Recently in Life in the city Category

I couldn't make it to Monday's community meeting about plans to put an all-night Maxwell Street Polish stand at 18th and Halsted.

And Ald. Danny Solis - who has pledge to block the sausage stand from opening at that location against neighbors wishes-- hasn't called me back yet.

Thankfully, Al DiFranco, a long-time Pilsen resident and former UPI journalist, was at Providence of God Church last night. He was kind enough to send me this dispatch from the meeting.

Danny Solis promised a lot. He said the move by city departments to grant permits and licenses was the "stupidest decision that's ever been made."

Solis said he will immediately put the project on "administrative hold," and that "I'm going to make legislation" for a permanent fix that would bar the hot dog stand.

Solis said, "I have full confidence that I'll stop [Express Grill owner Alex Lazarevski]."

Lazarevski was there, along with at least 200 residents and nearby business owners, including the 86-year-old non-resident John Podmajersky, Jr., and his son , the 40-something John Podmajersky III. They were spectators, not panelists. Pod the Younger asked a couple of technical questions about garbage pick-ups and storage.

Solis was asked if he gave Lazarevski an "aldermanic letter of acknowledgment." Solis said no -- adding that he figured Lazarevski would have avoided that move in anticipation of Solis turning him down.

As frequent public meetings in this church basement go, it was a large crowd. Since moving to Pilsen in 1974, it was also the most unified I have ever seen. Pretty much everybody -- including Solis -- seemed to agree with each other against Lazarevski.

While not offering their opinions much, the City officials, like Bill McCaffrey of the Building Department, had some sobering words. McCaffrey said there is very little distinction in the permit process to weed out a hot dog stand from another kind of restaurant. He said the square footage (under 4,000) of the place was "too small" to require a traffic study.

A Transportation Department representative did cite narrow sidewalks and the location of the Halsted Street and 18th Street bus stops on both sides of the restaurant as a possible barrier to approval. But the CTA rep indicated the CTA was flexible on that issue.

One unidentified resident claimed that crime stats show big trouble at the current site of the two hot dog stands on Union, while another unidentified resident of University Village (the former Maxwell Street market area) said they have the "lowest crime in any part of the city."

Twelfth Police District Commander Dennis Keane did not confirm or deny those citations of statistics, but did say it was illegal to park in front of a place with a bus stop and that the law would be enforced. He was asked and declined to offer his "speculation" on what kind of crimes would increase if the restaurant goes forward. He said the dynamics of vehicle and pedestrian traffic and parking are completely different at the Union Avenue site.

As for citizen DiFranco, he's been in Pilsen since 1974.

His take: "I was relieved to see the hot dog stands relocated from Halsted about a decade ago. Like most of the residents at the meeting, I think, I have seen the litter, the sleazy 24-hour clientele and have smelled the smell to say 'enough' to more of what surely will be the same problems."

(If you were there, send along your take (and pictures or video) of the meeting. Let your voice be heard.)

Is your neighborhood suffering from a surge in shootings and violence?

Tell us what you think might solve Chicago's escalating violence.

Imet Crandon Davis at his worst moment — distraught, vengeful and out of his mind. It was the day his best friends were found slaughtered near 76th and Rhodes.
“If I go off and just start shooting . . . will you make me look like a hero in the paper?” he asked with pure evil in his eyes.
He was scary. I never wanted to see him again.

“Adventures in Baby Sitting,” or “The Blues Brothers?” “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” or “The Untouchables?” Which movie filmed in Chicago is your favorite?

Elwood and Jake

And if you have a story about a movie being filmed on your block, tell us more:

“City of kickbacks?”
“In Ditka, we trust?”
If you could rewrite Chicago’s motto — City in a Garden — what would you make it?


Chicago's city seal says, “Urbs in Horto.” It means “City in a Garden.”

It might not say that for long if Mayor Daley has his way. How do the latin words, “Urbs of Liberi” sound?

“I'm passionate about children. We put too many other things above our children. Children, to me, should be what we stand for here in the city of Chicago,” the mayor said.

“We’re the city of flowers. We’re the city of trees and gardens and all that. I’d like to maybe change that motto to, ‘City of Children.’ I really believe that.”

If you could rewrite Chicago’s motto — City in a Garden — what would you make it?

“City of kickbacks?”
“In Ditka, we trust?”

Give us your suggestions.

I think Cubs fans could use some reminding,
That this cloud has a silvery lining,
You might lose the name,
And most of your games,
But you'll have an excuse to keep whining!
-- Sara Gadola

(Konkol note: Sara Gadola is a former Daily Southtown reporter who smartly sold out to become a lawyer years before journalists started getting axed like firewood.)

This just in from the Red Cross:

Since March is Red Cross Month we are having our annual CPR Training Days. The event has been hugely successful in the past years and we would like to extend that even more this year! I would love to have you include it in your neighborhoods section and have it reach the lovely people who read your blog everyday. It’s an extremely useful training session that benefits people every day and reduces the risk of dying of cardiac arrest by half. We all know life doesn’t have a price on it and the training only costs $5. Also, it’s a pretty neat way to meet people that early on a Saturday! Here’s a little more info for you which you can switch up any way you’d like! I also included two little graphics for you that were from last year’s event.
The American Red Cross of Greater Chicago invites you to get certified in Adult CPR for only $5! Learn how to save a life at the region's largest CPR training event. Acquire the knowledge and skills you need to better protect yourself, your family and your community and be prepared for a medical emergency.

Space is limited. Register today!
English and Spanish sessions available.

To register or find out more information, visit or call 312.729.6132.

UIC, Physical Education Building
901 W. Roosevelt Road, Chicago, IL

Red Cross 073

Mark Konkol

Mark Konkol covers city neighborhoods for the Chicago Sun-Times. You can e-mail him or call (312) 321-2146.

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