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Poorer side of town?

During a meeting last week, Marilyn Trulock, who is leading the effort to renovate the old Veterans Memorial Pool in Dixon, brought up reasons that some people are opposing it.

The one that offended her the most: Some say they don't want to vote for a referendum for a pool on the west side.

What's significant about Dixon's west side? It is poorer. Not poorer in spirit. Not poorer in character. But poorer as the word is generally understood – having less money.

In my story on the meeting, I noted the west side is poorer – a fact not often pointed out in public. All you have to do is look at the housing prices in Dixon and find that the higher-value ones are typically on the east side.

Indeed, Dixon's mayor and all four at-large city commissioners live on the east side of Galena Avenue.

When I referred to the west side as poorer, I suspected some may object.

A few years ago at another newspaper, I mentioned that a certain side of town was poorer, which got me a rebuke from the boss. He said I should have written "lower income" – wording that I believe is an unfortunate sanitizing of the English language.

The boss argued that referring to a side of town as "poorer" promoted class warfare.

He lived on the "higher-income" side of town.

After my story appeared last week about the pool meeting, a reader wrote in to criticize the use of "poorer."

"Your description of where the Veterans Memorial Pool is located is very unfair!" the reader wrote. "We are looking for people to give us support, not put us down.

"I have lived on the west side of town for many years and have raised my children there. This is not 'the city's poorer west side.' My grandson also read the article and said to me 'we are not poor.'"

David Giuliani is a reporter for Sauk Valley Media. He can be reached at dgiuliani@saukvalley or at 800-798-4085, ext. 525. 

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