I read with disbelief Ben Joravsky's "Tied to the Tracks" [January 4]. I didn't believe that the pretense of democracy existed within the city limits of Chicago. I couldn't believe that Darren Brown was "invited" to meet with CTA officials and his alderman, where officials were "conciliatory" and "explained" and even "offered" to build him a new shop! Wow! Wow! Triple Wow! Darren Brown should fall to his knees and thank whatever coffee God it is that he prays to for such consideration.
The neighborhood that I live in, Bridgeport, is anything but democratic. Hell, politically it's downright totally totalitarian, a political backwater. Go south of Roosevelt Road and community participation is a bribe to the alderman. I too am being put out of business. And my alderman, James Balcer, did not "invite" me anywhere, "explained" nothing, "offered" nothing, and was not even "conciliatory." But he did give me the phone number of the attorney handling the condemnation process, Earl Neal.
And Mr. Neal's assistant, Liz Perez, told me as I put my trembling lips closer to the phone, you can tell your friends there with you you'll have to go. "You had better look for another store," she cautioned.
Here in Bridgeport, they condemn and destroy without even a clearly defined explanation as to the future use of the property. Proof: The entire west side of Halsted Street, from 34th to 35th, was taken by eminent domain over two years ago. Today it sits with an Available for Development sign on it. Over a dozen small businesses were sent packing. Now they say it's a new police station. Imagine condemning three entire city blocks for one police station. I suppose it's going to be as big as the Pentagon!
And it doesn't matter to them that I too am a successful business, Augustine's Spiritual Goods, a store that has been the subject of many local media and TV stories, your paper included. Nobody's looking to build me anything.
However, when I do relocate, I want to move right next door to Darren Brown and make offerings to the same coffee God that is so so good to him.
Thank you, lord, thank you!