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.

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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.

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.

Wheels Carry Us to Invention, Inspiration, and… Progress?

Mankind invented the wheel. What have we done with that innovation?

We have come up with the horse and carriage, a transition to the motorized vehicle and which are still used in many parts of the country today. Though they have the horse which needs to be fed and cared for there is the need of the carriage with its two large wheels. We came up with the stagecoach… still needs horses, though, and at least four. More expensive care and feeding there, and for the tourist carriages that roll through some American cities there is the extra need for safety procedures that ensure the care of horse and riders.

Chicago is a city that runs twenty -four hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, all the time but not always on time. Yet we as a city -race do run, and we can run ourselves ragged.

We as citizens of America’s third -largest city are surrounded by wheels. There are four of them on our cars; there are hundreds of them on the trains we take every day, and there are hundreds of them on the busses that come to collect us and take us to our destinations.

On television we also see the wheel. There is the wheel of fortune on the show of the same name. There is a wheel on the popular game show and one of the longest running television shows, the Price is Right, and there are wheels of prizes on Let’s Make a Deal. If there is not a wheel there is the “roll” of the dice in the hopes of winning something really nice. Among the prizes offered are, what else, cars and motorcycles.

We can easily forget in the limelight of potentially winning one of those spectacular prizes the elements of safety that come with owning them. If you drive you must realize that there are rules of safety designed to keep you and other drivers and pedestrians safe. There are rules and laws of decency that every driver needs to know and to follow. Never use a device that takes your hands off the steering wheel. You are in a moving automobile, a vehicle weighing at least three thousands pounds and much more the larger and heavier it is. Vehicles can travel the length of a football field in less than ten seconds at 55 miles an hour.

Left untamed, the wheel can take us right into nothing but trouble. Four of them moving at that speed can cause great catastrophes and harm and injury and destruction.

The wheel is a sign and symbol of taking risk, of making a journey, of traveling and of arriving.

Somewhere.

We get in our cars or on the bus or train with the intention of getting someplace and doing something. We “fight traffic”, we get into “traffic jams”, and we experience “train delays” and construction delays every day. Now delays can be caused by any number of reasons- the ever -present construction, weather situations, trucks stuck under viaducts, or flooded viaducts. And under us those wheels made of rubber and metal, decorated by hubcaps and inflated by air pressure, those wheels supporting the tons of metal, rubber, and… people who use them every day.

And under those wheels, the roads that need the very constant maintenance that causes those jams and delays and ties -up and other situations we encounter. Roads and tracks need to be in good order to support the thousands of vehicles traveling on them every day, and if they are not we can and do see the consequences.

Airplanes also have wheels. Isn’t it amazing when you look at those tiny tires under the millions of tons of jetliner and wonder how they support it? Some jets weigh close to half a million tons, so it seems a stat on the aptly -called jumbo jets came through once. Planes take off at over a hundred miles an hour and touch down on those incredible tires, and I to this day am inspired to watch when a jet comes into the terminal jet -way, gazing at those circles of rubber and metal. Remarkable.

We are a nation of travelers, no matter what we are doing. We watch shows that inspire us to travel; we get out of the house and go places to do things. We feel the need and have the right to freedom of movement and to move anywhere we want.

But some people misuse those resources others pay taxes on and work on and get to work and school and play and worship on. Some people use their vehicles to commit drive -by murders, use them to dispense drugs, use them to run the drugs to other states, use them to commit road rage, vehicular homicide, and hit and run incidents that take the lives of others and can leave others maimed for life. Some people consider that they can just throw waste on the roads, where other have to see and smell it every day. They throw it out lazily and without any consideration that someone else will have to clean it up, and when there are trash bags and receptacles they can put the waste into. You who litter and who just toss junk onto the roads should know better than that! Such habits show a total lack of consideration for the lives of others; throw the junk onto a road and you could cause an accident. You might think that little piece of trash is nothing but if someone runs over it or hits it a tragedy could happen, and you would be at fault for causing death and destruction.

