Monday, June 22, 2009

Just Dance

A reader writes in with the following pic and info:
"I wrote UU a month back about residents using CTA benches as places to sit and drink for hours vs. waiting for the CTA bus. I watched three buses and two cop cars drive by this morning as they drank, danced, walked in front of cars and yelled profanities around passing families. What can be done as the cops do not seem to care? I have called 311 and 911 and most of the time the cops either drive by or do not even show up. The bags around them (picture) are not holding coffee or orange juice, but flasks of Uptown finest cheep booze, hence her dancing on the corner for 20 minutes. The scene in the picture is almost a daily morning occurrence at Montrose and Sheridan, by the wonderful outdoor seating at Jakes. This also happens on the 151 stops just south of Montrose, in front of the two senior buildings."


  1. you have to call or email the CTA and report "shelter abuse" and the CTA cops will be by and take care of things.

  2. I have done the same. I even emailed the alderman asking if there is anything that can be done and got no response. Its very frustrating.

  3. Broadway and Wilson bus stop has been taken over by the passed out junkies and drunks. These stops can't be used by bus riders and calling the police is useless! What can we do to stop this? Also, doesn't the CTA have a police force?

  4. What an awesome life...get up, get drunk, dance, pass out...wake up drink, dance....

  5. Can't be used by riders? I use all of those stops regularly, and I don't seem to have a problem. And personally, dancing in public doesn't bother me much, and I don't figure anyone who's passed out to be a threat. The people at the Sheridan & Montrose stop are usually drinking, sure, but seem pleasant enough most days, if a little wacko (but hey, I can't claim not to be wacko myself). I chat with them now and then. They're far friendlier than the Chads & Trixies on the red line once I get to it. Meh! Where would you have them go instead? Everyone gotta put their butt somewher, and I don't begrudge anyone a little boozin' (lest I become a hypocrite).

  6. Candice,

    If you're worried that they won't have a place to drink, why don't you let them use your house while you're gone? They're just dancing after all, and whats wrong with a little boozing(other than being against the law and a public nuisance)?

  7. Big "C" You really are a mess. If they are so pleasant, we will give them your address, a case of Ice House, tell them you have a second case and send them over.
    Have you no concern for the kids who see this and think it is just peachy to hang out,break the law, get drunk, piss in the selter and pass out?

  8. Candice, and those who sympathize with your statement, must realize this constant laissez-faire attitude about our community's criminal elements is not only ignorant, it is destructive to the positive change we are trying to achieve in Uptown. I'm usually very hesitant to attack anyone personally on this comment thread, but your attitude toward blatant criminal behavior is suspiciously ignorant and flat out wrong.

    Drinking in public is a crime. It undermines public security and creates an unfriendly, if not hostile, environment for pedestrians.

    No, Candice, people can't sit down on benches when drunks and druggies are passed out on them.

    No, Candice, passed out people might not be a "problem" until you wake them and they puke on you, or piss next to your kids, or decide they are detoxing and need more money for booze so they attempt to rob you.

    No, Candice, I do not have all the answers, but your immature attitude is counterproductive to improving our neighborhood. You should know that.

    I would rather have these people not feel the need to constantly escape their existence through drugs and alcohol. Where would I rather them loiter drunkenly in public? Not a damn place close to my zip code, 60640. I would have them seek help for substance abuse and mental health issues, which we offer plenty of in Uptown. I would have the police lock them up for breaking the law so they are in a controlled, sober environment where they might be able to receive some help and guidance that.

    No, Candice, no one here buys the story you are spinning and it is really getting very, very old.

  9. Candice, that kind of laissez faire la di da attitude toward drunken homeless people taking over a bus stop is something I have no respect for.

  10. Wow, Candace says she isn't bothered by what others seem to be bothered by, & she is called a (i) mess, (ii) someone has has no concern for others, (iii) ignorant, (iv) destructive, (v) wrong, (vi) immature, & (vii) counterproductive. Oh, & no one buys her story & she is not respected. Sheesh. I feel like I just read something out of that book, "Liberal Fascism".

  11. Bus stop benches are considered public furniture, the key word being public. Making it very difficult to restrict use. It is not CTA property.

    On a side note there are a lot of anonymous 911 calls stating that there is drinking in the bus stops. As a way to get the police to respond. When in fact they are not drinking. This crying wolf is beginning to annoy the police.

