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Toll Authority chaos demands tougher oversight

One problem is how hard it is for drivers who’ve forgotten their I-PASS at home to pay their toll without getting a late fee.

MARIANNE MATHER / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER The Illinois State Toll Highway Authority has mailed out 100,000 violation notices to habitual toll offenders hoping to recover lost back tolls and fines. The toll authority expects to recover most of the roughly 7 million in revenue lost annually over the last few years. 4-23-03
Some drivers who forget their I-PASS at home have trouble reaching anyone at the Illinois Toll Authority to pay their toll and incur late fees.
MARIANNE MATHER

Your recent editorial on the (incompetence? malfeasance? both?) at the Illinois Highway Authority is a valuable piece of civic journalism. What’s needed now, as you say, is major follow-up.

Are readers aware that the tollway system is deliberately set up to scam both I-PASS users and drivers who may have forgotten their I-PASS at home? Although the system gives you 14 days to missed tolls, it takes a month for any payment you make to be processed. This allows the system to automatically hit you with a doubled late fee.

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Calling the tollway on the phone a few days after missing tolls won’t help either. When I did this once, I was told to call back a day or so later as their system crashed. When I did, the system still wasn’t working; therefore, I wasn’t allowed to pay my toll in time, which meant — you guessed it — an automatic doubling of the original toll.

When I called on another occasion to ask why representatives at the toll kept giving me contradictory information on another issue, the tollway rep replied, “Because one hand doesn’t know what the other hand is doing, honey.”

If this is the tollway’s modus operandi at the entry level, what kind of chaos is awash at the top?

Bill Dal Cerro, Edison Park

Keeping track of “missing” statuary

Michael Sneed’s recent story about former Mayor Jane Byrne’s children’s fountain now on display near the Chicago History Museum reveals a glaring civic shortcoming. The statue originally was located on Wacker Drive near Wabash Avenue, then mysteriously disappeared for years before ending up where it now is. How can such an important, delightful work of art go unaccounted for?

Starting with our world-famous Picasso outside the Daley Center, Chicago owns public art galore, much of it by other world-famous artists worth millions. Yet if important statuary can for years go “missing” or unaccounted for, it exposes a blind spot in city government: Is no one responsible for the well-being of our scattered trove of public art? Without a caretaker, responsibility goes begging.

Hardly any of these statues can be duplicated because the artists have died. They don’t look after themselves. It’s time our city administrators show regard for our public treasures, consistent with the aesthetic value they give Chicago, and appoint a qualified overseer schooled in art lore and preservation — not some untutored political functionary next in line. Our public art deserves no less. Thanks for reminding us, Sneed.

Ted Z. Manuel, Hyde Park