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Courthouse Cop-out

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Talking city politics, Michael Miner once complained of a "shift during Daley's administration to more private dealings, less open discussion, and diminished public involvement in decision making." John Stroger has caught the bug.

Daley's airport and the more recent Millennium Park are projects that came full-blown onto the scene with nary a chance for public debate; Stroger's County Hospital and courthouse, ditto.

I wish Ben [Joravsky] and Melody [Rodgers] had dug a little deeper into the landgrab about to be launched in East Garfield Park ("Easy Targets," January 12). Instead of pinning Stroger, Daley, Steele, and others to the wall with a penetrating question every now and then, they let each and all too easily off the hook.

Sympathetic to the plight of those who may but shouldn't have to lose their homes, I wanted, first, to hear why John Stroger thought Commissioner Quigley's proposal "impractical." If reducing the on-site caseload worked in Du Page, why wouldn't it work in Cook County? I wanted to know who the private consultants were--and what their report looked like. Did they stop to consider the economic and social costs of displacement along with the benefits of a "best" courthouse site? Why was the nearby Allstate Building so easily dismissed? It's a fact: conversions to new use are cheap; a thousand cars could be accommodated on the Allstate site; no homes would be lost. Commissioner Steele complained that it was too far from the Blue Line stop for most people to walk. Is four short blocks too far to walk? What did the other commissioners think about Allstate? I wanted to know the names of absentee land owners inside the project area. I wanted to know why, with so much vacant and underdeveloped land in the vicinity, so few sites were considered.

Alderman Smith says he is "appalled" that the people in his ward "keep getting hit over and over again" by a system that undermines their modest attempts to make life better--for themselves and their community. A longtime member of the council, it's taken Ed a while to see how our city's government really works. A more perceptive observer, I learned my lesson a long time ago.

Todd Wexman

N. Winchester

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