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Added Feb 08 2012,0,2869526.story

The sticker is about to go to press, Jody Weiss has thrown in his two cents, saying it's not technically a gang sign, but almost too eerily close. Sun thinks it's a MLD sign. Trib points out who similar the hands at the top of the heart make it look like the MLD heart. Artists is a 15 year old boy who attends a school for troubled youth.

Curious to EB opinions. I think the hands making a sign is pushing it (they look like they threw hats to sky), but the outer-most hands on the heart do make it strongly resemble the MLD heart.

  • Inactive user

    Poor kid...

  • What a shame this all turned out this way. I worry this might destroy this young man's interest in further developing his talent or participating in such initiatives in the future. I hope the city does a better job of reviewing entries before they are even voted on in the future to avoid such heartbreak on behalf of a student as well as wasted time on behalf of our government (think about what they haven't been able to get done this past week because they had to mess around with this.

  • Pete F. Lifelong Chicagoan, Proud Democrat

    Here is the video from WGN. I almost couldn't watch it again. And you know what? Clerk Mendoza might have to do what she has to do, but the way she's defending herself shows no tact.

    And Jody Weiss is an ass.,0,4569067.story

  • George F in Ravenswood displaced New Yorker

    @Jerry in Logan Square. His art teacher says she showed him the model for the hands he drew on his design. Her design was shown on tv, and it's remarkably like his. I believe her, and any resemblance to a gang symbol is coincidence. He's a special ed. kid according to his mom. My guess is that this is an over reaction to something innocent. There's a reason why the rank and file police officers didn't like or repect Jody Weiss.

  • George F in Ravenswood displaced New Yorker

    @Ray. I don't think that the photo you had is the correct photo of the kid.

  • George F in Ravenswood displaced New Yorker

    @TomG. It doesn't have to be that way. His dimwitted father put his own picture online for all to see. I can understand the city's point of view. Perception is the reality sometimes. I hope this kid learns from all of this that gangs will never ever improve his life. I hope that although he may have been well intentioned, any hint of gang involvement can ruin his life.

  • I agree, why wasn't this caught before. Give him the benefit of the doubt and have him redraw it.

  • Inactive user

    Here's what I think: if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it's probably a duck. That said, I believe it was the city's responsibility to properly vet all designs before turning them over to the masses for the vote. So, I think the city should let him keep his prize, but they should do one of the following: 1) go with the second runner up sticker, 2) let the kid draw a new design, assuming he can do so lickity split, or 3) print a completely generic sticker that features only the sticker #, year and maybe the city flag. The last option is my top choice, as I personally feel that a city in financial despair shouldn't be holding contests with cash prizes to begin with. I think our tax dollars are better suited filling potholes, cleaning up graffiti, plowing snow and the like.

  • Catbus Philosopher, Third-Class

    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.

  • Ray Lifelong Chicagoan

    Just so everyone knows, he is not a special ed kid. He is in a high risk institution located just north of Lawrence along the river. The other location is the Jefferson School near Ogden and the Juevenile Correction center.

    What bugs me is the lack of balls our media have and interviewing the mom and how she is devastated, but yet no one asks her about his FB page of him smoking dope and wearing the gang ensemble. The school is a hard knocks juevenile detention facility.

    He is not as innocent as some are portraying. Complete jeckyl and hyde type because what you see on the TV is not coinciding with his writings and postings on social media. Too much drama, go to the next sticker...
    Catbus - do you fantasize about firemen?

  • I want to see the flying firemen! Bring it on!

  • kenji Find us here -->

    @catbus, you didn't mention that all three are white too.

  • Luci in Rogers Park Dog Lover, living in Rogers Park for 26 years

    Pete F. - I watched the WGN tape, and Herbie looked like he was putting on an act with his crying...............

  • Tom G Living in Avondale since 1994

    Okay, folks, we're dealing with a kid here, not the spawn of satan who deserves an attack by an angry mob combined with the ponderous weight of the city government. Did you see the interview with his teacher where she showed the example of a hand in the exact same configuration that Herbie drew? He could have traced it, it was that close. Whatever kind of a jerk his father may be, with a website to prove it, most of the photos of Herbie that are circulating are suspicious in origin, except for the infamous red bandana shot perhaps. I'll match that one with a shot from my own childhood holding a plastic gun and pretending to be a mobster from the "Untouchables."

