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Buy groceries, then blog about it.

— On the neighbor message Harvest Time Foods
10:01 a.m.

I wouldn't say they're rude, I'd say they're teenagers, whose training doesn't extend to customer-service demeanor -- or what order to bag your groceries in. Most of them don't know the first thing about that.

— On the neighbor message Harvest Time Foods
6:38 a.m.

It's easier to get a bike onto the train but harder to find a place where it won't be in someone's way.

— On the neighbor message Rogers Park Red Line
11:29 a.m.

I'm a regular Brown Line commuter and thankful that the trains on that line were NOT updated. I do have to ride the Red Line a couple of days a week, and I loathe the side-facing seating and cringe whenever I see a new train pulling up. Having spent a year in Boston, where the Red and Orange T lines (and maybe the Blue, though I hardly ever rode that one, so I forget) have side-facing seating, I could have warned the CTA that it results in a lot more standing passengers as riders space themselves out with not one but two seats between them, that you're going to have a ride full of micro-conflicts as people have to decide whether to violate others' space by sitting down in those empty seats, that there's a lot more claustrophobia involved in sitting between two people than in sitting between one person and the side of the car, and that while nobody cares about being able to see out the window in a system that's mostly underground, on the Chicago ELEVATED train, sitting with one's back to the window negates one of the primary perks of the ride.

The trains offer a significantly smoother and quieter ride than the ones they replaced, and despite that, I still can't stand them.

— On the neighbor message Rogers Park Red Line
3:43 a.m.

Suit yourselves. I've never had an apartment with good windows that wasn't well kept up, and I've never had an apartment with old, beat-up windows where the landlord didn't let all sorts of other things slide as well.

— On the neighbor message Tips for Renters
10 p.m.

Nice to know the real story. The way that post office is run, I wouldn't have been surprised to learn that it had simply lost them.

— On the neighbor message Lawrence Avenue Post Office
6:49 a.m.

No translation required. This one is just a personal tag.

— On the neighbor message Graffiti/Tagging in Alley
6:30 a.m.

For me, the trick is to look at the window frames. Battered wood frames with cracking paint and steel window frames tell you loud and clear that the landlord is letting things go all over the building. Anodized storm sashes suggest that the landlord cares about keeping things up to date. Vinyl storm sashes tell you that the landlord wants to LOOK like he's keeping things up to date, but he's doing it on the cheap.

— On the neighbor message Tips for Renters
7:10 a.m.

Matushek Photography. http://matushekphotography.com

We didn't want the exact same kind of wedding photos that everyone else gets, and Peter and Jessica Matushek delivered a unique set of pics. I'd almost like to get married again just to have them photograph it.

— On the neighbor message Wedding Photographer Recommendations
1:08 p.m.

The five-pointed crown signifies Latin Kings; the upside-down pitchfork, a rival gang affiliated with the Disciples. The reversed S's in "STOP SNITCHIN" [sic] and the T's styled as additional upside-down pitchforks are an insult to a gang with an S in its name -- most likely the "Spanish" in "Spanish Disciples." (The C in "SNITCHIN" is also reversed -- maybe aimed at a set based up around Carmen Avenue? I doubt that it's aimed at the Spanish Cobras, who as far as I know don't have a set in this area, and there are no other anti-Cobra symbols in the graffiti.)

Care to dispute my methodology, Duncs?

— On the neighbor message "Stop Snitching" Graffiti
8:14 p.m.

O, how foolish and naive I have been, wise and worldly Kevin, to fail to realize that you know SO MUCH MORE than I.

I may not have been mugged at knifepoint, but I have been burglarized, in this neighborhood, with gang members as the most probable suspects. I have no illusions. What I do have, which you seem not to, is the ability to keep track of modifiers, antecedents and context -- to recognize that Kate was warning against attributing criminal behavior to ALL low-income residents, not just the obvious hoods, and that "shenanigans" were my sardonic way of referring to outbursts of actual shooting, which I left Albany Park to get away from a year ago.

So spare me the lectures about leaving graffiti "unchecked." I've called 311 on every piece of gang graffiti I've seen for as long as I've lived here. Tell me something useful you've done.

— On the neighbor message "Stop Snitching" Graffiti
3:56 p.m.

I remember when "political correctness" was called "common decency."

— On the neighbor message "Stop Snitching" Graffiti
1:31 p.m.

The best way to assist gangster taggers is to let them spray their messages without interference. I prefer to interfere as much as possible.

— On the neighbor message "Stop Snitching" Graffiti
9:48 a.m.

Reporting does not constitute an endorsement. If it did, the news media could never cover any statement made by a politician.

Also, it's good to be able to keep an eye on what the punks are up to. It provides a better sense of when they're likely to start engaging in violent shenanigans.

Finally, some folks know how to read the graffiti, and some don't. Posting the pics helps those who do know translate them for those who don't.

— On the neighbor message "Stop Snitching" Graffiti
9:17 a.m.

Sharon, if your main complaint about Jewel is its prices, Mariano's will not solve your problem.

— On the neighbor message Mariano's Ravenswood opening -- April 6!
7:27 a.m.

Nick, I can translate this: It's Latin Kings sending a warning to Spanish Disciples.

I encourage every decent neighbor in the area to snitch, snitch like the wind, snitch like they've never snitched before. Snitch like it's quidditch. Sing like a forest full of canaries. See something, say something, repeat.

— On the neighbor message "Stop Snitching" Graffiti
7:15 a.m.

South of 60th is Woodlawn. It's improving slowly, thanks to determined intervention by the University of Chicago, but it's not Hyde Park proper, and it's still rough. Hyde Park is between 51st and 60th, east of Cottage Grove, and Kenwood is between 43rd and 51st (but the nicer parts are south of 47th).

7:04 a.m.

Mike, I have a very good friend who has lived in Rogers Park for most of his adult life. He recently sold his condo on Pratt east of Sheridan to buy a house on Newgard between North Shore and Albion. These areas are attractive and reasonably safe. The closer you get to Howard, the sketchier the neighborhood becomes, and there are spikes of gang activity around Pratt and Ashland. Unlike many neighborhoods in the city, Rogers Park is a patchwork affair with respect to which areas are safe and which are not. But as has been said many times, you can't beat RP for the combination of diversity and amenities. (Albany Park is more diverse, but in the way of amenities, it has almost nothing, unless you love Middle Eastern cuisine and fast-food tacos to the exclusion of everything else that's good in life.)

I understand wanting easy access to the North Side, but I wouldn't rule out the Hyde Park–Kenwood area completely.

Unless you want to go to the far Southwest Side (Beverly–Morgan Park), RP and HP/K are pretty much your two choices, based on what you've described.

Too bad CPS requires you to live in the city. I think you'd find Oak Park to be heaven on earth.

7:18 a.m.

Dang it. When I said "Golden Wok" I meant Wok Cuisine. Both times. X-\

— On the neighbor message Chinese Food
5:05 p.m.

Golden Wok. I'm telling you.

— On the neighbor message Chinese Food
10:34 a.m.

With so many Thai food options in the neighborhood, I almost never order Chinese anymore. But when I do, I order from Golden Wok on Kedzie. It's significantly less heavy and fresher-tasting than any other Chinese takeout I've had.

— On the neighbor message Chinese Food
7:46 a.m.

"In the late 1970s, the CTA undertook a station modernization program in which they rebuilt or significantly renovated five stations around the system to modern standards and styles."

"Modern."

Saints preserve us from the 1960s-'70s idea of what was "modern."

— On the neighbor message Western Ave Brown Line Station
6:31 a.m.

Dibs is over: http://vimeo.com/83989287

— On the neighbor message "Dibs" Parking Spots
6:40 a.m.

For the record, TIF is tax increment financing. TIFF is tagged image file format.

— On the neighbor message Who's Offically Tired of Winter?
8:23 a.m.

I do stand partially corrected: I've seen a couple of emergency patch jobs, most notably at the corner of Western and Leland. So clearly the city is not waiting to address at least the ones it considers most serious.

5:36 p.m.

The city isn't fixing them now because there'd be no point. The potholes are created by the cycle of thaw-and-freeze. Asphalt expands and contracts -- and cracks. Water seeps in. When the water freezes, it breaks up the asphalt. We've had a lot of deep freezes this winter, resulting in a lot of big potholes -- and winter isn't over yet. Did you notice that we're due to get hit by the Dread Polar Vortex again later this week? The potholes of winter can't be mended till spring, when there's reasonable assurance that there won't be another freeze. It sucks, but that's what you get when you pave with asphalt.

12:52 p.m.

It's not even that whole stretch: it's between Campbell and Artesian in particular. Ye gods.

7:35 a.m.

I second the recommendation of Bloom. I do not recommend Lincoln Square Massage. I went there with a back spasm over the summer, and the therapist managed to make it worse. A subsequent session at Bloom undid the damage.

— On the neighbor message Massage recommendation
7:28 a.m.

My own experience with character education programs is that if the kids are being taught street values at home, trying to teach them different values in the classroom is not going to change their thinking. It'll just make them think you're a fool. So let's see those "results" of yours and find out whether they stand up to scrutiny.

7:23 a.m.

Jason is incorrect. Andersonville is a part of Edgewater, which is the neighborhood north of Uptown.

— On the neighbor message Is uptown safe?
11:30 p.m.

Lakeview is safer. First of all, the figures posted are just from December. In December, the gang members mostly stay inside, get high and play Xbox. Look at the violent crime figures for June through September, and they'll be very different. Second, the Lakeview crimes are mostly theft. We're not talking about muggings or drive-bys here, we're talking about shoplifting. Finally, Lakeview is geographically larger than Uptown. In Uptown, you have 20 robberies concentrated in just one square mile. Lakeview's 24 robberies are spread over almost two.

— On the neighbor message Is uptown safe?
10:51 a.m.

Yeah, but Jason, Wilson/Sheridan and Wilson/Broadway are exactly the parts of Uptown you need to walk through in order to get to the 'L'.

Before we moved in together, my wife lived on Malden just south of Wilson -- this was from around 2009 to 2011. She bought her groceries on Broadway. During that time, the number of gunshots in the area was rising, not falling. And just recently, a Red Line train I was on stopped at Wilson because some of some weird random fight among teenagers on the platform which led to one of them jumping onto the train and fleeing from car to car while another strode after him, purposefully, with his hand in his jacket in a manner that convincingly implied the possession of a firearm. This was in the middle of the afternoon. I stand by my assessment of the area.

— On the neighbor message Is uptown safe?
8:26 a.m.

Of course, telling you what NOT to do is not especially helpful. If you'd care to share (publicly or privately) which hospital you're commuting to, I'd be happy to provide some more specific neighborhood recommendations.

— On the neighbor message Is uptown safe?
8:06 a.m.

Catherine is right. I would only disagree with her on one thing: My sense is that the blocks between Broadway and Sheridan are more dangerous than those west of Broadway. Though you're not really safe until somewhere between Malden and Beacon streets.

— On the neighbor message Is uptown safe?
8:02 a.m.

The particular block you're looking at is probably pretty safe. The blocks between it and the Wilson Red Line station are not. If you could teleport home from the train, you'd be fine, but I would not recommend making that walk after dark. The area has not only gang activity but a large number of residents with drug and mental health issues. If your plan is to ride one of the lakefront express buses (135, 136, 146 or 148) to and from work, you might be all right. If your plan is to ride the 'L', you should listen to the other folks here and find another neighborhood. There are other diverse, mixed-income communities in Chicago that don't have Uptown's problems.

— On the neighbor message Is uptown safe?
6:49 a.m.

My wife and I got married in the Shakespeare Garden at Northwestern University and had our reception at Quince at the Homestead. I'd recommend both highly. We had about 20 guests.

— On the neighbor message Cool Wedding Venue
6:44 a.m.

I actually have also heard excellent things about Dr. Nick. I ended up going to Tedford instead because Nick's practice didn't accept my insurance.

— On the neighbor message Dentist Recommendations
10:10 a.m.

Dr. William Tedford, on Damen just north of Lawrence.

— On the neighbor message Dentist Recommendations
6:54 a.m.

James Park, actually. I was about to suggest the same thing. And the better entrance to the park is from Dodge Avenue next to the 'L' tracks.

— On the neighbor message Urban Sledding?
9 a.m.

"Your views concerning the government being able to provide this utopia in which crime is extremely unlikely are not reflective of history or human nature." Amazing though it may seem, it's exactly reflective of patterns extending through human history right up to the present moment. Read the Pinker book. Learn.

Also check out Great American City: Chicago and the Enduring Neighborhood Effect by Robert J. Sampson. It has interesting things to say about what social factors result in reductions in crime. Social altruism, collective efficacy, levels of trust in neighbors and -- interestingly -- recent immigration all correlate strongly with lower homicide rates. Legal/moral cynicism (i.e., disdain for shared values and the machinery of law, including the police) correlates strongly with higher homicide rates . . . and is also at the heart of many CCW advocates' own arguments in favor of their position.

P.S. Silly me. I missed the Lebowski reference.

P.P.S. What is there to say about the courage of a user who taunts someone she's already muted?

— On the neighbor message Illinois Concealed Carry Coming To Chicago
5:38 p.m.

The Second Amendment has nothing to do with "defense against the government." Defense against the government is written into the Bill of Rights through the amendments guaranteeing due process of law and the rights of the accused. Seriously, think for a moment: Why on earth would the creators of a new federal government, reeling from the chaos of the Articles of Confederation era and desperate for stability ("We the People . . . in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity . . . "), deliberately write into their establishing document an invitation to their own violent overthrow? That don't make no kind of sense.

P.S. Assuming you're using your real name, I can state definitively that we've never known each other personally.

— On the neighbor message Illinois Concealed Carry Coming To Chicago
12:52 p.m.

"Catbus, when I say 'reach you' am I actually trying to save myself from your flawed ideology . . . " LOL. OK, if you say so. But you may have to resign your title of Defender of the Meanings of Words.

"Society protects against organized crime, hostile governments, large conglomerates, etc. that is only one reason societies have been set up. They also provide social services, court systems, public utilities, on and on and on... They DO NOT provide personal protection from criminals." Personal protection? No. Conditions in which violence and crime are far less likely to occur? Yes, if they're running properly.

"Do you really feel that if guns didn't exist and the government had a monopoly on force that crime would cease to exist?" Cease to exist? No. Occur at dramatically lower rates than it does today? Absolutely.

Also, keep in mind that when the Second Amendment was written, police departments as we understand them today did not exist: they were an innovation of the 1800s. The concept of the state monopoly on legitimate force didn't exist until Max Weber in 1919. In the colonial era, townspeople defended their towns from bandits and raiders, and individual criminals were dealt with by citizen militias or ad hoc posses. So when the Crown moved to seize colonists' weapons to prevent uprisings, they weren't simply taking away "individuals' right to defend themselves" -- they were taking away the ability of ENTIRE COMMUNITIES to UPHOLD THE LAW. That's the understanding behind the Second Amendment clause, "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State." Since the development of professional policing, police departments have replaced citizen patrols as the means by which communities are kept secure, and the social science literature tells us that this has been accompanied by a dramatic decrease in violence.

— On the neighbor message Illinois Concealed Carry Coming To Chicago
12:52 p.m.

BTW, don't beat yourself up about whether you can "reach" me, Donny. My salvation is not your responsibility. We're just having a conversation here.

— On the neighbor message Illinois Concealed Carry Coming To Chicago
11:05 a.m.

Gang members join gangs because they've rejected the idea that social institutions, including the police, will protect them and help them obtain justice, and instead embraced the idea of taking matters into their own hands, all the time, whether in response to a real assault or just a cross look. Their idea is that the only way to ensure that they're not taken advantage of is to send the message that anyone who tries will die. Which is why I facepalm every time someone suggests that the answer is to deregulate guns so that good citizens can go out and "protect themselves," because what that shows (aside from naïveté about their own abilities) is that decent people are giving up on their own civilization and embracing the barbaric code of the street themselves.

You don't defeat the code of the street by adopting it.

— On the neighbor message Illinois Concealed Carry Coming To Chicago
11:03 a.m.

"The average person is reasonable enough to know when their life is in danger and when and how they should use their weapon." Really? According to this 20/20 experiment, the average person is unable to make effective use of his or her weapon even in a situation where the danger is obvious: http://abcnews.go.com/2020/video/defend-gun-7312540

(Here's a YouTube link for those who, like me, may have had technical problems with the ABC News site: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ezzskoEB0Gc)

None of us has infallible judgment. Police departments attempt to compensate by subjecting officers to extensive and continuous crisis training. How many crisis training courses does the average CCW carrier take? I'd bet the average is slightly less than one.

Ultimately, though, my objections are philosophical rather than statistical or legalist, and I stand by my definitions. To me, the idea that everyone is ultimately and solely responsible for his or her own "defense" is a step back from civilization. Violence declines when the state has a monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force. Violence increases when people lose faith that the state will use that monopoly dependably and fairly. These facts are both extensively documented in the social science literature. (See, e.g., The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined by Steven Pinker and Code of the Street: Decency, Violence, and the Moral Life of the Inner City by Elijah Anderson.)

— On the neighbor message Illinois Concealed Carry Coming To Chicago
11:03 a.m.

I had no idea I had "cronies." They're certainly not coming through on their nepotism responsibilities.

I reiterate, a gun can't be used to _defend_ anyone. Deterrence is not the same as defense. And it can't be an effective deterrent if it's concealed -- and, knowing what we know about people who commit crimes, it's not even a certainty that it's an effective deterrent when displayed. What if _they're_ counting on getting in the first strike?

I'm not assuming that every time a gun is drawn, people shoot. But I'm also not assuming that people buy a gun for the same reason they buy a fire extinguisher or auto insurance, hoping that they never have to use it. There's something about the idea of carrying a gun that's more seductive than the idea of wearing a bulletproof vest. Why is that?

— On the neighbor message Illinois Concealed Carry Coming To Chicago
9:42 a.m.

"CCW has nothing to do with wants"? It has everything to do with wants. One thing April's "safety blanket" comment reminded me of (it's a pity she and her "bandwagon" won't get to see it, since they're saying "la la la I can't hear you") is that a gun is not and can never be a tool of _defense_ -- it's a tool of _counterattack._ Have you ever heard anyone say, "He took a shot at me, but luckily, I was carrying a gun, and the bullet just veered away!" A bulletproof vest, or anything else that would actually stop a bullet, is a form of defense. But a gun isn't a shield. And it's not even like a sword, in that a sword can parry another sword, but a gun can't shoot another gun's bullet out of the air. (Mythbusters proved that.) So the idea that you can defend yourself by carrying a gun is a willful adherence to a fuzzy and false definition of "defense." You're not trusting in your gun to defend you; you're counting on being the one to _attack first._ Which not only assumes infallible judgment -- to somehow know that you're the noble, beleaguered homeowner and not the George Zimmerman in the situation -- but also betrays an unsavory wish to "do unto others" and receive social approval for doing so rather than condemnation.

Maybe you're thinking, "Knowing I have a gun deters a criminal from messing with me, and so it really is a form of defense, because my just carrying a weapon is enough to prevent an attack." That might make sense if you were carrying _openly_ and anyone could see you were packing, but a weapon no one can see isn't going to deter anyone from anything. And we've seen from the example of gang members that people who prey on others, even _knowing_ that their targets are likely to be armed, generally don't seem concerned enough about that fact to refrain from violence; instead, they go hunting in numbers, or use clever first-strike tactics like the drive-by. If a thug isn't afraid of another thug, do you really think he'll be afraid of you?

— On the neighbor message Illinois Concealed Carry Coming To Chicago
6:58 a.m.

I wonder how many people are killed every year with blankets.

— On the neighbor message Illinois Concealed Carry Coming To Chicago
1:59 p.m.

Let me see if I understand what you're saying: If you're a white woman living in Austin, the men can't resist you and the women resent you. If you're black in Austin, and neighbor children trespass in your yard, the police will come and take your complaint seriously, which they won't do for white people; also, you can commit assault and battery against white people and get off scot-free. And for this reason, George Zimmerman is more trustworthy than the average cop.

Oooooo-kay.

— On the neighbor message Illinois Concealed Carry Coming To Chicago
12:05 p.m.

I know where 5841 W. Augusta Blvd. is. (It's in Austin, for anyone who doesn't.) What I'm asking is why you think being a white person in that area has any particular bearing on the degree of risk one faces. Do you think nonwhites carry "get out of crime free" cards?

— On the neighbor message Illinois Concealed Carry Coming To Chicago
11:40 a.m.

I'd love to know what being a white person has to do with it.

— On the neighbor message Illinois Concealed Carry Coming To Chicago
10:13 a.m.

I've read some reviews indicating that Paprika got overwhelmed by orders from GrubHub and its sit-down service suffered badly as a result. Is it ready for the influx of business that will come with being featured on the Killer of Great Dining Secrets?

6:48 a.m.

I thought you guys were following a "logical, fact-based approach" here.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/11/25/guess-what-the-knockout-game-is-america-s-latest-phony-panic.html

If you want to disqualify yourself from being taken seriously by any sensible person ever, by all means, keep posting links from WorldNet Daily, the nation's foremost birther site.

— On the neighbor message Illinois Concealed Carry Coming To Chicago
12:52 p.m.

Min Yingjun may have attempted to murder a bunch of people, but in fact nobody in that knife attack in China died. The attack resulted only in injuries.

Zheng Minsheng did manage to kill eight people with a machete four years ago.

I'd point out that the Oklahoma City bombers considered themselves to be striking a blow against government tyranny. A "Second Amendment solution," if you will. Does that go any distance toward explaining why some of us are alarmed by the enthusiasm with which some people are greeting concealed-carry?

— On the neighbor message Illinois Concealed Carry Coming To Chicago
12:46 p.m.

I have to say, this is the first time I've ever heard a CCW advocate acknowledge that guns do not deter crime. Usually the argument is precisely the opposite. I also tip my hat to your acknowledgment that we have much more economic and political inequality than Switzerland. It's unfortunate that gun laws are considered to be changeable but inequality is not. Every nation that's more equal than the United States today was less equal in the past than it is now. Societies can change and mature. I'm not sure what's holding ours back. (Though I have my suspicions.)

Guns cannot make a people less violent, but they can and do make their violence more deadly. I'm still waiting to read a news story about someone going to an elementary school and massacring a dozen people with a utility knife, or a 12-year-old bystander getting killed in a drive-by clubbing.

"What you are saying is tantamount to calling ALL human beings 'would be murders and thugs' if the circumstances were right." No, of course not. All human beings would be murderers and thugs if the circumstances were WRONG. They would be good, law-abiding neighbors if the circumstances were right.

— On the neighbor message Illinois Concealed Carry Coming To Chicago
12:07 p.m.

If those gang members' targets would simply carry guns and protect themselves, clearly this violence would not take place! OH, WAIT.

Look, when you're carrying a gun, that tempts you to solve your problems in a way that's not available to you when you're not carrying a gun. Knowing their targets are armed doesn't stop gang members from going after them; they just go after them with more guys and more guns. The solution to this problem isn't to make sure there are even more people with guns out there. That approach hinges on the idea that "they" and "we" are fundamentally different in some unalterable way -- that "they" break the law and that "we" don't, or that "we" have self-control and "they" don't, whatever. When you get yourself a gun, you've taken one step toward being more like "them." Now you and "they" have something in common that you didn't before. Congratulations.

Ultimately, "we" and "they" are all PEOPLE, motivated by sex, social ties and survival. If you asked the average Gangster Disciple why he carries a gun -- or, for that matter, why he joined the GDs -- I bet he'd say, "To protect myself." Does knowing he has a gun make you feel any safer? Me, I'd rather that neither of you did.

But I'm arguing philosophy, and all you guys want to talk about is statistics. Here's one: The United States has more guns per capita than any other country in the world -- TWICE as many as NRA poster child Switzerland [1]. If guns deter crime, how come the United States isn't safer than Switzerland?

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Number_of_guns_per_capita_by_country

— On the neighbor message Illinois Concealed Carry Coming To Chicago
11:24 a.m.

Also, the point of a seat belt is not that I think other drivers are trying to hit me ON PURPOSE.

— On the neighbor message Illinois Concealed Carry Coming To Chicago
7:13 a.m.

Yes, but I never have to decide whether to hit someone with it.

— On the neighbor message Illinois Concealed Carry Coming To Chicago
7:12 a.m.

Well, the pro-firearms people seem to feel that everyone is dangerous and predatory and can't be trusted without a weapon aimed at their heads, and their arguments tend to boil down to "I want." When you can invent a gun that never shoots anybody except an intended and deserving target, "I want" might carry as much weight as the demands of public safety.

— On the neighbor message Illinois Concealed Carry Coming To Chicago
7:09 a.m.

"Your own personal safety goes no further than you"? What a grim point of view. I thought we lived in a society -- you know, people banding together for mutual security and benefit. I like it that way. If I wanted to be solely responsible for my own safety, I'd live in a cabin in some Appalachian holler, or a fortified bunker.

Humans are social animals, not solitary like spiders. Rejecting the assistance of other people, assuming all others to be enemies, is the antithesis of civilization and what makes it successful.

— On the neighbor message Illinois Concealed Carry Coming To Chicago
6:51 a.m.

For the life of me, I can't understand why anyone in this country who isn't either a law enforcement officer or a full-time criminal thinks he NEEDS a gun. I don't understand living in that kind of fear all the time. Never mind firearm accidents -- you're all going to give yourselves heart attacks.

The best way to protect yourself from people will guns is to stay the hell away from people with guns.

— On the neighbor message Illinois Concealed Carry Coming To Chicago
9:28 p.m.

Dan: They threw me out of Caribou Coffee, so I ended up here.

Toph: Generally speaking, both geographically and historically, the more "civilized" countries are the ones with FEWER people walking around with weapons. I don't wake up most mornings saying to myself, "You know, this would be a much nicer place if it were more like Afghanistan."

— On the neighbor message Illinois Concealed Carry Coming To Chicago
4:45 p.m.

I think it's a wonderful thing. Our city's gang members have been following a concealed carry policy for years, and we can all see how knowing their targets may be armed has made them less violent and more polite. It's even helped calm their tempers. Where once upon a time they used to fight over their differences, now they work them out through respectful discussion. It's downright utopian.

I also look forward to seeing the prosperity that will be enjoyed by the working poor and unemployed as their welfare benefits are taken away, and the incredible leaps the children will make in their school performance as we lay off their teachers and close their schools.

— On the neighbor message Illinois Concealed Carry Coming To Chicago
12:12 p.m.

If I had to guess, I'd say MW and BH are the locations of two Disciples sets, and this tag is dissing them. I agree that the upside-down and reversed 5's are confusing. But I'm sure it will all get straightened out in these guys' dissertation committees.

— On the neighbor message Gang tag near Winnemac Park
6:51 a.m.

A wise acquaintance of mine once described the leaf blower as the single most quintessentially American invention: polluting and consuming for no purpose except to move a wholly perceptual problem from one place to another.

— On the neighbor message Please clean your sewers tonight
6:26 a.m.

I'm dying to know on what basis T@S concluded that I must be a woman.

— On the neighbor message A shooting?
9:36 p.m.

"I'm not advocating a police state or police brutality . . . " Yes, George, actually, you are, and so is T@S.