You would be at fault for causing loss of life, of someone who might turn out to be a loved one or a friend or even someone you work with. Do you think of that?

But there are better ways to consider the roads we use and everything that goes with using those roads. Of course we can think of those roads but we do have other ways to travel, and those ways existed before the wheel.

We have feet and we can make trails and paths- we were doing so long before we had to invent the convertible. We were running and hunting and getting around because we had to, because we needed to get place to place and follow the animals and the spring rains and the trade routes.

We can use our feet to go some places so long as the walk is not super long… that is unless we are on a relay race that takes us across states and countries to raise funds for some worthy cause as happened this week to help the people affected by events in Boston last year. Thousands of people will this coming week run in the Boston Marathon, only a year after two horrid men set off bombs in that beautiful city, killing and maiming and doing great harm to many people.

And how will the racers and spectators get to Boston? Well, if they live close enough some might walk to see the Marathon. But my wager is that most of them will travel on or in a vehicle with wheels. Some will fly in and take busses and cars; some will drive sedans and coupes, and some will ride their bicycles or motorcycles as far as they can get them to the race limits. They will take the tens of thousands of miles of roads that cross the United States, roads they hope are safe and maintained and travel -ready, will share those roads with thousands of other drivers and passengers in millions of vehicles of every size and description.

Trucks, huge semi tractor -trailers, moving vans, fire engines, ambulances, cars of every size and shape and vintage; the sport utility vehicles, busses and campers used for recreation during nice weather, and the motorcycles, vans, and limousines will make their way to Boston. With them are the police officers and the security teams that will monitor the routes and the airports leading in and out of that fair city.

There will be risks getting in and out of Boston as there are any other city or any place we go every day. Those who turn the chance into a grand circumstance will see an event that will be so very special to the participants and spectators, not only because the racers have trained and prepared for that big day but because of those thousands that will join them live and on television and by computer to watch them in that effort to show the world that those nasty terrorists have NOT WON that day and WILL NOT WIN at any time and any place on United States land.

We love to travel. Let’s all stay safe doing so.

Divi Logan, Chicago, 2014.

National Needs: What Do We Now?

We have had enough… we have had so much of negation, of politics and wasted millions of dollars, of droning ads and mudslinging. We have been fairly innundated with corporate big bully, big wig, big business chatter, talk of financial figures and celebrity name – dropping.

Are we tired of it, tired to the point of being sick of mind and being affected in body and in spirit? Have we lost that spirit which makes us great, special, diligent and hard – working?

What do we need, then, to do in order to foster a positiv e revival and bring our nation back from the brink of depression and recession? We have seen the negatives; now we need the positives. It is clarity we need, not vague, droning, clacking yakety – yack of repetitive commercials; clarity, not pollution that clogs the higher instincts of the intellect and the heart.

Certainly having a Congress that cooperates for the greater national good would be really nice, a great Veteran’s Day present for a nation in need in so many ways. Just consider what we are going through and, in the past year, have endured.

Right now, there are people enduring days of having power out, freezing temperatures, high winds, snow, rain and floods. They have wasted food, homes in shambles, children that need clothes, transportation requirements, job needs and the need for hope and attention. We have had tornadoes, hurricanes, nor’easters, fires, floods, hailstorms, exploding homes, airline accidents, wrong – way drivers, highway snipers, mall shootings, and an increase in gang and drug activity.

We are certainly a nation in need of repair and revitalization, of spirited people to come out and help those in need whenever and wherever possible. We are in literal need of repairs to our transportation infrastructure at every level, we are in need of companies to hire workers and invest in new products, and we are in need of something even more important, really the foundation to all of that and more.

We are in need of trust.

Our trust has been tested and compromised by officials we have elected to do a job, one they have not been doing for the greater national benefit. Our trust has been tested by business managers, by property managers, by journalists, by generals, and by colleagues. Perhaps the precious commodity of trust has been bent… but it has not been completely broken. Oh say can you see, it is trust that we need, between each other, between employers and employees, between officials of school boards and teachers and the students who are serious about sticking to the curriculum and achieving an education. We need the ultimate investment, the highest expression of the word “trust fund”.

