WBEZ | streets http://www.wbez.org/tags/streets Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en New rules of the road possible for Chicago pedicab drivers http://www.wbez.org/news/new-rules-road-possible-chicago-pedicab-drivers-110106 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Screen Shot 2013-04-09 at 8.37.11 AM_0.png" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago pedicabs could soon have to follow new rules of the road, much to the dismay of many drivers. The City Council is set to vote Wednesday on a slew of new rules and regulations for bicycle rickshaws popular around Wrigley Field and downtown. It would be the first time the city sets any regulations on the growing industry.</p><p>Many pedicab drivers say they&rsquo;re for some regulation, but argue that the ordinance put forth by Ald. Tom Tunney (44) goes too far. Tunney&rsquo;s measure is years in the making, and requires pedicab drivers to get $250 annual licenses for their cabs, to buy insurance, post fare schedules, apply for &ldquo;chauffeur&#39;s licenses&rdquo; to drive the pedicab and other changes.</p><p>But it&rsquo;s the ban on driving on the downtown portion of Michigan Avenue and State Street, and rush hour restrictions in the Loop that has caused the most protest from drivers. At a joint City Council hearing Tuesday with the committees on License and Consumer Protection and Transportation and Public Way, many drivers testified that the bans would put a big dent in their finances, as downtown is not only where many of their patrons are, but it&rsquo;s where they want to be dropped off.</p><p>&ldquo;What health risk to pedicabs pose? What causes more traffic congestion - a double parked limousine? A 50 foot bus making a turn? Or a pedicab in a bike lane? Pedicabs should be part of the solution and not banned from downtown,&rdquo; Chicago Rickshaw owner Robert Tipton said.</p><p>Nikola Delic, owner of Nick&rsquo;s Pedicabs, is one of many drivers that argued that the ordinance discriminated against pedicab drivers.</p><p>&ldquo;If the horse carriages and cab drivers can pick up their fares in the downtown district, I don&rsquo;t see why the pedicabs wouldn&rsquo;t be able to do the same thing,&rdquo; Delic said. &ldquo;Because horse carriages are blocking the same amount of traffic as one pedicab [and] they&rsquo;re moving slower.&rdquo;</p><p>Drivers submitted a petition Tuesday with over 500 signatures. It requests that aldermen take the entire street restriction section out of the ordinance.</p><p>Tunney has said that he&rsquo;s open to changing portions of the ordinance, but the street ban is off the table.</p><p>&ldquo;The ordinance, I believe, will help legitimize the industry, increase public safety and improve the flow of traffic on our congested streets,&rdquo; Tunney said at the hearing. &ldquo;There are...many good and safe operators but we&rsquo;ve certainly had a few problems that this ordinance is designed to address.&rdquo;</p><p>Commissioner Luann Hamilton from the Chicago Department of Transportation said the department would support reducing the restrictions, and they aren&rsquo;t concerned by pedicabs riding on those streets.</p><p>Another sticking point for drivers is a rule that would cap at 200 the number of registered pedicabs allowed in the city. Drivers contest that this rule will kill off jobs, and that 200 is an arbitrary number, as there&rsquo;s no official measure for the number of pedicabs driving around the city. The ordinance would allow for the number to be changed by the licensing commissioner.</p><p>The ordinance sailed through the joint committee vote, with only two &quot;no&quot; votes from Ald. Ariel Reboyras and Ald. Brendan Reilly. Penalties for violating the act could range anywhere from $100 to $5,000, depending on the violation or number of infractions.</p><p>Other pieces of the ordinance:</p><ul><li>Drivers would have to get a doctor&#39;s note stating they&rsquo;re capable to operate a pedicab and pass a geography exam before receiving their &ldquo;pedicab chauffeur license&rdquo;</li><li>All drivers must be 18 or older</li><li>Pedicab operators must have a valid automobile driver&rsquo;s license - from Illinois or another state</li><li>Pedicabs aren&rsquo;t allowed on sidewalks</li><li>Pedicabs are only allowed to carry four passengers</li></ul><p>Tunney&rsquo;s ordinance does not set fares for pedicabs, regulate where they are able to park or designate certain places they can hang out and wait for fares.