If I were a visitor to Chicago and saw the ads the mayor is running on television, even as a stranger to this city I would have to ask why the imagery didn’t match the reality. The commercials playing on television would lead someone who didn’t know better to believe the current mayor is genuinely concerned about the education the children of this city are getting. 

His first commercial on education boasted about the city colleges. Then he claimed that he’s the mayor who saw the disparity in full-day kindergarten and, voila, he instituted it for all children. He’s also now touting the ability of people to go to the city colleges free of charge. 

Just don’t ask him about where his children go to school or the colleges his son is looking to attend. In a classic case of “Do as I say and not as I do,” the reality is stark.

This Saturday, the Westside NAACP will host a candidates forum. It will be held at Friendship Baptist, 5200 W. Jackson Blvd., at 11 a.m. 

As you drive/walk/or ride the bus to get there, the issues that should be front and center for every candidate is not only what they want to do but also how they plan to pay for it. When you see all those “safe passage” signs, ask what company got the money to create them and install them. And just what kind of logic went through the mayor’s head to believe a sign claiming “safe” was actually going to make our children safe as they cross different gang territory in order to get to their new school after the mayor closed their local school. 

Many major streets in Austin have yet to be repaved. If you want to simulate war-torn Iraq, head southbound on Laramie and make that left turn to get on the Eisenhower. I don’t think Lexington Street has been repaved since the 1950s. We have loads of TIF districts. Ask the mayor to point to a successful area of the city where those tax dollars have been used to help small businesses. Ask about using TIF dollars to build the new DePaul stadium. 

Ask why the schools close due to cold instead of remaining open for children whose parents can’t, at the drop of a hat, stay home because classes were cancelled. The option should always be opening school for those who want to attend. Imagine the creative learning that could have gone on, as opposed to telling children to go to the library, park or museums instead.

Ask the mayor why the city has allowed so many car dealerships to close and move to the suburbs, taking the jobs with them while the city gets the sales taxes on cars bought in the suburbs automatically. 

Also question why so much valuable land in the neighborhood business strips has suddenly become senior citizen housing. We love our seniors, but the reality is that we need the tax dollars from business and industry unless the city is willing to reduce its budget by the amount of income it loses when the land is rezoned. 

Let’s also offer the city ideas to make money. I noticed that there are lots of cars parked on the Chicago side of Austin Boulevard from the Eisenhower going north, especially along the Columbus Park side. Since those cars obviously belong to Oak Park residents, why not establish an overnight permit parking zone and make those suburban residents pay us to park in our city? That applies to all of the city’s borders — folks who don’t live in Chicago take advantage and park their cars here. Plus, advocate for glow-in-the-dark city stickers so anyone who parks in this fine city overnight will pay a fine for the privilege.

 Lastly, is it my imagination or have all those red Xs suddenly pretty much disappeared or have all those buildings been torn down? 

Whatever the case, we need a mayor who wants to save this city as opposed to turning it into a wasteland. 

Then again, the wasteland may just be the plan.

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