For only with that highest form of expression of confidence (with faith) can we achieve, accomplish, and revive our spirits and our economy.

The golden jewel in the intellectual lotus is that relaxed sense of trust that ideally we should have towards each other. Certainly would be fine, to have that peace of mind that trust brings to everybody. We would be better all around for fostering that quality of life that is more precious than the oil we fight for, the diamonds we mine for and draw blood over, the gold we pan for, and the platinum we risk lives to find for use in jewelry and computers.

We need to govern ourselves and get with it, lead with the positives and inspire each other. Though the day be gray and the skies heavy with rain, though the shop be perhaps a little empty of customers, and though the parties fight it out in the halls of power and decision, we as (so they call us, average, ordinary and common) citizens of this great nation, which can be even stronger and greater, must learn to rule and govern ourselves and lead by example.

Divi Logan for EDUSHIRTS, Nashville and Chicago, 2012.

Mayor To Be? What Would You Want Me to do for You?

For years I thought about running for Mayor of Chicago. I have learned more about the election process, watched the process, watched candidates come and go, seen the parties and the media coverage, the talks and the conferences, the photo-ops and the celebrities surrounding such elections.

English: Source: http://www.chicagob2b.net/lin...

English: Source: http://www.chicagob2b.net/links/pages/CitySeal1.gif This image is a copy of the official seal of the City of Chicago, Illinois, as designed and adopted by the City in 1905. As such, it is a work authored before 1922, and is therefore in the public domain. A 1895 edition of the seal can be seen here. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But there is another side to the hoopla and the parties, the photographs, the lights and the glory of the position. And that side is WHY someone really would run for such a position, being Mayor of America‘s third largest city and of the city that contains what many people call the most beautiful lakefront in America.

That side – the important side of why someone ideally runs for office – is helping the people who really need necessary, urgent, and life -saving help. It is lowering tax rates, keeping communities safe, lowering the crime rate, improving the job market and “the economy” for more than just the big businesses/ corporations who plaster their names all over the parks, hospitals, donations rolls, educational institutions and street signs. It is doing all in one’s power to extend a hand to the single parent, the child who wonders why their school is not as safe as another school, who wonders how the environment can be made better so everyone can learn, the laid-off folks who wonder why their jobs are being taken to other states or countries.

I have asked people what they would want to see from a mayor. Some have said getting rid of the gangs is priority, and the gangs and their turf wars certainly are a big problem. The murder rate rises, evidence of drug use is all over those areas where gangs have their presence, and the use of guns is blatant. Innocent people suffer where gangs thrive, children are gunned down in parks- and all they are doing is playing or just hanging out with friends. Some idiot comes out with an assault rifle and, through a case of mistaken identity, guns someone down and sprays the area with bullets, not caring who is in the way, not caring whether young families are out trying to enjoy bonding time, not caring about the kids.  They do their thing no matter what, and that has to stop.

And then there is the issue of what to do about the teachers, the “neighborhood” schools, the education budget, the school board, the longer school day, demolition or refurbishing of other buildings, charter schools, library hours…. EDUCATION! What are the real budgetary needs, who deserves the big pay, what should be done about the school board? What would YOU as a non-board citizen like to see from the next mayor?

Then there is the issue of businesses, small family-0wned and -run businesses, local specialty businesses tired of government red tape, talk of health insurance, talk of this and that regulation, talk of corporations outsourcing jobs to China and Mexico and India. As a small business owner, what have you asked mayors and aldermen to do that they seem not to hear or want to hear? What would YOU want a listening, duty-bound and honorable person to as your next mayor?

What would you like to see done about dilapidated buildings, run-down houses, trashy and vacant lots, run-down playgrounds, schools without air conditioning? What do you want done about potholes on your neighborhood streets, lighting on your streets, flood zones in your community, building code enforcement, adding more fire departments or police protection? What would you want done about dogfighting or cockfighting, stray or hazardous animals? Do you want chemical contamination cleaned up? Have you tried and failed with the present old-school, old-boy network, are you tired of the rubber-stamp city council?

