The Mayor and Mr. Claypool: Chicago Citizens Suffer Under an Arrogant City Regime

THE MAYOR AND MR. CLAYPOOL: OUT OF TOUCH WITH CHICAGO’S CITIZEN MILLIONS

In the news what do we have? Here is just a brief list:

Citizens on a hunger strike for the support of the school they want in their neighborhood;
Among the worst (gun) violence in the nation;
Schools in disrepair;
Teachers upset and on strike and threatening strikes;
Pension funds a mess;
Roads and bridges in disrepair;
Homeless families and veterans;
Special needs people who are seeing cuts in funds for services……………………..

And what are our officials talking about? Here is just a sampling:

Property tax increases;
Garbage fees (we already pay for utility and garbage fees at many apartment complexes);
School property tax increases;
Congestion tax for people who drive in from the suburbs;
Taxes on sugary drinks such as sodas and fruit punches;
Cutting public school personnel and jeopardizing teachers and students;
Selling expensive parking lots and earning millions of $$ from those sales in downtown;
Closing schools and establishing charter schools that do not use union personnel;

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What are our officials NOT talking about? Cutting their own perks and salaries and timing themselves on a time clock like many citizens do, and being accountable to the people who elect them instead of to the mayor who hand-picks many of those ‘trusted’ officials. These narcissistic people are so worried, so paranoid and obsessive-compulsive about giving up or sharing their power that they will do just about anything… but that is going to ruin not only their reputations but our city as well.

Who is going to want to have a business or a home in the city limits? Who will want to drive in and be sacked with a ‘congestion tax’? And by the way, some Chicago apartment managers charge for garbage collection and sewer services and a resident told me that doing so is illegal because the city already pays those companies so we are being charged twice for garbage collection. They head everything under the name of “utility fees”.

We certainly need people in our city department offices who are not accountable to the mayor, who are not hand-picked by the mayor, who have to answer to their employees and not their boss the mayor, and who must answer to a citizen’s board made up of people from all the neighborhoods and who have a bone to pick with the mayor and his arrogant ivory-tower inner circle.

No doubt they have their hands in every department and every office. I suspect that if you turned upside down and shook the boards of METRA, the RTA, Chicago Parks, the CTA, and the Streets & Sanitation, you would find some mayoral crony in the official circle. The Chicago City Council and the Chicago Public Schools already have that deep trouble, and they will push taxes through in a hurry without any consideration of the millions who will suffer.

We are in the grips of a high-money mayor who has his head in the clouds of big money and corporate favoritism and Washington politics. Yet he was booed out of a public meeting recently and there are many people who hope that happens at every public meeting he has until the problems we have are resolved completely to citizens’ satisfaction.

Those few tyrannizing over the many? Uh, folks, we need to get on the officials and in a hurry. We need to ask them what is going on, we need to ask to whom they are answering. If they say, “I answer to the mayor” then those who work for them have choices – they can strike, they can reply, “Oh, then if you cannot help me then why am I working for you?” They can leave the city and go elsewhere, to jobs where they will be appreciated and leave the officials hanging and wondering and having to search their own consciences and finally cooperate with their constituents.

Just look around – there are already people leaving for other cities and suburbs. There are plenty of ‘for sale’ and ‘for lease’ signs in downtown, and there are plenty of homeless and beggars and families suffering on our streets. There are vacant lots full of trash and there are abandoned buildings that attract drugs and crime and vermin. What is the mayor and his inner circle going to do – drive out so many people that only the rich will be left and those who are left will be ‘taxed to the max’ and then want to leave? What will Chicago be left with – no residents, no small businesses, and no workforce.

Get the officials to answer to you or band together and find ways to fire them for not doing their jobs. After all, if the average citizen did not do their job they would be severely reprimanded or fired or demoted, so considering that we let those officials keep their jobs and their money and perks and cushy seats, we should stay on top of them like our employers sandwich us in and hold them accountable for every little thing – yes, every pothole, every power outage, every flooded home, every rat and mouse in the alleys, every tax increase, every investigation that shows government waste, every closed school, every murder using a gun, every homeless veteran, and everything else we know can be corrected. We just have to do this ourselves.

If the officials are too prim and lazy to get out there then grass-roots efforts are the answer. We need to show them how it is done and organize cleanup days and go through this city from south to north and from east to west till we like the way it looks. Then we can work on deciding where our taxes should be spent and how they should be spent and who should control that money. We need to send the officials home for a few weeks, rather like a time-out for a fussy child, until they can cooperate and politely ask to come out of the corner and then assure us, their bosses, those who elected them (and what is the mayor but an elected official so where does he come off being so arrogant and stuck-up), that they can and will behave properly and do their jobs correctly and for the benefit of those who put them in office.

Meanwhile we have the:

Citizens on a hunger strike for the support of the school they want in their neighborhood and who are now going to rally for an elected school board;
Among the worst (gun) violence in the nation;
Schools in disrepair;
Teachers upset and on strike and threatening strikes;
Pension funds a mess;
Roads and bridges in disrepair;
Homeless families and veterans;
Special needs people who are seeing cuts in funds for services
Kids dying on our streets due to drugs and guns and gangs……………………….

Divi Logan, Chicago, 2015.

Veterans Need the Best We Can Offer: Chicago HAVE For All Military Personnel

Chicago Needs to HAVE Veterans In Our Hearts All the Time

There are many men and women who have served our nation in uniforms of the military branches of our great United States. They have enlisted and signed the papers, put on the faces and marched through the mud. They have seen international tours of duty and they have seen service right here at home.

Speak Up, America! Watch US Work.

Remembering America’s veterans.

