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Proviso Probe

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

GOV, County Board fields complaints about Stroger budget

Most of the Cook County Board of Commissioners took testimony from citizens who were overwhelmingly county employees about President Todd Stroger’s proposed budget. The hearings began at 6:30 PM last night (Tuesday) in the Proviso East Auditorium and lasted past midnight. I left slightly after 11 PM. One hundred fifty people signed the list to speak. When I left the 70th person had not yet spoken.

Of the people who spoke there seemed to be agreement that new revenue was the answer. Some suggested the county health system be more aggressive at billing the state, insurers and patients. Others explicitly or implicitly argued for a tax increase.

Everyone agreed that Stroger’s proposed 17% across-the-board cuts would disrupt the services now provided. Although most of the speakers addressed health care, the sheriff’s department and the courts (State‘s Attorney, public defenders and deputy sheriffs). I don’t remember people speaking about the effects to the offices of the Clerk (David Orr), Treasurer (Maria Pappas), Clerk of the Courts (Dorothy Brown), the courts (judges), Recorder of Deeds (Eugene Moore, who was present) or the Board of Review.

Does this mean that these silent portions of county government can absorb the cuts with no disruption of services, like the Recorder of Deeds? Or were they less organized about getting on the list to give statements? Regular citizens who didn't sign-up in advance were effectively excluded from speaking because so many employees and insiders were pre-registered on the speaker's list.

Below are some of the major arguments being made about county government.

Commissioner John Daley, chair of the finance committee, said that if the other commissioners would go along with a tax increase the county wouldn’t be facing these cuts.

Most voters think property taxes are too high. And voters have shown serious skepticism about raising property taxes further in affluent liberal enclaves like Oak Park. The commissioners who oppose tax increases are almost assuredly representing the popular sentiments of their constituents.

Some have observed that homeowners can afford to be stingy about county services because the county’s services are largely used by the poor.

Politicians like John Daley can get behind tax increases easier because he is supported by a political machine funded by taxes. I suspect that there is a strong correlation between commissioners level of support for a tax increase and how much they benefit from patronage politics. Commissioners who rely on the political support of county employees support tax increases. Commissioners who rely on the political support of homeowner voters oppose tax increases.

The commissioners who are skeptical of tax increases want to see waste and graft cut. How much waste and graft is there? Many people sense that there is significant waste and graft. The tax skeptics see Stroger cronies getting hired at exorbitant salaries and they suspect that these cronies are being put in place to facilitate schemes to over bill the county for unnecessary consultants.

Tax increase supporters mostly ignored waste in county government. Although there were some specific criticisms of the department that is supposed to bill for health services.

Some speakers attacked the abstraction of managers with high salaries, but these attacks seemed quite vague. And often they were combined with attacks on the salaries of the commissioners, as if cutting commissioner salaries would make it unnecessary to implement any cuts.

Many of the speakers were angry with Todd Stroger. Some came with signs that said, “Where’s Todd?” But many of the speakers seemed to attack the board of commissioners. This seemed to mostly happen because they were the only ones in the room to be angry at. Although one speaker--who made a point of saying he did not vote for Stroger--argued that the crisis was created by decisions that were made before Stroger was elected and the county board deserved blame because they failed to act on problems earlier and instead just passed the buck.

Some specific observations that made sense.

A man from the probation officers union suggested cutting satellite offices and consolidating management.

If baby delivery services are cut at Southside hospitals women will not be able to travel to Stroger Hospital before giving birth.

Dr. Gordon Schiff questioned the move to ask ambulatory doctors to resign with only some of the doctors to be rehired. He said it looked like doctors would be hired back based on politics, not medical skills.

Schiff further suggested that savings by scrimping on medical services would be wiped out by one large malpractice lawsuit.

A physicians assistant and a nurse practitioner each suggested the county could save money by replacing physicians with physician assistants and nurse practitioners. The PA also complained that the billing department wasn’t billing PA hours because of some problem with the software.

