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Proviso Probe

Thursday, August 31, 2006

ETHNICITY, is racism a tool in class struggle?

On Ellen's Illinois Tenth Congressional District Blog Ellen Beth wrote:
It is well documented that racism is just another tool of the wealthy and powerful to stay in power by pitting the poor of different races against each other. First, it was the black slaves against the white indentured servants. Then, it was the black slaves against poor free whites, Later, it was poor black workers against poor white workers. Now, it's the poor blacks and latino immigrants against the white working poor. As much as all of this is discussed, it is still so easy for people to gain power and wealth by race baiting.

I don't think racism is simply explained as a piece of the Marxist analysis of class struggle.

What do you think?

PO-PO, Tuesday's community crime meeting [FP]

On Tuesday evening the Village of Forest Park hosted a community crime meeting for residents south of Roosevelt and east of Circle. The Neighborhood Watch volunteers passed flyers to publicize the meeting. Forty-five chairs were set-up and the audience grew to require more chairs.

News you can use facts:
A. Friday Forest Park will have a DUI checkpoint. You’ve been warned. See Forest Park Review.
B. If you want a large covered recycle bin the village is taking requests.

The justification for having the community crime meeting cover small neighborhoods rather than all of Forest Park was that different geographic areas have different crime patterns. In hindsight, just covering this one neighborhood filled the meeting room.

The village administrator and the code enforcement team attended the meeting along with the chief of police and five police officers. One group everyone seemed to agree to criticizing was owners of multi-unit buildings who fail to be responsible landlords.

The village is going to hire a former police officer now on disability who worked with landlords to help screen and evict problem tenants. The village will also push property owners to do little things to make it harder to conceal criminal activity: more lighting, better landscaping and removing excessive signs from windows. This is called “crime prevention through environmental design”.

The police department is going to create a three-officer tactical unit (“tac unit”). The tac unit will focus on specific locations or situations that present ongoing problems. Both Chief Jim Ryan and Deputy Chief Tom Aftanas made a point of saying Forest Park seeks “aggressive” policing.

Mayor Anthony Calderone and Bob Sullivan (Forest Park Review columnist) lamented the passing of everybody knowing their neighborhood days of the past.

The Forest Park police officers emphasized wanting residents to call the police. The guidelines are that if one wants a police officer to come to the seen now, use 911. Otherwise use the non-emergency number. If you want to report something anonymously, use the non-emergency number.

There was very little of the “blame the outsider” mentality reported from the first community crime meeting. See Forest Park Review (Seth Stern) and the derisive comments I made in a FPR column. This meeting was conducted much more professionally than the previous meeting was described.

When asked about gangs and non-resident crime, it seemed like the police gave a professional assessment. So gangs members and perpetrators come in from Berwyn or Maywood, but the officers seemed to integrate this into an understanding that this only part of the issue facing Forest Park.

However, I have a few criticisms.

It’s clear Calderone wants to control the information. Gloria Backman began setting up to video tape the meeting. He told her not to do it and to object to the State’s Attorney. He referred to CUFP, Proviso Probe and probably ForestPark.com as an “underground network”.

What makes CUFP or Proviso Probe “underground”? Almost all CUFP meetings are open to the public. (I think there was one organizational meeting CUFP requested the press not attend.) Proviso Probe allows people to hide their identities, but otherwise is pretty out in the open.

It’s hard not to see these community crime meetings as part of Calderone’s reelection campaign. He spent more time speaking than any other speaker and generally fielded audience questions unless he directed them to someone else. However, I have to thank Calderone for this somewhat because he is a better speaker than Ryan or Aftanas.

It really bugged me that Ryan called Calderone “Tony” in a formal setting. Yo, Chief, that’s “Mayor Calderone” to you, if you’re in front of taxpayers.

I’m not a fan of the Forest Park PD making “aggressiveness” its highest virtue for cops. How about “judgment”? If Officer Ron Gross used better judgment with Ed Reformado, neither Gross nor Reformado would have been hit and the village would have avoided a lawsuit. If Sgt. Mike Murphy used better judgment with Sidney Hooks then Hooks wouldn’t have gotten his wrist broken and the village would have avoided a lawsuit.

Aftanas’ references to other patrol methods like foot patrol, motor cycles and bicycles seemed forced. It was like he was saying they’ve done enough of this in the past couple years to make my statements true, but these alternate patrol methods aren’t integrated into standard operating procedures.

Calderone also bragged about how he got after Ryan to send more patrol cars to southern Forest Park even though the crime is relatively low there. I wonder if Calderone will tell the residents of higher crime areas he’s diverting their patrol cars to the low crime areas because he thinks it’s fairer that way.

Also, Calderone micromanaging the beats for patrols seems to contradict his claims that he delegates decisions to Ryan. When the police department flip-flopped on firing Lt. Steve Johnsen, Calderone portrayed the decision as being Ryan’s. And Calderone claimed to have been uninvolved in the decision to fire Sgt. Dan Harder.

Of course, Calderone has so far refused to provide an answer to the question about what his responsibilities are vis-à-vis the police department.

MEDIA, links to weekly news articles

Here's links to the various weekly news sources.

* Forest Park Review
* Maywood Herald
* Melrose Park Herald
* Riverside/Brookfield Landmark
* Suburban Life
* West Proviso Herald
* West Suburban Journal
* Westchester Herald

What story is important or interesting to you?

N06, Todd Stroger coming to Proviso

From Proviso Dems:
The Proviso Township Democratic Organization Special Meeting will be held this Wednesday September 6th at 7:00pm at 2301 W. Roosevelt Road Broadview, IL 60155.

Our featured Guest Speaker will be Todd Stroger, Democratic candidate for Cook County Board President.

Please let me know if you will be able to attend.


Jnell Blanco
jennybee_123 circled "a" yahoo spot c0m

PO-PO, car chase begins in Forest Park, flips SUV [FP]

Forest Park Review (Bob Uphues):
Riverside police have charged a 23-year-old St. Charles man with aggravated fleeing and eluding and reckless driving after he attempted to flee police during a chase Wednesday just after 5 p.m. The man, Bryan C. Olson, drove onto the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railroad tracks near downtown Riverside before his SUV flipped over on the tracks and burst into flames, halting rail traffic for more than an hour.

The police ID'd the vehicle because it matched the description of one in which an individual was shooting drugs in River Forest.

[UPDATE: Sun-Times:
A St. Charles man [Bryan C. Olson, 23]was charged with fleeing authorities in a chase that left his sport-utility vehicle overturned on the Metra tracks in west suburban Riverside late Wednesday afternoon.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

PO-PO, rumor of personnel move in Melrose Park [MP]

A rumor from normally reliable sources says that the Melrose Park PD had a high level person resign last night. When I called the Melrose Park PD at 9:15 AM this morning the rumor was denied.

Police Chief Vito Scavo's private security company is under investigation by the federal government. The security company employ Melrose Park cops. So you can see the slippery slope of accounting for when the cop is doing work for the village and when he is working for Scavo's private company.

KLEPT, if one is good, two must be better, right? [D89]

First District 89 (Maywood and Melrose Park elementary schools) didn't need to replace the assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction. Then the board instructed Superintendent Cynthia Broughton to present six candidates, one of whom is the daughter of a Maywood trustee and political ally of the board.

Shockingly the daughter of the Maywood pol was hired. But the board didn't stop there. It hired another candidate, just because. See Maywood Herald (Chris LaFortune):
Perkins [the daughter of Maywood Trustee Edwenna Y. Perkins] will work at a salary of $115,000 for next year, while Ballard will work at a salary of $85,000, Broughton said Thursday. The board approved the hirings at a special board meeting last Wednesday.

"What happened was, both candidates were very impressive in our interviews," School Board President Grady Rivers said. "We felt like there was a role for both."

F07, Commissioner candidate announces online [FP]

John Plepel has announced he will run for the Forest Park board of commissioners in 2007. He announced on ForestPark.com yesterday. His email address is Plepel2007 circled "a" h0tmail spot c0m.

POL, Kenyan blogger wants option on Obama

When looking around for coverage of Obama's trip to Africa, I found You missed this a blog covering Kenyan politics from a reform point of view. The author, Chris, likes Obama.
The reason for writing this letter to you [Americans] is to tell you guys to hurry up and make up your minds whether you want our Obama for your State House (opps White House) or not. We have heard that you guys can get pretty racist sometimes, worse than our tribalism here which we are fighting very hard (as soon as we send the old guys home, we will win this war easily) and Obama may not be suitable for you (although according to us he would make the best President since Abraham Lincoln.

Please inform us early so that we put him in our own State House, if possible in 2007. The guy has proved to many of us that he deserves to be our President.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

EVENT, White Sox World Series trophy in Forest Park [FP]

I hoped there was an interesting story about how the Village of Forest Park landed this event.

Sally Cody said the village called the White Sox and asked to be put on the list of sites to visit.

KLEPT, Shak's back!

Michael Shakman, that is.

