Thursday, October 27, 2011

One Thing About A City That's Broke...

... is that laws that have been unenforced for years suddenly start getting enforced, and fines given.  Hefty ones, too.

In today's Sun-Times, there's an article about Ald. Tunney pushing to have Ward Superintendents write warnings and tickets for unshoveled sidewalks.

And in recent days, we've heard a lot about a little-known law being enforced regarding multiple city stickers on your car's windshield.  Apparently you must scrape off last year's sticker or face a $120 fine.  We were willing to chalk that one up as an urban myth, but it seems it's really happening.  Today's Edgeville Buzz has the cautionary tale of an Edgewater resident who got ticketed this week for that very thing.

City's out of money, folks, and the new "Chicago Way" is to enforce the letter of the law.  There's not a night that we don't see enforcement agents going up and down our street, around midnight, checking parked cars for city stickers and running license plates.  If the city is going to be a stickler for details, we need to be, too.  Now, where's our razor blade scraper?


  1. The most annoying part of removing the stupid old sticker was having to deal with "breakaway adhesive" which makes it impossible to remove the thing in one piece. Luckily I have access to solvents at work...hexane does a pretty good job of dissolving the residue.

  2. The nickle and diming going on with the city, county, and state is alarming. I understand former administrations wrote blank checks (spending in the city alone was up 2 billion in ten years) but...come on!

    In a weeks time we get the proposition to remove trash rebates, increase in electric bills, double city sticker prices on SUV's, and speed cameras doling out $100 tickets in 50% of the city. Not to mention our recent property tax bills that just don't seem to add up.

    I would prefer a representative from the state, county, and city just came to my front door and said...

    "Look, we are really sorry. We can't balance a budget and don't understand the concept of not spending more than we take in. Could we please have X amount of your dollars? That should get us through at least until next year."

    Wait until 2014 and the pensions come crumbling down on the city of Chicago.

  3. As a person who spends a lot of time making sure his sidewalk and steps are clear after it snows I have no problem about a push to follow this law. It is frustrating to walk the dog and have a clear path on the sidewalk except a few apartment buildings on my street that never bother.

    But that aside, I am trilled to hear that instead of always asking me for more money, they may instead go after others who do not always follow the law. I feel the same way about dog licenses.

    I think a warning letter than a follow up ticket is quite fair. I don't think people should be outside with a shovel the minute it snows. But if a day or two go by after a storm and you are making no effort because it is going to be warm next week and you hope the snow will melt. That is deserving of a ticket.

  4. Not to mention the speed camera legislation that is moving through the State Assembly for Chicago. They would be installed just near parks and schools (which would cover most of city) and be set to ticket at 5 MPH over. Seriously people. I rarely agree with a republican, but, "“People in this state are sick and tired of being nickel and dimed to death,” said Sen. Dan Duffy, R-Lake Barrington, who called the cameras a “blatant revenue grab by the city of Chicago.” (See article in today's Tribune). The City is certainly not just nickling and diming us to death with efforts like these, but killing us with taxes (how much did your property tax bill go up)and other fees. CPS raises by the maximum increment every year with not much to show for it (another topic).

    I have to say, as a considerate neighbor and generally meticulously shoveler, the tickets for shoveling holds some appeal, particularly since you would get a couple warnings and have a reasonable amount of time after snowfall before a ticket was actually issued. In any case, let the comments fly!

  5. I almost forgot, the county also wants an increase on Booze and Cigarette taxes. Not only are they fleecing us for cash but now they are adding more tax on to our coping mechanisms that we use to deal with the fleecing.

    I give up.

  6. Sticker Shields -- the $2 or whatever impulse buy you occasionally find at CVS or Walgreens -- works like a dream.

    Instead of this nickle and dime stuff for minor offenses, why not just dramatically hike up the fines for serious ones instead? Imagine how much more cops would crack down on dangerous driving if, say, reckless driving came with a minimum $2500 ticket. Or how quickly neglectful apartment/condo buildings would shovel if the fine was $100 per foot, not $100 total.

  7. Luke,

    Using the sticker shield is a violation of the ordinance. Just FYI.

  8. Hey, I just said they work. I never said I use them. :) Thanks for the heads-up, though.

  9. I'm tired of paying school taxes and having such a poor graducation rate (less than 60%). It's not always the teacher's fault.

    Why not make the parents of children who skip school pay a tax? Call it a truant tax. Can't control your child. Learn how to.

    I'm tired of paying all the housing subsidies to people who can't get their life together. Hey, don't graduate from high school, have a baby out of wedlock, get housing, food stamps, you name it.

    We reward lots of people who don't or won't get the free education the taxpayer's provide. I'm sick of it.

  10. Toto:

    As a CPS teacher I agree with you that parents are not taking an active role in their child's life. Parent need to be held more accountable.