And when an assistant state’s attorney thanked Commissioners Forrest Claypool, Anthony Peraica, Peter Silvestri and Larry Suffredin for their support of law enforcement--which seemed pretty innocuous to me--a couple of the other commissioners kinda wigged out. Daley ranted at the ASA and told him, “You don’t have a clue.” Commissioner Deborah Sims claimed all four of the commissioners voted against the budget last year and equated that to them wanting the State’s Attorney to get no money. Suffredin quickly pointed out that he voted for the budget. I think by the time it was over Sims acknowledged only two of the four voted against the budget.

Of course one could argue that the shortcomings and shortsightedness of the last budget is largely responsible for this year’s crisis. But Sims was probably more than happy to avoid the tough decisions until after she was re-elected to a new four-year term.

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A07, candidate filings Bellwood, Berkeley, Hillside & Maywod [BW, B, H]

Proviso Herald lists the following candidates as having filed for election. Candidates can continue to file until next Monday.


  • Phylistine Murphy
  • M.C. Robinson
  • Edward Lezza Jr.

Library board
  • Mary Anne Grundler
  • David Ireland


  • Valerie William (Building Better Berkeley Party)
  • Diane Salemi (Building Better Berkeley Party)
  • Bob Lee (Building Better Berkeley Party)
  • Jerry Perez (Building Better Berkeley Party)
Library board
  • Jerry Brown



  • Lytton H. "Andy" Andersen
  • Harold A. Martin, Jr.
  • David V. Delgado

And according to Proviso Insider the following candidates filed in the Village of Maywood:
  • Ralph McNabb-former Maywood Village Clerk
  • Sheryl Washington-former Maywood Trustee
  • Lula Greenhow-former Maywood Trustee

Last time I saw Lula Greenhow was when Rep. Karen Yarbrough organized a demonstration against the Player's Ball being held in Maywood. Greenhow was a counter demonstrator. So she was basically spending her time demonstrating for the rights of pimps to hold their annual gathering in Maywood.

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PO-PO, Lt. Johnsen retires rather than face firing hearing [FP]

Citing financial considerations Lt. Steve Johnsen has retired from the Forest Park Police Department rather than endure a protracted hearing on Chief Ryan's decision to fire him. See Forest Park Review (Josh Adams):
In a letter to the editor submitted to the Forest Park Review, Johnsen made little mention of his former supervisor and targeted most of his anger at Mayor Anthony Calderone. According to Johnsen, Calderone intentionally hires weak administrators that he micro-manages, interjecting politics into otherwise non-political issues. Further, Johnsen defended his handling of an arrest for disorderly conduct back in July of 2005 that eventually prompted an internal investigation leading to the charges of misconduct lodged by Ryan....

"I think that Steve Johnsen truly has and continues to play politics," Calderone said. "I think it's inexcusable that a person such as he plays politics and then when he does something wrong, he denies playing politics."

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ED, What's been cut from Proviso Township High Schools [D209]

Forest Park Review (Josh Adams, right column):
School administrators continue to tighten the belt at District 209, and based on a report given to board members this month, a projected $14 million deficit has been cut in half.

If Stan Fields could take a break from socializing with Eugene Moore and respond to questions I pose to him--apparently he wants to be open to everyone in the community except for me--I'd ask him, what's been cut from the budget?

My suspicion is that most of the deficit cutting has been "on paper" only. Fields, Welch and Nikita Johnson used accounting games to inflate the deficit at the beginning of the year so they could cut the deficit on paper.

I've been to most of the meetings and the specific savings have been pretty minimal. Apparently District 209 had a storeroom full of paper. By using the paper it already had the district saved like $300,000 (I'm working from memory). And the district saved about $60,000 on a photocopier maintenance contract.

What are the other savings?

Did the district cut Bob Libka? That would have saved $150,000 or so, right?
Did the district cut the insurance commissions paid to Eugene Moore? That would have saved about $200,000.
Did the district cut the payments to Danielle Ashley Communications, the PR firm that will probably being doing "in kind" work for the school board president's candidates in the upcoming elections?

And on top of failing to cut the political sacred cows, Fields added a ridiculously expensive contract for a website. It's almost $200,000 (for six web sites) with a $24,000 per month service contract.

