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.

America on a New Route of Rude?:: Rude, Crude, and Inhumane!?

Hello Chicago and hello America!

What is going on with our attitudes? Sure it is admitted that no human being is perfect in any way – be it behaviorally, physically, morally or spiritually. But we sure need to at least try to improve our behaviors towards others and in the presence of others.

Now my view of behavior and the science of it is that our reactions towards others begin with how we view ourselves and our environment and how environmental factors of all kinds have affected us.

My goodness, what a spit of rude behavior I have seen and experienced lately! We tend to misjudge and sadly prejudge others before we know the facts or the circumstances of situations we see or hear about. The so – called “news” does not help our tendencies to be so fast and thus to act before we think – such as been a shortcoming of our “progressive” technological world. But it is still rude to do many things and to act before thinking. Acting means any kind outward manifestation of thought here – speaking, shouting, gesturing, traveling, etc.

Just some of the examples I have seen of how rude Americans can be include:

Reprimanding someone when the reprimander did not know the rest of the situation (happened in a grocery store and the nasty reprimanding person was way out of line and did not know the rest of the circumstances);
Interrupting someone when they are serving another customer;
Cutting another driver off on Interstate 88;
Wearing caps at the dining table (I have seen at least three guys – I will not call them gentlemen – do this in the past week);

Now there are situations I have not experience but have heard of that indicate just how rude and crude Americans are becoming, such as:

Abuse of others for any reason;
Teasing and making ethnic or other manner of jokes (some people do not consider funny what others consider as funny or “just having fun”);
Smoking within the entrance of a store or apartment complex where non-smokers have to walk;
Mistreatment of animals;
Stepping on the feet of others and not saying excuse me or I am sorry;
Pushing others into a subway car and shoving other passengers out of their way (arrogance, prideful and shameful behavior that has no consideration for the others on board);
Littering (even when a garbage can is within a few feet);
Not cleaning up after pets;
Stealing money from one’s company;
Interrupting in a senate or parliamentary procedure situation, and so many more!

I admit no one is immune to some eruptions of unusual or bad behavior but I am attempting to improve, and pledge so to do. If we all do that, pledge to improve our behavior towards others by a small percentage or by giving a few more seconds’ thought to a situation before we impose any kind of action on another person or on the situation, we will be better people and have a nicer nation.

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.

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.

Rahm Lights Up Chicago? Be Sure to Clean Up Thoroughly First!

Inspired by a news story heard this morning on Chicago’s CBS affiliate radio station, News Radio 780 WBBM, I present:

CLEAN UP YOUR MESS!

1. To Beautify a Space, First Make a Plan

When someone designs anything –  a garden, a car, a cityscape, a grand hotel or an office building or a home, the process begins with a plan. People sit down and draw a plan that goes from the mind, the workings of the brain, onto paper and also on a computer. A lot goes into making progress: the way the group works together, weather, availability of funds and of the location suited to the project… so many variables.

The important factor is that the planners work together in a civilized atmosphere with all that is needed to make the plan come to life. Whatever is needed: coffee, tea, a new office, travel to other destinations, booking a hotel or a limo to get to where the plans will take shape, a quiet place to sit and draw it up… everyone must agree to what will make the plan a success.

2. To Beautify a City, Talk to Everyone Who Has a Say in How it will Look (or should look)

** And that means EVERYONE, EVERYBODY who is a member of that city and community! **

Start by doing at the very least what will make communities better: THINK UNITY! One reason we are so fragmented is that we are thinking along demographic lines, not person to person and civil lines. We are thinking in ways that box us in (race, income, ethnicity, religious creed) instead of thinking on common ground and thinking towards what will make progress. We will make progress only when we clean up ourselves in all those ways that make humans special: in mental, spiritual, and physical ways.