    As for the drop-out rate, the percentages CPS reports are not accurate. CPS considers a student to be a drop out if they enter a high school their freshman year and then transfer schools. If a student does not graduate from the high school they started at their freshman year but still graduate from high school, they are a drop-out. It is a totally messed up calculation.

    Chicago is going to nickle and dime itself out of residents. People are eventually going to get fed up with the extreme cost of living here and start moving away. I am single and have a disposable income that is being eaten up by all the outragous taxes, fines, etc. I could move to another city and live a much more finacially secure life. I would have even more disposable income in other cities. My friends and family from other cities can't belive how much I pay to the city in taxes (property, sales, etc) and how much in fees I have to pay to live here (city stickers, parking meter rates, frivolous tickets, etc).

    If this nickle and diming continues, I for one will move to another city where I can live a more cost effective life and spend my money on my family, friends, and myslef rather than the city and state.

  11. @Toto

    If you can convince people that they're being pulled down by those lowest on the ladder, they won't pay any attention to the fact that everyone is being shaken down from the top.

  12. Don't forget about the state income tax increase, in addition to all these other fees, fines, tickets, etc.

  13. Here's what's probably next on the horizon (obviously for motorists only): If your car is missing at least one hub cap (like my car is), you'll be ticketed. If you're caught driving with your chihuahua or any other cute tiny dog sitting in your lap, you'll be pulled over and ticketed. If you have ANYTHING hanging from your inside mirror (unless it's a handicap placard), you'll be ticketed, even if you're parked at the time. If you're driving with one hand or arm out the window, you'll be ticketed. If you're scratching while driving, you'll be pulled over and ticketed. If you're driving through Chicago and have a Republican-related bumper sticker on the car you're driving, you'll be pulled over and HEAVILY ticketed. If you caught kissing your significant other while waiting at a light, you'll be pulled over and ticketed. If you're caught singing while driving, you'll be pulled over and ticketed. The budget should be balanced by the end of 2012.

  14. Oh lets not forget about how starting next year you will have to pay for the privilege of going and doing your civic duty of Jury Duty if you need to park a car. Kind of ridiculous as they can't get people to follow through on it enough as it is.

    But once again if you follow the rules and do what you are supposed to do YOU are the one who gets to give more money to the county. How about spending a bit of energy going after those you skip Jury Duty instead. Maybe fine them instead of asking me for $4.50 to park my car at the court house that is 20 miles away from where I live.

  15. @fearless

    Although I think you are partly joking about the other stuff, I have to say that I actually do think people should be pulled over for having a dog riding in their lap, no matter how cute it is.

  16. i'll go along with all the rest of this, but am surprised and disappointed that UU or anyone associated with it, and good community responsibility, would object to enforcing the law around shoveling... apparently it's been too long since you've dealt with the last snowfall and navigating the slippery, lumpy and otherwise unshoveled sidewalks. shovel and salt... it called being a good citizen, a good neighbor and fulfilling your responsibilities as such...

  17. ChicagoChristopher, each year we've run at least one post about how to report unshoveled sidewalks to the city. I think you're reading something into our story that isn't there. Our post is noting that the city is now enforcing statutes that it rarely has before. I think certain Uptown businesses and property owners cough*Maryville*cough might be very surprised this winter.

  18. "If you can convince people that they're being pulled down by those lowest on the ladder, they won't pay any attention to the fact that everyone is being shaken down from the top."

    Right on Toucan!

    And get used to this type of thing, Rahm is a fascist pig and I couldn't regret voting for him more than I do now. That corporate puppet will not help us, he will only help the likes of the Chicago Board of Options Exchange or any other big business at our expense.

  19. @Caring Neighbor - whatever your intention then, then shoveling is a very poor example to use. it's not at all the same as the sticker example

  20. Forget about shoveling the sidewalks, I'd be happy if the owner of the parking lot near the south west corner of Lawrence and Winthrop would stop dumping the snow from his lot onto the sidewalk out front. After last years big snowfall everyone else on the west side of Winthrop between Leland and Lawrence cleaned the sidewalk in front of their building, except the owner of that lot and the house next to it, which I understand he also owns. Not only did he not shovel the sidewalks, he dumped the snow from his highly profitable parking lot onto the sidewalk in front, creating about a 10 high barrier of snow that had a clean sidewalk leading up to it. I notice they do that everytime they shovel that parking lot, they just push it onto the sidewalk. I called last year's alderman about it and you can guess the results. I look forward to seeing the response from this year's alderman.

  21. I'm fine with ticketing those who break the law, as long as the enforcement is consistent. One day this summer, there was a police officer at Argyle and Broadway ticketing drivers who did not stop for pedestrians who were entering the crosswalk. At first I was excited by this. Several days following, a Chicago police officer (no sirens sounding, in no distinguishable hurry) crossed the solid line into the opposite lane of traffic to avoid me stepping into a crosswalk. Enforce the laws or don't - I don't care. But at least be consistent about it.

