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Proviso Probe

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

GOV, Proviso Township Mental Health Comission

Gwen Crayton writes in the Forest Park Review about her skepticism about the Proviso Township Mental Health Commission.
[The] following [are] concerns about the board members and the administration of the Commission: no representation of the community; no mental health professional; members vying to distribute the over $2 million budget to their allies; the administrative staff is overpaid; and that Proviso Township should create its own agency to provide mental health services to Proviso residents.

The PTMHC passed through my awareness when reading police Sgt. Dan Harder's complaint against the Village of Forest Park.
In February 2005, I gave Chief Ryan a letter that I wrote at the request of a Nancy Brogato, an employee of the Proviso Township Mental Health Commission, and her lawyer, Fern Hiehuss Trevino concerning sexually derogatory remarks made by Ms. Brogato's boss, Joe Abrazino, that I heard while in their offices. I wrote that I heard Mr. Abrazino state, "Brogato, I can't fuck her and I can't fire her." This was because Abrazino and Brogato are relatives. Additionally, I heard Abrazino say that Brogato should give Melrose Park Police Sergeant, John Simpson, a blow job.[sic, punctuation]

Sounds like the kind of people I'd want supervising my mental health services... not!

What do you know about the Proviso Township Mental Health Commission? What do you supsect is happening?

GENERAL, Wednesday dump of local news

If you can't laugh at stupidity... you might be a curmudgeon. From the Forest Park Review (Seth Stern):
Early Monday morning at Circle Bowling Lanes, a woman was lying on the floor bleeding after falling through the bowling alley’s roof, while her brother’s leg dangled through a hole in the ceiling.

A Navy saying I still invoke is, Life's tough, tougher if you're stupid.

Broadview Village President Henry Vicenik may have lost his budget, but not his sense of entitlement. Vicenik likes the idea of homerule. So he spent an undetermined amount of village money polling the issue without getting approval of the board first. Trustee Robert Payne objected. See Suburban Life (Debrah Bonn) or Pioneer Press (David Pollard). I'll say it again, before Broadview should consider homerule it needs to replace incompetent personnel with competent and honest personnel.

Riverside/Brookfield Landmark (Bob Uphues) reports Judy Baar Topinka announced her campaign for governor today in Cicero. Klas Restaurant may be a nice ethnic eatery, but going to Cicero to announce seems dissonant with the anti-corruption theme I presume she'll be singing.

Riverside/Brookfield Landmark (Bob Uphues):
Brookfield voters in March may be asked to implement a separate local sales tax of between 0.5 and 1 percent to help the village fund ongoing road improvements.

Starting January 1, 2006 North Riverside bars will close at 3 AM. See Suburban Life (Gina Kenny).

Suburban Life has completed the move to North Riverside. Congrats.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

GENERAL, Crime Commission, George Ryan & charitable car scam

ABC7 (Chuck Goudie) reports Jim Wagner will head the Chicago Crime Commission. Any comments on Wagner or the Chicago Crime Commission?

Sun-Times (Natasha Korecki) reports on the George Ryan trial including references to a Bellwood facility. Any current political players involved in the deal that is now being prosecuted?

CBS2 (Dave Savini) reports on the Zuccaro family running some sort of scam around donating cars to charity for tax deductions.
William Zuccaro's wife appears as the president of one company and his son, Joseph, president of the other. But it is William Zuccaro's name printed on a business application in Melrose Park.

This license was rejected; the Zuccaros opened up shop and were operating illegally.

Too crooked for Melrose Park? I'm impressed.

ED, Davis/Yarbrough west sub educator meeting

What can I say?

Davis & Yarbrough kicked-off the meeting. And then the superintendents spoke. Then audience members chimed in.

Oh, why hold back? I had a quibble with most of what people said.

Dr. Sue Bridge started off with the Oak Park liberal bullshit about agonizing over the learning gap. Dr. Bridge, how many years has Oak Park had a gap? Have you made progress? Do you understand what causes it? I'm getting tired of seeing affluent, educated "White" liberals try to outdo each other at handwringing. It's... offensive.

Dr. Willie Mack said some stuff that resonated. That's probably why District 88 isn't renewing his contract.
We are up against forces that do not have children uppermost in mind....

Don't go into the board room looking for peace; look for justice for the children.

Libka prefaced his remarks by saying he "had not expected to speak." The meeting had the same format as the previous meeting in early 2004. I covered it for the Forest Park Review. It was the first time I met Emanuel Christopher Welch. So, if Libka has a beef with someone for sandbagging him, he should complain to Welch.

Also, three superintendents spoke before Libka. The guy should be able to adlib about his fucking job without notice, but he had the time provided by the three previous speakers to compose a couple thoughts.

Last time I saw Libka he was whining that people criticize him because it's a way of going after Welch.

Libka also made a fool of himself by mispronouncing "collegiality". He pronounced the "g" as in "gas" instead of as in "giant". It would be less embarassing if he had hit the word by accident. But he used it in describing his priorities for District 209. He wants to promote "collegiality" among teachers and staff. If you worked for Libka, how would you feel? You're working for an educator that can't correctly pronounce words that are supposed to be his priority agenda.

Dr. Phylistine Murphy complained about parents disagreeing with teachers and staff in front of students. She said the adults should present a unified front to the students.

Blaming parents was a common theme throughout the meeting. But Murphy almost made students sound like prisoners or the enemy.

Cynthia Broughton has a line, "It's turn around time in District 89." She advocated teachers loving students. Broughton seems like more of a passionate leader than a wonk.

I have much respect for Dr. Randy Tinder of Forest Park. He said the following of the No Child Left Behind Act:
The goal of this law is to destroy public education.

He's right. Different parts of the GOP want to destroy public education for different reasons, but it's the party's consensus agenda.

However, I disagree with Tinder's thesis that unequal funding is the problem. Riverside-Brookfield spends less per student than District 209 and gets better results.

Mr. Jordan (?) of Lindop School District built on the education funding theme. He blamed tax caps and salaries. He didn't blame health care costs.

From the audience Barbara Coles made a good point about NCLB. It has raised the visibility of problems in education.

And on a humorous note, a woman who is a crossing guard at Circle and Jackson in Forest Park spoke. She wasn't holding the microphone close enough to her mouth. Congressman Davis told her, "Hold it like you're being intimate with it." She responded, "I don't have much experience with that."

I was neither impressed with the solutions advocated nor the understanding of the problems in education.

Monday, November 28, 2005

KLEPT, it doesn't just happen in Proviso Township

Suburban Life (Robert Carr) reports that Jerry Marzullo has landed a gig teaching criminal justice at Morton College. Marzullo is being prosecuted for felony battery. It was on election night and Marzullo allegedly beat a political rival.

Wait, it gets better!
The college president said he didn't know Marzullo's name was on a list of hires for this fall's classes.

It might be plausible except Marzullo's father, Frank Marzullo, is on the board of trustees.
Frank also faces two counts of aggravated battery and four counts of official misconduct in the same case.

He didn't abstain from the vote.
The college president said he could not comment on any conflict of interest policies in voting.

Board President Fran Reitz, reached on the phone for comment, said "it's possible" that she approved the hiring of Marzullo. She refused further comment.

BTW, who is the attorney for Morton?

KLEPT, why did taxpayers pay for judgment against Serpico?[D209]

Generoso Trombetta sued District 209 and Ron Serpico for illegally firing Trombetta. Serpico was sued in his private capacity, not in his capacity as president of the board of Melrose Park.

Melrose Park Herald (David Pollard) dated May 12, 2004:
A jury ruled last week in favor of Generoso Trombetta, former head custodian at Proviso East High School, ordering Melrose Park Mayor Ronald Serpico and the District 209 School Board and its superintendent to pay a combined $1.4 million in damages. The jury ordered Serpico to pay $1 million and Dist. 209 Superintendent Gregory Jackson to pay $250,000 in punitive damages.

The defendants must also pay $75,000 for emotional pain and suffering and $63,000 in lost wages. District 209 School Board President Emanuel "Chris" Welch and board members Theresa Kelly, Michael Carlson and Dan Adams were also defendants in the case, but are attempting to establish immunity from liability.

But who paid?

Melrose Park Herald (John Huston):
The $1.2 million will now be split among Proviso Township School District 209 and two insurance companies -- one for the School District and one for Melrose Park.

Melrose Park's insurer, St. Paul, will pay $500,000 and AIG, the insurer for District 209, will pay $500,000. The other $250,000 will come from District 209's coffers.

Is this legal?

If Ron Serpico is at fault in a vehicle collission, wouldn't it be illegal for him to get the village's insurance company to pay the bill? Why is this any different? To what level of government does one report this kind of abuse for investigation and prosecution?

GENERAL, two days worth of stuff

Friday East Aurora upset the #10 Pirates 71-60 in boys hoops. See Sun-Times (Patrick Z. McGavin).

Saturday the Pirates upset #3 St. Joe's 66-64. See Chicago Tribune (Michael O'Brien).