We need to clean up areas of gang violence. Why, even the very idea, the term “gang violence” is ridiculous. The gangs were not here first and people are sick and tired of hearing about them on the news every day. The more the press gives attention to the gangs and those actions related to them, the more they will do those things that get them press time and air time and talk in the reports. NO MORE GANGS! Folks, get brave and get those gangs out of the area, right now. Stop your need for drugs and guns; YOU DON’T NEED THAT STUFF and you don’t need anyone to help you solve problems, at least not that way.

You can solve your own problems without drugs, illegal guns, and membership of and the presence of gangs. How stupid can we get, tolerating gangs. REALLY. Gangs are nothing and nobodies and mean nothing to us except for the trouble they cause. Well, run those punks off your street corners, clean them out of your area and get involved.

When we get our streets and land cleaned up, we can turn to beautification.

But we must make sure the gangs are out of the picture, the abandoned buildings are either renovated or torn down, the lots are cleaned and free of pests, trash, rats, squatters, etc., and the streets are safe for people to work on, play on, and go to school and work on.

The job does not do itself; we have to use elbow grease, folks. We have to run the gangs out with shouts, voices, prayers, music so loud they can’t transact and will leave the area, stones if necessary, sticks and pelting those punks with bottles and rotten tomatoes until they get the message. GO AWAY AND DON’T COME BACK. These are OUR streets, understand!?

Assess, once the area is safe, what your area looks like. What are the main problems and who will help you solve them? Who will help you break through the red tape and get the funds and the materials necessary to get the community looking better? Are the problems viaducts that flood, then sit on the departments of water and streets and sanitation until they get off their behinds and act to solve the problems.

Is the problem a lot full of trash and debris? Well then, get in there with a group and clean it up. Get the tools of the cleanup trade: tarps, rakes, shovels, sturdy gauntlet gloves, bug spray, insect repellent, trash bags, trash cans, dumpsters to haul the stuff away, and people who will be available to have food and drink ready to serve to volunteers who, literally, work for food in such cases.

3. Beautification Begins With a Thorough Cleanup Campaign

* For a city Chicago’s size, is a month enough? *

For the mayor’s plan to work, Chicago needs a thorough cleanup. There is enough bird poop in the Loop to build a wall, so no matter what we feel towards wildlife, the pigeons must go. After all, pigeons are introduced pests from Europe. The proper name for these birds is the European Rock Dove. They were brought to America and have prospered due to a lack of natural enemies, so they must go. Accumulated droppings can lead to disease, and it looks really gross and smells even worse (like waste will do after a while), and animal waste attracts some of the worst pests of all, the disease -bearing rats we are trying to rid out of our city.

The L stations, the entire L structure, and buildings along that area of the Loop must be power -washed and cleaned down, right to the sidewalks, and then anti -pest programs must be instituted. Putting up anything that will get rid of the pigeons is necessary… either that or bring in a natural solution, the amazing Peregrine Falcon and the super Cooper’s Hawk.

These birds are bird -eaters, and will go after anything when they are hungry, and there is a plentiful supply of pigeons. We could then return these birds to a natural setting or watch them breed and enjoy the balance they will bring to controlling the pest population.

We must also assess the pollution in our city in order to find the right ways to clean up such problems as petroleum coke, or petcoke, which is documented as causing caustic pollution to an area of Chicago near a plant that harbors piles of this black sooty stuff that gets on people’s homes and into their yards and into their lungs. Chemicals pollute our water, trash litters our beaches and litter clogs our streets and alleys. Corporations need to be held seriously accountable for their practices, for no matter whether they say that their studies show they are acting within the law, doing so does not mean that what they produce and how they manufacture is good or right or best or decent. Those who produce and harbor the petcoke say they are acting within the law and are doing nothing wrong, but in using such language they are completely ignoring the residents of that area who suffer from the black dust that floats into their neighborhood.

