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'The People Living In This House...They Deserve Better:' City Marked 311 Trash Requests 'Complete' Without Finishing Jobs

CHICAGO (CBS) -- When it comes to complaints of fly dumping, heaps of trash being dumped in a neighborhood, Chicago's 34th Ward has the fourth most 311 complaints in the city.

CBS 2 has reported on the problem. And CBS 2 has been told the city sometimes marks messes as cleaned up, even when they're not. CBS 2's Tim McNicholas is digging for answers.

Francis Kelly is a South Side landlord who doesn't want his tenants living next to the garbage.

"This looks like roof tile. Windows," Kelly said, who added that he filed multiple 311 requests and reached out to the alderman's office about the problem over the past few months.

"One time, we received a response that it was complete and nothing had been done," Kelly said.

Last month, Kelly said he actually dragged some of the junk into the alley, and streets and the streets and sanitation department cleaned that up, but left some of it in the lot. And once again, marked the job complete.

"The people living in this house that we're renting, great family, they deserve better," Kelly said.

Another person told CBS 2 about this pile of trash at 105th and Throop. The request marked was completed Monday morning, yet the trash was still there on Tuesday. They reached out after seeing the CBS 2 story last week on the dumped trash.

CBS 2 called Alderman Carrie Austin (34th) for an explanation for that story and she said her office always relays complaints to streets and sanitation. When asked if there was a ward superintendent or someone who should be going around looking for stuff that's obvious, Austin said "that's not a routine of the ward superintendent that I'm aware of."

But according to a job description on the city's website, it is. CBS 2 went looking for the 34th Ward superintendent Tuesday for answers, but was told he was out in the field.

His name is Kenneth Austin, and he was appointed by his mother, Alderman Carrie Austin.

"There's some question there. If the work gets done, I wouldn't question it, but I don't see in this case where a lot progress has been made," Kelly said.

Sources tell CBS 2 Kenneth Austin resigned from his old streets and sanitations job about five years ago, after the Inspector General's office accused him getting in a crash in a city vehicle and having another employee cover for him because his license was suspended.

CBS 2 asked Alderman Austin about that 2015 report in another phone call on Tuesday and she only said it's inaccurate. And this time she would not let CBS 2 record the call. As for the 311 complaints, she said she's asking Kenneth and his bosses why they were marked completed and why the trash hasn't been cleaned.

CBS 2 received a statement from the Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation:

"The Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation remains committed to keeping all wards in Chicago safe and clean.  We take pride in responding to 311 requests in a timely manner.  We will look into the areas and clean them up as quickly as possible. DSS will issue warnings or tickets where appropriate, in order to gain compliance."

The agency added:

  • DSS will investigate why these areas have not been cleaned up sooner.
  • The Department continues to use Flash Cams as a deterrent for fly dumping and graffiti vandalism in areas with chronic activity.
  • Since the inception of the Flash Cam program, 85 offenders have pled liable resulting in more than $141,095 in revenue to the city.
  • Crews that serviced the alley in the 34th ward last week, but did not call in a clean-up as presented in the CBS 2 story on December 15th and the 17th were written up and are subject to disciplinary hearings.
  • The current 34thWard Superintendent, Kenneth Austin, has not been suspended for this and is not currently serving a suspension.

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