Home… a word that does not ring with many of those proud people, since they do not have a home to go to. Yes, there are homeless veterans… HOMELESS… the very people who have given so much, who have sacrificed and labored and been through obstacle after obstacle, to protect the homes we go to every day, do not have a home of their own to step into.

That is disgraceful.

Yes the Veteran’s Administration (VA) system is seeing its share of dishonorable behavior and wasteful disgraces, but to think that a veteran or any military member is homeless is a major stain on our nation and a pustule on our society. These are people with medical problems due to their tours of duty, and that to which they have been exposed, such as gunfire, diseases, shelling, shell shock, PTSD, and loss of limbs. They have been sick for us, been maimed for us, and been tossed aside by us.

Something has to change, and such changes cannot wait for politics or elections. Those in office, those who command and lead and order around those veterans must step up, just like those folks did in lines of rank or to police an area of their base. They wanted things to look better, they wanted freedom, they wanted health and well being, and they were willing to sign on and give their lives and legs and hands and arms for those privileges.

Do we arrogantly stand by and wait for a new mayor or new senators or a new president to be elected before we bother to look at the endurances these proud people have made for the rest of our nation and around the world? They cannot wait for the influential, the rich, the government that hired and ordered them about, to step up.

Every veteran and their families should have a home and work that is fitting to their talents and needs. Every man and woman should have a house they can call their own, a space that suits them. If the vet has lost a limb, build them a home that will accommodate their special needs. If they are sick, give them the best care a reformed VA system can provide.

HAVE is an idea I thought of while listening to excerpts of Mayor Emanuel’s inauguration speech recently, and the acronym means Home All Veterans Everywhere.

After all, we have homes; we have spaces all our own we can go to after work and play and worship and trips to the grocery and the mechanic, so why don’t these veterans have a home?

It is going to take a lot more than dropping a buck or two in the shaking cup of a homeless vet crouched at the side of a street under a light post, or holding a sign as he strains to sit up in his wheelchair; it is going to take elbow grease action, grassroots efforts, caring and tender and loving people who deeply understand that these are their fellow citizens and neighbors.

Treat them with respect. They deserve it.

America's flag flies proudly.America's flag flies proudly.

Bless our veterans, love our veterans, take care of our veterans, home our veterans.

Divi Logan. Chicago, on this Memorial Day 2015.

Chicago Neighborhoods: Constructive, Corrosive, Communicative?

I. INTRODUCTION

Election Day in Chicago, and the candidates are out there. What are some of the topics on which they speak and on which they attempt to cater to the voters? There are the usual issues of taxes, TIFF’s, having an elected school board, transportation, the roads and bridges, and business. There is another issue that crops up in their ads: the neighborhoods.

It seems that the word “diversity” is a new concept to people of modern America, but it was not news to me when growing up in Nashville. There was not even a need to mention the word, as some kind of cajoling to get me to think of others who were different, to think of others in terms of some kind of census related terminology, or to see others for what I could get out of them for statistics, tax dollars, business funding, etc.

II. NASHVILLE NO – BOUNDARIES

The area of town I grew up in was about as low – crime as a part of a major city can be. There was no need to even think of anything dangerous happening. Police patrols were regular and it was good to see them, but they were just doing their jobs, that I knew. I just watched and went on with activities. Everyone kept their homes maintained and their yards neat, their lawns mowed, their mailboxes painted, and their noise levels down. There were no shootings, none of the “if it bleeds it leads” junk on the news networks that plagues us these days, and no talk of drugs around the area that would cause us to be on the watch for dealers/ pushers, and certainly no mention of gangs such as make parts of Chicago notable in the national scene for violence.

Not at all; our part of town was quiet, comfortable, and about as “diverse” as can be. I went to school with children who, thank goodness, did not all look like me or speak as I did, or dress as I did. They were interesting and different and my classmates and my teachers, pure and simple. We were there to learn, to play together, to interact on projects and to come and to go every week. We had no need for uniforms; we were there to do what students do – no metal detectors or security guards or metal bars needed, thank you. They might have been around but I had no need to take such heavy notice of them. I felt safe and that is what mattered to me and my parents.

The same applied to the churches I attended: it was a church, and everyone was welcome. Everyone sang, participated in Sunday School, baptisms, christenings, parties, etc. We came and went, one and all worshippers of the same God. The message was the same and we understood it.

People were people in my eyes and for my folks, who worked around the doctors and nurses and staffs of at least three major local hospitals as their careers progressed. They saw every patient, everyone who needed help, no matter who they were. I was fortunate to interact with the brilliant people who were friends of my parents, who came to our home and to whose homes we went. Compared to how people think today, my folks were ahead of the time in the 1960’s and 1970’s, and thank goodness I was not subjected to the terrible talk of what separates whom from whom and what this means to “the government statisticians” and the Census Bureau.

I traveled after high school for international vacations and the world broadened. Because I had not been so mentally restricted early in life, I had an open mind to these exotic cultures and languages, foods and attire and jewelry and histories that greeted me like the pages of an open book coming to life. I was not worried about it at all, the influence of these diverse and amazing cultures on my mind and spirit. Gone were thoughts of being separated by some imaginary line that ended at a certain street or city limit or ethnic boundary. Travel and the benefits that came with doing that made my world a better place. It was grand – the world became my neighborhood

It was marvelous.

Then I moved to Chicago…

III. CHICAGO: SIDES, DISTRICTS, and… NEIGHBORHOODS

Those candidates we will consider in this election today have spoken to and berated each other on their work with and in and their experiences with and funding of Chicago neighborhoods. They talk about how safe or unsafe “their neighborhoods” are; they talk about the closings of schools, the disrepair of roads, the lack of or the concentration of development for residences and businesses. They talk about diversity… not about unity.