Also, excess light is a form of pollution. It is now shown that light pollution harms the circadian rhythm and causes stress to the human body and mind. We need our dark spaces and our real night spaces so we can rest, have quiet and transition from work to rest. In those areas where the mayor wants these light displays, people do live, and the mayor wants to attract more tourists to those areas. People need their space… residents need their space away from tourists’ eyes, and people do live downtown.

Do you wonder why our city has that odd dirty -bronze rusty -golden color at night? Light pollution, plain and simple. We are thrown into thinking we have to act and work all day and all year no matter what, because of this overblown presence of artificial light. We need to turn it off, not turn it on, and we need more efficient lighting, using mirrors, reflectors, solar power, whatever it takes to conserve energy and make our use of it more efficient. Besides, as the news story related, Paris, the famous “City of Lights” is trying to cut down on its golden reputation and reduce use of light. This is more energy efficient. Why Chicago wants to use excess light, even more light on buildings and bridges and historic structures, is not logical. We need less light , not more light.

There are times and places for tourists and times and places for residents. Residents’ needs and wishes come first, plain and simple.

Trash along a Chicago street.

So, Your Honor, before you get some high-minded plan to light up the city, be sure that what you want to highlight is what you want the world to see. Be absolutely sure that you want the world to see trash on the riverfront, homeless veterans roaming the lakefront and the riverfront and the Loop digging in trash cans and sleeping on corners. Be sure you want the world to see places where gangs shoot up innocent people and teenagers roam in flash mobs terrorizing law -abiding tourists and citizens shopping and dining along Michigan Avenue and towards the Loop. Be completely sure you want the world to see the petcoke, the trash on the bridges, the dirty buildings, the oil on the lake, the glass fragments and other debris on the beaches, the bird poop in the Loop and the trash along the highways. Do you want the world to see and hear about the gangs, the drugs, the labor disputes and the airport noise?

We could spend months getting the trash picked up from the roadsides and still only begin to make a dent in the pollution that plagues Chicago.

Let’s get up and get to it, folks. The roads and bridges are not going to clean up on their own.

Divi Logan, Chicago, 2014.

RESOURCES

1. Wikimedia Commons, searched through GOOGLE images.

2. http://waronfilth.com/tag/broken-glass.

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

METRA:: Does METRA Need a Measure of Mission Control?

METRA and MISSION CONTROL

Article inspired by the airing of an interview on News Radio 780 WBBM, conducted between Political Reporter Craig Dellimore and METRA Chairman Martin Oberman, presented this past Sunday.

METRA, an organization of regional rail resources spreading throughout the Chicago -land area and touching thousands of lives each day, has seen its share of controversies.

But it like any business that has sincere interests in its customers/patrons/riders, the conditions that seeded the ground for corruption can be removed and the ground re -seeded and restored to ensure proper performance.

First of all, we have plenty of resources to understand what METRA is and what its purposes and missions are. Thus we can look at the other part of this article’s title- “mission control”.

And it’s not just for NASA these days!

Let us remember our space history, what inspired NASA and the moon missions to take off, a simple set of words spoken by President Kennedy in a speech to Congress.

The words that set in motion the principles of the concept we know as mission control are these:

First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish. We propose to accelerate the development of the appropriate lunar space craft. We propose to develop alternate liquid and solid fuel boosters, much larger than any now being developed, until certain which is superior. We propose additional funds for other engine development and for unmanned explorations–explorations which are particularly important for one purpose which this nation will never overlook: the survival of the man who first makes this daring flight. But in a very real sense, it will not be one man going to the moon–if we make this judgment affirmatively, it will be an entire nation. For all of us must work to put him there.

The essence of mission control is this: that each person is so well -trained and efficient that their concerns for the safety of their colleagues and their customers is foremost in their minds and in everything they do, every single day. We must remember that NASA has had its share of political encounters and interference, and of successes and failures and sadness. As we as a nation lost astronauts, the people of NASA, who were the closest to those people next to their families, mourned an even deeper eulogy: in the times of Apollo 1, of the tragedy of the Challenger explosion and of the loss of Columbia, we all felt those events right to the core of our thoughts, prayers and values. We wondered if the space program was worthy of funding, yet on we went with it. We now have the challenges of dealing with how to supply and maintain the International Space Station, but we are not giving up. We are working on it.