  22. In ten year's time, I've seen my property taxes go from about $1,700 per year to over $6,000 per year. (And I regularly file appeals). Since the majority of my taxes go to a disfunctional school system that has had millions and millions poured into it without much results, I'm tired.

    Certainly, we should look top down, at the tax systems. But, since we have structured the cost of our schools upon property taxes, and, we are getting a state income tax increase, I don't see our politcos in this state raising income taxes again to provide property tax relief.

    We have set up a failed testing system that has not significantly increased scores. Further, testing does not address the high drop out rate.

    In our discussions about our schools nobody ever addresses the issue of the parental responsibility. There are teachers, parents and students. We blame teachers for poor proformance, but we never put any responsibility on the parents.

    Every couple of years a new program is trotted out, we spend more money on schools and we get little or no results from it.

    How about instead of No Child Left Behind we have parents step up to the plate. And if you are getting some kind of government subsidy, you should at least have to participate in a parenting program targeted at getting their child into a success stream. And if the parent cannot do that for their child, why should I as a taxpayer continue to subsidize another generation that will need more government services.

    By the way, I also think we should move away from public pensions and workers (and politicians) should all join social security. Teachers and government workers have better pensions than I do (since I have no pension) and their healthcare costs are a fraction of what the private sector pays.

  23. It's not just the people at the bottom of the ladder, Toucan...Rahm is trying so hard to convince the taxpayers that the teachers in this city are giving the kids and the rest of us the shaft because there is money in education that his cronies want a bigger piece of, and breaking the city's unions are his real agenda. CPS claimed they couldn't afford our 4% raises, but somehow can afford to pay charter schools to extend their day. His demonization of the CPS teachers and the CTU are a means to an end. There's money to be made in opening charter schools, there's money to be made in creating new curriculum and testing protocol, especially if you don't have to work with a union. If CPS administration spent more of their money with the intent of students succeeding, there would be no money to be made from "reform". No one at "the top of the ladder" will profit from having parents be more accountable for their children's success. In fact, if the people that are dependent on the "system" were less so, what would the Peter Holsten's of the world do? I'm sure he has profited more individually than the people whose rents are subsidized have. The CTU, Police and Fire contracts are all about to be re-negotiated, but rather than negotiate, rather than asking the unions to make reasonable concessions for the benefit of the city, he's setting the stage for the public to "share his frustration and outrage" long enough to decimate the unions who have negotiated a wage that allows some of us to live here under the city's residency policy.

  24. What does this mean for Maryville? Will they be ticketed for the unshoveled sidewalks and will it actually get anything done?

  25. I couldn't regret voting for him more than I do now

    That's your issue, not his.

    It's not like Rahm's corporate history was hidden, or anything.

    What did you expect?

    Hell, even I didn't vote for Rahm.

    Again: one of the reasons we're all in this mess is due to people not taking voting seriously.

    Thanks for making my point.

  26. Thirtyone years as a Police Officer and I never once handled an accident involving a child struck by a car near a school.Just sayin.

    I'm also just sayin that you all voted for this Rahm Emanuel I hope you enjoy your selection. Me, I'm moving soon to a free state. Texas, Arizona perhaps. While he taxes you to death I'll be enjoying life far,far away from all this/his nonsense.

  27. Larger Paternal One,

    I've been to Texas.

    To quote the Army General whose name graces Sheridan Road:

    "If I owned Texas and Hell, I would rent Texas and live in Hell"

    Even with the advent of air conditioning Texas is still barely liveable much of the year. I'll take our winter and Chicago political crooks to their summer and political crooks.

    Hell, Governor Perry strikes me as Rich Daley with a cowboy hat and sillier accent.

  28. Irish Pirate- maybe Texas or maybe somewhere else. I just threw those two states out there. I just want to live where I can feel free even if I'm really not. Chicago,Crook County and the State of Illinois are not on my list. I can deal with the heat or winter. It's the corrupt political system and nanny state that I hate.

  29. I agree with Luke - go for the big offenses.

    I'd be happy if they started ticketing drivers who pull into an intersection and block it as the signal turns. That happens all the time and turns busy intersections into total clusterf***s. It never seems to be enforced here but it should be.

  30. They'll be enforcing dog licenses soon too. I discovered I'm in the 5% of city residents that actually did. Silly me.

    I'll never do it again though. One of my dogs passed away. I filled out the renewal form for the living dog (it requires address, breed, etc)., and never received the tag. I discovered the tag was sent to my prior address for - for the dead dog.
    Oh, and the 3 yr. rabies cert. was lost too.

    Even if they could enforce the law here, they don't have competent people to assist those that want to abide.

    It's beyond comical.

  31. Come on Uptown condo owners, Speak Up. Tell the Mayor and your Alderman to put the condo garbage rebate back in the budget. We are paying twice to remove our trash; once through property tax and once direct to the scavengers. This is discrimination. Speak Up!