Sanitation Boss In Trouble Over Poor Snow Removal

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

  • Smooth

    I applaud you Sandi Jackson for exposing this and assist in removing this “worker/public servant” who betrayed the ward in his responsibilities. Thank you for holding him accountable and disciplining him. Anychance of you assisting in helpin the people hold congressmen like your husband accountable and disciplined for the sake of getting rid of corruption in our city?

  • curto

    OH Please! I live in Lakeview and my street (Roscoe) wasn’t plowed until Friday afternoon……as for the lady with the “life saving Diabetic meds” We all knew this storm was coming and was going to cause problems, why didn’t you get your meds before the storm? DUH!!

    • Vetus

      If you are not aware, some older people receive their medication through the U.S. Mail or, if its insulin it’s typically delivered by FEDEX. The snow won’t ever stop these deliveries. I think she may have been complaining for the sake of complaining.

  • Vetus

    If it was his responsibility to oversee snow removal in the 7th ward then he should lose his job. I was on Stony Island Ave. last night and notice that because of the poor snow removal between Marquette Rd. and 76th St. it has been cut too two lines. There are snow drifts everywhere. Some are as high as eight plus feet. And, on Sunday there were blocks up-and-down east 75th street that had not been shoveled yet. We all were informed of the impending storm. We all prepared. It was his job to be ready. Why wasn’t he?

  • 73444


  • 73444


    • Smooth

      you sound like you are an alderman/woman who just cares about himself and does not listen to others

  • CareBear

    I think lots of side streets weren’t taken care of right away. My Mom, who lives in Logan Square, did not have her street plowed until Friday afternoon. And On Harlem Ave, going North past Talcott, it is only 1 lane because the snow has been pushed into the second lane along the curb. There is so much snow and it’s going to take time to clear it all up. People need to remember this when it’s time to vote.

  • Fed up

    Come on people. Stop whining about the wonder race and their lazy stupid a$$es. This is one instance where they couldn’t find a white person to blame for their inadequesies. Oh poor wonder race. Can’t Jesse the extortionist find any way to make money from this?

    • Tired of Morons Who Post Irrelevant Comments

      Angry much??? It always amuses me how CBS News attracts all the angry, racist, bigots in the city. What expecting snow removal in an appropriate and timely fashion no matter what neighborhood you reside in has to due with race or blaming anyone based on color has to do with anyone is beyond me. I guess I’d be Fed up if I was you as well, Fed up with having to look myself in the mirror everyday and realizing what an absolute waste I was. God help you!

      • Smooth

        Better yet , it is amazing how these concerned people, are stereotyped by egotistical , self-righteous individuals like yourself. Try walking in their shoes one day, ooooops sorry we wouldn’t want you to get those boots dirty.

  • william

    That’s a dam shame. Snow removal isn’t just for cosmetics, it is necessary for emergency personnel to get through. Not removing a blizzard full of snow and someone dies, you should be held responsible. That guy should be fired.

  • little M

    you gotta wonder, “what was Wendell thinking?”

  • tracey


  • vincent coleman

    Wendell doesn’t worry, he makes $76512 a year from the city whether he works or loafs.

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