    If they are drinking call 911 and point them out and where the beer is so the police can take action. When there is a actual person as the complainant the police are more likely to ticket or arrest. If still not happy with police responce call 911 again and request a supervisor.

    Remember loitering in NOT against the law.

  12. Why is this type of activity like tolerated in Uptown? Can you imagine what would happen if something like this were to occur in Lakeview or most other north side neighborhoods?

    A friend of mine owns a prominent business very close to here, and according to him one of the biggest problems is the "element" in the immediate area. I've seen these people harassing customers, etc.

    Not good for business.

  13. Andy,

    "I would rather have these people not feel the need to constantly escape their existence through drugs and alcohol."

    i agree.

    "I would have them seek help for substance abuse and mental health issues, which we offer plenty of in Uptown."
    i'm not trying to make excuses for people but i think your statement should be clarified. the services offered to low or no income people who struggle with substance abuse and mental illness have been cut SIGNIFICANTLY. oftentimes very low income people who struggle with these problems need help finding housing and that is an extremely hard thing for people to do these days. it's not as easy as you make it out to be.

    "I would have the police lock them up for breaking the law so they are in a controlled, sober environment where they might be able to receive some help and guidance that."

    Andy, you ever spent time in a jail or prison???

  14. I meant to ask "Why is this type of activity tolerated in Uptown?"

    I didn't intend to sound like a 14 year old girl there....

  15. Thank You NM, people call the police & try to dump everything on them. Either they are scared and want to be anonymous or they're to "busy" to stick around. The police and citizens need to work cooperatively, it's a two way street.

  16. Ron - I've visited jails (b/c undoubtedly these types of arrested individuals would RARELY go to prison) - their survival is much more guaranteed in jail than on the streets doped up. Especially since they are mostly non-violent, going to the more relaxed divisions in County.

  17. You're right Ron, we haven't opened a new methadone clinic in Uptown in quite a while.

  18. i have concluded that people are getting some sort of help in uptown. maybe not the help you and i think they need, but they're getting it on some level.

    she's homeless yet dancing in the rain? surely, more threatening photojournalistic opportunities exist.

  19. No one buys that homeless people generally don't bother me? That's okay. That doesn't bother me, either. Not much does.

    Benches are not a right, loitering is not illegal. I think both of these points were mentioned.

    Puking/pissing in public... not a fan, but if you're homeless, just hold it in forever? If I had a kid, I'd tell them "they have nowhere else to go". In any case, I've pissed in public before. I'm choosier about location, but *shrug*

    Drinking in public? Couldn't give a shit. Did a bit o' that on Saturday, & half the under-30s down Sheridan are doing the same thing on the sidewalk every weekend. BFD. They're not homeless, so I guess that's okay.

    People passed out on the sidewalk? I suppose having to walk around them is a *minor* inconvenience. But someone who's unconscious is pretty unlikely in inconvenience me in any other way. (I guess they smell fairly bad a lot of the time, but with my allergies, I don't have a sense of smell lately, anyway).

    Being robbed... eh, I suppose that would bug me. Not that I carry cash. But I don't like people in my personal space.

    I probably wouldn't let any of them into my apartment for the same reason... love that personal space. Can't really stand having friends over for too long, either. But I don't mind them on my stoop *except* that they leave their Natty Ice cans on the step and on the mailbox. There's a garbage can right there, guise...

    You people all take me far too seriously, BTW. No sense of humour, any of you. I'm not complaining. My friends and I find this site much more hilarious because of it.

  20. arresting these people is not long-term effective. The crimes they commit are hardly arrest-worthy and besides, is the expense of incarcerating these people worth the it? Probably not when you consider the odds they will return the these bad habits after a short and costly stint in jail.

    I say, ship 'em all to mexico in exchange for all the illegals we've taken. heck, at least they can be near the source of their favorite habits...

    p.s. for all you about to label me, that was a joke...he he he.

  21. While I can understand one saying it's no big deal to walk around, plug my nose, close your eyes, etc, the allowance / acceptance of these "minor" crimes only helps perpetuate larger problems in the community. NYC is a perfect example of enforcing the seemingly smaller, more benign problems to help drive out other more severe problems. The individuals that are drugged out, pissing in public, etc. are also much more likely to be involved, and at a minimum support financially, larger problems in the community. If you didn't have drug users in teh community, you wouldn't have gangs and the violence they generate.

