Ald. Silverstein’s worst traits have surfaced during the long coronavirus lockdown. In keeping with her long-time policy of keeping residents out of public business, Ald. Silverstein has not reached out to residents for help in combating the virus, other than to encourage social distancing, hand washing, and masking. As usual, she sought to do it all herself with the aid of her secret advisors. Other aldermen sought out and created ways for Ward residents to help one another and make a positive impact on their Ward’s rate of virus infection. They found ways for residents to help mitigate the economic effects of business closings. They were open and honest about communicating and giving residents the information they needed to help fight this pandemic.
Contrast the Silverstein approacch with that of freshmann Alderman Matt Martin of the nearby 47th Ward, who empowered residents to put together a coronavirus Survival Guide, which is available on his website. Alderman Martin, along with several other aldermen, also republished full government-issued bulletins about where residents could go for help and information, including links to specific offices and programs. Silverstein couldn’t be bothered.
The day the City released information on the number of cases ward by ward, Silverstein finally admitted that the 50th Ward had the highest number of cases in the city at that time. How long did she know this, and why weren’t residents told? It turns out, according to news reports, that the highest number of cases in the 50th Ward have been reported among the elderly in nursing homes and the Orthodox community. These are facts and they could have been and should have been stated plainly. No blame attaches to having the coronavirus. Why not just tell the truth? Is it because Silverstein adheres to her community’s fear of blame, shame, and scapegoating?
As usual, Silverstein is trying to use the pandemic to promote herself as the only thing standing between the 50th Ward and disaster. She started one newsletter by reporting that “our area” had one of the best rates of social distancing as measured by an independent study. You might have thought she was talking about West Ridge, but it turns out that “our area” is the entire City of Chicago. Why not just tell the whole truth?
She starred in three unnecessary and just plain silly videos, one offering “support” to the community, one an attempt at humor about wearing a mask, and the other a demonstration about how to make a face mask. Other aldermen simply published the illustrated instructions for mask making and moved forward to organizing concrete ways that neighbors could support one another. Only Silverstein tried to score political points.
Almost two months into the stay-at-home orders, she finally scheduled her first virtual town hall meeting on this issue. She has not previously sought any virtual contact with residents, whereas other aldermen have found it possible to continue their weekly open office nights online. They have continued to report to their constituents on City business. But the laziest alderman in the city can’t be bothered. She doesn’t consider it our business anyway.
The economic destruction resulting from the coronavirus has hit West Ridge particularly hard. Block after block of vacant stores can be found in all of our commercial districts. It’s a sure thing that special interests have noticed and will be profiting at the expense of local residents. Silverstein has demonstrated over the past 10 years that she has no interest in or ideas for economic revitalization so the ward is particularly vulnerable to economic exploitation.
Silverstein’s penchant for secrecy, her determination to avoid direct interaction with the majority of her constituents, her inability to state simple truths, and her lack of leadership and creativity have never been more obvious. Her need to be the center of attention even in a pandemic is simply appalling. Silverstein simply has no idea how to approach any problem facing the ward except to push herself at the center and assure us that the Boss knows what she’s doing. The details are none of our business.
Here’s one of the things she doesn’t talk about in her videos. The south end of the ward has been experiencing an increase in crime. Some of that is now beginning to spread to the area north of Pratt, so it may catch her attention.
Thanks to reader Christopher Khaya I learned about a valuable tool for tracking neighborhood crime. It’s called SpotCrime and it provides a wealth of information about local incidents. Sign up at SpotCrime.com, and receive daily and weekly reports on incidents near your home. The Daily Report includes a map of West Ridge with the location of the incidents identified by a letter corresponding to a listing below the map. That listing tells you how the crime is classified, where and what time it occurred, and details about the crime itself. The exact address is not specified but the block and street are.
The weekly report provides pie charts comparing the past week with the week before and listing the number of incidents in the area for each type of crime.
Just type in your address to see what’s going on where you live.
Several incidents have involved weapons, including guns and box cutters. There have been several armed robberies where the assailants employed guns and box cutters. There have been three documented murders in the area around Devon, including two at Devon and California, where the bodies of two men were dumped, and one on Troy street, where a man walking down the street was shot. The Tribune publshed short reports on each of these incidents.
Several people have been assaulted on the street in broad daylight, in the mid to late morning hours, as well as in early afternoon. Not surprisingly, many assaults take place after dark.
There’s also been an increase in vandalism, which seems to be equally divided between vehicles and property.
Many of the most violent incidents are occurring in the 2300 block of Devon, although I heard that a grocery store west of California was robbed at gunpoint at closing time. I have not been able to confirm this, although crime spot did show it. In the past few days I’ve noticed reports of burglaries and assaults north of Pratt. I have also noticed more police patrols on Devon and surrounding streets.
This is a serious public safety issue, so be careful out there.
And don’t wait for Silverstein to tell you things you need to know.