> [TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: CTA has (or did) have an almost
> constant 'war' with 'street people' loitering in their stations during
> overnight hours in cold weather.
In the old, old days there weren't many street people so it wasn't
much of a problem. Those people are mentally ill in some manner, some
moderately so, some severely. Since the activists sued to shut down
the state mental hospitals and made it much harder to commit someone
many troubled people are now out on the street. They don't have a
long lifespan as exposure and disease will get to them in a few years.
Anyway, as time went on the street people grew in numbers and became a
problem. Initially the transit carriers (in many cities) simply
kicked them out, but the social activists sued the transit carriers
and forced them to stop that practice. In the 1980s the situation got
really bad as stations turned into whole communities of homeless and
the transit carriers were innundated with complaints from regular
riders who objected to walking in the human waste products left behind
as well as the harassment.
> CTA retaliated by remodeling the benches to put arm rest dividers on
Other cities did likewise with various specific rules of behavior.
Those are harder to argue with and activists have a hard time fighting
them, even if they claim they are intended to keep out the homeless.
The courts have leaned more toward riders' rights as well.
In NYC, you are not allowed to lay down or sleep anywhere in the
system. You must exit a train at the end of its run (you can't simply
ride on one train back and forth all night as homeless used to do).
There are some other rules, too.
As mentioned, this is an issue I feel strongly about. A troubled
person should not "live" in the transit system. Many die from the
third rail or get run over by trains. Many start fires which hurt
other people and disrupt the system. Some are violent and have hurt
passengers. They are filthy with bodily waste and a health hazard.
They harass other passengers.
If one or two street people sat in a corner and didn't bother anyone
they could be ignored. But that's not how it worked out -- it was far
more than "one or two" and they didn't simply sit in the corner.
Social activists made things worse by bringing food to transit
stations. The homeless then had an incentive to be in the transit
system where they'd get fed. The transit carriers tried to stop this
but the advocates sued and won in court some years ago. The carriers,
as you described, have other tactics.
As an aside, there were problems in the mental health care system, but
simply closing places down and making commitment extremely difficult
was not the answer. There have been numerous publicized cases where a
family desperately seeks a dangerous family member to be committed but
it can't be done, and the ill person goes out and shoots a bunch of
people. Many of the street people are troubled just enough so that
they are too disruptive/tempermental to stay with relatives and of
course hold down a job. They self medicate their demons through
alcohol and drugs. Others ended up on the street from drug abuse. In
any event, these people deserve better than a harsh life on the street.
Frankly, I've followed the activists' work in closing down the
hospitals by lawsuits and I put the blame squarely on them. The
hospitals are needed with good staff to take care of these people.
> With Walmart (there are _no_ Walmart stores in Chicago itself; only in
> a couple of suburbs; that is because the Chicago politicians have
> various disputes with Walmart executives over things like Walmart's
> pay scale, non-union practices, etc) ...
A lot of people hate Walmart, but it is a mixed issue. They are
certainly not the first big powerful business; in their glory days the
old chain stores like Woolworth's, Sears, and Penney's, had plenty of
market power and hurt mom 'n pop stores. In the 1950s a new shopping
center with chain stores hurt older stores on the old shopping avenue,
so the Walmart onslaught is nothing new. Postwar supermarket chains
also were hard on mom 'n pop stores.
They opened up two Walmarts near me in somewhat depressed areas. Both
stores were a re-use of an empty old shopping center. There wasn't
much retail in those neighborhoods by that point anyway and the Walmart
brough it new shopping options and jobs for people without them. I'll
note that if Walmart is paying so low, people won't quit their other
jobs to take them.
Another consideration is that Walmarts do have a wide selection and are
cheap. From the shopper's point of view, they are a great improvement
over the little stores they may have killed off. For people of modest
means, being able to buy inexpensive goods is very important.
I don't particularly care to shop in Walmart. For sundry items, I
prefer Target. Actually, I always liked Woolworths but they're gone.
I patronized an independent drugstore until the CVS chain put him out
of business. I am forced to admit I usually do better by the CVS
because (1) it is open much longer hours which is convenient for me
and (2) it offers much greater variety of sundry items. They even got
a new pharmacist who is just as helpful to me as the other guy was.
So, from the shopper's point of view, the CVS serves me better.
As to wages, I don't know the profit situation and if Walmart can
afford to pay better than it does. Frankly, I don't think the old
time big department stores paid their people that much; a sales clerk
was certainly not a rich person.
[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: You may recall reading here things I
have mentioned about our local Walmart Supercenter versus the rest of
the merchants downtown. Now we also have a Walgreen's store which is
right downtown, and the other merchants do not like that very well
either. Personally, I have a wee bit more sympathy for Walgreens than
Walmart because of my personal friendship _many_ years ago with
Myrtle Walgreen, widow of Charles the founder of the chain and mother
of Charles II, the current president and CEO of the firm. Myrtle was
a first class lady. But just like Walmart, the new Walgreens store
right downtown does not offer any charge accounts, nor do they accept
Main Street Gift Certificates (like the other stores here.) As soon as
the other drug stores in town found out that Walgreens was not
offering any sort of charge accounts, nor much in the way of customer
service, the local merchants circled the wagons and started specificically
advertising that _they_ offered charge accounts, _they_ offered
delivery service to your home, _they_ worked closely with Medicare
on the new Part D thing, _they_ would work closely with your physician
to fill your scripts, etc. Buy anything you want here in downtown
Independence is their new chant, forget about the Walgreens and the
Walmarts; all you need are us, your long time merchants. But you
know, Lisa, I can begin to see the handwriting on the wall; more and
more vacant store fronts downtown, etc. PAT]