</p><p>If the ordinance passes the full City Council Wednesday, the new rules and regulations would take effect by June.</p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-23d1776b-b381-d33a-af9d-cc36336fa4bd"><em>Lauren Chooljian is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her<a href="http://twitter.com/triciabobeda"> </a><a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian">@laurenchooljian</a></em></p></p> Wed, 30 Apr 2014 11:32:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/new-rules-road-possible-chicago-pedicab-drivers-110106 What ever happened to Pueblo Avenue? http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-09/what-ever-happened-pueblo-avenue-102551 <p><p>Sometimes the best-laid work of city planners goes to waste. Take the case of the street at 8400-west.</p><p>This street was originally called 84<sup>th</sup> Avenue, the name it still carries in the southern suburbs. In the 1920s Chicago annexed the portion of the Dunning community west of Harlem Avenue. Along with it came about one mile&rsquo;s worth of 84<sup>th</sup> Avenue.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/09-24--Pueblo sign.jpg" title="1972--The heyday of Pueblo Avenue (photo by the author)" /><br /><div class="image-insert-image ">The area was mostly truck farms then. But as land was subdivided, the city extended the Brennan street-name system into Dunning. From 7200-west to 8000-west, the north-south streets got names beginning with the letter &ldquo;O.&rdquo; Next came the streets beginning with the letter &ldquo;P.&rdquo; In this way, the Chicago portion of 84<sup>th</sup> Avenue became Pueblo Avenue.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">For some reason, Pueblo Avenue never caught on. Part of the problem was the nearby suburbs. In Maywood, 84<sup>th</sup> Avenue had been renamed First Avenue. River Grove called the street Thatcher Road. Just north of the Chicago section, and into Park Ridge and Niles, it was Cumberland Avenue.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">I grew up a few miles to the east. My friends and I always referred to the street as Cumberland. I never knew anyone who actually lived on the street, but I did date a girl whose house was a block away. She called it Cumberland, too.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div></div></div><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Belmont-Cumberland.jpg" title="'Does this bus stop at Pueblo Avenue?' (CTA photo)" /></div><p>Even the CTA&mdash;a government agency&mdash;had misgivings about the street&rsquo;s name. The westbound destination signs on the #152 buses read &ldquo;Addison-Pueblo.&rdquo; A half-mile south, the signs on the #77 buses read &ldquo;Belmont-Cumberland.&rdquo; I don&rsquo;t remember what the Irving Park bus signs read. Perhaps they alternated between the two names.</p><p>In 1973 Chicago began replacing its yellow street signs with the green ones we have today. When the crews got to 8400-west, they took down the yellow &quot;Pueblo&quot; signs. The green signs that went up said &quot;Cumberland.&quot;</p><p>I imagine there had to be some official city action changing Pueblo to Cumberland. If there was, I missed it. And if there&rsquo;s anyone who wants to go back to the Pueblo name, I&rsquo;d like to hear from you. &nbsp;</p><p>Or maybe the city still hasn&#39;t made up its mind what to call the street at 8400-west. At the intersection with Montrose Avenue, there are signs that announce both names.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/09-24--2012 sign.JPG" title="2012--Still Pueblo after all these years (photo by the author)" /></div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 24 Sep 2012 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-09/what-ever-happened-pueblo-avenue-102551 A guide to Chicago street rules http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2012-02-07/guide-chicago-street-rules-96020 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2012-February/2012-02-07/Madison St_Schmidt.JPG" alt="" /><p><div class="inset"><p><span style="font-size: 11px;">Listen to John Schmidt talk about street names on <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em></span></p><p><audio class="mejs mediaelement-formatter-identified-1332727549-1" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/sites/default/files/John Schmidt - commercial jingles street names.mp3">&nbsp;</audio></p></div><p>Every so often, you'll hear a visitor to our city ask for directions to Madison Avenue. This will make a true Chicagoan's blood boil. The dumb tourist doesn't even know it's supposed to be Madison <em>Street</em>.