Chicago Goes Back to the Drawing Board

February 13, 2012

What a sad mess.

Chicago Real Estate Forum has been writing about the 2012-13 Chicago vehicle city sticker, first designed in an innocent art contest by high school students and now a controversy that could end that annual competition for good.

This is the runner-up sticker design that will not be used either.

Each year, the city holds a vehicle sticker contest that allows Chicago high school students to design the sticker for the upcoming year. Finalists are chosen from the submissions and the public picks the winner via an online vote.

This year, the public chose the creation of a 15-year-old Chicago boy who attends a school for troubled youth. But just before the 1.3 million stickers were to go to print, a local police blogger alleged that the design may include gang symbols.

Considering the Windy City has more gang members than any city in the country — click Chicago real estate for that story — Chicago City Clerk Susanna Mendoza met with Chicago police and gang experts about the situation and ultimately decided that the city would instead go with the second-place winner’s design.

“Unfortunately, whether or not the design was meant to include potential gang symbols, the perception that now exists is that the artwork could be misinterpreted as containing gang related symbols,” said Mendoza. “I cannot ask Chicagoans to put a sticker on their car that experts believe may be misconstrued as containing gang symbols.”

Over the weekend, however, the second-place winner pulled her design from submission after receiving negative feedback from Chicago residents.

“While our daughter truly enjoyed participating in the design contest and was proud to see Chicago select her as the first runner up, what should have been a happy accomplishment in her life has now turned sour,” said the girl’s parents.

So now it’s back to the drawing board. Mendoza has announced that the sticker will be designed in-house and a decision will be made as to whether to ever run this sticker contest again.

According to Mendoza, this fiasco will not delay the printing and distribution of the stickers and it won’t cost taxpayers any more money.

Mendoza could not guarantee, however, that this experience won’t have a lasting effect on Chicago’s youth.

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