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Proviso Probe

Saturday, December 31, 2005

CRIME, was there a serious beating at Proviso East ?[D209]

At the Forest Park Fire and Police Commission hearing on Thursday, attorney Jeanine Stevens said she was approached about representing a male Proviso East student (about 15 years old) who had been severely beaten 3-5 weeks ago. One of his assailants was another Proviso East student. Three of his assailants had no legitimate purpose for being in the school. The victim had severe head trauma and needed a plate put in his skull.

Anybody know anything about this?

KLEPT, local businessman part of corruption investigation [LP]

Chicago Tribune (Virginia Groark and Rick Pearson) reports on the U.S. Attorney's investigation into possible corruption in how the state award restaurant deals on the tollways.
The federal subpoena also sought any correspondence that involves Abdelhamid Chaib, a La Grange Park businessman who is a business partner and friend of Rezko's. The Subway franchises at the oases are owned by a firm headed by Chaib, and documents previously obtained by the Tribune showed Rezko's nephew, Rimon, as the manager of the sandwich shops.

Chaib also has donated $10,000 to the Blagojevich political fund run by Kelly. The governor also appointed Chaib's wife, Lori, to a $15,000-a-year, part-time position to a state board dealing with employment issues.

Contacted Friday, Chaib said he had not been subpoenaed. He would not comment when asked if he had appeared before a grand jury.

SHERIFF, does deputy have a drinking problem?

Sun-Times (Jonathan Lipman):
A Cook County sheriff's deputy [Shirley Banks, 40, of Calumet City] who had more than five times the legal limit of alcohol in her system has been charged with aggravated drunken driving for a near-fatal crash last week.

I'm thinking the legal limit is 0.08%. Five times 0.08% equals 0.40%. This is pretty close to the max a human being can achieve before death.

Banks had to practice to achieve this level of tolerance. Her peers and supervisors had to notice her drinking issues. This was not her first alcohol abuse incident.

I suspect the Cook County Sheriff's Department covers for deputy sheriffs doing bad stuff.

SPORT, horsemen strike at Maywood Park [MP]

See CBS2Chicago.

The conflict intrinsically involves state government because the horsemen say the state is supposed to be reimbursing them for money deducted by the track. A government subsidy of gambling!? I'm shocked.

Also you can read Crain's Chicago Business.

Friday, December 30, 2005

DEFAM, Table of Contents, motion for sanctions

Memorandum of law in support of defendant’s motion for sanctions

Emanuel Christopher Welch v. Carl Nyberg
Bill Welch v. Carl Nyberg

Case No. 2005 L 009751, 2005 L 009752
Judge Diane Joan Larsen

Mark S. Mester, Peter N. Moore, Hudson T. Hollister of Latham & Watkins, LLP
(312) 876-7700

Table of Contents

I. Introduction
II. Background
A. Procedural History
B. Mr. Nyberg Begins Blogging
C. The Welches Sue
D. Mr. Nyberg Begins his Defense
III. Discussion
A. Legal Standards
B. The Plaintiffs Have Violated Rule 137
1. Bill Welch’s Complaint Contains Numerous Untrue Statements
a. Bill Welch was Indicted
b. Mr. Nyberg did not State Bill Welch was an Informant
2. Chris Welch’s Complaint is not Well Grounded in Law
a. The Proviso Probe Postings are Non-Actionable
b. Mr. Nyberg’s Letter to Mr. Roche is Non-Actionable
3. Both Lawsuits were Brought for an Illegitimate Purpose—to Silence and Bankrupt a Political Critic
a. These Lawsuits were Filed to Harass Mr. Nyberg
b. Welch and Roche have a Long History of Similar Activity
C. The Complaints should be Dismissed with Prejudice with Expenses and Attorney Fees Awarded
D. The Court should Hold a Hearing on the Issue of Sanctions and Permit Limited Discovery in Anticipation of Such a Hearing
IV. Conclusion
IV. Conclusion

For the aforementioned reasons, Mr. Nyberg requests that this Court grant his Motion and impose sanctions against the Plaintiffs and their attorneys by dismissing Plaintiffs’ claims with prejudice and awarding reasonable attorney fees and expenses, after conducting a hearing on the Motion. My [sic] Nyberg also requests that in pursuit of this Motion, he be permitted to conduct limited discovery.

DEFAM, text of the motion for sanctions

Below are some excerpts from the "Memorandum of law in support of defendant’s motion for sanctions".
I. Introduction

These actions were filed by Plaintiffs Emanuel Christopher Welch and Bill Welch, and their attorney, James J. Roche, in violation of Illinois Supreme Court Rule 137. Bill Welch’s Complaint contains untrue statements of fact which he and his attorneys knew or should have known were untrue. Chris Welch’s Complaint was not warranted by existing law of by any good-faith argument for changes thereto. Furthermore, both Complaints were filed for an improper purpose: to harass and bankrupt Defendant Carl Nyberg (“Mr. Nyberg”) in an effort to silence a political critic during an election season. Both Complaints are sanctionable, and Mr. Nyberg asks this Court to order that reasonable expenses and attorney fees be paid by the Plaintiffs and/or their attorneys, and that both actions be dismissed with prejudice.

III. Discussion
A. Legal Standards

Illinois Supreme Court Rules prohibit attorneys from signing pleadings not “well grounded in fact” or “warranted by existing law or a good-faith argument for the extension, modification, or reversal of existing law,” or from filing pleadings “for any improper purpose, such as to harass or to cause unnecessary delay or needless increase in the cost of litigation.”

B The Plaintiffs Have Violated Rule 137
1. Bill Welch’s Complaint Contains Numerous Untrue Statements
a. Bill Welch was Indicted

Bill Welch’s Complaint is founded upon a basic untruth: that he was never indicted for “the crime of drug dealing,” and that Mr. Nyberg’s statement that he was is false and defamatory.
2. Chris Welch's Complaint is not Well Grounded in Law

[A]ll of the statements in the five Proviso Probe postings are clearly nonactionable political opinions, constitutionally protected under Milkovich v. Lorain Journal Co., as interpreted by the Illinois Supreme Court.

b. Mr. Nyberg's Letter to Mr. Roche is Non-Actionable

Thus, Chris Welch’s Complaint was not warranted by existing law, as none of the quote statements was anything more than reflection of a constitutionally protected political opinion. Moreover, the Complaint did not attempt to make any argument, good-faith or otherwise, for the extension, modification, or reversal of that existing law.

3. Both Lawsuits were Brought for an Illegitimate Purpose--to Silence and Bankrupt a Political Critic

Both lawsuits were brought for no purpose other than to harass, bankrupt and silence Mr. Nyberg, without regard to the truth of the allegations contained therein or their legal merit.
This case bears striking similarity to Thomas v. Hileman, 333 Ill.App.3d 132 (2002). Dick Hileman, Commissioner of the Village of Gardner, had sued Richard Thomas for defamation based on a letter to the editor of the Gardner Chronicle newspaper criticizing Hileman’s politics. Id. at 670-71. The trial court had found, and the Appellate Court affirmed, that Thomas’ statements were constitutionally protected opinions, nonactionable under the innocent construction rule, and conditionally privileged as the subject of the statements was a public figure. Id. at 671. In response, Thomas sued Hileman for malicious prosecution. The suit alleged special damages in the fact that Thomas’ free speech rights had been “chilled” by the abuse of the judicial process by a political candidate to silence a critic. Id. at 673. Ultimately, the Appellate Court ruled that this “chilling effect” did not amount to special damages, but suggested that Rule 137 was available to redress Hileman’s conduct in filing a frivolous suit.

a. These Lawsuits were Filed to Harass Mr. Nyberg

Chris Welch was quoted in the West Suburban Journal as stating “Carl Nyberg is a hack who calls himself a reporter…. My goal is to put Carl Nyberg out of business.” See Frank Life, Nyberg claims poor political practice, West Suburban Journal, Sept. 29, 2005. Mr. Roche, the Welches’ attorney, stated he wished to “take away every piece of earthly belongings” Mr. Nyberg has. Both of these statements suggest that Roche and the Plaintiffs sought not to recover for the damages to the Welches’ reputations, but rather to prevent Mr. Nyberg from discussing and criticizing Chris Welch’s activities by bankrupting him. In conjunction with the filing of allegations that Roche and the Plaintiffs must have known were false, and other allegations with no legal merit, these statements demonstrate that both lawsuits were not brought for a legitimate purpose.
Underscoring this is the Welches’ timing. It is unlikely a coincidence that these lawsuits were commenced shortly before Chris Welch’s campaign for General Assembly, a time when Chris Welch knew Mr. Nyberg would be especially vocal. It is also unlikely a coincidence that the Welches dismissed their claims shortly after they discovered they would face opposition from a large law firm which would be prepared to prove the falsity of their allegations (and the truth of Mr. Nyberg’s statements). And it is unlikely a coincidence that the Complaints were dismissed on the eve of the date on which Mr. Nyberg was required to file his response to the Complaints (which, needless to say, would have been a motion to dismiss), before he had an opportunity to address the Welches’ claims on their merits.

