Letters to the Editor

By Letters to the Editor

Reporter didn’t ask hard questions

What a great disappointment it was to read my alma mater’s paper describe the tour of Cabrini-Green taken by 60 current students in “Tour of Cabrini-Green Explores Poverty,” by Isa Haviland in the Friday, May 18, 2007 edition. I hope that the biased and overly simplistic explanation of Cabrini-Green, devoid of history and perspective, isn’t passing for fact with the current student body.

For one, Cabrini-Green has strong resident leadership, duly elected, that I believe would have a very different take on the redevelopment efforts. In fact, the resident-led organization is a full partner in the real estate development group and management company that the tour guide claims is conducting “urban apartheid.” That is quite a feat!

Never mind that the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) is engaged in the largest public housing redevelopment effort in the country’s history and may have something interesting to say on the matter, but at the very least I’d have expected the reporter and the editors to do some basic fact-checking with us. Is Willie J.R. Fleming really a longtime resident? (He is not.) Do residents really still occupy these closed buildings, or does the CHA know where every single leaseholder is living? (We know where every leaseholder is.) Even the rhetorical question posed by Charles Price—“Do you think these buildings were built with people who get $167 income in mind?”—could have been asked to us. (Yes, they were.)

I thought the whole point of a U of C education was to learn how to ask some questions. What happened?

Bryan Zises AB ’90

Director of Communications

Chicago Housing Authority

Keller should do his research

In response to Barney Keller’s Maroon op-ed “Don’t Buy Into the Killer Coke Craze” (5/18/07), perhaps Keller should take his own advice and do “due diligence.”

Ray Rogers began his career in the 1960s as a Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) volunteer earning $32 a week working with the poor in the Appalachian Mountains and worked with Miners for Democracy to reform the United Mine Workers union in the early ’70s, helping to oust corrupt union leaders. Ray later helped clothing workers at Farah, textile workers at J.P. Stevens, and farm workers in the Farm Labor Organizing Comittee win major struggles. In 1981, he founded Corporate Campaign, Inc., which has championed labor and public interest causes for more than 25 years. Rogers averages less income than Keller would accept as a starting salary. Rogers has been living in East Harlem, New York, for many years.

The University of Chicago is lucky to have a person of Ray Rogers’s background, stature, and commitment to speak about the worldwide Campaign to Stop Killer Coke! Rogers is not an unknown. Since the 1970s, he and the work of his organization have received widespread coverage in the national and international media. For example, describing Rogers in the ’80s, the Boston Herald reported that Rogers is “one of the most successful union organizers since the CIO sit-down strikes of the 1930s.” Last year, BusinessWeek described him as a “legendary union activist.”

Regarding the Massachusetts Killer Coke matter, the Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance issued a public letter stating, “…based on our review we have determined that there is no reason to believe that you or Corporate Campaign, Inc. violated the campaign finance law.”

Rogers was expecting to debate Coke head-to-head, but, as usual, the company refused to participate in a real debate. Keller should have the decency to call Rogers or hear him speak on Tuesday so that he might get his facts straight.

Lew Friedman

Campaign to Stop Killer Coke Campaigner

Brooklyn, NY