Both of you are engaging in the authoritarian fallacy, which is, metaphorically, that if you hit your kid hard enough and yell at him long enough, you can get him to stop crying, and if he hasn't stopped yet, you must not be hitting and yelling enough. Gang members don't get away with their nonsense because the police aren't tough enough on them; they get away with their nonsense because their neighbors don't trust the police enough to rat them out.

"They commit crimes expecting to get away with them. They prosper because they believe people are so intimidated by them, that they will not even lift a finger to call the police to stop them, much less intervene themselves. To be perfectly honest, the only thing they fear are people that don't fear them" -- all this is true. But the question is not how you enable the police to go Burge on them without getting in trouble; it's how you encourage the neighbors to lift that finger, dial that phone, get out on the porch and tell the morons to cut that crap out. And you do that by building TRUST in the police, which isn't built by "tuning up" kids (really? REALLY?) or "getting up in the faces" of people they suspect of illegal activity and "knocking them down," because aside from exposing the police and the city to VERY well-grounded brutality lawsuits, those techniques (cough) also reinforce the perception that the police are an outside force that takes pleasure in abusing the community rather than a legitimate authority that people can go to for protection, knowing their complaints will be taken seriously. In fact, they go a long way toward turning the police into exactly that sort of abusive outside force.

— On the neighbor message A shooting?
6:37 a.m.

I went by there a couple of times out of interest. The astronomical prices sent me right back out. Lincoln Square may be rapidly becoming Lincoln Park North, but all I could think about City Provisions was that either it was a harbinger of total neighborhood unaffordability or it was biting off more than it could chew. Maybe a place like that could survive in Bucktown, or on the border between Old Town and the Gold Coast, or in Winnetka? More likely, it belongs in Marin County, Calif., or the Upper West Side of New York, or maybe somewhere in Brooklyn. A business has to create not just customers to survive, but REPEAT customers. Who could afford to shop there more than once? Regular folks around here just don't have that kind of money. (Although I've also wondered on many an occasion who on earth could afford to buy all the condos that were condominimizing along Leland Avenue. Evidently, people did.)

— On the neighbor message City Provisions Deli Closing
6:36 a.m.

Yeah, it's not enough that gang members live by the code of the streets: the gun fetishists expect all the rest of us to live by it as well.

I want to know who's going to protect me from THEM.

— On the neighbor message You spoke too soon, eric
6:44 p.m.

Don't say stupid things. You know who's already armed? THE THUGS. "Concealed carry" is the de facto state of affairs in the gang community. Does that stop them from taking runs at each other? NO. It makes it happen MORE OFTEN. Are they going to be afraid of a homeowner with a gun? NO. You take a shot at them, a few nights later you're going to be up against FOUR OR FIVE OF THEM TAKING SHOTS AT YOU. You are saying stupid things and must stop saying them right now.

— On the neighbor message You spoke too soon, eric
8:32 a.m.

inssane: No.

— On the neighbor message You spoke too soon, eric
12:45 p.m.

I'd be happy to teach them all to play chess if they'd lay off the stupid stuff.

— On the neighbor message You spoke too soon, eric
9:58 a.m.

My wife and I have lived in the exact area you're talking about for a year and a half. Honestly, we're not fans, and we're planning on moving as soon as we can find a place in a neighborhood we like better. We find this area to be too far from work, recreation and shopping (we're car-free, Montrose/Kimball is too far from the end of the Brown Line to be really convenient, and we've had it up to here with the #78), and the ubiquitous litter and eight-month fireworks season drive us crazy. The periodic flurries of gang activity don't help matters. We have a beautiful, large, affordable apartment and decent landlords, but it's not enough anymore. It feels like we spend all our time traveling to and from places we'd rather be. I love and appreciate diversity, but for a place to be livable, there has to be a critical mass of people who give a damn about the conditions they live in, and we don't get the sense that this area has that. There are people here who do give a damn, just not nearly enough of them to make a difference. If you don't mind being one of the brave outnumbered, then sure, give it a shot. We've gotten tired of it.

— On the neighbor message Albany Park/Irving Park
6:24 a.m.

Sounds to me like you're describing the unmemorably named OhSoWe.com. Last I heard, it went kaboom.

7:11 a.m.

The long and the short of it is, there's nothing good in Albany Park. You have to go somewhere else.

I'm surprised no one has mentioned the Cornerstone at Western and Elston. Top-notch dineraunt, much better than the norm.

— On the neighbor message Neighborhood Breakfast Restaurants
6:45 a.m.

They were home. The car was parked right outside the owners' house. When the officers went to their door, someone answered it within a minute (what I would have given to overhear that conversation!), and the alarm was turned off just minutes after that.

The question my wife asked is, "How could THEY not be annoyed by that?" It was closer to their house than to anyone else's! If they hadn't known it was theirs, you'd have expected THEM to call in the complaint. My speculation is that they must have been dead drunk and asleep for much of it, because how else could they ignore it?

8:43 a.m.

Mell had to have known he was going to do this before the election. It's obvious that he planned this maneuver all along so that he could pick his successor by hand rather than leave it up to the democratic process.

I'm annoyed, but nevertheless, I'm conflicted. We're losing a grade-A machine hack from the City Council and gaining a decent, sensible, progressive good-government type. If there'd been an open election, there's a sizable chance that we'd have gotten just another hack. Lousy process, good result; good process, possibility of a lousy result.

This city's politics are so screwed up.

— On the neighbor message See ya, Mell
6:40 a.m.

What? You think the holder of an elected office should be ELECTED? That it's not some kind of hereditary fiefdom? THAT'S CRAZY TALK.

Mell had to have known he was going to do this before the election. It's obvious that he planned this maneuver all along so that he could pick his successor by hand rather than leave it up to the democratic process.

I'm annoyed, but nevertheless, I'm conflicted. We're losing a grade-A machine hack from the City Council and gaining a decent, sensible, progressive good-government type. If there'd been an open election, there's a sizable chance that we'd have gotten just another hack. Lousy process, good result; good process, possibility of a lousy result.

This city's politics are so screwed up.

— On the neighbor message 33rd Ward - New Alderman
7:46 a.m.

I bet if you asked him, "Mod3" would say his tag was "Mode."

This one's got more style than most of the ones we see in the neighborhood. The taggers in our area have few ambitions toward artistry; they seem to want only to scrawl their names as many times as possible. At least this one has some sense of composition.

— On the neighbor message What is this graffiti about?
6:42 a.m.

Now I'm hearing fireworks. Maybe the chuckleheads are just getting an early start on the evening.

5:26 p.m.

I don't.

— On the neighbor message Shots Fired
7:09 a.m.

Whatever Golden Crust's pizza is like, I will be ordering one soon, because I am desperate to get a decent damn pizza in this neighborhood and will try anything at this point. When Leona's is the best you've got, you should just resign from Chicago.

7:41 a.m.

Avondale does have the L. Blue Line.

— On the neighbor message Vote for Albany Park
7:35 a.m.

Why don't you skip the drinks and get a room?

— On the neighbor message TIF Money to Save Lincoln Bus? Not so fast.
5:24 p.m.

For the record, it's not just a 47th Ward issue. I live west of the river, near Montrose and Kimball, and because of the lousy grocery options out here, I do my shopping at Jewel, Trader Joe's and Whole Foods -- all on Lincoln Avenue between Montrose and Belmont. I have no car,* and I use the No. 11 bus to hop from store to store, then take the No. 78 back home. If that segment of the No. 11 is eliminated, I'm hosed. The CTA claims that the bus is redundant to the Brown Line, but there's no Brown Line station anywhere within a half-mile of that Jewel, and trying to walk from TJ's to the Addison station with two bags full of groceries will be a colossal pain. I dutifully wrote of my situation to the CTA and, of course, got no reply.

— On the neighbor message TIF Money to Save Lincoln Bus? Not so fast.
7:18 a.m.

Try not to sound so eager for that day to come, OK?

— On the neighbor message Graffiti -- Need Swarm Reporting
7:11 a.m.

Family dysfunction existed before welfare and would continue to exist if welfare were eliminated. It existed in comfort- and luxury-level households as well as poverty-level households and still does despite welfare. Welfare does not cause families to be dysfunctional. It allows families in poverty, whether functional or dysfunctional, not to starve or lose their homes. If it were ended, crime would surely skyrocket, as more and more families, forced up against the wall, took more and more desperate measures to try to secure their well-being.

As for whether a single mother on welfare is better off than she'd be if she took a $69,000 job, why don't you come back to us when you hear of an employer willing to offer her one?

— On the neighbor message 14-year-old shot on North Side
7:09 a.m.

Over the last year or two, the police department has become more and more obstinate in its refusal to even take reports on quality of life crimes, let alone send out officers, because they have "more important things to do." Certainly the last thing I want to suggest is that a kid chucking firecrackers or a driver talking on his mobile phone is as high a priority as catching a burglar or a murderer. But people have noticed, consciously or subconsciously, the police's lack of attention to infractions, and those infractions are becoming ubiquitous as a result. If there are laws against something on the books, and the laws are just, they need to be enforced. Otherwise, there's no point in having them at all. If the police are flat-out going to refuse to enforce certain laws, then some wise alderman needs to propose repealing all the laws that the police aren't willing to enforce. Maybe that would get the message across.

— On the neighbor message Stop for pedestrians signs not working?
11:37 a.m.

I subscribe to Credo, which also uses Sprint equipment, and service has been horrible since September in particular. I can't get through a single conversation without getting dropped. However, I've been told that upgrades are under way and should be completed by January, so we'll see if things are any better by then.

— On the neighbor message cell phone reception
6:56 a.m.

If you're already on the Do Not Call registry, log the incoming calls and record a complaint at https://www.donotcall.gov.

— On the neighbor message The Robots Are Driving Me Nuts
6:17 a.m.

I'm second-generation.

— On the neighbor message Albany Park gangbanger bites the dust
6:32 a.m.

The north side of Foster is in the community of North Park, not Albany Park. Sweden Shop is out of bounds.

However, since Ravenswood Manor is technically part of Albany Park, you can go to First Slice and buy pies for everyone. Otherwise, it's hookahs, Hello Kitty gear and sweatshop-made socks for all the loved ones on your list.

6:29 a.m.

And I'll continue to fight it. Dehumanization is one of the favorite rhetorical weapons of perpetrators of genocide. It's the mental trick that allows human beings to excuse the torture and murder of other human beings. Whatever evil he may have done, to redefine another person as disease, vermin or anything less than human is to prime yourself to commit evils just as terrible against both him and others.

My grandfather fought in World War II -- on the other side. He was in the German army, and he supported the Nazis' policies. That's my family legacy. I don't bear any blame for that, but I do bear a responsibility: when faced with the same choices, to choose differently. To never consider any other human being, or group of human beings, to be less than fully human. And to stick up for the rights of the minority, the rights of the unpopular, even the rights of the enemy -- because even the enemy is still human. Condemn the evil deed, but always remember that there's a person behind the deed.

"Terrorist" and "human" are not two separate categories: that is a fact. There are no raccoon terrorists. There are no shrimp terrorists. Terrorism is something humans do to other humans. You may continue to express your disbelief in this fact, but know that it makes you less than you might otherwise be.

— On the neighbor message Albany Park gangbanger bites the dust
8:49 a.m.

"Terrorist" and "human" are not two separate categories.

— On the neighbor message Albany Park gangbanger bites the dust
6:04 a.m.

OFFdutyWOLF, I don't know whether you're twisting my words on purpose or simply failing to comprehend them, but in doing so you're making yourself look like an idiot. I don't think you deserve that. You should be kinder to yourself.

To lay it out simply: The code of the streets is one of retaliatory "justice," that is, when someone offends, disrespects or threatens you, strike back hard so that neither he nor anyone else tries it again. This is obviously (to us) stupid and destructive, but to someone who doesn't trust official authority, it's the only recourse when someone messes with you. History has given inner-city residents plenty of reasons not to trust the police, and however much better things are today, every time one sees a police officer bend or break the law for his own convenience, it chips away at that trust some more. That trust has to be rebuilt and reinforced every day for policing to be effective.

I'm not talking about "mistakes"; of course all people make mistakes. I'm talking about deliberate choices, and about the sense of entitlement ("So what if I run a stop sign, park in a handicapped spot, whatever -- I'm out there putting my life on the line and fighting people who are doing way worse things") that leads some police to make them , while other police, who might never do those things or hold that attitude themselves, cover for them and defend them.

— On the neighbor message Albany Park gangbanger bites the dust
6:49 a.m.

"I understand my cousin was involved in gangs and the title is right you live by the swor and you die by it.I just dont understand why people on this comment think its ok to glorify that he is gone" -- uh, because gang activity ruins the neighborhood, that's why. Because drug dealing is a crime that attracts other crime. Because inaccurate shots kill innocent people and leave bullet holes in people's property. Because it costs money to paint over your self-advertisements, petty threats and bogus claims to own the neighborhood. Because even if he took care of his daughter, he made the neighborhood unhappier and more dangerous for countless other people's daughters.

When you show you don't care about the lives of the people around you, they tend to stop caring about yours. That should be relatively easy to understand.

— On the neighbor message Albany Park gangbanger bites the dust
4:24 p.m.

OFFdutyWOLF, I wasn't talking about the "no snitching" code, but if you want to bring that up, it fits in with the rest. Street culture abhors "snitching" because it enjoys and benefits from the ethos of retaliatory "justice" without police involvement. Decent families don't take the "no snitch" rule to heart, but many of them follow it anyway, simply out of fear of what the street thugs will do. But in either case, the code wouldn't exist without the sense that the police are around not to establish justice but to indiscriminately harass and abuse. However upstanding you or your peers are, you can't be ignorant of the long history of exactly that sort of harassment and abuse in inner-city neighborhoods in Chicago, or the fact that when minority families first started moving into majority-white neighborhoods in Chicago and were met with violence as a result, the police did not protect them.

I don't abide by street values, I don't think they're noble or productive, I think they do far more harm than good -- and I know where they come from and why some people cling to them, and I also know that police officers are far too willing to make excuses or cover up for wrongdoing by bad apples within their ranks. I mentioned "breaking the law in minor ways" such as running stop signs and parking in handicapped spaces, because that's what others were talking about, but I could also have cited major instances of misconduct such as the Burge case or the Abbate case. The point is, when it's your role to enforce the law, it's also your role to follow it, period, as well as to ensure that other officers meet the same consequences for their infractions as civilians do. And you should know as well as anyone, if not better, that a person isn't excused for breaking the law just because someone else is doing it too.

Everyone wants to excuse his own tribe's faults and point fingers at another's. There's PLENTY of criticism to go around.

— On the neighbor message Albany Park gangbanger bites the dust
3:48 p.m.

["responsibility in morals" > "responsibility and morals"]

— On the neighbor message Albany Park gangbanger bites the dust
12:29 p.m.

OK, but who neglected to instill a sense of responsibility in morals in those police officers who casually break the law in minor ways? When it's your job to uphold the law, it only makes sense that you should be held to the highest standard in following it yourself, doesn't it? And the code of the streets exists in the first place because communities don't trust the police or other established authorities to give them justice. When the police themselves take a cavalier attitude toward the law, that only reinforces the "can't trust the cops" attitude that fuels "street justice."

It takes an enlightened mind to rise above us-and-them judgment, no matter which side of the moral divide you find yourself on.

— On the neighbor message Albany Park gangbanger bites the dust
12:27 p.m.

I heard it all the way over near Montrose and St. Louis.

— On the neighbor message Boom!
7:29 a.m.

Vantaziastar, I DID notice that. Bottle rockets galore. Now I'm wondering whether maybe those aren't just idiots with nothing better to do but rather idiots with nothing better to do signaling that something's about to go down.

Chris, I mostly agree with you, but "gangbanging" is not JUST an economic thing. It's also a set of values and a lifestyle choice. People don't join gangs just because they're poor. They join gangs because they've rejected the idea that social institutions, including the police, will protect them and help them obtain justice and instead embraced the idea of taking matters into their own hands, all the time, whether in response to a real assault or just a cross look. Their idea is that the only way to ensure that they're not taken advantage of is to send the message that anyone who tries will die. Which is why I facepalm every time someone suggests that the answer is to deregulate guns so that they can go out and "protect themselves," because what that shows is that decent people are giving up on their own civilization and embracing the barbaric code of the streets themselves.

Violence declines when the state has a monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force. Violence increases when people lose faith that the state will use that monopoly fairly.

— On the neighbor message Albany Park gangbanger bites the dust
7:18 a.m.

Do PLEASE tell us which "special interest groups" you have in mind.

— On the neighbor message Another shooting on Sunnyside
9:54 a.m.

No, what we need to do is to communicate to them that in a civilized society, addressing personal problems with violence is a privilege you have to give up, and that if you try to do it anyway, there WILL be consequences. It's not even the severity of the consequences that matters so much as the CERTAINTY of them. The more of a chance they think they have of getting away with their nonsense, the more they'll push their luck.

— On the neighbor message Another shooting on Sunnyside
6:01 a.m.

"you cant just join then all of a sudden be like one day i dont feel like gangbanging ill just stop"

Yeah, you can. You may not like the consequences of it, but you can. You can do anything you choose to do. If you choose to keep engaging in graffiti, drug dealing and violence, we, the decent residents of this community, will do everything we can to make your life miserable until you quit or go away. The only thing your little tribal wars mean to us is that you're ALL a menace to be gotten rid of. You are exactly the same as the moron you're shooting at. You are him. He is you. And just because you've f--ked up your own lives by joining gangs doesn't mean you get to do it to the whole neighborhood, too. There are more of us. Eventually, you'll lose.

— On the neighbor message Shooting on Kimball and Montrose
9:41 p.m.

"to anyone reading this you all judge gangbangers for what they do but if yu were to use your money to better the neighborhoods you wouldnt have to see guys like us posting up"

Y'know what? I agree that the neighborhood needs more jobs and more resources. I agree that you guys need better opportunities than you've got. But at least the rest of us reading here aren't spending what resources we have making the neighborhood WORSE. Which you guys do with your graffiti and gunplay. F--k you for that.

This is my message to all gang members: YOU DO NOT OWN MY NEIGHBORHOOD. It belongs to me as much as to you. F--k all of you for thinking you're the only ones who get to decide what to do with it, and f--k your code of the streets.

If I could post a graphic dipping the signs of every single crew in this neighborhood, I'd do it right now. Frankly, in fact, right this second, if I had the money, I'd put it on a billboard rather than spend that money on you.

P.S. The average gang member lives with his parents and makes less money than he would working fast food. Read Freakonomics.

— On the neighbor message Shooting on Kimball and Montrose
6:33 a.m.

I often catch the bus at Montrose and St. Louis, and I have personally witnessed no fewer than half a dozen near-accidents at that intersection because of drivers who didn't stop at the stop sign, didn't wait for a pedestrian, or didn't yield to cross traffic or an oncoming driver making a left turn. Sometimes, to amuse myself, I count the number of consecutive drivers who roll through the intersection without stopping at all. I usually get bored around 40. I'm thinking of making a video about it.

BTW, contrary to what Marcella said, from what I've been told, not one but TWO crossing guards have been fatally struck at that intersection, and that's what led to there being a stop sign there in the first place.

I wrote to Ald. Mell, CDOT and the 17th District police requesting that the stop signs at that corner be replaced with a traffic signal because of drivers' universal disregard for them. I never even got a reply. Maybe I should try again, since it's not Mell's problem anymore but Rey Colón's.

— On the neighbor message Unnecessary Crossing Guards
6:31 a.m.

Every parent thinks his own children are beautiful; every dog owner thinks his own dog is well-behaved.

And I'm sorry to say this, Julie U., since obviously you're being thoughtful and trying to do the right thing, but the time to think about how you're going to find a place for your dog to run is (a) before you get the dog, if you live in the city, or (b) before you move into the city, if you already have the dog.

— On the neighbor message Sweetheart Exception to Chicago Leash Law
7:09 a.m.

Steer clear of Independence Library. That voting station was a hot mess when I went there. I've never seen a polling place so chaotic and disorganized. In fact, I've never seen a polling place that was chaotic and disorganized, period, until two days ago. Communication was terrible, there was almost no signage, and all the poll workers seemed confused and overwhelmed.

— On the media mention Early voting begins in Chicago today
3:32 p.m.

"I just think smokers believe that their butts decompose, but they don't—not for decades."

I think they believe their butts vanish into thin air somewhere between their hands and the ground. If you try to point out their acts of littering, they sure behave as if the butts don't exist and never did.

I also think much the same thought process (if you can call it that) takes place in the minds of the churls who strew their plastic bottles, chip wrappers and other garbage along the entire length of my block.

— On the neighbor message Blood Bank Loves Throwing Cigarettes
3:28 p.m.

Kimball and Cullom, you say? When did a sign go up there, pray tell? I cross there every Wednesday (different job locations on different days) and saw no such thing this week.

— On the neighbor message Safe crossing
3:12 p.m.

While I can't say I'm unhappy to have been gerrymandered out of Mell's ward, I also can't get too upset over this "sample" ballot. All he's doing is asking people to vote for Democrats in races where Democrats have opponents, and he says as much right at the top. I don't think that qualifies as "deceptive," and I personally don't find it confusing. If there are people out there foolish enough to interpret it as instructions on how to vote which they must follow, I blame them more than him.

He also -- and I have to grudgingly give him credit for this -- recommends a no vote on the retention of Cynthia Brim, which all the local bar associations do as well. Historically, the local party machine has always backed its judges, even the lousy ones, so if you see one being thrown under the bus, she must be awful. (That being said, the local bar associations also recommend no votes on Elizabeth Mary Hayes, Christopher Donnelly, James D. Egan, Pamela E. Hill-Veal and Gloria Chevere. It would have been nice if his mailer had mentioned those individuals too, but I guess he's a creature of his era. You can't trust Mell, but you can trust Mell to be Mell.)

6:31 a.m.

Somehow I get the impression that residents have already recycled their pride into insolence and disdain.

— On the neighbor message Whats sup with the garbage Albany Park?
6:15 a.m.

Man, I just waited more than two months for notification from the AG's office that my own (real, legitimate) nonprofit was registered to solicit donations. Nail this sucker.

6:10 a.m.

To be fair . . . I lived in Ravenswood (east of the river) for several years, and while I don't recall it ever having a litter problem on the scale of Albany Park's, I have noticed lately while walking around Lincoln Square earlier in the day than I ever did back then that there's a growing litter problem there too. The difference seems to be that by the time the businesses along Lincoln Avenue open, someone has picked up the trash, and you don't see it for the rest of the day. The trash in Albany Park simply accumulates. Endlessly.

Also, another contributing factor is the number of local businesses that dump fliers, menus and business cards on people's porches and lawns around here. Our front yards are all-purpose mailboxes for cheapskates who don't want to pay for postage.

— On the neighbor message Whats sup with the garbage Albany Park?
6:15 a.m.

Do you have any idea how much money teachers spend out of their own pockets on their students to begin with?

6:23 a.m.

I lived in that area from 2003 to 2007. The LKs tagged the area with some frequency, but back then Graffiti Blasters was extremely responsive, and it was easy to get the tags eliminated. No one seems interested in challenging the LKs for that area, so you don't need to worry about a stray bullet. However, they do commit crimes in the area, including burglaries (for reasons I won't go into here, I'm convinced that they were behind the burglary of my apartment in '03), so check over your property and make sure there's no easy way in.

— On the neighbor message Latin King Graffiti. How old is it?
6:34 a.m.

I wrote to Mell's office about getting the stop sign at St. Louis and Montrose changed to a traffic light because of all the near-accidents caused by failure to yield there. Never even got a reply. At least they didn't threaten me.

— On the neighbor message Pedestrian Cross Walk
6:16 a.m.

You basically said you don't think you have to follow the leash law because your dogs are well-behaved. Where can the rest of us get that kind of exemption from following laws we don't feel like following?

— On the neighbor message What to do about off-leash dogs?
1:42 p.m.

Every parent thinks his children are beautiful; every dog owner thinks his dog is well-behaved.

I'm a terrific driver; doesn't mean I get to ignore red lights or park in front of hydrants. Follow the damn law, Ts. You're not that special.

— On the neighbor message What to do about off-leash dogs?
6:48 a.m.

Why only ladies? I don't want to see that either.

8:08 a.m.

A simple Control-F reveals that, yes, you WERE the person who introduced that phrase, unless it was in the comment that was removed for violating the policy on user submissions. There is no currently visible comment before yours which uses that phrase. We're not missing it. It's not there.

— On the neighbor message Montrose and Kimball -- ¿qué pasa?
5:36 p.m.

No-parking signs don't help when they're only posted on the streets that will actually be blocked. My street wasn't blocked, but my WAY was blocked in two directions. However, since I don't walk on the parts that were blocked, I never knew the parade was happening until it happened. I knew about the parade that was going to block off part of Montrose on Saturday, Sept. 8, because I saw the #78 reroute signs for that one, but I had no idea there was going to be ANOTHER Montrose-blocking parade on Sunday, Sept. 9.

I certainly would have liked to know in advance that navigation in my neighborhood was going to be severely impeded ON MY WEDDING DAY. And that has nothing to do with race, gentrification or whatever cockamamie non sequitur anyone throws in next.

P.S. My wife thinks that was an awful lot of police on hand Sunday for one parade.

— On the neighbor message Montrose and Kimball -- ¿qué pasa?
10:37 a.m.

Yes, Margaret, if I had someplace important to be and was kept from getting there by an underpublicized parade of unknown duration that cut off both my bus routes and the most direct routes by which a friend could come and pick me up in his car, I would be annoyed by that parade no matter what ethnicity was holding it, and I'm even more annoyed -- bordering on disgusted -- that you're suggesting otherwise. What the hell reason have I given you to even suspect me of ethnic resentment?

— On the neighbor message Montrose and Kimball -- ¿qué pasa?
9:08 a.m.

Not afraid, just annoyed. The parade on Sept. 9 blocked off all northern and eastern approaches to my home and almost made me late to my own wedding.

— On the neighbor message Montrose and Kimball -- ¿qué pasa?
7:47 a.m.

Cinco de Mayo is a celebration of a Mexican military victory over the French. No, really. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinco_de_Mayo

7:24 a.m.

Yes . . . unfortunately, they're the leading source of the repeated listings and bogus tagging.

— On the neighbor message Poll for the renters out there!
8:48 a.m.

Craigslist is noisy; ads get posted over and over again, and many are miscategorized or tagged with bogus information. I've used it, but I strongly prefer the Reader. That being said, I found my current apartment on Domu. Yes, the one with the stupid ads.

I don't care about parking, since I don't own a car; an ad with a Walk Score (www.walkscore.com) would definitely catch my eye. I'd also be drawn by mentions of in-building laundry, basement storage, a bike room or basement rack, hardwood floors, updated appliances and fixtures, good water pressure (especially on upper stories) and little luxuries such as built-in bookcases, fireplaces and stained glass. "Heat and hot water included" is an essential phrase; if I don't see it, I walk on by. I reject electric baseboard heat and all its works. Mentioning that you're near the 'L' is good, but only if you're actually near the 'L', as in less than half a mile walking. Anything farther is false advertising, AFAIC.