Sun-Times (Abdon M. Pallasch, Steve Patterson contributing):
Attorney Michael Shakman asked a federal judge Monday to appoint a monitor to oversee all hiring in Cook County government -- just as the judge has done for the city of Chicago....

[Todd] Stroger said he did not think too many members of his 8th Ward Democratic organization had county jobs or a favored status for promotions, as laid out in the Sun-Times last week. He said that a federal monitor might be as "costly" for the county as he said it had been for the city, but that he would not fight it.

I asked a county employee about Gerald Nichols, the patronage boss for former County Board President John Stroger. The county employee said he applied for a promotion. Nichols told him he'd need the blessing of his committeeman, a Stroger ally.

I'd like to see Phil Ponce or someone else asked Todd Stroger if he believes county government considers the applications and promotions of the non-politically connected on a level playing field with the politically connected. If Stroger admits political considerations are considered the follow up question should be, "Under what circumstances is it fair to consider political connections in hiring and promotion?"

BTW, does Todd Stroger have a campaign website?

GOV, what is corruption? why is it bad?

Sun-Times (Lynn Sweet) covers Senator Barack Obama denouncing corruption and ethnic politics in Kenya. There are ample references by Obama and Sweet back to Chicago.

Everybody feels obligated to say "corruption" is bad, even if defining corruption is more subjective. Here's the beginning of wikipedia's definition of "political corruption".
In broad terms, political corruption is the misuse of public (governmental) power for illegitimate, usually secret, private advantage.

All forms of government are susceptible to political corruption. Forms of corruption vary, but the most common are patronage, bribery, extortion, influence peddling, graft, embezzlement, cronyism,and nepotism. While corruption often facilitates criminal enterprise such as drug trafficking, money laundering, and criminal prostitution, it is not restricted to these organized crime activities.

BTW, I think its sematics to differentiate between "political corruption" and "organized crime". Wikipedia's entry on "organized crime" includes:
Organized crime is crime carried out systematically by formal criminal organizations. The Organized Crime Control Act (U.S., 1970) defines organized crime as "The unlawful activities of ... a highly organized, disciplined association...".

Some criminal organizations, such as terrorist organizations, are politically motivated. Mafias are criminal organizations whose primary motivation is profit. Gangs sometimes become "disciplined" enough to be considered "organized". The act of engaging in criminal activity as a structured group is referred to in the United States as racketeering. In the U.S., organized crime is often prosecuted federally under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), Statute (18 U.S.C. Part I Chapter 96 §§ 1961-1968).

Organized crime, however defined, is characterized by a few basic qualities including durability over time, diversified interests, hierarchical structure, capital accumulation, reinvestment, access to political protection and the use of violence to protect interests.

Someone once made the claim that the Village of Berwyn and the Village of Oak Park are about the same size and deliver comparable services. However, Berwy had more corruption and lower taxes.

What makes corruption bad enough that you object to it? If squeaky clean government cost more, would you pay for it?

The notion that the West wants African governments to be free of corruption seems dubious. Western corporations want to have it both ways when they transact business in the developing world. They want the efficiency of corruption in certain situations and the efficiency of good government in other situations.

I wonder if Senator Obama talked about how the West contributes to corruption in Africa.

BTW, what did you think of how the Sun-Times covered the trip? Does it seem weird Obama was on the cover of the paper three times last week?

Monday, August 28, 2006

GOV, Rick Fox's take on Broadview-Westchester water commission [W, BV]

Westchester Trustee Rick Fox has a post at Westchester Public Affairs about the joint water commission/agency with the village of Broadview.

Fox requested the minutes be provided to the Westchester board of trustees about a year ago. Friday, August 25, he finally got to see the documents.

Fox questions two line items: $30,000 for a lobbyist and $15,000 for conferences.

He also questions Village President Paul Gattuso's claim that he's been holding costs down.
It’s interesting that in the very first set of minutes that we received, it states that “Mr. Gattuso made a motion that the Board approve all overtime for the water handlers.” This, despite him stating numerous times over the past year at village board meetings that he has – in his words – put a brick on overtime at the water commission.

Fox is also clearly irritated with his fellow trustee Angelo Luciano who represents the Village of Westchester on the agency/commission board.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Mr. Luciano stated that he would not provide reports to the village board, it wasn’t his responsibility. He stated that if I wanted the information, I knew where I could find it.

TAXES, some Brookfield residents will get tax rebate [BF]

Riverside/Brookfield Landmark (Bob Uphues):
Brookfield village trustees last night voted unanimously, with one abstention, to create an ordinance allowing the village manager to issue refund checks to taxpayers in SSA #4 who were overcharged on their most recent property tax bill. Village Manager Riccardo Ginex said that letters and checks would be mailed starting Monday, and that most property owners should have the refunds, most for several hundred dollars, in hand next week.

The vote was taken at a special meeting of the village board Thursday night. Trustee Alan Dorobiala, who lives in SSA #4, recused himself from voting on the issue.

PO-PO, FPPD investigates Officer Tom Hall: three scenarios [FP]

Forest Park Police Chief Jim Ryan has initiated an investigation of Officer Tom Hall for lying during his testimony before the Fire and Police Commission.

Hall testified Asst. State’s Attorney Frank Serio told him that State’s Attorney Dick Devine told Chief Ryan to fire Sgt. Mike Murphy or bury him in the evidence room. Serio later signed an affidavit saying the conversation never happened.

Here are three scenarios.

1. Hall is telling the truth and Serio is telling the truth. These two things could be true if Hall misunderstood Serio or if Serio “forgot” the conversation.
2. Hall is telling the truth and Serio is lying. Serio may have been explicitly instructed to lie, but here’s a more likely scenario. Hall’s anecdote got back to Serio’s boss and the boss asked Serio if he recounted to Hall the conversation about Murphy. Serio understood from the tone of the question that he shouldn’t have told Hall about Devine’s comments on Murphy. So Serio ensured his boss the conversation didn’t happen. Later Serio was approached for an affidavit. This put Serio in a bit of a bind. He either had to confess lying to his boss (something that would definitely have consequences) or he could lie in an affidavit (something which can’t be proven and was a relatively peripheral matter in the Harder hearings). Serio acted like a good bureaucrat and told his bosses what they wanted to hear, probably not envisioning the Forest Park PD was so psychotic or vindictive to discipline Hall over the incident. Or Serio just didn’t care about what his lie was going to do to Hall.
3. Hall is lying and Serio is telling the truth. Perhaps Hall was bribed or coerced into making a statement that would invite retribution by Chief Ryan. Perhaps Ryan committed some offense or insult against Hall that motivated Hall to put his career in jeopardy.

The problem with scenario three is that it doesn’t make sense. If Hall was going to risk the wrath of Ryan and his henchmen why take the risk over something so inconsequential. It’s hardly like the Harder hearings turn on this one point. It’s a statement about Murphy by someone who never met him.

There were plenty of witnesses who knew Murphy and worked with him that said he was out of control and difficult. Hall’s testimony hardly tipped the scale against Murphy.

And Murphy was only a bit player in the allegations against Harder. Harder was accused of calling a subordinate a “fucking idiot”, taking questionable sick days two or three times, lying about his whereabouts on one of the sick days and lying about a verbal fight with Murphy.

It’s plenty clear from the Harder case Chief Ryan is willing to be petty and vindictive. When Harder’s attorney grilled Ryan about why he didn’t process Harder’s request for reimbursement Ryan admitted Harder had the money coming and showed up with a check the next hearing.

So, even if Hall was motivated by thinking Chief Ryan was Old Scratch himself, I think Hall would come up with something more inconvenient and damaging to Ryan than to fabricate a double hearsay account of Murphy being unsuitable for most police work (at least the kind that put him in contact with other human beings).

POL, How are local candidates selected?

People involved in local politics are already talking about who will run for office next spring. Various local positions are up for election, including school board races and village government.

Rather than discuss who is running, I’d like people to comment on how candidates are selected and what you think would be a better way to select candidates.

How are candidates selected in your community? What other systems have you seen used? How would you like the candidates to be selected?

EVENT, Tuesday blood drive and World Series trophy [FP]

Tuesday from 3-7 PM the West Cook YMCA is holding a blood drive. To make an appointment call, (708) 383-5200.

And from 11 AM until 2 PM the White Sox World Series Trophy will be on display at Forest Park’s Constitution Court, Madison & Thomas.

And Forest Park residents shouldn't forget the community crime meeting at 6:30 PM at Village Hall.

ED, Forest Park elementary school honored [D91]

Forest Park Review (Bob Skolnik):
Some people throw up their hands and say that it is just about impossible for low-income children to succeed in school.

But Grant-White School, under the leadership of Principal Wendy Trotter, is showing that kids from low-income families can meet state standards. In recognition of its success, Grant-White was recently named an Illinois Spotlight School and placed on the Illinois Honor Roll.

What are the things you believe contribute to the differences between schools that are succeeding with immigrant, African-American and low income students and those that are failing?

