I am very heartened by the response of block clubs, organizations and individuals to my call for a schedule of weekly “Safe Summer” positive loitering activities. Our office has sponsored several events under this theme, such as the July 4 fireworks celebration and viewing party at the 63rd Street Beach.When we read in this issue about the Alderman's efforts to promote "positive loitering," we were delighted that she had found such a felicitous phrase to describe her tenure, and wondered if it might catch on among other members of the City Council.
Yet imagine our disillusionment when we learned that "positive loitering" was not intended to describe Hairston's aldermanic activity, but that of the mysterious cohort invited to the "July 4 fireworks celebration and viewing party at 63rd Street Beach."
When you've bought city property for your own purposes, you get to control the guest list. We also suspect that "positive loitering" is the updated criminology term for "bread and circuses." The cost of such viewing parties must explain why no work has been done to repair most of 56th Street, and a good chunk of University Avenue, which continue to resemble the craters of the Moon.
With regard to the public lot at 55th Street and Lake Shore Drive, we read this:
Leslie Hairston allocated a portion of the ward's aldermanic menu money to provide some relief from [potholes on 56th Street ... NOT] pay and display boxes the Park District installed along and near the lakefront...The Ward Service Office has been issuing parking permits to residents who live near the 55th Street lot.
"Ward Service Office?" Who do you have to know to get a call back from those guys? Now Hairston's office is not only issuing invitations to view fireworks on city lots, but is also deciding just who gets long-term permits, essentially turning a public lot into a private stall for certain ward residents. Just how does one come upon this particular authority?
And finally, among the collection of other pat-self-on-back items, "5th Ward Report" does not fail to highlight the Shoreland and Hairston's (not quite clear) role in keeping it moving, quoting an Antheus representative on the “support and ongoing work of Ald. Leslie Hairston for helping preserve one of the great buildings in the ward.” Left out, of course, is whatever it was that the good folks of 5490 managed to extort from Antheus in terms of parking benefits in the little game of chicken authorized by the 5th Ward Alderman.
Some day we'll find out, but it won't be the "5th Ward Report".