Alderman: Helen Keller could see graffiti cancer in Chicago

By Hal Dardick and John Byrne, Tribune reporters
3:35 pm, July 24, 2014

Source: Chicago Tribune

ANTONIO PEREZ, CHICAGO TRIBUNE Graffiti blasting crew laborer George Alvarado clears graffiti from a wall in the 2800 block of north Central Ave.

ANTONIO PEREZ, CHICAGO TRIBUNE
Graffiti blasting crew laborer George Alvarado clears graffiti from a wall in the 2800 block of north Central Ave.

The small percentage of graffiti vandals who get nabbed by Chicago police would face potentially higher fines under a proposal put forward by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and endorsed Thursday by the City Council Public Safety Committee.

Aldermen, city officials and police conceded that most vandals are not caught, and many who do get arrested or cited don’t have the money to pay fines. Nevertheless, they said the city needs to send a message that would hopefully make potential vandals think twice.

“By taking steps to increase graffiti fines, penalties will now reflect rising removal costs and hopefully serve as a greater deterrent for future acts of vandalism,” said Debbie De Lopez, the program manager of the city’s graffiti removal program. “We want to show that the mayor has a zero tolerance, and we have a zero tolerance and policy.”

The proposal, set for a full council vote on Wednesday, would allow for fines of between $1,500 and $2,500 against graffiti vandals. The current fine is $750. City ordinance also allows for up to 30 days in jail or up to 1,500 hours of community service.

The new measure also would increase the maximum fine against parents of minors convicted of graffiti vandalism to $1,000 from $750, and boost the maximum fine for the separate charge of defacing public property to $1,000 from $500, and the minimum to $500 from $200.

Police Commander William Dunn said that last year about 3,000 people were charged with criminal damage to property, which he described as the “primary charge” used against graffiti vandals. About 350 were hit with criminal defacement of property charges under state law.

But only 42 people arrested for graffiti crimes were charged criminally under city code, while another 547 were cited with “administrative notices of violation.” Dunn said he did not know how many were hit with fines, or how much was collected.

“It’s a difficult crime to catch somebody in the act of doing it, because it happens very quickly,” he said. “There’s a fair amount that do get arrested, but for the amount of people out there that are doing it, the percentage is pretty low.”

This year, the city is spending $4.9 million on graffiti removal, which is $1.1 million than it spent last year. After taking office in 2011, Emanuel initially tried to cut graffiti removal funding to save money, but aldermen protested and he reversed course.

Aldermen and one community group leader who has worked for years to combat graffiti with citizen patrols on the Southwest Side were more concerned with the affects on neighborhoods than the cost to the city.

“Helen Keller can see that graffiti is a cancer on the city, in my opinion, and like any other cancer, if you don’t deal with it early, it spreads,” said Ald. Michael Zalewski, 23rd. The city, he said, needs “to send a signal that if we catch you you’re going to be held responsible.”

hdardick@tribune.com
jebyrne@tribune.com


TakeAways

An Awesome City, Indeed!

An Awesome City, Indeed!

At some point the ‘homerism‘ begins to seem shallow. But if your focus is on:

  • the number of miles of bike lanes
  • being the first in the country to have ‘Curbees
  • reducing the parking options for automobile drivers
  • complaining that another town some 25 or more miles outside the city limits does not want on-street bike lanes
  • rejoicing in the fact that our weekend murder rate has not yet reached 100 victims
Dont Change Barrington Hills!

Dont Change Barrington Hills!

Then sure this is a wonderful town. It has great architecture, a beautiful lakefront trail, nice museums and even restaurants of fine quality. But no matter how you look at it having 100 miles of even Protected Bike Lanes does not imply that you can ride them all safely. Chicago is a bit like a very nice Bentley whose tires are rotted and has an undercarriage that is rusted out while its engine is leaking oil. But its paint finish is still pretty good. Well, may be not if the article above is any evidence. But you know how these aldermen are. Howard (ChainLink) likes to call them POS. I don’t think that is short for People of Substance.

These guys are always giving the ChainLink Crowd dyspepsia. It’s bad enough that the folks in Barrington Hills are not doing what ChainLinkers have determined should be done. But they have somehow managed to not collapse under the weight of the criticism from this group. Simply amazing! That really has to give Howard additional ‘food for thought‘.

Chicago's Cycling Movement Issues A Leftist Manifesto

Chicago’s Cycling Movement Issues A Leftist Manifesto

But look on the bright side. Despite their being as Howard terms them ‘An Oppressed Minority‘ all signs are that their Leftist Dream will come true.

They will have managed to subdue automobiles and their drivers by removing all ‘unnecessary parking‘ at least according to the StreetsBlog guys.

And despite the fact that the death toll keeps rising and suburbanites are loathe to set foot in the place things are really looking up.

This is ‘An Awesome City!‘ All we need to do now is figure out a way to keep the schools open, functioning and actually educating the student population. And we will keep handing out bicycles to young kids who cannot count on waking from their slumber party alive and breathing.

Yep. This is an ‘Awesome City‘ and we have Protected Bike Lanes to thank for it. Now we can move on to solving the problem of World Hunger.

Hey! I’ve got an idea, why not have an Underwear Ride along those beautiful (and safe) bicycle lanes? Now that would be sweet!

Surely if you are against Oil Usage (and thus ride Naked) then fighting hunger must somehow be accomplished by pedaling in nothing but your panties and bra, Right?