D. The Court should Hold a Hearing on the Issue of Sanctions and Permit Limited Discovery in Anticipation of Such a Hearing

The Appellate Court held in Berg v. Mid-America Indus., Inc. 293 Ill.App.3d at 731 (1997), that a sanction of dismissal, or sanctions based on untrue pleadings or suits brought for an improper purpose, would require the Court to provide the plaintiffs an opportunity to be heard and present evidence on the merits of their complaints. Therefore, Mr. Nyberg requests that the Court hold a hearing on his Motion for Sanctions. In anticipation of such a hearing, Mr. Nyberg requests that he be permitted to conduct limited discovery on the issue of sanctions, including at least an opportunity to depose Plaintiffs and Mr. Roche on the truth of Mr. Nyberg’s statements and their purpose in bringing the suits.

DEFAM, background: Manzo & Muhammad

The following is the text of the portion of the complaint that deals with Welch's previous lawsuits against Michael Manzo, Concerned Citizens of Melrose Park, Ken Leggin and Debbie Muhammad.
b. Welch and Roche have a Long History of Similar Activity

The lawsuits are not the first by Welch against political critics. In 2002, Chris Welch, along with four other members of the District 209 Board, brought suit against Michael Manzo and Concerned Citizens of Melrose Park, a nonprofit organization, arising from a newspaper advertisement published by Manzo and Concerned Citizens. See Complaint, Case No. 02 L 014620 (Nov. 19, 2002). The advertisement opposed the election of Ronald M. Serpico as Cook County Commissioner and criticized the District 209 Board’s political alliance with Serpico. Id.

Chris Welch alleged defamation and invasion of privacy, based on two statements in the advertisement: 1) “Serpico ‘bought’ Board member votes to sell bonds, forcing Westchester residences [sic] to pay more taxes for a school they don’t use”; and 2) “Serpico and his friends on Proviso High School District’s 209 Board have fired or demoted a number of employees without cause or merit.” Welch and his co-plaintiffs sought compensatory damages in excess of $5,000,000 per count, in addition to unspecified punitive damages. Defendants moved to dismiss the complaint under Rule 615 as legally insufficient. Despite the size of the damages award they sough, Chris Welch and his co-plaintiffs accepted, in settlement, a dismissal with prejudice in exchange for a letter of apology and $321. Agreed Order (July 30, 2003).

Earlier this year, Welch brought suit against Debbie Muhammad and Kenneth J. Leggin. See Complaint, Case No. 05 L 001813 (Feb. 15, 2005). Welch again charged defamation and invasion of privacy, based on statements that, among other things, Welch had been “fired by Bellwood School District 88 for allegedly committing forgery.” The statements were made by Debbie Muhammad on a radio program entitled “Viewpoints from the Other Side.” Chris Welch again sought compensatory damages in excess of $5,000,000 per count. This complaint, too, was legally insufficient on its face and was dismissed as to Leggin. See Motion to Dismiss; Order (May 19, 2005). Muhammad asserted the truth of her statements and had prepared to defend the suit on those grounds. However, Welch abandoned his claim against Muhammad, and it was dismissed for want of prosecution.

Both previous defamation suits brought by Chris Welch were attempts to silence and / or punish political critics. The Concerned Citizens suit arose our of a political newspaper advertisement; the Muhammad suit was brought against a political opponent and his supporter, and arose out of statements the defendants had made in the course of the campaign.

In this case, James J. Roche and Chris Welch filed complaints they knew to be false and meritless, simply to further their goal of putting Mr. Nyberg “out of business,” i.e., out of the business of criticizing Chris Welch during a campaign. They decided to drop their claims, rather than risk judgment on the merits, as soon as it was apparent that Mr. Nyberg would be defended. This is Welch’s and Roche’s third round of strikingly similar activity, their strategy of using lawsuits to silence critics so much a matter of course that they do not even bother to accurately check their facts of attach the correct exhibits. These lawsuits are frivolous and sanctionable.

This is what Pioneer Press (John Huston) wrote about the Concerned Citizen suit at the time.

And this is what Pioneer Press (John Huston) wrote about the Debbie Muhammad suit:
Just days before, on Feb. 15, Welch filed a lawsuit against Leggin and community member Debbie Muhammad for allegedly making defamatory statements to local newspapers and on a radio talk show.

"Everything I said was factual," Muhammad said. "It's frivolous. He just doesn't want anybody to mention (anything bad about) him during campaign time."

The lawsuit said Muhammad's statements on the radio, which eluded to Welch's record as a District 209 Board member and Bellwood School District 88 Board attorney, were false claims that he had committed crimes or participated in corruption and had "reduced (the) level of credibility and electability as a board member."

PO-PO, Chief Ryan testifies at Harder hearing [FP]

Yesterday I attended most of the hearings on the firing of Dan Harder, Sgt. Forest Park Police. For background see the last Proviso Probe post on this subject.

I think the village’s case is weak and that Harder’s explanation of the situation seems more likely than Police Chief Jim Ryan’s.

After hearing a few officers testify (including someone I went to grade school with—it’s a little strange to see someone I knew from sixth grade testifying at a police hearing) Harder’s attorney, Jeanine Stevens, called Ryan to testify.

Stevens made it clear she neither liked Ryan nor considered him truthful. She argued with him, mocked him, sneered and pretty much called him a liar. Oh, and she accused Ryan of communicating with his attorney before answering questions.

The portion of the testimony that seemed weirdest was when Ryan was asked about an officer that testified earlier. The officer said he had started carrying a firearm while off-duty for personal protection, in part because he feared Officer Mike Murphy.

Ryan tried to change the officer’s testimony. Ryan said the officer wasn’t fearful of Murphy. He may have said he was afraid of Murphy, but he wasn’t afraid he was “confused”.

Stevens also had a bomb to drop. It may not have been nukular, but it sure seemed to excite the attorney representing the police department, Patrick Lucansky. When challenging Ryan about Murphy, Stevens announced she would subpoena Cook County State’s Attorney Dick Devine.

Stevens seems to think Devine, Collin Simpson (Devine’s top guy in the Fourth District) and Chief Ryan had a phone conversation about Murphy. According to Stevens, Devine instructed Ryan to either keep Murphy in the evidence room or to fire him.

Why is it relevant to get into detail about Murphy and the allegations that he has engaged in abuses and police brutality? One of the allegations against Harder is that he made false statements about Murphy as the result of a conflict between the two of them. So, the Forest Park Police Department sorta invited Stevens to grill the department about Murphy.

It’s almost like there’s a conspiracy to reveal the dirt on the Forest Park PD through the Harder hearings. Not only does Ryan seem inept—if you’re gonna fire someone for taking too many sick days at inconvenient times, Chief, you need to give a written warning first—the village’s legal strategy seems counterproductive. Each hearing makes the department appear more broken in need of fixing. When will someone—Ryan? Sturino? Calderone?—step up and acknowledge the department has problems that need to be addressed? Firing Harder is not going to address the divisiveness and brutality allegations.

BLOG, is Kathleen Parker onto something?

tribune reader cited a column by Kathleen Parker. (BTW, when quoting, please keep it to 10% of the material or no more than four paragraphs. Copyright law and all.)
Say what you will about the so-called mainstream media, but no industry agonizes more about how to improve its product, police its own members and better serve its communities.

Like Weapons of Mass Destruction?
Bloggers persist no matter their contributions or quality, though most would have little to occupy their time were the mainstream media to disappear tomorrow.

Proviso Probe would do fine if the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Chicago Trib and Sun-Times all went under.
What Golding demonstrated - and what we're witnessing as the Blogosphere's offspring multiply - is that people tend to abuse power when it is unearned and will bring down others to enhance themselves. Likewise, many bloggers seek the destruction of others for their own self-aggrandizement.

Let's consider Proviso Township. People like Serpico, Scavo, Moore, Welch, etc. have been abusing their power for years and, in some cases, decades. Now that a blog is playing a part in holding them accountable, one of their lackeys sees them as being the victims.
We can't silence them, but for civilization's sake - and the integrity of information by which we all live or die - we can and should ignore them.

This is self-serving Right Wing bullshit. The Right has figured how to manipulate the traditional media. They can't manipulate the more egalitarian blogosphere so they want to silence it.

Sorta sounds like Proviso Township. The powerful, self-serving pols learned how to deal with the existing media. Now that they are taking criticism from a new source their cronies are complaining about the source.

Kathleen Parker or Welch Lackey "A", it's the same thing. When you don't like the message, attack the messenger.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

ANNOUNCEMENTS, West Suburban Journal & Tuesday night drinking

Starting today I have a weekly column in West Suburban Journal, a free newspaper that covers much of Proviso Township.

My first column challenges people to imagine the best case and worst case scenario for Proviso Township seven years in the future.

On Wednesdays I usually participate in Drinking Liberally. But it's a long haul back from the Red Lion every week.

So I'm going to start a weekly drinking group that hopefully will evolve into its own Driking Liberally chapter. The first meeting is Tuesday at Goldyburgers, 7316 Circle in Forest Park, 7:30-10:30. It's about 1 1/2 bocks from the Harlem Green Line.

M06, GOP committeeman candidate screws-up

Pioneer Press (John Huston):
Proviso Township Republican Committeeman Rick Klaczynski said he had every intention of running for re-election, but got tied up at work as he watched the deadline pass.

How do you say "pathetic" in Republican?

