Letters to the Editor

We Can Do This

To the Editor: 

The state of the U.S. is $10 billion in debt in unpaid bills now. Chicago, according to the Civic Foundation, is at least $2 billion in debt and $30 billion in pension liabilities short term.

The Federal Government is almost $20 trillion in debt and $120 trillion in pension and other liabilities. A recession is probably coming after the election, and could move into a depression in a short time unless reforms are addressed, from a value added tax on luxury goods to help pay off the debt. And lowering taxes on corporations and small businesses –to get back off—short accounts (not individuals). And pushing wind, solar, ocean currents and other renewables to rebuild our infrastructures and put millions to work, and stop global warming, and prevent the sixth extinction now taking place, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

We can do this. If we don’t do something now the decline will continue.

Michael Gillespie,
Hyde Park resident
Presented at Older Women’s League Meeting on Nov. 5

U. of C. men’s soccer team eliminated in Sweet 16

U. of C. men’s soccer team eliminated in Sweet 16

By JOSEPH PHILLIPS
Sports Writer

The no. 1 ranked University of Chicago men’s soccer team fell to Redland’s College 3-2 on Saturday afternoon, Nov. 19, at Stagg Field, 5530 S. Ellis Ave., losing their first game of the season.

“It changed the game a little bit,” said Mike Babst, head coach of the Maroons about the windy weather conditions. “[But our guys] adjusted very well at the end.”

Babst explained that his teams first half play was slightly impacted by the weather conditions, as winds early in the game would reach up to 30 miles per hour. Controlling the ball, passes, in addition to effecting the play on the field. And to add insult to injury, a 35 degree game day temperature that would freeze the defense of the Maroons, giving up their first goal of the playoff season, thanks to a header by Bulldog’s fielder Kayvon Parsa at the 8:02 mark. 

After surrendering an early goal, the Maroons would strike back at the 39:08 mark. As freshman David McBroom would score off a left foot goal that popped in the air, while fans watched the strong winds navigate the ball into the back of the net. Pretty fluky at first, but enough to tie the game at 1-1 to end the half.

In the second half after the Bulldogs would explode for two more goals, the Maroons would make one last comeback effort after a Sam Drablos goal at the 75:05 mark.

Final Score: Redlands 3, University of Chicago 2

The No. 1-ranked Maroons finished the year with a 17-1-2 record and reached the NCAA Round of 16 for the second time in program history.

Hyde Park Herald Players of The Game:

Men’s Soccer: David McBroom, Maroons, 1 goal

hpherald@hpherald.com

Halloween Purge was not just kids having fun

To the Editor: 

Honestly, I don’t live in an ivory tower, looking down and pre-judging the situation, as implied by Ms. Hamilton in her comments to the Hyde Park Herald on November 2. I have my feet on the ground but when I saw a crowd of teenagers disrespecting Hyde Park and its residents by throwing eggs, carrying BB guns and paint guns, they were not “just kids having fun and enjoying the neighborhood.” Those kids were breaking the law by disturbing the peace, creating a disturbance and vandalizing property. As disclosed by the Hyde Park Herald on November 9, this was a “move” planned on Facebook by a group of teenagers.
Referring once again to Ms. Hamilton’s comments, I would be afraid to open my door to those vandals.

A concerned Hyde Park resident 

Halloween Purge teens need guidance and positive outlets

To the Editor: 

On Halloween night, I noticed a large group of teens in the McDonald’s parking lot on 53rd. I asked them one by one why they were out so late and their ages. After talking with them, I realized that we must do more to engage our youth in the Hyde Park community and citywide. My ideas are to simply have a technology hub within our community and others across the city. Each hub will include games, education, computers, sports, and a theater. I want the hub to have activities centered around the needs of our youth. I would like to see more parents involved with their children. Some of the children I talked with said that their parents rarely if ever spend time with them, and that has to change. If we want the next generation to be equipped to enter the job market and the world, then we as a community have to provide the means for them to get to the next level.

Sincerely,
Sheila Clay
Hyde Park Resident

Eerie climate at school after presidential election

To the Editor: 

I walk down the hallways. A certain eeriness is present. The eeriness that was present when, in seventh grade, I walked the streets of Paris after Charlie Hebdo. It was quiet. The usual sounds were not there. No teachers laughing together over coffee, no students causally watching Netflix on their laptops during free period. Nobody was complaining about homework. No groups of friends were eating microwaved popcorn whilst they did language homework. Everyone was dead silent. Even the lunch ladies, who always encouraged me to smile just a bit brighter, didn’t mention smiling or anything happy. They just rang up my purchase as I left, not smiling. Nobody noticed.