What about transportation, the bunched busses, the CTA stations? What do you want- lower fares, better services; are there regularity issues in your neighborhood? Maybe you need more service? Maybe you need a safer area for the busses to have stops and so the organizations will build nice stations and so that the appearance of your area will improve and then jobs, businesses and other services will come in.

Maybe a lower tax rate is in your radar, and so it should be. Too much money in the coffers seems to give the present officials the mind to think they have it to waste. WASTE? It is not their money to waste. It is the money THEY have taxed out of YOU and with the claims that they need that money for services and other projects. But what happens? They give themselves hefty pay raises, fine office perks, travel, rented luxury vehicles. They tell YOU to tighten YOUR belt while they do the opposite!

As mayor I will NOT do that. If anyone need to tighten their belt, it is the city council, the boards of the city, and the leadership. If I ask for something such as reduction of a budget I will adhere to those cuts and would not ask anyone to do what I would not do. Reduce pay for the boards, sure! AND hold them accountable for every action. Hold the power board accountable for every outage, every transformer blowout, every street light, every time a crew comes out to repair after a storm. Hold those people accountable to give reports of what is going on and see the evidence. I want to know the people who work for me REALLY ARE WORKING, and not sloughing off in their desk chairs or having some expensive lunch on the clock.

Citizens, I WANT YOU to talk to me. I want to know what is going on, to see what is happening, to see if the officials who say they will do something really follow up on it for your community, school, church, streets, etc. I want you to write, to respond, to call, to come by my office (I think I will call it the “Duty Hut”), and sit and chat. No big fat parties for THIS Mayor, no way, not until my constituents, the “regular”, “everyday”, all-around working taxpaying citizen is satisfied with the services, the officials under my command, the appearance of their streets, and the safety of their schools. No celebrities in my office during working hours, no corporate lunches, no luxury vehicles in my city fleet, no way- not until everyone else is satisfied, as happy as people can be, as well-fed, as well-educated, and as well-housed as Americans should be.

My slogan: NO SIDES CHICAGO! My vision: A United Chicago for a Stronger Nation! My “STEM”- satisfied and loyal constituents, and my roots, a fertile area for people to prosper, for families to safely live, work, play and have fun together; a safer place for businesses to prosper and grow, a safer place to learn for our students at all levels, and fairness for everyone. I will be a listening mayor. One cannot learn anything unless one listens to others. I will be an acting mayor and hopefully those who work with me will be of the same set of mind.

Everyone is on my team- that is my “sub-slogan”. You can be… YOU CAN BE on my team too. The Mission Control Mayor… think of that.

The essential question is this: What do you want your mayor to do for you?

education

education (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

It is a lot to think about, isn’t it? Divi Logan, Nashville and Chicago, ©2012. Writer, designer, and web developer for ®EDUSHIRTS.

Peregrines Answer to Pigeon Problem?

This bird lover and nature-watcher certainly think so, and in light of news about pigeons around transit stations and other places in the Chicagoarea lately, let’s look at how to safely keep the pigeons in check.

A Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) at the b...

A Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) at the bird show at New York State Fair. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

First thing we must remember is that this present crop of pigeons, if the information is correct, is an introduced and invasive and pestilent species from Europe. Thus their regular name of the European Rock Dove. Only a few were brought to this country but now do we have a problem, and a big and messy one at that.

Now pigeons are life, and many deem them beautiful to watch and to feed, but you should never feed the pigeons in the parks or other public places. Disease can spread and cause trouble for both the birds and people exposed to excessive bird poop and the presence of nests. The pigeons will congregate wherever there is food available and good nesting sites. Of course many building owners and transit agencies try the spiky additions to eaves, roofs and ledges but the pigeons seem only to find other places to hang out.

Also as pigeons are life, they should not be poisoned. Besides poisons spread out with intent to kill one species can only harm other species, so poisons are out as methods of keeping pests in check in public areas and around parks. And of course birds, insects, and small animals are part of the natural food chain- something eats them and they eat other things. It is not safe to use potent poisons and herbicides around areas where the larger animals and birds feed – larger ones such as the Peregrine Falcon.