</p><p>Actually, there is no special rule on what is called a <em>Street</em>, and what is called an <em>Avenue</em>. It's merely traditional usage.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-February/2012-02-01/02-08--Madison Street_0.JPG" style="width: 495px; height: 330px;" title="In Chicago, our Madison is a 'Street.' (WBEZ/John Schmidt)"></p><p>But the other suffixes! Here we get into some technicalities. At one time there was a whole protocol on how a suffix would be used on Chicago thoroughfares.</p><p>Let's take <em>Boulevard</em>. That title was reserved for streets under the jurisdiction of the Chicago Park District--<a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2012-01-30/what-color-your-street-sign-95414">brown street signs, remember?</a> Garfield, Logan and Jackson were examples.</p><p>Sometimes the Park District controlled a limited section of a longer street. There, Oakley Avenue changed to Oakley Boulevard, Loomis Street became Loomis Boulevard and so on. The most interesting case was Avenue L--part of it was called Avenue L Boulevard.</p><p><em>Parkway</em> and <em>Drive</em> were other Park District suffixes. Examples here include Diversey Parkway, State Parkway, Lake Shore Drive and the various roadways running through the large parks.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-February/2012-02-01/02-08--Boulevard Food and Liquors.jpg" style="width: 495px; height: 324px;" title="Irving Park Boulevard is a 75-year-old anomaly. (WBEZ/John Schmidt)"></p><p>Irving Park Boulevard was not a Park District street. Following protocol, the city renamed it Irving Park Road in 1937. And yet, thirty years later, old timers like my grandmother were still referring to Irving Park as "the Boulevard." In 2012, Boulevard Food &amp; Liquors continues to operate at Irving Park and Mason.</p><p>Indianapolis Boulevard and Forest Preserve Drive are two city streets. Both are supposed to be called <em>Avenue</em>. But among locals, the older usage persists.</p><p>So much for the Park District. Most Chicago streets were controlled by the City of Chicago--yellow street signs. And the city had a few rules of its own.</p><p>The word <em>Road</em> denoted a major commercial street. This suffix became fashionable during the 1920s. Roosevelt, Cermak, Pulaski, and Pershing date from this era.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-February/2012-02-01/02-08--Indian Road.jpg" style="width: 495px; height: 324px;" title="Indian Road--hardly a major commercial thoroughfare. (WBEZ/John Schmidt)"></p><p><em>Place</em> and <em>Court</em> were side streets. The <em>Place</em> suffix was used mostly for the South Side half-streets--35th Place followed 35th Street, 63rd Place followed 63rd Street, and all the way down to the city limits.</p><p>Chicago also had a few oddball suffixes. These included Northwest <em>Highway</em>, Memory<em> Lane</em>, Palmer <em>Square</em>, and South Park <em>Way</em>. The last two were Park District streets.</p><p>These were the general rules for Chicago street suffixes. Of course, there were exceptions.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-February/2012-02-01/02-08--Ponchartrain Boulevard_0.jpg" style="width: 495px; height: 324px;" title="Ponchartrain Boulevard--not a Park District street. (WBEZ/John Schmidt)"></p><p>Congress Parkway was not a Park District street. Neither were Wacker Drive nor Ponchartrain Boulevard. On the other hand, most of Michigan Avenue and Marquette Road were controlled by the Park District, and displayed the signature brown signs.</p><p>Indian Road was a tiny residential street. And though Fairbanks Court was just a few blocks long, it carried some heavy traffic. So did Foster Place.</p><p>Once the City of Chicago took over the Park District, street suffixes were up for grabs. The section of La Salle Street north of the river was changed to La Salle Drive for a few years. Then it became La Salle Boulevard. I'm not sure what they call it now.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-February/2012-02-01/02-08--Waveland.JPG" style="width: 495px; height: 329px;" title="Waveland Street?! Harry Caray is turning over in his grave! (WBEZ/John Schmidt)"></p><p>There's evidence that the people-in-charge don't take suffixes seriously any more. Cub fans know that when a ball is hit over the left field stands, it lands on Waveland Avenue. But a few miles to the west, at least one sign reads Waveland <em>Street</em>.