We need a mayor who will break down those barriers and remove the roadblocks to progress, a friendly and open –  minded mayor and the aldermen who will work with him. As Shakespeare might put it, we need someone who will “dispel these inconveniences”, which is part of a speech from the play Henry V, when, towards the end, King Henry and Princess Katharine are listening to the Duke of Burgundy speak on restoring peace.

Our mayoral candidates might have a lot of money and influence and power when the cameras are around for campaign photo opps, but they seem to forget something, that Chicago is and always has been a diverse city, and always will be.

From its inception to right now, Chicago is made up of people who interact every day with others who do not look or talk or speak as they do, people who need help and who give help and who are glad to help in their lines of work, every day. These are the retailers, the first responders, the doctors and nurses and administrators, the airport ticket agents, the airline crews, the television studio camera operators, the bus drivers, and the furniture salespeople.

Diversity is nothing new, and we just need to leave off this census -oriented thinking and make progress. Interaction is easier when we just simply treat everyone with respect and courtesy. Represent yourself as a person, a special human being, an American citizen, plain and simple; represent yourself as someone who is one of those people out there to help and to work with everyone. Close down the prejudices, and bless yourself with the qualities of peace.

We just need to do that.

Divi Logan, Chicago, 2015.

School and Students:: How to Be and Remain a Good Student

Are you a good student? Do you want to be a good or a better student? Here is an article about how to accomplish that goal… or some good pointers at least.

1. The Phrase “dress for success” Really Does Have Meaning… and here is how it does.

What influences the manner in which you dress, in which you get ready for each day in choosing what to wear? Naturally the seasons of the year have bearing on what you wear; if it is warm you might wear shorts, lighter -colored socks and pants, and light -material and lighter -colored shirts and blouses. If the conditions are cold, you go for thicker socks, heavier pants, and coats, mittens, and thick hats and earmuffs.

What else has to do with what you wear? One factor is what you have that is clean and pressed. If you need to do laundry then do it; if the codes of your school require that your clothes are properly pressed and your shoes polished then do that or have someone teach you how to iron and how to keep your shoes clean and neat. Clothing also must be appropriate for the situations you are going into. Many schools have dress codes and uniforms, and it is suggested that no fuss is made when you encounter those rules. Rules are made for a reason and should be followed. If you are not sure of something, please ask a trusted teacher or other authority figure and listen to them carefully.

If your school does not have a dress code and what to wear is under your discretion, play it safe. If you put something on and you have ANY doubts at all about how you look in it or whether or not the clothes will cause trouble or attract undesirable attention or makes you look funny, then take it off and save it for the weekend or the beach or vacation. Refuse to follow trends if they do not make you feel comfortable; after all you are the one who for hours a day will wear that shirt, those pants or shorts, those shoes and socks and belts and jewels. Opt for simple clothes without a lot of graphics or loud colors that will definitely attract attention and distract you from your studies or will distract others from their studies.

Remember that there are other people around; the school is not just you alone.

2. Be Respectful and Punctual as Possible

Respect is not only a manner of behavior, it is essentially a duty of every citizen one towards the other. To “respect” simply means to look at again. You can certainly respect yourself in a healthy way and thus you are able to respect others as easily as you breathe and walk and eat. In any public setting, respect of others is just essential and vital to remember, simple as that. How do you respect others, or how can you learn the ways to do that?

One way is to wait your turn to speak, especially if those who are talking are older than you. It is just proper to respect your elders, including teachers, professors, and all school personnel, no matter what position they hold. They are your elders and experienced in what they do, and can provide you with direction and knowledge, so listen carefully to what they say.

Never shout down a hallway or on a street corner or in a quiet room or library or other places where people are reading and studying. Shouting and screaming in public is a vulgar habit and is not necessary. If you cannot reach someone right away, you can call them or text them or send electronic mail any time. If you contact someone electronically, remember to use the rules of proper electronic etiquette. There are plenty of resources that teach those habits.

Endeavor to be as on time as possible. Get up earlier for the bus if you have to, so you have time to dress, have breakfast and not rush through it, gather your supplies and head off to school. Do not keep the bus driver waiting, and do not keep the class waiting. Being on time is a life skill that you will always have and need to work on, no matter if you are going to school, going on a vacation, going out to dinner, or meeting someone. Punctuality is a good quality.

3. When You Have a Problem, Ask Questions.

Every once in a while we run into situations we do not understand, something about which we need clarification. At that point we need help… we need to ask questions. We need to gain understanding and problem solving.  This is where teachers and other trusted people enter the picture. These are folks who have the experience you need to get to the root of the problem and find out the answers. If there is a problem with the mathematics homework, ask your parents, or get onto a homework hotline, or ask your professor. Do not be afraid to ask for help; that is what these people are there to help with, solving problems. Be patient and learn the steps that will help in the future when you encounter other odd situations. Problem -solving is a life skill as well; you will need to learn to do this as you go through school, no matter what subjects you study. You will problem -solve in the workplace as well, so learn that skill and polish it every chance you have. Helping others to solve problems or get through concerns is a fine way to polish your own skills and such leadership is desirable. When you teach others you should get a good feeling and want to do more teaching.

4. Branch Out: Grow Out of Your Neighborhood and Into the Global Setting

Many people think that sticking to being in “the neighborhood” is a good thing. It is to a point, that point being that once you have seen everything, know everyone, know the habits and sights and sounds, you are probably ready to go to other places and see new things.

Branching out is a good thing and a vital element of growing up. Being social is just a part of what we do; it is why we are a “society”. You have to have the courage to say, “There are others out there who are different, and I want to get to know them. Sure others say to stick with people who look like me or talk like I do… but no one does that.”