Also, here's a tip for both landlords and renters: Whenever I go to look at a building, either one that I've found in an ad or one that I'm just walking by, one of the first things I look at is the windows. What kind of frames? What state are they in? The windows are the best exterior indicator of the quality of the management. Double-layer storm windows with anodized frames? Your landlord is on top of things and wants to keep his tenants satisfied. Wooden frames with flaking paint and panes on ancient steel runners? Your landlord will not give a s--- and a half about fixing what needs to be fixed; do not say you had no way of knowing.

— On the neighbor message Poll for the renters out there!
6:33 a.m.

"I was involved in a hit and run last year and only had 4 digits of the plate. The police looked for 2 hrs in my neighborhood and finally found the car. They wrote him several tickets." And you don't think THAT was because of your FOP sticker?

— On the neighbor message Car hit and run
6:50 a.m.

Bill: You ever roll through a stop sign? By your definition, that makes you a criminal too.

— On the neighbor message Awkward.
8:29 a.m.

Vicki, that's pretty much what you have to do if you don't work downtown. Either that or come downtown by bus.

9:58 a.m.

An issue that can be corrected with education? Really? We've been trying our darnedest to educate you, and it doesn't seem to have helped one bit.

— On the neighbor message Biking Etiquette
2:03 p.m.

There really aren't. It's that very quality that makes such streets unsuccessful.

— On the neighbor message Irving Park/Monticello Ghost Town?
8:09 a.m.

I wholeheartedly support those new laws. You're still wrong.

— On the neighbor message Biking Etiquette
2:20 p.m.

"I will continue to ride on sidewalks until drivers learn the rules of the road." And I will continue to rob liquor stores until my boss pays me the wages I deserve.

Makes just as much sense as what you're arguing, Ethically Addled.

If you had any actual empathy for pedestrians, you'd respect the law that grants them their space. We responsible cyclists manage just fine in the space allotted to us: the bike lane, the shoulder and, when need be, the traffic lane itself.

You know what's right and choose not to do it. That's the coward's way. Don't claim to be Ethical Anything until you've considered how things would be if every cyclist made the same decision that you have. It's clear that you haven't considered anyone's interests here but your own.

— On the neighbor message Biking Etiquette
1:50 p.m.

"Ethically Engineered," your username is false advertising. You're using self-serving bias to justify violating the law yourself and putting pedestrians at risk. If you want your legal rights as a vehicle in traffic respected, respect the law yourself. I have NO patience with the "Other people are dicks, so I've decided the law doesn't apply to me" line of self-justification. You put me and all other cyclists at risk by giving motorists empirical evidence in support of their own self-serving biases. Because of people who think like you do, when a cyclist gets hit by a car, the victim is going to get blamed, because "everyone knows" cyclists are crazy and reckless and don't follow the law. Thanks a lot, pal.

— On the neighbor message Biking Etiquette
9:26 a.m.

It's not a city ordinance, it's state law (which I heard may have been changed recently, but this is current as of a couple of years ago): If you're over the age of 12, you're not permitted to ride a bicycle on the sidewalk in Illinois. Period. Lesley's friend is wrong.

I believe the No. 1 factor behind the disregard of traffic laws by both inexperienced and experienced cyclists is that the police almost never stop them. If there were consequences to it, you can bet people would change their behavior. The consequences wouldn't even have to be severe, just swift and sure.

— On the neighbor message Biking Etiquette
6:43 a.m.

Government pensions are a consolation prize for the fact that government employees have always been underpaid to begin with. Instead of paying workers good wages, governments have opted to defer the compensation until the workers retire. Now they're retiring. Don't blame the pensions, and for pete's sake don't blame the workers; blame the shortsightedness of our political predecessors.

If you want to point to a budget problem that our so-called leaders have created in the present rather than the past, try tax increment financing. http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/the-chicago-reader-tif-archive/Content?oid=1180567

Getting back to the topic: Emanuel's anti-graffiti strategy runs against the principle that the certainty of the consequence is more important than the severity. To be effective, GB has to be fast and reliable. Otherwise, taggers will recognize the increased chances that their work will remain up for days or weeks, and they'll get bolder and more persistent -- in fact, quite probably, they'll create MORE graffiti, rather than less, to increase the chances of being seen. Shutting them down fast and consistently, making them conclude that their effort is wasted, is the only dependable way to control the problem.

6:29 a.m.

Kedzie really is the dividing line in that area. East of Kedzie, it's safe and quiet and pretty and expensive and VERY white. West of Kedzie, it's much more diverse (and affordable), but it's also where the gangbanging morons are squabbling over turf, with a shooting once every couple of months. So it depends on what you can tolerate and what you can afford.

— On the neighbor message Considering moving to Albany Park
9:47 a.m.

People don't modify their dogs' behaviors enough, either.

— On the neighbor message Quiet Enjoyment laws?
9 a.m.

Sure, but look what Roscoe Village had to work with: Damen, Roscoe, Addison, Belmont . . . all one lane of traffic in each direction. In contrast to that, you have the utter charmlessness that is Western Avenue. I'd wager that in most people's minds, Roscoe Village ends about two or three buildings east of Western.

— On the neighbor message Irving Park/Monticello Ghost Town?
1:20 p.m.

Lincoln Square would be a lovely model, but Irving Park is no Lincoln Avenue -- it's more like Western. A commercial street with one lane of traffic in each direction is a backbone, but one with two lanes of traffic in each direction is a border. And borders draw the crappy low-end businesses, not the neato high-end ones, and they're death to foot traffic. Them's the breaks.

The real mystery to me is why Montrose is just as dead.

— On the neighbor message Irving Park/Monticello Ghost Town?
12:50 p.m.

Video falls short of advertised "open air drug dealing."

— On the neighbor message To buy or not to buy? 4200 Block of St. Louis
6:34 a.m.

4500s to the Brown Line is a lot more reasonable.

— On the neighbor message To buy or not to buy? 4200 Block of St. Louis
6:32 a.m.

If he's released early for legitimate good behavior, I see nothing wrong with that. The real problem is that he can get away with reverting to his original behavior once he's back on the street, and every day that goes by without his getting arrested just proves it to him again. Make sure that dealing drugs lands him back behind bars in nothing flat -- and that people aren't so quick to take his good behavior in prison at face value anymore because of it -- and you'll start seeing an effect.

— On the neighbor message Should not have happened
6:29 a.m.

I'm pretty close to where you're looking. It's not so much that the neighborhood is especially dangerous (I also feel safe at 7 or 8 in the morning, though, like CB, NOT after 10 at night) as that too few people seem to care about making it a decent place to live. Many of the houses are owned by absentee landlords who do little or nothing to keep up their properties, and the garbage, unmowed parkways, speeding on St. Louis, horn-honking and fireworks at all hours (yes, still, even one month after Independence Day) have me seriously wondering whether some of my neighbors were raised by wolves. Maybe it's just my own upbringing, but I expect better of people. I think buying here is a gamble, and it's a bet that I personally wouldn't be willing to take.

Also, 4200s to the Brown Line is too far to walk day after day. It can be done, but it's not in any way convenient. As for the buses, my fiancée tells me that the Nos. 78 and 82 are mobbed by high school students in the mornings during the school year, and those on the 78 especially are some of the most awful she's ever encountered. (I commute at off hours, so I don't run into this. And I don't know about the No. 80.)

— On the neighbor message To buy or not to buy? 4200 Block of St. Louis
6:25 a.m.

ODW, based on what you've said, do you really think he'd learn his lesson in three? Or 10? Or ever?

BUT . . . if he got nailed promptly on every single one of the crimes he's committed since being paroled, THAT might make a difference.

— On the neighbor message Should not have happened
6:57 p.m.

Unfortunately, I think the only way to escape the uniforms is to send your kid to school in a bourgeois neighborhood, where the administration isn't desperate to prove that it has everything completely under control (because who'd have reason to think otherwise). That means Lincoln Square (west of Damen, not east), North Center, Lakeview, Lincoln Park or Old Town. Maaaaybe Edison Park or Sauganash, if you're determined to stay on the Northwest Side. But the Northwest Side likes those uniform policies. Uniform policies mean AUTHORITY!

6:54 a.m.

I don't think the flaws lie in the sentencing. I've been reading Steven Pinker's The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined (broad historical trend -- obviously we're experiencing a local spike), and one thing I've learned is that the severity of punishment isn't nearly as important as the CERTAINTY of it. If we can't catch these guys and get them in front of a judge, we've got nothing, and they know it.

— On the neighbor message Should not have happened
6:24 a.m.

Albank is awful. It thinks it can get away with megabank practices while possessing neighborhood-bank idiosyncracies like making you wait for six months after opening a checking account to be issued a debit card. I bailed and went to North Community Bank, which I've had zero problems with.

— On the neighbor message Banking in Albany Park?
7:10 a.m.

With the exception of the Old Town School, which adds a bit of bohemian flavor, Lincoln Square is now your basic bourgeois neighborhood in most respects. There's only one other thing that really sets it apart: the actual SQUARE, properly called Giddings Plaza. Chicago is regrettably, desperately lacking in "outdoor rooms" -- Old World–style pedestrian plazas, surrounded by businesses, where people can hang out when they're not at home or at work -- and Lincoln Square is lucky enough to have one. For them to work, they have to be large enough to dominate the streets around them rather than the other way around, and they have to have businesses fronting directly onto them on at least one side -- two reasons why the Polish Triangle in Wicker Park, for instance, doesn't work. Without the first, people don't feel safe there, and without the second, there's no reason for them to go there. The fact that Giddings Plaza fills up with parents and kids at all hours is testament to its successful design.

Also, if you pay attention, you'll begin to notice that all the really successful commercial streets in Chicago have only one lane of traffic in each direction (e.g., Lincoln Avenue). As soon as you add another lane (e.g., Western, Ashland, Lawrence), the commercial life dies, because the street is no longer a backbone but a border.

— On the neighbor message Go Lincoln Square !
6:54 a.m.

"1. marriages are not a union of equals."

Folks, every time you hear someone loudly championing "traditional marriage," remember that the statement above is precisely the view of marriage being championed.

A friend of mine sarcastically summed up the "traditional" view thus: "Marriage is a sacred union between a man and his property. A man can't own a man, and property can't own property."

— On the neighbor message No Chick Fil A Here, Please
6:40 a.m.

Jen K.'s suggestion gives me an idea: the Chicago Tribune Problem Solver.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/problemsolver/

6:27 a.m.

There are plenty of ACTUAL signs of gang and drug activity in the area; you don't need to be reading that message into silly things like shoes hanging from power lines.

6:22 a.m.

Yep. I called this morning, and the new graffiti had been reported already. CAPS operator said Tac Squad is on top of the situation, although I was kind of amused when she said removal of the graffiti would prevent retaliation.

11:18 a.m.

I already sent it to CAPS and the 33rd Ward office. 311 won't take the report, because it's already been reported once.

9:07 a.m.

Roscoe Village is a good suggestion; also Evanston, Edgewater, Bucktown. You say you like the nightlife, but if you'd like someplace a little quieter, Oak Park is a great place to live.

— On the neighbor message Planning to Relocate to Chicago
6:15 a.m.

Oh, man, you're absolutely right. Not sure why I didn't realize what the K stood for. So this is not only a new set in the neighborhood but a direct threat to the second-newest. What did we do to deserve the honor of being fought over by so many morons?

6 a.m.

"But without a desire to fundamentally change from within, the overall culture of the neighborhoods that are the origin of the those arrested for the 'mob attack' crimes won't change regardless the number of social programs, traffic aide positions or well intended outsiders."

You speak as though there's only one "overall culture" in those neighborhoods. That's the fallacy I've been trying to point out. There are plenty of decent families in those neighborhoods whose values are as different from "street" values as day and night. Those who belong to the criminal element may indeed be a lost cause, but when you write off "the overall culture of the neighborhoods," you write off the decent families, too, when they're the ones who most need outside support and encouragement if you want to see their values prevail in the end.

6:17 a.m.

Read Code of the Street by Elijah Anderson if you need some insight into what's going on in the minds of decent neighbors in areas overrun by crime.

Short answer: It isn't their culture that's broken, it's their faith in the institutions that are supposed to protect them from the violent and criminal elements in their midst. The biggest difference between them and us is that when crime encroaches on our neighborhoods, we still trust and expect the police and city agencies to come to our aid; whereas they lost that trust and expectation long ago, and have come to the sad conclusion that it's the criminals rather than the law who hold the real power in their neighborhoods, and whose demands must be adapted to in order to survive.

Do you earn back their trust by accusing them of having a "broken culture"?

6:46 a.m.

Reported to CAPS but not 311 or Mell.

— On the neighbor message Even More SGD Graffiti
12:17 p.m.

"It sounds like you're saying a white guy who spent most of his professional career in child welfare and fair housing, who loves his diverse community and looks forward to voting for a black President a second time can't express fear and disgust at the increasingly blatant attacks in previously safe areas in an honest way without being a conservative tribalist."

Not in the least. In fact, if the focus of the conversation had simply been "increasingly blatant attacks in previously safe areas," I'd be right up in there hitting the "thanks" button.

Where the conservative tribalism emerges is in (a) characterizing this as a "their race vs. our race" issue, centered on identity, rather than as a "criminal vs. decent" issue, centered on behavior; and (b) ganging up on anyone who takes a dissenting view -- not even of the situation itself but of the way it's being characterized -- and trying to hound him out.

Reading back over this thread, I'll grant that (a) happened mostly in the "flash mob" (stupid misnomer) thread rather than in this one, which I interpreted, perhaps wrongly, as more or less a continuation of the other one because of the wording of the initial post. But (b) started in the concealed-carry thread and has only picked up momentum since then. It's all over the place.

6:48 a.m.

In short: When you focus on what these mobs DO, everyone can see that you're a concerned citizen with a relevant complaint. When you fixate on what they ARE, you're going to come off sounding like a prejudiced crank.

10:10 a.m.

How would you know what I keep trying to do if you muted me long ago?

Here's the thing: On any one of these stories, it would have sufficed to say that people were being preyed on by aggressive mobs on the public way. Beyond that, any additional descriptors are the choice of the poster or commenter. And what not only I but many others have observed is the tendency to choose descriptors that highlight the "other" status of the aggressors. No chance is missed to point out that they've been African-American. But what if some person in Lakeview or on Michigan Avenue were assaulted by a mob, and all the assailants were white? Or, for that matter, if it were a mixed group perpetrating the attack? Would people be saying, "Beware! There is a large group of whites preying on shoppers and tourists!" or, "This neighborhood is being menaced by ethnically diverse thugs!" No, that would be ludicrous -- but there's no hesitation to identify a group of thugs who all happen to be black as "black thugs," implying that their blackness is relevant to their behavior and perhaps even a cause of it.

If the predatory mob were all white, either no qualifier would be added, or one would have to reach for a different way of "othering" them -- for instance, by identifying them as teens, skaters, skinheads, or some other group that the poster or commenter felt himself above. Because the message here isn't just that these gangs of punks are a threat, it's that THE GROUP THEY BELONG TO is a threat.

THAT'S where the racism around here is coming from, if you need to identify the source. And I'm going to call it when I see it.

10:06 a.m.

My bad. I thought the reference was to the limo incident.

Interesting that my standing up to a posse of folks who share an unpleasant predilection for framing incidents in anywhere from subtly to overtly racist terms earns me a characterization as a "harasser." But I noticed long ago that for every virtue in the world, there's a derogatory term employed by people who lack it.

6:21 a.m.

Living in the 47th Ward, perhaps you're unaware that the 33rd Ward office has ASKED to receive graffiti complaints.

What do you consider a "bigger issue" than gang activity? How you're going to get Katie back?

8:59 p.m.

I call on EVERY piece of gang graffiti I see anywhere in my neighborhood, because I give a damn about it. If you think that's ridiculous, feel free to unsubscribe and put it out of your mind.

7:15 p.m.

I'll let other people tackle that one, since there are at least two obvious possible answers, and I'm content to remain ambiguous about which one applies in my case.

7:11 p.m.

Yep. They're making all kinds of friends.

4:34 p.m.

"Looks like a group of four young, African-american thugs are at it in Lakeview."

Correction: They WERE at it in Lakeview. For probably less than 20 minutes. And now they're in jail, where they deserve to be. Don't make this into something it's not.

3:54 p.m.

Living in a safe and attractive neighborhood is a luxury now?

— On the neighbor message Low Income Housing
6:21 p.m.

Which is why service in this ward stinks.

— On the neighbor message Ald. Mell's Office Hours are M-F 8-5
9:28 p.m.

The notion that since one can't afford the nice things that one wants, one must therefore not be a hard worker is insulting to those of us who've worked hard at things that turned out not to be financially rewarding.

Please explain how the fact that area rents have gone up $150 to $200 per month over the last five years while my income has decreased is my responsibility.

I'm sick and freaking tired of the arrogant, contemptuous assumption that disadvantage is always the fault of the disadvantaged and that lack of wealth is an indicator of moral failure.

— On the neighbor message Low Income Housing
9:27 p.m.

"I have yet to see how this type of affordable housing will be regulated to target the type of renters Pawar claims this is targeting." Seriously? Did you read the link? One-bedrooms will be $800 a month, two-bedrooms over $900 a month. That's how it will be regulated. Five years ago, those rents would have been considered market-rate. Incomes haven't gone up, but rents sure have. A development like this one simply reopens the North Side to people whom the economic crisis has forced out. For crying out loud, the only reason I live in Albany Park is that I couldn't find rents like those east of the river. I've gained 10 pounds living here because there's nothing within walking distance worth walking to.

I appreciate a bit of gentrification, especially when it results in more interesting business districts and cleaner sidewalks. But you have to think about what happens to the folks who get priced out as rents go up. Is it fair to them that they should be driven into areas that are dirty and dangerous just because their jobs don't pay them as much? Because what I hear people saying here -- and even more so in the other thread -- is that low-income people don't deserve to live anyplace nice, because even if they themselves don't bring crime and disorder with them, other low-income people do, so it's better to just shut them ALL out. Well, not too damn many of us these days have much control over whether we're low-income or not, even if we're educated and employed. Which is what I think Alderman Pawar was driving at.

You attack this kind of development, you're attacking me. Last I checked, I wasn't dealing drugs or shooting anybody.

— On the neighbor message Low Income Housing
7:39 a.m.

Posted hours are Monday through Friday, 8 to 5. Not Monday through Friday, 8 to whenever we feel like going home because HEY IT'S FRIDAY WOOOOOO.

— On the neighbor message Ald. Mell's Office Hours are M-F 8-5
8:14 a.m.

"How should we do things different so as not to tolerate things? Some things will never change and that is a fact."

Start by not assuming that things will never change.

Self-fulfilling prophecies kept the Daley machine in power in this city for decades. Self-fulfilling prophecies gave us Rahm Emanuel. Self-fulfilling prophecies allow gangsters to steal whole neighborhoods from decent families. To hell with self-fulfilling prophecies. He who fights may lose, but he who does not fight has already lost.

— On the neighbor message Fireworks-Again
10:25 a.m.

That Guy: When the numbskulls stow their explosives, we'll stow the conversation. Sound fair?

— On the neighbor message Tip From Police
9:54 a.m.

I'll tell you why it happens here: It's a difference in attitude. On the North Side, when some idiot sets off explosives, nobody defends him. Here on the Northwest Side, when some idiot sets off explosives, you can always count on several other idiots to step out of the woodwork and say it's no big deal, leave the guy alone, he's just exercising his God-given American apple pie freedoms, and the police have more important things to do, such as round up kids who look like they might be gangbangers and throw them in a dungeon, which they can't do because of self-hating white liberals tying their hands.

This area tolerates illegal fireworks, tolerates litter, tolerates blowing off stop signs, tolerates signage violations on storefronts, tolerates rental houses falling into decrepitude . . . the only "broken windows" crime people seem to consistently care about in this neighborhood is graffiti.

If the neighbors don't care enough to stand up to the misdemeanors, you're never going to make a dent in the felonies.

— On the neighbor message Fireworks-Again
9:53 a.m.

"Do you really think if there was a graduated tax on income that the higher income people would have Illinois as their primary residence?" Of course they would. Thirty-four states, including New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Virginia, California and Hawai'i, have graduated income taxes, with top brackets considerably higher than the 5 percent paid by our richest and poorest alike, and those states are still chock-full of rich people.

— On the neighbor message Really high property taxes...what to do?
6:38 a.m.

The point is that the state raises so little income tax revenue relative to what it could raise with a graduated tax, services that might otherwise be funded by the state must be funded through local property taxes, which are higher as a result.

"They raised the state income taxes and more businesses and people are moving out" -- you got some non-anecdotal data points to back up that assertion, InCog?

— On the neighbor message Really high property taxes...what to do?
9:59 p.m.

You know, I've always enjoyed a good Fourth of July fireworks show in the past, but I swear, the last month of living in this neighborhood has just about put me off recreational explosives for life. I've had my fill many, many times over.

Ain't no CPD enforcing nothing on my block tonight. It's like Beirut out here.

— On the neighbor message Fireworks-Again
9:46 p.m.

Greg, you're conflating Illinois the state with the state government of Illinois. Is this intentional or unintentional?

I've taught in schools on the North Shore, including the public elementary school in Kenilworth. Did you know that school has its own Zamboni? During the winter (well, not this past winter, because it never got cold enough), the school floods its baseball field and planes the ice flat so that the students can have ice skating units in gym class. The kids have gym every day, art or music every day, foreign language every day, paid for by Kenilworth property taxes, which are assessed at a rate of about 6.4 percent, not counting township and county taxes. (Compared with 9.5 percent in the middle-income village of Brookfield.) The median household income is about $247,000 a year; the median home price is $976,400, for an equalized value of $325,500. So a typical Kenilworth household is paying $24,000 a year in property taxes, $21,000 of which goes solely to the village and school, park and library districts.

To recap: A property tax rate of only 6.4 percent generates $24,000 a year per Kenilworth household.

This is what Y_2_K and Elliott are talking about when they say Illinois is a rich state. Kenilworth is not the only locus of wealth in Illinois. But a Kenilworth resident is taxed on his income by the state of Illinois at the exact same rate that Greg pays or that I pay. Until recently, that rate was a rock-bottom 3 percent -- the lowest flat personal income tax rate in the nation.

Illinois is a state with many and various needs. Despite vast gaps in income and wealth between the state's poorest and richest residents, the General Assembly tried to pay for those needs with a flat income tax, the lowest in the entire country. That didn't work. Then it raised the flat tax rate. That worked a little, but not enough. Greg's answer is to spend even less on Illinoisans' needs. Meanwhile, a Kenilworth elementary school has a Zamboni.

— On the neighbor message Really high property taxes...what to do?
7:06 a.m.

As I've said before, I think you can divide cyclists into two groups: the serious cyclists and the casual clueless. The serious cyclists can be further divided between the serious conscientious and the serious scofflaws.

The casual clueless don't know the rules, and you'll see them breaking all of them. They'll ride against traffic, cross randomly from one side of the street to the other, and weave up onto and back off the sidewalk, and they never wear helmets. They don't think of themselves as vehicles in traffic; they think of themselves as people using a wheeled device to go where they want faster than they can walk.

Serious conscientious cyclists know the rules and follow all or most of them (treating a stop sign as if it were a yield sign is pretty common and, in the grand scheme of things, pretty harmless). They think of themselves as vehicles in traffic. They ride in the street in the direction of traffic, keep right except when turning left, obey stoplights and always wear helmets. Some even bother to hand-signal their turns.

Serious scofflaws know the rules exist but don't give a tinker's dam about them. They generally ride in the street with traffic but won't hesitate to pop up onto the sidewalk in order to use a crosswalk to get through a red light more quickly -- that is, if traffic doesn't allow them to ride right through, which they'll do without hesitation. If passing you on the left rather than the right is faster, they'll do it. Some wear helmets; some don't. If you ask them, they'll justify their actions by saying that cars are dangerous and drivers are jerks, as if this excuses their own dangerous and jerky behavior. They think of themselves as CYCLISTS, an embattled tribe mutually antagonistic with the "cagers" (drivers of cars), with whom they are condemned to share geography.They are convinced beyond reach of reason that the traffic laws apply only to the "cagers." A disproportionate number seem to ride fixies.

11:19 a.m.

When you have more people breaking more laws, isn't the logical response to hire more police? :-|

— On the neighbor message Fireworks-Again
9:58 a.m.

What we should do is show a little backbone as voters and stand up for ourselves on election day rather than all get in line and do what the party regulars tell us we should do.

Gery Chico? Seriously? "Don't look at me. I voted for the OTHER handpicked candidate." Might as well have written in Todd Stroger.

If you want change, you have to pay attention to issues and personalities, not just who has the most yard signs, and not just whomever the local media anoint as the early front-runner. We all have enough experience with the machine that we ought to be able to recognize a machine candidate with only a moment's thought. And we ought to know that it does no good to throw out one machine candidate only to vote a different machine's candidate in.

I hope Miguel Del Valle runs again, but have you ever noticed that insurgent candidates rarely oppose the machine more than once?

6:30 a.m.

And I suppose closing the drapes is the answer to graffiti. This is America, right?

— On the neighbor message Fireworks-Again
6:20 a.m.

My guess is that it's the only territory the Royals have left, and they aren't ready to let it go. Idgits.

— On the neighbor message More graffiti on Cullom.
6:12 a.m.

On the "code of silence" topic, I can't recommend this book enough: http://www.amazon.com/Code-Street-Decency-Violence-Moral/dp/0393320782

— On the neighbor message Gang Supression Missions - CPD
7:44 a.m.

"There are worse crimes being committed that the city needs to focus on." Then only the laws against worse crimes should be on the books. As long as the laws against fireworks remain on the books, they need to be enforced too.

— On the neighbor message Fireworks make me CRAZY!
7:39 a.m.

When criminals have to worry about the police the way you think they should, Fletch, law-abiding citizens have to worry too. There's a reason why the Constitution applies to everyone.

Consequences, yes. WITHIN the law, and WITHIN the Bill of Rights.

Keep in mind that the United States already incarcerates more people per capita (about 750 per 100,000) than not just Russia and China but Syria, Zimbabwe, North Korea, Cuba and Myanmar . . . some of the most notorious police states in the world. To suggest that we need to throw more people in prison is preposterous. We throw more people in jail than ANYONE, and it's NOT WORKING. There's some other part of the problem that we're failing to address.

Maybe it's prison itself. Maybe it's wealth and income inequality. Maybe it's the widespread attitude that the authorities can't be trusted, so if you have a problem, it's yours to deal with alone, and violence is the way to do it. Maybe it's the dissolution of communities in which people know their neighbors. Whatever it is, it's clearly NOT that we're too easy on criminals.

— On the neighbor message Gang Supression Missions - CPD
8:05 a.m.

There are quite a few areas of the city that aren't all apartments, DarkAngel. They tend to be in the corners of the city: Norwood Park, Oriole Park, Edison Park, Mount Greenwood, Morgan Park, Garfield Ridge, Clearing, Hegewisch, Pill Hill.

— On the neighbor message Apartment in Brynford?
7:55 a.m.

THAT WAS ME

SORRY

— On the neighbor message Destroyed Light California Park
6:29 a.m.