TRANS, should R-B get a new parking lot? [D208]

Riverside/Brookfield Landmark (Bob Uphues):
Brookfield officials have applied the brakes to a plan that would convert Rockefeller Avenue between Golf Road and Hollywood Avenue into a 108-space parking lot for Riverside-Brookfield High School.

Following a meeting with residents in mid-July, village management decided to re-evaluate the design for the proposed lot to address safety issues and the effect of creating such a lot on traffic in the area.

MEDIA, Nyberg to host Viewpoints on Saturday

I will host “Viewpoints from the Other Side” on Saturday, September 2, 2006 from 2-3 PM. You can listen on WJJG, 1530 AM.

I’d like to discuss national politics. There’s a strong case to be made that control of Congress needs to be taken from the Republican Party to protect the Constitution from President Bush’s flagrant abuses. (See Glenn Greenwald for regular updates on this position.) However, there’s also a strong case to be made that the Democrats are too feckless to address the tough issues facing the country. (See Billmon and Digby.)

The Democrats would like to govern by merely avoiding mistakes. However, many of Bush’s policies are like being pushed over a cliff. Once you’re rolling down the sides of the cliff, it’s a little late to say one would rather avoid the problem. Do the Democrats have the vision and courage to address the problems facing the country?

But what do you think should be discussed? Local politics? County politics? State politics? National politics?

Sunday, August 27, 2006

SPORT, P. West football beat Stagg 39-29 [D209]

The Star (Dale Sink)
The Panthers were treated to 27 points in the fourth quarter in the come-from-behind 39-29 victory that lasted three hours and 10 minutes.

Proviso quarterback Anthony Shorter threw for 168 yards, completing 8 of 23 passes with four going for touchdowns.

ChicagoSports.com (Barry Temkin) tells the human interest story of Proviso West's coach, Famous Hulbert, a Proviso West grad.
Proviso West football will certainly give him that [the challenge of a lifetime]. West has never reached the state playoffs, and since its last winning season—5-4 in 1996—it has a 13-69 record, including 2-52—with a current 28-game losing streak—in the tough West Suburban Conference Silver.

EVENT, Aztec Fest [M]

Do any Proviso Probe readers want to comment on Maywood's Aztec Fest?

CRIME, two crimes of passion [FP, M, SP]

Proviso Township had a couple passion crimes in the news recently.

Melrose Park Herald (John Huston):
Latoya Patton, 22, of 127 S. 20th Ave. in Maywood, allegedly got in her car, pulled an illegal U-turn on Lake Street and accelerated toward the victim, who was crossing the street with others, said Stone Park Deputy Chief Louis Fatta.

A Stone Park police officer, sitting in his squad car looking for traffic violators on Lake Street, heard the squealing of Patton's tires and witnessed her car strike the victim, "throwing her into the air," Fatta said.

Patton had argued with the victim at Nitro, Stone Park night club. Patton's BAC was above the legal limit.

Forest Park Review (Bill Dwyer):
A post-midnight fight over a woman on a second floor porch Aug. 12 has left a 30-year-old Berwyn man on life support and a Midlothian man being held in Cook County Jail without bail.

When police responded to a disturbance call at a three-flat in the 900 block of Elgin around 12:30 a.m. that Saturday night, they found the man lying in the alley below a porch, unconscious and bleeding from the head. The victim's girlfriend and another man were attempting to control the bleeding.

What's Jerry Springer say? "Take care of yourselves and each other"?

Saturday, August 26, 2006

HEALTH, Oak Parker diagnosed with West Nile Virus

See Wednesday Journal (Drew Carter).
"This is the riskiest time of year for West Nile virus," Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director, said in a statement. "Mosquitoes that carry the virus peak around late summer, so everybody needs to be vigilant against mosquito bites--the season is not over."

With the proximity of Oak Park and Proviso Township, it seems likely that at least some Proviso mosquitoes are also carrying the virus.

The following township are part of the Des Plaines Valley Mosquito Abatement District: Lyons, Oak Park, Proviso, River Forest & Riverside. To contact the Mosquito Abatement District, call (708) 447-1765.

BLOG, Forest Park Mayor Calderone starts blog [FP]

Forest Park First been around for awhile, but Forest Park Mayor Anthony Calderone is writing more frequently now.

Westchester Trustee Rick Fox writes Westchester Public Affairs. I think it would be great if we had elected officials making themselves accessible in this way in every taxing body.

GOV, will electing Topinka bring a casino to Rosemont?

Daily Herald (Bob Susnjara) suggests Topinka's plan for a tenth casino license revives the possibility of a casino for Rosemont.
Rosemont Mayor Donald E. Stephens has frequently said his village and Chicago are the best places for a casino. The mayor’s spokesman, Gary Mack, reiterated that position Wednesday.

“We believe that Rosemont would be the most successful casino in the state,” Mack said, “and that it would generate huge sums of out-of-state revenue — perhaps more than one in Chicago.”

My understanding is that when there was a plan to bring a casino to Rosemont there was also a revenue sharing plan to buy off local municipalities so they wouldn't object.

Friday, August 25, 2006

PO-PO, Calderone/Ryan continue to punish cops for disloyalty [FP]

On Tuesday, the Forest Park Police Department conducted a formal interrogation of Officer Tom Hall for lying under oath in the hearings to terminate Sgt. Dan Harder.

Forest Park Review (Bob Skolnik):
Stevens won a rare procedural victory when hearing officer Charles Hervas ruled that an affidavit that Lucansky tried to introduce from former Cook County State's Attorney Frank Serio was inadmissible hearsay. Lucansky had tried to introduce the affidavit to contradict testimony from Forest Park Police Officer Tom Hall. Hall had testified that Serio told him of a conversation between Cook County State's Attorney Richard Devine and Ryan in which Devine had allegedly told the police chief that Sgt. Mike Murphy should either be fired or buried in the evidence room.

So now Chief Jim Ryan and presumably Mayor Anthony Calderone are going to abuse their authority to mess with Tom Hall’s life. I think the message is perfectly clear. Cops that say stuff that embarrasses Calderone and Ryan will be punished. It’s obvious, heavy-handed management by intimidation.

The opening gambit was to offer Hall a five-day suspension if he admitted guilt. Since Hall didn’t feel like admitting guilt of perjury for testifying truthfully he rejected the offer.

Here’s what I’d like to see done. Hall and the FOP—the union actually defends its members from management, right? It’s not just for justifying police brutality?—should demand the Forest Park Police Department should present its evidence to the State’s Attorney for prosecution. Perjury is a crime. Let’s try Hall for the supposed crime he committed.

Of course, Ryan and Calderone won’t do this because they know the State’s Attorney will tell them to quick playing political fuck-fuck games and to stop wasting everybody’s time.

PO-PO, stealth community crime meeting [FP]

Forest Park is having another community crime meeting. See Forest Park Review (Seth Stern) for details on the last meeting.

The meeting will be Tuesday, August 29, at 6:30 PM at Village Hall, 517 Des Plaines, Lower Level Conference Room.

The village didn’t publicize the meeting through the newspaper or the online media outlets. And it didn’t contact Citizens United in Forest Park. (Gloria Backman claims she approached Police Chief Jim Ryan and suggested meetings like the ones the village is holding. Ryan supposedly rebuffed her.)

I’m trying to think why the village wouldn’t use diverse methods to publicize these crime meetings. And one possibility is that Calderone doesn’t want political opponents or people who know enough to ask tough questions there. He’d rather field a bunch of questions that are code for “there are too many Blacks and Latinos in Forest Park” and be sympathetic rather than actually address substantive questions about policing strategies. For example, someone who has been following the police department might ask, “Why does it seem like Chief Ryan and the police department put the more energy into firing cops who oppose Mayor Calderone politically than into preventing crime?”

ED, out-of-district students [FP]

Forest Park Review (Bob Skolnik):
In a recent community meeting about crime, Mayor Anthony Calderone and Village Administrator Michael Sturino agreed with residents who complained that kids who did not live in Forest Park were attending Forest Park public schools.

Sturino complained that some other districts do a better job with residency issues. District 91 Superintendent Randolph Tinder did not take too kindly to those remarks and strongly defends the district's work on the issue.

Tinder goes on to defend District 91. Tinder does investigate allegations, but 2/3 of the allegations are incorrect.

An important policy issue is overlooked in the article. The state reimburses school districts based on the number of students enrolled in April and May.

So, booting non-residents costs the school district money. If a district boots a bunch of students then maybe it can cut a teacher next year. But to cut one third-grade teacher next year may require booting ten second-grade students this year.

Unless non-resident students are a major problem, it’s unlikely the district can save money by expelling non-residents. Investing resources in detecting non-resident students has to be seen as a cost-benefit problem.

HEALTH, how do bars/restaurants feel about Cook County smoking ban? [LP]

Suburban Life (Joe Sinopoli):
Out of a total of nine businesses surveyed [regarding the Cook County ordinance banning smoking in restaurants and bars], five responded. Of the five, only one, D's Little Italy, requested the village pass an ordinance that would permit smoking in restaurants. Alex & Aldo's, Baskin-Robbins, New Hong Kong Restaurant and the Original Pancake House favored use of the county ordinance. Bill's Place, Golden Wok, Panera Bread and Rascal's, the village's only bar, did not respond to the survey.