Which is why you must take the lead and talk to others at your school. Is there someone who does not make friends easily? Talk with them. Is there someone who seems alone? Talk with them. Invite them to your lunch table or to sit outside on the school grounds and have a bag lunch out there and just talk about things. You will feel good, someone else will feel better, and both of you might become fast friends for life. Everyone is unique and individual and special, and because of that we must respect everyone.

You are the one who must take the first step away from the streets you find familiar, to reach towards that part of town you have not explored before but have heard about. Go there and look around, ask about what interests you and learn from the people in that area.

And when you have the chance, travel. When I had the chance for international travel I took the opportunity. Because I had the courage, the world was as an open book, but instead of looking at someone else’s photos, the pictures became living and colorful and alive and vibrant. In China there were people doing Tai Chi in the morning. In Japan there were people exercising and walking about and doing business. In Europe people went about their daily lives, playing and working and maintaining the home life. Some were there to take care of the tourists, and thanks to them my times in these areas was made pleasant and comfortable. Travel is essential in the growth process, even if it is just to another part of your city, and favorably if to another part of America and the world.

5. Growing Up, Have Fun!

No matter what you do, be your real self, learn what that means, and have fun exploring what that means. When you are sitting at the desk at home, burning the studying oil after dinner or late into the night to get that term paper ready, you are preparing for a lifetime of work and fun. You are the one who will grow out, make the changes, and learn to help others while helping yourself as well.

Enjoy your life!

Downtown Chicago

Photos taken with a Leica V -LUX -4 “bridge” style camera.

Communication is the Answer

Divi Logan, Chicago, 2014.

 

Homeland Security? Orange Line Incident Prompts Questions About Security and Funding.

Well now it’s come to this: think about what we are doing regarding “homeland security”.

We want to talk up this business about securing our borders and our nation from outside threats such as from Yemen, Iraq and other terrorist nations and organizations… but when it comes to the thought of protecting against threats that happen right here within our own states, we seem to have a major problem supplying personnel and equipment to do that.

The incident yesterday along the CTA Orange Line prompts me, a regular rider, to question what is going on.  For those who read this article and who are not familiar with it, let me enlighten you: the Orange Line is part of the Chicago Transit Authority’s system of elevated trains that goes through the famous Loop district. On this train patrons can ride all the way to Midway Airport; from the Roosevelt Stop the trip is about thirty minutes. You can get straight on it from the Red Line by accessing a tunnel and escalators to go up to the Orange Line stop.

Yesterday the peace of patrons on the Orange Line was shattered when armed assailants burst into the cars, announced a robbery and took things from riders. Apparently they got on at the Halsted stop and got off at the Roosevelt stop and took off. Now with the number of people at the Roosevelt stop and the amount of activity there it is hard to believe that someone did not yell out that there was a problem and that the personnel downstairs could not catch up with those people or call for backup and clear the area.

So where is all this “security” we are supposed to see since 9/11/01? Where are the vested officers, the dogs, the extra cruisers and personnel? WHERE ARE THEY? Every so often in the Red Line I see a dog with an officer, and the occasional extra officers in the gate area, but this should not be “occasionally”.

And if there is any denial that we have terrorists right here in our nation, that incident should push the denial right out of the minds of the law personnel and clear the rust out of our brains and the dust from our eyes and make us question even more, “WHERE ARE THOSE EXTRA SECURITY PERSONNEL?”

Also what happened to the idea of acting so quickly on the sentence we hear every time now that we are on a Chicago train: “If you see something, say something!” Perhaps the riders between those Orange Line stops were so in shock that they could not react quickly enough to inform 9-1-1 or the conductor that something was wrong. Perhaps also, there being more than one assailant, the means of contacting help were denied to the riders until the robbers jumped off the train.

What happens now that the security video has been released?

People sure are brazen these days, but desperation can breed such unusual behavior, such risky behavior as that which happened in broad daylight along that CTA train. It is a mean -spirited and desperate person indeed that brandishes a firearm among a crowd of peaceful travelers and shakes their minds up and demands their belongings. Just terrible…

… but what are we as ordinary citizens going to do about it? Carry more weapons? Have officers in every train car? Have cameras on every seat? Perform more citizens’ patrols? We sure are beyond just talking about the problems and the issues about “gun violence”. We are tired of hearing about it every day, seeing the evidence and the remains of it, and dealing with it. We don’t want to “deal with it”. We want it to end, be over, enough already.

What are we to do?

Divi Logan. Chicago, 2014.

Shootings? NOT ANOTHER ONE!

Shootings. Shoot… the last word I want to hear every single doggone day around here is “shooting”.

Enough already with the reports that even mention that someone was shot in Chicago or anywhere else for that matter. The time for just talking about or reporting it is come and past; the time for action to stop the violence is NOW.

RIGHT NOW.

After all, there are other meanings to the word “shoot”. Time was that “AW SHOOT!” was nothing more than a mildly explosive expletive when someone would misplace their keys or break a shoelace. The words were just a bridge between the incident and getting over what happened, rather like saying drat, dang, rats or doggone it.

But now when the news networks mention “shoot” it deals with someone getting shot, as happened today in Las Vegas.  A “shooting” with a “gunman” happened at a university in Washington State.

Shootings happen in some parts of Chicago every day, and no doubt folks in Chicago are darned sick and tired of hearing every day about someone getting shot.

Rather get a camera and go on a photo “shoot” and document what’s going on and perhaps in that way find out if there is a solution to this pressing problem. Not attending to “the press” when they talk about it and hype it up is one way. Just turn it off and protest this “if it bleeds it leads” gibberish.