What would work is for dog owners to (a) follow the leash laws, (b) train their goddamn dogs and (c) see (a).

If you don't teach a dog otherwise, it will act like a dog. If you do teach it otherwise, it will still act like a dog when it gets excited about something. Dogs charge randomly, especially at other dogs. They chase things that flee and bite what they can catch. That is the nature of a dog. If you're not prepared to account for and take responsibility for your dog's instinctive behavior, you have no business owning a dog, let alone owning a dog in the city.

But no. Every parent thinks his kid is beautiful; every dog owner thinks his dog is well-behaved. "Oh, my boy is sooo goooood, he would NEVER do that." Sigh.

— On the neighbor message Tired of all the posts about unleashed dogs
6:37 a.m.

Woken up twice by explosions in the middle of the night last night. Anyone who defends this as simple patriotic fun is a jerk.

— On the neighbor message Fireworks-Again
6:24 a.m.

Paul Sarlo and Paul Anonymous need to remember that we live in a country with a thingie called the Constitution, which happens to include a thingie called the Bill of Rights, which happens to apply to EVERYBODY, not just the people they think deserve it.

People who love America sincerely, and not just like a paranoid, possessive boyfriend who doesn't treat his girl right but who'll sock anyone who looks the wrong way at her, do not want to see it turned into a police state.

There is a right way to fight crime, and a hundred wrong ways. When los dos Pablos talk about "taking the handcuffs off the police," no doubt what they mean is at least four or five of the wrong ways: presumption of innocence, due process, rules of evidence, freedom of association all out the window, plus a few closed-door massage sessions for good measure. The America I was taught to revere is better than that.

— On the neighbor message Gang Supression Missions - CPD
10:57 a.m.

If my hunch about the folks setting off 2 AM fireworks is right, the best time to blast music at 'em would be 7:30 in the morning.

— On the neighbor message Fireworks-Again
1:13 p.m.

"You are looking at a word and then making a decision about what it is behind the facade." Way to read my mind, Karnak. Tell me what I'm thinking right now.

As it happens, I know the history of Social Security. When the Social Security Act of 1935 was being drafted, there were three components on the table. The first was insurance against widowhood and indigence in old age. The second was a pension plan, most closely associated with its main proponent, Dr. Francis Townsend. The third was a national health care plan. The second and third components were rejected; the first was approved. So when I say Social Security is an insurance plan, not a retirement plan, it's because when Congress had the chance to include an ACTUAL retirement plan as a component of the system, it chose not to. Joe can redefine his terms to his heart's content; on this issue, he has no idea what he's talking about. Full stop.

"I'm not saying you shouldn't rely on SS to fund your life, that's your choice." It's a pity that you're passing up a chance to be right. You SHOULDN'T rely on Social Security to fund your retirement. It's not a retirement fund. It's insurance. It's a backup plan, a safety net. There's no substitute for sensible retirement planning.

10:43 p.m.

"It's not necessary to repeatedly honk, but truly, a simple beep is what we were taught to do, 'back in the day' when starting to drive."

Well, you need to get with the times, because according to the Illinois state driving exam, that's precisely what you're NOT supposed to do.

I'm sure the people who ride their bikes against oncoming traffic also do it because that's what they think they're supposed to do. Having been told the wrong thing is no excuse, especially when people are telling you the right thing.

— On the neighbor message Using alleys as streets!?
10:20 p.m.

4-156-300 License – Required.

(a) Unless specifically exempted in Section 4-156-305 or subsection (f) of this section, it shall be unlawful for the owner, lessee or manager of any property, or for any other person, to produce, present or conduct thereon, for gain or profit, any amusement unless the owner, lessee or manager of such property has first obtained a public place of amusement license. If an amusement is produced, presented or conducted for gain or profit on any property without a valid public place of amusement license first having been obtained, and unless Section 4-156-305 or subsection (f) of this section applies, all of the following persons shall be in violation of this subsection: (1) the owner of the property, (2) the lessee of the property, (3) the manager of the property, (4) the producer of the amusement, (5) the presenter of the amusement and (6) the person conducting the amusement. Each person found in violation of this subsection (a) shall be subject to a fine of up to $10,000.00.

(b) If any part of the property is used or intended for use for any amusement, a public place of amusement license shall be required, regardless of whether the use is incidental to the property's principal use.

— On the neighbor message Fireworks-Again
10:13 p.m.

"And the person who has the parties, owns the property but does not live there. He lives in Appleton, WI. I call the police, they show up, but don't get out the car or write tickets. His parties belong in a party hall, not a Chicago back yard. He has full 7 piece Mariachi Bands, DJ with sound system and at least 40 guests each time. They go on for DAYS."

Woomera, I bet if you called the city's Department of Business Affairs, you could get this jerk dinged hard for operating a Public Place of Amusement without a license:

4-156-010 Definitions.

For purposes of this chapter:

“Amusement” means: (1) any exhibition, performance, presentation or show for entertainment purposes, including, but not limited to, any theatrical, dramatic, musical or spectacular performance, promotional show, motion picture show, flower, poultry or animal show, animal act, circus, rodeo, athletic contest, sport, game or similar exhibition such as boxing, wrestling, skating, dancing, swimming, racing, or riding on animals or vehicles, baseball, basketball, softball, football, tennis, golf, hockey, track and field games, bowling or billiard or pool games . . .

4-156-290 Definition.

As used in this chapter, a public place of amusement means any building or part of a building, park or other grounds used or intended to be used for any amusement as defined in Article I of this chapter . . .

— On the neighbor message Fireworks-Again
10:13 p.m.

Going on right now on St. Louis. Or maybe I should say going off.

— On the neighbor message Fireworks-Again
10:07 p.m.

But that's not taking precautions to avoid an accident. That's laying off the responsibility for avoiding it on the person who might get hit. Honking your horn, you're saying, "I'm just gonna do whatever I'm gonna do, and you can either get out of the way or get hit."

Amy Irving, katyhunny, Bob Kastigar and Elliott Mason are all correct on this one. You're wrong.

fran: Try living next to that "one short courtesy beep." It's not just one, it's not always short, and it's no courtesy.

— On the neighbor message Using alleys as streets!?
7:01 a.m.

Joe writes, "But you ignored my point - social security is not insurance." Then he provides a link. The first sentence of the first paragraph on the page he links to says, "The Social Security Trust Funds are the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) and the Disability Insurance (DI) Trust Funds."

Enough pigeon chess.

6:51 a.m.

I think the "clean up your crap" exhortation can be applied much more broadly than just to fireworks.

— On the neighbor message Fireworks make me CRAZY!
8:35 a.m.

" . . . but as you approach the mouth of the alley and cannot see then the driver has an obligation to warn pedestrians that he can't see, and can't see him, that he is approaching."

No, actually, he doesn't. He only has an obligation to stop and wait for them to pass. What are they supposed to do with the warning? It's not their responsibility to yield. It's yours. If anyone should be entitled to honk, it's the pedestrians.

— On the neighbor message Using alleys as streets!?
6:58 a.m.

"So being American is to not care about how your actions impact your neighbors? Really?"

Dude, you only figured that out from the fireworks topic? If you'd been reading the ones on concealed-carry or the teachers' union, that would have become obvious long before now.

— On the neighbor message Fireworks make me CRAZY!
6:53 a.m.

"As for the Finnish Miracle, it is hard to apply the successful results of such a homogenous society to one with our characteristics." Oh, you did NOT just imply that our problems exist because we have black people and Mexicans, did you? Please explain how else we're supposed to interpret that.

Anyone who wants to be taken seriously on this topic needs to read the following article before proceeding: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/people-places/Why-Are-Finlands-Schools-Successful.html

6:36 a.m.

"Catbus, your post is incorrect, you can go to the social security website and see for yourself." Joe, my father retired as a Grade 14 deputy director of operations for the Social Security Administration's Great Lakes Program, and my mother was a claims rep. I don't need to go to the SSA website to know what I'm talking about. I know the facts, and I know the history.

SSA's administrative costs (salaries and overhead) are under 1 percent of all benefits paid. For-profit insurance spends 12 to 14 percent of benefits paid on administrative costs. The public sector does it better.

6:25 a.m.

This jerk showed up on St. Louis last night.

— On the neighbor message The Ice Cream Man Keeps Me Awake
6:18 a.m.

Once again, George, it's not their responsibility to stay out of your way. It's your responsibility to yield to them. If I'm walking down the sidewalk, about to cross an alley, and a car comes up honking, big deal. I'm going to keep walking, because the right of way is mine. "But I honked!" ain't gonna hold up in court.

If you STOP at the end of the alley like you're supposed to, you have enough peripheral vision to either side to know whether you can pull up further. Unless you're still driving that '78 Buick Le Sabre with the hood the size of Utah, in which case you need to trade that thing in before someone calls "D-4!" and sinks it.

— On the neighbor message Using alleys as streets!?
6:09 a.m.

If you're self-employed, you're paying into Social Security through the self-employment tax. If you're self-employed and you're not paying self-employment tax, you're breaking the law.

Also, if Social Security is a "pyramid scheme," then so are auto and property insurance. The principle is exactly the same in both cases: collect premiums from people who won't need benefits until tomorrow in order to pay out to people who need benefits today. The only difference is that Social Security's overhead costs are minuscule compared to the insurance industry's. The public sector does it better, because it doesn't have to pay for executives' vacation homes or ad campaigns with computer-animated lizards.

Social Security is NOT A RETIREMENT FUND. It's insurance against not having retirement income from some other source. If you're not aware of that fact, you're not qualified to argue the topic.

5:49 a.m.

jIpumpu' 'ej jIHu'laHbe'.

6:15 a.m.

Saolaítear na daoine uile saor agus comhionann ina ndínit agus ina gcearta. Tá bua an réasúin agus an choinsiasa acu agus dlíd iad féin d'iompar de mheon bráithreachais i leith a chéile.

9:34 p.m.

Quod erat demonstratum.

8:21 p.m.

Those who see this through the lens of race choose to see it through the lens of race. The way I choose to think about it, if the situation had been reversed, rather than a dozen or so thugs beating up one guy, it would have been one guy beating up more than a dozen thugs. Then it wouldn't be a hate crime, it would be a kung fu movie.

8:19 p.m.

The way you're talking, Ice Nine, you come off sounding like you're envious that a group of black kids can beat up a white guy but you and your white friends can't go beat up a black guy. That's what I mean to tell you.

If people didn't want the "race card" played, they didn't have to bring up race in the first place. Instead, it's been front and center since the very first post, and you've been doing more than your share to keep it there, bringing up either race or racial stereotypes in more than half of your comments:

"Ghetto Trash"
"I really doubt that any of these flash mobs are made up of blonde blue eyed kids from Glencoe."
"section 8"/"Very soon your check from the G is gonna shrink so plan accordingly. They are about to take away your free cell phones and it is only a matter of time before your link card shrinks to [sic]."
"how many times have you seen a woman under 25 hop on the bus with 3 babies 2 of which are in strollers? if you cant [sic] aford [sic] a car wtf are you having kids for?"
"When you begin feeding a stray cat; [sic] you get more cats"
"What ever happened to birth control?"
"if you think I am over reacting, on the day the Zimmerman case is resolved, hop on the red line and get off at 79th and hang out for a while. Because whatever result comes out of that case / [sic] they wont [sic] be satisfied and there is gonna be trouble."
"Whenever the media refuses to identify the evil doers I know they are AA."
"When a certain culture figures out that going to jail is not a Rite of Passage but a life altering event for the bad; [sic] perhaps we will see change."
"The reason there is an emphasis on race is because all of the attacks going back to last year have been commited [sic] by members of the same race. If one day it was whites and the next day asians and the next day native americans; [sic] there would be no emphasis on race. But all of this flash mob BS has been comitted [sic] by one race."

8:19 p.m.

"If a group of white people attack an African American for fun, that is a hate crime." No, if a group of white people attack an African American BECAUSE HE'S AFRICAN AMERICAN, and because they want to intimidate other African Americans, that's a hate crime. If they do it just for fun, that's aggravated battery. And sociopathic.

"Why do you refuse to call the breaking of a mans jaw by a group of blacks a hate crime?" Because we don't know anything about the motivation of the mob that broke the guy's jaw, that's why.

You keep making comments that seem to be premised on the assumption that just because these kids are black, we know everything we need to know about them. Which is a racist premise. In fact, it's practically the definition of racism.

7:09 p.m.

George, if you're coming out so fast that a child or cyclist will get hit by you before seeing you or hearing your engine, you're driving too fast. By law, it's YOUR responsibility to watch out for THEM, not theirs to watch out for you.

Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel; the horn is second-to-last.

— On the neighbor message Using alleys as streets!?
10:29 a.m.

"Fair" means that everyone gets what he needs. Not necessarily everything he wants, but everything he NEEDS. And that those who want more beyond that have the opportunity to work for it.

If your opportunity to work for what you want is curtailed because circumstances have kept you from getting what you need, or because you have to sink so much time and effort into getting what you need that you have none left over to pursue what you want, while others who are lucky enough to have everything they need can spend all their time, effort and money pursuing what they want, this is neither free nor fair.

10:22 a.m.

"Folks need to understand that the whole 'hate crime' thing is a cultural marxist doctrine - there is nothing 'fair' about 'hate crime' prosecutions/persecutions."

First, "Marxist"? Pfff. Do you even care that words have meanings?

Second, there is a damn good reason for "hate crime" laws to exist. Viz.: If I mug you and steal your wallet, for no reason other than that I want what's in your wallet, this is a crime with only one victim, you. If I attack you because I hold your ethnicity, your religion, your sexual orientation or whatever lower-status social group you belong to in contempt, this is a crime with THREE victims. I cause harm to you directly. I cause harm to all other members of your group by giving them reason to live in fear of future assaults. And I cause harm to the state by defying the principle of equal protection under the law, asserting through my actions that your group deserves neither equality nor protection.

10:16 a.m.

In fact, when I moved back to Illinois from New York in 2000 and had to retake my driving test, one of the questions on the test was what you're supposed to do when you come out of an alley. The correct answer was to stop, look both ways and yield to any pedestrians crossing your path. One of the alternative (i.e., wrong) answers was to honk your horn. I bet more people got that question wrong than any other.

— On the neighbor message Using alleys as streets!?
6:55 a.m.

People often confuse "jury-rigged" and "jerry-built."

— On the neighbor message Illegal Carpark on Front Lawn
6:51 a.m.

"I think that they're just knuckleheaded teenagers that have nothing better to do than intimidate and hurt people for no other reason than fun. It's a sporting event to them. They feel empowered when they can see the fear in the faces of their powerless, outnumbered victims. They laugh, taunt, and turn a frightening situation into a festive atmosphere for themselves where they all join in. They get a rush out of hurting and intimidating people."

Indeed. In this respect, they're not all that different from right-wing talk radio hosts.

But seriously, Irwilson's comment is the best one I've seen here yet. Bravo.

7:02 a.m.

Yes, because there's nothing so intolerable as working people joining together to defend their rights, their dignity and their economic security against those who think they aren't important enough to deserve those things.

Every bully's nightmare is that his victims will band together and come after him.

And that's it for me. Continuing to argue this kind of stuff is like trying to play chess against a pigeon. Even if you're an expert chess player, the pigeon is just going to knock over pieces, relieve itself on the board and strut around as if it's winning. Fine. I just don't want the pigeon to get the idea that it owns the board.

9:41 p.m.

"We are not born entitled to anything. We must work to earn what we recieve."

Yeah, weirdly, DCFS would probably disagree with that. They have this thing they call "child neglect." If you refuse to give your kids food unless and until they prove their economic usefulness, you might not get to keep them for very long.

There's also this little thing called the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that the United States ratified back when Americans were real eager to prove they weren't like the Nazis. "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood. Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status" (http://www.udhr.org/UDHR/default.htm). One of those rights, by the way, is the right to an education.

There was a time when the United States was considered the world's standard-bearer for freedom and human rights. Lots of so-called Americans don't even pretend anymore. Take if you can, give if you must; ain't nobody but yourself to trust. Me, I still believe in what I grew up being told America stood for, even if much of America can't wait to turn its back on it.

9:03 p.m.

The statements I listed were idiotic parallels of an idiotic statement. I hope you don't actually agree with them.

I also hope you're not implying that a republic can do without an informed citizenry.

If we're all born equal, we're all born equally entitled to a complete, high-quality education. Growing up in Kenilworth doesn't make a child any more virtuous or deserving than growing up in Englewood does.

4:09 p.m.

"The nicest houses should get the best fire station coverage."
"The newest cars should get the best streets."
"The fittest residents should get the best parks."
"The most prosperous businesses should get the quickest permit issuances and zoning variances."

Bad parents' bad kids still deserve the same schools that your kids deserve. All men are created equal, and so are their children. You call yourself a "patriot," but claiming that other people don't have the same rights you do is as un-American as you can get. There's no democracy without an informed citizenry, and there's no informed citizenry without universal education.

3:46 p.m.

There should not be "best" schools alongside less-than-best schools. There should only be excellent schools that any child can attend.

And a struggling child needs an excellent school much more than a kid for whom school comes easy does, if he wants to have any chance of success in life. Saying, "The smartest kids should get the best schools," is equivalent to saying, "The healthiest kids should get the best doctors."

1:01 p.m.

"School choice" is the rallying cry of those who are happy to leave a subpar system in place for other people's children to languish in as long as they can get their own children out of it. The whole idea is obscene.

Morally responsible people support a system of public education that's good enough for everyone's children.

And for the record, privatization in the form of charter schools hasn't shown the slightest bit of improvement in outcomes over traditional public education. All it does is pay teachers less and CEOs more.

12:41 p.m.

One last thing: The United States is not broke. Illinois is not broke. The state government may be broke. The city government may be broke. You or I may be broke. But the city as a whole is not broke, nor is the state, nor is the nation. We live in a wealthy city, a wealthy state and a wealthy nation. The poverty we see around us and the dire budget news we read mean that the wealth that exists is not being used to serve the public good. We have a moral responsibility to look after our fellow citizens just as we would our own brothers and sisters. Otherwise, there's no reason for government at any level to exist at all.

12:15 p.m.

It's a shame VOTERS didn't think about that when they reelected Daley term after term.

On average, CPS teachers earn slightly more than suburban teachers, because if they didn't, CPS would never be able to recruit teachers. Teaching conditions in CPS are awful compared with suburban districts. CPS teachers get one planning period a day or none vs. two or three in the burbs. Special ed populations are higher -- even as administrators do anything they can get away with to prevent kids from being identified as needing IEPs. Curricula are more rigid and more shallow, leaving teachers with little opportunity to apply their professional expertise. And, of course, there's the poverty . . . more importantly, the low literacy and high rates of misbehavior and violence that come with it.

Yes, the city's finances are tight, as are the state's. On the other hand, if the education provided by a school or school district isn't good enough for your child, IT'S NOT GOOD ENOUGH FOR ANYONE ELSE'S, EITHER! Every kid deserves a 6½-hour day. Every kid deserves a nutritious lunch. Every kid deserves recess. Every kid deserves exposure to the arts. Every kid deserves an education that engages his or her mind. Every kid deserves a reasonable share of his or her teacher's time and attention. And every kid deserves safety and dignity in his school building.

I would expect these things for my child, and I would expect that all of you would expect them for yours. Well, in that case, you should be willing to provide them to EVERY child in the city, because no child is unimportant, and no child is beneath yours. And if it costs more to provide that kind of education to every child, then hell, I guess it costs more, and it's the moral obligation of every citizen to find the money to pay for it. And if you aren't willing to do that, then you're stealing some child's future, and you need to stop for a minute and think about how you'd feel if someone did that to yours.

12:12 p.m.

Words of wisdom from Jay Smooth: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b0Ti-gkJiXc

Too many examples of "wallet-stealing" in this thread to enumerate. But the one that stands out most to me is the fact that when Angi talks about the mobs intimidating passers-by on Michigan Avenue, their ethnicity is supposedly important, but all that matters about Ice Nine is that he's "a U.S. citizen, a taxpayer and a realist."

6:47 a.m.

What's your source on that $25 million figure, Joe? The $30 million vs. $3.9 million is an apples-to-apples comparison of campaign funds. If you're saying the Barrett campaign had $25 million from another source, then it's only fair to disclose where they came from and identify the comparable funds spent in support of Walker.

Not that the amount spent is what really matters. What really matters is the eagerness of Walker, Scott Fitzgerald and their counterparts in other states (Michigan and Florida, to name two conspicuous examples) to throw the rule of law out the window in their lust to destroy unions, profitize government functions and rob Democratic-leaning citizens of the right to vote. Walker's out-of-state cash is simply an illustration of where that lust comes from.

— On the neighbor message Walker wins recall in a landslide!
8:39 a.m.

Also, as far as "driving jobs away" is concerned (jobs, BTW, have no independent existence and cannot be "driven away"), it's not breaking news that predators will migrate to wherever they can find easier prey. I don't think that means we should all voluntarily consign ourselves to the role of sick, straggling antelopes. I would rather live strong, healthy and in a nice, large herd.

— On the neighbor message Walker wins recall in a landslide!
8:25 a.m.

I've noticed a peculiar attitude among many conservatives that no money is ever yours unless you touch it, but once you touch it, it's yours and yours alone forever.

If my increased productivity results in a 10 percent increase in profits for my employer, and my employer rewards himself with a 10 percent pay increase and gives me nothing, my employer has robbed me, no question.

"Earning" means doing something to deserve what you get. If I work harder or produce better results, I have EARNED more money. Whether or not I'm paid what I've earned is an entirely separate question.

Similarly, if my employer does nothing differently but simply takes more for himself, he is PAID more money, but whether or not he's earned what he's paid is also an entirely separate question.

— On the neighbor message Walker wins recall in a landslide!
8:21 a.m.

Or just work for an unscrupulous employer and have it stolen from you before it ever reaches your pocket.

— On the neighbor message Walker wins recall in a landslide!
7:58 a.m.

The "no thanks" button is supposed to be used to tell people they're not being nice, but it's mostly being used by non-nice people to tell people they disagree with to shut up and go away.

— On the neighbor message The No Thanks Button Is Killing This Website
7:47 a.m.

The only means that has ever been found to give workers more power in this equation is the labor union.

Not a single law or government regulation protecting workers' rights has ever been enacted except under pressure from unions.

If you like having weekends off, thank a union.

If you like working only 40 hours a week, thank a union.

If you like making enough money to feed yourself and your kids, thank a union.

If you like having your employer contribute to your retirement, thank a union.

If you like not having to work under unsafe conditions in a locked building, thank a union.

If you like having a broad and strong middle class, JOIN a union. Because as unions have declined over the past 40 years, so has the middle class. Can't you see it? Can't you FEEL it?

— On the neighbor message Walker wins recall in a landslide!
7:42 a.m.

Fourth, the sale of a good is more or less instantaneous; the sale of a service depends on the length of the service, from 20 minutes for a haircut or clearing a clogged drain to weeks for the design of a building. The sale of labor is an ongoing transaction that begins when the worker is hired and doesn't end until he is fired, leaves or retires. During this time, the employer is capable of dictating changes in the terms of employment without altering the relationship. A worker who tries to change those terms, at best, can change them only for himself, not for his coworkers; at worst, he gets fired.

Fifth, related to the above, freedom of entry and exit -- another precondition for a free market -- is sharply limited in the labor market. Getting one's first job always poses a significant hurdle because of lack of prior experience, and once you have a job, especially when there's a labor surplus but even when there isn't, the incentives against leaving it for any reason are strong.

In short, even absent any kind of government regulation, the labor market is not a free market to begin with. It's a lopsided arrangement in which employers hold all the cards: a surplus of more or less interchangeable workers who need employment, who have to commit themselves to a single employer for an indefinite period of time, who have little or no idea what their labor is worth, on whom changes in wages and working conditions can be forced.

— On the neighbor message Walker wins recall in a landslide!
7:42 a.m.

So EveryBlock is a wholly owned subsidiary of RedState now? Dandy.

Just one comment: WindyCityCouple wrote, "Any union that forces above 'market' wages for any service/product they provide is wrong, period." There's a fundamental difference between the labor "market" and other "markets" for goods and services.

First, goods and services do not need to be bought. Workers need to be employed. That creates an imbalance of power between the buyer of labor and the seller. With a surplus of labor to fill available jobs -- supply exceeding demand -- wages will always tend to go down. They would go down well below what workers can afford to live on if not for the minimum wage. In fact, this is exactly what happened before the labor movement gained strength.

Second, goods and (most) services are separate from their providers. Workers are inseparable from their labor. I can sell my goods or services to lots of different buyers, but I can only sell my labor to one employer, maybe two or three if I'm desperate or determined, and sometimes I'm restricted in this by noncompetition clauses. My employer, meanwhile, has his choice of anywhere from several to hundreds of applicants for my position.

Third, accurate information is a precondition of a free market. Makers of goods and providers of (most) services are usually well-informed about what prices their products will fetch. Most workers have no idea what their own coworkers are making, and in fact are discouraged by social taboo from discussing it. Also, workers have to supply complete and accurate information about themselves to the employer to be considered for a job, but comparable information about the hiring companies is scattered and hard to obtain.

— On the neighbor message Walker wins recall in a landslide!
7:41 a.m.

Here's the thing -- how in the world could concealed-carry have any impact at all on gang-on-gang shootings? A gang member out to kill a rival has no interest in whether some lawful passer-by is carrying a gun, only whether his target and his target's buddies are. And since a de facto state of concealed-carry exists among gang members already, he has to assume that they probably are carrying. But that's not going to stop him; he's just going to look for an opportunity to take his victim by surprise. I suspect, in fact, that running the risk of getting shot back at is part of the thrill, and that it enhances gangsters' sense of machismo when their surprised rivals shoot back and miss.

The only way concealed-carry could alter this situation is if vigilante citizens who witnessed gang shootings (and how many of those are out on the streets to witness such shootings at 2:43 AM?) pulled out their own guns and began shooting back at the perps, NOT in self-defense but to try to incapacitate or kill the original shooter. I'm not sure whether a court of law would excuse such a thing, and even if it did, that's exactly the kind of "Wild West" crap that people with good sense don't want to see. What about the two shootings on Montrose (La Brasa Roja in the fall, Montrose and Drake this spring) that took place during PM rush hour? Is ANYONE comforted by the idea of having additional bullets flying through the air when there are people coming home from work all over the place? But if you're NOT willing to shoot at the shooter, then what good can having that gun possibly do you in that situation?

A gun is not a magic wand. It's a device that, when used properly according to the manufacturer's directions, causes injury or death. And we all know from the headlines about lawsuits how good Americans are at following manufacturers' directions.

— On the neighbor message shooting on sunnyside and kedzie
7:56 a.m.

"Texas has twice the number of registered guns than Illinois and significantly lower shootings per capita." That's 5.4 intentional homicides per 100,000 residents vs. 6.0 per 100,000; I'm not sure I'd call that "significantly lower." Plus, while Texas's rate is lower, Louisiana's, New Mexico's, Maryland's, Tennessee's, Alabama's, Mississippi's, Missouri's, South Carolina's, Michigan's, Arkansas's and Oklahoma's are all higher. (You want a "significant" difference? Louisiana's intentional homicide rate is 11.8 per 100,000, nearly twice Illinois's.)