Yes, we are working on it- actively, honestly, and every day. We are working on it.

METRA in its transformation must continue the role of providing safe and efficient transportation and facilities for the tens of thousands of people who use its rolling stock and stations every week. In the face of skepticism and resistance and the lagging specters of corruption METRA must stand and face what has happened square -on, let their ridership know that they are working to improve conditions, and continue to do so. We must of course see the efforts and see the progress so we will know that our money is being efficiently spent.

For the powers of METRA are ones of control, huge amounts of control. The members of the METRA board control huge amounts of power and resources and have the lives of all those patrons in their hands. It is control all right… goodness it is a serious duty to discharge with faith and honor.

In those hands they have the safety of children and parents, of those who need to have their guidance animals close at hand, and of the people who maintain the rolling stock and the tracks and staff the stations. Every day they must consider how to handle millions of dollars and to do so in ways that will satisfy their ridership and those who watch over their performance. And they must perform, no matter if they are elected or appointed: they must perform because it is the proper thing to do.

It is all back to square one: the safety of their riders and the backbone workers who keep the organization running on a daily basis. METRA’s directors are no doubt aware that every day there are men and women out there working on the cars, the rails, and in the repair houses trying their best to work to keep us safe. No doubt those are very difficult jobs. If you start to read about the statistics of the locomotives and the rail cars and understand their power and weight and size, you realize that much effort is required to maintain even one train’s worth of cars and a locomotive. That’s millions of tons moving at 55 or more miles per hour over rails that amaze with their strength and resilience, rails that had to be constructed to precise measurements by people who have the same concerns as should the members of the METRA board. They have the safety of the riders and workers in mind.

Now if those resources were properly used, I do not think we as regular riders would object to the monies that would be needed to buy new rail cars. OK, so $3 million is not a figure people throw around every day for spending on transit, and each rail car would cost that much. But consider the headaches and maintenance costs that go into dealing with the old cars and it is plain there is great need for new cars. This rider would be happy with new cars; no more doors getting stuck and the like.

More quiet cars of course would be welcome; people need quiet and calm and peace when they are getting off work in the noisy city, and we need to have more courtesy around others. Excessive use of mobile devices can be unwelcome, considering we are around them every day for hours on end and they are not always used in places of work and shopping. This patron certainly would welcome entire trains of quiet cars!

There are other issues that affect METRA’s workings, such as the daily doings of Union Pacific and BNSF railroad companies, and the ancient deals made with them that keep commuters hoping that there are no further or no serious delays in their comings and goings. The METRA board must do what it is able to keep commuters happy and safe while talks and deals with the railroads carry on.

Meanwhile, the miracles of mission control must be “up and at them” in everyone’s conscience. They must be repeated every day like a company creed or a mantra that inspires us to consider others and treat people better.

METRA’s board must get with it and be really “on the level” if they are to keep us happy with the “bi -level”.

RESOURCES

1. https://metrarail.com/metra/en/home/about_metra/leadership.html. 16 April 2014.

2. http://www.jfklibrary.org/Asset-Viewer/xzw1gaeeTES6khED14P1Iw.aspx. From the Address Before a Joint Session of Congress on 25 May 1961. 16 April 2014.

3. http://www.nipponsharyousa.com/products/pages/zusametra-pc1994.htm. Weight and other statistics of METRA passenger cars. 16 April 2014.

Horse and Carriage: Save Them for the Farm!

Alderman Ed Burke Takes a Stand Against Nuisance Carriages in Chicago

A large brown horse is chasing a small horse in a pasture.

The Wonderful, Beautiful Horse.