My take is that as long as there are non-smoking options available then bars should have the option of buying a smoking license. There should be a limited number of licenses (less than the total number of eligible establishments) and the bars that want to have smoking should be able to buy the licenses.

However, if an establishment allows smoking it should provide free cleaning for the employees’ smoky clothes.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

ED, how to cut Proviso Township High School's budget? [D209]

The tenative budget is open for comments until September 25, 2007.

What would you cut? Or how would you enhance revenue?

Proviso Probe poster "No new educational initiatives" came up with a number of personnel moves that could save money. What positions could be cut or replaced with people at lower salaries?

DEVELOPMENT, CUinFP hosts Roos architect [FP]

Thursday, August 24 at 7:00 PM Citizens United in Forest Park will host architect John Schiess to discuss development of the Roos Building. The meeting will be at St. Peter's Church, 500 Hannah. For more info call 771-2478.

POL, Proviso Dem meeting on Saturday

The Proviso Township Democratic Organization Meeting will be held this Saturday August 26th at 10:00am at 2301 W. Roosevelt Road Broadview, IL 60155.

RSVP to Jnell Blanco, jennybee_123@yahoo.com, 708-344-7062

GOV, what do with aging public works facility [LP]

Suburban Life (Joe Sinopoli):
La Grange Park officials have options when it comes to dealing with the village's aging public works facility. However, all come with a hefty price tag.

Low end: partial repair, $380,000
High end: rebuild at current location $3.44 million

TAX, boom-bust cycle of school funding [D95]

Riverside/Brookfield Landmark (Jessica Glowinski):
The Brookfield-LaGrange Park Schools District 95 board approved a tentative budget for the 2006-07 fiscal year at its meeting Aug. 10, one showing an overall fund balance of almost $500,000, thanks to a referendum passed this spring, after years of deficit spending.

Due to the referendum, which raised the district's education fund tax rate by 47 cents per $100 of equalized assessed value, projected revenues for next year are expected to increase by approximately $1 million, going from $8.2 million to $9.3 million. Expenditures are projected at about $8.8 million, similar to previous years. This puts the district in a much stronger financial situation than last year, when there was an overall budget deficit of more than $700,000.

This article seems to support the implicit point made by Nikita Johnson at Monday's District 209 meeting. The system we have for school funding assumes districts willing engage in deficit spending until a referendum is needed. The districts will be flush with money and purchase non-essential items after referenda and then tighten the belt until a new referendum is needed.

IMO, this is a shitty system. A better system would emphasize stability. The districts would have enough revenue to have a realistic chance of having a balanced budget. The non-essential expenses wouldn't be on a yo-yo cycle of when the district is flush and when it is scrimping.

I assume that part of the problem with districts not being able to keep their expenses constant is the failure of the federal government to control health care expenses. The districts can't have stability in cost from year-to-year if the health care costs are increasing much more than the rate of inflation.

Also, one should see the system for what it is. It increases the taxes paid by middle-class homeowners from year-to-year while the Republicans cut the taxes on the wealthiest Americans.

GOV, who can live in a single family home? [NR]

North Riverside is changing the definition of "family" for the purpose of defining who can live in a single-family home. See Suburban Life (Dan Petrella).
[Village Administrator Guy]Belmonte said the village is not trying to place a restriction on the size of families. What the ordinance aims to do is prevent homeowners from renting out spare rooms to make money....

Renting out rooms in single-family homes puts more cars on village streets and more children in schools.

Based on my experience people don't mind more children in school; what they really object to are the wrong kind of children being in their schools.

I suppose the policy will reduce automobiles, but if you really want to reduce automobiles it seems like a circuitous way to approach the issue. Why not charge more for second and third vehicle stickers at the same address? A third car at an address is a third car whether it's driven by a non-related renter or a family member, right?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

PO-PO, BREAKING: Maywood PD charges 23 with drug offenses [M]

Village of Maywood Press release:
Maywood Police Announce Major Drug Arrests

Maywood, Illinois- The Maywood Police Department announced charges today against 23 gang members in connection with a narcotics investigation, shutting down an open-air drug market near a church. Maywood Police in conjunction with Hillside Police, Cook County Sheriff's Office, and the Cook County State's Attorney's Office, in June of this year, formed Operation Double Trouble to combat the sale and distribution of illegal drugs. This operation focused on members of the Four Corner Hustlers and Mafia street gangs who where selling cocaine in the area between 18th and 20th at St. Charles Street in Maywood. Audio and video surveillance captured gang members selling drugs to undercover officers. (Copies of tapes will be made available for media.)

Warrants were issued for the following individuals charging them with delivery of a controlled substance within 1000 feet of a church: Reginald Tucker, 21; Jermaine Edwards, 23; Edward Long, 44; Lee Davis, 46; and Andrew Lindsey, 44 of Maywood. If convicted, each can receive a sentence of up to 30 years in prison. Other individuals charged with delivery of a controlled substance within 1000 feet of a church are: Julian Gadberry, 23; Khamion Myles, 17; Erwin Washington, 23; Earnest Watts, 17; Lee A. Davis, 42: Dayon Sanders, 18; Angel Banks, 37; Jermaine Mines, 25; Tristen Mallory, 25; and Deon Reed, 25 of Maywood; Reginald Hook, 22 of Westchester; Cleo Smith, 57 of Hillside; and Duane Matthews, 19 of Bellwood. Delivery of a controlled substance is a Class 1 Felony and is punishable by up to 15 years in prison. The four remaining individual charged are juvenile offenders. Bonds were set ranging from $100,000 to $1.5 million.

The success of the operation is based on cooperation between our regional law enforcement agencies and the citizens of Maywood. In an effort to address quality of life issues in the Western Suburbs, resources were pooled to combat the problem. Citizens of Maywood worked together with police by providing information on how the various groups operated. The Four Corner Hustlers and Mafia gangs were dealing almost 24 hours a day at certain locations, raking in as much as $5000 a day. As a result of their illegal activities, residents were being held hostage in their homes. Chief Williams states, "Today we have the satisfaction of knowing that our efforts are paying off. The elderly and children can now feel safe walking in their neighborhoods. This is just one phase of a many phased process to restore community health. More arrests are to come as we continue to combat illegal activity in the Village of Maywood and surrounding community. Our mission is to be responsive to community concerns, address emerging crime trends and patterns, and aggressively attempt to eliminate chronic crime conditions within the community."

There was a press conference at 10:00 AM. Any Proviso Probe readers attend?

Do you have comments on Operation Double Trouble?

[UPDATE: Hillside also had a press release.

Beginning in June 2006, The Village of Hillside and the Village of Maywood Police Departments along with the Cook County States Attorneys office joined forces to combat the increase of street level distribution of narcotics in the Western Suburbs. Today is the culmination of our efforts. Together we have secured 23 arrest warrants with bonds totaling more than 9.9 million dollars. All warrants obtained have been for the street dealer who has been dealing narcotics within 1000 feet of a school or church. If convicted these offenders each face up to 15 years in prison. This is the first phase of this operation as we continue to work hand in hand to combat the suburban drug problem. This joint operation is the first for Hillside, and we are proud to have teamed up with experienced officers from Maywood and the States Attorneys office. Crimes of this nature become a plague on our community and we will continue to work together to make our communities safe for our residents. The Hillside Police department has broken into a new era where we will call onto and support our neighboring communities in joining forces against drug dealers. Drug dealers do not adhere to invisible boarders of communities. From this time forward, neither will the Hillside Police department. If you sell drugs in our community, we will hunt you down and put you in jail. Each agency involved owes a special thanks to our residents who have assisted and have been patient as this operation developed.

PO-PO, Patrick Doolin on mayoral role in PD [FP]

Last Thursday, I sent Forest Park Mayor Anthony Calderone an email asking him what role he saw the mayor having in supervising the police department.

(Forest Park has a commissioner form of government so the mayor is the commissioner for the police department as well as having the responsibility of being the mayor. This is different from other Proviso villages which mostly have village manager systems of government.)

Here's the original email:
Dear Mayor Calderone,

It seems like many of the questions and issues surrounding you and the Forest Park Police Dept revolve around the question, what is the mayor's role in the police department in the commissioner form of gov't?

Different people will have different answers to this question. Since I started writing this email it occurs to me I should ask Patrick Doolin the question too.

What do you think the mayor's proper role is in police matters in Forest Park?

Thank you for your time,

On Monday, Commissioner Patrick Doolin responded to my question. Doolin announced he will run for mayor next year.

The following is my position on the question you have posed to me in regard to the Mayor's role in police matters. I have responded on the assumption that you were not attempting to determine my knowledge of the authority granted by state statute as it is written for all to see. The Mayor's role under the commission form of government is clearly, though broadly outlined. I have responded based on how I would apply that authority as Mayor.

