Saturday, March 9, 2013

Letters to the Editor

Editor's note: We respect your opinion and are privileged to share it via this website. All letters to the editor will be reviewed before being posted. We do allow anonymous comments, yet we will not allow the Southwest Chicago Post to serve as a forum for bigotry of any kind. We also will not allow personal attacks against anyone, including elected officials and other public figures. On this site, all of us need to keep our tone respectful and our criticisms constructive. That's important as we work together to build better Southwest Side neighborhoods for all. So please join the conversation by sending your letter to

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I don't know why you allowed Zenere to spew the nonsense he did about what happened at Ford City. Preposterous! It's obvious he's just playing CYA and trying to spin his way out of an organizational failure. You should have ignored him. Did he really say "exuberant youths"? Come on!


(Editor's reply: Yes, he did use that term---at least three times, as we recall. We reported the story the way we did for several reasons: we respect the rank and position of CPD Tactical Sergeant, we respect the opinion of an experienced law enforcement official on public safety matters, and we value the perspective of someone who was actually there when the criminal mob action occurred (which most of us, ourselves included, do not have). So we played it straight, reported his comments accurately, reported what reaction we saw and heard from the audience, and let SWCP readers draw their own conclusions. If we disagree with any of Sergeant Zenere's analysis---and we definitely do---we will do so with respect, as is appropriate and as we always do. As a neighborhood news organization (as opposed to, say, an opinion blog) we don't ignore the views of those we may disagree with.)

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After reading other neighborhood newspapers, I have to thank you again for what you posted about the riot at Ford City. It was fast and factual and asked questions that needed to be asked.

Knowing that the other neighborhood papers had three or four days to dig into the aftermath of what happened at Ford City (because they aren't printed until the following Thursday or Friday), I was looking forward to reading their stories. But one of our local "newspapers" wrote nothing, nothing at all!, about the crimes, like it never even happened. So I called that paper and asked why. The lady who answered the phone said something like "We're the 'good news' newspaper." I wanted to say "You're also the deaf, dumb and blind newspaper," but I just hung up instead.

The other neighborhood newspaper I read offered a rehash of what had already appeared in the Trib and Sun-Times, plus they ran not even one photograph of a still from the many videos online and they watered down the severity of the incident, calling it a fracas, as if it was as harmless as a shoving match with an umpire at a baseball game. But they did manage to print publicity photos of no fewer than six local politicians in that same edition. I did not even bother to call them. It is clear to me what they're up to.

John Wasascz
Garfield Ridge

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Dear Editor,

I saw on the news that detectives were supposed to be looking at surveillance video from the riot at Ford City. Do you have any updates on if they made additional arrests?

Bill McCarthy

(Editor's reply: We have put that same question to CPD. Last time we heard back from them was on Sunday, March 3 when they gave us this six-word response: "Nothing has changed at this time."

We also asked the CTA, multiple times, if we could get a look at and take a photo of bus #6838, the bus that had its windshield shattered by a young thug at Ford City on February 23, same bus in which the bus driver took shards of glass to his eye and had to be transported to Holy Cross Hospital. After ignoring our initial requests, they replied to us on Thursday, February 28 with this: "We're looking into the status of the incident bus." Nothing since.

It's clear to us that the Emanuel Administration is playing damage control---not by disclosing what they know and candidly discussing the lessons learned---but by covering up the truth with passive resistance to simple requests for information. The vibe we (and by extension, all Southwest Siders) are getting from the Emanuel Administration is "Shut up, forget about what happened at Ford City and go back to sleep, sheep."

Of course, Mayor Emanuel and his team would not play games like this if he stayed true to the promises he made as candidate Emanuel back in December of 2010, when he pledged to be an ethical mayor who would "...turn the page and bring a new era of transparency, accountability and end business as usual in city government.")

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Dear Tim,

On behalf of the Archer Heights Civic Association I want to express our gratitude for the very incisive, well written editorial of February 12, 2013 ("Mayor Emanuel Turns Blind Eye to Blight") calling attention to the considerable frustration our civic group has with getting Chicago Building and Zoning Code ordinances enforced. Illegal conversions are a major quality of life issue for our community and the greater Southwest side for all the reasons stated in the editorial, and more.

Lax enforcement of building and zoning codes is a key reason why law abiding homeowners flee the city. Archer Heights is a neighborhood composed predominantly single family homes with some blocks of two flats and three flats and nobody wants to live next door to a building where people have been packed into basements and/or attics that have  been converted into illegal apartments, or worse, sleeping cubicles. The people who live in these illegal conversions are not community oriented and care less about the neighborhood.  Most law abiding homeowners put their life savings into their homes, have a genuine stake in the community and keep up and improve their property. These same homeowners are voters; whereas the people living in or owning illegal conversions generally are not. So it is amazing why any elected official cannot see the forest for the trees.

From what we understand, the Department of Inspections has been decimated and has nowhere near the inspectional staff required for a city of our size. Plus a significant problem is when an inspector does get out to a property, it is always during the day when the occupants are at work.  So how do they expect to gain entry?

The last time we worked directly with the Department of Buildings was when after continued
complaints to the police and 23rdWard Alderman Michael Zalewski about the abandoned American National Bank building at 5301 S. Cicero, the Alderman invited then newly appointed Commissioner Michael Merchant for a tour of that building. Subsequently, the property owners were taken to court and we worked with the Alderman and City inspector to get the building torn down. I was at every court hearing and Alderman Zalewski was able to attend most sessions and the building was finally demolished in early 2012. But it took four years of complaining, a personal visit by the new commissioner and nearly a year of court time to get that done. During that four year period the abandoned building was broken into, plundered, trashed and became a haven for hookers and druggies. Imagine what it was like if you as a homeowner not only had to live across the street or alley from this location but also had company that would see this awful sight. Further imagine what travelers to Midway were thinking upon seeing this derelict property.

Our Building & Zoning Committee is one of the most important of our standing committees and we will continue to pursue illegal conversions. We hope your article garners attention from the “powers that be” Downtown and brings positive improvement in the treatment of illegal conversions. Thanks again for an excellent editorial calling attention to a serious problem affecting the Southwest side.


Thomas S. Baliga
President, AHCA

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