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Op-ed: Chicago needn’t reinvent the wheel to address fire-safety issues — just pull from what other cities have done

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15.10.2021

Over a six-year period beginning in 2014, 61 people died in 42 residential fires, in Chicago buildings where the city had prior knowledge of fire-safety hazards.

By the time people learned that, from an investigation by the Chicago Tribune and Better Government Association published in April, Mayor Lori Lightfoot already had sprung into action. A month earlier, her office announced plans to institute a new “scofflaw list” designed to shame and punish landlords who put residents at risk.

This happens from time to time. Politicians get inquiries from investigative reporters, then rush to do something — anything — before the story goes to press. They hope to leave an impression that they were attacking a problem before the public even became aware of it.

The trouble is, Band-Aid solutions rushed into place in order to score a political point almost never work.

That evidently is the case, again, this time. A follow-up Tribune-BGA report about fire dangers in Chicago, published this week, exposed the shortcomings of the mayor’s “building code scofflaw list.”

The mayor’s program seeks to publicly identify “scofflaw” landlords, deny them city business, and hope........

© Chicago Tribune


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