CRIME, how & why of killing Olamide Adeyooye [B]

WHOI reports:
Prosecutors say on the night of October 13th at about 8 o'clock Wallace called a friend and said he was depressed and wanted to kill someone so he could get his name in the news.

The rest of the story has some details on how the crime occurred.

The visition is Friday (tomorrow) and funeral Saturday.

GOV, elected official misses the underlying tax problem [FP]

Commissioner Terry Steinbach had a letter published in the Forest Park Review. She champions businesses not paying special taxes for things they use predominantly or exclusively. Steinbach’s argument is a tad circular. Homeowners should accept subsidizing business with property taxes because it ultimately means homeowners will pay less property taxes.

Any discussion of property taxes should take into account the federal government is shifting the tax burden from income taxes which have been going down to property taxes which have been going up. This simple concept should underpin every discussion of property taxes. No amount of cleverness by local officials can prevent this trend.

Health care costs also figure into the problem. The private sector system of providing health care has caused costs to increase much faster than the rate of inflation (or health care costs in countries with universal health care). The Village of Forest Park has no power to opt out of our broken national health care system. So, people should understand that a major factor causing their property taxes to go up is that the federal government has not implemented policies that effectively constrain health care costs.

ED, cheap teachers [D209]

Pioneer Press reports the District 209 teachers are giving $200 to help 15,000 of their union sisters and brothers forced to evacuate due to hurricanes Katrina and Rita. That comes to less than two cents per IFT member evacuated. And the union members are kicking in a dollar a piece or a little less.

Here's a tip for Pioneer Press when covering charitable giving. If the money given for the charitable cause is less than it would take to purchase the space in the paper as an advertisement, it's probably too small a contribution to be newsworthy.

ED, Chicago teacher evaluation pilot program

Chicago will implement a pilot program where skilled teachers mentor and evaluate other teachers. See Chicago Tribune (Tracy Dell’Angela).

Identifying and responding to “burned out” tenured teachers has been a problem in education. Hopefully this program will make some progress.

CRIME, street gangs, drug dealing & mortgage fraud

Chicago Tribune (David Jackson) reports traditional street gangs are moving into mortgage fraud as a way to get big sums of cash.

Part of me thinks that the financial sector ought to invest more in preventing itself from being bilked.

Any Proviso Probe readers have thoughts on the article?

SHERIFF, candidates & federal judge rebuke [COOK]

Chicagoist (Amy Hart) and Chicago Tribune (John McCormick with Mickey Ciokajlo) report Judge George Marovich isn't satisfied with the staffing levels proposed for the county jail.

The following candidates have filed nominating petitions for Cook County Sheriff in the Dem Primary:
* Thomas J. Dart
* Sylvester E. Baker, Jr.
* Richard L. Remus
And Marshall P. Lewis filed as an independent and Peter Garza of North Riverside will be the Republican nominee. See Cook County Clerk.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

SPORT, Fenwick upsets Pirates at the tourney [D209]

See Sun-Times (Michael O'Brien & Mark Potash).

Here's the write-up on the tournament website.
Derrek Tartt's basket with 3:05 left in the extra session put the Friars (6-4) ahead for good in a first round victory over Proviso East (7-3), Peter Flowers led Fenwick with 15 and Jerak Stanback scored 18 for the Pirates.

And the box score.

The Panthers beat Peoria, 62-50. See the box score.

GOV, did Welch's people tamper with recording? [D209]

Forest Park Review (Seth Stern) wrote about the District 209 (Proviso Township High Schools) board not being able to reach consensus on the minutes of their meetings. The minority (Flowers-Kelly-Marine) questions why the tape recorder malfunctioned for a key meeting—the meeting at which Superintendent Greg Jackson was fired. (Proviso Probe also covered this meeting.)

Here’s my proposal: the minority should write their best recollections of the meeting and request an agenda item to amend the minutes approved by a 4-3 vote. Once the amended minutes are introduced as a motion they will be recorded whether they get approved or not.

Welch’s majority (Adams-Henry-Madlock) would look pretty ham-handed to vote down more specific minutes in favor of a vague record of what happened. To the extent that the Jackson firing would ever go to trial, the judge and jury would make the reasonable inference that the Welch majority was trying to hide the truth of what happened.

Context: remember Welch is the attorney for District 88 (Bellwood elementary schools). And board secretary Ron "RC" Anderson, a childhood friend of Emanuel Christopher Welch, is refusing to let board member John Wicks have access to tapes of its closed session.

If everything is on the up-and-up, why keep secrets?

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

GENERAL, no trons; is the coffee as good as the hype?; drug arrest; scamming

A Forest Park electricity distribution substation failed causing 15,000+ to lose power on Christmas. See Chicago Tribune. Did a drunk Santa electrocute a reindeer?

Chicago Tribune (Brett McNeil) wrote about Legal Grounds, the new coffee shop at Maybrook. Who does Legal Grounds publicity? Why is a coffee shop worth a write-up and not the dozens of other small businesses that have started in Proviso Township in the last year?

Northwest Herald reports on the Lake in the Hills police blotter:
Mark L. Graves, 32, 1709 22nd Ave., Melrose Park, was arrested Thursday, Dec. 22, on a Cook County warrant on charges of manufacturing and delivering a controlled substance.

Does Graves have any connections to other Proviso residents that may be relevant?

Forest Park Review (Bill Dwyer) is warning seniors about a team of local flimflam men. If scamming is good enough for the President of the United States, it should be good enough for the west suburbs of Chicago, right?

But what's on your mind? Any subjects you'd like to see covered on Proviso Probe?

ZOO, Brookfield researches menopause in gorillas [BF]

See National Geographic News (Stefan Lovgren). Menopause does not appear to be unique to homo sapiens.

SPORT, Proviso West tournament [D209]

People are finding Proviso Probe through Google and other search engines while looking for the results of the Proviso West Holiday Tournament (boys basketball).

Information available:
* bracket
* online broadcasting
* scores

CRIME, funeral service for Olamide Adeyooye [B]

According to Bloomington Pantagraph (AP) Hennessy-Bruno Funeral Home in Oakbrook Terrace will handle the arrangements. The visitation will be Friday, December 30, 3-7 PM at St. Domitilla Church in Hillside. The funeral will be 10 AM the next day at the same location.

From the same article:
Maurice Wallace, 27, who lived in the same block as Adeyooye, was charged in her death earlier this month and has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, concealing a homicide and theft of a motor vehicle. He is being held in lieu of more than $2 million bond.

Officially the coroners say the cause of death is inconclusive. The prosecutors say Adeyooye bled to death from a stabbing or other "penetrating" injuring.

Friday, December 23, 2005

KLEPT, do you have problems with unexpected holiday guests? [MP]

Melrose Park Police Chief Vito Scavo does. Some federal employees came to his home unannounced looking for free stuff. See Sun-Times (Chris Fusco).

Can somebody explain why the Department of Labor is mentioned like it's leading the investigation?

If the feds are investigating the $42 million overhaul of the watermain project, what angle would involve the Department of Labor?

See this post on the fed's September raid.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

CRIME, firearm homicide [M]

Richard Kelly of the 1600 block of 9th Avenue was fatally shot while changing a car tire Tuesday night. See Chicago Tribune.

ED, school districts keep junk food out [D87]

Northlake Herald-Journal (Chuck Fieldman):
A possible new state ban on the sale of junk food and soda in elementary and middle schools won't have an impact on public institutions serving students from Franklin Park, Northlake and unincorporated Leyden Township.

That's because Mannheim District 83, Franklin Park District 84 and Berkeley District 87, which includes part of Northlake, currently have no vending machines or sales of junk food or soda in their buildings.

Doesn't it seem nicer to quietly have the school districts do the right thing rather than have Governor Sanctimony milk it for a media event day-after-day-after-day...?

CRIME, armed robbery suspects caught [M]

Maywood Herald (David Pollard):
With a citizen's help, three juveniles allegedly involved in an armed robbery in Maywood were apprehended.

A 16-year-old Maywood resident has been arrested and charged as an adult with armed robbery and aggravated use of a weapon. His two alleged accomplices were charged with disorderly conduct.

PO-PO, ForestParkDark on FPR brutality article [FP]

ForestParkDark wrote the following comments on "Mayor refuses request to discuss police brutality claims" in Forest Park Review (Seth Stern).

From the Review
Mayor Anthony Calderone denied a request last week from Commissioner Patrick Doolin to hold a closed session meeting of the Village council to discuss hiring a private investigator to look into several allegations of past police brutality that have arisen during the termination hearing of Sgt. Dan Harder.

How can Mayor Calderone deny a request to discuss this issue in closed session? I believe during a meeting there was discussion about police brutality involving Sergeant Mike Murphy and Chief Jim Ryan took complete responsibility for Sergeant Murphy's behavior. I believe Mayor Calderone might be afraid that the promise Chief Ryan made will come back to haunt both him and Chief Ryan.

From the Review
Calderone said that though the allegations may be investigated at some point in the future, it would be "irresponsible" to hire someone to look into them before the Harder matter has been concluded and both the complete set of allegations and the corresponding cross examination have been heard.

Strange how Mayor Calderone did not delay the investigation of Lt. Steve Johnsen until after he testified in the Harder trial. Why was this not done. Could it be that Mayor Calderone and crew want to use the investigation of Lt. Johnsen as a means of intimidation for anyone coming forward and telling the truth about the immoral condition of the Forest Park Police Department?

