Dirty Dealing on Maxwell Street | Letters | Chicago Reader

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Dirty Dealing on Maxwell Street


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To the editors:

The University of Illinois wants to take over the neighborhood on Maxwell Street and the developers are pushing hard on the remaining residents. It's not just Tyner White ["Wood if He Could," May 15] and Maxworks. All the buildings along the street are in jeopardy as well as the wood and other items stored in lots along the adjacent streets. "It's all gonna go," says officer Rich, cop on the beat. "It's an eyesore."

I'll admit there is a lot of debris littering the curbs and sidewalks, but I have never seen any of the residents drop it there. According to the dictionary, debris is something broken. Tyner White's wood is not debris. There are and have been denailing processes going on. What was used becomes reusable. It cannot be debris.

Who is twisting the meaning of the word debris? Is it the judge, or maybe the building inspector? Why do they not use the word "WOOD"? It's debris only to rich people who go to lumber yards for new wood, but this is not a classless society. There are lower income people who need wood too.

As for the danger of fire, unless the city is planning eviction by arson, the fire hazard is minimal. In my seven years of association with Maxworks there has never been a fire in any of the buildings owned by its members or former members, nor in the lots used for storage.

There have been numerous fires in the neighborhood but usually in abandoned buildings, probably the work of arsonists who are paid by the demolition company to create a safety hazard in need of demolition. It's too bad writers don't spend more time on the street, you're not going to believe me.

For once I'd like to see Streets and San clear away the real debris, but there is a purpose for leaving it. The U. of I. can use the "eyesore" excuse for bulldozing everything. Pay us to sweep the streets! We need jobs. You could bring back the street sweeper on foot and create jobs for the unemployed all over the city.

The unions prevent full employment. There is not enough money in the city budget to employ foot sweepers. The city must pay union wages to the few, who operate giant street sweepers, but which cannot even do half the work of removing litter from lots, alleys, gutters, etc. For the same cost, the city could hire three times the work force, which could do the job on foot, and a more complete job at that.

The inner cities all over America have been exploited by developers and city planners. A twisted interpretation of the Fifth Amendment has allowed this to happen. The government needs to use due process to take away someone's property, and the taking must be for a "public use." The public use for taking in the Maxwell Street neighborhood is that the neighborhood is an "eyesore." The U. of I. doesn't like the way it looks. The city doesn't like the way it looks. The Reader doesn't like the way it looks? But what is it that they don't like? Is it that the upper class can't mix with the lower class, so the lower class has to go?

Maybe when the U. of I. moves in with their own commercial development, new buildings, new (better) people, they don't want to be reminded of what they did to us to get "success."

Daniel Miller

W. Maxwell

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