City Clerk Mendoza unveils new, uncontroversial vehicle sticker

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Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza unveils the 2012 – 2013 city vehicle sticker design and new ways to purchase.

Chicago’s new city sticker was unveiled Tuesday by City Clerk Susana Mendoza – and this time there shouldn’t be any controversy.

The new sticker, which will be available online starting April 23, was designed by city staffers and depicts the Chicago Police Department, Chicago Fire Department and paramedic symbols between two blue stripes that mimic the city flag.

It replaces the original design by a Chicago high school student that was picked through a contest Mendoza held. After announcing his design would be used, Mendoza dropped it, saying she had been told that elements of the student’s artwork looked like gang signs.

The original design – featuring a heart, the city skyline and outstretched hands – had won an online vote to be picked as the sticker that must be displayed on all 1.3 million vehicles registered in the city. But critics including former police Supt. Jody Weis said it appeared to contain symbols of the Maniac Latin Disciples, prompting Mendoza to pull the design, saying she was concerned about the “perception” of what it represented.

A design by a teenage girl that came second in the online poll was initially picked as a replacement, but the girl’s family said she didn’t want to be at the center of what had become a media firestorm, and Mendoza decided to use city staffers to design the vehicle sticker.

The city clerk wasn’t keen to discuss the controversy Tuesday. She called the flap over the original design “unfortunate” and said, “We’ve moved past that.”

Mendoza said she hasn’t yet decided whether a competition will be held to design the 2013-14 city sticker.

She also touted a new feature on the back of the city sticker – a “QR code” that, when scanned with a smartphone, directs people to a new city website.

Street-cleaning schedules, parking spots and a form to report potholes or register a dog can all be found on the new website, Mendoza said. By tracking use of the new website, the city might be able to entice advertisers to buy space on the back of the stickers in future years, she said.

Mendoza said she’s lengthened the period during which vehicle owners can buy a sticker in person to help cut down on long lines. In-person sales at stores and city offices begin May 1, though Mendoza encouraged people to buy online at instead.

“There’s no fee, and you won’t have to stand in line,” she said.

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