Tony Freeman of Maywood was mentioned in the Des Moines Register (Andrew Logue) article about Iowa men's hoops.

Congressman Dan Lipinski has announced his re-election campaign. See Suburban Life. Archpundit is fond of calling for Lipinski to be dumped in the primary. In this post he passes along Lipinski's lack of loyalty to the Dems.

Brookfield has plans for how to use Community Development Block Grants. See Suburban Life (Megan Brody).

Any news on how the Proviso East bomb threat investigation is going?

With natural predators, deer present a couple problems. They destroy the local ecology by eating all of certain plant species and ignoring others. They also are a threat to motorists. Rockford Register (Isaac Guerrero) reports that Maureen Guttman, 58, of Broadview died when the vehicle she in which she was riding hit a deer.

I wouldn't encourage anybody to do anything illegal, but I saw a buck with a huge (12 or 14 points, I think) rack in the lowlands behind Proviso East about six weeks ago.

Tuesday (tomorrow) 7 PM, Congressman Danny K. Davis and Representative Karen Yarbrough will host a meeting with west suburban educators. The meeting is open to the public. The meeting will be at Lindop Elementary School, 2400 S. 18th Street in Broadview.

Centuries & Sleuths will host the Chicago Sun-Times Literary Event of the Week.
7 p.m. Friday, Centuries & Sleuths, 7419 W. Madison, Forest Park
Max Allan Collins may be best known for his mob novel Road to Perdition, made into a notable 2002 movie starring Tom Hanks, Paul Newman and Jude Law. Now he has completed the trilogy that began with Road to Purgatory with Road to Paradise. It is 1973 and Michael Saratino, now a front man for a Lake Tahoe casino, is sick of killing, wants to hang up the guns and retire to a clean life. But Sam Giancana, Chicago's Mafia godfather, orders him to rub out a rival -- and Saratino refuses.

Arnie Bryant will have Russ Stewart on his show Saturday, December 3, from 2-3 PM. Listen at 1530 AM. Call the show at (708) 493-1530. I imagine they'll be discussing Stewart's article in which he says Yarbrough is gonna open a can of whoop-ass on Moore in the committeeman race.

My prediction: Moore will lose to Yarbrough by almost 3-1 in Maywood and by at least 3-2 in Bellwood and Broadview - worse than he did in 2002. To win, he needs to win the white areas with more than 60 percent of the vote. The "Mighty Mayoral Machine" did its job in 2002, and the mayors have the motivation to replicate their feat in 2006. They would love to be rid of those pesky Yarbroughs and let Proviso Township return to the quietude of plantation politics. But getting their constituents to support them is a lot easier than persuading them to vote for a black candidate in a Democratic primary.

BTW, I'm gonna be helping SEIU Local 4 publicize the plight of its striking workers.

Comments on these topics? Something else?

CRIME, Nowakowski disappearance [M]

Chritina Nowakowski, aka Christina Esparza, is still missing.

From the comments and the email exchanges and phone calls, there are many allegations of abuse against Paul Esparza. One family member said Christina Nowakowski tried leaving eight or nine times between 1968 and 2000.

Paul's defenders claim there was no abuse, attack the family members making allegations or cite the abusers seeking financial assistance from Paul.

The discussions have generated many comments. The October 26, 2005 entry generated six comments. The October 28, 2005 discussion generated four comments. The November 7, 2005 discussion generated 226 comments. And the November 13, 2005 discussion generated 19 comments.

I've made it so none of these threads can take new comments. Instead new comments should be made under this entry. The thread with 226 comments became unwieldy.

I request that people use a pseudonym when posting to Proviso Probe. If people use "anonymous" it gets difficult to follow the discussion. I haven't enforced this rule in the Nowakowski discussions, because I know many of the people posting are her relatives and unfamiliar with how blogs works.

But please try to make an effort to include a pseudonym when you post your comments. Thanks.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

CRIME, DiFronzo family and organized crime [MP]

Chicago Sun-Times (Robert C. Herguth and Chris Fusco):
On paper, D&P is run by Josephine DiFronzo. But authorities contend D&P really is "controlled" by her husband Peter and his brother John, and a Chicago Sun-Times examination indicates that Peter DiFronzo is deeply involved with the company.

The DiFronzo brothers are identified in law enforcement documents as "made" members of the Chicago mob, with John "No Nose" DiFronzo, 76, allegedly one of the three top organized crime figures in the city. Peter DiFronzo, 72, allegedly is his chief lieutenant and, at least for a time, was a leader of the mob's Elmwood Park Street Crew....

[According to the FBI] the business "obtained contracts through illegal payoffs or intimidation."...

D&P and JKS contribute generously to certain politicians, including state Rep. Angelo "Skip" Saviano (R-Elmwood Park) and Republican Cook County commissioner and Elmwood Park Mayor Peter Silvestri....

Meanwhile, two workers from D&P ran unsuccessfully in the most recent Teamsters Local 731 election, raising concerns among some about whether Peter DiFronzo was trying to exert influence at his former union.

How do the DiFronzos connect with Ron Serpico, Anthony Bruno and other Proviso figures?

What is the relationship between labor unions and organized crime?

M06, four questions for Rep. Karen Yarbrough [7th Rep]

I asked Rep. Karen Yarbrough four questions I felt were relevant to her campaign.

1. On the smoking legislation you pushed, you've said it's about local control. If you favor local control, why not just let the owners of the establishments decide whether to be smoking or non-smoking?
HB 672-Clean Air Act
The allowing for all communities to have "local control" in deciding public smoking policy just only seems fair. The 1989 legislation pre-emption (written by tobacco companies) only allowed 21 communities in the state of Illinois the option to decide. Why not all Illinois communities? Why should the state be deciding public policy for local communities and not the reverse? I just feel the locals know better their respective communities better than the state and will do what's in their best interest.

The other issue has to do with second-hand smoke ingestion by innocent employees. Is it reasonable to expect to be able to work in safe, decent, work environment? We know that workers exposed to secondhand smoke are 20-30% more likely to develop cancer. The science is irrefutable.

2. Since District 209 spends 73% more per student than Riverside-Brookfield HS, and R-B has much higher percentages of students passing the PSAE, doesn't this
discredit the hypothesis that schools like ProvisoTownship High Schools need more money?

District 209
Your point is well taken concerning the per pupil spending comparison with Brookfield and Dist. 209. The ultimate proof is in the pudding. When you look at the test scores that are some of the worst in the state; it would suggest there are misplaced priorities. The money needs to be better spent in the areas of instruction and resources for all of the children in district 209 especially those who are struggling. Every child should be given every opportunity to succeed.

BTW, I was factually incorrect in the premise of the question. District 209 reported spending $14,093 at a board meeting and the Riverside/Brookfield Landmark said R-B spent $8,000+ on education. The R-B figure did not include the spending on non-education stuff, like maintaining the physical building. See this post.

3. Have you sponsored any legislation initiated by a constituent and not an interest group?
Citizen Sponsored Legislation
The most recent legislation I sponsored is HB 1428 which is now a public act. Citizen's who have mortgages (most do) usually have both their insurance and real estate taxes escrow ed and the mortgage company pays the payment when due. If they, 1) do not pay 2) pay the wrong parcel 3) over pay it sets into motion a whole series of problems for consumers. This actually happened to me several years ago and I then heard from a woman who lives nearby about her misadventure. It was suggested that if the mortgage company would 1) let a consumer know when they pay 2) the actual parcel # they pay it would be helpful to clear up the problem prior to an increased payment, etc.

4. What does it mean to you to be a Democrat?
On being a Democrat
I believe in the basic democratic philosophy of fairness to all people, rights to privacy, property, freedom of speech and government should work for the common good of all people.

I asked the challenger, Emanuel Christopher Welch, four questions, but he refused to answer.

GENERAL, what's on your mind?

Maywood has a new publication the Maywood Gazette. A source says it is affiliated with the Westchester Gazette and the Berwyn/Cicero Gazette.

In the past the Gazette supported Michael Manzo and his faction in District 209 conflicts with Emanuel Christopher Welch and his faction. The Gazette is now getting legal notice advertisements from the Village of Melrose Park.

Rumor has it,
Welch and Serpico have "encouraged" the Gazette publisher to launch this new Maywood paper, in exchange for political endorsement for Welch and Moore.

Comments on the Maywood Gazette or other topics?

Friday, November 25, 2005

BLOG, Rich Miller invites the best of Land of Linkin

Rich Miller of Capitol Fax has created a group blog, Illinoize.

I sent Rich an email requesting to join the Illinoize team. I try to keep Proviso Probe focused on local stuff, but I've got ideas and opinions about statewide issues and policies.

When Rich responded to my email, he cited Welch's lawsuits as the reason for not inviting me to participate. The lawsuits are having the effect of keeping information about Proviso Township from getting to a wider audience.

