Last month at Ald. Emma Mitts’ town hall meeting, I learned that a new development is coming two blocks from my house. “The Enclave at Galewood Crossings” will be developed at Laramie and the railroad tracks (I always thought I lived in Austin, or at least North Austin. My post office says my zip code is Belmont-Cragin, but I digress).
It will be a development with a mixture of 240 condos, townhouses and single family homes. It will even have its own dog park! The cost of those homes will range from $200,000 to $450,000. Some quick calculations show that someone will have to earn at least $50,000 a year to afford to live there.
Not only will we be getting a semi-gated community, we’re also getting a movie theater right off the bridge on Central Avenue on the railroad track side. Now the last time I went to a movie, it was $9.50 to get in, $4.50 for popcorn and $2.50 for the drink. So let’s just round that off to $20 since a box of Raisinettes is my favorite candy when watching a movie.
I’ve paid the first installment of my 2005 tax bill which was around $700. I paid my last People’s Gas bill of over $200. My electric bill is close to $100. And I’ve been paying my car insurance monthly since I can’t afford to pay it all at once. Every week I’m struggling to fill up my tank with gasoline prices over $3 a gallon. So why am I telling you all this? Well, it seems that the city council wants to put through an ordinance requiring any large “Big Box” business (i.e. Wal-Mart) to pay all employees at least $10 an hour in salary, plus $3 per hour in benefits.
Now using my trusty CPS math, if you get a job at the new Wal-Mart and they let you work 40 hours per week, you can earn $400 a week or $20,800 dollars a year. Now making that kind of money, you cannot afford to live at The Enclave. If you go to the movie, you will spend about two hours of salary. If you have to catch the bus there and back, that’s half an hour’s worth of salary. If you have children, your entire day’s pay from Wal-Mart will be shot taking them to the show.
At $10 an hour, you can buy 3 gallons of gas or a gallon of milk, a box of cereal and a loaf of bread. It will take two weeks of salary just to pay my property taxes and half a week’s salary to pay the heating bill. What about rent or mortgage, phone and light bills? How about clothing, shoes and medicine? It has been 25 years since I made $10 an hour. I know that $10 an hour isn’t big money, but it’s better that 8 bucks an hour.
In reading The Defender and the Sun-Times, there were those who supported the idea of people making at least $10 an hour. Then there were those who felt it was “unrealistic for the impoverished to get an increase.”
Or that “the old and young standing on the corners with nothing to do” in Austin shouldn’t make that kind of money.
WHAT THE …?
So who do you think opposed the idea of poor, impoverished, unemployed, old, young and ex-offender people in this community being paid a fair wage in return for hard work? Was it:
A. Ald. Emma Mitts of the 37th ward in whose community the new Wal-Mart is being built? 773/745-2894
B. Rev. Joseph Kyles of the 37th Ward Ministerial Association? 773/342-5377
C. Camille Lilly of the Austin Chamber of Commerce? 773/854-5063
D. Frankie Freenie of Nobel Neighbors Association of Humboldt Park? 773/252-8524 or …
E. ALL OF THE ABOVE!
The answer is “E.” From an alderman making $100,000 a year, a minister who gets 10 percent tithes, an executive director who is well compensated, and a community activist from a local group, they all felt that $10 an hour is too much. In every story I read about Wal-Mart coming to the West Side, it has been mentioned that the people will make about $10.98 a hour. So why did those folks as well as others oppose the idea of a mandatory wage for stores like Wal-Mart? Why can’t folks in this community get a job paying almost twice the minimum wage?
Why do we have those who proclaim to look out for our best interest give us a kick in the behind as they protest the pay would be too much? Can any of them live on $10 an hour? And when was the last time that they worked and made $10 an hour. For me, it was back in 1982. So give them a call and ask.
Then e-mail me: Naw, this time you can call me. I will host a conference call this Sunday May 28 at 9 p.m. Call 605/772-3200 (this is long distance so use your cell) and enter this Access code: 806598#. I can host up to 96 people and you can give me your opinion with others on the line to hear you. You can talk to me about this column or any other subjects that I’ve written about.
I stand behind what I say and wonder if they are willing to do the same.
Also, join me at Wallace’s Catfish Corner this Friday, May 26, along with Mayoral Candidate Bill “Dock” Walls to talk about issues affecting your life here in the city of Chicago.