Friday, November 10, 2006

Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Tuesday...

For years, I've been one of the city's most outspoken critics of political hiring and firing. Yesterday, Donald Tomczak, the mayor's former patronage lieutenant, was finally sentenced for Hired Truck. He's a product of "old Chicago," his lawyer says. And I agree with that, and I can't blame him for how he grew up. Plenty of the kids I remember from blue-collar Lincoln Park are part of the patronage game today. It's really the mayor who is responsible for the unavoidable effects of patronage.

The guys at the 43rd Ward Streets and Sanitation office are also products of "old Chicago." And I'm sure they're afraid I will fire them if I am elected. After all, I'm also a product of that old Chicago.

But I just called them to sympathize after I discovered that in our Diversey Harbor neighborhood, Wednesday often comes before Tuesday. "We know that," Anthony Nagli groaned.

Here is an example: this month, according to the permanent signs, the south side of Wrightwood will be cleaned on the third Tuesday and the north side the third Wednesday. So drivers and the sweeper know it's always going to be two days in a row, right? Wrong. This month, that Wednesday comes a week before the corresponding Tuesday. Confused? Look at a calendar. This anomaly occurs several times a year.

For this and related reasons, the sign system is very confusing to everyone involved. It is the result of a lack of clear thinking about the complex systems and processes involved in running the city's services. The permanent signs need serious rethinking. (Read my plans for that.)

Any major problems with street cleaning are ultimately our alderman's fault.

And in case it's not clear: I am opposed to political hiring and firing. No ward employee loses his or her job just because I take office. Except the alderman.

Forget old Chicago. Let's see what we can do in a "new Chicago." As the feds are so fond of saying, "Stay tuned."


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