Public grocery stores a bad fix for food deserts

The city should seek a candidate from among those grocers who already know the business, which is famous for thin profit margins, and would hit the ground running

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Shoppers head to Whole Foods Market in Englewood on Friday, the same day the company announced the store would be closing.

Shoppers head to Whole Foods in Englewood, which is one of six stores closing nationwide.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

A May 10 “Other Views” column suggests having publicly owned (translation: taxpayer funded, government run) grocery stores in food deserts, such as the 63rd and Halsted location where Whole Foods is soon to end operations.

That’s a constructive thought, but a better one would be to seek a candidate from among existing grocers who already know the business (which is famous for its thin profit margins, even when well-run and patronized, and serving a prosperous customer base) and would hit the ground running.

Government-run entities nearly always turn out to be sluggish, inefficient, bureaucratic, high-cost operations. Not to mention including a fraught and painful learning curve.

Not all food chains can succeed in a low-income area. But two that seem able are Food 4 Less and Aldi.

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A Food 4 Less has been in business for years at 71st and Ashland in Englewood, long enough to prove they can succeed under such circumstances. Aldi might also make a good fit. (There is an Aldi’s near 63rd and Wallace now.) Is anybody at City Hall pursuing these possibilities?

Underwriting the deal with tax dollars may not be necessary except possibly as a sweetener, such as a tax holiday for a set time period.

That would be less of a negotiating concession than the taxpayer giveaways that Rahm Emanuel negotiated in the case of Whole Foods.

Ted Z. Manuel, Hyde Park

Hold supervisors accountable for bad cops

The Sun-Times editorial board writes that bad behavior and corruption within the Chicago Police Department can be like a raging wildfire or an infectious disease. No question, this new study is another punch to the gut for all those officers who lay it all on the line, day after day, to serve and protect a city that is in dire need of the best protection it can get.

However, do we really need to rely on a study to pinpoint officers who are corrupt, brutal, and in some cases no better than the criminals they are supposed to be investigating? Nowhere in the report is the most obvious way of identifying corrupt cops even mentioned: the word is “supervision.”

Leadership starts at the top. When it fails, it’s almost sickening to say we need outside studies to identify groups of cops who are corrupted.

How many supervisors have been held accountable for cabals of corrupt behavior within CPD? The answer is very few. Nobody detests corrupt cops more than good cops — that is a fact. However, when you have department supervisors who are either incompetent or lack the courage to step up and live up to the responsibility of their positions, studies will be after-the-fact. The damage is done.

Rogue cops are birthed by indifferent supervision. It’s time for all department supervisors to be held accountable for the actions of their subordinates. It’s also time for another look at just who and how officers are promoted.

Until that happens, more studies will come forward and the stench of corruption will strike again and again.

Bob Angone, retired CPD lieutenant, Austin, Texas

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