Every time I see one of those horse and carriage contraptions moseying up the streets of downtown Chicago, I want to yell out, “ANIMAL CRUELTY!” and wish them out of my sight. I do not like the sight of them and think we have enough “horsepower” on our streets that is overwhelming the carriage horses.

In this issue I must take a stand with the opinion of Alderman Burke to ban the horses and carriages from Chicago streets, and the reasons are valid and numerous.

First of all, the horses are real animals that should not be subject to the dangers presented on Chicago’s busy streets. This is cruel to them. They are not mechanical menials or slaves to our whims. They have dignity and feel and breathe and they should not be subjected to these conditions.

A mounted man in a blue uniform on a dark brown horse

Yes there are police horses and yes there are horses used in dressage, in sports, in parades and other ceremonies in the United States and around the world, but the situation in Chicago is different, the use and idea are different. The carriage drivers are shuttling people around in heavy traffic, they hold up and stall traffic, they get around the busses, around large vehicles such as trucks and limousines, and they leave more than just the slow traffic. They leave irritated drivers who already have enough on their minds without the thought of injuring a horse, damaging a hundred-year-old carriage or injuring carriage patrons.

And another thing about horses: they leave messes and smells, but to the messes.

How many of you know that many drivers dump the “loads” that end up in those large bags behind the horse? What they eat and drink has to come out somewhere, after all. The evidence of the crap (literally) is clear at the corner/intersection of Chestnut and Dearborn streets in the Gold Coast. I have seen them actually flush the bags and dump the contents at those corners. The waste runs off and it is plain that it comes from the horses. Imagine what happens when that dries? You step in in it and you definitely smell it. Imagine that getting into the water supply?

When you are at the bus stops that are along the area of Chestnut, Dearborn and Delaware, you can certainly see and smell the “evidence” and when you are waiting twenty minutes for a bus and you are thinking of going out to eat, well, it tends to just about make you lose your appetite. Animal waste is waste after all, it is toxic and full of germs and it attracts rats. Chicago is trying to get rid of the rats; we are told to clean up after the dogs because the waste attracts rats so why are the carriage drivers allowed to dump the horse waste at night when they are off shift? Do they not think about the problem of the rats or the fact that people live and work around where they dump the waste loads?

YEEECCCHHHHH.

I do not think that this is safe or sanitary, not in the least. These carriages are around homes, restaurants, and schools, hotels, churches, places where people congregate, where they walk, and where they eat. Horses have an odor just as any animal does, and when a horse has been outside doing that much work they are going to be irritable, smelly, accumulating waste in the behind bag, and be tired. That is a dangerous combination.

It is not that people have not been injured or property damaged or anything like that. It is the health problem these animals can cause in the matter of the dumping of the waste. It is not whether or not we “beat” New York City to the finish of the deed of banning the carriages and the hazards. We just need to do it.

The kids enjoy being around the police horses as well. The horse officers serve a real duty; they are not for the satisfaction of the tourist trade or the idea of nostalgia. They have a job to do like the security dogs you see in train stations. The horse and carriage belong in the farm community, where their role of the working animal has real meaning, or on the ranches, or at best they should roam the wild lands free and clear of being burdened by breathing in carbon monoxide, being blown at by the horns of impatient drivers, being blasted by the wake of large trucks and busses and being potentially endangered by weather and road conditions that could cause them harm.

The loss of a few carriages is not going to hurt the tourist industry here. We have much more to offer… like the zoo for instance, where animals are cared for and are not promoted as beasts of burden. I think an animal in a natural or as natural a setting as possible is so much better to see and experience than the situation we see with the horse and carriage trade.

Two horses in a pasture, one is standing beside the other that is laying down.

Horses relaxing and keeping watch in a natural and traffic-free setting.

Please save the horses. Let the kids know that there are better ways to treat the animals, that life is precious and that we must treat all life with respect.

Divi Logan. Chicago, 2014.