What’s the deal with summer and hot weather being a time when suddenly the violence and people running amok seems to explode? Folks, find other ways to entertain yourselves. No need for this junk with the flash mobs, the gang involvement, and bored kids that seemingly have nothing to do.

The kids have plenty to do if only people with consciences get them off their lazy and jaded behinds and put tools in their hands, give them a plot of land to till, clean, take care of and get a garden going. The kids have plenty to do if they get involved with building houses or playgrounds or tidying up a school or serving in a soup kitchen or collecting items for a charity or a mission.

Come on, people – you don’t need guns and drugs and gangs to give your life meaning. Those things will only put you in danger – in danger of losing your life, of hurting someone else, of ending up in prison and with a record you cannot erase. Gangs, guns and drugs are dangerous.

DANGEROUS. No one can emphasize that enough. Gangs, guns and drugs are DANGEROUS. You ought to be running away from those things as you would from a poisonous snake, a tornado, a scorpion, a toxic spider. You who have conquered the need to have such garbage fouling up your life, and who know about the perils and dangers and ugliness of prisons and police stations and being booked, and facing the people you have hurt, can turn this around and help others get over the need for these things in their lives.

Remember that gangs and guns and drugs endanger everyone, including children. Kids want a safe place to live, play and go to school. They should not be afraid of dying on the way to the store or having some idiot gang banger drive past their porch and open fire in the hope of killing someone else.  Children are vulnerable in this society as people start to care less about others and more about only their selfish and lazy and arrogant selves. Kids are abandoned to make their own decisions, to test judgment not completely mature, and to be exposed to harmful habits, to foul language, to violent video games, and to “the streets”.

If only more adults could think like the teachers who sheltered students during the tornadoes the Weather Channel features on their tornado week specials these days. Teachers in Moore, Oklahoma sheltered their students as the twisters approached and damaged their school. Teachers in Joplin, Missouri did the same, taking care of their students. But teachers cannot do the work of parents. Sure a school can provide shelter and food and instruction during part of the day but a school is not a home and teachers are not parents. Parents MUST take more responsibility, first for their own habits and then for their kids, making sure they have these good examples of care and decency and dignity to follow.

Maybe it’s time to stop this diversity thinking and start thinking UNITY. Quit thinking about whether or not someone “looks like you”, “talks like you” or “lives in your neighborhood”. So what? No one is going to look like, talk like, or live like anyone else, even though they are right across the hall or the street or in the next building. Everyone is different but in some ways we are united.

Those who are united in the common thought of ending the violence must band together, stuff the diversity talk in the trash bin, and start thinking in a group sense and a unified sense. An army cannot fight successfully and with a purpose and with strength unless the personnel are unified in their goal of driving out the enemy. Without this common bond of discipline and unity and purpose the biggest army will be nothing but a bunch of people going every which way, not going forward to the goal, and the effort will collapse, and the enemy will win.

The armies of the gangs, guns and drugs cannot be allowed to win these little victories every day. Thanks to the mass media they are winning, because people talk about the incidents and the shootings, talking about the problems instead of the solutions, talking about the investigations instead of banding together to call people out to drive the gangs away for good.

AW SHOOT, folks… can’t you find ways to stop the violence already?

Divi Logan, Chicago, 2014.

Memorial Day: Occasions to Ponder and Give Thanks

It’s true, we do not need a day called “Thanksgiving” to be gracious and humbled. We can have gratitude every single day of our lives, if not for some things, than for someone.

In this case it is for the people who have served in our national military services, giving and straining for the highest achievements such a career can provide. You give the effort, someone else gives their efforts to help you be your best, and in the end, you serve and you sacrifice.

As many ads of the past month or so indicate, many uniformed personnel return and are reunited with their families… in one bodily piece. We can also hope these folks are mentally fit as well as they are physically fit. These ladies and gentlemen are so happy to see their families, and those kids sure are happy to see them, running up to the arms of mom or dad.

On this day of auto racing in the Indianapolis 500, on this day of barbecues, swimming, pickup baseball and pro baseball and other outdoor activities which Americans are privileged to engage in this long holiday weekend, we must remember all of those who are serving now in this country and overseas in the name of freedom and the preservation of those rights we as American citizens hold dear and near.

We should take time to remember the first responders of our emergency medical services as well as those in our Army, Navy, Air Forces, Marines and Coast Guard. We can find special ways to honor them. Think about the veterans languishing in hospitals or at home care, and consider what you can do to help them. No veteran should be alone, or waiting for care when they are in pain or suffering, or homeless and searching for their next meal in a trash can dirty with pet waste, chemicals, and broken glass. Everyone needs someone at some point… what can you do for one of these in need?

Place a flag in a military/national cemetery. Honor your serving relatives who happen to be in the states with gifts, a dinner, something really nice to show your appreciation. Serve them breakfast in bed tomorrow morning, go on a picnic, go to a parade and spend some time on this fine day watching the marching bands and the ROTC corps in their dress uniforms troop the colors and the streets they might someday defend like those who have paved the way for them to receive an education. If your loved ones are overseas, send them an extra special message of I Love You and Thank You, and gather the family for a photo. And hope all of those who are in other nations come back soon and are healthy.

I viewed one of those ceremonies and parades yesterday in Chicago when in the Loop I watched Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth in her sharp, spiffy dress uniform go to the eternal flame area with Mayor Emanuel at her side to place a wreath. Then came the singing of God Bless America and then a profound playing of Taps. All around were proud young soldiers and older soldiers in their fine uniforms and giving salutes and showing such poise during so profound and intense a moment as that was. The parade down State Street followed, with the usual fanfare, the floats, the bands and the folks in command, stirring their charges with reminders to keep in step and to halt and proceed at certain times, and stirring all who attended with their voices meant to get attention and remind us, in a way, to do our best as well.

