I’ve been on vacation for the past couple of weeks entertaining relatives who came to visit from California. On Saturday, Aug. 5, I hosted a BBQ in my backyard for all my relatives. That same day, my alderman, Emma Mitts (37th Ward) hosted her 7th annual Gospelfest at Lafollette Park. My relatives had a good time in my yard and with lots of little ones running around, they did make a mess. Folks at the 37th Ward Gospelfest also had a good time and also made a mess.

When my party was over, as head of my household, I made sure everything was cleaned up and garbage put in place before I let anyone go to bed. However, as head of the 37th Ward, Ald. Mitts sadly didn’t do the same. On Sunday, I took my family to Wisconsin and while there, my cellphone started showing a lot of messages coming in. Most of them just said to call back and since no one said it was an emergency, I figured I would do it once I was back in Chicago.

Well, the following Monday, I learned what was wrong. My house phone began ringing and the person on the line was angry. They wanted to know if I had seen Lafollette Park? I told them I had driven past on Saturday evening, but I hadn’t gone there. Well the person on the phone told me to go there and just take a look. Their anger was unmistakable. The park is filthy, and the little kids are playing in garbage-that’s what I was told. In fact, the more the person spoke, the angrier they got as they told me of seeing the kids play with beer bottles, saw them kicking used pampers like soccer balls and worst of all, saw the kids avoid piles of food that had been on the ground since Saturday! I checked my clock, and it was almost noon. Gospelfest had ended over 36 hours earlier, so was the person exaggerating or was it as bad as reported?

I grabbed my camera and drove to the park. Well, the reality was worse than the description. The playground off of Laramie was filled with garbage! The football field behind the park was loaded with garbage! The sidewalk around the track had food that I am sure the rats feasted on for several nights. As I took pictures, Ms. Morales from the Central Region of the Chicago Park District showed up. I introduced myself as the president of the Lafollette Park Advisory Council. As we both shook our heads over the amount of garbage that was all throughout the park, Ms. Morales wanted to know if the community had called about the filth.

Wait a second! This was the alderman’s party. Who do we call and complain to if the head of the ward leaves a mess from her party? We don’t have the numbers for Mayor Daley or the head of Streets and San. Our park building is closed on Sunday. The alderman’s office is closed on Sunday and besides, it was her party. So I was taken aback when it appeared that the responsibility for complaining was being placed on the neighborhood as opposed to the person who threw the party. I knew to clean up my backyard, so the alderman should be quite aware she needs to clean up the park as well. Being as dirty as it was also means the alderman never came by to check to make sure that those whose job it was to clean up came and did their job.

I have been downtown after Taste of Chicago ends and watched the city workers clean up Grant Park so that by the next morning you can barely tell that anything had gone on there. So what makes Grant Park better than Lafollette Park? This wasn’t the first Gospelfest-this was the 7th annual! As I took the time to stop and speak with homeowners who live around the park, be they on the Hirsch side, Potomac side or Laramie side, they all agreed that no one else had held anything in the park. The trash they had been picking up for the past 36 hours was the trash from the alderman’s party.

Ald. Mitts, I enjoy meeting new folks in the neighborhood, but can your “Unity in the Community” motto not include me meeting them while uniting to pick up the filth and trash you should have had cleaned up once your party was over?

This Sunday we will talk trash-or about anything else you want to talk about. Call 605/772-3200 (this is long distance so use your cell) and enter this Access code: 806598#. For cellphone users, this is just like a local call, just using your nighttime minutes.

CONTACT : westside2day@yahoo.com