Monday, December 30, 2013

REAL HUMDINGERS: The Biggest Fibs Of 2013

This wasn’t easy. 

Of all of the half-truths, quarter-truths, and full-blown lies that have been spewed by various parties regarding the neighborhood’s escalating street crime problem, which were the biggest whoppers? 

After sifting through them all, we’ve decided that these five lies shall be honored with CWB’s very first Golden Pinocchio awards for the most stunning, in-your-face falsehoods of the year.

19th district police Commander Elias Voulgaris
“Frankly individuals are robbed walking through alleys, not paying attention to their surroundings.”
During an ABC7 I-Team report about robberies in our neighborhood, Commander Voulgaris went on record with that gem.

The commander’s statement is part of the city’s ongoing effort to make it seem that “ordinary” people who walk the well-lit streets and use good judgement have nothing to worry about.

The fact is that only 7% of this year's robberies occurred in alleys. The vast majority—nearly 75%—of the attacks happened on streets and sidewalks. 

Another cornerstone of the city’s minimization efforts is beginning to show signs of strain. Once a problem largely limited to overnights, more and more robberies are occurring during “normal” hours. 

Only time will tell if the hoodlums’ migration to “better shifts" is a short-term phenomenon or a permanent change in the way they do business.

The Center on Halsted
During the same TV news report that featured Commander Voulgaris’ nominating performance, Center on Halsted (COH) spokesman Tom Elliot told the camera, 

“I can confidently say the individuals that are committing crimes in the area are not coming here for our services.”

One is left to wonder, if the COH does not attract any criminal elements, why  is it patrolled by off-duty police officers armed with handguns?

In December, CWB posted Chicago Police Department reports that document three sex crimes and a series of crimes carried out by known gang members inside of the COH. One victim of a gang member’s assault is a still-serving member of the COH’s executive board.

Alderman Tom Tunney
At least 7 robberies were reported in Wrigleyville and Boystown during the early morning hours of Sunday, July 14.

Alderman Tom Tunney’s office tried to make it all disappear by claiming that, there were “6 or 7” robberies in all of Lakeview that weekend and
“the Police have six individuals in custody from this past weekend and two they believe are connected to other robberies as well."
Well isn't that a tidy little wrap up? Done and done!

Couple of problems. First, no one had been arrested for any of the robberies in Wrigleyville and Boystown. Second, if the area of concern that weekend is changed to the entirely of Lakeview, there were actually 13 robberies, not “6 or 7.”

The Chicago Police Department
"District 19 is down 24 percent in overall crime [this year] and has seen reductions in almost every crime category."
That's the gospel according to CPD spokesman Adam Collins

The percentage decrease in crime reports filed is very, very close to the percentage of manpower the 19th district lost over the same period: 21%.

21% fewer cops means you get far fewer crime reports filed. Duh.

Think about that for a sec. The police and politicians expect us to believe that while robberies have set record highs three years in a row and Lakeview is one of only a handful of community areas to see an increase in violent crime,  all of those other criminals—the petty thieves, the graffiti sprayers, the bike rip-off artists, the pot smokers—all of them have left the neighborhood in droves. It's just robbers and violent offenders who are coming here. Does that make sense? Of course not.

The department gets an honorable mention for its ridiculous decision to to park a huge, completely empty "police" bus on Halsted Street one August weekend.

The bus was literally driven into position by one person, parked, and left for the weekend to "project force." In reality, the bus reduced available manpower because a cop who would ordinarily have been on patrol was assigned to stand there and guard it.

The Chicago Pride Parade
Citing a Chicago Police Department estimate, Chicago Pride Parade organizers claimed that this year’s event drew 1 million people. 

One. Million. People.

It almost certainly did not.

Did it draw a lot of people? You bet. And if you were on Halsted between, say, Addison and Belmont, it probably felt like a million people. But the fact is that it would be impossible to stuff a million people into the parade route.

The exact number of attendees wasn't particularly important until organizers and officials started using the impossibly large crowd number to water down the number of problems that were experienced during and after the event. 

Of course more than 60 people were battered and 5 people were robbed and riot-fearing cops forced bars to close early and the 19th district commander had to call in support troops from six neighboring districts to tamp down the post-parade mayhem. 

Waddaya expect when there were A MILLION PEOPLE there?

Math is hard. But let’s take a look-see.  To have 1 million spectators, the parade would need to squeeze the seating capacity of 1.15 Wrigley Fields into the sidelines on every single block.

In an unrelated article, a Chicago Police Department spokesman told the Sun-Times that 
Crowd estimates are determined by taking the total square footage of the area and dividing it by the space occupied by the average person. If an event were wall to wall with people, which few are, that would be 3 feet by 3 feet.
OK. Let’s go for it.  By that measure, if the entire 2.64 mile parade route were "wall to wall with people" 20-feet deep on both sides of the street from start to finish, there would be a maximum of 61,952 people at any given time.

The entire crowd would have to turnover more than 16 times in order to have a million people “attend.”

