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Like Steve Rhodes and plenty of other skeptics, I've always had mixed feelings about the city's Graffiti Blasters program. On the one hand, it's based on the wobbly premises that all graffiti is vandalism and that the best way to fight it is to try to erase the work of taggers after they've already done it--at a cost of millions of dollars a year. Then again, aldermen, business owners, and some community leaders are adamant that eradicating graffiti is critical for fighting crime and keeping communities stable--essentially an application of the broken windows theory.
Whether that argument makes for sound policy is still debatable in my mind, but it's been the city's official line for most of the Richard M. Daley years. And a few weeks ago a Streets and Sanitation spokesman assured me that the Graffiti Blasters program is running at full speed despite cuts in funding.
Maybe he was bluffing--not that such things have ever happened before--or maybe the program's 41 budgeted employees have been assigned to other work, or maybe there's some other reason they haven't made it to the far north side in awhile, because on a short walk the other day I came across ...