    Let's give credit, too, to the City Clerk, for her courageous response to a self-righteous mob led by the refurbished Jody Weis. "This is only about perception," she assured us. Translated, this means it's about the perception of possibly losing the angry mob vote, as well as the critical vote of mystics who are convinced that they saw the face of the devil on their toasted English muffin this morning.

    For those of us left on the lighten-up-and-give-the-poor-kid-a-break side, maybe we can find a way to send a big valentine to Herbie on Valentine's Day. Most of us adults are used to getting by without unconditional love, the kind that looks beyond our mistakes and can always see the good underneath. I don't know if Herbie has gotten to that point yet, but we're pushing him there fast. Just maybe this is a push in the wrong direction, the direction that leads the place where gangs pick up new recruits.

    Happy Valentine's Day, Herbie.

  • Inactive user

    This isn't about his father's page. You must not have seen Herbie's Facebook page prior to it being made private because not only did it include pictures of him in gang garb and throwing up hand signals (which he has since even admitted), it also included comments from his friends, his father, his brother and himself - all implicating gang association. Just because the kid seems nice when accepting his award and cries when the news cameras in in his living room - right next to his mother, I might add - that does not make him innocent. Based on the disconnect between what face he shows city officials/the media and what he shows to his buddies, one can assume he either has a diagnosable split personality or is putting on a fake, unassuming face, for those in a position of authority, which is really not very uncommon for those who participate in unsavory activities. I mean, what? Did you expect him to show up to collect his check with a gun in his waistband? Of course he's going to try to look all sweet and innocent.

  • Pete F. Lifelong Chicagoan, Proud Democrat

    Tom, I was seriously considering today writing up a note for the young man and dropping it off at his school for the teacher to give him. I want him to know that, despite your place in life, there are people who care about him and his mother, regardless of what happens sometimes.

    I dunno. It just seems so tragic. The kid is 15. Regardless of what his past was, or what his future may become, he is still just a kid. He said it himself, "I'm only 15, I still live with my mom." He knows his life isn't picture perfect, but he's doing some of the right things.

    I just hope after all of this he knows there are still a lot of people out there who want to help him continue doing those right things. This whole ordeal has me sick.

  • kenji Find us here -->

    Anyone remember Mirth and Girth? The painting in the late 80's that depicted Mayor Harold Washington in drag?

    the artist got a settlement from they way the city dealt with it.

  • Inactive user

    I'm not sure Mirth & Girth is relevant at all. To me, there is no correlation between an artist having their work confiscated from an exhibit, withheld from its rightful owner and damaged when finally returned and someone being passed up as a contest winner. I see no connection what-so-ever and would say you are reaching.

  • Pete F. Lifelong Chicagoan, Proud Democrat

    M D, but don't you see, this is no longer about him as a person, this is about his sticker. It has been thoroughly debunked that this kid pulled a fast one on us and drew a picture full of gang signs. This is about an at risk kid who joined a contest, drew a pretty damn good picture with the help of his teachers along the way, who won, and then gets SLAMMED by some anonymous internet blogger with a history of rants and borderline racist insinuations.

    I'm not denying the kid might have issues. He is in a school specifically for at risk youth. You don't go to those schools without reason. But the fact that he is there, the fact that he is only 15, the fact that he has teachers supporting him, trying to help him, trying to put him on a different path, is what should be considered.

    But, again, none of this is even of issue. You can't take the effect and make it the cause.

    People scream about the incompetence of elected officials for allowing this "hard core gang member" to essentially tag all of the cars in Chicago. I blame the officials for their incompetence in not investigating how the kid might have come up with this design. For not asking the teacher, or anyone else apparently, any questions before their knee-jerk reactions.

    But most importantly, I blame them for their incompetence in using an internet ranter's "investigation" based entirely upon circumstantial evidence as the basis for causing this whole mess.

    Jody Weiss and Clerk Mendoza should be ashamed of themselves. I'm ashamed of how all of this was handled.

    I hope this kid will understand and grow stronger for it, someday.