    Regardless, it's completely unacceptable for my three-year old daughter to have to see that...that's why we avoid streets like Wilson and Broadway and can't just go for a walk. That's no way to build an interactive, safe community.

  22. "On a side note there are a lot of anonymous 911 calls stating that there is drinking in the bus stops. As a way to get the police to respond. When in fact they are not drinking. This crying wolf is beginning to annoy the police"

    This is a quite a statement, without any statistics to back it up--what is your source for this info?

  23. Arresting people for drinking in public only removes them for about 3 hours, that's it not any longer than that. It doesn't solve the problem just takes it out of view for awhile.

    The only thing arrest might do is push them to another location to kill time all day.

    And Uptown is not the only place this happens. I was around Irving, Cicero and Milwaukee there was homeless in numerous bus stops. Have any of you seen under the expressway at Belmont, talk about a shanty town.

    I don't have a answer to solve homelessness. Actually I do but UU wouldn't publish it. But, if someone does they would be a lock for a Nobel prize.

  24. The answer is not jail for these people but if caught drinking in the public way the beer should be dumped out. This will stop the behavior.

  25. Oy. The problem is not if people drink at bus stops, or dance/puke/piss/what have you in public, on occasion.

    The problem is the persistence of such behavior, and the concentration thereof in this area.

    And the negative effect this behavior has on the community as a whole.

    Some folks may not be bothered by it, but some people are.

    We spend an awful lot of money to help the needy, and this particular part of the city has a higher than average concentration of such service.

    Where are the results?

    From my vantage, I don't see my tax dollars as being used effectively if I have to step over someone who is passed out drunk, or have to wade through beer cans and empty whiskey bottles.

    Many times, the not-so-needy are forced to make sacrifices to help those in need and what do those folks get in return?

    Trash, feces, urine and other examples of unpleasantness strewn about the streets.

    Not to mention the abhorrent behavior and crime that runs hand in hand with such.

    No one is asking for shangrala, but an occasional demonstration of respect for oneself and one's neighbors as well as some thoughtfulness to the surrounding community wouldn't hurt.

    And, when it comes right down to it, is that too much ask?


  26. With all due respect Nadmenny we do not live in those other areas you mentioned we live in Uptown. That argument is moot.

    As far as solving the problem that to does not lie on our shoulders. That comes first with personal responsibility then with elected officials and then if that is lacking it comes from our judicial system. I have no intentions of adopting a crackhead, or taking a drunk to work, or playing Parcheesi with a pedophile. When I call 911 or 311 I expect my tax dollars to be respected along with my judgment.

    Trust me this "crying wolf" that you see is an aberration. I personally call 911 about 1/50th of the times I could and probably should.

  27. Enforcing the law will alter behavior. It does every single day.

    The idea that your phone call to 911 won't change anything is wrong. Humans will continue to do what they can get away with. They will delay confronting the very circumstances they create that open the windows to more malicious behavior.

    The Chicago Police can enforce the law all over CTA property. You do NOT have to contact CTA police to report crime occurring in and around CTA property.

    Call the police. Report accurate descriptions of the parties. Leave your name.

    You won't improve your neighborhood if you remain silent.

  28. "The answer is not jail for these people but if caught drinking in the public way the beer should be dumped out. This will stop the behavior." p

    I haven't seen that approach work. Police have these guys pour out their beer all the time. The cop leaves and they get more beer. I don't see this happening on the main streets of the 3 wards surrounding the 46th and I'm presuming it's because the aldermen there put the onus on the social services to do a better job of monitoring their clients.

  29. I live around the corner from this outdoor dive bar and have written numerous letters to the alderman about it - to no avail. I wish I had a solution to offer.

  30. The answer is not jail for these people but if caught drinking in the public way the beer should be dumped out. This will stop the behavior. p

    I see these guys put the beer inside their coat when a cop car passes and once the cop car passes by, they go right back to drinking. On occasion when they're caught and the cop has them empty their can, they go get another can of beer when the cop leaves.

    Stopping some of the enabling behavior that allows them to keep drinking is probably part of the answer. Some of these social services enable their drinking and so it continues.

  31. Like many said Candice, invite them to your own damn house. And yes, they bug the shit out of me, especially when I'm paying property taxes twice a year.

