Monday, August 20, 2007

CAPS Meeting and After

Tonight's CAPS meeting was OK. No big revelations. The police said they had arrested "the old guy" at the problem house down the block. If they meant Yup-yup, he wasn't in very long--I didn't even notice. A lady came and said a week ago some older boys had tried to coerce one of her sons into taking drugs to school to sell. This turned into a long and involved conversation in Spanish, the essential point being she should call 911 right away in that kind of situation.

Afterwards, as I was going home Shaun and his big brother caught up to me. "When are you bringing us cookies?" Shaun asked.

"Later this week," I said. "My kitchen has been so nasty I couldn't cook anything. When I finish cleaning it up, I will bake cookies."

"Can we help you clean up?" he asked.

"No, honey," I said. "It's too nasty." (Stay tuned for the next post about what happened.)

They came down the block with me to go visit James. He didn't come out, but his aunt did. I asked if she wanted to sign a nominating petition for Esther Golar and she agreed. Then she offered to take it into her house and get her family's signatures. There are quite a few registered voters in there. That was a nice break. I thanked her profusely.

When she came back out, she double-checked to make sure Esther wasn't the lady who called herself our precinct captain under the former alderman.

"No, that's not her," I said, with a look to say, "You think I would circulate petitions for that woman?"

"Why aren't you are precinct captain?" James' aunt asked me.

"It's a lot of work," I said. "I'm not sure I want to take it on."

"People listen to you," she said.

"Well, one thing I have been talking about is starting a block club," I told her. I've been talking about that with Ms. Ribs ever since we got a new alderman. Before Labor Day, I will go to the new church at the end of our block and ask them if we can use their space to hold meetings. We'll take it from there.

James' aunt liked this idea. She was the one who raised the issue of the nasty new people on the block. "We need to get rid of them," she said. "My brother is 45 years old. He doesn't gangbang. We been here 30 years. How are these people gonna come threaten him when he's standing on the sidewalk?"

While the auntie was inside getting petition signatures, I caught up with Dawn, whom I hadn't seen for a week. She heard about the Latinos Progresando event coming up with Dick Durbin -- August 28-- and she wants to go. He will be talking about the DREAM Act. Since Elvira Arellano's arrest, Dawn is energized and wants to see whether other people are more energized or more afraid to speak out. She has a meeting at school tomorrow and is going to see who else wants to go on the 28th. She gave me a flyer about the event. What a budding organizer!

On top of all this, our new friends who just arrived from Pilsen were out on their roller skates. Alma, Irma and Maritza got in a line and grabbed my shirt, and I dragged all of them on their skates by running up and down the block. It was great exercise for working off all the Connie's pizza I ate at the CAPS meeting. Their mom came out and gave them popsicles. She asked if I wanted one but I was too full from the pizza.

Later I took some tomatoes from the garden over to their house. I rang the second floor--I think I got their uncle. Hopefully a dozen is enough for everybody to get a taste. Welcome to the block.

Oh, an interesting aside about schools--Shaun and his siblings can't start at Chavez until after Labor Day, even though Chavez started already, because their old school is on the regular calendar and no one is there to send their records over. Shouldn't there be some way to deal with that?

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