I walked down the hallways. Some seniors were chatting with their usual senior tones, pompous and bright, but of course, they were joking about it. Nobody ever thought that it could happen.

I walked down the hallway to English Class, which has always been my favorite. There was always a vibe of energy, positivity and comfort. I walked over to the room. Some of the usual energy was present, but everyone’s face was drained of emotion. Everyone in the room was frozen. Nobody felt safe. Everyone was talking about it. How to move to Canada. Everyone was stress eating snacks.

The class began. The room was silent. My teacher was trying to keep class positive. She told us that we needed to stand up for what we needed to believe in during these next four years that would not be all rosy. She then told us that all she wanted to do was to have a normal book discussion, and so that’s what we had.

Then, things stayed benign. Still sad, with that same exact vibe. Until advisory time.

Wednesday advisory was the best. We would always eat snacks and drink juice. Just like the good old days. As we all were eating gourmet donut holes and watching inspiring videos, all of our phones beeped.

All ninth graders were to report to the theater.

First, our counselor asked us how we felt. Many people felt scared just like me. The LGBTQ people in our grade talked about how they felt that their rights were deprecating. Other people talked about how their parents had told them that they hold the future. Then, we had a speech from a history teacher about the Electoral College and how everything was going to be OK. Still, nobody was convinced.

Next, I walked into History. We had an extended class period, as we always do on Wednesday. It was quiet. We continued to talk about the win of Trump. We felt devastated. We discussed policy. That is, the people that had not cut school talked about these events. In the hallway after, I heard people talking about fear of deportation of family members.

Where am I living? When?

Aviva Corre

Kenwood Track situation

To the Editor: 

Its not surprising to find out that the athletic field at Kenwood is falling apart and Chicago Public Schools (CPS) won’t repair it. It doesn’t matter who owns the property, it’s about making the track and field better for our local students. As someone who has a great deal of experience in dealing with CPS sports issues/facilities, and their poor record of maintenance of their athletic facilities, its typical of CPS to let this field fall apart.  Many of these same repair/remodeling issues negatively impact Chicago Park District facilities, and I just spoke about this issue at the Chicago Park District (CPD) Board Meeting on November 9, 2016.

I call on the local elected officials to get out in front of this, for its the lack of quality athletic facilities in CPS all across the city for the last 75 years that helped produced the street gangs which started forming in the 1960s or earlier, in such places as Woodlawn, Austin, Logan Square, Englewood, Pilsen, and Little Village, to name a few of our neighborhoods. Few of these neighborhoods even now have the sports facilities they deserve. CPS alone needs at least 25 more 400 meter, Broken-Back tracks, across the city, that have lights for competitive play and artificial turf fields that can accommodate soccer. And at least six indoor, 200 meter tracks for indoor track during the winter.

CPS has the money in the form of TIF dollars, aldermanic menu money, private donations, and the use of advertising banners, electronic signs, etc.. on CPS property to change  the athletic facilities to the excellent condition  that their students both need and deserve. Right now, the Public Building Commission could be repairing and remodeling many CPS athletic facilities, but the mayor whose own high school, New Trier, has excellent athletic facilities, won’t use his power and knowledge of the situation to right the cause. The six CPS owned stadiums are in bad shape, as well as Gately Stadium, which was mysteriously built by the Chicago Park District in 1969, instead of by CPS…..Which has never been properly explained to me.  Meantime, almost every suburban high school has its own stadium, but CPS’ 70 plus high schools have to share seven stadiums, a 10-1 ratio, which is horrible and continues to destroy our students’ sports dreams, to say nothing about the massive Title IX violations of CPS which have gone on for more than 40 years.

As someone who has worked in sports for decades   and at numerous major international sports events, our students are not getting the athletic facilities they deserve  to develop their  own  athletic talent that would help them  obtain college sports scholarships. The poor athletic facilities also drive away good coaches from working in CPS, instead they flee to suburban schools.  This issue isn’t going away,  and as they say, the fish stinks from the head, so you know who to complain to…….