  • Inactive user

    In the real world, who you are as a person *does* matter. And regardless of this kid's intentions, the design has enough similarities to gang symbols that it should be pulled. Considering that the citizens of this city cannot walk free anywhere without the threat of gang violence, there needs to be a zero tolerance policy in place, erring on the side of caution of that's what it takes. I don't feel bad for this kid. No one is picking on him. No one is taking anything that is rightfully his away. He chose to post the pictures and comments on his Facebook page, he chose to leave his page public for all to view. If he's upset with anyone, he should be upset with the way he portrays himself to the world because he just lost the contest he worked hard to win and he brought all sorts of terrible press to himself and his family. HE did it. No one did that to him.

  • @ Pete - I'm glad you contributed to this thread. Initially, I wasn't sure what I thought about this, but after reading Alderman Cullerton and Pete's post - I feel like we need to have compassion for this kid. The picture is beautiful. And when I look at the hands in the illustration, they represent a city that is proud of their multicultural heritage. It doesn't really look like a gang sign. It's four hands - two left - and two right.

    And while the kid has maybe had a rough past - given his unfortunate family influences - this could be a new beginning for him. I wonder if we could give him the opportunity to resubmit his art? Or even photo shop this work slightly?

  • Tom G Living in Avondale since 1994

    MD: If my real world was anything like your real world, I would have given up on people a long time ago. Truth, as a wise man once said, is Silly Putty.

  • Pete F. Lifelong Chicagoan, Proud Democrat

    M D, yes, who you are as a person does matter. But we're talking about a kid, 15 years old, right at a point in his life where guidance, support, and hard work on his part can help him turn out to be just fine in life.

    Like I said, he knows his life isn't picture perfect. But he's young. We always talk about how intervention at an early age can make all the difference... well?

    That's the point I'm trying to make. And I still stand by the fact that once you accept that his art has nothing to do with gangs, then his past does not matter. All that matters is we have a kid who drew a winning picture with help from a teacher who cares. The fact that he is an at risk youth should not factor into this negatively at all.

  • I'm sorry, are we forgetting the part of the "what do we do about the uptick in gang violence in our neighborhood" conversation where gangs use minors (many much younger than 15, mind you) to do their dirty work because THEY'RE SO YOUNG that they're handled differently by our legal system?

    Does anyone really believe that at the tender age of 15, and while living with his mom, there's NO WAY this kid could have any gang affiliation?

    I don't buy the crying show WGN put out. I don't really think the kid intended to "get one over" on the city, and after seeing the comparison picture of hands, I don't think the hands are throwing gang signs. But I hardly believe this kid is innocent of any gang affiliation or activity, and I think as such, making him a winner of a city contest is questionable. Yet, as has already been mentioned, he and the design should have been fully vetted IN ADVANCE of the public vote. He should have never been a finalist. My god, I can't even INTERVIEW for a city job if I have outstanding parking tickets, why should the city award a $1000 savings bond to a kid who (even since the beginning of this contest) has had run-ins with the law?

  • Inactive user

    T-Bone, I would hardly refer to current postings on his Facebook as "the past". I would call those "the present".

    Tom, in my real world, people should be given a chance until they prove they don't deserve it. I think that's the case here, or at least it is from my vantage point. Despite the fact that we don't agree, I do find your eternal optimism refreshing and am glad there are people in the world like you to give multiple chances to people. Maybe some of them need it. But I don't operate like that; I choose to pay attention to red flags/warnings people throw up rather than ignore them. I believe actions speak louder than words.

    Pete, last I checked, prisons were loaded with 15 year olds. How about that sweet little teen in MO who lured her little sister's pal over to her house and strangled her and slit her throat? Are you aware that, on average, 34% of gang members are between the ages of 15 & 17 (the only larger group is only slightly older at 18-24)? Go talk to some families that have been destroyed by teen gang violence and see if they agree with your assessment of them just being poor innocent children. Being a "kid" doesn't mean sh*t in today's world. Let's not forget that little Herbie was blatantly talking about being drunk and smoing herb on his Facebook page. Sorry, but the lad needs to choose if he's going play the "I'm a kid" card or the "I'm big enough to drink and smoke dope" card. Can't play both sides.

