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.

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.

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.