SPORT, Friday dump

Senior Lavell Miller (112#) is a returning state qualifier for Proviso East wrestling. Seniors Josh (160#) and John Hilliard (171#) only wrestled partial seasons last year, and also qualified for the state tournament. Seniors Winston Robbins (145/152#) and Phillip Howlett (189#) qualified for sectionals last year. Howlett won a tournament in Australia in the off season. See Pioneer Press (Tim Stablein).

Bob Koehne will replace Bill Koehne as the varsity basketball coach at Walther Luthern. See Pioneer Press (Tim Stablein).

Andrea Bankhead, a Proviso West point guard, has committed to Indiana State in Terra Haute. See Tribune-Star (Todd Golden).

HarnessLink.com (Jeremy Rangiawha)
Starting with the 2006 racing season Maywood Park and Balmoral Park will move up their first race post by 20 minutes to 7.20 pm....

Next year Maywood Park will host live racing on Thursday and Friday evenings....

GENERAL, Day after TGing

Democratic Committeeman Eugene Moore appears to be leaning toward endorsing Tom Dart to replace Michael Sheehan as Cook County Sheriff. See Chicago Tribune (Mickey Ciokajlo and Gary Washburn, with John Chase contributing). The Cook County Sheriff's Department needs an outsider to clean out the corruption and waste.

District 209 paid Danielle Ashley $30,509.61 for work done during August, 2002 and $11,958.69 for September, 2002. How much does a public high school district normally pay for PR in a month?

The federal government has sacrificed fairness in how public schools subsidize private school special ed students in favor of simplicity. See Oak Leaves (Chris LaFortune).

One of the things Dan Haley and Ken Trainor didn't like about how I wrote news articles was that I wrote them too much like minutes. I included too many different points instead of writing an article that developed one or two main points. Compare what I wrote about last Monday's District 209 meeting and Forest Park Review (Seth Stern). Is there anything I included in my coverage that FPR skipped that was important?

The turkey story doesn't have a happy ending. The man rescued died. See ABC7.

It was a bad week for trains. Tuesday a train with hazardous material derailed in Forest Park and Wednesday a commuter train hit a number of vehicles in Elmwood Park. See Chicago Tribune (Brett McNeil and Angela Rozas).

Please use this entry for comments about whatever is on your mind.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

GOV, Maywood police & fire pensions underfunded, tax increase likely [M]

See Maywood Herald (David Pollard) for more information.
The [proposed tax] hike is to help replenish the village's police and fire pension funds which have gone under-funded for years, according to village officials.

How much of the problem is that the village wasn't paying enough into the fund? And how much of the problem was the pension fund board allowing Democratic Committeeman Eugene "Gene" Moore to mismanage the fund?

A credible source has alleged significant mismanagement while Moore invested the fund. Before a tax increase is approved, the public should feel confident that there either was no misappropriation of funds or that the parties responsible have been held accountable.
The decision may also depend on the public. Before making the estimated tax-levy increase permanent, the board has to have a public hearing, which will be Dec. 6 at 6:30 p.m. just before the Village Board meeting in Council Chambers, 125 S. Fifth Ave.

GOV, Broadview a financial mess [BV]

I like Broadview, but after reading Suburban Life (Debrah Bonn) Village President Henry Vicenik seems woefully out-of-touch, almost senile. Vicenik is talking about homerule when it's clear Broadview isn't taking care of basics.

If the Village of Broadview can't do the simple stuff, why should residents vote to give the incompetents more power?

Here are some quotes:
A 2003-2004 budget could not be located....

If Broadview can't even find its budget, it's probably safe to say it wasn't used as a management tool.
[Auditor] Zabinski said the village did not produce revenue projections for the year so it's unclear if the revenues exceeded or trailed expectations.

...unclear if the revenues exceeded or trailed expectations?
The water fund, which lost more than $233,000, was another area of concern for Zabinski.

"A deficit in the water fund is a concern because it should have reserves for capital repairs in the future," she said. "You should always try to run a positive there to cover your capital outlay, and this is the second year in a row they've had a deficit."

Trustee and finance committee chair Sam D'Anza pointed out that the audit doesn't include changes made to the water and garbage funds in 2005.

"Hopefully, these funds will be in better shape," he said.

Hopefully? Is this faith-based governing at the local level?
When asked by residents, he said home rule and its additional taxing power is "something that we have to consider."

The first step is to manage Broadview competently under the existing rules. Then if Broadview needs more power, then consider homerule.

Village staff isn't getting the job done and it doesn't sound like the elected officials are really competent either. Unless the article is misrepresenting the situation it's time for personnel changes in Broadview.

CRIME, no harassing the high school girls [D208]

Suburban Life (Megan Brody):
A teacher at Riverside-Brookfield High School was suspended Nov. 11 for allegedly verbally sexually harassing female students.

I assume that when the article says the board is trying to reach a final decision by "Nov. 19" Suburban Life means "Dec. 19" not "Nov. 19, 2006".

GENERAL, Wednesday news dump

Here are the stories that caught my eye.

Forest Park Review (West Suburban Journal's Tanisha Allen-Jones) reports on conflicts over senior services in Proviso Township.

Forest Park Review (Seth Stern) reports on Police Cheif James Ryan testifying in the hearing to determine the fate of Sgt. Dan Harder. See this entry and this one for more background.

Forest Park Review (Seth Stern) reported on the request for Proviso taxpayers to pay for the School Based Health Center at Proviso East. See this entry for other perspectives.

Northlake Journal-Herald (Chuck Fieldman) reports Santos Rodrigues of Northlake has been charged in the shooting of Eddie Reese (deceased) and Fabian Pacheco.

Pioneer Press (John Huston) reports on the efforts of Latinos United with a Voice (LUV) to organize Latinos families upset about discrimination and disrespect at District 209, Proviso Township High Schools. See this entry for background.

West Proviso Herald (Chris LaFortune) and Melrose Park Herald (John Huston) report that districts 87 & 88 are having trouble because of low standardized test scores.

Westchester Herald reports on Rep. Dan Lipinski's efforts to seek alternatives to dumping dredging from the Cal-Sag Channel in the Lucas-Berg pit.

Any local stories catch your attention?

What's on your mind?

ADMIN, format will be modified

I'm going to modify the format of Proviso Probe slightly.

Instead of posting a new entry for each topic, I will post a specific entry for no more than three topics. The other stuff will get put into a "general" entry. You can use the comments section of the "general" entry to post about whatever is on your mind.

Hopefully, this will make Proviso Probe more readable.

TRANS, train derails in Forest Park [FP]

Forest Park Review (Seth Stern) has pictures by Josh Hawkins.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

BLOG, the Royko awards

Of course, I would be touched to be nominated for a Royko Award....

SPORT, HS hoops rankings

Chicago Sports (AP) reports St. Joe's is ranked #3 and Proviso East is tied for #6.

ED, Oak Park-River Forest HS suing non-residents

See Chicago Tribune (Deborah Kadin).

The district is using Don Williams and Associates of Forest Park.

District 209 is contemplating hassling students over residency. According to some Latinos the school district is already holding Latino students to a higher standard than others.

TRANS, freed by frozen turkey [M, NL]

From KSBW (Santa Cruz, AP):
MAYWOOD, Ill. -- An elderly Illinois couple is hospitalized after being rescued from their burning car by a man who used his Thanksgiving turkey to break the windows.

Almost a News of the Weird item....

CRIME, Jeremiah Norris court date [M, BW]

Norris wasn't tried today. I'm not sure what was supposed to be accomplished. The case is continued to mid-December.

The most unusual thing was that Norris' attorney wasn't present for the rescheduling. According to Norris, attorney Cretchy (does the name mean anything?) was caught in traffic.

One of the sheriff's told me I couldn't write while in court. I'm checking on this. Does anybody know if this is true or not? It seems like bullshit to me.

See this post for the background on why Norris' drug case has political significance.

KLEPT, Rosemont casino license

IIRC, part of making the Rosemont casino deal palatable to the local municipalities there was a revenue sharing plan. Does anybody recall the details? I was living in Oak Park at the time I read about it. Again, IIRC the Village of Oak Park would get over $450,000 per year as part of the deal.

Here's a couple opinion pieces on the casino license story.

Chris Fusco of the Chicago Sun-Times and Gambling Magazine.

SPORT, Tim Brasic in jeopardy at Illinois [D208]

Sun-Times (Herb Gould) reports Illini football coach Ron Zook is hoping to upgrade from Tim Brasic at QB next season. Brasic graduated from Riverside-Brookfield.

SPORT, Shannon Brown cramps [D209]

Chicago Sports (AP) reports Proviso East grad and Michigan State basketball player Shannon Brown had to leave a game on a stretcher because of severe cramps. The audience booed.

Monday, November 21, 2005

ED, tonight's school board meeting [D209]

Comments on the meeting:

Libka was beat red for the open session. Later he said that he promised not to forward any more anonymous letters to the board. I suspect Flowers took Libka to task in closed session.

For the awards ceremonies the board and senior administrators upstage the awardees. With the audience looking at the awardees backs, it makes it seem the ceremony is to present the school board and administrators to the audience and the awardees are props.