The Mayor is responsible for creating the mission of the department and setting polices by which the department, and its employees, shall operate. The chief of police is responsible for implementing that policy under the supervision of the Mayor. Though the Mayor is, by statute, the superintendent of the department, the Mayor is not a professional police administrator and should not approach the supervisory authority granted by statue as if they were. The first essential step in operating a successful municipal police department is hiring a competent police chief.

The Mayor and police chief must then have an initial meeting of the minds in which mission and policy are created, stated and implemented. The Mayor must assume the role of layperson in this relationship acting in the capacity of conduit in which the needs, wants and expectations of the Mayor, and more importantly the community, are clearly relayed to the police chief. The police chief, as a law enforcement professional, must in turn work with the Mayor to determine whether those expectations are reasonable and applicable based on the services provided by, and resources available to, the department. This is where the foundation of policy is born.

A municipal police department is a 24/7 operation in which many services, tasks and actions are performed. So much of what a police operation does carries significant liability for the village and its taxpayers. Ultimately, the Mayor is responsible for each and every action taken on behalf of the village by each and every one of its employees. The Mayor must be cognizant of the fact that the decisions and actions taken by these employees, especially police personnel, do affect taxpayers and will require, at times, intervention by the Mayor. This is an undeniable requirement of the office.

The Mayor cannot be involved in nor be expected to know the day to day operations of the police department. That said, the Mayor must have the ability to know when things are going right and when things are going wrong. This is, simply stated, easy to assess if the Mayor has established solid policy thereby establishing consistent performance expectations within the department. The Mayor, by establishing solid mission and policy and appointing a competent police chief, should be able to rely on that chief to implement policy and run the day to day operations of the department. If the Mayor is required to or feels the need to make too many decisions within the department, he is either micro-managing the department or has chosen the wrong police chief. All major decisions made by the police chief must, however, be reviewed by the Mayor. This check and balance by the Mayor is required so that repeat examples of poor judgment and performance are recognized. In this case, a Mayor exercising statutory authority and intervening would be appropriate.

A current example of a Mayors failure to do just that is the situation we currently face with Sgt. Harder and Lt. Johnsen. The Mayor has taken the position that he, as superintendent of the police department, has no idea what is happening with the Harder hearing, he and the chief only speak once or twice a month and he has does not interfere with the decisions his police chief makes. The testimony that has resulted from the Harder hearing clearly suggests that consistent application of established departmental policy has not taken place and expenses in excess of $200,000.00 have now been incurred in an effort to enforce the policy on this one individual. The Mayor should have intervened once this became apparent. As a matter of fact, I believe it was incumbent upon him, based on his statutory responsibilities as Mayor, to do just that.

In the case of Lt. Johnsen, the Mayor first exercises his statutory authority to intervene. He then does an about face and claims to not be persuasive enough to convince the chief to "stomach" his decision after his decision has already been made and implemented. He is now allowing the chief to embark on yet another taxpayer funded mistake that he, the Mayor, obviously did not believe to be the appropriate course of action since he put Lt. Johnsen back to work after three months on paid administrative leave. This is where Truman's "The buck stops here" principle of "no one can decide for you, you must decide" becomes applicable to The Mayor.

All services provided and action taken by departmental employees should be based on well established policy known to them. Policy, within a quasi-military organization such as a municipal police department, is what establishes and controls employee patterns of behavior. In an organization the size of our police department, discipline and command integrity are of the utmost importance. The policies set by the Mayor and implemented by the police chief must consistently flow down through the organization in order for its employees to know what is expected of them. Without this foundation being set by the Mayor, employees will set their own standards of behavior and codes of conduct and this is where problems will, and have, occurred.

Forest Park has policies in place that require the use of seat belts by police officers on patrol, prohibit smoking in patrol cars, and, of course, the use of excessive force and abuse of those in police custody. When established policies are not enforced, a breakdown in behavior, code of conduct and command integrity becomes inevitable. In example; several police officers see another officer slap a hand-cuffed prisoner. The incident is reported and nothing is done about it. The police officers then begin to determine their own code of conduct rather than follow established policy because if serious offenses such as prisoner abuse are not enforced, then certainly not wearing a seat belt and smoking in a squad car, perceived as less serious policy violations, are to be disregarded as well. This is where a Mayor must then step in as a leader and exercise his statutory authority as supervisor of the operation.

In tying this all together and understanding the importance of a solid policy, one must know that most of the time it is 1st line supervisors (patrol lieutenants and sergeants) and not administrators running the daily operations of the Forest Park police department. The Mayor is not a full-time employee and the position of both Mayor and police chief, though theoretically on call 24/7, does not, in practice, exist before 8 a.m. or after 5 p.m. weekdays and not at all on weekends. You cannot have those employed by the police department acting in the capacity of free-lancer, otherwise, arbitrary and capricious decisions are made outside of established policy and therefore, discriminatory. It is the Mayors most important role in police matters to ensure that solid policy is established and implemented so this does not happen.

ED, Monday's board meeting [D209]

Proviso's new superintendent Stan Fields chats with Robert Libka, last year's CEO, before the open session of Monday's board meeting. Fields' family is sitting near him with their backs to the camera. Vanessa Schmidt is in the background.

In my opinion (IMO) there was one development at this board meeting that will become significant for the whole township. The PMSA parents are beginning to organize. Two Forest Park father's spoke, Dwight Decker and Harry Swiatkowski. But the significance was that the PMSA community came to support them.

This isn't the same as having a couple cranks ranting about their pet peeves. This community is organized and sophisticated. One of the fathers there was Carl Williams of Bellwood. I spoke to him after a board meeting last year and this guy is perceptive and not easily bamboozled. He introduced himself to me by saying roughly, "I'm Carl Williams. I've heard bad things about you, but I want to hear from you."

The PMSA parents getting to know each other and work with each other across the township could lead to political reforms in all our taxing bodies.

I think Chris Welch might have began to see the future during Swiatkowski's public comments. That was when Welch removed his bright red handkerchief from his pocket and wiped his forehead. "Shit, these PMSA parents aren't gonna be easy to mollify or bamboozle," he might have been thinking.

BTW, I agree with cutting evening school and using UIC for graduation. Although, the Flowers-Kelly-Marine minority has reason to be disatisfied with the process. The Forest Park Review called for the board to work together. But the minority isn't going to trust the staff or the majority if they feel ambushed on the big decisions.

The tenative budget is a big deal. I'll write more about it later.

DEVELOPMENT, anti-development activist alleges corruption [BF]

Suburban Life (Debrah Bonn):
Anger over a condominium development in Brookfield has led to corruption allegations against the Village Board, but officials are calling the charges "ridiculous" and "insulting."

A petition printed in a local newspaper and paid for by Brookfield resident Mike Fressola alleges the board is "running a totalitarian village practicing in arrogance and corruption." Fressola also questions whether trustees and Village President Michael Garvey had a relationship with Bass Builders, the company behind the proposed 18-unit development at 3627-3631 Forest Ave.

ED, Triton mysteriously fires dean, won't honor contract [D504]

Triton College, Proviso's community college, canned a Dean and won't honor the last year of his contract. See Riverside/Brookfield Landmark (Bill Dwyer).

Why does this story line sound familiar?

Back to Triton....
After the Landmark contacted President Patricia Granados' office seeking comment on Forst's status, Triton's Vice President for Institutional Advancement Marge Stabile called back Aug. 14 and read a prepared statement from the college.

"Ed Forst was terminated on Tuesday, June 20, 2006," she read. "He is no longer employed at Triton College. "There will be no payout on his contract. There's no further comment."...

Maggie Hahn-Wade, president of the Triton Faculty Association, said on Aug. 15 that the reasons for Forst's firing remain a mystery hidden behind the school's contention that it is a personnel matter and exempt from disclosure.

BTW, have you heard the theory that Proviso High Schools push going to Triton to up the enrollment numbers at the community college and allow the political bosses to be more profitable there?

ADMIN, Happy Birthday Proviso Probe!

This week Proviso Probe will turn one year old.

What have you enjoyed about Proviso Probe?

How has Proviso Probe been useful?

How would you improve Proviso Probe?

BTW, this is entry number one thousand on Proviso Probe.

According to Sitemeter Proviso Probe is averaging over 10,000 hits per month in the last week. The average visit looks at almost three web pages.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

ED, what's up in District 88? [D88]

District 88 is the elementary school district that primarily serves Bellwood and Stone Park.

Last night D88 had a meeting, most of which transpired in closed session. The new superintendent, Nichelle Rivers, has made a number of personnel moves since taking the helm.

What have you heard about District 88? What questions should be asked?

CRIME, domestic homicide [BW]

A 52-year old Bellwood woman was stabbed to death on Saturday. A 65-year old relative is in custody. See CBS2 (Sun-Times News Group).

Does this qualify for a Ceasefire vigil? Or does Ceasefire not hold vigils for domestic violence?