</p><p>Maybe I should give up trying to make sense of this. Or maybe I should just accept the example of Broadway. In case you haven't noticed, that street has no suffix.</p></p> Tue, 07 Feb 2012 13:15:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2012-02-07/guide-chicago-street-rules-96020 The history behind Chicago's president streets http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2011-09-23/history-behind-chicagos-president-streets-91997 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-September/2011-09-23/Obama Drive_Schmidt.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Last year 127th Street in Calumet Park was renamed Obama Drive. As anyone familiar with downtown Chicago knows, "president streets" are an old city tradition.</p><p>Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Adams, Jackson, Van Buren, Harrison, Tyler, Polk, Taylor, Fillmore. Those are the first 13 presidents, and 12 of them have streets in or near the Loop. Since there were two presidents named Adams, Quincy Street honors president #6, John Quincy Adams.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-September/2011-09-14/09-23--Obama Drive.JPG" style="width: 495px; height: 371px;" title=""></p><p>The one president without a street is #10, John Tyler. Some sources claim Tyler Street was changed to Congress Street during the Civil War, when Tyler declared allegiance to the Confederacy. Yet Tyler Street is still mentioned in news stories into the 1890s. Maybe the city didn't get around to changing the signs until then.</p><p>After Fillmore left office in 1853, the city seems to have abandoned the custom of automatically giving a president his own street. Now he had to earn the honor.</p><p>Lincoln Avenue, Grant Place, Garfield Boulevard, Roosevelt Road. From 1853 to 1909, out of eleven men who served as president, only four made the cut.</p><p>Wait--what about Pierce or Hayes or Arthur or Cleveland? Chicago does have those streets, but all of them were named for other people. So was Harding Avenue.</p><p>When Woodrow Wilson died in 1924, the city council decided he deserved a street. Chicago already had a Wilson Avenue, so the council changed Western Avenue to Woodrow Wilson Road. That lasted about a month, until pressure from business owners brought back the old name.</p><p>Since the Woodrow Wilson mess, the city has tried to avoid the hassle of renaming streets to honor presidents. Eisenhower and Kennedy got expressways--no address changes to worry about there! Taft got a minor street near O'Hare with no buildings on it.</p><p>But Barack Obama is a special case. As a citizen of Chicago, he will eventually be honored with a city street. And it will probably not be as remote as 127th Street.</p><p>I already have my own idea about what street name to change. What are your thoughts?</p></p> Fri, 23 Sep 2011 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2011-09-23/history-behind-chicagos-president-streets-91997 Will you pray for us? http://www.wbez.org/gscott/2008/07/will-you-pray-for-us/354 <p>It's a simple question. Unless you're a journalist, a documentary maker, a man who doesn't believe in God. But it's the only thing Bill asked me to do. Bill and his wife Linda constitute the hub, the nucleus, of a group of homeless and precariously housed people who live, loiter, drink, smoke, laugh, cry, argue, love, and sometimes die at a bustling intersection underneath Interstate 55 on the South Side of Chicago. My wife Erin and I entered their world recently. We drove by their encampment and noticed them interacting with the police who had "rolled up" on them. Bill's $38,250 in outstanding, unpaid tickets (for loitering, drinking in public, obstructing traffic, etc.) testify to their conspicuousness, their tenacity. Because of my commitment to serving the homeless, the indigent, the marginalized, and doing so ON THEIR TERMS, my wife and I went back to visit them. We wanted to get to know these folks and to help them in any way we could. And, to be honest, I was entertaining notions of possibly telling their story on radio and/or film. My motivations for visiting them were therefore a blend of good will and self-interest. That's how it always works, in my opinion. We journalists and researchers often act from a blended place--our intentions may be good, even noble. But we also want to advance our careers. That's why a group like this one represents many things-one of which is self-promotion. In the best case, impure altruism outweighs the self-advancement in the calculus of motive. <!