Wherever you are this weekend, at an airport, on the roads, with your friends and family; whether at home snug and comfy in your library engaging in a good book before a nice dinner served by your cook and staff, or whether you are cooking your own supper in the company of your television and a movie, no matter where you are or what you do, think about those who have paid the ultimate price to ensure you can do just those things.

Pray for peace as you go about your day as well, for world peace and peace of mind, for yourself and for everybody.

cropped-flagam1.jpg

Divi Logan, Chicago, 2014.

Race Relations? Are We Making Progress… or Making Problems?

Race relations is a very complicated issue… and we have made it even more so by allowing our government to put into our culture and our more vulnerable trains of thought and action and working the idea of demographics being so important. Well, perhaps “demographics” are important but only if the methods lead to actual, real, and tangible actions being done for those who are really in need of certain things being funded or built or done for a community.

But what is “good” and who is doing the “good”? Truly it should not even matter, but these days when Americans are so rude and crude in their manners that they are coming out and DEMANDING things, and DEMANDING this or that, and thinking that they are the only important factor because of their skin color or their ethnicity that they can push others out of the way and get in the front of the line, we need to be more on our guard than ever.

Race relations will not make progress until we lessen the role of the Census Bureau and wake up to the fact that it does not matter what you look like, “where you are from”, what your ethnic background is, or what you do for a living. People need to realize that the government is not really doing the average citizen any good at all.

Witness the recent talk of school segregation. Who really is at fault? Everyone or no one or the government or school officials? Is it the false idea of the “neighborhood” school that prevents  people from growing up and out and expanding their trains of thought and branching out? Is it the fear among these “neighborhood” people that if “someone does not look like me that they will have a bad influence on my family”? What kind of silly thinking is THAT?

Who cares about what the person looks like that is teaching your kids or treating your for a disease or selling you that house? And anyway, NO ONE looks like anyone else, so get that into your unique heads right now! NO ONE looks like anyone else, and we all think about things in different ways and see things in unique and variable ways. Someone can say there are “identical” siblings, but that’s not the real issue here. People vary in their coloring, in their hairstyles and hair coloring, in eye color, in a thousand different physical variables that push the idea of “looking like” another person completely out the window with the rest of the demographic garbage.

Think about this, a thought inspired by something I heard on the radio this morning, to wit that there are not enough “African – American” doctors in the “underserved” areas of Chicago, and no doubt other major cities. And then someone thinks the resources are not there to train and get these doctors -to -be, those “black” and “brown” children mentioned in the report on News Radio 780 WBBM in Chicago, out to those areas where the need appears greatest. Bologna.

Have you ever heard of a medical school, Mr. WBBM Reporter? Yes, there is actually something called a MEDICAL SCHOOL, folks. Just in case you in those communities are not aware, there have been doctors of every “race” and background for decades in America. Anyone, yes anyone, can go to a medical school, get the proper training, get incentive, and get to the business and the study of becoming a physician. Then they can choose where they want to go, and the choice is based on those variables such as where they will feel comfortable or needed or what kind of money they will make.

Well if the money is all that matters the doctor will not be a good doctor to the point of seeing the patients as people instead of as payments. If the doctor wants to get out there and serve the populace that is the target of the policies that have cause that population to be inadequately served and thus in need of care and comfort, then they will do so. An episode of the popular television show EMERGENCY! had a physician who put his private practice way out in an area of desert and scrub and no one around for miles, at least not another doctor who could provide his skills. The small office had a nurse, a couple of nice clean patient rooms, and a surgical suite.

Now in early parts of the episode there is a bad accident that the main EMERGENCY! characters come upon as they return from a vacation. They must get help for the victims since they cannot practice their paramedic skills in another state, so they eventually get help and race the mother and boy to that small clinic in that small town area. The nurse is the only person on staff there and so they must wait for the doctor, who eventually arrives and sees that there is need for his services. The paramedics are expecting to see an old man, the proverbial lovable old country doctor but instead a younger man with a thick mustache and in very casual clothes, comes in and assesses the scene. After the victims are treated the paramedics and the doctor talk about why he has put his practice in that part of the state. He says something to the effect of, “Well I just wanted to practice where I am most needed. That’s why I stayed here.” Marvelous. EMERGENCY! as a 1970’s television show had a cast that was wonderful in its professional presentation and diverse nature, and this one episode is only one demonstration of what happens when need and service and consideration outweigh “government” policies and separatist attitudes and action takes over and someone has the courage to establish that practice where they really are most needed.

Now think about this: when it comes to “race”, what someone looks like on the outside, what would you do if your house caught fire and you were trapped on a higher floor with no way out? The only “race” you should then be concerned about is the dash of the fire department to your home to save your life. Would it really matter to you who was first up that 100 foot Pierce Aerial in that basket to rescue you from the burning bedroom? I think not. If you looked out that window at the firefighter who came up in his or her heavy gear to get you out, what would you see – someone with a face that “does not look like yours”, or someone who is there to save your life, with arms at the ready to carry you down and get you some help? If you took one look at that firefighter and back at the flames coming through the bedroom door, I suspect you would reach out and let the firefighter carry you down that latter, with his or her words of reassurance as you go down to the ground, safely away from the flames and smoke.