[UPDATE: The killer was the husband. See West Proviso Herald (John Huston).]

BUSINESS, spray lubricant company based in Melrose Park [MP]

Yahoo (PRNewswire):
MELROSE PARK, Ill., Aug. 17 /PRNewswire/ -- There's a new discreet lubricant for the one-third of women who say their sex lives are impacted by vaginal discomfort.

FDS Intimate Lubricants was created especially for the many women who experience discomfort due to dryness during sex and therefore are not enjoying their intimate relationships to the extent that they should....

"Many women do not know that lubricants can be an easy, discreet solution for uncomfortable and, in some cases, painful sex," said Dr. Schwartz. "But there have been significant advances and the new and improved products, formulated for women, offer a natural feeling...."

They are FDA approved, and non-irritating, long lasting and fragrance free. It was created without animal testing. It is also the first feminine hygiene product to earn the Good Housekeeping Seal. They are sold in 2 ounce pump-bottles, with a suggested retail price of $6.49 at most major drugstores and mass market retailers.

I'm not sure why spray lube is a big improvement over traditional application methods, but if you want to try it you can do it and support local business.

ETHNICITY, the woman in the church

It's quaint to think that the authorities still respect sanctuary even if it was abolished by James I in 1623.

Democracy Now:
A Mexican woman has taken refuge inside a Chicago church in an attempt to defy a government deportation order. Elvira Arellano has been living in the Adalberto United Methodist Church since last Tuesday -- the day she was supposed to surrender to authorities. Arellano is president of United Latino Family, a group that lobbies for families that could be split by deportation. She was born in Mexico and came to the country as an undocumented immigrant. Her seven-year-old son, Saul, was born in the United States and is a U.S. citizen.

Mary Mitchell (Sun-Times) doesn't like the Rosa Parks comparison.
Elvira Arellano is definitely no Rosa Parks.

I even doubt that Arellano has any idea who Parks really was.

Mitchell goes on to say she doesn't respect Arellano's stance. Ouch!

One of the pieces I found interesting is that the Nation of Islam has sent people to support Arellano. I assume that the NOI sees value in building alliances with diverse immigration activists because Muslim immigrants need all the help they can get.

MEDIA, Seth Stern goes to grad school

Seth Stern is no longer the managing editor of the Forest Park Review. He has started graduate school.

He will write as a freelance contributor.

Monday, August 21, 2006

KLEPT, Stroger patronage boss directed employment exams rigged

Gerald Nichols, patronage chief for former Cook County Board President John Stroger, directed a county employee to recommend an unqualified candidate who worked in Stroger's political organization. See Sun-Times (Abdon M. Pallasch); h/t Capitol Fax Blog.

Here's what I'd like to see.

The county should publish a list of county employees, but department, salary and home ward or township.

There should be affirmative action for the parts of Cook County with especially low incomes, high incarceration rates and low graduation rates, but otherwise the county should strive for fairness.

Wards that have vastly more than their share of county jobs couldn't get new people on county payroll.

This would be fair and it would diminish the power of the patronage system.

BTW, what's Commissioner Tony Peraica proposing if he gets elected county board president?

[UPDATE: Rich Miller (Capitol Fax Blog) leads a discussion on Bobbi Steele kicking Nichols to the curb.

HANKSTER wrote in the commments: Kinda funny since he was probably the one that hired her four family members on the county payroll.]

[UPDATE2: Rich Miller (Capitol Fax Blog) has a further discussion on Nichols vague or non-existant job description.]

Saturday, August 19, 2006

ED, what should stakeholders do to improve education? [D209]

observer wrote:
I would tell Fields to hold his ground against the Board members. Welch, Flowers and Kelly are strong personalities. They will be his biggest challenge. If he learns how to manage the board, he will be successful. I would also tell Fields to trust but verify. There are so many snakes in Proviso politics, that he has to always trust but verify. Finally, I would tell Fields to ignore the pundants [sic]. People like Seth Stern, Carl Nyberg and Kevin Beese (before he disappeared), know nothing about government other than to act as critics. Ignore them and he will be okay.

Consider Proviso Township High Schools (District 209). What is the proper role of the media? Board members? Superintendent? Administrators? Teachers? Other staff? Parents? Students? Taxpayers? Voters?

What do we want from Proviso Township High Schools? What do each of the stakeholders need to do differently to achieve these goals?

MEDIA, Viewpoints agenda for today

On "Viewpoints from the Other Side" Arnie Bryant will discuss school politics in Districts 88 (Bellwood & Stone Park K-8), 89 (Maywood & Melrose Park K-8) and 209 (Proviso Township High Schools) and the elections coming up next spring. Arnie will discuss Proviso Township High School's deficit.

Also, Arnie will discuss the fact that Maywood Trustee Gary Woll is sitting on a committee to interview trustee candidates while he is a candidate.

To listen tune 1530 AM, WJJG, between 2-3 PM.

POL, do not beat the Teamster

When I lived in the DC area, I lived in Prince George's County, Maryland.

Matt Stoller of MyDD wrote about a sign wars incident where the incumbent congressman's campaign workers beat-up a 57-year old Teamster. The Congressional district is roughly analogous to PG County.
Anyway, a 57 year old volunteer with the [Donna] Edwards campaign asked the guy ripping up the signs to stop, and there were some heated words. The volunteer and two [Al] Wynn supporters got into a scuffle, and a Wynn supporter punched the volunteer, who then fell to the ground. At this point, the two Wynn supporters started stomping on him, and the Edwards volunteer had his head split open. The police came, and the two of the Wynn staffers were apparently taken away. It gets worse, since the Edwards volunteer is an officer in a Teamster's local, and beating up union guys is a no-no. Well beating up anyone is a no-no, but this is particularly unwise on Wynn's part.

ENERGY, how much is COMED going to jack rates?

At Damn Liberals Michael in Chicago started researching the issue of ComEd raising electricity rates.

He was prompted by the seeming ubiquitous commercials of CEO Frank Clark telling us that he rose from the mail room to be the front man for jacking-up electricity bills. Congrats Frank, you've made it.

Michael in Chicago found background on the type of reverse auction scheme proposed for Illinois on the website of Industrial Council of Nearwest Chicago. Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey have all tried this type of reverse auction and rates have increased at least 50%.

ComEd says it needs the money for pensions and overhead. Something tells me ComEd thinks it's going to make a handsome rate of return on the money sunk in its advertising campaign.

Michael in Chicago concludes:
So again, I'll ask. How much does running 30-second spots in regular rotation on network TV during prime time cost? I think that money could be better spent on overhead costs that would save me money come my 2007 electric bill.

BTW, in Illinois we have Citizen Utility Board (CUB) to advocate for customers.

Love him or hate him, Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn helped create CUB.
A longtime consumer advocate, Quinn spearheaded the 1983 drive to create the Citizens Utility Board (CUB), a statewide membership organization that has supported safe, reliable and affordable utility service.

Friday, August 18, 2006

ED, what would you tell Stan Fields about Proviso? [D209]

Stan Fields has been offered the superintendent position at Proviso Township High Schools (District 209).

Steven suggested that we try to inform Stan Fields about District 209.
Maybe, we can articulately, intelligently, and gently point Mr. Fields to certain problem areas that he may want to eventually address through an appropriate channel or means of communication with him?

What are the top few things you would tell Fields about District 209 if you had 5-15 minutes with him?

KLEPT, gripes about the Proviso Township High Schools newsletter [D209]

The District 209 newsletter arrived this week.

Why send a newsletter out with the top story being the dedication ceremony of a sign a week before the district hires a new superintendent? How does it not make sense for the district to hold the newsletter until after the new superintendent is hired?

I hope Stan Fields has the heft and courage to scrutinize the newsletter. First, Danielle Ashley should be replaced with a designer that is selected in a competitive bid process. The content of the newsletter should show that the district’s priority is education, not promoting the politicians and personalities of District 209 leadership. And the frequency should be scrutinized.

How often does District 209 need to mail to every household in the district? I can see mailing to households with students periodically with information that is necessary or useful. But why spend the taxpayers’ money on propaganda?

Let’s consider the most recent newsletter.

How is the piece on the digital sign at PMSA useful?
How is the summer school “triumph” piece useful? Summer school is done.
How is the piece on retirees useful?
It’s a little useful to give the dates school starts. But it’s mainly useful to households with students. With the information buried underneath the propaganda, I assume the newsletter isn’t the primary tool for notifying families.
And how is it useful to tell taxpayers “Superintendent Search Nearly Over”?

I noticed this is one of the few newsletters where Chris Welch’s picture and name don’t appear more frequently than anybody else’s. Guess who beat Welch this time? Bob Libka.

I guess using the newsletter to promote Libka’s candidacy for superintendent worked about as well as using it to promote Welch’s candidacy for state representative.

What should Congressman Davis be working on?

From Congressman Danny K. Davis’ newsletter (official newsletter, not campaign newsletter):
Where Do You Stand on the Issues?

