Recently the Sun-Times ran a story titled, “The Most Dangerous Block in Chicago.” When I saw the photo of the area, well, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that the paper only skimmed the surface of the problem and didn’t look into the underlying causes.
I would like to offer from a local perspective on what I deem as the two most dangerous blocks in the entire city. They purposely sit right next to one another. Those blocks are responsible for more deaths, more crime, and the worst indignations against its citizens than anyone or anywhere else. Sure, the neighborhood in which those blocks exist looks pretty. Litter rarely covers the ground. People are not allowed to hang on the corners day and night. There are no liquor stores interspersed with storefront churches every few feet. Millions of people annually stroll past and through those two blocks, oblivious to the danger.
Let’s take a deeper look into why the block on the left is such a danger. It is a physical representation of everything that happens in Springfield. One only has to look at the old State of Illinois building that sits on LaSalle Street to know how we, the populace, were lied to when they built the current building. It was commissioned by Republican former Gov. Jim Thompson (1977-1991), who, with a straight face, told us how the old building had to go and the new one must be built. That new building opened in 1985 and almost 30 years later, the lie abounds as the old building still stands and the new one suffered significant cost overruns. Those politicians in Springfield reached into the pocket of the entire populace to waste our hard-earned money to build an edifice that is one of the few named after a living person — the one who commissioned it.
Although actual legislation doesn’t take place in that building, it is still the physical representation of every crime that has ever been committed by the legislature in Springfield against the citizens of Illinois. Yet like most things that are pretty on the outside, it requires people to ignore the inside and thus not pay attention to the ugliness that exists underneath.
If the citizenry of this state truly paid attention, they would rise up and run that criminal element out of office. Oh wait — they just did. Now our job is to keep a watchful eye on the newest head honcho replacement to make sure he does what he says and “Shakes up Springfield” as opposed to doing a “Shakedown out of Springfield on his poor constituents.” Hopefully, coming into office with money already in his pockets will mean he will have less of an inclination to rob the public trough like the many who came before him did.
Sitting directly across the street is a dual danger combined into one building. The Cook County portion of the building occupies the east side and City Hall on the west half. Its dual fifth-floor minions combine to reach into taxpayers’ pockets for every possible tax imaginable as they spend — and more often than not waste — taxpayers’ money.
The County Board side is currently the quieter of the two. When Todd Stroger was the president, the media and everyone else kept their eyes glued to the office to monitor his every move. Now with Toni Preckwinkle onboard, the media has gone back to sleep.
The election of Rahm Emanuel as mayor was supposed to give us a “hotline” to Washington. He had once been the chief of staff to President Obama, and his presence had been anointed by the mainstream media to give him the moniker “Godfather.” He came into office with no real track record at the local level and his style of governing was akin to overseer on the plantation. He was the lord and master, and if his barking orders laced with profanity didn’t scare us, his actual politics should. He continued his predecessor’s strategy of leveling the black community to vacate land so that his developer buddies can eventually come in to build.
Next week, I will detail how we can “Shake up City Hall.”