FOX 32 investigates the politics of potholes - KMSP-TV

FOX 32 investigates the politics of potholes

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

It's a familiar complaint in Chicago.

Do elected officials in Chicago get better and faster service when it comes to filling potholes and removing snow?

"These potholes wasn't here a month ago. They're getting deeper and deeper," Chicago resident Brenda Rush said.

Brenda Rush says she called 311 to report the gaping craters that opened up on the street in front of her home near 73rd Street and King Drive on the South Side.

"I've called them twice...about two weeks ago. Nothing's happened," Rush said.

Just around the corner from Brenda is the home of 6th Ward Alderman Roderick Sawyer.

The only potholes on his street have been filled, though it's hard to tell when that was done.

"If we're not living in the upscale neighborhoods like them, they come first. They get their streets fixed first," Rush commented.

But that common perception of the "Chicago way" doesn't really jibe with what was found.

Over the course of a couple days, FOX 32 checked the streets and alleys around the homes of a dozen Chicago politicians, mostly aldermen.

What was found, for the most part, was the streets where the clouted live look pretty much like the streets anywhere else.

For instance, while Alderman Sawyer's block has a patched pothole, 71st Street, which runs right past his house, is a mess.

At Mayor Emanuel's home on the North Side, the police car sitting behind his house had to drive over potholes in the alley.

It's obvious the alley behind 46th Ward Alderman James Cappleman's home has not been touched by a city plow; it's a sheet of ice.

FOX 32 found potholes just up the block from the home of 39th Ward Alderman Margaret Laurino, and 11th Ward Alderman James Balcer's Bridgeport street looked the same as those elsewhere in the neighborhood.

"The services are beginning to be more fairly delivered in Chicago than they used to be," Former Alderman Dick Simpson said.

Former Chicago Alderman Dick Simpson, who now teaches political science at UIC, says it wasn't that long ago that elected officials did get preferential treatment.

"The machine aldermen used to take advantage of the services and have their blocks paved, particularly, before anyone else did, always were plowed and frequently the potholes were immediately fixed," Simpson said.

However, a lot has changed in 20 years. This includes the advent of social media, which allows residents to keep tabs on who's getting what.

The city has also centralized many of its services, taking much of the decision-making power away from aldermen.

Also, ward-based budgeting is allowing residents to vote on which streets get repaved first.

"The culture has changed. There are more at least partially reform aldermen than there used to be. And aldermen tend to take less obvious advantage of the city services than when clout was king," Simpson said.

A spokesman for the Chicago Department of Transportation says as of today they've filled 58,000 potholes since the start of 2014.

Keep track of what potholes have been filled with the city of Chicago's new pothole tracker.

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