There is next the issue of this stuff about “neighborhood” schools, especially in Chicago. A neighborhood is made up of people who can be of the same background or can be made up of a lot of different kinds of people. So what does it matter what the teachers or the officials “look like”? Goodness gracious, what digression… what aggression… what stupid trains of thought! “I won’t let you teach my kids because you don’t look like them!” Come on, folks. If the teacher is qualified, if the school system is providing qualified personnel and proper facilities, then there is nothing to worry about. People are letting words and concepts such as “charter” and “selective” and “magnet” and “private” and “public” get in the way of seeing that the students are provided a good and proper and higher education. We are being taken away from the real issue: EDUCATION.

My teachers were very diverse when I was growing up and attending public schools in Nashville. I didn’t care a bit what these ladies and gentlemen looked like: I respected them each and every one, I sat and listened in class, and I was respectful of the principals and other school officials and bus drivers. Had I thought, “I’m not taking math from him because he’s not from my neighborhood” or “I won’t listen to her because she has a different skin color from me” would have gone against the very principles of what education is meant to do and what its purpose is. Education is meant to challenge us to grow and expand our horizons, to get us to put different skill sets together and continue to learn and work with others, to make out the map of our lives and careers and our plans for the future. If we do not draw out the talents we have or that others have; if we do not march out and away from the ideas and thoughts that impede progress in the sense of us working together with others for success; if we do not lead others out of the mental captivity our government officials have chained many of us with, then our education system has failed.

We have failed, we have then wasted money and energy and resources, and we have not done our best.

Divi Logan, Chicago, 2014.

 

 

Wabash Renewal Project? Clean Up Your Spaces First!

It seems that the more we hear about tax increases and paying for the management errors that have resulted in our pension crisis (or is it pension emergency?) here in Illinois, the less enthusiastic we become, the more we tune out any more talk of taxes and politics, and the less happy we become with our officials, from the mayor to the city council to everyone above and below and in between.

Now we have word of this special district around State Street, and the talk of raising taxes and of funding to work on Wabash Avenue and the areas between State Street and Michigan Avenue. Now hold on a moment, folks! Before you waste even one more minute talking about it or one more cent “working on” a plan or “looking into it” or “investigating it”, there are certainly aspects of that area we affectionately call “the Loop” that we can take care of right now.

As my late grandmother would tell you nonsense talkers and big talkers, “DO SOMETHING!” She was not one to take the nonsense stuff politicians and planners throw out these days to woo the taxpayers and to lull the citizens into doing what they want. No way. She would have tackled what can be easily done at the moment the need is seen to take care of a very important facet of revitalizing any area or doing any kind of project of that nature.

Clean up the area first. That’s right, use elbow grease and planning and gather the resources and CLEAN UP THE SPACE FIRST.

Think of a true class act – think Palmer House Hotel. This is a beautiful, classic building inside and out, with a sense of welcome and of luxury and of grace that I think epitomizes what Wabash Avenue should be. Sturdy elegance and gracious service are what make businesses of any kind special and inviting. A bland interior need not be what is all that the business shows, as is seen by the interior of the Palmer House. A plain brick and glass and neutral stone face might conceal a richness of color and pattern and creativity in artwork and displays prepared to welcome customers and visitors, families and colleagues.

The Palmer House Hilton Hotel - Chicago, IL - Mezzanine The Palmer House Hotel

So here is what is needed: Get the pigeons away from the buildings and the “L”, get the trash off the streets, the trash cans cleaned and sanitized, and the sidewalks power blasted. Get the windows washed, the alleys washed, the buildings washed and given a good dusting inside and out. Break out the shovels, the rakes, the bags, and tackle the parks; break out the tool kits and tool belts and work on the doors and windows. Give the store displays a totally fresh look, an appealing look that will invite shoppers to come in… but first go back to step one and get the resources together.

It is very simple, though tackling the bird problem might be somewhat risky and complex, it needs to be done. The health department must get involved, especially in the area that is bordered by State Street, Adams, Jackson, and Wabash. In that area are some of the filthiest L tracks, sidewalks, signs, and stairs. There is a stink in the air in that section that is probably caused by the accumulation of bird waste and trash, and in an area where there are so many restaurants and thousands of people walking it every day, that is a recipe for health problems and the driving away of business. I mean, it is not very pleasant looking around there.

So, for that project there is step one: get the resources together. The needs are easy to figure out: gloves, masks, shovels, hoses, trash bags and trash cans, power washers, boots, sturdy clothing, head protection, bug spray, pest control. Everyone must organize, from first responders to be around in case someone gets into serious trouble, to small business owners giving solid input as to what they want to see and what is best for their customers and capital plans; from volunteers willing to give hours to making their city look better and smell better and be more inviting to people giving supplies to make the project successful.

 Picture taken from a search on GOOGLE images, showing businesses alongside the Loop “L”.

No one person will be able to take on the remodeling, renovation and reworking of the Wabash Avenue Loop area alone. It will take the veritable mission control team to make it happen: people to supervise, people to take over when others are on breaks, people to bring in supplies and people to haul trash away. It will take everyone looking out each for the others to ensure safety and security. The project is huge, but taken step by step, beginning with a good solid cleanup session as detailed above, a lot of problems will be seen and some will be solved. Issues regarding structures will then be noted and repairs or other steps can be taken, such as historical preservation or demolition or repurposing.

It is hoped businesses would open their doors to those working on the project, for restroom use, or for dining in the food courts or just for a place to sit and have a simple lunch if the weather turns wet or stormy. Were I a business owner, that might be on my menu too – wanting to help out the workers who are giving time and energy to make the Loop look better and be welcoming to visitors and to my customers. I might have a place set aside with a sign saying, “Welcome Loop Work Volunteers! Sit here, rest and have something to eat!” Pitch in and do your part, and don’t worry about the money. It will come when things look and feel better.

