Back story: Ridding an alderman's alley of snow

February 4, 2011 12:24:26 PM PST
Bridgeport resident Julia Downs has the proof. Video evidence. Not a smoking gun. A smoking snow blower.

"My husband, John Downs, is the person operating the snow blower" that removed snow from the 11th ward alley behind Ald. James Balcer's house.

John Downs doesn't work for the Chicago Streets and Sanitation Dept. and wasn't sent by the city to clean up Ald. Balcer's alley. Downs is a "union boilermaker with Local 1" according to his wife, who for years has been helping keep their neighborhood in good shape.

"John and our neighbors [Mark Aguilar and Pat Fitzpatrick] who also do not work for the city get together and work with their own personal blowers, shovels and trucks with plows on them to clear as much snow as possible," Ms. Downs told the I-Team.

She contacted the I-Team to solve a mystery posed in Thursday's Intelligence Report: how did Ald. Balcer's alley end up cleared of snow, when city officials hadn't yet ordered crews in the alleyways?

The answer, according to Downs, is far less exotic than the secret clout list of politically-connected names that a veteran employees of the Streets and San Dept. says has existed for years.

Nor is the solution to the Bridgeport mystery as dramatic as a midnight phone call during the blizzard to deploy commando city workers into the home ward of five Chicago mayors including the Daley's.

Julia Downs says home video proves that it was simply her husband doing his neighborhood duty.

"Yes, they do the front of the house too, including the streets. They also dig out cars and clear street spots for parking as much as possible. The video was taken yesterday afternoon. John was in the alley most of the day yesterday trying to make it somewhat passable."