BTW, why doesn't Proviso give student awards in front of students? Do other districts give their student awards at school board meetings?

Welch announced Gilchrist was going to meet with the leaders of the teachers union to discuss comments that offended some teachers. (Afterwards Gilchrist said it was the quote he took from a local minister that D209 has "'at risk' students being taught by 'at risk' teachers".)

Two representatives from the School-Based Health Center (SBHC) at Proviso East High School (other info) made a pitch for District 209 to spend $250,000 per year on the health center to replace money being eliminated by the federal government. Rep. Danny Davis's chief of staff was there also to help push shifting the tax burden from the federal income tax to the property tax.

Here are my concerns with D209 taking 50% of the responsibility for funding the health center.

1. It is a shift of tax burden from the federal income tax (which is going down) to the property tax (which is going up).
2. It may be good for schools to provide health services, but is it their responsibility? Do they have the expertise? Are we going to expect unpaid school board members to become knowledgeable about public health as well as education?
3. Who will do a better job hiring the appropriate health care providers? The federal gov't? Or the D209 board? If D209 pays 50% of the money you can expect the board majority will hire their cronies instead of the most qualified individuals. Do we want this?

Bob Libka put off discussing the test scores until next month, but he was fundraising for the Proviso East & West bands to go to the Liberty Bowl.

Libka admitted that faculty, other administrators and people in the community contact him to make suggestions about whom to hire. Theresa Kelly pressed him for names. He demured.

Part of the exchange went as follows:
Kelly: Is there rigging?
Libka: That's a good question.

Talking to Libka afterwards:

Libka had a correction for my column on the D209 press conference to announce the new teacher contract. Libka didn't graduate from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. He attended for two-years and left. He finished at Concordia.

I asked Libka about the budget deficit and he did have some specifics for cutting expenses. He said the budget office has given him a list of 15 options. He's already cancelled buying a couple vans (saving about $70-80K) and he plans to cut a couple positions in maintenance.

Libka acknowledged forwarding an anonymous letter to board members that included allegations about board members Dr. Charles Flowers. He justified this by saying, "the last couple points had some relevancy to the board." I did not find any of the allegations relevant to Flowers' duties as a board member.

I got a little frustrated with Libka when I asked about hiring. I said it seemed likely that political organizations already have their people in the District 209 system and the insiders are getting jobs for others loyal to the right political team. I asked Libka, if this was the way the system was working was this OK with him. He refused to answer the question.

ED, school board meeting Monday night [D209]

What should the community ask the school board and Bob Libka?

Sunday, November 20, 2005

GOV, upcoming meetings [BF, BV, H, LP, W]

Hat tip Suburban Life.

Monday, November 21

* Proviso Township High School District 209, 7 p.m., Proviso West High School, 4701 W. Harrison, Hillside
* Village of Broadview Board, 7:30 p.m., 2350 S. 25th Ave.

Tuesday, November 22

* Westchester Village Board, 7 p.m., Village Hall, 10300 Roosevelt
* La Grange Park Village Board, 7:30 p.m., Village Hall, 447 N. Catherine Ave.
* Brookfield Conservation Commission, 7:30 p.m., Village Hall, 8820 Brookfield Ave.

Monday, November 28

* Westchester Library Board, 7:30 p.m., library, 10700 Canterbury
* Brookfield Village Board and Committee of the Whole, 6:30 p.m., Brookfield Zoo's Discovery Center, free admission
* Hillside Board, 7:30 p.m., 425 Hillside Ave.

Tuesday, November 29

* Brookfield La Grange Park School District 95 master planning final session, 7 to 8:30 p.m., S.E. Gross Middle School, 3524 Maple Ave., Brookfield

Monday, December 5

* Westchester Park Board, 7 p.m., Community Center, 10201 Bond

Monday, December 12

* Westchester Library Board, 7:30 p.m., library, 10700 Canterbury
* Westchester Park Board, 7 p.m., Community Center, 10201 Bond
* Hillside Board, 7:30 p.m., 425 Hillside Ave.

Tuesday, December 13

* Westchester Village Board, 7 p.m., Village Hall, 10300 Roosevelt

Wednesday, December 14

* Hillside District 93 School Board, 7:30 p.m., Board room, 4804 W. Harrison St.

Monday, December 19

* Hillside Village Board, 7:30 p.m., 425 Hillside Ave.

Tuesday, December 27

* Westchester Village Board, 7 p.m., Village Hall, 10300 Roosevelt

ED, Brookfield-LaGrange Park schools referdum probable [D95]

Suburban Life (Megan Brody) writes the referendum will probably be on the March, 2006 ballot. It's been 20 years since the last education fund referdum.

The cost of education is rising faster than the natural growth of property tax revenue because the cost of health care is rising so much faster than the rate of inflation.

GOV, how to develop Westchester [W]

Suburban Life has an article on options being considered.

OBIT, John J. Sinde profile [W]

Suburban Life has an obituary for Westchester's former village prez. It also summarizes his greatest hits.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

MEDIA, what programs appear on WJJG?

On the side bar (on the right) under media, I linked to a post where I intend to list all the WJJG programs that are relevant to Proviso Township, either the show covers local issues or is hosted by a member of the community.

What are all the shows that appear on WJJG? What is the name of the show? What kind of show is it? Who hosts it? When is it?

ADMIN, moderating comments

Today on Arnie Bryant's show, he kept after me to moderate comments. I agreed to try if for one week.

However, I'm not going to start until I consult with the attorneys representing me in the defamation case. I suspect that by approving each comment individually I will increase my liability for the contents of the comments.

If this is the case I may invite others to moderate the comments on the blog. If I ask others to moderate the comments, the rules need to be quite specific.

Here are the rules I've tried to enforce.
1. No comments under "anonymous" (except in the Nowakowski threads).
2. No comments about others' sex lives, except when the allegations are newsworthy because they are relevant to job performance or have broken in another media outlet.
3. No allegations of criminal activity without proof. This means no dropping bombshell allegations based on hearsay. It does not preclude comments that make the case that known activity is criminal.

Any other rules moderators should be enforcing?

CRIME, second autopsy on Adeyooye inconclusive [B]

Pantagraph (Greg Cima):
A second autopsy did not determine what caused the death of [Olamide Adeyooye].

Question for the legal minds out there: how much more difficult is it to get a murder conviction if the cause of death is not determined?

If the prosecutor can prove that there was a kidnapping, is the kidnapper culpable for the homicide whether he killed her or not? Even if he claims, "she was fine when I left her," isn't he responsible for the homicide if he left her in a situation where she wasn't really safe?

MEDIA, Arnie Bryant's show

Bishop Mullins and I will appear as guests on Arnie Bryant's show on Saturday at 2 PM on WJJG, 1530 AM. We will discuss the positive things that government can do to make Proviso a better place.

Usually Arnie takes some calls. The number to call the show is (708) 493-1530.

POL, why is Republican pushing idea Harmon endorsed Topinka? [39th Sen]

Jim Rowe is running as a Republican against Senator Don Harmon. OK, Republicans run for office against Democrats. This makes sense.

But, according to ABC7, Rowe is harping on the claim Harmon endorsed Judy Baar Topinka for governor.

How does this make sense? What kind of voters is Rowe trying to woo with his claims--claims that Harmon denies? Wouldn't Republican voters see it as positive Harmon works closely with Topinka? And any Dems that might be offended that Harmon was too close to the GOP, why would they vote Republican?

One explanation could be that Rowe is trying to help Harmon's opponent in the Dem primary. Why would Rowe help Harmon's Dem opponent?

EVENT, T-Giving Day hike & b-fast [M]

When: Thursday, November 24, 2005
6:30 AM - Hike
8:00 AM - Breakfast

Where: First Congregational Church
400 North Fourth Avenue
Maywood, Illinois
The Maywood 125th Anniversary Committee encourages folks to join the hike - and carry on a village tradition by a congregation older than our village. Start your day of Thanksgiving with exercise and fellowship and still have plenty of time to put your turkey in the oven!

One Thanksgiving Day, well over 100 years ago now, the Youth of the Congregational Church and of the Baptist Church in Maywood joined together for an early morning hike through the woods along the Des Plaines River to marvel at God's Creation and to give Thanks. Following the hike they continued their Christian Fellowship around the breakfast table. Through the years this Thanksgiving Tradition has continued at the First Congregational Church of Maywood and this year is no exception

For additional information, contact:
Mark Jurewicz

Friday, November 18, 2005

SPORT, IBL holding tryouts

The So-Called Austin Mayor has an entry about the International Basketball Leage (IBL). Dennis Rodman has signed a two-game contract with the Cedar Valley Jaguars. And the IBL is holding tryouts in Grayslake.

PO-PO, police brutality Forest Park [FP]

I have read Dan Harder's complaint to the EEOC that he experienced retaliation for his role in a successful sexual harassment suit against the Village of Forest Park and Edward Pope, who was the police chief at the time.
Beginning in October 2003, until the present I have been subjected to repeated retaliation because I initiated and assisted Sgt. Frawley and Officer Caines in bringing the sexual harassment claims....