Sincerely,
Kenneth  Newman
JPAC/MPAC/HWPAC /BAC/
HPKCAC

Congratulations to KOCO for organizing the elected school board town hall meeting

To the Editor:

The Town Hall Meeting about an Elected Representative School Board for Chicago, held at Operation Rainbow PUSH on October 17, was organized and hosted by the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (KOCO), the Lugenia Burns Hope Center, and Action Now, all members of the Grassroots Education Movement (GEM). The members of these organizations have been organizing for democracy in education in Chicago for many years and Raise Your Hand for Illinois Public Education is honored to join them in their efforts. Thank you, KOCO, Hope Center, and Action Now for organizing the powerful evening of testimony and information about an Elected Representative School Board for Chicago. And thank you Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-13) for championing this issue.
#ERSBnow

Sincerely,
Joy Clendenning

Are we really improving Jackson Park?

To the Editor:

At a Museum of Contemporary Art concert a month ago, Tatsu Aoki advised attendees that he and his ensemble would be playing at the opening of Yoko Ono’s art installation in Jackson Park. He said it would be a gala affair, and advised potential attendees to arrive early because “thousands might be there.”

As a Hyde Park resident and neighbor of Jackson Park, I was anticipating this event. It was held on Oct. 17…”thousands” were not there. In fact, the community, as far as I know, was not alerted nor invited to the event. From post-installation coverage, it appeared that a select few were.

Now, rumor has it that a music pavilion is being considered for our park. Who is making these decisions about our park? I go there once/twice each week, summer and winter. I go because it is one of the few places I can enjoy nature and some tranquility on the South Side of Chicago. I go there to watch birds and be still.

The monies to be spent on the art and Wooded Island “improvement” and reportedly the music pavilion, are reportedly awe-inspiring. (I’ve heard the figure $29 million.) This in a city bereft (reportedly) of funds.

A large part of our park is being used by the presidential library. I hope more is not taken away.

By the way, I did visit the newly opened Wooded Island last week. It’s almost as nice as it was before Project 120.

And the sculpture? I’m a Yoko Ono fan (and probably a jaded curmudgeon) but to me it resembles Klansmen.

Bonnie Brendel

Imagine there’s no input

To the Editor:

We write concerning your Oct. 19 coverage of the dedication of Yoko Ono’s Sky Landing sculpture on Wooded Island. It was a lavish event indeed, but your coverage neglected to note that it was by invitation only, that interested community members were turned away, and that numerous questions concerning how the installation was authorized, who paid for it and the like had not yet been answered.

As it happens, Park District Superintendent Mike Kelly answered some of those questions at the Oct. 18 monthly meeting of the Park District Board, saying that the sculpture had been donated by Yoko Ono and Project 120, and that the Park District owned it but would not pay for maintenance.

Another crucial question still left unanswered is what this portends for how the Park District will handle Project 120’s still outstanding and highly controversial proposal to build a pavilion/music venue close to the Wooded Island in Jackson Park. If the precedent has been established that you can arrange to have whatever project you wish put in place if you bring enough money to the table, will we wake up one morning to find that bulldozers are preparing the site for the pavilion, again without public input or participation?

Brenda Nelms
Margaret Schmid
Coordinators, Jackson Park Watch
jacksonparkwatch@gmail.com
jacksonparkwatch.org
like us on our Facebook page

Positive news at Stout Park

To the Editor:

We’ve followed recent Herald articles and letters about the sometimes-challenging relations between Hyde Parkers and their parks. The Stout Park Park Advisory Council [PAC] has a more positive tale to relate. One important lesson: “what a difference a PAC can make.”  We’re happy, certainly, with what our PAC has accomplished.  But our biggest impact is just being in place!  We can talk to the rather dauntingly-sized institution that is responsible for our park—the Chicago Park District [CPD], and they listen.  And we give the CPD someone to talk to in return.  Both sides benefit.

Stout Park interrupts 54th Place between Greenwood and Ellis. Small, it’s main “feature” is a splendid sledding hill.  It’s a popular dog-friendly park with well-used playing field and play lots. But for years it has functioned more “off the radar” than “on.”  Things changed—for us and for other small parks—because the Hyde Park/Kenwood Community Conference [HPKCC] decided that even the city’s smallest parks needed their own advocates.  They sent out PAC “missionaries”—namely Louise McCurry and Gary Ossewaarde to organize and incubate small-park PACs across the neighborhood.

Stout Park’s Park Advisory Council [PAC] was organized just over a year ago as part of the first wave of HPKCC’s evangelical efforts.  We’ve had a busy and productive first year, indeed. We first compiled a log of more than 50 tasks that needed to be done in the park, from minor repairs to capital tasks. One major issue was that Stout Park trees were in a state of crisis, many of them hit with ash-bore disease. The PAC identified 15 trees that needed to be removed.  We lobbied the Park District to further assess the problem. Michael Brown and his staff at CPD increased the removal list to 30 trees—more than a third of our inventory.  Barbara Woods quickly committed CPD resources to remove our dead and dying trees, work with the PAC on a replanting plan, and get new trees in the ground by spring of 2016. Stout Park has more than 20 new trees and Barb has promised to augment the new shade trees with several ornamentals next season.