— On the neighbor message shooting on sunnyside and kedzie
7:56 a.m.

If you guys think "Turkey in the Straw" is bad, come on over west of Kimball. I don't even know the name of the stupid tune that the ice cream truck plays over here (usually around 4 PM). But because I live right at the beginning of his route, I always hear the quacky PA "Hello!" followed by the first notes of that insipid tune.

At least I feel pretty confident that he's selling ice cream. An ice cream truck that rolls around at 10 PM is seriously suspect.

— On the neighbor message The Ice Cream Man Keeps Me Awake
7:35 a.m.

GCV's New York Times link is a good read. It highlights exactly the concerns that I have. Also points out that the people most likely to obtain concealed-carry permits are those least likely to be victimized to begin with, so how much of a difference can it make?

One question: I've seen a couple of assertions that Illinois's law would be a "shall issue" law. Mike's description made it sound like a "may issue" law. Is it "may issue," or just an unusually stringent "shall issue"?

— On the neighbor message Poll on concealed carry
6:32 a.m.

I can't take credit for how things are going in Albany Park. You've been here longer than I have, I'm sure.

— On the neighbor message Crime in Albany Park
8:56 p.m.

I do not lose my rights by acknowledging that criminals have rights too. After all, their rights do not include the right to victimize me. But if their rights can be stripped away, so can mine. The real threat to our rights is the failure to accept that rights are universal. When you posit that anyone's rights can be taken away, then there's no longer anything keeping someone from taking away your own.

— On the neighbor message Crime in Albany Park
7:49 p.m.

Rights are not an either/or proposition.

— On the neighbor message Crime in Albany Park
7:24 p.m.

"It's somehow ironic that the unnamed hero of that tragedy was a guy who threw stools at the shooter while he was shooting at him."

Now that is courage.

— On the neighbor message Poll on concealed carry
8:13 a.m.

I very specifically said that the COMMENT was clueless. Perfectly intelligent people can say perfectly clueless things. If you chose to interpret that as an attack on a poster rather than on a clearly factually incorrect statement, I can only say you were choosing to read something into it that wasn't there.

— On the neighbor message Poll on concealed carry
7:26 p.m.

WindyCityCouple, when I got involved, it was merely a discussion. It was others who chose to turn it into a war.

— On the neighbor message Poll on concealed carry
7:13 p.m.

To the commenter on this thread who sent me a private e-mail titled "You are really pathetic" containing the sentiment, "You are making yourself look like a fool. Hope you enjoy having the world laugh at you," it speaks volumes that you felt the need to send that message. As if merely disagreeing with me weren't enough -- and as if NT'ing my comments into oblivion weren't enough.

Needless to say, I won't be shamed by you.

— On the neighbor message Poll on concealed carry
6:51 p.m.

I can't help but suspect that I'd be perforated instead of just censored.

— On the neighbor message Poll on concealed carry
6:19 a.m.

Answer the question. Yes or no.

— On the neighbor message Poll on concealed carry
6:27 p.m.

"Your 'view' on what can be posted on this site even further shows me you are a lost cause with little respect for free speech and open dialogue. Based on your lack of respect for the Constitution, specifically the Second Amendment should have prepared me for your equal lack of respect for the First Amendment."

Simple yes-or-no question, Greg: Are you one of the users who are teaming up to hide my posts? Because if you are, you do NOT get to talk about respect for free speech. I've answered speech with speech, not with anonymous downrating.

— On the neighbor message Poll on concealed carry
6:22 p.m.

Looks like the allegedly pro-freedom contingent has seen fit to form a posse to suppress information contrary to their point of view, as all three of my most recent posts have been NT'd to death inside of 15 minutes. How very courageous of them.

— On the neighbor message Poll on concealed carry
6:20 p.m.

Finally, I would suggest that if the raison d'être of EveryBlock is highly localized discussion, the original post should never have been written in the first place, since an unscientific poll on Deerfield Patch about a state legislative issue has nothing whatsoever to do with ZIP code area 60618.

— On the neighbor message Poll on concealed carry
6:01 p.m.

And here, AGAIN, is the brief history lesson some saw fit to censor:

People often forget that the Second Amendment was written before the invention of modern policing. Colonial society had no equivalent to today's police force, nor did the National Guard exist, nor did the newborn nation have a standing army. Criminals and raiders had to be dealt with by ad hoc militias. Because the Crown, fearful of armed insurrection, had prohibited people from keeping weapons in their homes, and because villages and cities were still separated by large unsettled gaps, this left colonists vulnerable to raids. That is why, "a well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people" -- collective noun -- "to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." Because the colonists had no other established force to protect them, and had to take care of themselves, and under the Crown's ban, they couldn't.

The police and National Guard are our militias now. And instead of pushing for laws allowing more people not beloning to either of those forces to pack heat, maybe we should be asking ourselves why the entire national police force of Germany, a country where gun ownership is heavily restricted, fired only 85 bullets in all of 2011 (http://www.theatlanticwire.com/global/2012/05/german-police-used-only-85-bullets-against-people-2011/52162/), while Los Angeles police, in a single incident, fired 90 at one unarmed man. America's obsession with guns isn't a freedom, it's a sickness.

— On the neighbor message Poll on concealed carry
5:59 p.m.

I will take my example from NursePat: Here, AGAIN, are the states with the highest violent crime rates per 100,000 residents (FBI Uniform Crime Reports, 2010) and their concealed-carry permit laws:

NV - 660.6 (shall issue to residents and nonresidents)
AK - 638.8 (shall issue to residents)
DE - 620.9 (may issue to residents)
TN - 613.3 (shall issue to residents)
SC - 597.7 (shall issue to residents and nonresidents)
NM - 588.9 (shall issue to residents)
LA - 549 (shall issue to residents)
MD - 547.7 (may issue to residents and nonresidents)
FL - 542.4 (shall issue to residents and nonresidents)
AR - 505.3 (shall issue to residents)
MI - 490.3 (shall issue to residents)
OK - 479.5 (shall issue to residents)
MA - 466.6 (may issue to residents and nonresidents)
MO - 455 (shall issue to residents)
TX - 450.3 (shall issue to residents and nonresidents)
CA - 440.6 (may issue to residents)
IL - 435.2 (no permits issued)

Where the public has the right to conceal and carry, violent crime is nearly nonexistent, huh? I count a dozen states where the public has the right to carry a concealed weapon and the violent crime rate is higher than it is here in Illinois. For it to be true that "where the public has the right to conceal and carry crime is much less ***and violent crime nearly non-existent*** [emphasis mine]," Illinois would have to be at the top of the list.

Yeah, I don't much like being censored either.

— On the neighbor message Poll on concealed carry
5:58 p.m.

Yes, Vermont has one of the lowest violent crime rates in the nation. And yes, Vermont has an extremely generous concealed-carry policy. Louisiana, South Carolina, New Mexico, Tennessee and Florida also have extremely generous concealed-carry policies, and their violent crime rates are among the highest in the nation -- all of them higher, in fact, than Illinois's (see my stats above, and compare those numbers to Vermont's 136 per 100,000). Does this prove that hidden guns INCREASE crime? No, nor does Vermont's low violent crime rate prove that they reduce it. America in general is an unreasonably violent nation. Forty-nine states have some form of concealed-carry policy, and America is STILL an unreasonably violent nation compared with every other industrialized democracy. If concealed-carry hasn't changed that fact in other states, it won't change it here.

I notice that no one has responded to the fact that gang members already constitute an established community with a de facto concealed-carry policy and that it hasn't done anything to reduce their violent crime rate, except to "no thanks" it.

— On the neighbor message Poll on concealed carry
10:39 a.m.

And for the record, NursePat, Greg posted only five. That makes, what, 0.00007 percent?

— On the neighbor message Poll on concealed carry
6:37 a.m.

I'm anti-stupidity. Guns merely magnify the capacity of stupidity to inflict harm.

— On the neighbor message Poll on concealed carry
9:36 p.m.

It was a loaded question (no pun intended). A person who uses a concealed weapon to "solve" problems other than self-defense is, by definition, not involved in a shootout with an attacker. You want an example of what I was talking about? Here are 177 of them: http://www.vpc.org/fact_sht/ccwprivatecitizens.pdf

Officers of the law aren't exactly safe either: http://www.vpc.org/fact_sht/ccwlawenforcement.pdf

Then there's this (http://www2.timesdispatch.com/news/news/2011/dec/03/4/teen-homicide-suspects-had-felony-convictions-ar-1510369/): "Tyler, a customer at the BP station, was killed about 8:15 p.m. Friday, Nov. 25, inside the store. According to court papers, Smith and Hamiel arrived at the BP together on a single scooter and followed Tyler into the store. Tyler, 48, had a concealed-carry permit, but his handgun was plainly visible that night in his holster, Johnson said. 'The suspects walk in and one immediately reached for Mr. Tyler's gun,' Johnson said. Tyler did not draw his weapon. According to court papers, Smith took Tyler's gun during a struggle and shot Tyler in the chest after the victim chased Smith inside the store. Authorities said they could not confirm that Tyler was killed with his own gun until they get the results of forensics testing."

And for the Dunning-Kruger file, here's two for the price of one: http://www2.timesdispatch.com/news/2011/nov/18/tdmet02-man-whose-gun-discharged-killing-him-had-c-ar-1467500/

— On the neighbor message Poll on concealed carry
8:55 p.m.

People all over this thread have been hitting "no thanks" on comments they merely disagree with.

NursePat: Concealed-carry and gun control are inseparable issues, since the former is basically just the opposite of the latter. As for my skill at throwing out opinions, thank you, but I'd be even more grateful if you'd recognized my skill at throwing out facts.

"I will ask you directly where else in this country where concealed carry is legal have people whipped out their guns 'to solve their problems.' " That's easy: Everywhere they did so before concealed-carry was legal. And here, too, where concealed-carry is not legal. Half the threads on EB would vanish if they didn't.

America IS the Wild West when it comes to violent crime.

The intentional homicide rate in the United States -- and I think we can safely assume that a sizable percentage of those homicides are committed using guns of one sort or another -- was 4.8 per 100,000 population in 2010. (In Illinois, it was 6.0 per 100,000 ... but in Mississippi and Missouri, it was 6.4 per 100,000; in Alabama, 6.9 per 100,000; in Tennessee, 7.3 per 100,000; in Maryland, 7.7 per 100,000; and in Louisiana, 11.8 per 100,000.) By comparison, in the United Kingdom, the intentional homicide rate was 1.23 per 100,000. In Canada, 1.62. In Australia, 1.16. Germany, 0.84. Japan, 0.83. Italy, 0.87. Spain, 0.72. Numbers aren't available for France in 2010, but in 2009, the rate was 1.09 per 100,000. The United States' rate is more comparable to that of Uzbekistan or Haiti than it is to the rest of the developed industrial world ... which, by and large, regulates gun ownership far more heavily than we do.

I do not think other civilized nations agree with the backcountry logic that the answer to gun violence is more guns.

You may legitimately argue that gun ownership is a protected right, but you're on crumbling ground if you argue that it makes us safer. It plainly does not.

— On the neighbor message Poll on concealed carry
8:27 p.m.

People often forget that the Second Amendment was written before the invention of modern policing. Colonial society had no equivalent to today's police force, nor did the National Guard exist, nor did the newborn nation have a standing army. Criminals and raiders had to be dealt with by ad hoc militias. Because the Crown, fearful of armed insurrection, had prohibited people from keeping weapons in their homes, and because villages and cities were still separated by large unsettled gaps, this left colonists vulnerable to raids. That is why, "a well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people" -- collective noun -- "to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." Because the colonists had no other established force to protect them, and had to take care of themselves, and under the Crown's ban, they couldn't.

The police and National Guard are our militias now. And instead of pushing for laws allowing more people not beloning to either of those forces to pack heat, maybe we should be asking ourselves why the entire national police force of Germany, a country where gun ownership is heavily restricted, fired only 85 bullets in all of 2011 (http://www.theatlanticwire.com/global/2012/05/german-police-used-only-85-bullets-against-people-2011/52162/), while Los Angeles police, in a single incident, fired 90 at one unarmed man. America's obsession with guns isn't a freedom, it's a sickness.

— On the neighbor message Poll on concealed carry
4:23 p.m.

And Professors Dunning and Kruger have shown that the less skilled people are, the more skilled they THINK they are. (Cf. Jennifer's comment above.) A society full of armed people is not a polite society, as the cliché has it, but a society full of people who think that carrying a weapon will solve their problems. Some of those people -- not all, perhaps not even most, but assuredly some -- will come to think of that weapon as a way of solving problems other than the problem of being accosted by criminals. And that is a recipe for undermining the rule of law.

Consider this: A de facto "concealed carry" state of affairs already exists among one local community, which lots of people on EB regularly complain about. That community is the community of gang members. Does the knowledge that others around them may be carrying guns make them more sober, polite and law-abiding? Does it make them think twice before drawing on someone and pulling the trigger? No, it doesn't, as recent crime stats illustrate. Or rather, if it does make them think twice, it's not to reconsider doing violence to someone, but rather to come up with a more successful plan.

— On the neighbor message Poll on concealed carry
4:23 p.m.

"Where the public has the right to conceal and carry crime is much less and violent crime nearly non-existent." Yeah, that is about the most clueless comment ever. Here are the states with the highest violent crime rates per 100,000 residents (FBI Uniform Crime Reports, 2010) and their concealed-carry permit laws:

NV - 660.6 (shall issue to residents and nonresidents)
AK - 638.8 (shall issue to residents)
DE - 620.9 (may issue to residents)
TN - 613.3 (shall issue to residents)
SC - 597.7 (shall issue to residents and nonresidents)
NM - 588.9 (shall issue to residents)
LA - 549 (shall issue to residents)
MD - 547.7 (may issue to residents and nonresidents)
FL - 542.4 (shall issue to residents and nonresidents)
AR - 505.3 (shall issue to residents)
MI - 490.3 (shall issue to residents)
OK - 479.5 (shall issue to residents)
MA - 466.6 (may issue to residents and nonresidents)
MO - 455 (shall issue to residents)
TX - 450.3 (shall issue to residents and nonresidents)
CA - 440.6 (may issue to residents)
IL - 435.2 (no permits issued)

Where the public has the right to conceal and carry, violent crime is nearly nonexistent, huh? I count a dozen states where the public has the right to carry a concealed weapon and the violent crime rate is higher than it is here in Illinois. For your statement to be even partially true, Illinois's crime rate would have to be at the top of the list.

You know what brings down violent crime rates? People figuring out that shooting a problem doesn't solve it.

— On the neighbor message Poll on concealed carry
8:51 a.m.

If "simple assault" comes up a lot, it means the area is obnoxious but not unsafe. Truly violent crimes would include aggravated battery, armed robbery, strong-arm robbery, attempted murder, murder, unlawful discharge of a firearm, rape, attempted rape and aggravated sexual assault. For the general sense of safety, also add residential burglary and whatever term they use for creeps attempting to molest children (which thankfully doesn't come up often enough for me to remember it).

8:23 a.m.

P.S. "Where I come from; when someone disgraces the family; they are no longer viewed as an important family member." Wow, that must be hard. Is that why you're so bitter? I truly hope your family welcomes you back someday soon. </snark>

Nobody deserves to be viewed as unimportant.

Nobody.

Anywhere.

Period.

— On the neighbor message Police presence on Montrose and Drake
6:42 a.m.

Everyone who says we need to be "harder on gang members" is utterly missing the point. You don't seriously think kids become gang members because it's easy and convenient, do you? It's painful and brutal and risky, and kids are attracted to it because to them the increased pain and risk and brutality is worth it if it comes with having people in their lives whom they can trust absolutely. And it's not as though their lives aren't painful, brutal and risky already.

If you want to keep kids from joining gangs, make sure their lives are full of people they can trust, people who will keep them safe from danger, people who will provide them a home and a community where they can be happy and healthy and appropriately guided and challenged, NOT people whose social toolkit consists of threats, blame and abuse. Some folks have yet to learn that not every problem can be solved by being a strict daddy with a handy belt. A good parent is not a bully.

— On the neighbor message Police presence on Montrose and Drake
6:41 a.m.

Chris, d-d-d-id you have to say [gulp] "dead"?

6:19 a.m.

The one thing you can be absolutely sure of is that it was not written over 300 years ago, since that would place it before 1712, when no one was talking about democracy, not even in Switzerland.

— On the neighbor message Police presence on Montrose and Drake
6:15 a.m.

Jon, I've tried using the online reporting form, but it doesn't include a field for whether the graffiti is gang-related, which I think is vital information.

— On the neighbor message May 33rd Ward Meeting Summary
10:25 a.m.

311 is a great service to have. I just wish I didn't have to sit through 10 different voice mail menu options before staying on the line to talk to the next available representative who will be with me shortly.

— On the neighbor message May 33rd Ward Meeting Summary
6:59 a.m.

"How many cyclists actually follow the rules of the road? I'm guessing the large majority." Joel, as someone who also follows the rules of the road, rides in the bike lane, wears a helmet and uses hand signals, I've gotta disagree. To take just one issue, obeying traffic signals, I see more cyclists who run red lights than cyclists who stop for them.

— On the neighbor message Bicyclist vs car = not good
6:50 a.m.

"The gangs mostly keep the violence to themselves," except when one of their bullets goes through the window of a popular local eatery.

— On the neighbor message Crime in Albany Park
6:41 a.m.

Marc B: Of course no one suggests that all the extra time will be given to seatwork. That's because if they did, the idea would get shot down in less than a heartbeat. But anyone who pays attention to what's going on in public schools -- and especially in CPS -- knows that's exactly what will happen. No one wants to shell out dollars for staff to supervise enrichment classes. We'd be lucky if the whole damn time weren't given to computer-administered test prep. (Which is already replacing science and social studies in key grades. Science and social studies!)

BTW, 8 AM starts may not be the most developmentally appropriate for high schoolers -- 9:30 AM might make more sense, given the natural changes in teenagers' sleep cycles -- but it's far from unusual. Most high-performing suburban high schools start their days between 8 and 8:30.

— On the neighbor message Police presence on Montrose and Drake
2:45 p.m.

Lots of people support a longer school day -- just not as long a school day as Rahm Emanuel wants. He would have first-graders spending more time in school than most high schoolers do. Kids aren't made to handle that much time sitting in a chair.

— On the neighbor message Police presence on Montrose and Drake
12:22 p.m.

To answer the original poster's question, kids do that stuff because their parents haven't taught them not to.

My fiancee and I are bailing ASAP, if we can afford to (kind of hard to swing a move and a wedding within a month of each other). The recent shooting a block away from us was the final straw, but it's not just the gang activity that has us fed up. It's the constant car horns, people yelling at each other on the street, unmaintained properties, and my god the LITTER. People just throwing crap on the street, everywhere. I have to wonder, who raised these people? The lack of consideration for one's neighbors and the neighborhood in general is flabbergasting, at least from our point of view. It's going to bite into our wallets badly, but we need to be somewhere where folks have been brought up to give a damn.

This area was supposed to be affordable and safe. It's not safe, and the affordability isn't worth the reduction in our quality of life.

— On the neighbor message Crime in Albany Park
7:57 a.m.

Oh, Rob, I'm sure you don't love it nearly as much as I love how you think you can read my mind.

You don't know what media I consume or where I get my information from. You ask what it takes to "get through to me" with your opinion? Proof. Examples. Something other than stating it over and over again with increasing intensity. Argument from authority doesn't fly here. It just makes you sound like an actor who claims that he "feels things more deeply."

— On the neighbor message Not cool to protest at Mayor's home
12:25 p.m.

I understand that "no thanks" is not meant to be used for mere disagreement. But what about using it on comments that you think are offensive and unworthy of civilized discourse, even if they don't attack another user by name? Does Everyblock construe that as "disagreement" or as "keeping things neighborly"?

— On the neighbor message The No Thanks Button Is Killing This Website
8:09 a.m.

Just remember that a police officer's definition of "fight" may include disobeying instructions, disregarding instructions, misunderstanding instructions, asking for a clarification of instructions, not following instructions quickly enough, not following instructions with sufficient servility, or having the misfortune to be standing next to someone else who has just made one of these mistakes.

— On the neighbor message Hear CPD Downtown during NATO Summit
8:04 a.m.

"I would imagine that if corporate taxes were lowered, corporations would hire more people in the US instead of outsourcing jobs overseas like India and China." Well, then you've got a vivid imagination, because lowering corporate taxes wouldn't change the fact that you can still hire a Chinese worker for a fraction of the U.S. minimum wage. Lower corporate taxes, and all you'll get is less revenue. Probably not even a "thank you."

It's not the government sending jobs overseas. It's corporations -- corporations seeking to evade the wage and hour laws, occupational health and safety laws, and environmental laws that make the United States a decent place to live. All for a higher profit margin, to further enrich those already living in luxury.

And the United States isn't broke. I may be broke, my neighbors may be broke, the state may be broke, but the United States is swimming in wealth. We know where it is, too. We're just not willing to demand that it be used to give every working American and his or her family the security, opportunity and dignity that they deserve.

— On the neighbor message Not cool to protest at Mayor's home
10:02 p.m.

All this is a direct result of government policies that enable -- dare I say, encourage -- inequality of wealth and income to widen. This isn't about being the strong daddy and teaching the immature children the value of responsibility. This is about being a citizen of the most prosperous country in the world and feeling a sense of obligation to use that prosperity to ensure that none of your fellow citizens are trapped in lives of poverty, misery and danger. Because when so-called "job creators" refuse to create jobs that people can live on, or to create enough of them to go around, that's the trap they're creating. When they game the system to funnel a bigger and bigger portion of the nation's wealth to themselves simply by endlessly moving money from one place to another, while hardworking people in useful professions are expected to give back from what little they've got, that's a moral crime. It's an attack on the social fabric of the nation. Economic treason is what it is.

I'll take your word that you're not evil, but you still have to prove to me that you're good. To the protesters, I give the benefit of the doubt, because I know in my bones why they're angry. I'm angry too.

— On the neighbor message Not cool to protest at Mayor's home
12:10 p.m.

And not all those who protest our government's favoritism toward the executive-financial elite are self-centered anarchists, Rob. I'm much more concerned about the damage one CEO can do than about the damage one protester can do. And the former is much more likely to get away scot-free than the latter is.

You know, just a couple of days ago, one gang member shot another less than a block from my home. Many people saw it coming, given an abrupt increase in aggressive gang graffiti in the area. It's got my fiancee talking about moving again, even though we haven't really got the money to do so. Unfortunately, even though our household income is respectable by most people's standards -- and above the national median -- it looks like we're going to have to choose between our safety and our second bedroom (which she uses as a studio). With so many people losing their homes these days, and with homeownership still out of reach of most people despite falling prices, rents have spiked: in many places, they're up $200 a month or more from where they were just five years ago. Which means that, even if our income stays the same, we're getting poorer.

And we're better off than most.

What about those who don't have a second bedroom to give up? They don't get to choose to move away from the shootings.

— On the neighbor message Not cool to protest at Mayor's home
12:10 p.m.

Looks like Rob wasn't being sarcastic.

— On the neighbor message Not cool to protest at Mayor's home
11:39 a.m.

"This nation is falling into anarchy with all those who feel 'entitled' to do whatever they want." Yeah! Why do we continue to make exceptions and excuses for the executive-financial elite? Don't they know that being rich and well-connected doesn't make them any better than the rest of us? Don't they know there are supposed to be consequences for fraud and failure? Aren't they expected to follow the same rules the rest of us do?

Oh, wait, were you talking about someone else?

— On the neighbor message Not cool to protest at Mayor's home
6:02 a.m.

New reality show: Gangster Island.

— On the neighbor message Police presence on Montrose and Drake
12:39 p.m.

Even so, I often find myself wondering whether tips sent to the department fall on deaf ears.

— On the neighbor message Police presence on Montrose and Drake
9:31 a.m.

Cry me a river . . . this is less than a BLOCK from where I live. And I e-mailed CAPS on Sunday to tell them about the provocative gang graffiti appearing around the area and to suggest that they paint the neighborhood blue for a while. Haven't seen a single additional officer on the street.

— On the neighbor message Police presence on Montrose and Drake
9:01 a.m.

I don't think Emanuel is using "this weekend's NATO fiasco" to divert attention from health care, schools, public service pensions and labor contracts. I think most residents aren't paying attention to any of those things to begin with, and those who are paying attention will remain fixated on the issues most important to them, whether or not those are consistent with the theme of whatever rally they happen to be at. I remember the "Free Mumia" signs at the anti-WTO protests 10 years ago.

And I agree with Marc B that Horner Park is a poor location for a protest. Terrible street visibility. Low auto traffic, low foot traffic. Welles Park would have been way better. The protest community needs to learn that it's possible to be both idealistic AND strategic. Occupy Wall Street figured that out, but a lot of other folks are still catching up.

— On the neighbor message Impromptu NATO Protest In AP (traffic notice)
6:56 a.m.

This is the same graffiti that I posted about here: http://chicago.everyblock.com/announcements/may12-fresh-gang-graffiti-st-louis-and-cullom-4963103/

Thanks, Mark, for getting a pic up.

— On the neighbor message Tagging on Cullom & St Louis
6:15 a.m.

If people can be fined for not maintaining the parkway, I can think of at least half a dozen owners on my block who need to be writing checks.

— On the neighbor message Bloody sidewalk and police tape
6:22 a.m.

Ray, all that link proves is that apartments are overpriced west of the river as well as east of it. In 2007, I was paying $815 a month for a very nice one-bedroom near Wilson and Wolcott. Two-bedrooms in the area went for $950 to $1,100. Now, according to your map, they're $1,200 and up.

— On the neighbor message Safety and Monticello/Lawrence
6:20 a.m.

That's not what I meant.

— On the neighbor message Fresh Gang Graffiti at St. Louis and Cullom
9:37 p.m.

Do the police have this information?

— On the neighbor message Fresh Gang Graffiti at St. Louis and Cullom
9:34 p.m.

Safe house? Hm. Would that be the one with the Disciples symbol written on the door?

— On the neighbor message Fresh Gang Graffiti at St. Louis and Cullom
9:23 p.m.

The economy is happening. Jobs are harder to come by, and the city budget is getting slashed, resulting in irritations and inefficiencies across the board, from less frequent buses to longer library lines to inconsistent street maintenance. Everyone's on edge. Some idiots like to work out their frustrations with guns and knives.

I agree with Ray that Lincoln Square is worth the extra scratch, but if he thinks it's a renter's market right now, I don't know what alternate reality he's living in. Rents are easily $150 to $200 a month higher than they were five years ago.

— On the neighbor message Safety and Monticello/Lawrence
6:27 a.m.

My least favorite dispatcher is the one who keeps interrupting while I'm trying to provide information, because she wants the information in a different order or something. Throws me off. Makes the call take twice as long as it needs to.

— On the neighbor message Bloody sidewalk and police tape
6:19 a.m.

Unfortunately, if the schools themselves are great, the test scores aren't proof of it. They prove only that the schools cherry-pick their students. Give any school veto power over which students it accepts, and it'll produce similar results.

