Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Joe Moore to 49th Ward: Super Lawyers Must Sue Criminals, Chicago's Finest and Costly Agencies are Helpless.

Joseph Moore's Public Safety Meeting last Monday was more of a vent-fest. Moore's panel did not successfully facilitate enough comments on how law enforcement can creatively protect the public. At one point, Moore told a local attorneys to 'sue local criminals.' This 'Moore Mantra' should change. State legislators like Osterman and Steans should help to meaningfully re-evaluate and re-codify the dram laws.

Whether a conscientious effort emeges may depend upon the few offending liquor stores. Have they contributed enough to create a conflict of interest among legislators? Some bars and liquor stores merit less attention. Impotent political incest complete with 'Fagus and the 'Yes men'' does little to encourage the public's trust.

There is a place and a purpose for everything. Ineffective assistance of alderman or legislator counsel is unactionable. Your vote can make a difference. However, Moore is not completely responsible for ineffective or unwilling law enforcement; only for maintaining the status quo. Police officers should not mock residents when they try to help other neighbors. Officers should not 'glance and glide,' in their cruisers when dispatched to a trouble spots. It seems like mob action sometimes waits to return when 'the heat' moves south. Where is that subsequent timely drive by by our caring peace officers?

Assault, disturbing the peace, drinking in the public way, littering, statutory rape, and tagging are crimes. Chicago may have an easement over property. However, in doing so, it should reasonably enforce laws when private property is abused by litter bugs or the beligerent. Why can't these folks lose driving, licensing, transportation, or some meaningful privilege like the right to purchase alcohol until they shape up?
What about community service? When tolerated, in the absence creative policing, law enforcement sends the wrong message. Alderman Moore knows that the public cannot sue a 'judgment proof roving nuisance.' We know that if there is no enforceable penalty or public enlightenment, then criminal nuisance will continue.

Petty nuisances and major vandalism remain based upon a pitifully funded education and enforcement mandates from our Chicago and Illinois Legislators. This is sustained by the fear of a few more tax dollars. The top one percent continues to accumulate wealth. A few of the spoiled and outspoken prevent the wealthy from providing a fair share of their assets. In doing so, those like 'Joe the unlicensed plumber' ignorantly complain about taxes and do themselves a disservice. However, it takes more than money, it takes persistent attention.

Some locals just seem too addicted to keep the bottle in the brown bag until they get home. Those who have to drink and dribble on the walkway merit attention. Alcoholism is an addiction; addiction is an illness. Of course, there are a few who have forgotten to take their medicine, who the need attention of public mental health providers before they unreasonably assault others, as well. Yet, nothing is done to bring the resources to the neighborhoods before things get out of control.

This is why many are unimpressed with public safety meetings that simply march out the troops and the politicians. We don't need a 'dog and pony show.' The bottom line is Police need to find ways to do their jobs better. They are professionals, who should ask difficult questions. They should work with CAPs volunteers and politicians in more productive ways, not merely dictate statistics to them. The FOP needs to develop and encourage higher standards. The States Attorneys Office has resources and few Beats ever get much access.

Rational and responsible volunteers should be given a reasonable way to communicate more expedientely to those who care. Community Police reps from the 24th District need to effectively communicate with Caluris. Monday's meeting seemed like public promotion of the status quo. True, official crime is down, but the apathy that maintains our ignored and unreported crime still haunts us.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Drink Responsibly, but Don't Drive; Use Howard Terminal

The past challenges of a lifetime are trivial after subtle and sudden distractions while driving under the influence. Not all of the victims of drunk drivers die. Turning tipsy and skipping stop signs are reckless acts that can be avoided. Accessible public transportation is one reason why living in Chicago often makes it easy to avoid being a driver or passenger in car accidents. Public transportation abounds particularly to Rogers Park. Why not go public?

I don't care how many excuses are given; accessible public transportation makes it easy to leave the car keys at home when there is intent to imbibe. In Rogers Park, in spite of all of the sensationalism, I know the Terminal to be a rather safe place. The aberrations are the exception. I find that the new South Terminal is full of more than enough passengers to deter the ignorant felon or fool. Often, it takes two. Most of us have better things to do than to mouth or mutter, so we move on. If you are elderly, then the Howard Steet taxi cab stand at Paulina is just north and visible from the exit. The cab line is rarelywithout a cab driver ready, willing and able to drive you home even at 2 a.m.