Part of Harder's statement rang especially true based on my experience as a whistleblower in the Navy.
Sergeant Murphy allegedly used excessive force against a homeless man, Sidney Hooks. I explained [in the memo to Lt. Knack] that as I was returning to Patrol Division, numerous members of the Patrol Division approached me. They told me they needed direction concerning the position the department was taking in this matter. Several Forest Park Police Officers had been interviewed by the Cook County States Attorney's Office and planned to testify against Sergeant Murphy because they observed him use excessive force against Sidney Hooks. Mr. Hooks was pepper sprayed and his wrist broken when Sergeant Murphy him him. These officers were concerned that the department was "covering up" the incident....

I explained [to Deputy Chief Steve Weiler and Chief James Ryan] that based on incidents I observed, statements made by other individuals, and what I had learned through my education and training, that Sergeant Murphy may be a risk to himself or others because of his behavior.... I felt an obligation to report this information to my supervisors in order to prevent any further problems. I also related that Detective Pete Morrissette reported an incident to me where Sergeant Murphy has a "blow up or tantrum" in the presence of other officers and the officers felt as if Sergeant Murphy was "losing it".

What rang true was the phenomenon of individuals that saw something wrong, but didn't want to make the complaint themselves. In reality few people will put themselves at risk to report wrongdoing. They disapprove, but they would rather pass the responsibility on to someone like Harder, who had proven he would do the right thing and weather the adverse consequences.

This was how I learned about senior officers leaning on lieutenants to give their children or children of their peers Navy ROTC scholarships. None of these captains leaned on me. They leaned on my peers and my peers didn't like it. Rather than the other lieutenants raising the issue themselves, they brought it to me. I think they could satisfy themselves that they had taken a stand--albeit a weak stand--against the corruption. But if the situation were to get nasty, I would be the one actually taking the risk.

TRANS, bridging river between Blue Line & Maybrook [FP, M]

Forest Park Review (West Suburban Journal's Frank Life) reports that construction of a bridge over the Des Plaines River will begin next spring. There was no estimated completion date. The bridge will connect the Forest Park Blue Line stop to the Maybrook facility and the Illinois Prairie Path, a bicycle trail.

Creating the bridge may lead to pressure to connect the Illinois Prairie Path which runs from Maybrook to the Fox River to the Des Plaines River Trail. The Des Plaines River Trail runs from Schiller Woods 12 miles to the north.

In the past Forest Preserve activists beat back a plan to run a paved trail to the south from Schiller Woods.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

BLOG, what makes local journalism good?

Bill Dwyer (Forest Park Review) tees off on Neighbors and Forest Park Post.

I've been criticized some in the comments too.

What do you expect from local journalism?

How does the medium affect the message? How should a blog be different from a weekly paper? Than a call-in talk show? Than the bathroom wall?

GOV, how sinking incomes affect Proviso

Chicago Tribune (Barbara Rose, registration required) delivers the bad news.
Illinois' median family income has dropped dramatically over the last six years, a sharper decline than in every other state except for Michigan, a new report reveals.

The result is that household incomes here--adjusted for inflation--have fallen back to about where they were in 1989.

Let's think about this in the context of local politics. Picture a normal politician. S/he's not a squeaky clean goo-goo, but not particularly venal or corrupt either.

The private sector economy is going south, but public sector jobs have benefits, job security and annual pay raises.

The worse the private sector economy gets, the more pressure the pol feels to get more friends and relatives jobs.

And in much of Proviso Township, the job scene is worse than the Illinois average.

Now consider the reasonably competent and well-educated people that are struggling to find good paying work. They are being asked to pay higher and higher taxes that go toward the salaries of government employees that are less educated and better paid.

The pols are stressed out because they have more demands for jobs than they can provide. The private sector people are asking themselves why they should pay high taxes so less educated people can make more money than the private sector taxpayers.

The country is headed for some stressful times. And the stress will be particularly intense in places like Proviso Township.

M06, Welch the weenie [7th Rep]

From Welch's press secretary:
At this time the candidate is only speaking to reporters from the media/newspapers, thus, he will not be answering your questions. Thank you for your understanding.

Here are the questions Welch is ducking.
1. Explain what you mean by a "clean campaign".
2. You implied Karen Yarbrough is a Republican
recently turned Democrat. What is the basis of this
3. What does it mean to you to be a Democrat?
4. Are test scores the best way to quantify school
performance? If not, what measure should be used? How
have District 209 students scored while you've been on
the board?

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

M06, Emanuel Christopher Welch campaign site [7th Rep]

Here's Emanuel Christopher Welch's website.

What would you ask Welch?

ED, R-B seeks extensive renovation [BF]

Riverside/Brookfield Landmark (Bob Skolnik) has the story. District 208 leadership is avoiding specific dollar figures, but the piece mentions a possible range of $30-50 million.

It doesn't appear that the architect contributed money to the campaigns of the school board members. But I'm also having trouble finding any campaign disclosure on school board candidates in Riverside or Brookfield. It's conceivable they stayed under the minimum that triggers the requirement to file with the state.

And here's how RB is doing on the Prairie State Achievement Exam. See Landmark (Bob Uphues).

CRIME, Santo Rodriguez charged with homicide [NL]

See Franklin Park Herald-Journal (Chuck Fieldman).

CRIME, Pedro Garcia shot in chest [MP]

See Franklin Park Herald-Journal.

GOV, Jason Ervin: is he controversial? [M]

Maywood Herald (David Pollard) has an article that questions whether Ervin has enough years of experience.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

KLEPT, "the bad that men do"

I've had a couple requests to start a thread for discussing misdeeds of the past.

In an earlier discussion, I deleted a comment about an elected official stealing from Memorial Park District on the advice of counsel. If you have documentation or an explanation to back up an allegation, please explain it. But it's not cool to just be accusing people of being criminals.

ETHNICITY, Sun-Times on suburban Blacks

Blacks that move to the suburbs tend to move to Black suburbs. Black suburbs lack quality shopping and schools. Did anybody get more than this from Sun-Times (Monifa Thomas)?

BLOG, quoting sources

Truth Serum copied a number of entire articles in the comments section. I deleted them. Here's why.

When quoting a writer you're obligated not to take the whole piece. How much can you take? You should quote no more than 10% and no more than four paragraphs. (Try to keep it to two or less.)

Also you should provide a link to the original source.

Aside from the strictly legal aspect of this--copyright laws, y'know--it makes your stuff read better if you explain why something is important and pull out a money quote or two.

As for making links, I'm not good at explaining it, but here's how it's explained at the dkosopedia.

I've created a set of house rules. I'll link to them from the sidebar.

CRIME, Tomporowski seeks new trial for killing parents [W]

This on TV in Iowa and Wisconsin.

In 2004, Steven Tomporowski of Westchester killed his parents and uncle on a Wisconsin farm.

The judge rejected his insanity defense. He's seeking a new trial.

ABC7 (Sara Schulte) reported that Tomporowski was tripping on on LSD at the time. And Wisconsin State Journal (Susan Lampert Smith) wrote:
According to the criminal complaint, the victims had been shot; their bodies were covered with makeshift shrouds and decorated with "small toys placed right next to or on each of the bodies."

M06, Murphy & Eisendrath

Last Wednesday at Drinking Liberally, I met Bull Garlington circulating nominating petitions for Siobhan Maura Murphey for judge.

Rich Miller and John Fritchey are reporting Edwin Eisendrath is running against Blagojevich in the Democratic Primary.

Monday, November 14, 2005

BLOG, ethics guidelines

Eric Zorn pointed me to A Blogger's Code of Ethics.

Since Proviso Probe gets a little rough, it seems like I should discuss which of these ethical standards I accept and which I reject.

Bloggers should be honest and fair in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.

I am hesitant to embrace "fairness". I make choices in what I do and don't cover. I make choices in what stories I spend time researching. These are editorial decisions. If you think I'm being unfair, you are free to challenge me. If the criticism is reasonably respectful I will make an effort to explain why I did what I did.

Distinguish between advocacy, commentary and factual information.

I don't think I try to hide what's what, but readers have to apply some common sense. I'm not going to use three different fonts for advocacy, commentary and factual information.


BUSINESS, Canadians buy Broadview company [BV]

United Armored Services, the sixth largest U.S. armored services company, has its headquarters in Broadview. According to this press release Garda World Security Corporation acquired United Armored Services today.

Will this affect Broadview?

SPORT, Andrea Bankhead denied UW admission [H]

From Capital Times (Tamira Surprenant):
Andrea Bankhead's appeal for spring admission to the UW was denied last week, making it unlikely she will ever play for the Badgers.

CRIME, Jeremiah Norris court date [BW, M]

Jerimiah Norris will be tried on Tuesday, November 22 at 9:00 AM in Maybrook court room 107 for possession of a large amount of canabis and a smaller amount of cocaine.

