Sunday, February 03, 2008

Boulevard of broken windows

A pane of glass at the entrance to my home. Broken Saturday night (Jan. 26) by a reveler on Lincoln Avenue. This is the fourth or fifth broken window in the past year.

What makes this one unusual is the fact that it held a sticker from when we belonged to the Lincoln Park Conservation Association, a long-dead organization that was once a forum for dealing with issues just like this one.

I asked Alderman Vi Daley three years ago to help with the problems of public drunkenness on Lincoln Avenue, including security, noise abatement, and keeping De Paul students from using our walls as a urinal.

Vi didn't help with these things, but she soon rewarded me for my public efforts: she very quietly increased my taxes and rents, and those of all of my other neighbors on Lincoln Avenue (through the Lincoln Avenue SSA). Then, she used that increase to put decorative planters and Christmas ornaments along the street. (She also reduced police presence on the block. See other posts.)

What's worse, when I formally asked Vi's cronies on the SSA commission (hello, neighbor Susan Keegan and the very wealthy Sam Sanchez of John Barleycorn, both commissioners at the time) at least to spend some of the $150,000 a year on repairing windows broken by the drunks, they ignored me and spent it on fancy promotional things. (So much for "Why don't you help us by coming up with ideas instead of complaining all the time?")

Businesses (including the largest bars on the block causing the problems, hi again, Sam) pay less into the tax than we residents do. When I tried to complain about this, to raise public awareness about the problem and to call people to the public hearing, Vi Daley had me ticketed.

The SSA hasn't stopped the violence on the block. In fact, by the stated intent of the SSA (to promote additional commercial traffic in this "blighted" area) it is presumed to have increased the potential for this violence.

Update Sunday, Feb. 3, 4 a.m.: I have a guest staying in my living room, which fronts Lincoln Avenue. I am sure he is awake by now. Abraham is asleep. Two guys are talking loudly and peeing right on my bedroom window. I knock loudly from the inside. "Dude, was that someone knocking from inside? Wow." 4:10 a.m.: More yelling, presumably from other people getting out of The Apartment. 4:20 a.m.: More yelling. 4:35 a.m.: Still yelling here and there. 4:55 a.m.: A woman and man yelling loudly. Lots of chanting now, and car horns blaring. And to think it's 26 degrees outside. Consider what it must be like when the weather is beautiful and we're trying to sleep. 5:45 a.m.: Still not asleep, but someone just trudged up to the wall and started peeing. Thanks, Vi. I hope you're sleeping.