From the Review
I'm not going to start witch hunts based on one night of testimony...I want to let this process continue a little bit first. Then I'll take a look at the transcripts at that point in time and have converstation with the Chief of Police to find out what really happened. To do it now is crazy.

This is the exact reason why you cannot have a man with no formal education running a Municipal Government. He calls this a witch hunt based on one night of testimony. I can assure you that there have been many conversations and many written documents directed at the Mayor before the Harder trial. If he says this is based on one night of testimony, his lack of integrity and honesty is gone. He cannot make the statement that he did not know what was going on in the Police Department, too many different people have told him. Nice try Mayor Calderone.

From the Review
Calderone expressed skepticism of Johnsen's testimony, noting that Johnsen may have a "skewed outlook" due to his disappointment at not being named police chief when the position was open in 2003.

Interesting, because if you really believe that Mayor Calderone then you believe Lt. Johnsen to be a liar. If you thought he was a liar then where is the investigation about a police administrator making up allegations or falsehoods? The Wrigleyville rapist event happened in January of 2005. That is an irresponsible comment and you think it allows you to avoid doing the right thing. You are not qualified to lead the Village of Forest Park.

From the Review
Calderone also questioned whether Doolin's outlook was similarly skewed by his status as Johnsen's longtime partner in the real estate business.

I guess Mayor Calderone has trouble following the facts. He must be trying to make up stories and spins to make himself look like he knows what he is doing. I guess Mayor Calderone forgot that Carl Nyberg sent a letter to Village Administrator Mike Sturino questioning his administration's handling of police brutality and the brutality allegations. When Nyberg was rejected by Sturino he went to a Village Commissioner. Commissioner Doolin took the right action by asking for a closed door meeting with other members of the council. I guess Mayor Calderone does not realize that the voters are watching his every move and his failure to investigate these allegations immediately is irresponsible to the taxpayers and our insurance company
From the Review
We've seen firsthand what civil litigation costs the taxpayers of this village. I'm concerned that the village is just settling brutality lawsuits without conducting any internal investigation within the department.

Who sounds like they have a handle on how a government should be run Mayor stick your head in the sand or Commissioner Doolin?

From the Review
Calderone said that though the allegations have sparked his curiosity, he would prefer to wait "until we know what we're intestigating" before we take the next step. I don't want to piecemeal the approach. I don't want to go back to the chief eight times when I could have done it once.

This gets more and more incredible! This peaked the Mayor's curiosity! How nice we have his attention. I guess it takes the testimony of Lt. Johnsen, Lt. Weiler, Sgt. Harder and Officer Hall, numerous lawsuits of police brutality against the village, an EEOC complaint, newspaper columnists, bloggers and insurance companies to peak the Mayor's curiosity.

I don't want the Mayor ruining the carpet by going back and forth with the chief. God forbid. I tell you what a real administrator does; he gives the chief one day to get every piece of paper associated with allegations of police brutality on his desk. No excuses. No time delays.

How much more proof do we need to see that Mayor Calderone just does not possess the credentials or intelligence to be the top executive of the Village of Forest Park.

These allegations should be investigated by an outside company. How can you ask the man in charge, Chief Ryan, about the allegations? He is the man who has screwed them up or covered them up in the first place. My God what is Calderone thinking.

This might be the most important point. Maybe Calderone realizes that if there was a proper investigation by an outside company, his main man and complainant against Sgt. Harder would be found out to be a liar, unethical, and guilty of covering up serious misdeeds by police personnel. It has to be the case because to not investigate these allegations immediately is irresponsible and potentially costly to our village.

Try and imagine the publicity it would cause if one of these police officers shots, beats up, or harms a citizen starting now and until he conducts an investigation between himself and the man responsible for this catastrophe. If you think the Village of Forest Park looks foolish now wait until we make the National news.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

BLOG, considering Blagojevich blogging

Before I created Proviso Probe, I kept a blog called Blogging Blagojevich's Blunders. Now that there's a primary opponent I may activate Blogging Blago's Blunders again.

KLEPT, Township hiring Walsh

I covered the meeting and Proviso Probe readers added their comments.

Forest Park Review (Seth Stern) connected hiring Walsh as a lobbyists to the earlier hiring of Tom Robbins as a liaison with the mayors.

Pioneer Press (David Pollard) also made the connection between the Walsh and Robbins hires, but included the discussion of the band in the same article.

Trustee Tim Gilian mentioned a bunch of stuff Walsh could seek from state legislators. Has anyone from Proviso Township put these requests in writing?

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

M06, Gidwitz money to Brookfield Zoo [GOV]

Ron Gidwitz, GOP candidate for governor, gives to Brookfield Zoo.

See Peoria Journal Star (Copley News, Doug Finke):
Gidwitz donated $10,000 or more to the Field Museum, Boys and Girls Clubs, the Lyric Opera, Uhlich Children's Advantage Network to help severely troubled children, Providence-St. Mel School, the Steppenwolf Theater, Brookfield Zoo, Chicago Children's Museum and the Museum of Science and Industry.

What charities and causes do you support? If you were really rich, would you give to other causes?

M06, nominating petitions [4th Sen]

James T. Smith invited me to inspect some nominating petitions filed by Sen. Kimberly Lightford, who will be his opponent in the Democratic Primary.

I inspected six sheets. I expected 40-60% of the sigs to be questionable. People print names which is verboten. They aren't registered but sign anyway. Whatever. Lightford's petitions were horrid. Of the six pages I inspected (25 sigs per page) they averaged less than 4 unchallenged sigs per page.

Many of the signatures were clearly fake. The person that puts an extra hump in the letter "M" kinda telegraphs her/his work when s/he writes "Maywood".

Many of the addresses did not correspond to homes where voters were registered. Some petition signers misspelled their names.

Can Smith knock Lightford off the ballot? If the whole game was in Proviso, I'd say he has a 35-55% chance. But some of the petitions are in Chicago. This is a problem in two ways.

1. Alderman Carothers' organization circulated most of these petitions. Some people may not like Carothers' style of politics, but he's technical competent at the game of politics. I'd be surprised if his organization turned-in dog meat nominating petitions.
2. The process for checking signatures is easier for suburban Cook County which falls under the cognizance of the County Clerk. Checking Chicago signatures falls under the cognizance of the Chicago Board of Elections.

To knock Lightford off the ballot, Smith needs more bodies to check signatures. It's time consuming work. And it may not lead to getting Lightford off the ballot.

But even if Lightford can't be knocked off the ballot, there might be a story here. Why would a citizen risk criminal prosecution by forging signatures? If these are government employees, it seems possible that somebody is pressuring them to get signatures.

Pressuring individuals to do political work as a condition of continued employment is illegal, right? So who is pressuring people to circulate nominating petitions?

If the State's Attorney has time to prosecute Ken Leggin for taking yard signs--a rather harmless political activity--maybe Dick Devine's crew could find the time to prosecute real political crime, like coercing public employees to do political work. But maybe the people committing the bigger crimes are political allies of Devine?

For background on the Leggin prosecution see Maywood Herald (John Huston):
Misdemeanor charges against a former candidate for the Proviso Township District 209 School Board have been dropped.

Ken Leggin was charged in February with endangering the life of a child and contributing to the delinquency of a child after he was arrested by Memorial Park District police for allegedly stealing political yard signs.

Give Smith a call at (708) 819-0905 if you want to help knock Lightford off the ballot.

Monday, December 19, 2005

ED, Proviso HS board meeting [D209]

Gary Marine led the criticism about minutes of meetings. He was upset with three things.

1. The tape recorder failed to record the closed session when Greg Jackson was fired.
2. Marine's suggestion to spend time recreating an accounting of the meeting was rebuffed.
3. Marine didn't like that the minutes of all closed sessions were vague, especially communications with Mark Sterk.

Board President Emanuel Christopher Welch asked Susie Crane if the minutes were as complete as possible. She responded weakly, but affirmatively.

This is a bullshit way to deal with Marine's criticism. The appropriate response would be to ask Marine what he wants included in the minutes.

There was also a debate about hiring James McCormack as a reading instructor. McCormack lacks a reading certificate endorsement. Welch agonized over the desicion before casting the tie-breaker vote to hire McCormack.

Libka claimed the availability of all positions is advertised on the D209 website and in newspapers. I still don't get anything when I click on "careers".

Kelly asked about the number of change orders on the PMSA. Phyllistine Murphy said it was 150.

There was a discussion about the Illinois District Report Card. See Illinois State Board of Education.

GENERAL, what's on your mind?

James T. Smith has filed to run against Sen. Kimberly Lightford in the Democratic Primary.

Use this entry for general comments.

What would you like to see covered more on Proviso Probe? What could you do without?

CRIME, Brookfield boy goes Columbine [D103]

Suburban Life (Debra Bonn):
The girls saw the boy's pellet gun and ran through a school hallway and into a bathroom. The boy entered the bathroom after them and shot Schembnauer's daughter in the leg. Another student entered the bathroom at that time, and the boy shot that student as well. Schembnauer said there had been one other victim but didn't know the circumstances surrounding that incident.

