No race-based business here

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I would like to respond to the article written by Dan Weissmann in the June 1997 issue of Catalyst regarding school repair spending.

I resent the implication by the reporter that the white schools in the ward are the ones receiving the capital improvement money. If your reporter had done any simple research he would have found out that this was not true. Better yet he could have simply asked me, since he interviewed me, but he chose not to. Instead, he chose to misrepresent to the readers of your publication what is occurring in our ward.

The facts are as follows:

(1) Western Ave. is not a racial dividing line in our ward and has not been for many years.

(2) The Carroll-Rosenwald School addition, which has been completed, is for a school that is 90 percent African American in a community that is overwhelmingly African American.

(3) Bogan High School is the only public high school in our ward. It is made up of students of all races and ethnic backgrounds. Bogan’s current enrollment is 72 percent minority. Bogan is receiving major rehab work that was sorely needed.

(4) Dawes School is scheduled for a new addition for the simple reason that it is terribly overcrowded, far worse that any other school in our ward. No mention of this was made in your story even though I personally explained it to your reporter, and was present when the principal of Dawes did the same thing.

(5) Further, your reporter was present at the Reform Board’s Capital Improvement public hearings, where I testified seeking funding for a new Paul Cuffe School building. Paul Cuffe is an African-American grade school. This was conveniently omitted from your story as well.

In summary, if you are looking to stir the racial pot, look elsewhere. We do not do business on a racial basis in this ward. I try to help all kids get a chance at a better tomorrow.

Thomas W. Murphy

18th Ward Alderman

Editor’s Note: We erred in not giving Ald. Murphy an opportunity to respond to our finding about the location of schools receiving major rehab work in the 18th Ward. However, the Reform Board’s rehab decisions favored schools west of Western. No major rehab work has been done on the five 18th Ward schools east of Western Ave., all of which are at least 99 percent African American. Three schools west of Western, ranging from 9 percent to 89 percent African American, have received major rehab work. At the time the article was written, the work we reported for Dawes was rehab only, not overcrowding relief.