If you just want to rush home after kicking back a few at your favorite nightclub or tavern, then leave the ride at home. The taxi or the walk may do you well. There is enough light. If you walk in pairs, you have four eyes and ears plus a witness. This seems sufficient. If you binged, which is not worth the effort, then taxi's make it easier to eventually do your discreet prayer to the porcelain gods. Frankly, a few drinks are usually enough and if you have three or four hours, space them out if you must, but don't drive DUI.

The Pace 290 ends service around midnight on most weekdays. Perhaps, it ends later on Fridays; the Pace website can be surfed for schedules. I find that CTA's Route 22, among others, will put you that much closer, where you live just east or west of Clark. The 22 will also take you to a nearby 24 hour burrito bin that will serve you coffee, where you don't want to travel west to Western and Howard for Dunkin Donuts or Bakers Square on Touhy. Of course, the Loop to Sheridan bus or the Route 22 will take you from downtown to the Terminal or even closer.

I post this after reading today's front page on the Chicago Tribune about the Jahn family. How many families and friends must we read about before enough of us understand? How much motivation or planning does it take avoid the hazy drive from point A to point B? Whether we are peace officers or the public, all of us should set the best example. All you have to do is begin a pattern. Park the car in the lot or at home, go to or the Pacer link, and check out the bus and train schedules. Standard Parking at the Terminal rarely charges more than $2 per exit and entry unless you push your luck beyond a few days.

You are more of a threat than you think you are! You can create your own hellhole for Craig to ponder over after the police radio requests back up. You don't need a cab, just a conscience.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Well, that Woke Me Up: Fire on Ridge, Somewhere

We run a seven day work shift in our household. My wife, who is in extreme demand, works the weekends. I work Monday through Friday. My kids try to figure out whether their parents will really make sure that they actually do their homework. Our dog tries to figure out if she will be walked at the brink of dawn; on Sunday. My wife strategizes how she will get me out of bed and momentarily fails. However, an opportunity emerges this Sunday at 6:30pm on the drive to work.

The phone spews out it's pleasant computer music tone that we have grown tired of. I look at the half functional caller id, courtesy of the cable phone service. It is my wife's cell phone. I pick it up. The voice; "You might want to walk the dog now." Next comes the half awake yawning "Why?"

Wife: "Well, there are four ambulances, two ABC7 News Trucks, and a lot of police cars."

Husband: "Thanks." [in an uncertain tone unsure whether to appreciate and levitate or return to slumber][Phone's push button is pressed and phone placed in charger with right hand].

My half conscious slumber is suppressed. The body has levitated and feet have hit the ground. What has happened? This concerned or nosy (depending upon your perspective) Rogers Park Neighbors want to know.

Within two minutes, the dog is leashed and I hit the pavement heading north on the east side walk on Ridge. As I walk, I realize that this event must be closer to Howard. Where? I have no clue. As I reach the subtle turn at Jarvis and Ridge I can see the large tower of an ABC News Truck. It is parked at St. Scholastica. A little further and it becomes obvious that there are two ABC Media Trucks. However, I see no ambulances.

At Birchwood, I notice that one of the cameramen is putting his equipment away. I walk with the dog across Ridge and reach St. Scholastica's driveway.

Me: So what happened? [or words to that effect]

Cameraman: There was a fire in an apartment building. A few people were hurt, no one was seriously injured.

Me: Thanks.

At this point, the dog gets the urge, and with baggies in hand, the indiscretion is promptly cleaned off St. Scholastica's grass. The conversation continues.

Me: You know, someone should do a public interest story about owners who don't pick up after their dogs. If you have to walk your dog, you are more likely to step in it than someone who is not an owner. I read that we have a . . . who alledgedly . . .Yada, yada, yada.

The cameraman acknowledged. Discussed his own dog experiences and again, wished me a good morning or words to that effect.

I continued to walk down Ridge, disposed of the baggy at Shell, purchased a cup of hot chocolate and continued back on the east side of Ridge. On the way, I stopped to say hi to a familiar dog owner with his chocolate lab, then stopped to talk to a second cameraman perched at Birchwood and Ridge.

Me: You know, I can smell the fire, but I can't see it. Where is it.

Cameraman2: Its over there. [pointing down Birchwood east of Ridge]

Me: Thank you.

Of course, I head down Ridge with eyes wide open. I see nothing. I also saw nothing down Ridge. However, you could smell something. I don't had no idea where the fire was, but at least the dog got her walk. Footage courtesy of ABC7 News.