Show me the list of non-selective-enrollment schools ranked by percentage of students performing at or above proficiency level times percentage of students receiving free or reduced-price lunch, with ties broken by the number of different courses offered. The top performers on that list are the ones that will impress me.

— On the neighbor message Way to go CPS - 6 of the top 10!
2:23 p.m.

What cat said. This is the logical, predictable outcome of having a multi-tiered system in which the best students are creamed off and segregated in schools of their own. Stellar test scores at a few schools; dismal ones at others.

— On the neighbor message Way to go CPS - 6 of the top 10!
6:21 a.m.

Good luck with the "in my budget" part. One of the side effects of the mortgage crisis is that apartment rents are going up, up, up. Face it: We're all becoming poor.

— On the neighbor message Apt Hunting Tips
6:17 a.m.

Becca, I need to warn you that the contentless daily digest is probably going to spell the end of my participation in Everyblock. (I'd have sent you this message privately, but you have no direct e-mail link.)

Here's the thing: I skim the digest each morning to find out whether there's any discussion I want to come to the site to follow. A digest with no content is of no use to me -- if all I see under a heading is "4 new comments," I have no idea whether or not those comments are worth reading, and I'm not going to follow the link to find out. I almost never subscribe to a topic, because I don't like the clutter in my inbox, so if I can't follow a topic through the digest, then more than likely, I'm not going to follow it at all. I don't visit the Everyblock site directly during the course of the day; it's not organized in such a way that makes this method of using it practical. (Maybe if my home page were frontloaded with discussions I'd "favorited" or something, but instead, it's just last commented, first shown. And the number of comments shown is uninfluenced by where I last stopped reading.)

What's going to happen here is that I'm going to unsubscribe from the now-useless digest, and then, in all likelihood, forget to visit Everyblock at all.

Is this what Everyblock hoped to accomplish?

— On the neighbor message No Thanks!!
7:15 a.m.

The only thing Ray's link shows is that it's becoming mathematically impossible to make AYP under NCLB, which every thoughtful person knew would eventually happen anyway.

I will say that I can count the Chicago Public Schools I'd be willing to send a child of my own to on one hand, and Bell is one of them.

— On the neighbor message Bell School Curriculum
7 a.m.

While we're dissing the system changes, let me throw in a vote against contentless daily digests. The whole point of the daily digest is so that I don't have to click on 14 different links to get up to speed.

— On the neighbor message Thanks and No Thanks ?
7:07 a.m.

If you want a temporary library, come on down to the Independence branch on Irving Park. It's a temporary library turned permanent.

6:27 a.m.

In that case, I recommend Mount Morris. Enjoy.

— On the neighbor message Your opinion requested
7:20 a.m.

Oh, for pete's sake . . . did I just write "you're" instead of "your"? I am ashamed.

— On the neighbor message Dogs Barking Ordinance
8:37 a.m.

If you're neighbors aren't interested in being friendly, they can no longer expect it from you. Find two other neighbors who are bothered by the barking and are willing to sign a complaint with you, then call Animal Control.

http://www.examiner.com/article/chicago-city-council-passes-noisy-pet-ordinance
http://www.ehow.com/list_6813171_laws-barking-dogs-chicago_-illinois.html

— On the neighbor message Dogs Barking Ordinance
6:26 a.m.

Whoa! I knew Dwight Conquergood! When I was working at the old JeRon Camera in Evanston, he used to come in to process his black-and-white film. He was working on a monograph on street gangs; he was the one who taught me how to read the symbols in gang graffiti.

If you can point me to any more of his work, I'd appreciate it!

6:43 a.m.

My block has no speed humps, but the horn-honking begins around 6:45, so if your primary concern is early morning noise, I can hardly imagine that a speed hump would make the noise any worse. The root of the problem is the general level of barbarism in the neighborhood, which may not be fixable.

— On the neighbor message Speed Humps
6:41 a.m.

"In a little publicized move by Chicago Mayor, Rahm Emanuel, neighborhood art fairs and festivals, by a new ordinance, will no longer be subsidized by the Alderman's offices in the form of permit fee waivers.

"By doing this, Emanuel has divested the extremely complicated arts arena to individual non-profit organizations and thus to individual artists who are the least financially able to weather the cost increases."

I'm sure I'd agree with your goal if I understood what Emanuel's ordinance has done, but I don't know what permit fee waivers are, and I don't think "divested" means what you think it means.

Can you please be more clear about what's happening as a result of this ordinance?

— On the neighbor message Petition to Save Neighborhood Art Fairs
6:38 a.m.

"I would just challenge drivers who don't bike to ride for a month on the streets. Then you will see first hand what hazards a cyclist faces."

This is indisputably true, but to use this argument to justify running reds and other stupid behavior, as a lot of cyclists do, is a ridiculous non sequitur. (I'm not accusing you of doing that -- clearly you aren't.)

6:59 a.m.

"Displaced person." Derogatory and offensive term for an immigrant.

3:43 p.m.

We have OK transport. The Brown Line ends at Kimball, barely penetrating the eastern end of Albany Park, and the Blue Line only comes in contact with the southwest corner of Irving Park. Brooklyn has no fewer than 16 different subway and elevated train lines serving it. Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Fort Greene, Brooklyn Heights and Red Hook are served by nine of them.

6:36 p.m.

The official community area boundary is at Montrose. The area between Montrose and Irving Park seems to be something of a no-man's-land. Whether a resident considers it part of Irving Park or Albany Park seems to depend on whether he puts more value on tradition, peace and quiet (Irving Park!) or energy and diversity (Albany Park!). (N.B.: Associations may be reversed in the minds of people unhappy with the state of the area.)

7:32 a.m.

I think it was an overall positive back around 2006, when I used to participate. It got people accustomed to seeing cyclists on the road, and I'd wager the party atmosphere of the rides entertained more spectators than it annoyed. I've been away from the city for a few years, so I can't say how it's viewed today.

I reject the characterization of Critical Mass as "selfish." Self-interested, perhaps, but not self-centered. (Which isn't to say there haven't always been a few selfish individuals in the mix, pulling stunts like trying to steer the mass onto an expressway. Now THAT is reckless.)

12:33 p.m.

Characterizing Critical Mass as "riding recklessly" is an inaccurate description. It's an example of deliberate mass civil disobedience, and it's done with considerable forethought: the scale of the lawbreaking actually makes cyclists riding as part of the Mass considerably safer than even the most law-abiding bicycle commuter in ordinary traffic. Behavior as part of Critical Mass is no predictor of behavior in traffic. You may find Critical Mass irksome, but it puts neither you nor me in physical danger. Actual reckless cyclists ARE a danger, both to themselves and others, because they influence how drivers will react to a single cyclist. How drivers react to 800 cyclists at once is irrelevant.

12:16 p.m.

Critical Mass is a completely different situation from ordinary bicycling in traffic. Conflating the two does not help you make your case.

noon

" . . . and to say that many cars in your neighborhood 'run' stop signs, I highly doubt they plow right through them without even pausing."

Hang out at Montrose and St. Louis for a while. Most drivers at least slow down a bit, but almost none actually stop. I've counted 40 rollers in a row while waiting for the bus.

11:55 a.m.

If someone is doing something unlawful and dangerous, he needs to be "hassled."

7:01 p.m.

In a lot of states, cyclists are allowed to treat stop signs as yield signs, and I admit, I do that -- I stop if there's oncoming or cross traffic, or a crossing pedestrian, but otherwise I cruise through. I will NEVER ride through a red stoplight, though, and it infuriates me when others do, because it reinforces the single worst stereotype motorists have about cyclists: that we're reckless and unpredictable, and we think the rules don't apply to us. This just makes motorists more hostile and increases the danger they pose to all cyclists.

Even more infuriating is that the red-light runners are generally serious, experienced cyclists (judging by their cycling wear) and are the most arrogant and self-entitled of the lot. They KNOW they're supposed to stop for red lights; they just don't want to. As opposed to sidewalk riders, helmetless riders and riders against traffic, who are more likely to be ignorant amateurs. I don't see much overlap between the two groups.

2:35 p.m.

I expect SOMEONE to prevent crime. As a society, we dislike crime, but we don't dislike it THAT much -- that is, we're not especially interested in making sure it doesn't happen. We'd rather let it happen, then punish the hell out of whoever did it. Every time we're given the choice, it seems, we favor punishment over prevention, the consequence being that the United States incarcerates both a larger number and a higher percentage of its population than any other nation on earth. Yes, we even beat Russia and China, as well as -- in percentage terms -- Syria, Zimbabwe, North Korea, Cuba and Myanmar, some of the most notorious police states in the world. How well would you say it's helping?

6:31 a.m.

"Bicyclists can be annoying, but they are pretty much disciplined from unsafe actions by the fact that they get the worst of bicycle/car collisions."

This is nonsense.

I don't own a car, and I ride my bike whenever the weather and circumstances allow it, even during the winter. And I see other cyclists doing stupid, unsafe and unlawful things ALL. THE. TIME. Including running red lights, which cyclists DO have to abide by, whether they want to believe it or not.

Their unsafe behavior makes me less safe.

Moreover, cyclists who consider themselves exempt from the rules of the road which apply to all vehicles are often arrogant about it. Forget about trying to change their minds. An assertive ticketing campaign might make a difference. I have often wished for it.

6:26 a.m.

Montrose between Kedzie and Pulaski is already a parking lot. This just doubles the fun.

— On the neighbor message Road Construction
7:08 a.m.

M. Henry and Lula are also way expensive. The places I named are all cheaper than these (though more expensive than Golden Nugget) and have better food and service than Marmalade.

I might also add Café Selmarie to my list. I left it off before because it's not exactly convenient to Irving Park.

6:58 a.m.

Get rid of the apartments/apartment buildings in our neighborhood and it's not my neighborhood anymore, because I rent.

I suppose the rugged individualist thing for me to do would be to clear an empty lot and build a cabin there out of hand-hewn logs.

— On the neighbor message PICTURES
1:48 p.m.

Marmalade's food is decent, but its prices are way high, even relative to the competition.

1:41 p.m.

Unfortunately, this is an old-school neighborhood, and the dineraunt remains the height of breakfast ambition around here. The best that can be said is that there are some great options in neighboring neighborhoods: Angel Food to the east on Montrose, Café con Leche to the south on Kimball, and Cornerstone Café to the southeast on Elston.

7:13 a.m.

Emanuel is no different from Daley: He's not interested in any idea he didn't come up with himself.

— On the neighbor message "The Mayor Doesn't Know Who We Are"
7:05 a.m.

The Sulzer Regional Library also offers ASL classes.

— On the neighbor message ASL courses near Kedzie/Lawrence?
6:12 a.m.

That would be a remarkably delusional belief.

— On the neighbor message "Clean Up! Clean Up! Everybody, everywhere!"
1:58 p.m.

That's the trouble with living in a neighborhood like this, unfortunately: People are so unaccustomed to doing the right thing, that if you try to tell them what the right thing is, you're effectively picking a fight.

What I don't understand is where they think all the garbage goes once they drop it. Do they have some kind of vision defect that prevents them from seeing anything less than 4 inches from the ground?

— On the neighbor message "Clean Up! Clean Up! Everybody, everywhere!"
6:46 a.m.

NinnyMuggins, if you think Chicago is the most corrupt city in America, you have obviously spent no time in New Orleans. Or Miami. Or Baltimore. Or anywhere in New Jersey.

Now, if you want to characterize Chicago as the most autocratic, least (small d) democratic city in America, you could make a pretty good case for that. I can't think of any other place where power is so completely centralized in the office of the mayor.

— On the neighbor message Just a reminder: VOTE!!!
6:33 a.m.

How many credit hours do I get for wasting my time reading this posting?

— On the neighbor message Urban Warfare
6:40 a.m.

I heard firecrackers last night. Not gunshots.

— On the neighbor message Shots fired near kimball and cullom
9:06 a.m.

The fact that the killer of Loraine's father got only 10 years in no way supports the conclusion that Blagojevich didn't deserve 14. Blagojevich committed a crime against representative democracy itself. He committed a crime against the public trust. He committed a crime against the notion that the people are responsible enough to choose our own representatives. If we're going to make excuses for stuff like that, why don't we just go back to hereditary monarchy? Hell, the way we elect politicians' kids to the offices they retire from, it's almost as if that's what we've actually wanted all along.

No excuses for machine corruption! None!

— On the neighbor message Choppers
9:05 a.m.

Doesn't deserve the sentence he got? Are you people INSANE?

OF COURSE he deserves the sentence he got, as does anyone else who corrupts the democratic process by exchanging appointments for bribes and favors. That process cannot function without trust. Lack of confidence in the system is how you end up with 30 percent voter turnout and idiots like Blagojevich (and despots like Daley, Madigan and Emanuel) getting elected in the first place. It's how you end up with the kind of government they have in Afghanistan.

Do not go soft on Blagojevich. He deserves every day he got. If anything, he's doubly deserving, because you can look into those little dead eyes of his and tell that he STILL has no idea what happened to him. He. just. doesn't. get. it.

— On the neighbor message News Crews near Francisco Brown Line
7:57 a.m.

BOOM!

And then a bear comes out!

6:58 a.m.

If you had paid parking on your street, all the money would go to LAZ, not to the police.

6:54 a.m.

Edison Gifted Center. Northside Prep. Maybe Von Steuben. That's it.

— On the neighbor message Public education
12:42 p.m.

Furthermore: The zoning also requires religious assembly uses to provide one parking space for every eight auditorium seats (17-10-0207-I). However, a spot zoning change (from B1-3 to B1-5) can effectively zero that out.

8:02 a.m.

Colemeister: 4050 N. Milwaukee Ave. is zoned B1-3. Religious assembly is an accepted use in B-1 zones, though with special use approval required. So no zoning change is required, but a special use permit is. Your alderman's word will essentially determine whether that special use permit is granted or denied. Lean on him/her. Hard.

7:57 a.m.

It does depend on the neighborhood school (which in turn depends an awful lot on the neighborhood). But as someone who attended an excellent elementary school and a superior high school, and who has observed, student taught, taught or subbed in schools from Kenwood to Kenilworth, I can count the number of Chicago neighborhood elementary schools I'd be willing to send my child to on one hand, and the number of Chicago neighborhood high schools I'd be willing to send my child to on one FINGER. OK, maybe two.

It's the short hours, short year, short resources, short PE time, lack of recess, lack of arts courses, lack of extracurricular activities, shallow curriculum, and insane overemphasis on test prep. And, at the high school level, lack of depth and choice in course selection.

I'm sure a young person can go to a school like Roosevelt and have a "great" experience. But that "great" experience will be, at best, maybe 60 percent of the great experience s/he COULD have had at a school with a well-rounded program.

— On the neighbor message Public education
7:46 a.m.

Radhika, what about a fast-track process for people who've already undergone background checks for other organizations? For instance, anyone who works or volunteers in a school building has certainly undergone fingerprinting and a criminal record check. If s/he works in a Catholic school, s/he has most likely also had to complete Virtus training.

— On the neighbor message Shooting/Crash
4:47 p.m.

Hey, before I came here, I didn't have two Bills to rub together.

*ducks and runs*

— On the neighbor message Shooting/Crash
9:44 p.m.

You said, "Toughen the laws and build more jails." Which America has been doing for 30 years, to the extent that it now incarcerates 10 times as many people per capita as any other democracy. It hasn't worked. Your response to that is to blame kids for not having fathers. Compound fail.

— On the neighbor message Shooting/Crash
9:36 p.m.

Bill: Have you heard that the United States already has a larger percentage of its population in prison than any other nation in the world, including Russia, China, Syria, Zimbabwe, North Korea, Cuba and Myanmar?

In 2008, 751 out of every 100,000 Americans were in prison. Second and third among industrial democracies were Ireland, at 76 per 100,000, and Italy, at 75 per 100,000. No, there are no digits missing there. We actually do have an incarceration rate 10 times that of any other democratic country.

Whatever the problem is, it is NOT that we don't lock enough people up.

— On the neighbor message Shooting/Crash
9:02 p.m.

Toughen the laws and build more jails? OMG, that's brilliant! Why on earth didn't that ever occur to us before? Thank you so much for bringing us this COMPLETELY NEW idea!

Which only happens to be the exact same idea we've been using for the last 32 years.

This is nothing more than the same old authoritarian approach of dealing with a crying kid by hitting him and yelling at him to stop crying, and if he doesn't stop, hitting him harder and yelling louder. "Take what hasn't worked yet and do it A LOT MORE" is a dumb strategy no matter what you're trying to fix. But it's hard to think strategically when you're perpetually fearful of losing control.

— On the neighbor message Shooting/Crash
7:01 p.m.

Bill, the time stamp on my mobile phone tells me that I called 911 at 10:13 PM. You don't know a thing about me. And I don't know a thing about you, but I do know from experience that every virtue on earth gets called some dirty name or another ("goody-two-shoes," "bleeding-heart," "egghead") by those who lack it, and "PC" is just another in that long, undistinguished line.

Human beings are human beings, whatever they've done. Condemn the deed.

— On the neighbor message Shooting/Crash
11:37 a.m.

Comparing other human beings to disease, insects and vermin is the language of génocidaires. It is beyond the pale in any discourse. Knock it the hell off.

— On the neighbor message Shooting/Crash
10:51 a.m.

Enough with the cockroach comparisons. We are not Radio Rwanda.

eric, what if you were to group calls between 10 and 11 PM with the 11 PM to 1:30 AM cluster? What would that do to the distribution?

— On the neighbor message Shooting/Crash
8:06 a.m.

"I have no problem with people speaking their language, but, not to the point where I am completely excluded in my own country." I know exactly what you mean. Yesterday I was in the checkout line at CVS, and I saw a copy of Us magazine with a cover headline proclaiming that "Ben" was caught cheating with three different women in the same night! Clearly I was supposed to know who this "Ben" was, because he wasn't identified by last name or anything, but I'd never heard of the guy. The disorientation! The alienation! Here I was, in my own country, shut out of a conversation of great significance (if it weren't important, why would it be on the cover of a magazine?) with no way in, helpless but to watch from afar and wish that I could again be part of that noble polity that once held me to its bosom.

Then I got up to the counter, was greeted in a language I spoke, paid with money that was accepted and walked home following street signs I could read.

It is so hard being completely excluded in my own country. I'm glad I didn't have to find a water fountain.

— On the neighbor message Very racially segregated Ihop...
8:01 a.m.

"The way I feel is that we are in the land of 'racial equality'. People cry racism, and want to be given equal treatment regardless of race." Yes, they do. This is called BASIC RESPECT.

Gene K., please keep that Fox News "sanctuary city" crap out of EB. Thank you, or as I like to say, muchas gracias.

"Call in the INS and the place would empty out in a hurry........
Why can't English be spoken here? All the other races that came to the USA adapted quickly." Pure, distilled ignorance. EVERY non-English-speaking immigrant group to the United States has followed the same pattern:

1. First-generation immigrants -- those who arrive as adults -- retain their own language, use it almost exclusively and settle in enclaves with other speakers of that language.

2. Second-generation immigrants -- those who arrive as children or are born here to first-generation immigrants -- grow up bilingual. They use their first language at home and among their own ethnic community, English in the world at large.

3. Third-generation immigrants -- those born to bilingual second-generation immigrants -- speak English.

It happened with the Germans, with the Italians, with the Poles and Eastern Europeans, with the Japanese, with the Filipinos and with the Vietnamese. You know why it SEEMS like it's not happening with Latinos? Because even while a third generation is being born, new first-generation immigrants are STILL COMING.

As for me, man, I wish I could get people to talk to me in Spanish, because I could use the practice (lástima que mi español esté tan empolvado como una casa de fantasmas), but I'm as white as Justin Bieber, and they JUST WON'T DO IT. I have noticed, though, that if I ask for "tacos de asada" instead of "steak tacos," they come to me with onions and cilantro instead of lettuce, tomato and cheese. Interesting.

— On the neighbor message Very racially segregated Ihop...
7:49 a.m.

"West Lakeview"? Sheesh. Next they'll be calling Woodlawn "South Hyde Park."

— On the neighbor message New Avondale Map
7:57 a.m.

How is it that neither the Chicago Tribune nor the Sun-Times EVER reported on that?!

— On the neighbor message New Aspira School - What's the problem?
6:16 a.m.

I'd take Iron Cycles over Kozy's any day.

7:10 a.m.

The sad thing is, there were enough squares if he'd just started one more to the left. FAIL.

— On the neighbor message GL Graffiti near Avers and Cullom
7:07 a.m.

I ran smack into that yesterday trying to get from Lincoln Square to the Kennedy. There was a whole queue of drivers on the eastern end of the roadblock, westbound on Foster, having to figure out for themselves whether it was possible to get through or whether they'd just have to turn around and find another route. No traffic direction whatsoever; no detour signs either.

6:41 a.m.

OK, but still, a lot of people are going to look at this and think that Emanuel is robbing Peter (other city departments and the citizenry) to pay Paul (the police, whom he needs to follow his orders during the G-8/NATO summit).

7:47 a.m.

Plus, even aside from the name, I can't say I'm thrilled by the thought of meeting in a "musty back room" of a bar that, from the outside, looks as sketchy as the "soccer clubs" where the goons hang out.

7:45 a.m.

What Joan said. We're all clever people here, and we all know that words can mean more than one thing, and that business owners love to get cute with their names.

11:23 p.m.

Correction: The title is Education Hell, not Educational Hell.

— On the neighbor message New Aspira School - What's the problem?
8:43 a.m.

Oh, God, don't even get me started on that movie.

If you've got two hours, read the first half of Educational Hell: Rhetoric vs. Reality by Gerald Bracey. Then set aside another two hours to read the other half. Don't waste your time on pro-"reform" propaganda films.

— On the neighbor message New Aspira School - What's the problem?
8:43 a.m.

Help is on the way for whom? They're cutting back on Graffiti Blasters and the libraries, but they can find $15 million to spend on new police vehicles?

7:16 a.m.

Mell's office and Laurino's office will be working together, eh? What about Mell's and Colón's?

— On the neighbor message 33rd Ward Advisory Council - Feb Recap
7:11 a.m.

Chris, please communicate to the IPCNA that there are some of us out here who believe in what IPCNA is doing and would happily get involved, but will not, for any reason, set foot in a bar named "T & A."

7:10 a.m.

I think (or would like to think) that what Edgebrook1 meant is that the suburbs don't resort to charter schools because there's trust in the system as a whole, and if certain students are failing, the responsibility for their failure falls first on them and their families. Of course, the flip side of that is that the problems that plague inner cities and limit students' ability to reach their full cognitive potential are much scarcer in the suburbs (well, most suburbs -- they're rife in, say, Melrose Park, Maywood and Cicero). When they're as widespread as they are in, say, Englewood, to the extent where they're affecting entire schools, people can't help but point fingers, and since they'd rather not point fingers at the poverty and segregation, they point fingers at the schools instead.

But I think there's another factor at work: Not only do suburbs rarely reach the degree of dissatisfaction with their schools that opens the door to charters, few of them would ever tolerate the curricular and atmospheric rigidity prevalent in most charters for THEIR OWN children. Charters thrive on the mind-set that OTHER people's children need a different kind of education, one that's less flexible, less forgiving, and less designed to nurture creativity and initiative.

— On the neighbor message New Aspira School - What's the problem?
6:59 a.m.

Oh, the parents WILL yell in Winnetka . . . but they'll do it in private. Because, for one thing, they can actually get a meeting with their district's superintendent.

— On the neighbor message New Aspira School - What's the problem?
11:38 a.m.

10. Mandate construction of new school buildings whenever existing schools reach 97 percent capacity.

11. Make sure every bathroom stall has a door and toilet paper. (You think I'm making this up? Pick a high-poverty neighborhood and ask for a school tour. If you don't respect students' dignity, don't expect them to perform -- for you or for themselves.)

I could go on at considerably greater length. I have a master's degree in elementary education and have observed, substituted and taught in schools from the South Side to Kenilworth. I have seen every inequity and stupidity firsthand and close-up. I could tell you about schools where students are forbidden to bring backpacks to class because they might contain weapons, and schools where they're forbidden to bring backpacks to class because they are heavy and get in the way, and where students leave them HANGING OPEN from pegs on the OUTSIDE of their lockers, and virtually nothing ever gets stolen. I could tell you about a school where students get one day of gym every week in eighth grade, and a school that floods its baseball fields every winter for ice skating and has its own Zamboni to plane the ice. I could tell you about a school where kids can choose from drawing, painting, photography, ceramics, vocal music, instrumental music, drama and musical theater, and a school where the one remaining art class was taken away to make more time for test prep. To me, it all boils down to one rule: If it's not good enough for your child, it's not good enough for someone else's. And if you're not willing to pitch in to give every child the education that you think your child deserves, then you're part of the problem.

— On the neighbor message New Aspira School - What's the problem?
11:19 a.m.

6. Require a fixed fraction of TIF funds to go to schools. Period. Even better . . .

7. Decouple school funding from property taxes altogether. No more property taxes paying for schools. Fund all public schools through the state general fund, paid for by income taxes. Give every school in every district an annual payment based on the following formula: $X per regular education student, $Y per special education student and $Z per building -- a fixed amount to cover administration and support personnel. (Among other things, this formula would provide CPS an incentive to place more of its students in appropriate special education programs, whereas right now, the district has an incentive to avoid providing special ed services as much as possible.)

8. Phase out the three-tier enrollment system. Magnet schools were originally a desegregation scheme; they've become a scheme for ensuring special treatment for children of demanding parents. Continue to have programs for the academically gifted, but base them in neighborhood schools. Keep ordinary high achievers in regular classrooms, where they can serve as role models for their peers and increase the average stability in the classroom.

9. Middle schools! Why the hell does Chicago not have middle schools? NO suburban district uses the K–8 "elementary" school model. Neighborhood elementary schools will be much safer without kids of middle school age (what CPS calls "upper grades") around. Plus, then you don't need to have two separate schedules for one building, and you can have better utilization of scarce areas like gyms and auditoriums.

— On the neighbor message New Aspira School - What's the problem?
11:07 a.m.

T, there are plenty of solutions lying in plain sight. The trouble is, the most fundamental of them are politically unacceptable.

1. Dismantle the NCLB high-stakes testing and takeover/turnaround regime.

2. Give the city back an elected school board and a superintendent hired by that board. Failing that, change the makeup of the school board to comprise at least one-third teachers' union members, at least one-third parents and no more than one-third mayoral appointees.

3. Extend the school day, but NOT to 7½ hours. Make it 6¼ hours through fifth grade, 6½ hours for sixth through eighth and seven hours for high school. Use the extra time for arts, PE, and planning time for homeroom teachers. Give the kids recess.

4. Get a full-time social worker, a full-time nurse and a full-time psychologist into every school.

5. Geoffrey Canada may be a tool of the school reform movement, but there is one part of his Harlem Children's Zone program that he got exactly right: the support sequence that comprises Baby College, the Three-Year-Old Journey, Get Ready for Pre-K and Harlem Gems. Get this program up and running in every community area where 50 percent or more of schoolchildren receive free lunch, or 90 percent or more receive free or reduced-price lunch.

— On the neighbor message New Aspira School - What's the problem?
11:07 a.m.