Norris is the brother of District 88 (Bellwood elementary schools) board member Ronald Anderson. According to the Pioneer Press Anderson was arrested with Norris, although the official records do not mention Anderson anywhere.

If the Pioneer Press is wrong, why hasn't Anderson complained?

If the official records are wrong, does this suggest a cover-up?

C. Simpson has replaced the original prosecutor in the case. Anybody have information on C. Simpson?

Sunday, November 13, 2005

GOV, upcoming meetings [W, LP]

h/t Suburban Life

Tuesday, November 22

* Westchester Village Board, 7 p.m., Village Hall, 10300 Roosevelt Road
* La Grange Park Village Board, 7:30 p.m., Village Hall, 447 N. Catherine Ave.

Monday, November 28

Westchester Library Board, 7:30 p.m., Library, 10700 Canterbury St.

ED, what would you ask Bob Libka? [D209]

At the Welch campaign kick-off Bob Libka complained about my most recent column in the Forest Park Review. He said it wasn't balanced. One of his principals calls me a "racist" and Libka whines about balanced coverage.

Maybe Angela McGee can hold training on the concept, "first do no harm."

What would you ask Libka about District 209?

CRIME, investigating Christina Nowakowski disappearance [M]

For all those that have come to Proviso Probe looking for info--or sharing info--on Christina Nowakowski, aka Christina Esparza: welcome to the Proviso Probe community.

I intend to follow the story of the Nowakowski disappearance. In addition to Maywood and Paul Esparza being within my beat of Proviso Township, I have a family member that lived in Knox. I hope I can pull together some of the connections between Christina Nowakowski's life in Knox and her life in Maywood.

A number of family members have made comments on Proviso Probe.

There are a couple house rules. You have to post under your name, a pseudonym or anything but "anonymous". It makes the discussions much easier to follow. Also, no "spoofing" someone else's handle.

I want to interview Christina Nowakowski's relatives and professional acquaintances. I'd like to start on Saturday and Sunday. While the blog comments create a partial picture, I'd understand better after talking to people that know Christina Nowakowski.

If you want to talk to me "on the record" or "off the record", please email me at RadioNyberg circled "a" Yahoo spot com. Put "Christina Nowakowski" or "Christina Esparza" in the subject line.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

POL, "I knew I had money coming"

Democratic Committeeman and Recorder of Deeds Eugene "Gene" Moore addressed the audience at Emanuel Christopher Welch's campaign kick-off.

He told a story about playing high school football for Proviso when Democratic Committeeman Babe Serpico was coach. Moore said, "I knew I had money coming for a touchdown."

This line seemed revealing because it tells what Moore wants from politics. He wants it to be based on interpersonal relationships that go way back. Moore is probably a reactionary too. He wants to take politics back to--or keep them there--the 1940s and 50s. He wants Proviso Township to be that community of his youth.

As I pointed out on Arnie Bryant's radio show, the political history of West Side Blacks and Proviso Blacks is different in a crucial way.

West Side Blacks asserted themselves and took power from the German and Irish ward bosses. West Side Blacks made alliances with reformers and Republicans to take power for themselves from a corrupt machine system.

Proviso Blacks surely struggled against the corrupt machine politics, but the Blacks that achieved power did so by joining the corrupt machine that was dominated by the Italians. Moore is the trailblazer for Proviso Black pols that sought to get some of the action by allying with the existing power brokers.

MEDIA, Arnie Bryant's radio show

Arnie invited me to be the guest today. You can listen 2-3 PM on WJJG, 1530 AM. You can call the show at (708) 493-1530.

Friday, November 11, 2005

M06, Welch announces for state rep [7th Rep]

Emanuel Christopher Welch is holding his formal campaign announcement at Mariella's Banquet Hall, 124 S. 5th Avenue, Maywood (across from Maywood Police Station)at 3 PM on Friday, November 11.

If you attend, please post your observations in this thread.

EVENT, Veterans Day: read a book

Friday is Veterans Day.

We, the citizenry, have let down our servicemembers and officers. They are expending the blood and souls on a pointless war. The U.S. military stays in Iraq to avoid humiliation of Bush, Cheney and the Neo Cons and to avoid the potential chaos that Iraq may descend into.

This Veterans Day, U.S. citizens should take the time to learn about the psychology of war. Read War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning by Chris Hedges. It explains the psychologically seductive aspects of war, both personal and societal.

For those that enjoy traditional ceremonies, Vietnam Veterans Against the War will be holding its annual ceremony.
When: November 11, 2005 from 11:00 AM-12:00 PM
Where: Corner of Wabash and Wacker Drive, Chicago
Details: Speakers from VVAW, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Military Families Speak Out and other organizations will address the war and the inadequacy of veterans' benefits, especially health care and the missing Vietnam Veterans Fountain.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

CRIME, was Ronald Anderson arrested? [BW, M]

West Proviso Herald (John Huston) says, "yes". Officer Allen and Sergeant Brown of the Maywood PD say, "no".

Ronald Anderson went on from the reported arrest of March 23, 2005 to get the most votes in District 88 election on April 5, 2005. Anderson received 2,226 votes; Marilyn Thurman was the next highest vote getter with 2,075.

Doesn't it seem weird to have the home of a school board candidate raided less than two weeks before an election? The raid found nine pounds of MJ, two grams of coke and $6G in cash.

So the cops find the drugs. There are two residents of the house: Anderson and his brother, Jeremiah M. Norris. According to the paper the smell of ganga was so strong.... How strong was it?
"You could smell it from outside," [Officer Wheeler] said.

But only one of the brothers was prosecuted.

What's the parsimonious explanation for Anderson walking and Norris taking the fall?

GOV, John Crois, Westchester's former village manager [W]

Beacon News (Heather Gillers) reports John Crois has been named interim village manager in Yorkville.

ED, hassling students on residency [D209]

Forest Park Review (West Suburban Journal's Frank Life) covered the meeting of Latinos Unidos con Voz.
One major concern is that parents are being asked to provide five proofs of residency if they do not own a home in order for their kids to attend D209. This would sometimes delay a student 90 days before being able to attend school, according to some teachers and parents, who wished to remain anonymous. Students especially at risk are those living in multi-family households.

The residency enforcement proposal unveiled by Dr. Kelvin Gilchrist is a problem for more than just Latinos.

I spoke to Dr. Randy Tinder of District 91 and he confirmed my suspicion that D209's proposal would cost more money than it saves.

If 1,000 students show up on the first day, then D209 has to have classes for all 1,000 students. If the district discourages 50 from attending because of residency issues, this doesn't eliminate the need for one or two teachers, it merely reduces the average class sizes by about one student.

But keeping the students from attending does cost D209 because the amount of money from the state is determined by the attendence during the three highest attendence months. Discouraging some students because of residency will cause D209 to report less students and lose the per capita compensation from the state.

Gilchrist admitted to me on the phone that the proposal is primarily to keep "problematic" students out of District 209. But like other D209 proposals and policies it's not based on researching the problem.

If District 209 is so hot about seeing Proviso East students taking public transit to the West Side, they should probably start with shoe-leather research. Stand on the "L" platform and ask students their stories. Do they live in families with joint custody?

BTW, families can avoid any obstacles and harassment on residency by declaring themselves to be homeless. I couldn't prove I lived in District 209 by the five proofs of residency requirement. If District 209 sent my child home, I'd tell him/her to just say we were homeless.

ED, "adequate yearly progress" means what? [D89]

Pioneer Press (John Huston) covers the "Adequate Yearly Progess" marks, but I'm somewhat confused.

Is AYP a standard determined by the past year's results? How is it calculated?

SPORT, soccer sign-up in Melrose [MP]

See Pioneer Press (Nov. 20 deadline, but tryouts are Nov. 12).

SPORT, East's Brian Carlwell to Illinois [D209]

Wednesday Proviso East's Brian Carlwell, 6-11, 260#, signed a letter of intent to attend Illinois. Carlwell was ranked the #9 power forward prospect in one poll.

For more info see Sun-Times, Northwest Herald (AP) or Rockford Register Star (Matt Towbridge).

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

CRIME, Jermiah Busby apprehended in Rockford [M]

Rockford Register Star (Chris Green) reports Busby, 20, was apprehended after attempting to flee in Rockford. He is wanted for questioning in two September homicides: Antonio Wilson and Shaun Henry.

ED, Bellwood school superintendent let go [D88]

I sought media attention for the board of ed of Bellwood elementary schools letting go Superintendent Willie Mack.

John Huston (Pioneer Press) correctly explains,
It's not technically a firing -- just a notice that he won't be rehired.

In April, the board vote to fire the previous superintendent, Rebecca Montoya-Kostro. That happened in a 4-3 vote. Maria Castrejon, the Stone Park Clerk (an elected position), swung the board from being pro-Mack to anti-Mack.

Here's what I saw as the "news" from Monday's meeting.