SPORT, hoops: Brian Carlwell and Tony Freeman

Proviso East lost to Lawrence North in Indianapolis, 72-59. The game was a big match-up because it matched Brian Carlwell against Greg Oden. Oden got the better of Carlwell.

See Indianapolis Star (Jeff Rabjohns).

Iowa freshman and St. Joe's grad Tony Freeman got a write-up in Quad City Times (Steve Batterson).

Sunday, December 18, 2005

KLEPT, Maywood Police Pension Fund forfeits $227K [M]

I wrote about the main findings of the audit of the Maywood Police Pension Fund.

Here's the quote that's a big deal:
According to board minutes furnished the examiner, and the annual statement for FY 1997 filed with the Department of Insurance, the board incurred surrender changes in excess of $227,000 on several surrendered annuity contracts.

My understanding is that Eugene Moore is the one that caused the investments to be moved causing them to pay the $227K in penalties.

My understanding is that this is against the law.

But it gets worse for Moore. The hypothesis I've heard is that Moore moved the money to Metropolitan, the company he sells insurance for. The reason Moore was eager to get the money into Met's funds is that he could easily move the money from fund to fund with Metropolitan. From the outside it would look like the money was all invested with Metropolitan. But each time it moved Moore would be generating commissions for himself.

This practice is called "churning" and it is also illegal. If Moore was churning the Maywood Fire and Police Pension Fund, it seems somewhat unfair for the Maywood taxpayers to cover the losses.

The police control three of the five votes on the board. Two are elected by the current police and one is elected by the pensioners.

The two issues:

1. To what extent was Moore's conduct illegal?
2. To what extent are Maywood taxpayers being forced to pay for mistakes that are at least partially the fault of the police and Metropolitan?

SPORT, Friday night boxing [MP]

I went to see boxing at Park West Theater Friday night. It was called Fight Club Chicago.

There were a couple fighters from the Melrose Park gym.

At 175# Nick DeLaurentis (armed services) beat Joey Newren (banker). DeLaurentis had 8-count knockdowns in the first two rounds.

At 190# Brian Roque (manager) lost to Matt Lesser (trader) after Roque received his third standing 8-count.

The fight I was there to see ended in some controversy when the announcer switched from announcing Matt Garcia the winner to saying Nick Spagnolo was the winner.

There was a bit of a brawl in the audience. After it was cleared up, a couple guys were walking by and one said, "It's always the kids from Melrose."

Next fight is January 6, 2006 at the Cicero Stadium. See 8 Count Productions.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

TRANS, Eisenhower crash [H]

From Chicago Tribune:
Police suspect a motorist was going 110 m.p.h. early this morning when he crashed into the rear of a semi-trailer truck on the Eisenhower Expressway in west suburban Hillside, CLTV reported.

ED, don't steal from schools [LP]

See Chicago Tribune:
A former Oak Brook school official [David Grayson, 64, of La Grange Park] already facing sexual misconduct charges involving a student was charged Thursday with stealing $20,000 worth of electronic equipment.

Friday, December 16, 2005

BLOG, Koufax Awards are now open

The Koufax Awards are given by Wampum. The awards are a big deal in blogging circles. Award nominations are now open. Hat tip to Georgia10, of Rockefeller U.

I lobbied the awards committee to add categories recognizing state and local political coverage. It was combined into one category.
Best Coverage of State or Local Issues
This is a new category based on reader suggestions. It is intended to honor blogs with a focus on happenings in a single state or single locality. Which state or local blog provided the best coverage this year? When making nominations please include the state of locality of coverage as well as a link.

I would appreciate it, if a loyal Proviso Probe reader would nominate Proviso Probe for a Koufax Award.

GOV, Proviso Township trustees meeting

Tuesday evening the trustees of Proviso Township met.

Emanuel Christopher Welch showed-up with fellow board member Reatha "Sue" Henry, the two band directors and Angela McDaniels.

Grady Rivers, the secretary of the Proviso board and a Welch for state rep supporter, greased the skids for Proviso Township to give money to District 209 for the bands to go to the Liberty Bowl. District 209 asked for $5,000 and the Proviso board offered up to $10,000, if it's needed.

The logic for Proviso Township paying for the trip is that since the township provides services to low income residents then it's OK for the township to subsidize the trip for low income residents. After all, the band will have "Proviso Township" in the name.

In the grand scheme of things, blowing $10,000 for a good cause isn't a huge problem. But let's cut through the bull. The event was yet another excuse for Welch to get his picture taken associated with some good PR. And I'm going to engage in psychic journalism and foretell that the picture will be in the D209 newsletter that gets delivered before the March primary.

The bigger fleecing of the taxpayers was hiring Tom Walsch, former Republican state senator, to be the Proviso Township lobbyist for $2,500 a month. Let's count all the ways this doesn't make sense.

Trustee Jesse Martinez made most of the good points.

1. There's no need identified.
2. Since the township has a surplus, if it needs something right now why not use the surplus to buy the needed stuff instead of hiring an unneeded lobbyist.

Trustee Don Sloan chimed in, “If all seniors took advantage of services available we’d be hard pressed to service them.”

So what? The statement is equally true after hiring Walsh.

Mike Manzo made the connection between Walsh doing Ron Serpico some favors in the past and Serpico and his allies contributing the lion's share of the money used to elect the township slate.

Trusttee Tim Gillian rebutted Martinez's point about there not being a need by saying, “We could use a bus. That’s a project. We need tools for the handyman program. That’s a project.”

Walsh said he was going to lean on Proviso's legislators to use their set asides to get stuff for the township.

Here's my questions for Gillian. Have you called the Proviso legislators and asked for a bus or tools? Did they say, "No, not until you send a Republican lobbyist"?

I'm just asking....

M06, Yarbrough, Welch & Moore

Rep. Karen Yarbrough wrote a letter published in the Forest Park Review explaining her case to be the Democratic Committeeman of Proviso Township. Eugene Moore is the incumbent committeeman.
I will not be moved by outsiders who only care about power and control. I am accountable to the residents of Proviso Township and constituents within the 7th representative district.

So I am asking for your support for my candidacy as Proviso Township Committeeman!

Let us send a clear message to the power brokers and say "no" to the Demo-hacks and "yes" to the Democrats!

What do you think of Yarbrough for committeeman?

Here's a theory about how Moore and Sen. Kimberly Lightford view Emanuel Christopher Welch.

To defend against heat-seeking missiles, fighter jets have flares that they can deploy to draw away the missiles. Navy ships have chaff they can launch to fool incoming missiles using radar. And submarines have noisemakers to confuse torpedoes.

Does Welch serve the same purpose for Moore and Lightford? Is Welch so obnoxious, confrontational and annoying that he keeps voters from learning about the less visible bad behavior by Moore (and Lightford)? Is Welch a flare/chaff/noisemaker?

BTW, Jeremiah Norris got another continuance this week. Do you think Moore and Welch have the clout to get continuances from Colin Simpson until after the March primary?

And an enterprising Proviso Probe reader wrote the adventures of Gorzo. It's pretty funny.

watching & waiting reported seeing a Welch for state rep sign in a Westchester currency exchange.

MEDIA, Arnie Bryant's show [D88]

I spoke to Arnie Bryant and he said most of his radio show (Saturday 2-3 PM, WJJG, 1530 AM) will be devoted to Christmas music.

He did say he'd spend a little time speaking about local politics. According to Arnie, Antonette "Toni" Dorris has run up a $3,000 bill on the mobile phone provided by District 88 (Bellwood elementary schools).

Does it make sense for public officials to get mobile phones? What limits should there be on using these phones?

Arnie usually takes calls during the show. The number is (708)493-1530.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

CRIME, child abandoned in Melrose Park [MP]

See Chicagoist (Chris Karr).

GOV, Maywood Police Pension Fund reviewed [M]

From the Foreword:
The examination of this pesion fund covers the period beginning May 1, 1999 and ending April 30, 2001. This examination dated May 29, 2002, was performed by qualified examiners of the Department of Insurance, State of Illinois, as authorized under 40 ILCS 6/1A-104.

The annual statements for the same period, as submitted to the Department of Insurance, could not be verified by comparison to the annual audit of the fund.

And the Summary of Findings:
The findings of the examiners, based upon the financial statement and supporting information contained in this report of examination, are summarized as follows:

1. The board is not holding annual elections for President and Secretary.
2. The expiration dates of office of the elected trustees cannot be determined.
3. The expiration dates of the appointed Trustees are not known.
4. The treasurer is not a required signer on accounts of the fund.
5. The treasurer is not acting in his capacity as custodian of the pension fund.
6. The board did not furnish CPA Audits for review for years FY 2000 and FY 2001.
7. Fund members convicted of crimes are in receipt of a pension.
8. Taxes are not being levied in an amount sufficient to meet the annual actuarial requirements of the fund.
9. The board has not adopted a written Investment Policy.
10. The fund's FY 2001 investment holdings in a variable annuity contract exceeds teh 45% limit set under the Pension Code.
11. Minutes of board meetings should be expanded to include those items listed in the "Corporate Records" section of this report.

How bad is this? What questions should I be asking? Whom should I ask?

INTERNATIONAL, world government & neo-liberal theology

I wrote a column on world government for the Wednesday Journal. It jumped off from a Ken Trainor column.