RESOURCES

1. http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2014/02/05/alderman-ed-burke-proposes-ban-on-horse-drawn-carriages/

2. Wikipedia contributors. “Horse.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 21 Feb. 2014. Web. 25 Feb. 2014.

3. https://portal.chicagopolice.org/portal/page/portal/ClearPath/About%20CPD/Specialized%20Units/Mounted%20Unit

Chicago Citizens and Concerned Citizens of the USA: Take on the Petcoke People!

PETCOKE POISONS POLLUTE PRECIOUS POPULATIONS and POTENTIAL RESOURCES

What is the term surfacing in the local news this week? What is this word blending in with other stories about hazardous chemicals and materials polluting our nation’s air and water, and why is this going on? It is petcoke. PETCOKE… PET COKE. We aren’t talking a dog trying to take a sip out of your glass of carbonated cola here. We are talking a hazard to the environment and the people of Chicago.

So, folks, in this corner, weighing in with 4-methylcyclohexene, with bisphenol -A, with the chemical Subway uses in their bread, called Azodiacarbonamide, and with the wonderful world of the PAH (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons – see definition below) we have a five-story pile of petcoke!

PAH’s are: Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), also known as poly -aromatic hydrocarbons or polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons, are fused aromatic rings and do not contain heteroatoms or carry substituents.[1] Naphthalene is the simplest example of a PAH. PAHs occur in oil, coal, and tar deposits, and are produced as byproducts of fuel burning (whether fossil fuel or biomass).

The old road – you can see it. PROFIT for the CORPORATIONS, plain and simple, with no regard for the rest of the people of the areas where the industries are placed.

Chicago now has to take on the pet -coke industry. Now, what is “petcoke”? Well now, we can get this part of the story from one of the industry websites, one of the companies involved in what is happening in Chicago. According to Koch KCBX Terminals Company, petcoke is:

“Petroleum coke, or petcoke, is one of many valuable products made during the oil refining process. Similar in appearance to coal, petcoke is used to generate electricity and has a wide range of other industrial applications. Petcoke is used all over the world.” Other information about petcoke can be found by clicking other sections of the website. (See Resources at the end of this article.)

Now do you want this stuff in YOUR back yard? What part of Chicago is this in? It’s DUST, people! It’s black DUST, folks! This stuff is carbon and sulfur. What does such stuff do to areas such as the Calumet River?

Read about the origins of the name and the importance of the Calumet River. The article in Wikipedia opened my eyes! Here is an excerpt from the article, regarding pollutants found around the Calumet waterway system:

Nonpoint sources

  • “Contaminated sediment: The Grand Calumet River and Indiana Harbor and Canal contain 5 to 10 million cubic yards (3.9 to 7.7 million m³) of contaminated sediment up to 20 feet (6 m) deep. Contaminants include toxic compounds (e.g., PAHs, PCBs and heavy metals) and conventional pollutants (e.g., phosphorus, nitrogen, iron, magnesium, volatile solids, oil and grease).
  • Industrial waste site runoff: Stormwater runoff and leachate from 11 of 38 waste disposal and storage sites in the AoC, located within 0.2 miles (300 m) of the river, are degrading the water quality. Contaminants include oil, heavy metals, arsenic, PCBs, PAHs and lead.
  • Superfund sites: There are 52 sites in the AoC listed in the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) System, more commonly known as Superfund. Five of these sites are on the National Priorities List.
  • Hazardous waste sites under RCRA: There are 423 hazardous waste sites in the AoC regulated under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), such as landfills or surface impoundment, where hazardous waste is disposed. Twenty-two of these sites are treatment, storage and disposal facilities.
  • Underground storage tanks (USTs): There are more than 460 underground storage tanks in the AoC. More than 150 leaking tank reports have been filed for the Lake County section of the AoC since mid-1987.
  • Atmospheric deposition: Atmospheric deposition of toxic substances from fossil fuel burning, waste incineration and evaporation enter the AoC through direct contact with water, surface water runoff and leaching of accumulated materials deposited on land. Toxins from this source include dioxins, PCBs, insecticides and heavy metals.
  • Urban runoff: Rain water passing over paved urban areas washes grease, oil and toxic organics such as PCBs and PAHs into the surface waters.
  • Contaminated groundwater: Groundwater contaminated with organic compounds, heavy metals and petroleum products contaminates surface waters. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that at least 16.8 million US gallons (64,000 m³) of oil float on top of groundwater beneath the AoC.