    And to Ron, cut more funding. Hasn't f'ing helped yet. Unless you call pissing gov't money away progress.

  32. Chip,
    My point is this is a citywide, countrywide, worldwide problem. What to do with the homeless. And 3 hours in lock-up on a city charge is not a deterrent to stop this behavior. If anything they get a meal out of it.

  33. Candice, I agree with you. It doesn't bother me any and besides, I've grown quite used to it.

    I part ways with you in a desire to do something about it. A parent having to avoid certain streets in her own neighborhood when she's walking with her child bothers me. I wonder if that bothers you?

  34. NM: The point you're missing is arresting people isn't about doing it one time, removing them from the streets for 3 hours, and away they go to drink again. It's about consistently enforcing so that it's 3 hours every time. If you consistently and frequently do this, eventually it will change behavior.

  35. Or tell them that there are places for them to go, called "taverns," where previous generations of neighborhood "characters" would drink and dance, out of sight and out of mind of the "good" people.

  36. Here's the thing about this that really annoys me. Who are the bus shelters and seats made for? And who is using them?

    At one of my regular bus stops, in the SOUTHERN part of the ward, in Lakeview, the bus bench that had been there forever went away a couple years ago. When I asked why, it was because it had been being used as a crash pad by drunks and aggressive panhandlers and the neighbors requested that it be removed. Three things about this.

    * First, I'm disabled. I HAVE to take the bus because the lovely Uptown el stations aren't configured for me and I can't climb up the stairs. Either I drive downtown and pay $30 to park or I take the bus.
    *Second, even though the bus benches were put there for people like me, they're no longer there for people like me because people like Drinking Don or Dancing Dora have taken them over and it's easier to remove the benches than to free them for the people who they were created to assist.
    *Third, why is it that in Uptown part of the 46th ward, we're called uncaring if we want the benches for the elderly and disabled rather than the mentally ill, but in the Lakeview part of the 46th ward, the neighbors complain and the benches disappear?

  37. This aint your college campus sweetie

  38. my wife said that as she was walking home tonight from the Wilson el stop, she passed the A+ Market on Sheridan. As she was walking by, she saw a woman come out of the store, drop her pants, and relieve herslef right there on the sidewalk. So Candice, you're okay with this, because "Where else would you have them go", right?

  39. I don't have all the answers, and I don't take most of the ridiculousness seriously that goes on. I have, however, waited for a bus and innocently tolerated someone who was just "dancing" until they asked me for money, began yelling and threatening me, etc. I just walked away, because I could. Maybe next time I or one of my neighbors won't be so lucky.

    Bottom line, if it ain't legal I call the police, give them all my information and the suspected criminal's, and usually wait close by for action. They are quick and they tend to do their jobs well.

    And honestly, I have been arrested for public intox, in college walking home, and was thrown in the drunk tank for half a day. I've never gone back because it was the worst experience of my life. For these people it might be a vacation compared to life, and I get that.

    I'm fine with anonymous bloggers laughing at how seriously I sometimes take my neighborhood cleanliness, safety and general atmosphere of respect for everyone's public and private spaces. But I do, so laugh at me for giving a shit and trying to contribute something to a constructive dialogue. Peace out.

  40. I like Andy. :) breath of fresh air

  41. Mark, Jake's is not a dive bar nor a bar at all. You should go in and try the broasted, it's fantastic and the owners/workers are sweet.

  42. gayle, are you insinuating that 'good' people don't go to 'taverns'? wow, i don't know what to write in response to that...shocking. get off the overly simplistic stereotypes and THINK before you write.

  43. Sometimes eating at Jake's is like being part of an Edward Hopper painting.

    It's not a bar and the food is good. Most of the employees have been there for years.

    Stop in for an ice cream.

    Here is a review of Jake's by a best selling author.

  44. Just to throw this one out there: Riddle me this - How many of you have walked just north of this bus stop past the alley and noted that it always smells of an unclean port-a-john that's been pissed all over from one end to the next? That alley is like an open sewer. And WHAT happens if you try to report it to the Alderman's office or to the City via 311? Nothing. 311's excuse? It's the PROPERTY OWNER responsibility to maintain their premises. At last check - that alley belonged to the City of Chicago. Does anyone have any insight into this?