Here are the points I made.
1. We already have world gov't in the form of the WTO.
2. The WTO is a theocratic oligarchy with a judiciary, but no legislature.
3. The theology of the WTO and other neo-liberal institutions is neo-liberal economics. (I didn't clearly explain neo-liberal economics is Adam Smith fundamentalism. It holds the invisible hand will fix everything.)
4. The GOP has successfully built an alliance of world government proponents and opponents.
5. There is no conflict between the Dems and GOP on neo-liberal economics because the elites of both parties are members of the faith.
6. The neo-liberals see the proper role of domestic politics as being food fights over social hot button issues while economic policy is set by un-elected elites.
7. "The Republican Party exists to consolidate wealth and power for the rich and powerful."
8. But the Democrats suck too.
9. It will probably take a hugely destructive war to fix the problems in our international government.

I'll go back to writing about Proviso Township now.

GENERAL, Loyola bigger, Maywood taxes too, train whistles n stuff

Loyola expanded. See Maywood Herald, Sun-Times (Jim Ritter) or Chicago Tribune (Crystal Yednak). Any local pols cash-in on this?

The Oak Leaves covered primary filings. Or you can get in from the horse's mouth (Illinois State Board of Elections). No one has filed to run against Sen. Lightford as of 2:40 PM Thursday.

Maywood is raising taxes. See Maywood Herald (David Pollard).
Loretta Robinson said the village has 22,000 registered cars and only 11,000 have Maywood stickers on them. She believes if the village would be more aggressive in enforcing the rules, there would be less of a need to raise taxes.

Why does Maywood allow residents to blow-off getting vehicle stickers? Is it part of a culture of "taking care of friends"?

The Maywood Show recently had middle school students discuss issues affecting their lives. See Maywood Herald (John Huston). Did anybody see it? How was it? Does The Maywood Show have a website I can link to?

Riverside/Brookfield Landmark (Bob Uphues) has a story on the efforts of Riverside, North Riverside and Berwyn trying to end the mandatory train whistles. I agree. Noise causes stress. The whistles diminish the quality of life for everyone and only benefit anyone in rare cases.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

ED, what do you expect from school officials?

If school officials became aware that a 16 year old student had posed for pornographic pictures for money and the pictures were circulating among the student body, what would you expect school officials to do?

Should the matter be reported to law enforcement authorities? To the girl's parents?

Does it matter if there was money involved?

What if the girl was 15? 14?

Does if matter the age of the photographer(s)?

What if it happened on school property?

PO-PO, Doolin calls for independent investigator of police abuses [FP]

I have received a copy of a letter from Forest Park Commissioner Patrick Doolin to Village Adminstrator Michael Sturino, Mayor Anthony Calderone and the other commissioners. Doolin has called for an independent investigator of police brutality and abuses. He wants the commissioners to discuss the issue in closed session in the next meeting.

When I wrote to Sturino this is the kind of response I wanted. If you've got allegations by Sgt. Dan Harder and Lt. Steve Johnsen of police abuses, it seems they should be investigated. This is especially true since Forest Park has hired an independent investigator to report on allegations of minor abuses by Johnsen. See Forest Park Review (Seth Stern).

PO-PO, police drop loitering tickets [MP]

Today Maria Hernandez called me to say that Deputy Chief of Police Gary Montino called her to say that she should collect the loitering tickets written on November 18, 2005 and he would take care of them.

This is the right thing to do, because writing loitering tickets for people on private property with the owners permission--including the owner's children--is pretty much bullshit.

But once a bureaucracy like the Melrose Park Police Department decides on a course of action, it's often hard to change course. Montino, who is known as "Harpo", deserves praise for applying a common sense check to the situation. See this entry for background.

Maria Hernandez is a woman of courage and resourcefulness. She organized her neighbors and effectively sought help.

For people that question the relevance of the NAACP, this case shows the organization is on the cutting edge of protecting civil rights in Proviso Township. The NAACP helped Hernandez and her neighbors file a complaint with the Justice Department, Civil Rights Division.

Arnie Bryant, the president of the local chapter of the NAACP, put Hernandez on his radio show and introduced her to other local journalists. See Melrose Park Herald (David Pollard). Bryant and the NAACP also put Hernandez in touch with Anthony J. Peraica & Associates, who was representing Hernandez and her neighbors on the loitering violations. Peraica is running for President of the Cook County Board... as a Republican.

KLEPT, who looks out for whom in Bellwood schools [D88]

West Proviso Herald (John Huston) has an article that connects the back-stratching between Stone Park Trustee Joe Burdi, Stone Park Mayor Beniamino Mazzulla, Mazzulla's wife Gabriella, Stone Park Clerk Maria Castrejon, District 88 Board Member and Proviso West coach Tommie Miller, District 88 attorney and District 209 board president Emanuel Christopher Welch & Democratic Committeeman Eugene Moore.

Superintendent Willie Mack said the following of firing James K. Graham, Sr, the former director of facilities post.
[Mack] also said Graham was not given due process.

If Generoso Trombetta figured out how to turn a political firing into over $1 million, I expect Graham will get (has gotten?) an attorney that will put Mack's words to use against the District 88 board.

If the District 88 board is relying on legal advice from Emanuel Christopher Welch--who is currently licensed to practice law in Illinois--they might want to consider his track record at District 209. In addition to Trombetta, haven't a number of former D209 employees sued for wrongful termination? In how many of these suits has District 209 prevailed? If Welch is consistently on the losing side of these suits, is it good judgment to take his advice on these type of issues?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

GOV, township to pay for Liberty Bowl trip [D209]

On the agenda for Proviso Township this evening is paying for the Proviso Township High Schools band to go to the Liberty Bowl. First reported here.

The meeting is at 5:30 PM at 2131 Roosevelt in Broadview.

Is this a good use of taxpayer money? Why should Proviso Township pay for the trip instead of the school district?

PO-PO, disgruntled Latinos meet with Deputy Police Chief Gary Montino [MP]

Yesterday I participated in a meeeting organized by Maria Hernandez about police brutality against Latino youths. The meeting was between Hernandez and her neighbors 700 block of 15th and 16th & Deputy Chief of Police Gary Montino and Officer Rogowski (sp?), the head of the tactical unit.

I have interviewed Hernandez and her neighbors a number of times now.

There are a few ways to cover the story.

1. Traditional journalism would try to present both sides, or be somewhat biased toward the people in power.
2. Some blogging is as snarky as possible.
3. I could be an advocate for Hernandez and her neighbors.

I decided to go with option #3. This means I won't be passing all damaging info about the Melrose Park Police Department as soon as I get it. I will try to gently, but forcefully persuade Melrose Park PD to treat Hernandez and her neighbors with respect.

I'm biasing the story in favor of my sources. So, in a way, I'm doing the same thing as all those shithead journalists that have been covering for the Bush administration. Hopefully, I have read the situation better and have picked the people behaving more ethically.

One nice thing about blogging is that if Melrose Park police officers disagree with how I see things, they can make the case that I'm wrong.

Monday, December 12, 2005

POL, old guard vs. young turks

James T. Smith is running to be the Democratic nominee for State Senator against Senator Kimberly Lightford.

Smith told me a story of Aderman Ed Smith (no relation) calling Smith for a meeting late one night. Aderman Smith tried to persuade Smith that the way he should get ahead was to ally himself with a current Black elected official and wait his turn.

What do you think of the advice? Is there truth to it? Or is it completely self-serving? Does it matter what you're trying to accomplish in politics?

ED, Triton for self-enrichment [D504]

Our community college (aka, "JuCo" in other parts of the country), Triton, is encouraging people to enroll for the spring term.

I was thinking it might be cool to have a course in blogging. And then I thought, why work through Triton?

Is there an audience for a course in blogging?

PO-PO, contrarian view of Forest Park's attempt to fire Sgt. Dan Harder [FP]

Forest Park's Police Department is in the process of firing Sgt. Dan Harder for taking sick days at inconvenient times and not being sick enough. Originally, Forest Park gave other reasons that have been debunked. See Forest Park Review (Seth Stern) and Proviso Probe coverage of the latest hearing.

I had a discussion with someone who doesn't believe Sgt. Dan Harder, Lt. Steve Johnsen and Harder's attorney, Jeanine Stevens are on the up-and-up.

I want to explore this scenario. Let's assume the worst of Harder, Johnsen and Stevens.

Harder had reason to be disgruntled with Chief Jim Ryan. They didn't like each other.

Johnsen applied for the chief of police position, but Ryan was hired.

Stevens has engaged in legal delay tactics while complaining about her client being suspended for over 30-days.

Am I missing anything? Is there any reason I should distrust Harder, Johnsen or Stevens beyond these reasons? (Any comments about any individual's sex life will be promptly deleted. If you think someone's sex life is relevant to the discussion, email me first and let me know why you think it's important.)

GOV, Westchester water meters & Brookfield mobile phones [W, BF]

Suburban Life (Erick Bieritz):
Errors in the way aging meters report water use has resulted in years of low bills in Westchester that may have cost the village $360,000 in revenue.

Suburban Life (Megan Brody):
A class action lawsuit that successfully challenged municipal fees on cell phones will cost Brookfield about $81,000.