In the same Sun-Times story, an expert said that 
a dense crowd is made up of about six people per square meter.
Using that formula, a fully-packed parade route would bulge with 310,798 people

Even with this more favorable estimation, the crowd would have to churn completely 3.3 times in order to accommodate a million people.

Online resources generally agree that the best way to estimate a crowd size is to take a photograph of the crowd from overhead, place a grid over the pic, count the number of people in one square of the grid and build up from there.

Anyone care to set the over/under on the 2014 crowd estimate? 1.1 million?


  1. We as individuals as well as our civic organizations need to start a letter, email, or whatever type of blitz you choose to the mayor, the cop boss and the media about our complaints. There were lies from Rahm & McCarthy about the district consolidation and police manpower, lies about crime and deployment from the commander and his downtown spokesmen, lies from everyone. Like Howard Beal in Network we need to open the window and cry out, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!" I pay huge taxes and fees to live in this area and I'm tired of being disrespected.

  2. I love you guys! Your site is the BEST out there and thank you for telling it EXACTLY like it is.
    I don't live in Chicago anymore, moved to Florida 2 years ago, but I read your web site everyday!

    1. Thank you, towanda. Best wishes for a warm and sunny new year!

    2. Thank you and the best to you for 2014 as well. Keep up the excellent reporting and ball busting:)

  3. I have always said there is no way the numbers they say go to the Pride Parade is real. It's just more bs to bolster the guy that runs it wallet. Let's see the population of Chicago is 2.75 million. So 1 million of those people went the to the Pride Parade? I think not. It needs to be moved out of the neighborhood. And thanks for reminding me make reservations to be gone for next year's parade. Maybe I will go to Provincetown.

  4. You just don't understand math the way city hall and our police superintendent employ it.

    Another example of "the new math" is when they cite the drop in homicides and use the year 1965 to compare to 2013 while failing to mention the population drop of almost 1 million.

    I know it must me a new math citizens don't understand, because the print or electronic media never asks any questions either, so we must be the ignorant ones.

  5. Not to mentions a lot gunshot victims are saved today vs in 1960. Way more shooting than in 1965 today. People then just didn't have good medical advances to save them.

    1. i read somewhere a few months ago (on a pseudo police blog?) that if you are shot in chicago but the bullet only grazes you then this does not fall under a shooting...since you were only grazed. in other words no shooting occurred. uuuhh.
      can someone confirm or deny that who would know?

    2. Not sure about that, but I know that if 5 people are standing on a corner and all 5 get shot in a drive by, it counts as 1 shooting, not 5.

  6. You hit that one on the nail CrimeinBoystown! The Pinocchio awards are well deserved. Don't forget more officers were promised to be redeployed to foot patrols in Boystown,as reported in the ABC I-Team report, but the only gay officer and his gay-friendly partner who walk up and down Halsted every night are being removed from their foot patrols a week from now. Sees how much CPD really cares about our safety.

  7. This article is so well written, you should send copies to the major media outfits in the city and beyond. I'm sure many would like to follow up.

    And yes, one million people lined up over such a short parade route seems mathematically impossible.

    Keep up the good work!

  8. Here's another lie... 019 is getting more bodies in 2014. Well the order is out: 019 gets 8 more bodies! 019 loses 14 more that bid out and 2 more that were promoted. Net result? -8 bodies to start 2014!

    1. Thank you for the update, Anonymous. We greatly appreciate your service and hope you will be staying with us.

    2. I'm staying for now... But the smart rat leaves a sinking ship first and I see a lot of water....

  9. I'm in New York City for nye and they have been announcing on television all day that they are expecting a million people to be in Times Square for the ball drop. Hard to believe as many people attend the ball drop as the Pride Parade lol. Can pretty safely assume that if people are packed like sardines in Times Square from 42nd Street to Central Park and it's a million people, there are probably only about 100,000 that attend the Pride Parade. Pinocchio's big time for Rahmy and company!

    1. No there are easily close to a million people for pride, remember it's not just Halsted and Addison it goes all the way from up to montrose down to Diversey

    2. ^ Ya don't say. Maybe that's why we stated that the parade route is 2.64 miles long?

      There were not a million people there. It's a physical impossibility.

    3. These stories make a lot more sense if you read them.

    4. You seem to forget Times Square drop only takes place over a few hours. Pride takes place for the better part if a day, this adds to the capacity for the event. Plus all the people attending parties and local businesses. There may not be a million standing on the street at one time but during the course of a day? Yes

    5. Nope. Didn't forget. The fact is that the parade and TS both take place over a few hours. The difference is the complete disaster that the post-Pride has become.

      As we wrote, given the very benefit of every single doubt, the crowd would have to completely turn over 3 times to reach a million people. And THAT is if the crowd was jam-packed from start to finish. Outside of b-town the crowds were no more than a couple of people deep.

      A reader posted this pic in another comment. Note that this "crowd" is on Belmont, a half-block east of Halsted.

  10. lol! I read your story about the pride parade crowd yesterday. Tonight I saw this picture of Rahm shaking hands in the parade outside of Mt. Caramel. The crowd is exactly one person deep! No way there was anything close to a million. This pic says it all!