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Sanitation Boss In Trouble Over Poor Snow Removal

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The 7200 block of South Phillips Avenue was still waiting for its first plow on Friday, two days after the last snowfall of February 2011's blizzard. (Credit: CBS)

The 7200 block of South Phillips Avenue was still waiting for its first plow on Friday, two days after the last snowfall of February 2011′s blizzard. (Credit: CBS)

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UPDATED 02/08/11 2:57 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) – A South Side sanitation boss is in trouble for failing to deliver snow removal to residents of his ward.

Wendell Upton, the city’s 7th Ward sanitation superintendent, has been stripped of his responsibilities and reassigned to administrative duties for allegedly failing to adequately deliver snow removal to residents.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780 Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports


Streets and Sanitation spokesman Matt Smith confirmed that Upton had been reassigned.

Speaking earlier to the Chicago Sun-Times, Smith refused to specify just how Upton fell down on the job. He would only say that Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Tom Byrne made the decision and that incumbent Ald. Sandi Jackson (7th) concurred.

A temporary replacement for Upton will “continue to address the effects of the blizzard” until a permanent replacement is named, Smith said.

“The 7th Ward superintendent was removed from duty last week based on performance issues. His removal was a joint decision by Commissioner Byrne and Alderman Jackson,” Smith said.

Pressed for specifics, Smith said, “We expect our ward superintendents to perform. We didn’t think his performance was up to par — nor did the alderman.”

Jackson is embroiled in a Feb. 22 rematch against Darcel Beavers, the daughter of former Alderman-turned-County Commissioner William Beavers. Jackson did not return phone calls. A Jackson representative refused to comment on the ward superintendent’s ouster.

Last week, when a TV news station did a report on snow clean-up around aldermen’s homes, the TV crew found Jackson riding in a cab of a snowplow.

On the day after Chicago’s biggest snowstorm, Jackson sent out an e-mail demanding that the city’s inspector general investigate, what she called the unfair allocation of snow removal equipment.

“There has been a severely disproportionate response by the City to this incredible storm, causing neighborhoods in the 7th Ward to be totally shut down. Without question, the disparities in the deployment of snow removal equipment is quite apparent in the 7th Ward, in comparison to neighboring wards,” wrote Jackson, wife of U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Il.)

“Therefore, I call on the Inspector General of the City of Chicago to investigate the distribution of snow plows and high-lift equipment during snow emergencies.”

In the e-mail, Jackson recalled walking down many main streets and side streets in her South Side ward — including Luella, Paxton, Crandon, Oglesby and Phillips — and “shamefully” finding them “completely impassable” on the day after the storm.

For one example, the 7300 block of South Phillips Avenue was not plowed for more than two days after the blizzard. The snow was piled three feet deep on the block.

Helen, a resident of the block, said mail trucks were not even getting through. Helen is diabetic, and depends on the mail to receive her life-saving supply of insulin, but she had run out.

Fellow South Shore resident Vicki Odom said the snow literally kept her out of her apartment.

“I’m trying to get home. I haven’t been home since Tuesday,” she said. “I’m very disappointed with not being able to get home, at least check on my own place and see how my apartment is doing.”

“While the city has focused on the arterial streets and major arteries for emergency vehicles, our residents remain profoundly neglected by this inequitable and unfair snow removal process,” she wrote.

The Chicago Sun-Times contributed to this report, via the Sun-Times Media Wire

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