--break--> "The Underpass" reminds me a lot of <a onclick="urchinTracker('/outgoing/www.chicagopublicradio.org/Program_848_Segment.aspx?segmentID=26715&amp;referer=');urchinTracker('/outgoing/www.chicagopublicradio.org/Program_848_Segment.aspx?segmentID=26715&amp;referer=http://blogs.vocalo.org/wp-admin/post.php?action=edit&amp;post=354&amp;message=1&amp;_wp_original_http_referer=http%3A%2F%2Fapps.wbez.org%2Fblog%2Fwp-admin%2Fedit.php%3Fpost_status%3Dpending');urchinTracker('/outgoing/www.chicagopublicradio.org/Program_848_Segment.aspx?segmentID=26715&amp;referer=http://blogs.vocalo.org/wp-admin/post.php?action=edit&amp;post=354&amp;message=1&amp;_wp_original_http_referer=http%3A%2F%2Fapps.wbez.org%2Fblog%2Fwp-admin%2Fedit.php%3Fpost_status%3Dpending');urchinTracker('/outgoing/www.chicagopublicradio.org/Program_848_Segment.aspx?segmentID=26715&amp;referer=http://blogs.vocalo.org/wp-admin/post.php?action=edit&amp;post=354&amp;message=1&amp;_wp_original_http_referer=http%3A%2F%2Fapps.wbez.org%2Fblog%2Fwp-admin%2Fedit.php%3Fpost_status%3Dpending');urchinTracker('/outgoing/www.chicagopublicradio.org/Program_848_Segment.aspx?segmentID=26715&amp;referer=http://blogs.vocalo.org/wp-admin/post.php?action=edit&amp;post=354&amp;message=1&amp;_wp_original_http_referer=http%3A%2F%2Fapps.wbez.org%2Fblog%2Fwp-admin%2Fedit.php%3Fpost_status%3Dpending');urchinTracker('/outgoing/www.chicagopublicradio.org/Program_848_Segment.aspx?segmentID=26715&amp;referer=http://blogs.vocalo.org/wp-admin/post.php?action=edit&amp;post=354');" href="http://www.chicagopublicradio.org/Program_848_Segment.aspx?segmentID=26715">The Brickyard, which I am reporting on for <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em></a>. I write this because my first encounter with The Underpass folks differs from my first encounter with The Brickyard. However, nearly every one of my initial sojourns into a so-called "underground" group is marked by good will, self-interest, sincerity, and artifice. So I wasn't at The Brickyard, but I approaching The Underpass speaks to how one goes about entering an "outlaw group," a subculture. So we charged headlong into their lives, hoping to do some good, and maybe develop a comparative analysis of The Brickyard and other places where people engineer their own off-the-books solutions to the failure of the American Dream. After brief introductions I opened my "trick bag." The bag's contents? Bottles of drinking water. Clean, sterile needles. Kits for safer crack smoking. Condoms. Antibacterial liniment for cuts and scrapes. The people there were agog at the presents coming out of my bag. They marveled and wondered aloud how this could be legal. We gave them identification cards authorizing their legal possession of the crack kits and syringes (although only one person there took the needles, and only a few took the crack kits, and even fewer had any use for drinking water, but several took condoms, if only for "a friend"). "We're all pretty much just drunks here," Bill reported kindly, his clear blue eyes radiating out from a weather-worn face. We yukked it up for two hours. Great conversation. They shared parts of their life stories. And we shared ours, when asked, but mostly we just listened, assuming a seated position on the ground, in the figure of student. Jason incurred a massive brain injury one year ago in an automobile accident that killed his best friend. He's now illiterate, trying to raise a daughter single-handedly. "My uncle's a drunk, he hangs out here, and he loves these people. They're all good people. So I come down here to check on him just about every other day." Dan's a heroin addict. He's been shooting dope for more than 20 years. He hates being addicted, and he hopes to kick it one day soon. "But it's hard, man, I can't stand the withdrawal. Some people can do it, they can go cold turkey. Not me. I need help. So does my old lady. I can't stop, or stay stopped, when she's still using. I'm too weak." He asked my opinion, so I replied, "Well, I wouldn't say you're weak. It's just that everybody experiences the drug, and the addiction, their own way... different from everybody else. Just because one person kicked cold turkey doesn't mean that everyone else can." Dan considered this, "Hmm, yeah, I