Stout Park’s tired play lots certainly needed attention, too. Soon after the PAC was organized, Maria Stone at the CPD informed us that Stout was “on the list” to get new playgrounds.  We worked with Maria and the alderman’s office to chose a design for the new play lots.  Then we waited.  Boy, was it worth the wait!  We understood we would get new equipment.  But we got so much more.  The retaining walls of the play lots were repaired.  Benches were repaired and replaced.  Very distressed asphalt walkways were replaced with beautiful new cement walks. The two corners of the east side of the park have been transformed.

So we’ve whittled 30 tasks from our “to do list.”   We’re got many to thank for these very impressive accomplishments:

  • Many Park District Staff:  Nikki Peters and her colleagues at the Nichols Park Field House have supported the PAC since the beginning.  Michael Brown, Barb Woods, and Maria Stone were the most involved with Stout’s major initiatives this year.  But many other Park District staff have monitored and supported our work as well. Thanks to you all.
  • HPKCC: George Rumsey “deputized” Louise McCurry and Gary Ossewaarde to organize and incubate PACs like Stout Park’s.  Louise and Gary have been to almost all of our monthly meetings for more than a year.  They’ve provided encouragement and support and insider knowledge about how to make things happen.  They’re moving on to incubate NEW PACs now. George, thank you for your tactical advice as well.  And for HPKCC’s commitment to growing neighborhood PACs.
  • Stout Park PAC Board Members and Volunteers: The board of the Stout Park PAC has shared its work with a cluster of neighborhood residents who’ve regularly joined our meetings—Richard Barnard, Timothy Patrick-Miller, Pat Swanson, and Timothy Thurlow. Others volunteered for clean up days and helped review play lot designs and provided valuable support and feed back to the work of the PAC .  Thank you all.

The Chicago Park District is a big operation.  They will never deliver the “retail”-level responsiveness some would like.  But when they have someone to communicate with, they do!

We’ve all been impressed by how responsive the Park District has been to the needs of such a small park with such an annoyingly persistent PAC.

Gratefully,
Stout Park PAC
Kenneth A. East, President
France Vandervoort, Vice President
Leslie Judge, Secretary

WhistleSTOP is worth reviving

To the Editor: 

Great that you support the revival of Whistle Stop. (I think I still have mine somewhere; I always have a whistle like it on my key chain!) I remember incidents where it really made a difference! The great thing about it is that people didn’t have to put themselves at risk to make that difference, If you heard a whistle you blew yours – and you could be in a safe place. And if you were near a phone (in those days before everyone had a phone in their pocket) you called 911 with your location.

It would be great if the U of C would distribute a good loud whistle to every incoming student and include instructions on this in Orientation Week info. Or failing that if we could raise some money to make sure all students have one! They’re most likely to be out on the streets at night and too many have been hurt or even killed by street crime.

This is worth reviving!

Best,
Joan Levin

HPKCC is reignighting its WhistleStop campaign

To the Editor:

Congratulations on your important and timely September 28 editorial about the WhistleStop Program! Important, because the WhistleStop program, unlike any other we know of, exemplifies the vital impact of neighbors acting together to help protect each other from danger, thereby enhancing the safety of all of us in the community we share.

Timely, because the Safety Committee of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference is currently developing a campaign to introduce the WhistleStop program to newer members of our community we may not know about it, and to reassure those who do know how it works that our WhistleStop program is still alive and well.

Since, as your editorial pointed out, the success of the WhistleStop depends upon everyone’s participation, volunteers to help us spread awareness of the program throughout our neighborhood are warmly welcome. Please leave a message with the HPKCC at 773-288-8343 or email to

hpkcc@aol.com.

Sincerely,
Stephanie Franklin
For the HPKCC Safety Committee

Urge inspection of potential safety hazards at Metra in Hyde Park

To the Editor:

Urge inspection of potential health and safety hazards in Metra properties in Hyde Park.

The Metra retail properties under the tracks are using unsafe and illegal methods to address water damage in ceiling supports. Gutters are not legal to be installed inside, yet Metra has installed gutters in their retail stores. This is potentially dangerous to health and safety. The gutters invite mold and weaken the wooden beams that date back to the 19th century. Metra wanted me to put gutters in my store, but I refused.