The village was named one of the defendants in a suit filed in the late 1990s by several cell phone companies challenging the constitutionality of municipal taxes on cell phone use. The suit concluded in mid-November.

GOV, Suburban Cook TB district [FP]

Q: What taxing body is increasing property taxes by 527%?

A: Cook County Tuberculosis Sanitarium District. See Forest Park Review (Seth Stern).

Commissioners Quigley and Suffredin are for eliminating it.

What says Commissioner Peraica, GOP candidate for prez of the board?

SPORT, Proviso West Holiday Tournament [D209]

The Proviso West Holiday Tournament has a website. The tournament isn't until December 27-30, but it has generated some news.

Do Proviso Probe readers want me to follow the pre-tournament hype or just report the results?

M06, first day to file for Ds, Rs and independents

Who filed at 8:00 AM thereby placing them in the lottery for #1 ballot position?

Which races are Proviso Probe readers following?

One of the races I aspire to cover is the Democratic Primary for Cook County Sheriff. The race has generated blog posts at Marathon Pundit and Democracy for Illinois.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

GENERAL, Suburban Life, hoops & Walmart

To pinch pennies Broadview trustees voted to nix health insurance for the trustees elected after the next election. See Suburban Life (Debrah Bonn). Trimming a little here, a little there isn't gonna paper over serious mismanagement. And losing the budget is serious mismanagement.

Suburban Life (Megan Brody) tells of Brookfield failing to collect money from businesses to pay for the cost of health inspections. What caught my eye was the line:
Brookfield employed an independent health inspector for $900 a month until Cook County took over inspections in December.

I'm going to engage in psychic journalism a report that it costs more to have Cook County do the health inspections than having the independent health inspector.

Hillside will raise taxes to pay more into the fire and police pension funds. See Suburban Life (Debrah Bonn).
Because Hillside is a home rule community, no referendum is required to raise the tax levy beyond the 5 percent or the rate of inflation cap for non-home rule municipalities.

Remember this when politicians talk-up home rule.

State Senator Christine Radogno (Republican)
is running for treasurer. See Suburban Life (Sara Luneburg). Got opinions or info about Radogno?

La Grange Park is going to pay more for a water infrastructure project for having delayed it. See Suburban Life (Tara Alexander). I skimmed the article twice and I didn't get why it's gonna cost more money. Can someone explain it?

Sun-Times (Steve Tucker) has a nice profile of Hillside native and Proviso West alum Khara Smith, DePaul hoops player who may play in the WNBA.

East beat West 66-54. See Sun-Times (Carter Crane).

PO-PO, Qs for Sturino on police brutality [FP]

Michael J. Sturino, Forest Park Village Administrator, wrote to me (Carl Nyberg) in response to my letter raising the possibility of a federal investigation of police brutality:
Your letter references a matter that is currently pending before the Village of Forest Park Police and Fire Commission, as well as a matter that constitutes "pending litigation." The Village of Forest Park does not comment on such matters to protect the interests of the parties and out of respect for the legal process.

Please be assured that all claims of misconduct are investigated. Thank you for your interest in this matter.

OK. I wrote the following letter to Commissioner Patrick Doolin:
Dear Commissioner Doolin,

I have received Michael J. Sturino's letter dated December 8, 2005. He basically told me he wouldn't respond to my concerns about decisions made by village leadership regarding the police department.

I request you ask Village Administrator Sturino some questions on my behalf. I am concerned that Sturino and others have put have put the village on a path that will bring the community shame and cost the village (taxpayers) millions in legal fees and settlements.

A. Insurance
1. Has Forest Park changed insurers more frequently than it would have otherwise because of police brutality settlements?
2. Who is Forest Park's insurance broker? Is some politically connected individual profiting from Forest Park's failure to address its police brutality problem?
B. Legal advice
1. To what extent has the village attorney participated in decisions about the four alleged incidents of police brutality reported by Sgt. Dan Harder?
2. To what extent has the village attorney participated in decisions about Forest Park's legal strategy in disciplining Harder?
3. If the lawyer wasn't involved in crafting Forest Park's legal strategies from the beginning, why wasn't he? Isn't this exactly why the village retains a lawyer?
4. Doe the attorney concur with the legal strategies being implemented? If the attorney did not concur with the legal strategy, was this information conveyed to all commissioners in a timely manner?
5. Has the attorney made recommendations in writing? What is the date on these recommendations?
6. If the attorney refuses to make recommendations in writing, should the citizens be concerned that the attorney believes Forest Park is pursuing a foolish legal strategy and that he doesn't want to be held accountable for the folly in the future (but he wants to continue to be paid for hanging around)?
C. "Misconduct"
1. How does Forest Park define "claim of misconduct"? What does it take to trigger an investigation of brutality or abuse by a police officer?
2. Are these policies in writing?
3. Who is responsible for enforcing them?
4. Have they been consistently enforced?
D. Investigation
1. What constitutes a proper investigation of police misconduct?
2. What makes it necessary to use an outside investigator? Are these policies in writing?
3. In the four incidents reported by Harder, were investigations conducted? When? By whom? How long were the written reports submitted b the investigating officers?

Thank you for assistance in this matter.


Carl Nyberg

cc: Michael Sturino
Seth Stern

Friday, December 09, 2005

PO-PO, Johnsen testifies at Harder hearing [FP]

"Several incidents of police brutality went uninvestigated or under-investigated"--Steve Johnsen, Lieutenant, Forest Park Police Department (former acting chief of police)

The Fire & Police Commission held another hearing on the termination of Sgt. Dan Harder yesterday. However, the hearing wasn't primarily about understanding the truth of what did and didn't happen. The hearing was primarily about haggling over which documents would be allowed as evidence--only Johnsen was in the witness chair the whole time. It was a bit confusing to non-lawyers watching.

The hearing started late because Harder's attorney, Jeanine Stevens, was delayed by the snow storm. And it ended early because one of the commissioners doubles as a school board member and the D91 meeting started at 7PM. Even the shortened version of the meeting felt like a glimpse of hell. I was watching stop-and-go argumentation over stuff I didn't understand about an underlying subject I cared about.

Stevens seemed to be fumbling with the rules of evidence. Were they different rules than the ones she was used to? Was the Fire & Police Commission attorney being more picayune than Stevens was expecting? Is Stevens weak at playing evidence games?

It seemed weird that Stevens would ask for a document to be admitted into evidence, Lucansky, the attorney for the Police Department, would object and then there would be no decision on whether to admit the document until much later. Stevens would take testimony about the document. I think, the testimony was supposed to bolster the admissability of the document.

Lucansky was making some frivolous objections, but if the other attorney has trouble hitting the curveball, why wouldn't Lucansky throw the curveball?

Lucansky objected to Stevens feeding Johnsen names of "Cruikshank"--whom Johnsen had already ID'd as the "alleged Wrigleyville Rapist"--and the cop that allegedly beat Cruikshank. The names weren't material to the point Stevens was making--Harder had complained about the cop beating Cruikshank--but Stevens had trouble parrying the objections. This kept her off balance and killed the continuity of the narrative.

Lucansky also objected to the relevance to Commissioner Tim Gillian telling Johnsen Harder was "dead to him". Lucansky argued this was irrelevant to how Ryan treated Harder. Stevens was not able to clearly state that if Gillian leaned on Ryan's predecessor about Harder it seems reasonable to infer Gillian leaned on Ryan about Harder.

One of the interesting points Johnsen made was that the Forest Park Police Department is divided into two. One faction is more gung-ho and the other faction is more cerebral. Johnsen said Ryan favors the gung-ho types, and I got the impression Ryan is trying to purge the more cerebral cops.

Most management advisors tell you to blend different personalities, so you have access to everyone's strengths. Johnsen's testimony seemed to portray Ryan as a guy that values uniformity and loyalty so highly he's unable to work effectively with people that don't share his style of policing.

Getting back to the arguments about admissability: it seemed like a waste of time. Stevens says that Harder wants to get back to work. And according the Forest Park Review (Seth Stern) Mayor Anthony Calderone is complaining about cost of the hearing.

So, who wins for dragging out the case? The lawyers all get paid by the hour. I'll bitch about municipal lawyers in a separate entry.

TAX, why are taxes going up?

"The rich get tax breaks while homeowners get tax hikes."

This line is from my column in the Forest Park Review.

There are two major problems causing local taxes to increase, both are the responsibility of the federal government.

Republicans have promoted "local control". A major reason the GOP likes the idea of local control is that they want to shift both the control and the cost of government services to state and local government.

Why is it important to shift the cost to local government? The federal government gets most of its revenue from income taxes which disproportionately hit the rich. Local government gets most of its revenue from property taxes which disproportionately hits the middle-class. (State government gets its revenue from more diverse sources, but typically uses the sales tax which disproportionately hits the poor.)

The Democrats are fucking incompetent not to call the tax shift for what it is, but...

The other reason local taxes rise faster than inflation is that health care costs rise faster than inflation. Government primarily provides services. Most of the tax money goes to personnel costs. (In manufacturing a business can offset rising personnel costs if material costs drop. Government can't do this.)

So providing the same level of services from one year to the next costs more money because health care costs are out-of-control. Again, this is something local government can't control. It needs to be addressed in Washington.