They also have neighborhood-only public school systems, meaning that all their public schools have to be good enough to serve everyone in the catchment area, as opposed to CPS's community-dividing three-tier system (neighborhood, magnet, selective enrollment) that allows the more involved and demanding parents to cluster their kids together in an environment with more resources, fewer disruptions and higher standards, leaving the rest to hang, but in our current political climate, pointing out social divisions is frowned upon (much more so than creating those divisions to begin with).

Because they consist primarily of families living in comfort or luxury, they also have curricula in which success is defined as being creative, independent and analytical, rather than curricula in which success is defined as obedience, following directions and giving back the "right" answers (i.e., the ones the teachers want to hear), which are typical of education in neighborhoods characterized by poverty and subsistence. But hey, if Chicago government is going to be shot through with rigid authoritarianism and resentment of independent initiative, solution-oriented thinking and questioning of those in charge, why shouldn't Chicago schools be the same?

— On the neighbor message New Aspira School - What's the problem?
10:18 a.m.

"They are actually educating their kids to read, write and do math." They are also actually educating their kids to do science, learn history, become physically fit and appreciate the arts, but let's not confuse those things with what's REALLY important: ISAT scores.

They also have sufficient real estate bases to fund top-quality education through property taxes with minimal assistance from the state, but let's not dwell on issues of equity and financing.

They're also communities with a lot of residents in management and professional occupations, who are giving their kids ample intellectual stimulation in early life, scads of summer enrichment opportunities, and a life largely free of life-threatening danger, hunger, ill health and anxiety, meaning that their kids come to school on the first day more prepared to learn than those kids' inner-city peers do, but let's not fixate on the impact of a student's home life on his or her cognitive development when we all know that nothing matters but the teacher. (Unless one is using a teacher-proofed scripted curriculum, in which case the teacher is irrelevant. Let it be noted for the record that you won't find those in Oak Park or Winnetka except in classes for kids with severe learning disabilities.)

They also have elected school boards that are accountable to the demands of the community, but let's not pretend that democracy has any role in education.

They also have caps on class sizes and buildings large enough to accommodate all their students, but the conventional wisdom is that class size doesn't matter (despite research showing that it does).

— On the neighbor message New Aspira School - What's the problem?
10:18 a.m.

If you're anxious about approaching the band directly, there is a compromise solution: do call 311/911, but ask that the responding officers emphasize that your problem isn't with the rehearsal but rather with the hours.

— On the neighbor message Drumming/loud music
7:10 a.m.

"wow catbus and MJ you guys totally read what you wanted you did not read what I wrote."

Maybe you didn't succeed in writing what you meant. A lot of your comments are just plain incoherent. ("The method I support is specialized care your method is group think failure" -- word salad right on par with www.timecube.com.)

— On the neighbor message New Aspira School - What's the problem?
5:46 p.m.

"We the People of the United States, in order to form a perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, PROMOTE THE GENERAL WELFARE, and secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity do hereby ordain and establish these United States of America."

So, in fact, government looking out for you is WHOLLY AND EXPLICITLY CONSISTENT with the principles upon which this country was founded. They even put it in the mission statement.

— On the neighbor message New Aspira School - What's the problem?
1:56 p.m.

One kid alone can't derail a class. Two can, but only if you let them sit close enough to each other to interact; if you seat them on opposite sides of the room, you'll be all right. Now, when you've got three, things get worse, because instead of one problem pair, you've got three problem pairs. A fourth troublesome student increases the problem pairs from three to six; a fifth gives you 10. By the time you have six or seven in one classroom, it's hopeless -- there's no longer any seating arrangement that will keep your troublemakers apart. Goodbye learning.

And they say class size doesn't matter. Balderdash. The ideal class size is whatever limits the number of chronic troublemakers per room to two. If you live in a community where most kids know how to "do school," that may be 25 or even 30. If you live in a poverty-stricken area -- urban, rural, whatever -- where the kids have been dealing with constant stress since the day they were born, it may be eight. But of course, those are the kids we stick 35 or 40 together in one room, while wealthy parents pay to send their kids to private schools where they can sit in a class of 15.

But that's not the wrongest thing you've said. The wrongest thing, the most flat-out appalling and inhumane thing, is, "By segregating kids with poor attitudes and parents that need help it allows for specialized focus without holding back others." Because what you're saying is, it's NOT really about the kids . . . it's about the KIDS WHO MATTER. The ones who don't have "poor attitudes" or "parents who need help." The somebodies. Those troublemaking nobodies, who cares about them? Let 'em all languish in some falling-down neighborhood school where the administration changes every two or three months, kids just stop going to classes or even showing up at school at all, and no one gives a damn (http://bit.ly/zwQdCl). Let 'em rot.

You, Joe, do not get to decide who doesn't matter.

EVERY. KID. MATTERS.

— On the neighbor message New Aspira School - What's the problem?
1:48 p.m.

Charters are also a quick way to leach dollars out of a public system for private gain. On average, they produce results no better than those of the neighborhood public schools they draw students out of -- yet, ironically, they cause those neighborhood schools' results to worsen by pulling out the kids with more involved families.

Charters, like selective enrollment schools, are a Band-Aid "solution" designed to mollify demanding parents without actually obtaining and distributing more resources for the school system as a whole. Not only is this unsustainable, it is IMMORAL. If a school, school district or curricular model is not good enough for your child, it's not good enough for someone else's, either. The failure to provide satisfactory schooling for every child in every neighborhood is not only a failure of Chicago politics, CPS administration or the teachers' union but of a state government and other municipalities that are unwilling to support a just equalization formula.

When the patient is suffering from kidney failure, you don't prescribe a face lift. You get the patient a new kidney.

— On the neighbor message New Aspira School - What's the problem?
12:06 p.m.

I would not have chosen to live here, knowing what I know now. I enjoy and appreciate all kinds of diversity. However, as others have pointed out, the garbage problem in the neighborhood is atrocious. Also, if you're not east of Kimball Avenue, the L is not an advantage, because you're not close enough to it; the 78 Montrose bus takes forever just to get from Pulaski to Kedzie, because of a badly placed stop sign; and the neighborhood is not dense enough (or, at night, safe enough) to be walkable. Not that there's really anywhere to walk to: there are not many interesting stores, and as for restaurants, you have a choice between high-quality cheap eats and low-quality cheap eats; the only really classy restaurants are Arun's (which is VERY expensive), Noon-o-Kabab and Semiramis. I find myself leaving the neighborhood to do pretty much anything -- buying groceries, shopping for cards and gifts, dining out, going to the library (the Independence branch is dismal), or just getting coffee or going to a park. And you mention having a family . . . none of the schools in the neighborhood is particularly distinguished, unless your kids have been accepted into Edison or Disney II, in which case you've got it made. Hate to be a Debbie Downer, but there it is. I don't claim that my priorities are necessarily your priorities.

— On the neighbor message Likes/Dislike of Albany Park
7:14 a.m.

I have to correct freddie c. These are not "mean streets." The streets belong to everyone. There are a handful of stupid, small-minded thugs who are determined to pursue their pointless beefs at the expense of everyone else's peace of mind. THAT'S where the meanness lies. No mean streets, just mean people.

— On the neighbor message Gangs in Albany Park
9:47 a.m.

George: If drugs were legalized, it wouldn't eliminate gangs, but it would take a huge amount of wind out of their sails. Gangs maintain their cachet because their higher-up members* live large off the profits of drug sales; legalize drugs, you cut off the money supply, and suddenly the lifestyle is about nothing more than petty crime, YouTube videos, and getting knifed and shot at, which reduces the appeal dramatically. The Untouchables didn't bring down the Mafia; credit cards and the state lottery did.

* The rank-and-file dealers typically live with their mothers and make less money than they could get working at McDonald's. See chapter 3 of Freakonomics.

— On the neighbor message Gang Tag-3115 W. Montrose
6:47 a.m.

I'm glad you've got a head on your shoulders, brother. And I'm glad it didn't get shot off them.

— On the neighbor message Gang Tag-3115 W. Montrose
5:55 p.m.

Don't forget Salaam. The roast chicken there is as good as La Brasa Roja's, and the sides are better.

I sense a looming rumble between the Central Americans and the Middle Easterners.

— On the neighbor message Gang Tag-3115 W. Montrose
1:13 p.m.

Nah, just think of it as cracking the enemy's code.

— On the neighbor message Gang Tag-3115 W. Montrose
9:58 a.m.

Yeah . . . I always figured that the 5 went along with the 5 points of the crown, but as far as I'm concerned, if the points stand for anything, it's violence, cowardice, conformity, recklessness and stupidity. Those punks burglarized my apartment in 2003. To hell with their lofty pronouncements.

— On the neighbor message Gang Tag-3115 W. Montrose
9:38 a.m.

Huh. I always used to see LK crowns with the number 5 written inside them; do they not do that anymore?

— On the neighbor message Gang Tag-3115 W. Montrose
9:16 a.m.

Saw that from the bus yesterday but didn't have time to report it. Glad somebody did.

Don't forget the gratuitous anti-Disciples dig (the inverted pitchfork in "ROTS").

I hope the idiot tagger gets slapped around by his buddies for making the S in "ROTS" look like an upside-down 5, inadvertently dissing his own gang.

— On the neighbor message Gang Tag-3115 W. Montrose
8:50 a.m.

This might have been a good opportunity to teach the kid the concept of "revision." Very few young people understand that the first version (of a piece of writing, a work of art, etc.) is not supposed to be the final version; they want to be able to say it's done as soon as they've colored in the last blank spot. But in the real world, a commercial artist with an assignment may make any number of changes before a piece is approved for use. Just think how much angst could have been saved if they'd simply had the kid revise his design so that the hands displayed a less ambiguous gesture and were situated on the heart in such a way that they couldn't be taken to imply horns.

Instead we get the Fireman with the Flesh-Colored Hose.

— On the neighbor message New City Sticker Sporting Gang Signs?
6:31 a.m.

The Montrose/Western camera is already up. I noticed it the other day.

— On the neighbor message Red-Light speed camera locations
6:56 a.m.

So they got rid of a design that looks suspiciously like the symbol of a gang to which the artist allegedly belongs and replaced it with one by a Catholic schoolgirl in which a flying fireman appears to be masturbating. I am so full of civic pride right now, I can't even tell you.

— On the neighbor message New City Sticker Sporting Gang Signs?
6:51 a.m.

It seems to me that in the wake of Occupy Wall Street, a lot of people are coming to the conclusion that police officers should be presumed to be hostile agents, and that the only appropriate mode of interaction with police officers is one of self-preservation: keep your hands visible (some people actually recommend placing them on your head for the duration of the interaction) and volunteer no information of any kind. IMO, this is damaging to both public safety and police-community relations, and the police department really needs to rethink its approach toward nonviolent disruptive protest. It lost the trust of the poor minority community a long time ago; now it risks losing the trust of a much larger swath of the population. Even I have to admit that my trust in police officers is situational: I can approach an officer without hesitation or anxiety, but if an officer were to approach me, I'd get much more suspicious and circumspect.

— On the neighbor message Arrests in the 4900 block of N. Lawndale
7:47 a.m.

For the folks calling for a Red Box: There's already one at the 7-Eleven at Kimball and Montrose.

Personally, I like diversity, and I don't think making the neighborhood "whiter" would be synonymous with improvement. However, I am a believer in the broken windows theory, and I think one of the reasons why crime in this neighborhood is higher than it ought to be is that local residents and businesses have allowed the neighborhood to look like a dump.

First steps:

Clean up the trash on the sidewalks and lawns.

Take the ghetto gates off the storefronts.

Tone down the garish signage, excessive window lettering and flashing lights.

Trim the weeds in the vacant lots and remove the abandoned vehicles (Exhibit A: the lot on Montrose between Bernard and St. Louis, Home of the Failboat).

None of these things would displace a single resident or make a dent in the neighborhood's multiethnic character. Every one of them would make the neighborhood more pleasant and attractive and less hospitable to the lowlifes who thrive on apathy and anomie. Just look at Semiramis, Noon-o-Kabab and Iron Cycles for examples of how to do it right.

That being said, I'd very much like a decent coffee place (Coffee Berry has excellent ice cream, inconsistent hours and no atmosphere) and a bakery-breakfast-sandwich joint along the lines of Angel Food or Café Selmarie. Aside from that, I'm fairly content. I DON'T think the neighborhood needs an invasion of chains.

— On the neighbor message New business ideas for Albany Park?
1:55 p.m.

Y'know, Miss Congeniality, it's not especially clear to me that anything is getting done in my neighborhood now despite my having a powerful alderman, so what have I lost "big time," exactly?

— On the neighbor message Richard Mell Reduces Crime in the 33rd Ward!
8:27 p.m.

The Chicago Reader maintains a list of known gang members and their territories here: http://www1.chicagoreader.com/features/stories/citycouncil/

— On the neighbor message Online registry for gang members
7 a.m.

"Crime is in fact down in Albany Park, like it is all over the city, except Englewood. If we're honest with ourselves, comparitvely speaking Albany Park is fairly safe." Yeah, well, all I know is, I HAVE NEVER LIVED ANYWHERE WHERE I COULD HEAR GUNSHOTS. And I've heard them at least four times in the last six months. So I don't care whether the crime rate is up, down or sideways -- it's too damn high.

— On the neighbor message Ald Mell's Albany Park Community Meeting
6:51 a.m.

Well, the good news is, the City Council approved its absurdly gerrymandered ward remap yesterday, so maybe you're not in the 33rd Ward anymore. See map at http://www.wbez.org/no-sidebar/approved-ward-map-95662.

— On the neighbor message 33rd Ward Amateur Hour, Day 2
6:30 a.m.

Worshiping every other week, huh? I've been trying (without much success) to find a place to hold a two-day chess tournament. Does your church have a meeting room that you'd be willing to rent out sometime between now and June? If so, please send me a message through my Everyblock profile.

— On the media mention Albany Park--Wanna buy a church?
4:27 p.m.

I once looked into teaching ESL for World Relief, but it's an evangelical organization and won't take anyone who doesn't sign a "Christian commitment form" requiring them to "discuss their testimony and their personal relationship with Jesus Christ; provide a pastoral or ministerial reference who can attest to the applicant’s spiritual walk; [and] demonstrate a willingness to participate in staff devotions, chapel services and special times of prayer." Good luck finding volunteers, guys.

6:49 a.m.

I heard a big bang sometime yesterday (afternoon? evening? I forget) and dismissed it as a firecracker. The gangbangers don't take just one shot; they fire several, and usually someone else shoots back.

— On the neighbor message Gunshots on Avers Tuesday night
7:02 a.m.

I prefer indies over chains on principle, but now I'm inclined to support Caribou just because Sporto thought that link was important enough to share.

Shari'a. For crying out loud.

@Barbara: Are you thinking of Coffee Berry? It's all right. It's got very good ice cream and would probably do a decent business supplying 'L' commuters if it were open earlier. As a coffeehouse, as in a place to work or while away a couple of hours in, I don't think much of it. The atmosphere is fairly sterile, certainly no better than the Starbucks at Kedzie and Wilson.

6:59 a.m.

"Frank Z: if Mell attempts to turn this into a 'political sideshow' then someone, from his ward, needs to stand up and interrupt him and get him back on target."

If I mike-check him, will folks back me up?

— On the neighbor message Community Meeting Jan. 18, 7PM
9:42 a.m.

Every parent thinks his child is beautiful; every dog owner thinks his dog is well-behaved.

— On the neighbor message Horner Park - off leash dogs gone crazy
9:39 a.m.

I'm not sure I see a connection between their activities and "our servicemen," and I'll bet you money that they don't. And even if they did, they wouldn't care.

— On the neighbor message Shots Fired Central Park & Belle Plaine
7:26 a.m.

I heard a "woop woop" siren hit about three or four minutes after I made the 911 call, but nothing sustained.

— On the neighbor message Beat 1723: Shots Fired 12/26 Around 9:25 PM
2:10 p.m.

Bob: Jesus, what do you think? Of course I called 911.

Angelique: They sounded to me to be coming from the area of Cullom and Drake, but it was hard to tell. It could have been anywhere south-ish or southwest-ish of Cullom and St. Louis. The fact that ME heard them all the way across Lawrence suggests a more westerly direction.

— On the neighbor message Beat 1723: Shots Fired 12/26 Around 9:25 PM
8:37 a.m.

Please imagine that there's a question mark after "incident."

— On the neighbor message Beat 1723: Shots Fired 12/26 Around 9:25 PM
7:58 a.m.

Anyone in the 21st century who does not speak English, Spanish and either Mandarin or Arabic will not deserve to call himself educated.

— On the neighbor message Neighborhood development and Immigration
3:37 p.m.

George: The point is, 25 people CAN'T represent 6 million people well. The borough governments fill in the gap.

— On the neighbor message New Ward Map
3:34 p.m.

"The advantage for immigrants vis-à-vis natives applies to every ethnic group without exception. . . . Of particular interest is the finding that the lowest incarceration rates among Latin American immigrants are seen for the least educated groups: Salvadorans and Guatemalans (0.52 percent), and Mexicans (0.70 percent). These are precisely the groups most stigmatized as 'illegals' in the public perception and outcry about immigration. . . . "

"Paradoxically, incarceration rates are lowest among immigrant young men, even among the least educated and the least acculturated among them, but they increase sharply among the US born and acculturated second generation, especially among the least educated — evidence of downward assimilation that parallels patterns observed for marginalized native minorities.

"What is more, these patterns have now been observed consistently over the last three decennial censuses, a period that covers precisely the eras of mass immigration and mass imprisonment — and they recall similar findings reported by three major commissions during the first three decades of the 20th century, a previous era of mass migration and crime concerns."

— On the neighbor message Neighborhood development and Immigration
11:32 a.m.

Well, Ed, it so happens that whether or not someone is undocumented, it is relatively easy to determine whether he was born outside the United States, and immigrants ACROSS THE BOARD, including those here illegally, are incarcerated at significantly lower rates than the native-born. Don't assume that just because you don't know the facts, nobody else does either.

http://www.migrationinformation.org/usfocus/display.cfm?ID=403

"Inasmuch as conventional theories of crime and incarceration predict higher rates for young adult males from ethnic minority groups with lower educational attainment — characteristics which describe a much greater proportion of the foreign-born population than of the native born — it follows that immigrants would be expected to have higher incarceration rates than natives. And immigrant Mexican men — who comprise fully a third of all immigrant men between 18 and 39, and who have the lowest levels of education — would be expected to have the highest rates.

"Data from the 5 percent Public Use Microsample (PUMS) of the 2000 census were used to measure the institutionalization rates of immigrants and natives, focusing on males 18 to 39, most of whom are in correctional facilities. Of the 45.2 million males age 18 to 39, three percent were in federal or state prisons or local jails at the time of the 2000 census — a total of over 1.3 million, in line with official prison statistics at that time.

"Surprisingly, at least from the vantage of conventional wisdom, the data show the above hypotheses to be unfounded. In fact, the incarceration rate of the US born (3.51 percent) was four times the rate of the foreign born (0.86 percent). The foreign-born rate was half the 1.71 percent rate for non-Hispanic white natives, and 13 times less than the 11.6 percent incarceration rate for native black men (see Table 1)."

— On the neighbor message Neighborhood development and Immigration
11:31 a.m.

"Even broader - how can I find out if my SSAN is or was every being used by someone else?" Oh, that's easy: Check the earning statements the SSA sends you every year, or go online and do it. If you see income you don't recognize, well, there you go.

"I believe that undocumented immigrants will turn up frequently in crime reports, same as African Americans." Then you need to reexamine your belief in your own fair-mindedness, Ed. Undocumented immigrants commit FEWER crimes on average than the general population, aside from those directly connected to immigration and employment. They risk a lot to get here, and they don't want to do anything that would draw attention to them and get them deported.

— On the neighbor message Neighborhood development and Immigration
10:03 a.m.

New York City also has another layer of government in between the ground and City Hall. Do you want to divide Chicago up into boroughs?

— On the neighbor message New Ward Map
8:47 p.m.

Ed, don't be ridiculous. This has nothing to do with "racial gerrymandering." It has everything to do with gerrymandering -- period -- and with the clout system. But you could take three of these weirdly shaped majority-Hispanic wards, mash them together and divide them up again with neat horizontal or vertical lines into three nicely convex wards, and you know what? They'd still be majority-Hispanic, they'd still contain the same number of undocumented immigrants . . . but at least people might have some sense of who was in charge.

The more you protest that you're not a bigot, the harder it is to excuse your choices of phrase.

— On the neighbor message Neighborhood development and Immigration
3:45 p.m.

I really am not interested in helping you out, Ed. The only way the "sanctuary city" ordinances are relevant is if you think they've resulted in there being too many Latinos in the city of Chicago, so if that's not what you mean to imply, you may want to change your line of argument.

It is not difficult to create 14 majority-Hispanic wards in the city of Chicago without resorting to any kind of gerrymandering. I did it. It's considerably more difficult to create more than 15 majority-black wards, the problem there being that the city's African-American population is superconcentrated on the South Side, adjacent to two small corner-of-the-city enclaves and an equally monolithic Latino Southwest Side, so that there's nowhere to draw extra population from to diversify the wards, unless you want to julienne Hyde Park, Bridgeport, Beverly, the East Side, Hegewisch and the South Loop.

You reverse deterioration by fining the living daylights out of landlords and lot owners who let their property deteriorate. This requires inspections, which require tenant and neighbor complaints, which requires trust in local government rather than fear of it, which we may never have in our lifetimes because for some stupid reason, the voters of Chicago would rather hold coronations than elections.

— On the neighbor message Neighborhood development and Immigration
2 p.m.

It's hard to convey just how offensive it is to use the term "illegals" as a noun, but I'll try. Simply put, to call a person "an illegal" simply because he is in the country illegally is to make a claim not about what he's doing but about what he IS: the ultimate nobody, someone whose EXISTENCE is contrary to law. Those who use this contemptuous term often make the argument that undocumented immigrants are doing something illegal, therefore it's fair to call them "illegals." In that case, every driver who speeds or runs a stop sign is "an illegal"; every employer who cheats his workers on their wages is "an illegal"; every landlord who doesn't heat his units to 68 degrees is "an illegal"; every drunkard who gets in a bar fight is "an illegal"; every financier who buys or sells stock based on inside information is "an illegal"; every mortgage lender that robo-signs documents is "an illegal"; every president who authorizes "enhanced interrogation" of detainees held without charge or trial is "an illegal." You want to use that term, apply it to EVERYONE who's earned it -- including yourself, if you've ever broken a single law.

— On the neighbor message Neighborhood development and Immigration
6:38 a.m.

Based on the number of times the phrase "sanctuary city" has popped up in the last few days, and where, I think I can guess what they've been talking about on Fox News lately.

"It seems logical to me that, if there was not work to be had in the U.S., we would not have all this trouble at the southern border." This is true, and moreover, as the economy has gone south, so has the undocumented labor: immigration from Mexico and Central America has DRIED UP over the last two years. We are experiencing a net REDUCTION in the number of immigrants living in the United States illegally at the moment. This is because even they can't get jobs here.

Historians will tell you that migration is caused by "push factors" (things that drive people away from where they've lived) and "pull factors" (things that draw them to a particular destination). We can't control the push factors in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador et al. The only things we can control are the pull factors that bring people to America, and there's one that outweighs all others: employment. Specifically, employment by companies and individuals that see advantage in hiring undocumented immigrants under the table -- because they work cheaper, don't lodge complaints with OSHA or the Wage and Hour Division, won't unionize and can be reported to the authorities if the make waves. WITHOUT EMPLOYERS WHO HIRE ILLEGALLY, THERE IS NO ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION. Don't blame the immigrants themselves: they're just rational economic actors doing what's best for themselves and their family, which in this case involves breaking the law. Blame the employers who use them to undermine the hard-earned rights of working Americans.

— On the neighbor message Neighborhood development and Immigration
6:38 a.m.

Every parent thinks his own child is beautiful; every dog owner thinks his own dog is well-behaved.

— On the neighbor message Sheepdog that is always off leash
6:18 a.m.

I do not see how increasing the number of constituents an alderman has would make him MORE accountable. It would make him less likely to know any one of them, less likely to care about any of their needs, and more likely to pay attention only to the people he sees all the time: developers, donors, his peers and the mayor. Heck, the mayor represents 2.7 million people! Who's more responsive to you, him or your alderman?

Ideally, an elected representative should represent no more than 5,000 to 10,000 people. Unfortunately, in Chicago, that would result in having a City Council comprising 250 aldermen. I don't think anyone wants that. :-) But neither should we be galloping off in the other direction.

— On the neighbor message New Ward Map
11:39 a.m.

That's an easy thing for us white guys to say.

— On the neighbor message New Ward Map
2:32 p.m.

"Our map room"? There's a map room? Where? How do I get access?

Also, I noticed something interesting about Dave's Redistricting App: It confines your election districts to the boundaries of existing wards and precincts. But in a total ward remap, that restriction wouldn't exist, would it? So there's probably a lot more flexibility in the drawing of boundaries than is available to me in the online application. (It might even be possible to keep Portage Park intact!) Which is yet another reason why it should be possible to do this without ridiculous gerrymandering.

— On the neighbor message New Ward Map
1:40 p.m.

Whoa, dude! I didn't realize you're actually an assistant to Ald. Mell. You're probably working on this stuff as your day job!

If you're open to it, I'll e-mail you a copy of my plan.

— On the neighbor message New Ward Map
12:39 p.m.

I used the voting age population. Using the total population would have resulted in a lot of wards that were nominally majority-Hispanic but wouldn't have had a Hispanic voting majority.

I used Dave's Redistricting App, which doesn't include data on native language, so it's hard for me to tell where all the Poles ended up, but based on 2000 data, I believe I've kept the Polish community pretty well intact. Jefferson Park is divided into two wards, one which it shares with Sauganash, Forest Glen and a bit of North Park, the other of which it shares with Dunning and a corner of Portage Park. Norwood Park, Edison Park and O'Hare are together in a third. Unfortunately, Portage Park's integrity had to be sacrificed in order to create enough majority-Hispanic wards; it's divided into three vertical strips that extend down to the BNSF. There was simply no way to keep it together: Hermosa and Belmont-Cragin are huge Hispanic vote sinks, and if they're not split up and joined with neighboring mixed Hispanic-white areas, then the number of majority-Hispanic wards in that area drops from seven to four. I found that out the hard way in the first version of my map.

There is no mathematical way to justify 18 majority-black wards in Chicago considering the number of African-Americans who've left. Out of 43 wards with a single ethnic majority, 15 is proportional and absolutely fair. That being said, it's probably possible to create one more black ward out of one of my seven no-majority wards (the one consisting of the South Loop, Douglas and IIT) and one of its neighbors. Doing so would go against my own preferred principle of keeping pockets of extremely high diversity within wards that have no single ethnic majority, so that they're more likely to be represented by coalition candidates, but I suppose it'd still be better than the status quo.

— On the neighbor message New Ward Map
12:37 p.m.

Yes, but that would force me to de-anonymize myself.

— On the neighbor message New Ward Map
10:53 a.m.

I think I'd have to start a new topic in order to do that, Bob.

— On the neighbor message New Ward Map
10:13 a.m.