1. Mack was notified his contract would not be extended.
2. Board member John Wicks is not being allowed access to the audio minutes of a closed session meeting. The tapes are being held at the home of board secretary Ronald "RC" Anderson.
3. There were two logistical problems with the meeting. Parents complained that they had to wait until 8:45 PM for the open session to start. Apparently the board stays in closed session until whenever. Also, the acoustics of the gym were quite poor.
4. The staff and board majority made a lame excuse for circumventing the requirement to bid work over $10,000. They reasoned that it was OK to not seek bids on $88,000 of new carpet because no more than $10,000 was spent in any room.

You can read Pioneer Press (John Huston) for his perspective.

M06, spoke to Rep. Calvin Giles [8th Rep]

I finally spoke to Rep. Calvin Giles today.

I asked about the incident with the Oak Park cop. Giles recounted things slightly differently than Smith and Norwood.

"I pulled up as they were circulating [nominating petitions]," Giles said. "I was dropping off my petitions [for Smith and Norwood to circulate]." Giles said the police officer had engaged Smith and Norwood by the time he arrived. Giles wrote down the license plate of the vehicle, but has since thrown it away.

Giles speculated that Sen. Kimberly Lightford continues to harbor resentment against him over her decision to support Sen. James T. Meeks over Giles for joint Black caucus chair. Giles denied holding a grudge against Lightford. "Anybody who knows me will tell you, I'm not like that," Giles said.

Giles said he heard rumors Meeks was threatening to send 5,000 of his parishioners to the Eighth District to campaign against Giles. Giles complained Meeks was acting based on "hearsay and a false premise" that Giles was supporting James T. Smith against Lightford.

Giles approached Meeks about the issue. Giles told me, "we had some choice words."

Giles acknowledged hearing that LaShawn K. Ford is circulating nominating petitions. Giles listed Sen. Hendon, Sen. Trotter and Sen. Meeks as supporters of ousting Giles. Giles expressed confidence he retains the support of Alderman Isaac Carothers.

DEFAM, the name of the firm

I am being represented by Latham & Watkins, LLP in the two lawsuits against me. Latham & Watkins has an office on the 58th floor of the Sears Tower and has its own bottled water label.

The case is covered in the current issue of the Columbia Journalism Review. CJR is one of the top couple professional publications for journalists. Here's the quote that summarizes the article.
Since the courts have yet to weigh in on whether the same legal protections afforded to journalism extend to Bloggers, free-speech advocates are keeping close tabs on cases like Nyberg’s.

Adam B of the Daily Kos pointed-out I'm not the first blogger sued for defamation by an elected official. Patrick Cahill of the Smyrna, Deleware Town Council sued "Proud Citizen" for defamation.

MEDIA, Suburban Life website not updated

I went to get the news from Suburban Life and the website doesn't reflect today's news. What gives?

BTW, the District 209 (Proviso Township High Schools) site has been updated.

CRIME, bomb threat at Proviso East [D209]

Proviso East High School received a bomb threat this morning.

If you have details, please post them here.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

OPEN, what's on your mind?

You're welcome to use this thread to make topic suggestions.

Monday, November 07, 2005

ED, Bellwood school board meeting tonight [D88]

Press release:

Will Bellwood fire school superintendent for refusing to “play ball”?

Monday evening the District 88 (Bellwood elementary schools) board of education will consider a motion to terminate Superintendent Dr. Willie Mack. Mack speaks fluent Spanish. Bellwood schools have approximately 40% Latino students.

Critics, like James K. Graham, Sr., see the firing as the board majority consolidating political power. Graham formerly served as director or facilities and was recently fired by the same board.

The board majority is aligned with Cook County Recorder of Deeds and Proviso Democratic Committeeman Eugene Moore, District 209 (Proviso Township High Schools) board president Emanuel Christopher Welch—who is also D88’s attorney—Stone Park village president Beniamino Mazzulla and by extension many of the political power brokers in and around Proviso Township.

“Schools are big business,” said Carl Nyberg, the creator of Proviso Probe, a blog covering Proviso Township. (Nyberg has been sued by Welch for defamation after accusing him of nepotism and “looting” District 209.) “If we allow the schools to be used to enrich politicians, the corrupt politicians will gravitate to the schools, like ants to a picnic. And when the schools are being managed to make politicians and their cronies rich, they aren’t being managed to educate students.”

Graham alleges the District 88 board has neglected Life Safety issues, while prioritizing contracts to those that give kickbacks. “Welch’s law firm [James J. Roche & Associates] bills District 88 over $10,000 per month for attending two school board meetings. A number of politically connected vendors submit bills, I suspect are padded.”

Graham added, “Beyond the dubious billing, the board doesn’t take care of basic Life Safety issues. Bellwood schools have been eligible for state aid to remove asbestos for ten years. Yet the board has delayed applying. And the fire alarms in eight of ten schools need to be fixed. Again this hasn’t happened because of the board. Why not? Is it because there is no vendor that will give a kickback?”

One board member has a conflict-of-interest with attorney and political power broker Welch. Tommie Miller works as the head basketball coach at Proviso West to supplement his income as a teacher in Chicago Public Schools.

“I’ve seen Welch fire a superintendent before,” Nyberg said. In August, Welch fired then D209 Superintendent Dr. Greg Jackson. “He doesn’t even try to justify it. He didn’t even acknowledge questions from the board minority; he just talked over them. The entire meeting, with seven line items, took under eight minutes.”

Jackson was fired at the meeting after he indicated a willingness to cut ties to Anthony Bruno, a contractor who is under investigation by the U.S. Attorney. Bruno is a political supporter of Welch.

Local media outlets have reported Welch will challenge State Representative Karen Yarbrough in the Democratic Primary. Yarbrough won the state rep seat formerly held by Moore in 2000. Yarbrough almost unseated Moore as Democratic Committeeman in 2002. Stroger, a Moore ally, is reputed to be supporting Welch’s campaign against Yarbrough.

On November 2, 2005 the Pioneer Press reported Stone Park, where Mazzulla is mayor, is being sued for using a prostitution sting as a shakedown. Men who did not offer to pay for sex were arrested and had their cars ransomed back, while politically connected tow companies made hundreds of dollars on each car.

Where is the meeting?


See this entry for earlier discussion.

CRIME, Nowakowski car found [M]

On November 2, 2005, WNDU (South Bend, IN) reported on Christina Nowakowski. She's been missing since October 3. On October 28, her car was found in a parking lot in Illinois. (Apparently the TV news people thought it was more important to ID the corporate affiliation of the parking lot than to tell the location.)

Earlier I provided some background on where Nowakowski disappeared from.

And I first covered the story on October 26.

POL, organizing Proviso Township

A number of people have mentioned the idea of organizing Proviso Township to remove mediocre and the kleptocrats and support "good government".

How should this be done?

Sunday, November 06, 2005

M06, James Balanoff for judge [M]

I met James Balanoff today while he was getting sigs to appear on the ballot for judge. He is running in a subcircuit that covers Maywood, part of Melrose Park, Leyden Township, Oak Park and a couple precincts in the 36th ward.

What should voters seek to learn about judicial candidates?

GOV, Westchester's strengths & weaknesses [W]

Suburban Life (Erick Bieritz) covers the perceived strengths and weaknesses compiled by economic planners. The nickname is "Deadchester" and the community is good for cars and bad for pedestrians. And there's the high school...
The number of families who move out when their children reach high school age has been an ongoing problem for the town. Parents who cannot send their children to area private schools sometimes leave town because academic performance in Proviso Township High School District 209 compares unfavorably to neighboring districts.

GOV, street repairs 5.4% over budget [W]

Suburban Life (Erick Bieritz) reports Westchester repaired 15 streets, but went $19,774 over budget. It doesn't seem like a big deal to me.

GOV, upcoming meetings [W, LP]

h/t to Suburban Life:

Tuesday, November 22

Westchester Village Board, 7 p.m., Village Hall, 10300 Roosevelt Road

La Grange Park Village Board, 7:30 p.m., Village Hall, 447 N. Catherine Ave.

Monday, November 28

Westchester Library Board, 7:30 p.m., Library, 10700 Canterbury St.

ED, R-B seeks vets for Vets Day [D208]

Suburban Life:
Riverside-Brookfield High School is looking for veterans who would be willing to volunteer their time from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m., Friday, Nov. 11, Veterans Day, to share their experiences with students, who will attend class that day.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

ED, Bellwood schools to fire Superintendent [D88]

At Monday's meeting the board will vote whether to fire the superintendent.

Critics of the move allege the firing is because the superintendent has not been sufficiently loyal to the board majority.

M06, Welch announcing Friday [7th Rep]

Is Emanuel Christopher Welch holding his official campaign kick-off on Veterans Day?

When? Where?

LABOR, Wal-Mart good for poor Blacks?

The Chicago Defender (Stacie Williams) has a piece that makes the case that Wal-Mart would help the West Side.
With jobs and retailers scarce in the West Side Austin neighborhood, some residents there are eager for the opening of a controversial Wal-Mart, which will be the first ever to open its doors within Chicago's city limits.

When told of Wal-Mart's $10-an-hour base pay, Austin resident Mae Binniefield's eyes widened. "That's good," she said pursing her lips. "I used to make $6.50 an hour at my old job."