So local government tries to nickel-and-dime taxpayers. Let's look at this week's news articles. How many involve stories about tax increases or creative ways for local government to get revenue?

1. West Proviso Herald (David Pollard) writes about the Bellwood PD seeking a state grant.
2. Suburban Life:
The La Grange Park Village Board unanimously approved a 61 percent increase to the village's property tax levy over the prior year...

3. Suburban Life (Megan Brody): "Brookfield weighs new municipal tax".
4. Riverside/Brookfield Landmark (Bob Uphues): "Brookfield looks to raise commuter parking fees"& Suburban Life (Megan Brody): "Brookfield may double commuter parking rates".

Plus most of the stories about development are really driven by municipal government trying to shoehorn in as much taxable development as possible.

So much of what gets done on the local level is driven by tax considerations, but we never discuss our underlying assumptions about taxation and health care.

Shouldn't the Democrats be making this case to critique the GOP agenda?

GOV, "branding" a community [FP]

A group of NIU students has brainstormed and analyzed a marketing strategy for Forest Park. See Forest Park Review (Tom Holmes) for background. (The paper version of the Forest Park Review has an article on the project this week, but I'm having trouble finding it online.)

What do you think of "branding" a community? How much affect can this type of marketing strategy have?

DEFAM, Welch withdraws lawsuit

Forest Park Review (Seth Stern) has a straight-forward article on the lawsuit filed against me by school board president Emanuel Christopher Welch.

BLOG, Jim Bowman, local blogger

Last night at the Wednesday Journal, Inc. holiday party I met Jim Bowman. We talked about blogging some. He maintains four blogs: Blithely, Blithely; Chicago Newspapers: the Blog; The Churches and Oak Park, Home of Edgar Rice Burroughs. Stop by and leave him some comments.

I challenge Proviso Probe readers to find other blogs you find entertaining, useful or interesting. If you tell me what blogs you like, I'll add them to the blogroll.

GENERAL, book, bid, accidents, bird calls & advertisement

Forest Park Review's Jackie Schultz wants you to come to Centuries & Sleuths to hear Joan Biskupic discuss her biography of Sandra Day O'Connor.
Print and TV journalist Joan Biskupic can be seen and heard discussing her Biography of Sandra Day O’Connor at Centuries & Sleuths at 7 p.m. on Friday, December 9. Come see and hear this exceptionally bright, witty young woman. We are lucky to have her here in Forest Park.

Jackie has even promised to bring homemade cookies.

W-T Engineering, Inc. will seek bids to renovate Forest Park Park District buildings. See Forest Park Review (Cam Wigton).

Did you know Mike Reynolds of Westchester teaches how to do bird calls? See Chicago Tribune (Kevin Pang).

A taxicab driver was seriously injured Wednesday at 6 AM when his cab collided with a bread van at First and Harvard in Maywood. See Chicago Tribune.

And in Berkeley, a worker was killed on the Tri-State Tuesday at 1:45 AM. See Chicago Tribune.

West Suburban Journal included an ad for Proviso Probe this week. Get your copy of West Suburban Journal at select Proviso business establishments.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

GENERAL, not feeling it

I have a couple of things to write about, but I'm feeling a bit "under the weather".

Here's a link to my column in the Forest Park Review. Do you think Congressman Danny K. Davis will respond?

The Oak Park Police Department is disciplining one of its officers. (See Wednesday Journal.)

Note to Forest Park, this is what a police chief is supposed to do when he has credible allegations of misconduct by one of his officers. And when the village administrator has credible allegations of misconduct by the police chief--like covering-up police brutality--the village administrator is supposed to investigate the police chief and hold him accountable. When you cover-up a crime, you commit a crime.

What's on your mind?

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

ED, Davis/Yarbrough meeting covered in newspapers

Proviso Probe already covered the Davis/Yarbrough education meeting held on Tuesday, November 29, and a number of you made comments.

Here's what Forest Park Review wrote in an editorial:
But what’s true of Forest Park District 91 is not true everywhere, and the good guys in public education cannot afford to cover up for the corruption and mismanagement that drags the system down in so many local schools....

Still, it was rather discouraging, and seemed a bit arrogant, that three hours intended for a public discussion by school administrators on what they need to do to improve public education ended up being thrown back in parents’ faces as a harangue on what they’re doing wrong.

Forest Park Review (Seth Stern) and Pioneer Press (John Huston) also had news coverage of the meeting.

FPR quoted Bob Libka:
Libka’s criticism of No Child Left Behind was minimal compared to other administrators, but he did note that the tests by which the act measures each school district "doesn’t measure progress, but measures a student’s level at a certain point in time."

I've already criticized this excuse. The evidence shows District 209 isn't making significant progress in educating its students; the problem isn't merely receiving students arriving at a low level. But the excuse allows Libka and the rest of the D209 leadership to say something to evade responsibility for poor results.

Pioneer Press quoted Jerry Jordan:
Jerry Jordan, superintendent of Lindop District 92, also spoke out about funding, but from a different angle: Tax caps.

He said the taxing restraints, which prohibit school districts from increasing taxes higher than either the consumer-price index or 5 percent, whichever is lower, are too strict and will eventually result in nearly every district going broke, Jordan said.

I'm going to be writing more about the economics of local government later.

While we're thinking about education as a policy issue, Capitol Fax Blog has had a debate on teacher tenure. It started with "The Hidden Cost of Tenure" with The other side of tenure being the response.

I suspect a major challenge for public schools is what to do with "burned out" teachers. Everybody knows they are there, but what do you do about them?

M06, LaShawn Ford to run [8th Rep]

Riverside/Brookfield Landmark (Terry Dean) reports LaShawn Ford will run for state representative in the Democratic Primary. Rep. Calvin Giles (Dem) currently holds the office. Wednesday Journal (Terry Dean) explains Giles may not be allowed to run for re-election because of unpaid fines against his campaign committee.

Rev. C.L. Sparks of Pleasant Valley Baptist Church, 5443 West Huron, Chicago, has also been mentioned as a potential candidate.

EVENT, Pearl Harbor Day today at 12:30 PM [NR]

From Suburban Life:
The Veterans Memorial Post 6869 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States will host a ceremony in remembrance of Pearl Harbor at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 7, in front of the VFW hall, 2622 S. Des Plaines Ave., North Riverside.

Pearl Harbor was attacked on Dec. 7, 1941.

For more information, call VFW Post 6869 at (708) 579-7289.

Where were you when you heard Japan attacked Pearl Harbor?

If the VFW wants younger veterans to participate in activities, shouldn't it schedule the activities outside the normal workday?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

ADMIN, no more spin-off names

everybody-hates-chris has complained about other posters ripping-off his screen name, like everybody_hates_chris_2 and everybody-really-hates-chris. See the most recent complaint.

I agree with the complaint, but not with the solution.

I request the individuals using derivative pseudonyms make up their own nomme de cyber. No more spin-offs of existing names. I will start enforcing this from now on.

Monday, December 05, 2005

PO-PO, beating handcuffed human beings [FP]

According to the lawyer at the Criminal Section, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice, it's a big no-no to beat someone who is already handcuffed. It's one of those no-gray-area things.

This means the Village of Forest Park is kinda in a bind vis-a-vis disciplining Sgt. Dan Harder. It looks like village leadership--Mayor Tony Calderone, Administrator Mike Sturino and Police Chief James Ryan--are trying to make jaywalking into a capital offense while ignoring actual big crimes reported by the jaywalker.

In an effort to do Mike Sturino a favor, I delivered a letter to his office today.
Michael Sturino
Forest Park Village Administrator
517 Des Plaines
Forest Park, IL 60130

December 5, 2005

Dear Mike Sturino,

I have read Sgt. Dan Harder’s complaint to the EEOC that has been retaliated against for his role in the sexual harassment suit against the Forest Park Police Department. I find his version of events more persuasive than the Forest Park Police Department’s version of events.

I don’t have any tolerance for police brutality. And to me the police brutality allegations are the nut on which the conflict turns. If Harder’s allegations are lies, Forest Park should be firing him for lying about other police officers. If Harder’s allegations are true, Forest Park looks completely venal firing an honest cop for inconvenient sick days while turning a blind eye to more serious abuses by other officers.

While speaking to a lawyer at the Criminal Section, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Justice Department today on another matter, I learned that allegations of abuse against a handcuffed individual automatically trigger an investigation. Three of Harder’s allegations involve individuals already handcuffed when abused.

I will wait until December 12, 2005 to make a complaint to the Justice Department. If I am convinced Forest Park is working to investigate the actual misconduct and desisting from harassment of Sgt. Harder, I will not forward Harder’s allegations to the Criminal Section, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Justice Department. But this needs to be more than sham investigations and a “no harm, no foul” call.

Of course, if Harder is manufacturing allegations of misconduct then Forest Park has nothing to fear from an investigation by the Justice Department.


Carl Nyberg

Cc: Seth Stern, Forest Park Review
Jeanine Stevens

I'm hoping that Sturino is calmer than Calderone and Ryan. Ryan seems irrational about Harder. And the most logical explanation for why Ryan is irrational about Harder is that Calderone helped Ryan become this way.

But if Sturino can't prevail upon Calderone to do the right thing, we can let the Justice Department sort it out.

BTW, I'm having trouble posting comments or even reading the blog.