  • Tom G Living in Avondale since 1994

    Melissa F: You said that "he [Herbie]and the design should have been fully vetted IN ADVANCE of the public vote." Given the new national notoriety of the prestigious Parking Sticker Award, I agree. What sort of background check did you have in mind? An FBI investigations, finger prints, psychological examinations, urine tests? And how should we vet the drawings? Maybe we could let Jodi Weis read the tea leaves for gang signs and have a panel of experts from the Art Institute analyze the hidden symbolism. Who knows, maybe Herbie's art work is really about the Sacred Heart of Mary and the hats symbolize the offices of the Church? I wouldn't put it past that devious little bohemian.

    I'm getting the sense that Herbie's real problem is how he is going to handle his new-found celebrity. It'll serve us right if he inks a big advance check for a book, which he can dedicate to the City Clerk.

  • Chris count the rings round my eye

    Those who are concerned about Herbert not being cared for in all this fallout, Rev. Michael Pfleger is reaching out to him, and pledged the $1000 prize if the city doesn't give Herbert the $1000 savings bond.

  • Tom G Living in Avondale since 1994

    Thanks, Chris. Great quote from Pleger: "We can pull the sticker. We should not dishonor this child.” And Rahm Emmanuel has no comment. Too bad. I wanted to watch his eyes spinning.

  • Jo

    @Pete. You are right with what you said.

    It is amazing when you see someone with their newborn babies so protective and so nurturing. Watching them try to be the best parent possible. Giving this child all he/she needs...all the care and attention in the world. And then what happens in between? Then they become teenagers and parents just back off and think,"Oh, they don't need guidance and as much care."

    I argue they need just as much as when they were babies. It is in this phase of life that identity is formed. They have no idea who they are, so it is very important to have positive role models and parents are suppose to be those positive role models. They can't choose their parents, and Herbie couldn't choose his. That is what he was dealt. So for all you people coming down on Herbie and all these kids in this 12-18 year old age group...get out there and be a mentor to so many of these kids who have been abused and abandoned. They can make different choices with your help and attention. From what I have discovered by doing this, they don't get any attention from home. Most of it is negative and let's not forget their parents have their own issues. So if you really want to make a difference instead of judging and complaining how bad the shootings & gangs are out there, go be a big sister or brother to a teen who desperately needs you.

  • Chris count the rings round my eye

    Clerk Mendoza also stepping up to the plate now, says she'll pay out of her own pocket for a $1000 bond for Herbert.,0,5690103.story

  • A heart is a gang sign , When did they get the patent for it! It's a heart and it upreaching hand like some do church Let's cancel Valentine Day because it to may hearts!

  • George F in Ravenswood displaced New Yorker

    I realize it's not politically correct, but tht kid didn't seem bright enough to formulate a plan to covertly disguise gang symbols on a model for a city sticker. He may well in fact be a gang member, but if he is, he wore the wrong colors of the MLD's on his facebook page. He wore a red bandana. The MLD colors are blue and baby blue. His mother did say on an interview on channel 2 that he is a special needs kid. I have no reason to doubt her, but it's clear that he's been around the gang culture.

  • Pete F. Lifelong Chicagoan, Proud Democrat

    Well, I just had dinner with my mom and brother, and of course this topic came up. We all decided we are going to each send a card with a note to Herbert c/o his school, as well as send a letter to Clerk Mendoza telling her how we feel she handled this situation poorly all around.

    My brother said it best when he said throughout the whole things she acted very cowardly. He also made the point that who cares if these things remotely resemble gang symbols. It is a heart and human hands. If we as citizens of the city of Chicago pull a city sticker over universal symbols simply because they resemble gangs, we ARE essentially saying that the gangs rule our lives.

    Well, I certainly don't think that the gangs have any control over me. This is OUR city, and I'm not going to let them take any more of it away from us.

  • Pete F. Lifelong Chicagoan, Proud Democrat

    Yikes, I guess I am just SO passionate about this, that I wrote up that last message without regard to proper grammar or syntax, auto-preview be damned! Sorry for all the flubs.

  • Ray Lifelong Chicagoan

    Here's a better history of MLD's.
    Lula and Pete, did you get the opportunity to look further up in this thread to see the links to both FB sites of son and father? If you didn't then please do and comment again. Nothing more needs to be said.