It so happens that we in Chicago are fortunate to have Peregrines in presence, and one pair atop The Clare near Loyola apparently has young ones within. These magnificent birds are more than just stunning to look at, more than majestic in flight and fast on the wing; they eat pigeons and abundantly, too.

It would certainly be fine if we would share our Peregrines with Oak Park, and bring them around areas of Chicago overrun with pigeons especially around transit stations. In additon to the Peregrine Falcon, great use could be made of bringing in hungry Cooper’s Hawks, which are members of the Accipiter class of predatory birds that includes the Goshawk and the Sharp-shinned Hawk. I think staff at the Field Museum and/ or the Museum of Science and Industry could find ways to bring the Peregrines to those infested areas and let them have at those pigeons.

As the Peregrine is an endangered species, we should do this basic step to bring their population back. After all, the use of chemicals on our part caused many of the birds to die. We did not eliminate the Bald Eagle, and thank goodness, and now we are helping to bring their population back as well. Certainly it would be spectacular to see the Peregrines and their companions wheeling magnificently above more of our region, gracing the skies over Oak Park, relaxing in the trees of the parks or atop the buildings. You can even see them with their stunning wings in the windows of the John Hancock Center and the famous Signature Room restaurant.

Are there Peregrines nesting around you? Contact your local museum or nature society or ornithological organization to find out how to work with them to preserve them. Perhaps you can designate a protected site for them, or if they are in a potentially dangerous area arrange to have them taken to a safer place.

Divi Logan and ®EDUSHIRTS, Nashville and Chicago, ©2012.

The Peregrine Falcon is a major predator of ra...

The Peregrine Falcon is a major predator of racing pigeons. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

CHICAGO RIVER GETS A CLEAN-UP

CHICAGO RIVER GETS A GOOD CLEANUP…BUT IS THE PLAN CAREFULLY THOUGHT OUT?

Those who have watched the old Universal Sports channel, broadcast in Chicago three years ago, might have seen events performed on the Han River in South Korea. Now if that river is clean enough to swim and boat in, we would deem that the smaller Chicago River could also be made clean enough to enjoy water sports in.

There are some problems I note with how the river is all ready used, however. Now there are pros and cons to attempts to attract tourists and residents to Chicago’s vibrant lakefront and along the riverfront, such as developing high-end real estate for hotels and condominiums and boutique shoppes, but where there are people and pets there is trash and waste.

Waste products are the very thing the millions of dollars allocated to clean the river are meant to get rid of. The talk is of reducing or sterilizing the stuff that comes from water treatment plants/ sewage, and that is well and good. But trash gets into the water every day, from daily use of the river. Wrappers, food scraps, and probably pet waste, ends up sooner or later in the river and along its banks. Getting rid of those problems would be as equal a challenge as working on the flushed and treated water we use every day. Of course there are the birds that frequent the waters too- and we know the issues that can come forth from birds, especially when food is in the offering.

Gulls just love to be where there are food scraps to scavenge, and crows love to forage as well. The Canada Geese however are so abundant that they do more than just entertain bird lovers with their antics of winging about looking for scraps. Canada Geese are noted for their- ahem- regular green deposits along waterways and sidewalks, which can in copious quantities be rather hard to avoid.

There are other causes of waste accumulation as well that need to be addressed, for the benefit of the entire environmental and water system of the city. The horse carriages that take tourists around also have drivers with the unfortunate habit of dumping the waste bags’ contents around residential areas and restaurants, and I have no doubt that sooner or later those wastes make it into the Chicago River and the sewers. Those who are around pets regularly also realize that waste products attract rats, and it would be nice if every consideration was made to ridding the waters and sidewalks of these residuals. People who litter are equaly as inconsiderate as pet owners who do not properly clean after their dogs- sooner or later that hot dog holder or hamburger wrapper might end up in the river.

