Is Daley Calling Dibs or Not?

Is he for or against saving shoveled spaces?

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Mayor Daley's Streets and Sanitation Department has issued a plea to Chicagoans to not claim shoveled out parking spots with furniture or saw horses or whatever else they can find, the traditionally practice known in these parts as "dibs."

At least two aldermen - Mell and Flores - have endorsed the order and forwarded it to their constituents.

But the mayor himself has long defended dibs. Has he changed his mind?

Consider:

"You spend three hours shoveling 5 feet of snow out of a parking space," the mayor said in 1999. "Would you want someone else to come in and park in it?"

"It's their property," Daley said in 2000. "If someone spends all that time digging their car out, do not drive into that spot."

"I tell people, if someone spends all that time digging their car out, do not drive in that spot," Daley repeated in 2001. "This is Chicago. Fair warning."

In 2002, according to a Sun-Times article, "Daley called for a temporary halt to the snow-clearing tradition. He ordered city crews to cart away the junkyard-style placeholders."

But in 2005, the paper reported that "If you take the time to shovel out a parking space and stake a golddigger's claim to it with a lawn chair, beat-up couch or discarded toy, City Hall is not about to toss it aside like the junk it is . . .

"Daley said he gained a lifelong respect for the time-honored Chicago tradition during his son's fatal illness more than 20 years ago.

"'I cleaned the whole front of my house because Kevin was very sick,' he said. 'I made sure that any car could get in and out. I didn't put anything there. But it had to be clean because we had to get to the hospital. I had to make sure we could get out of our driveway and out into the street'."

At the time, at least a couple of aldermen endorsed dibs.

"They shovel out their spot and they figure they've laid claim to that little piece of asphalt in front of their house," Ald. Tom Allen said. "That would be a very scary venture to try to play with that. They might string us up."

Ald. Carrie Austin said that prohibiting dibs "could lead to violence, fighting, harm to one another, swear words to one another - things they can't take back. We've got enough tension in our city as it is. We don't need that. Not over a parking space."

Daley appears to have had a change of heart, though.

Ald. Manny Flores sent out an e-mail on Thursday that said in part:

 "The Chicago Department of Streets & Sanitation is asking Chicago residents to remove any 'space savers' that have been placed in the street to secure parking spaces. We would like to ask residents to start removing any objects that they have left in the street to save a parking space.

"The City does not condone residents saving parking spaces that have been cleared of snow. The Department of Streets and Sanitation was initially tolerant of 'space savers,' since their main focus during and after a storm is plowing and salting to maintain public safety. Since the weather has improved, these materials have become obstructions in the public way that must be removed. If these objects are not removed by residents, Streets and Sanitation will do so."

Surely at the mayor's behest.

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