lawyer slacker), there are a couple of points:

    1.) It’s not uncommon for some law firms to keep all the lights on at all hours of the night, regardless of who is or isn’t working. Kirkland was notorious for this in the Aon building. (Yes, they work a lot. No, not enough to justify a constant 24 hours a day of lighting.) I think it is for intimidation purposes more than anything.

    2.) I would doubt that Jenner attorneys are averaging 2200 billables. They are litigation-heavy and don’t have a huge bankruptcy practice, so the practice areas that generally prop up average billables aren’t playing nearly as big of a role as at Kirkland or Mayer Brown or Sidley. At the firm I was at (let’s just say it was one of the foregoing three firms or very comparable to them), litigation associates probably averaged right around 2000 billables — this total was brought up close to 2100 when you factored in the busier practice areas.

  • Abuyer 10 years

    Joe Z, why all the hate on Cribchatter? I never knew about it before you sent me over there. Thanks for the link! At least there are some comments on some of the listings there from what sound like knowledgeable people, thanks again!

    And this story is very fishy. Why did the trib publish it? Earth day propaganda or something?

  • Abuyer,

    I’ve previously expressed my concern about who’s behind the site, its lack of transparency, and the ugly behavior that seems to be encouraged there. I believe very strongly that anyone who operates a real estate site ought to be very clear about who they are and what they’re about.

    I agree with you that there’s the occasional useful comment over there, and I mention it periodically for the benefit of any of our visitors who want to check in with other sites. People want as much information as possible before making a decision.

  • That’s a great photo.

  • Carter 10 years

    “The lady has already received far more than enough useless advice on how to live in the more than 600 comments at the Tribune site and in the typically ugly bashing at CribChatter.”

    SoI have to ask- does this not make the Tribune even more pathetic than CribChatter, using your own analysis? Personally, the comment boards on the Tribune blow my mind, I have never seen so much completely uninformed nonsense (ie, people howling about how bicycles aren’t allowed in the street, things that are clearly factually untrue).

  • Carter,

    The Tribune Company is my largest and most valued client, and a sponsor of a new series of sites we’re rolling out shortly. So, I’ll refrain from commenting on the Trib.

  • Carter 10 years

    A wise move. To be clear, it’s not the Tribune content so much as the readership – or at least the % of the readership who post on the stories – I’m referring to.

  • Carter,

    The quality of the comments is truly appalling. The collection of comments on that particular article makes clear, I think, why I discourage a certain type of comment.

    You don’t have to read very far into the comments on the Trib article to realize that most of the commenters haven’t read what the others have said. Many commenters repeated the exact same notion over and over and over. At least 100 comments simply said “buy drapes.” Quite a few of the commenters hadn’t read the article or just wanted a pretext to hate on something.

  • The internet does bring out the worst in people. The vicious nature of the commentary on many sites is apparent.

    Speaking of vicious, I wonder how the crack team of writers and editors at YoChicago missed linking to this story.

    Saving Flint, by Shrinking Flint. It seems to me some neighborhoods on the south and west sides might need the same treatment. It hardly makes economic sense to repave a street or put in new sewers in an area with few people.

    Something similar was proposed for parts of Detroit a few years back.