I value your opinion. Please send the five (5) top issues you would like to have me work on. If it is something we’re already doing, that’s good too. Write to Congressman Danny K. Davis, 3333 W. Arthington Street, Suite 130, Chicago, Illinois 60624.

What issues do you think Congressman Davis should work on?

Congressman Davis is also sponsoring his annual State of the District Town Hall Meeting at Malcolm X College on Friday, September 15 (7 PM) and Saturday, September 16 (8 AM).

POL, be afraid of terror... or not

occams hatchet at Daily Kos has an erudite rant about fear. It’s a smackdown of how the Bush administration has used fear to manipulate Americans.

o.h. makes the point that team Bush wants us to be fearful and to vote Republican.

It’s worth reading just for the quotes about fear. It includes stuff from as far back as the Old Testament and as new as John “Bluto” Blutarsky.

CRIME, Christopher Benson of Chicago shot dead in Maywood [M]

It was late Wednesday night on the 100 block of 12th Avenue when the shooting happened. It started with a gathering of men described as "acquaintances". Is this a euphamism for a gang or two gangs? If so, what gangs were involved?
See CBS2 (Sun-Times News Service):
“Benson [after he was shot] got into a grey four-door Chevy Corsica, didn’t realize he was hit and hit a fire hydrant, a pole and some parked cars,’’ as he was driving away, said Williams.

This is how his posse was apprehended.

SPORT, Stevenson Park open but renovation continues [BW]

West Proviso Herald (Chris LaFortune):
The playground at Stevenson Park is open for business, but project delays may delay completion of the park's renovation until January.

Memorial Park District is one of the taxing bodies I'd like to do more research into.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

SPORT, White Sox World Series Trophy coming to Forest Park [FP]

Tuesday, August 29, 2006, 11 AM - 2 PM, Constitution Court, Madison & Thomas.

For more information call Sally Cody of Mayor Calderone's Ofice, Village of Forest Park, (708) 366-2323.

Picture from Bill Vala Photography.

How does Bush think Iraqis should view occupation?

I mostly avoid national issues, but Archpundit blogs on how President Bush wants the Iraqis to "get more on board" with the U.S. plan for Iraq. And he thinks Iraqis should appreciate the sacrifices made by Americans.

When people challenge Rep. Karen Yarbrough for introducing the resolution calling for impeachment, it seems like we should keep in mind how bad President Bush really is. He seems to think Iraqis should believe U.S. policy was primarily optimized around their well-being.

I don't think Bush talks to many people who disagree with his world view. Or if he talks to them he doesn't give much attention to what they have to say.

(Archpundit is one of the premiere bloggers on Illinois politics even though he technically lives in St. Louis.)

GOV, early retirement plans [FP]

Forest Park Review (Diana Oleszczuk) covers the fact Forest Park is considering an early retirement package that would affect eight employees.

Kevin Peppard an Oak Park activist pointed out to me a problem with trying to save money with early retirement.

When the employee is replaced eight years early it means the replacement employee has eight years more seniority when the early retirement employee would have retired. So, money saved in the short-term is paid in the long-term.

The article seems to reflect Village Administrator Mike Sturino and the commissioners having a grasp of this. They seem skeptical of the early retirement plan unless the employees aren't replaced.

But if the village can sack eight employees without replacing them why have they been carried on payroll. Are they "retired on active duty"?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

CRIME, was there a miscarriage of justice in homicide trial? [NL]

A motorist kills three and is charged with homicide, driving under the influence and possession of illegal drugs. But the motorist walks.

It sounded suspicious to me, so I asked about it and received an anonymous claim that political connections were used to protect the Villa Park man prosecuted for killing three Northlake Latinos.

Do any Proviso Probe readers have information on this case? On February 21, 2002 a vehicle driven by John Langer hit another vehicle killing "brothers Gustavo Galecia, 29, and Edgar Galecia, 32, and their aunt, Isabel Coronel, 45, all of the 200 block of Maplewood in Northlake." See Franklin Park Herald-Journal (Chuck Fieldman).

Please contact me, RadioNyberg circled "a" Yahoo spot com or (773)43O-3538.

KLEPT, more Melrose Park cops receive subpeonas [MP]

Eight Melrose Park police officers received subpoenas on Monday with an unknown number also receiving subpoenas on either Friday or Tuesday. The instructions emphasized to the police officers that lying to the grand jury is a felony.

It is believed the subpoenas were in connection to the ongoing investigation of Vito Scavo's security company. Scavo is the Melrose Park chief of police.

Speculation holds that the U.S. Attorney's office is trying to clean house in Melrose Park. The prosecutors don't want corrupt officials replaced with a new generation of corrupt officials. They want to thoroughly reform local government in Melrose Park.

KLEPT, corruption kills

Chicago Tribune:
A Chicago building inspector who was blamed for not properly examining a back porch on a building where a 9-year-old girl fell to her death because of a faulty railing has returned to work, officials said....

The day after Walker's inspection, Tiara Woods died when a railing on the third-floor back porch collapsed and she fell to the ground, officials said.

If corruption can kill a child with impunity, how many children can be deprived of a quality education with impunity?

GOV, meet the new superintendent [D209]

On Monday the District 209 (Proviso Township High Schools) board of education voted to offer Stan Fields the position of superintendent. There was some concern about whether this was a good faith offer since Fields had time remaining on his contract at Mundelein HS.

Daily Herald (Russell Lissau)
confirms Fields is leaving Mundelein for Proviso. It's also a good piece for learning what Fields critics had to say about him.
Fields’ tenure at Mundelein has been fraught with controversy, virtually from its start. Shortly after being hired, he restructured the administration as a cost-saving move and banned junk-food sales on campus. He also took heat from the community for a controversial proposal to overhaul the school’s curriculum and graduation requirements, a plan that eventually was scaled back.

Fields also has been criticized by residents and staff members for several failed initiatives, including a proposal to replace local security workers with an outside firm and a plan for scoreboards with corporate sponsors.

Mundelein Review (Linda Blaser) also mentions an open meetings violation.

I'm warming up to Fields already. Robert Libka, the outgoing CEO, was exceedingly passive in his approach to running the district. He waited to be told what to do. You may not agree with Stan Fields, but it seems clear he's a man of action. He's going to formulate how to improve the schools and then he's going to implement it.

And the people in the Welch-led majority deserve some credit. The minority doesn't think the best candidate was hired, but at least Libka wasn't hired. Either board member Shirley Madlock showed some resolve under pressure to resist hiring Libka or the four of them came to the realization that Libka just wasn't going to be a strong superintendent.

For more info see Forest Park Review (Bob Skolnik).

GOV, belt tightening required in District 88 [D88]

District 88 serves elementary school students mostly from Bellwood and Stone Park.

Melrose Park Herald (Chris LaFortune):
Bellwood School District 88 tentatively plans to spend about $28.7 million next school year, a decrease of nearly 12 percent from the year before....

A public hearing on the tentative budget is scheduled for 7 p.m. Sept. 11 at the district's administrative center, 640 Eastern Ave. in Bellwood. Final approval is planned at the same meeting following the hearing.

The tentative budget is on public display at the Bellwood Public Library and the Melrose Park Public Library, until Sept. 6.

District 88 is facing some major problems.

McKinley School is unhealthy and should be replaced

Bellwood has passed three TIF districts. In the short-term the money will be used to build three new schools. However, District 88 will be leasing these schools back from the village. And the TIF districts will increasingly cut into District 88 revenue over the next 23 years. (This will shift the tax burden to Stone Park probably.)

And there's this current financial pickle.

ED, should D89 have an asst supt of curriculum & instruction [D89]

After publicly saying District 89 (Maywood and Melrose Park elementary schools) weren't going to hire assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction there's been a flip-flop. See Maywood Herald (Chris LaFortune).

One of the things that seems wrong about the process is that Superintendent Cynthia Broughton presented six candidates to the board for consideration.

Here's how boards are supposed to work. The board hires the chief executive and s/he gets to hire her staff.

For some reason I'm suspicious that the field of five remaining candidates includes someone politically connected who will be hired whether Broughton wants the candidate or not.

GOV, Brook Park School addition to have construction manager [D95]

Riverside/Brookfield Landmark (Jessica Glowinski)
The Brookfield-LaGrange Park District 95 school board last week authorized Superintendent Thomas Hurlburt to begin seeking candidates to fill the role of construction manager for the planned addition to Brook Park School, but still remain weeks away from committing themselves to any specific construction timeline for the project.

In a separate interview, Hurlburt explained the construction manager would coordinate sub-contractors for different aspects of the construction project and would also work with the school in coordinating time schedules to avoid disrupting classes and other activities while work is underway.

Construction managers coordinate stuff and presumably leave the academic administrators more time to do their thing. However, there is potential to use construction managers to launder political kickbacks. I would recommend caution in the case of firms that have a history of making large campaign contributions to politicians connected with the projects they've managed. You want a construction manager that considers her/his primary duty the construction project, not the political schmoozing, right?

