Saturday, October 12, 2013

Dumb luck + $$$ = success

Safe Passage Greatest Hits

Seven weeks into the school year and all of the finger-crossing done by BBB, Rahm, the CPD, and the CFD, must be paying off. The one goal of the program: student safety, is intact. It's not powerful strategies that have kept students safe, but plenty of good luck. There's also plenty of idiocy: workers being shot at and beaten on the job, the many sex-offenders who live along the routes, other city services suffering because city workers are being pulled off their jobs to monitor Safe Passage routes (especially while this warm weather lingers) and the price tag: $15.7 million dollars. Sounds real successful, everyone. 

We've helpfully broken down Safe Passage problems into five categories.

#1: Safe Passage workers and their "issues": We've always been taught to keep your personal life at home, but Thursday's Trib reports an attempted drive-by shooting on a Safe Passage worker. The police say this was likely a domestic dispute since the worker's ex-husband is a reputed member of the Gangster Disciples and has a record going back to 2009. The same article also gives additional clues about workers and the problems they bring to the job:

  • Another SP worker has been arrested twice on the job, the second time for failing to show up for a court date when he was arrested on his route in September. 
  • Another worker arrested on her route (and presumably on the job) for beating a woman and stealing her LINK card.
  • Unrelated to the article, we've heard that someone was mugged by a SP worker, or someone posing as a SP worker.

#2: Safe Passage and their contractors: In order to staff the streets, the city has contracted with numerous, questionable non-for-profits in neighborhoods with SP routes. One route, to Haley Elementary is subcontracted to CeaseFire Roseland. Yes, this is the same organization that Chicago has already given $1 million dollars to so they can "interrupt" violence with no measurable results. Yes, these are ex-gang members who've still managed to pass what CPS describes as "vigorous background checks."  Does anyone else see a problem with ex-gang members patrolling gang lines? It seems like this category, and the worker issue category, are closely related.

#3: Safe Passage routes and their "safety": An article in the Sun Times several weeks ago that pointed out the following:
  • 48 of the 53 Safe Passage routes designed by the city to get kids safely to and from school have registered sex offenders living along the routes or within in a block of the routes.
  • 10% of the city's total registered sex offenders live along Safe Passage routes.
  • Cather Elementary has 80 offenders along its route.

#4: Deputized Safe Passage workers and their "real jobs": DNAInfo reports about 100 city employees from 15 agencies are still be used to assist in "back-to-school" efforts. Just a heads up from WCT: back-to-school season really only lasts about 4 weeks. Anyhow, things like building inspections and street cleaning will just have to wait. The city workers are not getting overtime, but are instead working their 8 hour day, leaving items for their real job, undone. Taxpayers who pay for these services must be thrilled.

#5: The CPS and city response to any questions about problems: It appears anyone who is in the upper ranks of any city agency and their spokespeople suffer from denial on a pathological level. The medical term for this is "impaired awareness," where the afflicted cannot recognize their reality. The following quotes reveal this might be the case:

  • Becky Carroll on Thursday's attempted shooting: "No children or other community members were present during the time of the alleged incident." Alleged? There were two witnesses.
  • Becky Carroll on routes loaded with sex offenders: The city took a 'holistic' approach to routes. We guess this means, "on the whole, things could be much worse."
  • BBB on walking the SP routes: she did not feel "unsafe." Well, we'd hope a 62 year old woman, likely with reporters and a security detail in tow, didn't feel unsafe. What about the 6 or 7 year old walking?

The city will end up spending $15.7 million for this?! Will they spend this much again when school ends this year, and then again when it begins next year? There are many schools who could use $15.7 to ease over-crowding, update and replenish resources, and offer more to their students in the way of college or career readiness. Instead, let's throw money to groups like CeaseFire, leave long waitlists for city services, and then call it a success. Yep, sounds like Chicago.

Does anyone work or commute along a Safe Passage route, what do you think? Has anyone reading noticed a lack of city services because of workers being put on SP? Leave a comment and let us know what you think!

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