Past incidents have occurred…in the property that was the florist shop, 1551 E. Hyde Park, where the ceiling collapsed (property was quickly boarded and bricked over and concealed following that incident); The Popcorn Lady, also sharing the same address, 1551 E. Hyde Park, where mold damage and improper installation of gutters was uncovered by an independent inspector (Raths, Raths, and Johnson, Inc. as seen on part 1 of the YouTube video); and the bike shop on 53rd was forced to close its door in the spring of 2015.

I am told that city inspectors will only investigate upon specific complaints about gutters or if the ceiling collapses. I want to prevent any further incidents by having the city inspectors investigate these potentially hazardous situations before “the ceiling caves in”.

Check out more of my story on YouTube. Go to “The Popcorn Lady”, Part 2.

Next call City Hall at 312-744-5000 or 311 and report this to the building inspectors and the Health Department.

It is suggested that you call later in the day to avoid frustration of calling during their “peak hours”.

Thank you for your assistance. You CAN make a difference.

The Popcorn Lady
Glorious Confectionery Lenoir, Inc.

Supreme Court denies citizens a chance to vote for non-partisan redistricting

To the Editor:

“You have sat here too long for any good you are doing. Depart, I say, and let us be done with you.”

Oliver Cromwell speaking to the Rump Parliament May 14, 1653.

For the second time in a strictly partisan vote the state Supreme Court has denied the citizens a chance to vote for non-partisan redistricting. As before, Speaker Michael Madigan’s lawyer led opposition to this initiative. Over a number of years, the legislature has passed supposedly balanced budgets, but only with accounting gimmicks to cover deficits. We all remember the state income tax increase, with the promise from state leaders, including Rep. Currie, to pay down the backlog of bills and pension obligations. Growing budget shortfalls have now even depleted the state’s ‘rainy day’ fund. The legislature and the governor seem incapable of finding an approach to solve the state’s growing fiscal problems.

Public officials readily turn to ‘revenue enhancements’, by which they mean taxes as a solution. There are few attempts to decrease the cost of government, say by decreasing the excessive number of governmental units in Illinois. Could legislators cut back on expenses in Springfield and in District Offices? Will unions contribute to deficit reduction?

To be fair, the present budget mess in the state is not solely the fault of the legislature. Governors, both Democratic and Republican, have signed the legislature’s proposals without much pushback. I have always thought that a professional political class is essential with the complexities of modern society. However, if our current political leaders do not begin to bring the state out of the present fiscal morass, maybe Oliver Cromwell’s remonstrance with the Rump Parliament will prove that history does not repeat itself but often rhymes.

Alfred L. Baker

Thank you for your concern for our kids

To the Editor:

A warm thank you to members of the Hyde Park/Kenwood/Bronzeville community from Mothers and Men Against Senseless Killings (MASK) for your generous donations to our school supply drive for children in Englewood. We were out collecting four times in the neighborhood, and were overwhelmed by how many of you, from all walks of life, gave so much.

We distributed those supplies on Sunday, September 4, at our block party at 75th and Stewart – a fun-filled event with more than 300 people, basketball and a bouncy house, face-painting, a DJ, and lots of good food (all donated). We gave out 100 backpacks and 30 uniforms to kids from kindergarten to high school, and had school supplies left over to give to area schools.

The moms and men of MASK have sat outside every day for two summers on one of the most crime-targeted blocks in Englewood. Our model is simple: we provide a safe place to be, some good food, conversation and games, and consistency and love. Every week, more and more people come out to the block and help each other, and get to know each other as a community. Our founder, Tamar Manasseh, who grew up in Englewood, went to school in Hyde Park, and now lives in Bronzeville- started this movement in response to what we all feel: “How can we help stop the violence that is taking so many of our children?” She has pulled together many of us (come join!) who have wanted to do something. We are now a 501(c)3 organization with members from Hyde Park, Kenwood, Englewood, Bronzeville, Woodlawn, and even Logan Square. Most important, there hasn’t been a single murder on the block or nearby since June 2015 when we started.

What can helping to stabilize one area of a community do? It’s a good start. It’s doing something, not just talking about it. We are growing groups (even on Staten Island and in Evansville, Ind.) and we aren’t stopping! So…thank you for knowing that all children are OUR children, and that all communities are interwoven. If you want to know more about MASK, please go to our website at www.getbehindthemask.org and “like” us on Facebook.

Tamar Manasseh
Michelle Burbea
Hoffman
Colleen O’Leary and
the moms and men of MASK