Another problem area, from which trash might make its way into the main river system, are along the river and stream banks seen on the BNSF train route. I have seen enough trash and debris along those water systems to keep an army of cleaner-uppers occupied for weeks on end to get those areas in shape. Runoff from that disgusting stuff makes its way no doubt into the water systems we all use, and from the looks of some of the stuff lining those banks I hope the water management system is up to handling tons more of really foul looking garbage. I just wonder that the people who live along those waterways do not put much effort into getting down there and cleaning up or getting the proper authorities to handle the situation if there is indeed toxic material on those banks. It would be worth the time of the officials in the areas lining that train route to carefully inspect those water systems and see the depth of the situation and get the residents and businesses involved in making everything look a lot better.

Fortunately there are people who are trying to make a dent in the trash and waste problem, those who want to keep the river system as clean as possible, and who are arranging days on which to put effort forward to keep the waters as free of waste as possible. Some folks have been doing this for years now, and I hope the efforts continue long after the dedicated days of cleanup and revitalization are finished. Policing the waterways is of vital importance and should be done regularly.

Take it to heart, folks, when you put some good elbow grease into making the environment better, you do more than the literal work that is visible for a day or so. Think about it!

Divi and ®EDUSHIRTS, ©2004 – 2012. E-mail me with comments, questions, or for use permission at in2intellect@aol.com. Courtesy counts. Thank you!

METRA Links to the West: Positives for the Economy

BUSINESS SIGNALS FOR A HEALTHY ECONOMY

METRA Expands the West Suburban Rail Links from Aurora

Jobs no doubt will come to the cities and towns and good people west of Chicago now that the nearly $2 million has been allocated for pre-engineering studies for expanding out of the present Aurora terminus of the BNSF commuter line into the cities of Montgomery and of Oswego, Illinois.

Imagine the boost to the local economy that will come just from having the engineers do the infrastructure studies and pre-engineering alone! Having seen Aurora I know too many a sight of shuttered stores, abandoned homes, dilapidated and vacant structures and lots, and streets void of life and people of morale. Certainly that fine city, called in history the City of Lights, will enjoy a share of the government funds.

Naturally those engineers will need food, clothing, lodging, and places to hold their meetings. They might need cameras, tripods, surveying gear, notebooks and writing instruments. And knowing the people of Aurora as I do, the visitors would be certain to receive the finest in hospitality and everything else from quality food to customer service.

Others await the arrival of those visitors. There are fine mechanics to service automobiles and provide cleaning, gas, and a welcome smile. And just in case – and surely there will be talk of them- safety procedures and precautions arise, there are also some of the finest firefighters in the world in Aurora, and a large station is located conveniently to the tracks.

Speaking of getting on track, here is my idea for a logo and slogan for the expanding rail system. This version presents a simple design of a gold oval, symbolic of a train or car beam, the letters AMO for the three cities which will link on the new line, a lightning or electric bolt for starting up and powering progress, and two lines symbolic of a track into the distance. The slogan is “Positive A-track-tion for Businesses”, and it seems the concept cannot get any easier than that. Of course customizing possibilities range as far as the business owner‘s imagination can go!

Think also of other visitors our area will soon attract. COming this spring will be dozens of delegates from NATO and the G-8 summits. The project might not be completed by the time they arrive, but it would be a great thing to give them a visit to the west of Chicago to see how progress is going?

After all, something should be positive about their visit, and seeing progress and revival and giving the people of those areas a chance to really shine for the world. I can see it now- the flowers in the fine parks in Aurora, Lombard, and surrounding areas will be in fantastic bloom, people will be out and about, and surely the shopkeepers would roll out the welcome mat for our distinguished visitors. Ah, wouldn’t it be lovely?

By the way, if any of you soon-to-be visiting surveyors, engineers, and government officials are reading this, take it from me and give these fine local businesses a try – for good, casual, hefty food, visit the Colonial Cafe or Pat’s Pub. Delicious!

Look for our small business link through YAHOO and our newsletter, TORQUE.

Divi Logan and EDUSHIRTS, Nashville and Chicago, 2004 -2012.