    I will repeat that the handling of this fiasco was the worst. Mendoza and Weis made their decision with even Weis saying "if we would have had a chance to speak with him, to see what is in his heart"...and Mendoza's spokesperson saying we haven't had a chance to speak with the child yet, well, they should have driven to the Lawrence Juvenile Hall, and discuss with himtheir reasons before making any public media decision.

    And to take away the recognition but giving him the reward? What kind of message is that? I would have liked to have seen a set up of a trust or education fund for him as an incentive to leave the Hall and possibly get to college or trade school. Because you need to leave the Hall, graduation means you go to Cook County Jail. This is just a mess all the way around.

  • It's too bad that this similarity wasn't discovered earlier. Perhaps the kid could've edited his work a bit and still have it be published as our city sticker. I definitely see that the hands in his art resemble what his teacher gave him as a model. However, it's unfortunate for him that he's pictured throwing up gang symbols.
    An no-win situation all around.

  • Catbus Philosopher, Third-Class

    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.

  • Chris count the rings round my eye

    First of all, thanks to everyone who shared thoughts and opinions, I've enjoyed the dialog.

    Trib has an interesting opinion article that echoes many of the sentiments shared with how the boy was treated by the city:,0,3938998.story

    I've been quiet on some on my opinions, waiting for more of the story to unfold.

    I've been directly affected by gang violence on a daily basis over the last year. As a result, I have adopted a zero tolerance and no sympathy attitude towards gang members, and I make no apologies for it.

    That said, I don't think Herbert is a "hardened" gang member. I think he is a troubled youth, from a troubled home. Could he have incorporated gang symbols into his art? Possible, I do think he's been surrounded by negative influences much of his life, but if he did, I don't think it was deliberate nor an attempt to pull one over on the city. This could have been a great opportunity to be a major stepping stone in his life. Instead, he's learned a hard life lesson, but he's probably already learned a series of hard life lessons.

    Personally, I am glad the sticker was pulled. I've had too much impact on my life by gangs to display anything that could remotely be claimed by gangs. But I am sickened by how Mendoza handled this situation with Herbert.

    For what it's worth, none of the gang sites I read even picked up on this controversy.

    All around, it's a sticky situation.

  • Epic "fail" on the part of Clerk Mendoza. I hope this boys work can be showcased elsewhere.

  • kenji Find us here -->

    @chris, What gang sites do you lurk/read/post at?

  • Chris count the rings round my eye is the main site, other than that it's trolling youtube for gang videos. Hoodup is not work friendly, it's filled with porno ads on the side. Didn't realize that for months cause I was using an ad blocker. I don't post on any of the gang sites, just lurk.

  • This comment has been removed by EveryBlock staff.
  • Chris count the rings round my eye

    Linux, baby! And I use FF, with the ad blocker plugin, so I never see the pron. I felt bad, cause I recommended to a neighbor to read thehoodup. I had no idea it was filled with pron since I use an ad blocker, and the neighbor was more bothered than all the pron that the subject matter of the site!

  • kenji Find us here -->


    He got booty in his face.

    Linux=ubuntu for you?

    Why not goog Chrome?

  • Chris count the rings round my eye

    It was a she that got booty in her face, that is why I felt a little embarrassed.

    I use ubuntu for my desktop and laptops and work, fedora for my file server (been a redhat user since around 94, but slowly migrating to Ubuntu). But I fibbed a little, I dual boot a couple of those systems with Win7.

    Just don't like Chrome. I'll get back on topic now, apologies for the geek diversion.

  • kenji Find us here -->


    Yeah God forbid, we take a computer geek diversion from our normal Everyblock diversion.

  • kenji Find us here -->

    BTW, here's another place where there's some dialogue.

    It's NSFW.

  • George F in Ravenswood displaced New Yorker

    I think that you nailed the problem exactly. I just want to add that,the idea of that design being a covert reference to gangs was just someone's interpretation. There is no definite proof that it was meant to be gang symbols.

  • Just a few follow ups to the conversation thanks to gaper's block:

    Props to the runner up who turned down the city:

    And a bit of humor on the controversy:

  • Chris count the rings round my eye

    Kass is not my favorite Trib columist, but I found this piece pretty damn funny, and I'd LOVE to have that design as our city sticker!,0,3235319.column

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