Get cleaning first, and then take the next steps.

Divi Logan, Chicago, 2014.

RESOURCES

1. http://www3.hilton.com/en/hotels/illinois/palmer-house-a-hilton-hotel-CHIPHHH/index.html?WT.srch=1

Chicago: Tired of the Violence? DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!

Look, folks, the ATF and FBI and Chicago Police and First Responders can’t do all the work of prevention… so it is time for citizens to step up, speak up, and speak out, and do so every day, with as much force as it takes to counter what has been going on ever since the weather started to warm up around here.

OK, people, time to take back the streets that are YOUR streets, in YOUR communities! These are the places you bought and built to raise your families in, to plant your gardens in, and to have a place to sit down to dinner or on your porch after work and enjoy the privileges of working hard, paying taxes, and living in America.

Time to show those gang people and gun and drug runners that, simply put and stated, THEY ARE NOT WELCOME!

You have to show that forcefully and physically when necessary. Do you know of someone with illegal guns or sources of them? TURN THEM IN! Know someone running drugs? TURN THEM IN! SNITCH ALREADY!

And quit calling it “snitching”- that’s so negative and so  childish. These are not video games where people get a second chance to come back. Once someone is shot, THEY ARE SHOT, and they are in pain and wounded and could be dead. This is not some pixelated stuff someone puts on a screen; these are real people in the line of fire and in harm’s way.

And they are innocent children who are in some sort of area labeled “gang turf”. What? WHAT KIND OF SILLINESS IS THAT? GANG TURF? Indeed! Blame the media for continually talking about our communities in this manner. The more we allow the media to talk about “gang turf” or “gang violence” or “gang related” or “shootings” every day the more power they are giving to the gangs. Just talking about the problems is not going to do anything; there must be action. And right now.

That turf, that land, was the land of law -abiding American citizens before some idiots who are part of a gang decided to bring their unwelcome crop of drugs, guns, prostitution and other crimes into the area and begin to terrorize people with guns, graffiti and threats. YOU DARE THREATEN? Well then the people who have to endure your stuff can fight back.

There is strength in numbers; we can fight back. Use Biblical methods if necessary – come at the interlopers with sticks and stones, beat them out of the neighborhood. Ostracize them as though they have some kind of contagious disease. Tell them their drugs are not needed or wanted around there, and to move on. GET OUT OF HERE! Shout it right in their ear if need be, and come at them and drive them off the corners with your two -by -fours drawn and ready to beat the life out of them.

“That’s good riddance for all you have done in this area, you nasty gang banger! Get off my street and leave the kids alone! GO AWAY and DON’T COME BACK! EVER!”

Do whatever you must to show them that they are nothing but flies that can easily be swatted away and sprayed with bug killer. The killer is the lack of interest you can show for what they are offering.

Conquer your needs for drugs and violence! You can do better if you are depending on the drugs and the means of escape that are so violent and useless; you don’t need to encounter others and life in those ways. Drugs do no good for you- they can be deadly, they can cause you to hallucinate, to lose sleep, to lose appetite, to become very sick, and to become abusive. Violence is not necessary, either against yourself (needles, drugs, alcoholism, fighting) or against others (abuse, fighting, shouting, terrorism, prostitution), so turn the heat on those who have seen fit to turn the heat up in your communities.

When those who have suffered realize who has been fueling their suffering, they will wake up and realize, “Hey, I can do something about this. I can choose other ways and methods and means of feeling better, of taking daily life, of living with my family and of being a productive citizen. I don’t have to be treated like a loser… and those drug people are seeing me as vulnerable, a target. I CAN TAKE CHARGE! And I don’t need those drugs anymore!”

Once you understand that the drugs only offer short -term effects and are terribly expensive, and illegal, and can get you into deep trouble, you will no longer turn to the gangs. You can free yourself from their grip, and you can help free someone else from their poisons and toxins. You can turn away, and that’s the best approach of all. You can show them, “I don’ t need you, and our families don’t need you either, so get out and get lost!”

Besides, gang people are nothing but cowards. Who else would engage in drive -by shootings, wear dark clothes or masks, make silent signs, and deal stealthily on street corners? They are cowards, I say again, and cowards do not deserve anything but to be driven out of the community and consigned to solitary confinement and wandering in the deserts of their own dementia and troubles, as punishment for the troubles they have inflicted on others.

Gangs, go away. We are tired of you! Let me emphasize, along with the Mayor, with the police department, and with the families, with all the first responders who have to see the tragedies and who are put in danger every day, and with all of us who are tired of the “if it bleeds it leads” headlines, WE ARE TIRED OF YOU GANG PEOPLE! Keep your junk and your online arguments and your other behavioral problems to yourselves already.

The Mayor is fed up and who can blame him – who wants to have to talk with families when their children are caught in the crossfire of gangs who feel the need to take their junk out to the streets and terrorize others? And since this can plainly be called terrorism- that’s right, gangs promote TERRORISM and don’t forget that – now the Feds have to step in and see what they can do to reduce the violence. The gang people need to be rounded up, arrested, and thrown into jail with the key thrown away. The time for talking with them is done, the time for patiently waiting for them to reform is over, long over. We are sick of them, we are tired of them, we are fed up with them and we want them out.

Far as I am concerned, the mayor and the governor need to call out the National Guard, SWAT, and whomever else can help solve the problems, to take control and bring order to the streets again and be there till the gang people realize that they are not going to get any more ground and that their efforts are wasted, their battles are lost, their resources are not going to match up, and that they may as well dry up and blow away like chaff in the winds of change.

Gangs, get lost and stay lost!

Divi Logan, Chicago, 2014.