guess you're right. I need help. That's not a bad thing, I guess." Stella is a proud mother of six children. And she happens to smoke crack. She and her boyfriend have a camp under the expressway above us. "We've got a nice set-up. We even got us a table for sitting." She spends 15 minutes braiding my wife's hair while we chat it up. Linda (Bill's wife) used to sell lighting to commercial enterprises. She's been institutionalized, voluntarily and against her will, on several occasions. She's very religious, and she tithes and offers every month because "my pastor told me that if I keep giving, even when I've got nothing to give, then when I start slipping back, God will keep the devil off my back." Bill loves Linda. "She's beautiful," he says matter-of-factly, as though he's telling me that we're now standing on a concrete sidewalk.‚  But she never ever shuts up," he says with a laugh, "except when she's drinking." We've handed out the goods. The group seems fairly well convinced that I'm not out there to hassle them. I'm not there to get them to stop doing what they do. Now I ask, "Anything you need us to do here?" "Yeah," Bill says, "will you pray for us?" Silence. An icy vice grips my intestines. I'm shocked...and scared. He can't be serious. In all my years of doing street-level outreach, research, journalism, and documentary work, no one has ever asked me to pray for them. And I haven't even prayed since I was 8-years-old. In fact, I pride myself in part on being profane, on embodying profanity. I try to laugh it off, nervously. But no one else is laughing. So I stop the feigned chuckle and ask, "You really want me to pray for you?" Bill's earnest eyes stir something inside of me, an emotion that makes me want to cry. Everyone starts shuffling toward a huddle formation. "Yes, I do. Please," Bill says softly. "Okay." And here I go. I can't believe I'm doing this. I don't know what to say. Everyone's now moving in swiftly, concertedly, pushing their hands toward the middle. I've coached little league baseball for many years, and it occurs to me that I'm just leading a cheer, really. Guys who were lingering on the margins of the group have now moved, nearly a dozen people have crowded around. Bill looks up at me, supplication is the word that comes to mind. Drawing on some long-since padlocked reserve of divine worship, I begin speaking. I realize that I'm not praying to God for these folks. I'm praying to humanity, to a sort of American collective conscience, and maybe God is listening. I feel enveloped by a secular moralism that, to me, feels holy. "Heavenly father, we pray in your name, gathered here today, we ask for your divine mercy, we ask for your mercy and forgiveness, and we ask that you bless each step we take, the ground we walk upon, the souls that now live inside our bodies. We ask that you grant us the power of forgiveness...so that we may forgive ourselves and those who lack mercy and compassion. Please be with us, always and forever, dear God. In the name of your son, Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen." And so it went. Bill looked up at me and said, "That was the best prayer anyone's ever said for me. It's the best I've heard. It's the only prayer that's moved me in my heart." I don't know if Bill was putting me on. And I don't know why he asked me to pray for them. Was he testing me? Did he figure that I was just another "religion and rice" street corner preacher promising food in exchange for the acceptance of Jesus Christ (and an offering) and that I therefore would be most comfortable leading a prayer? Bill doesn't even believe in God. But it's clear that he believes in something. Later, while looking into an abandoned but highly trafficked building near Douglas Park, Erin and I talked at length about whether or not I should have agreed to lead the prayer. There's no clear answer. Not in my mind anyway. I ask you: should I have declined (politely) to pray for them? After all, I don't believe in God. And I am not a spiritual leader. I was there doing outreach and perhaps some journalism. Is it a breach of ethics to occupy, under "false pretenses," a position of spiritual leadership, if only for 90 seconds? I'm pretty sure I know why I agreed to pray, and I could give you a well-reasoned argument justifying it. But what would you have done? Would you have led the prayer?</p> Wed, 23 Jul 2008 16:57:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/gscott/2008/07/will-you-pray-for-us/354