Well, I've pulled it off: a convex, contiguous 50-ward map that creates 15 majority-black wards, 14 majority-Hispanic wards and seven highly diverse wards with no ethnic majority, which hews to community area boundaries as closely as possible, with minimal gerrymandering. It can be done.

I'm going to see whether I can interest any aldermen in it -- or, failing that, Ben Joravsky at the Reader.

— On the neighbor message New Ward Map
9:49 a.m.

No, George, that's not what the VRA assumes. The VRA assumes, based on many, many decades' worth of evidence, that a higher-status majority, given the chance, will at best disregard the opinions, needs and rights of a lower-status minority, and at worst actively mistreat and exploit it; in consequence, the minority has to be given a proportionate share of political representation in order to be able to express its own opinions, fulfill its own needs and assert its own rights. If America didn't have such a track record of racial persecution, we wouldn't have to make such assumptions about who can faithfully represent whom, but unfortunately, we do. With fair districting, if Latinos or African-Americans think they can be represented well by someone of another ethnicity, they can make that decision for themselves; it's not anyone else's place to make it for them.

That being said, I still think gerrymandering is a pestilence, and I'm still working on a way to ensure fair representation with as little of it as possible. Persecuted ethnic groups are communities of shared interest, but so are neighborhoods.

— On the neighbor message New Ward Map
4:36 p.m.

"Folks, latino/hispanic, black, white, etc....who cares?" The U.S. Department of Justice cares, thanks to the Voting Rights Act, and you're not going to get a map passed if ethnic minority groups that have been discriminated against in the past (to say nothing of the present) are underrepresented.

However, another complicating factor is that the Latino population is disproportionately under 18, making it easier to create majority-Latino wards than to create wards where a majority of voting-age adults are Latino.

"Everybody say 'Reduce the wards, but keep MY alderman.'" Bob, my alderman is Dick Mell. You can have him.

— On the neighbor message New Ward Map
1:34 p.m.

As for reducing the number of wards, I'm against it, and in fact think that if any change should be made, it should be to INCREASE the number of wards -- the reason being, the more constituents an alderman has to represent, the more distant and detached he is from their needs. I would rather my alderman represented fewer people and knew them all.

— On the neighbor message New Ward Map
9:44 a.m.

One problem with making wards conform neatly to neighborhood boundaries is the fact that Latino settlement in many parts of Chicago has been interstitial -- along traditional neighborhood boundaries, rather than in the hearts of the neighborhoods. So if you stick too closely to neighborhood boundaries when drawing the wards, you'll wind up with substantial Latino underrepresentation. I figured this out the hard way yesterday: drew my own ward districting scheme using Dave's Redistricting App (google it) and came up with a map that looks great at first glance but comes up with two majority-white wards too many and three majority-Latino wards too few, based on relative population. It should be possible to redraw the Northwest Side (the main area where this problem exists) to create the right number of seats. I'll try it at some point.

The black aldermen, unfortunately, are hosed. There's been so much out-migration of African-Americans from Chicago that there is simply no way to justify -- or draw -- any more than 15 majority-black wards.

— On the neighbor message New Ward Map
9:43 a.m.

Looking at the Sun-Times map, you can totally tell where the grown-ups live: on the North Side and Far South Side.

The Northwest, West and Southwest side aldermen who drew this map should be ashamed of themselves.

— On the neighbor message New Ward Map
7:36 a.m.

To echo others: You can call 311/Graffiti Busters even if you're not the property owner. I call as "concerned citizen" all the time.

So the CAPS e-mail address is working again? It was full over Thanksgiving weekend, and I haven't tried it since.

— On the neighbor message Gang Graffiti on 4100 Monticello
6:25 a.m.

If Ambrose are in the area now, that explains that upside-down A in a tag a couple of months back which had everyone confused.

— On the neighbor message CAPS Meeting 1724 Horner Park
9:23 a.m.

As far as reading the tags goes, this is pretty easy. For everyone who doesn't know, initials and symbols are everything. A right-side-up symbol tells you which gang the tagger belongs to; an upside-down symbol or an upside-down or backward letter tells you that the tagger is challenging another gang (the letter being one of that rival gang's initials). For instance, if you see "COBRAS" on your garage, and the R is backward, the tagger is dissing the Royals -- though taggers don't usually spell out the entire name of their gang, unless they're feeling exceptionally bold. If you see the initials of a gang followed by K, the K most likely stands for "killer," and this is either a clear and present threat of murder or boasting after a murder that's already been committed.

Five- and six-pointed stars, and the numbers 5 and 6, tell you whether the gang is a People gang (5) or a Folks gang (6). (This has always mystified me, since there are six letters in "People" and five letters in "Folks," but who says anything gangsters do makes sense?) People gangs are generally allied with other People gangs, and Folks with other Folks, but not always. Our latest conflict seems to be mostly intra-Folks.

These are the initials and symbols I know; I invite others to complete the list.

Manic Latin Disciples (F) - MLD, pitchfork
Latin Kings (P) - LK, 5-pointed crown
Simon City Royals (F) - SCR, fancy R, shining cross
Spanish Cobras (F) - SC, spear (with or without three dots)
Spanish Gangster Disciples (F) - SGD, GD, 6-pointed star, pitchfork
Familia Stones (P) - ?
Conservative Vice Lords (P) - VL, 5-pointed star, ?

— On the neighbor message CAPS Meeting 1724 Horner Park
8:01 a.m.

"I find it VERY significant that the gangs in our neighborhood's main focus is not drug trade (as John posted). It's colors, rep'ing, turf, and very importantly the gang tagging. We have to follow the tags, learn how to read them, to know what gangs are moving about, active, etc. Many have been posting for weeks about the active tag throw ups by FS at corner of Cullom/Bernard, and this is SGD and SCR territory. This was a HUGE tip off that FS problems were brewing."

Cripes. As if the whole thing weren't stupid enough to begin with, it's not even about money, just pride.

When I wrote to Ald. Mell and the police, this is one of the things I said: "I resent that these outlaws have the power to restrict my
freedom and disrupt my peace of mind. . . . These
people are determined to declare to residents and rivals alike that
this area is theirs and theirs alone. Who is contesting this claim,
besides other gangsters? Gang members and other potential criminals need to be forcefully reminded that this neighborhood does not belong to them -- it belongs to all of us."

I wonder whether a signage campaign of some kind ("Our Neighborhood Belongs to All of Us," for example) would have any effect on this activity.

— On the neighbor message CAPS Meeting 1724 Horner Park
8 a.m.

Yes, because we can't have people exercising their Constitutional rights to free speech and peaceful assembly. That would be disruptive and embarrassing.

— On the neighbor message Police Presence?
7:27 a.m.

You're assuming ours will.

— On the neighbor message Anyone up to write letters/emails?
7:25 a.m.

E-mailed my own version to Mell and the police. police@cityofchicago.org does not work.

— On the neighbor message Anyone up to write letters/emails?
10:08 a.m.

That's why police cars have engines as well as parking brakes.

— On the neighbor message Police Presence?
8:48 a.m.

Finally, a meeting I can attend.

12:42 p.m.

I'd have been there if I hadn't already had a previous commitment.

— On the neighbor message Streets for Cycling Meeting today, Mon 12/12
12:32 p.m.

Give me a coffeehouse, a bakery-restaurant (like Angel Food at Montrose and Paulina) and a decent greeting card shop, and my needs will be met.

However, while having more businesses on Montrose might be good, in terms of addressing the climate of "jankiness," having fewer neon signs, flashing lights, and storefront windows obscured by stick-on vinyl descriptions of every single product and service offered within would be much, much better.

9:58 a.m.

My girlfriend and I moved into this neighborhood because it was supposed to be one of the safest in the city, and despite our education and professional backgrounds, we can't afford to live in Ravenswood, Roscoe Village or Bucktown. She used to live in Uptown, in the middle of the zone of maximum violent stupidity. Looks like we've gained pretty much nothing from moving here. This really pisses me off.

— On the neighbor message 5am drive-by, 5 gunshots and 1 dead
9:44 a.m.

Jeff, you clearly know what you're talking about. I salute you. (Though I'd still call Foster an arterial. Lawrence and Montrose are collectors.) In this case, I think we're in agreement: The best solution for this location is a traffic signal with a crosswalk. Timing it to neighboring stoplights will maintain traffic flow, while including a cycle that will allow pedestrians to cross the street safely.

On the other topic, I have never once seen an Illinois driver stop for a pedestrian in a crosswalk, except with screeching brakes and vigorous expletives. It's funny: Massachusetts drivers are universally recognized to be the most reckless, recalcitrant and aggressive drivers in the entire nation, yet nearly every single one will stop automatically for a pedestrian crossing the street. Here? Not a chance. Try it on Irving Park, and you're taking your life into your hands.

— On the neighbor message Stop sign on Foster?
12:17 p.m.

It would be a TERRIBLE idea. Stop signs do not belong on arterial roads, and Foster is an arterial road. You should come on down to Montrose and see the messes that the one stop sign at St. Louis causes between Kimball and Pulaski. It turns that whole stretch into a sludgy bottleneck. I don't even own a car, but I do ride the 78 bus, and during even moderately heavy periods (like around 3 PM), it can take a bus 10 MINUTES to get from Pulaski to Kedzie. One mile! That's an average speed of just 6 mph, thanks to a stop sign imprudently placed in between two traffic lights, where it throws the timing off. And most drivers don't even come to a complete stop!

If you need to improve pedestrians' ability to cross Foster, put in another traffic light with a walk/don't walk signal and a crosswalk. Problem solved.

— On the neighbor message Stop sign on Foster?
8:16 a.m.

Also, some of the providers pledge that some or all of the energy they provide comes from environmentally friendly generation methods. These are not necessarily the cheaper ones.

— On the neighbor message Spark Energy
10:23 a.m.

The reason is simple, Sarah: Many of the competitors are simply cheaper. Follow the CUB link I posted above: it lists everyone's rates.

— On the neighbor message Spark Energy
10:21 a.m.

Spark is not the only company doing this -- or the only one using the bogus "ComEd owes you a discount" line. We were visited in our apartment building by a representative from IGS Energy who also played fast and loose with the facts. It made me realize we need to make sure our vestibule door is securely closed at all times.

This web page has all the information you need on electricity choice: http://www.citizensutilityboard.org/ciElectric_cubfacts_alternativesuppliers.html

— On the neighbor message Spark Energy
6:23 a.m.

That comment is off topic, and by raising the highly charged issue of mandatory minimum sentencing is likely only to drag the discussion even farther off topic.

7:05 p.m.

And the CAPS e-mail inbox is STILL full. :-[

11:58 a.m.

Why would you assume that?

The portal you linked to will only take reports for lost property and petty theft.

4:49 p.m.

An e-mail inbox does not fill up in one day, or even two days. It would have to have been neglected for some time.

3:01 p.m.

Every parent thinks his own child is beautiful; every dog owner thinks his own dog is well-behaved.

— On the neighbor message Dog Leash Laws and the people who dont care
2:58 p.m.

Hmmm. Apparently the CAPS mailbox is FULL. How does that happen, exactly? Call me nutty, but I always assumed somebody was actually checking it. Perhaps even on a daily basis.

2:52 p.m.

*laugh* What MORONS. Can you say "self-incrimination"? Not just the video makers, but the commenters as well. I hope the 5-0 have someone whose job it is to watch YouTube all day and take notes.

— On the neighbor message Gang tags at Cullom and Bernard
4:41 p.m.

Hopping is right. This is the third sighting of aggressive gang graffiti in as many days.

— On the neighbor message Gang tags at Cullom and Bernard
3:12 p.m.

Oops. No HTML here, I guess.

— On the neighbor message Ald Mell want bike licenses
8:35 p.m.

You're much less likely to cause offense if you criticize what people <i>do</i> rather than make pronouncements about what they <i>are</i>. HTH.

— On the neighbor message Ald Mell want bike licenses
8:34 p.m.

Kimball/Cullom is totally unrelated to this one -- it's a Disciple threatening to kill Royals and Cobras. This one is anti-Disciple (upside-down pitchfork). The "A" is what confuses me. It's NOT Allport; could stand for "Almighty," as some of the gangs in this area style themselves, but the spear is out of place. Maybe there are some Ambroses moving up this way?

— On the neighbor message More Graffiti
12:30 p.m.

Also e-mail your report to CAPS.017District@chicagopolice.org, and attach a photo if you can.

— On the neighbor message Latin Kings tagging
9:49 a.m.

I don't think it's a problem during the day.

— On the neighbor message Police Activity at Cullom & Kimball
9:08 p.m.

It was more than four shots. It was more like 10 or 12, and it sounded like gunfire being exchanged, not just one person shooting.

— On the neighbor message Police Activity at Cullom & Kimball
5:25 p.m.

The law exists because "common" sense isn't.

It's generally harmless for cyclists to treat stop signs as if they were yield signs. But running red lights is reckless, inconsiderate and stupid. If I had stronger adjectives to use, I would.

— On the neighbor message Ald Mell want bike licenses
5:21 p.m.

I wouldn't say that's the BIGGEST problem in this debate, but I'll grant you, it is a problem. As a cyclist, I'm nothing but frustrated by other cyclists who refuse to acknowledge that red lights apply to them -- and those are the ones who should know better. For every one of them, there's an ignorant putz who thinks you're SUPPOSED to ride on the sidewalk or into oncoming traffic, probably because some other ignorant putz told him so. The unpredictability and insensitivity of these half-suicidal anarcho-cyclist morons make the road a more dangerous place for everyone on a bike.

That being said, whether or not you pass a law requiring cyclists to carry ID, under whatever circumstances, there's one missing element that's going to undermine any and every enforcement regime: police officers willing to stop offending cyclists and ticket them. Which we don't have, anywhere in the city.

— On the neighbor message Ald Mell want bike licenses
2:56 p.m.

According to Illinois state law, it is illegal for anyone over age 12 to ride a bicycle on the sidewalk. You're proposing to require a driver's license or state ID for someone to ride in the street, Alex? That's just going to push more cyclists up onto the sidewalks! And believe me, THAT is already too big a problem in this neighborhood.

Now, if you wanted to require all cyclists to have ID, PERIOD, then you'd be on to something. Then the hammer could be dropped on sidewalk riders as well as reckless street riders.

— On the neighbor message Ald Mell want bike licenses
2:40 p.m.

What MK said. The goal is to keep the litter from hitting the ground. We need a forceful, multilingual education campaign, targeting adults as well as youth.

In particular, IMO, we need to target SMOKERS. I can't count the number of times I've been waiting for a bus and seen a smoker chuck a butt on the ground -- even when there was a trash can WITHIN ARM'S LENGTH. It's like they think their cigarettes just wink out of existence as soon as they drop from their fingers. Seriously, people?

Cigarette butts aren't the most unsightly or even necessarily the most unhealthy form of litter, but this is where it starts. When you're already throwing your used-up smokes on the ground, why not an empty Doritos bag as well?

— On the neighbor message Kedzie/Lawrence
11:57 a.m.

Because people can't be prosecuted for whom they associate with, only for what they do.

9:55 a.m.

The sidewalks, streets, bike paths and all other routes of conveyance are for PEOPLE. They are created by people to serve the transportation needs of people. Nothing privileges a person with two tons of steel machinery over a person without two tons of steel machinery, except the power to use all that mass to harm or threaten the person without it. So does the law exist to defend the right of the big to lord it over the small, or does it exist to protect the small from the dangers posed by the big?

— On the neighbor message Speed Limit Cameras on Foster
9:39 a.m.

BTW, just because I support faster traffic on Foster doesn't mean I'm anti-bike. I'm a cyclist myself -- and sorry, Alex, but Bob Kastigar _is_ entitled, by law, to ride in the middle of the lane on Foster if he feels he needs to. A bicycle in traffic is a vehicle like any other.

That being said, though, I would not personally choose to ride a bike on Foster. I'd use Lawrence instead. What's bad for drivers is usually good for cyclists, and vice versa. That's the nice thing about having a street grid: You don't have only one way to go someplace. You get to make choices.

— On the neighbor message Speed Limit Cameras on Foster
6:12 p.m.

Greg: Google "broken windows theory."

— On the neighbor message Kedzie/Lawrence
8:17 a.m.

Look, there's a simple reason people drive as fast as they can get away with down Foster: Lawrence and Montrose are traffic nightmares, and Foster is the only route between the North Side and I-90 in this part of town which doesn't make a driver want to slit his wrists in frustration. You need an arterial road with a higher speed limit every couple of miles, and there's no other between Irving Park and Peterson. When I was living in Ravenswood, and later when I was living out of town but regularly visiting my girlfriend in Uptown, I only had to try Lawrence a couple of times to realize that the only way to get to O'Hare or the Kennedy which made any sense at all was Foster. And, I'll be honest, the only things that would make me drive less than 35 on that stretch were the killer potholes. If high-speed traffic is a problem on Foster, the thing to do is to make it a safer arterial road, not reduce the speed. Making things slower will do nothing but punish the unfortunate souls on the 92 bus and all the poor North Siders trying to get to and from the airport.

That being said, Bob Kastigar is 100 percent right on the cycling law, so don't even try to argue with him about that.

— On the neighbor message Speed Limit Cameras on Foster
8:14 a.m.

Heard it from 4300 block of St. Louis. Sounded like a gunshot to me, too, but from where we were, it could just as easily have been a slamming screen door.

9:53 a.m.

Yes: Stop creaming off the talented and high-achieving kids to other schools.

Of course, the parents of those kids would never stand for such a change.

The Chicago Public Schools are a giant socioeconomic sorting system. If you're poor, you've got to have dedicated parents and a strong academic record to avoid ending up at the bottom of the barrel.

— On the neighbor message Huge Police Action on Kedzie near Wilson
12:22 p.m.

I plotted the robberies on a map. They nearly form an oval. Bet anything our boys live within a block of Spaulding and Warner.

— On the neighbor message Robberies Kimball/Irving Park Neighborhood
12:13 p.m.

"I said this before and got no response. Tougher laws and more jails. You are a known gangbanger; you get an extra ten years; even if all you did was jaywalk."

So far, all this approach has gotten us is a per capita prison population greater than Russia's and China's. I fail to see how it's substantively different from the parenting approach in which you try to stop your kid from crying by yelling at him louder and hitting him harder.

8:15 a.m.

Joe, if you love danger so much, go put yourself in it. Skydive or bungee jump or something. Don't put the rest of us in danger by provoking armed confrontations in which stray bullets might hit an innocent bystander. If I wanted to live in Englewood, I'd live in Englewood.

You don't defeat the code of the streets by adopting it.

— On the neighbor message Thursday night shooting?
8:03 a.m.

Seriously? When you observe someone being assaulted, that's the one and only fact you need to get. Unless what matters more to you is figuring out whether I belong to the "deserves protection of the law" group or the "does not deserve protection of the law" group.

— On the neighbor message Berteau and Whipple
8:01 p.m.

A person who's willing to call the cops on a random group of people without any proof of wrongdoing isn't demonstrating "care for his community." Those people are PART of his community. I would much prefer to have a neighbor who gets his facts straight before calling 911 than someone who acts on unsubstantiated prejudice.

— On the neighbor message Berteau and Whipple
6:16 p.m.

Who's doing the remapping, and whom do I need to kneel in front of and beg to be gerrymandered into the 47th?

— On the neighbor message Alderman Mell
9:24 a.m.

I've never said one shouldn't be vigilant. But be vigilant and street-smart, not paranoid and prejudicial. You can tell a drug corner from the movement of cars and the behavior of lookouts. You can tell a hit team by its purposeful movement. You can tell a thug by the cock of his hat and the challenge in his posture. That stuff that was posted about gang members taking up recon positions and communicating by whistling? That's priceless intel. But I see nothing incriminating in teenagers' hanging out in big groups and wearing hoodies. That's just kids doing what they do and wearing what they wear. You'll see the same thing in any neighborhood in America, city or suburbs, and the only thing different will be the fashion.

— On the neighbor message Berteau and Whipple
9:18 a.m.

It's not our place to arbitrarily assign people to "deserves civil liberties" and "does not deserve civil liberties" groups. Jim Crow is dead, and I'd like it to stay that way, kthx.

Besides, when we start talking about disregarding the Constitutional rights of others, we hand those who'd take advantage of us their best argument for disregarding ours.

— On the neighbor message Berteau and Whipple
9:14 a.m.

I haven't had occasion to call 911, but I call 311 about any and all gang graffiti that I see, along with particularly obnoxious tagging. The operators always ask for the same information, so be ready to give it: address, side of building, defaced surface (brick, wood, metal or concrete, painted or unpainted), whether the graffiti is above or below 6 feet off the ground, and whether it's hate speech (swastikas, etc.). For some reason they never ask whether it's gang-related, but I always provide this information anyway, identifying (if I can) which gangs are repped or dissed. If the graffiti is on or across the street from a school building, I mention that as well. Generally, the graffiti I report is gone within two to three days.

— On the neighbor message 911 Tactics
8:55 a.m.

They put blue lights on the cameras because law-abiding citizens are rightfully concerned about the implications of being monitored in public by hidden cameras.

Personally, though, I think the cameras are a copout. What those corners need are officers walking a beat.

— On the neighbor message Blue light camera
8:46 a.m.

Loads of kids wear hoodies. It's just part of contemporary style, especially among urban kids. As for their "suspicious" behavior, can you be any more specific and objective than that? You haven't said a word about what they were doing; you just characterized it as "suspicious," so anyone who wasn't there has no way of providing an independent perspective.

In case anyone's forgotten, the First Amendment protects the right to assemble peaceably (no apologies if you think that comment is "hauty" [sic] -- some of us neighbors care about upholding moral and philosophical standards as well as standards of security and cleanliness), and unless and until there's reasonable cause to suspect a bunch of kids of criminal activity, they're just a bunch of kids. I wouldn't care what kind of group they called themselves a part of as long as they weren't harming anyone.

And as another neighbor pointed out, calling the cops on a group of kids just because their socializing makes you nervous is exactly the sort of thing that breeds distrust of the police and reinforces the kinds of street values (e.g., "Nobody gonna take care of us but us") that lead directly to gang violence.

— On the neighbor message Berteau and Whipple
8:43 a.m.

Comparing other people to rats and wishing them dead is "contributing useful information"? And reminding people to utilize the CAPS e-mail address, so that the police can track these incidents, isn't? Oooo-kay.

— On the neighbor message More Gang Activity/ Tagging
8:56 p.m.

I saw a bunch of Massers retreating from Lincoln Square around 8:30 PM because of the freak cloudburst.

— On the neighbor message Critical Mass TONIGHT!
10:03 a.m.

I'd like to ask everyone to refrain from comparing other people, no matter how obnoxious, to disease and vermin. That is a textbook dehumanizing tactic used by perpetrators of genocide to break down people's instinctual resistance to abusing, torturing and massacring other human beings. (Think of Rwanda, and the radio propaganda referring to Tutsis as "cockroaches.") No good can come of that kind of language. Just don't go there, ever. Thank you.

Just another reminder: When you phone 311, also send these photos to CAPS.017District@chicagopolice.org.

— On the neighbor message More Gang Activity/ Tagging
7:57 a.m.

When you report these to 311, also send a photo to CAPS.017District@chicagopolice.org.

— On the neighbor message Increased Gang Activity California/Montrose
7:50 a.m.

Bob: Do you ever ride the 78 Montrose?

10:53 a.m.

No argument there, Bob.

So who and/or what is standing in the way of improvement?

— On the neighbor message Kedzie between Lawrence and Montrose
10:37 a.m.

The other morning I watched 40 westbound cars in a row roll through the stop sign at Montrose and St. Louis. I'm sure it's there because of Henry and Roosevelt schools, but it needs to be either replaced with an actual stoplight or removed. All it does is slow traffic on Montrose to a sclerotic crawl.

10:32 a.m.

Yes, but property owners and landlords are not the only ones who get to be acknowledged as "somebodies." Everyone has a right to live someplace. It's not cool for interlopers to stroll in and say that "someplace" no longer includes the place you've lived for the past 10 or 20 or 30 years.

It really sucks to think of a place as home, then to find that, through no fault of your own, you can no longer afford to live there. I know because I've been there. Twice, actually.

— On the neighbor message Kedzie between Lawrence and Montrose
10:29 a.m.

What Rob said. And also the fact that sometimes bourgeois snobs take a disliking to scruffy or tacky but well-loved neighborhood fixtures and try to get them shut down.

Can we postulate that middle-stage gentrification (in which the neighborhood becomes cleaner, safer, more attractive, more interesting, and MORE diverse owing to the influx of creative professionals) is not as negative a phenomenon as end-stage gentrification (in which bourgeois johnny-come-latelies drive up prices and crowd out everyone else)?

— On the neighbor message Kedzie between Lawrence and Montrose
10:25 a.m.

Come to think of it, four east-west bus routes. I forgot about the 92 Foster.

— On the neighbor message Kedzie between Lawrence and Montrose
6:31 p.m.

Well, I'm not sure how transit could be "improved" through Albany Park, given that it's already got two Brown Line L stations (three if you count Francisco in Ravenswood Manor), one of which is the terminus and rail yard; three east-west bus routes, two north-south bus routes, the southern terminus of a third north-south bus route, and the Blue Line a short bus ride away. Maybe if the 41 Elston–Clybourn were resurrected? (Actually, that would be pretty excellent.)

— On the neighbor message Kedzie between Lawrence and Montrose
6:25 p.m.

Bigdrum1234, you need to deal with the fact that change is inevitable. I lived in Ravenswood for four years. Loved it. Loved that it was affordable and diverse and also vibrant and mostly safe and clean. I had to move out of town for work, and when I came back, I couldn't afford to live there anymore, because it had turned into Lincoln Park North. The affordability and diversity are gone. (That, for other commenters, is why it's not good for a neighborhood to turn into Lincoln Park. Lincoln Park has no room for anything that is not Lincoln Park.)

And that's why I now live in Albany Park, which is affordable and diverse . . . but not particularly clean, and not as vibrant as it could be. If you want to defend the character of your neighborhood on the basis of its diversity, great, I'm with you, but the litter and clutter are nothing to be proud of. As for vibrancy, having a variety of take-out joints, produce markets and discount clothing stores is something, but it's not everything. So you can fight to keep the things you like here -- I hope you do -- but let other people have the things they like, too.

— On the neighbor message Kedzie between Lawrence and Montrose
8:45 a.m.

That Guy: Noon-o-Kabab and Semiramis don't seem to have any difficulty. Besides, Prince Creperie was literally steps from the L. I don't think the problem was the neighborhood. If there was a problem other than the guy's just not having the cash reserves to keep it going through his first year, it was that anyone who'd also eaten at Ikosium knew that Ikosium's crepes were an order of magnitude better. That being said, I'd have gone back anyway.

— On the neighbor message Prince Creperie?
8:21 a.m.

Also, if you've got a digital camera or camera phone, photograph it and e-mail the photo to CAPS.017District@chicagopolice.org.

— On the neighbor message Graffiti: St. Louis and Wilson
6:19 p.m.

The word "CLOS" is handwritten on the door, all the decor is gone from inside, and the phone is disconnected. I think you can kiss Prince Creperie goodbye.

— On the neighbor message Prince Creperie?
3:48 p.m.