GOV, Westchester hires Storino, Ramello and Durkin [W]

Largely at the behest of Village President Paul Gattuso Westchester hired Storino, Ramello and Durkin to reprsent the village. The former attorney was moved to the role of village prosecutor. See Westchester Herald (David Pollard).

Pollard does a noteworthy job connecting the dots.
Storino, Ramello and Durkin and Westchester Park District have ties as well. Richard Pellegrino is counsel to the firm and is the attorney for Westchester Park District.

Pellegrino is also the mayor of Indian Head Park, where Steve Busa is the finance director. Busa is also the president of Westchester Park District.

When asked if this arrangement is a little too close for comfort, Gattuso said no. He said the law firm is a good firm and that's why he recommended them for appointment.

Gattuso dodges the obvious. There are plenty of good firms in the Chicago area that don't raise conflict-of-interst issues.
Westchester Trustee Rick Fox has comments on Westchester Public Affairs.
Mr. Gattuso chose the law firm Storino, Romello & Durkin out of Rosemont to represent the village.

While I have heard nothing negative about this firm, my comment to Mr. Gattuso during discussion of his selection was that he should get presentations from several municipal law firms to ensure the village was getting the best firm and the best price.

Mr. Gattuso chose not to do so.

As far as why this was done, I can only speculate.

What I know is that Mr. Gattuso relies heavily on the advice of the Westchester Park Board for council. The Park Board's attorney is Rich Pelligrino. Rich Pellegrino is the Village President of Indian Head Park. Park Board President Steve Busa is Indian Head Park's Treasurer. Mr. Pellegrino is listed on Storino, Romello & Durkin's website as one of their attorneys.

Further, Mr. Gattuso has said a number of times that he relies on other Proviso Township mayors for advice. Don Storino of SR&D has a son with the same name who is village manager in Forest Park. [UPDATE: Mike Sturino has a similar sounding, but different name than Donald Storino, although Forest Park does have Storino, Ramello and Durkin as counsel.]

Mr. Gattuso has said he feels comfortable with this firm as our village attorney and I have no doubt they'll do a fine job.

My question before the appointment was official and my question now remains - why didn't we follow a similar process for selecting a village attorney as we did for selecting a village manager and a new fire chief, i.e., interview more than one candidate?

EVENT, want to raise money for Maywood Gala? [M]



Maywood, Illinois -- The Village of Maywood year-long series of exciting and productive community projects will culminate in a fabulous fall ball Saturday, October 21st at the Maywood Race Track. The Black Tie (optional) dinner dance will feature a jazz reception, prime rib dinner, dancing, exciting surprises and tributes to sponsors and contributors to Maywood's growth and development. It's time for you and the news media to hear all about it!

We're writing to you because we need special people for this special occasion. The most vital area of concentration is the development of a Blue Ribbon Host Committee. The committee will consist of 100 persons who will commit to purchase or sell up to 10 or more $50.00 tickets to the gala. Your name will be used on our printed materials and will be listed as supporters in the 125th Anniversary Book. We Invite You To Be a Member Of The Blue Ribbon Host Committee. AS MEMBERS OF THE HOST COMMITTEE YOU WILL BE OUR GUESTS AT THE GALA KICK-OFF PRESS PARTY

Press Conference details:

Date: Thursday, August 17, 2006
Time: 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Place: Mariella's Banquet Hall
124 South 5th Avenue, Maywood, IL 60153

Please confirm your participation at the Press Party:

Contact: Tawana Jones
Email: maywoodgala circled "a" yahoo.com
Fax: 708-405-0657

Questions: 708-345-3969 week days, 9:00am to 5:00p.m.

The Village of Maywood is Celebrating its 125th Anniversary having been incorporated as a municipality on October 22, 1881. Congress designated Maywood the Village of Eternal Light to honor the soldiers from Maywood who died on the Bataan death march. Maywood is located ten miles west of Chicago, Illinois. Maywood has a population of 27,000 (70% African American, 15 % Latino, and 15% white.) The median income is $38,122. Visit Maywood, Illinois on the internet: www.maywood-il.org.

POL, People's Economy Party holds fourth annual picnic [BF]

Friday at 5 PM Brookfield's People's Economy Party will sponsor its family picnic at the Kiwanis Park Pavilion. Everything is free. h/t Suburban Life.

SPORT, former Pirate hoopster doing well at Wisconsin [D209]

University of Wisconsin basketball player Mickey Perry is bigger and stronger after a year of being a red shirt. The Proviso East graduate is looking to prove himself on a roadtrip to Italy. See The Capital Times (Rob Schultz).

Christine Newsom runner-up in charm design contest [NL]

Virgin Mobile USA sponsored a contest to design a charm that can be attached to mobile phones. The theme of the charm was to give young people a voice.

Christine Newsom of Northlake was one four runners up. See the press release.

N06, what's it mean to be a Dem? who should Dems support for prez of county board?

Bill Dwyer (Forest Park Review) identifies himself as a Democrat who will support Commissioner Tony Peraica (Republican) over Alderman Todd Stroger (Dem) for President of the County Board in November. (Does Stroger have a campaign website?)

If you identify with the Dem Party, please explain why? Are your reasons for being a Dem going to cause you to vote for Peraica or Stroger?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

ETHNICITY, not evening listening to the other side [H]

Immigrants rights activists had a national conference in Hillside this weekend. See Chicago Tribune (Oscar Avila and Antonio Olivo).

The article included coverage of the Chicago Minuteman Project. (See RightConservative.com (Robert Klein Engler) for background on the Minutemen.)

On Saturday, about 20 members of the Chicago Minuteman Project, a group that opposes illegal immigration, protested the convention on a sidewalk outside the hotel. Rick Biesada, the group's director, said he was concerned about the convention's goal of more sophisticated organizing.

"I don't know what they plan to accomplish," Biesada said, staring across a parking lot at some conference attendees who had gathered outside and were staring back. "It won't be good."

One of the observations made on a couple high profile blogs (Talking Points Memo and Political Animal) is that the Republicans have made it impossible to have a discussion about policy issues. Everything is inherently partisan.

Biesada's comment is a pretty good example. The Minutemen will claim they want to reduce immigration to improve wages and working conditions. The goals of improving wages and working conditions is something the immigrant rights groups support. So there could be some common ground.

But Biesada makes it clear that immigrants are the enemy. Whatever immigrant rights advocates suggest is bad, even if it has nothing to do with illegal immigration. If they want more efficiency at processing routine paperwork it's a bad thing because they want it.

To bring this issue back to the local, I'm reminded of District 209 board meetings. The board interacts in a hyper-partisan environment where there is little to no consideration of the merits of the issue. Like Congressional Republicans the Welch-led majority is going to approach matters of power as inherently partisan. They want power and they have the majority so that's how business is going to be done.

So, I support the observations made on the other blogs, but think they miss part of the story. The problem is more widespread in our culture than just Beltway politics.

PO-PO, jewelry store burns; cause under investigation [MP]

Porto Chico Jewelry, located on the first floor of 1802 W. Lake St. burned Monday morning. Adjacent properties were not damaged. See CBS2 (Sun-Times News Group).

TRANS, local woman dies on Ike [M]

Tempest Stewart, 18, of the 400 block of South 21st Avenue in Maywood died in a single vehicle mishap on Sunday. She was not wearing her seatbelt. See Chicago Tribune (Tonya Maxwell).

ED, board votes to offer supt position to local candidate [D209]

After re-interviewing the final two candidates the District 209 board of education voted to begin negotiations with Stan Fields to be the new superintendent of Proviso Township High Schools. Fields is currently the superintendent at Mundelein High School.

The board voted 4-3, split along the usual lines. The Welch-led block (Chris Welch, Dan Adams, Sue Henry and Shirley Madlock) outvoted Charles Flowers, Theresa Kelly and Gary Marine who favored James Harris.

According to people who were involved in the search process Fields has completed only two years of a five-year contract with Mundelein. Further Fields total compensation (with benefits) is over $200,000 per year. In the beginning of the search process the board agreed to pay the new superintendent between $140-160,000. So it’s not clear why Fields would leave Mundelein to participate in the rough politics of Proviso.

One theory holds that the Fields offer is just a tactic to manipulate the hiring process to eventually select Robert Libka, the current CEO. If negotiations with Fields take long enough and then break down the Welch-led majority is probably hoping Harris will have accepted another position. Then they can hire Libka by claiming he’s the only candidate available.

Libka was paid $150,000 to be the CEO (de facto superintendent) in 2005-06. It seems likely that the majority decided to offer the low salary $140-160,000 to discourage more qualified candidates.

But Harris is a highly qualified candidate. He’s recognized for his writings and been superintendent in multiple districts, including superintendent for Buffalo, NY. He has specific proposals to improve academic achievement of minority students.

Fields supervised Nikita Johnson, the new business manager, at both Mundelein and Morton High Schools. Some consider Johnson to be a highly political member of the D209 administration. If there is a ruse afoot it seems likely that Nikita Johnson provided some of the personal connections to hold the project together.