Point sources of contaminants

  • Industrial and Municipal Wastewater Discharges: Three steel manufacturers contribute 90 percent of industrial point source discharges to river. One chemical manufacturer also discharges into the river. Permitted discharges include arsenic, cadmium, cyanide, copper, chromium, lead and mercury. Three municipal treatment works (Gary, Hammond and East Chicago Sanitary Districts) discharge treated domestic and industrial wastewater.
  • Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs): Fifteen CSOs contribute untreated municipal waste, including conventional and toxic pollutants, to the river. Annually, CSO outfalls discharge an estimated 11 billion US gallons (42,000,000 m³) of raw wastewater into the harbor and river. Approximately 57% of the annual CSO volume is discharged within eight miles (13 km) of Lake Michigan, resulting in nearshore fecal coliform contamination.”

Think this is why the issue is being stuffed by the companies while the Mayor is trying to help out the people? What is the real business here? Monkey business. Three powerful people in Chicago Government – Alderman Ed Burke, Alderman John Pope, and Mayor Emanuel want to ban the storage of petcoke and expansion of this industry in Chicago, and the people are plainly against the poisons of petcoke further inundating their air and water.

What are the demographics of the area? According to a community post, the area is: Looking just at Southeast Chicago, roughly bounded by 67th Street on the north, Western Avenue on the northwest, the City of Chicago boundary on the south and southeast, and Lake Michigan/State Line on the east, the proportions are quite different, 14% White, 80% Black, and 6% Hispanic. Seems to me that the big business folks are doing the same thing to this community that the Catholic Church did to the area of Chicago’s south side known as Bronzeville, when they blatantly went ahead with demolishing the historic structure of St. James’ Cathedral. Despite offers from people to contribute funds, there is no doubt that the area being predominantly “black” was the real reason the church was not saved. The corporations are showing no regard for the people of the Calumet River and southeast side area of Chicago, none at all.

And the problem is not just in Chicago… it is in many areas of the Midwest. Citizens of Detroit are not very happy right now.

But do the chemical corporations that have been plaguing us with their roundabout regulations and big talk of how “safe” their products are, against which Rachel Carson and others like her wrote in an effort to awaken them to the dangers of what those products are doing to the environment, give a care about the people they hurt or sicken?

Not the time to say, “Have a Koch and a smile.” Rather I would suspect the people of the southeast side will smile once Koch and all signs of petcoke are forever removed from polluting their views and the water of the Calumet River.

RESOURCES

1. http://aboutpetcoke.com/?utm_source=Google&utm_medium=CPC&utm_campaign=whatis&gclid=CNb-_fvoybwCFYpaMgoduUYAFA

2. http://aboutpetcoke.com/what-is-petcoke/

3. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/12/chicago-petcoke-crackdown_n_4775693.html

4. http://www.midwestenergynews.com/2014/01/14/in-chicago-neighbors-say-petcoke-rules-full-of-loopholes/

5. http://www.lincolnnet.net/reports/calumet/community.html

6. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polycyclic_aromatic_hydrocarbon. Wikipedia contributors. “Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 28 Jan. 2014. Web. 13 Feb. 2014.

7. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calumet_River  Wikipedia contributors. “Calumet River.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 4 Dec. 2013. Web. 13 Feb. 2014.

8. http://metrotimes.com/news/news-hits/taking-a-stand-1.1510951

9. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/windsor/company-appeals-pet-coke-storage-ban-on-detroit-river-1.2521340