Can someone make the case against Wal-Mart?

MEDIA, Arnie Bryant's show

Kevin Besse will guest host for Arnie Bryant. You can listen to WJJG, 1530 AM, on Saturday from 2-3 PM. It will be open phones. Call (708) 493-1530.

What Proviso news for the week should be discussed?

Friday, November 04, 2005

GOV, high school teacher contract [D209]

I already blogged about the District 209 (Proviso Township High Schools) press conference to announce the new contract with teachers.

Here's what Suburban Life (Megan Brody) wrote:
Although a 19 percent raise over four years is unheard of in the private sector, teachers' union president Mona Johnson said the raises are in place to reduce attrition and align salaries with neighboring districts. About 330 teachers at the district's three high schools are represented by the union.

And Forest Park Review (Seth Stern):
"What we’ve actually done is put the school district in even more of a hole because we can’t afford to pay these salaries," said board member Charles Flowers.

The depth of the hole the district is in is unclear, but Flowers said the most recent estimates presented by former superintendent Greg Jackson, who was fired by Welch and the board majority in July, showed its operating deficit at $13 million.

And I got to write a column about the press conference.
If D209 staff want to be treated like professionals they need to act like professionals. Each staff member needs to decide if s/he is a professional who is primarily loyal to District 209 (students & taxpayers) or if s/he is a cog in the political patronage machine controlled by Democratic Committeeman Eugene Moore and his lieutenant Chris Welch....

And of course, the district officials should be able to explain the tax ramifications of the new contract. Mona Johnson, the president of the teachers union, could tick off everything her negotiating team got for its constituents, the teachers. Why couldn’t the school board president (Welch), the superintendent (Phylistine Murphy) or the "chief education officer" (Robert Libka) speak to the taxpayers in equivalent detail?

Did Welch, Murphy and Libka think the media wouldn’t notice they were hiding the cost of the contract? How could they think they would hold a press conference specifically on the new contract and not have the media ask about cost?

The editor added the headline, "If you want good press, go to press conferences prepared".

GOV, Northlake Citgo may get liquor license [NL]

See Northlake Herald-Journal (Chuck Fieldman).

LEGAL, Broadview and N. Riverside spar over IL Nat'l Guard facility [BV, NR]

Broadview is challenging North Riverside's move to annex the land used for the Illinois National Guard base at First & Cermak. See Riverside/Brookfield Landmark (Robert Carr).

It's largely a moot point as long as the Illinois National Guard uses the land. But if the base were to revert to civilian use the municipality that "owns" it would make mucho money.

See my thoughts on Proviso Probe or Forest Park Review.

ED, fighting obesity in schools, [NL & MP]

From Northlake Herald-Journal.
Two West suburban schools are fighting childhood obesity by promoting fitness and healthy lifestyles with the opening of Project Fit America exercise centers.

Among those schools with centers on their campuses are Whittier in Northlake and Scott in Melrose Park, which serves Northlake residents.

KLEPT, Stone Park uses prostitution sting as shakedown? [SP]

See Melrose Park Herald (John Huston).

There are two complaints.

1. The Stone Park prostitution stings are managed to be revenue generators for the village and two tow firms that donate to Beniamino Mazzulla. (Is Mazzulla a mayor or village president?)
2. The stings don't distinguish between guys that offer money for sex to the undercover officer and the guys that don't. This is being alleged in a suit with nine plaintiffs.

KLEPT, Grand jury subpoenas Anthony Bruno records [Cicero]

See Sun-Times (Steve Patterson & Carol Marin).

DEFAM, pro bono representation

I have signed an engagement letter with a major law firm that has volunteered to represent me pro bono in the two Welch v. Nyberg lawsuits.

I will provide more details when it is appropriate.

PO-PO, Dan Harder case [FP]

Originally Forest Park gave three reasons for discipling police sergeant Dan Harder.

1. He called another officer a "fucking idiot".
2. Taking excessive sick leave.
3. Lying about his whereabouts while taking a sick day.

Quickly the sick leave reason was called into question when the village was forced to admit most of the leave was a pre-approved medical leave package.

Yesterday, the Police and Fire Commission held a hearing on Harder's case. Harder's attorney presented an "Incident Investigation Report" Lt. Steve Knack wrote on Harder.

Here are some of the choice excerpts:
Describe how the incident occurred: Slipped while masterbaiting [sic] in trailer washroom
Nature of injury: Bruised ego
Body part affected: Mr. Happy
Were there any witnesses? Thank God no!
What acts, failures to act, adn/or conditions led up to this Incident [sic]? He's a fuckin idiot
Are there fundamental rasons for the existence of these acts and/or conditions? Pregnant wife/lack of sex
Date: October 13, 2003

So Knack can call Harder "a fuckin idiot" but when Harder calls an officer "a fuckin idiot" it's grounds for discipline?

Forest Park needs to settle with Harder and stop wasting money on fighting a losing fight.

Mayor Calderone, if you waste a bunch of money on legal bills on this, I will hold you responsible.

FEEDBACK, an email to the editor [FP]

I like fan mail.
Hi Carl,

Just want to say thanks for your columns in the Forest Park Review. Because of my work schedule, I can't attend any of the evening meetings. Between the regular news articles in the Review and your columns, I'm learning a lot and will be a better and better FP citizen and voter. Keep on keepin' on.

Peace and all good,
SS, Forest Park

PS: There's another book you might like (based on those listed in your user profile) - The Lessons of Terror, Caleb Carr. A short book, but so interesting. And having seen your list, I'm remembering that I wanted to War is a Force..., but forgot. Thanks for the reminder.

CRIME, arrested guy now a suspect in Adeyooye murder [B]

See the Pantagraph.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

GOV, what does the FP library need? [FP]

At least some of the Friends of the Library clique disapprove of how the Forest Park Library has been run. They also intensely dislike Debbie King, the chair of the library board, and an appointee of Mayor Tony Calderone. Debbie King is the sister of Dave King, local real estate guy.

According the Forest Park Review (Seth Stern) Calderone is working to find "common ground".

I suspect this may be futile if it means Debbie King and the FOL need to reconcile. I haven't talked to Debbie King, but the FOL people seem to strongly disapprove of her and her leadership.

Calderone could sack Debbie King, but he doesn't want to alienate Dave King as a political supporter.

The question I have is, how strongly does Dave King feel about Debbie King staying chair of the library board? If Debbie King got an appointment that was as good or better, would this be the solution to the current conflict?

Yeah, there's a budget issue, but it's not the issue people are fighting about. It's merely a proxy for the inter-personal stuff.

CRIME, funny criminal tricks [FP]

This week's crime blotter seemed especially amusing.

In the first act the criminal has an elaborate story to explain why he's breaking into McGaffer Joe's.

In the second act an armed robbery escalated into a car chase in what I expect was mostly an attempt to impress two girls.

In the third act a staring competition at a stop like turns into assault with a deadly weapon.

SPORT, White Sox season that wasn't

John Rice has a funny column in the Forest Park Review.

The unintentionally funny part is that the White Sox could win the World Series--I still can't believe it--and the team's ace pitcher, Mark Buerhle, can't even get his name spelled right in the paper.
Opening Day – Burleigh wins 1-0 but beer venders complain that the game lasted less than two hours. Burleigh is not allowed to pitch any more home games....

July 1—Distraught by their poor first half pitching, Jose Contreras and Orlando Hernandez climb into a dinghy in Burnham Harbor and start paddling back to Cuba....

October 21—Sox face Astros in World Series. TV sets click off across America. Umpires announce that they will make sure the Sox don’t throw the Series again by giving them every call....

GOV, truth in advertising for property tax increases [public schools]

Hiram Wurf is pushing Don Harmon's bill to clarify how property tax increases work.

As I read Wurf's explanation, taxpayers pay more from property tax increases than the language of the referenda suggests. That is, a reasonable person thinks a referenda means taxes are going up by $X million, but by the time the money is collected the taxes are actually increased by $X million plus a fudge factor.

How much is the fudge factor? Over five years in twenty five districts the fudge factor was $263 million dollars.

I think $40 million is a large but not atypical increase for a district. If twenty five district milked the fudge for $263 million, that suggests districts are probably adding $5-12 million to a $40 million tax increase. Padding the increase by 10% or more seems like a big enough thing the legislature should take action.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

KLEPT, trustee discretionary funds [M]

Maywood Herald (David Pollard) makes Audrey Jaycox the center of this story about the $4,300 per year discretionary fund Maywood provides its trustees.

Jaycox had the misfortune of using the money in a way that is different from the other trustees. She bought a computer.

Mostly the funds are used for fundraiser tickets.
Trustee Edweena Perkins said she uses the money she gets for banquet tickets, cheerleading fund-raisers at Proviso East High School and donations to different causes and organizations like Operation Uplift and the N.A.A.C.P.

I'm curious how much of the money goes to the Eugene Moore Foundation and the cotillion he organizes. And where does the money go from there?