So, I'm skeptical. What expenses has Fields cut?

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ED, Melvin Berry former PMSA director dismissed [D209]

Forest Park Review (Josh Adams):
A lengthy internal hearings process for former Proviso Math and Science Academy principal Melvin Berry culminated this month with a unanimous vote to dismiss the administrator.

I haven't heard anything new. Earlier Proviso Probe reported:
Melvin Berry, the director of Proviso Math and Science Academy, was relieved of his duties today. He has been charged with committing sexual harassment two or three years ago while he worked at Proviso East.

The woman alleged to be Berry’s accuser is a member of former Democratic Committeeman Eugene Moore’s political organization. In the past Berry was an also active in Moore’s organization and invited members of District 209 staff to join and become active.

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BUSINESS, AT&T wants to compete with Comcast like in Bellwood [BW]

Bellwood is one of three Illinois communities to allow AT&T to sell video services that compete with cable (Comcast). AT&T is trying to get into more communities. See Daily Herald (Anna Marie Kukec).

BTW, I checked and I didn't see a contribution to the Bellwood First Party from AT&T.

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

GOV, county to take public input on budget tonight at Proviso East

Want to comment on the Cook County budget proposed by Board President Todd Stroger? Tonight is your opportunity. See Cook County Info Center.
Tuesday, January 30, 2007 6:30 p.m.
Proviso East High School
807 South First Avenue
Maywood, IL

What would you like to say?

Should Stroger attend the hearings to take the heat for his budget?

Stroger's spokesman says the budget was proffered in good faith. But Commissioner Bill Beavers, Stroger's closest ally, says the cuts to the Sheriff and health system aren't going to happen.

But if Team Stroger was trying to inflict so much pain the commissioners passed a tax increase, wouldn't it make sense to hold off on the patronage hiring until after the tax increase arrive? Is Stroger greed, arrogant or incompetent?

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SPORT, state champ dad has state champ daughter [MP, D209]

Last night Lauren Nelson, 20, of Oklahoma was crowned Miss America. See Lake County News-Sun (Kathleen Hennessey, AP).

Pictured on the right is Heidi Ekstrom, Miss Illinois. Photo from Serendipity Publishing. Ekstrom graduated from Mundelein High School and Northern Illinois University.

Heidi is the daughter of David Ekstrom, a Melrose Park native, who was on the Proviso East state champion hoops team in 1974. (Pictured, far right front row; photo from MarchMadness.org.) He went on to coach at Mundelein 1981-88.

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A07, forum for mayor candidates in Forest Park [FP]

Citizens United in Forest Park is holding a candidate forum for the three mayoral candidates on Thursday night.
Date: Thursday, February 1, 2007
Time: 7:00 PM
Place: St. Peter's Church
500 Hannah (corner of Adams and Hannah)

Forest Park IL

[UPDATE: New email from CUFP:]
In just two days we’ll find out who’s for or against
zoning change, fiscal responsibility, a transparent
government, eminent domain, citizen involvement and
much more!

Yes it’s almost time for the CUinFP Mayoral forum.
The forum by the CITIZENS, for the CITIZENS!

Come to St. Peter’s Church (500 Hannah) this Thursday,
February 1st at 7:00 PM to meet and greet the
candidates who want to serve YOU as our next Mayor.

Each Candidate will give a 3-5 minute opening speech
followed by your questions.

If you want to get a head start, write your questions
on a 3” x 5” or 4” x 6” card and bring them along.
Cards will also be provided at the forum.

Call me at 708 771 2478 if you need directions, have
questions about accessibility or anything else.

See you there and bring a friend,

Steve Backman

[end update]

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A07, Thomas Gary running for Triton Board of Trustees [D504]

Thomas Gary of Oak Park is running for the Triton College Board. This is the text of the information he has been giving on the campaign trail.

Thomas Gary
Candidate for Triton College Board (District #504)

“A strong educational system is part of the intellectual infrastructure that separates the exceptional communities from the rest.”

Communities develop, grow, and are transformed because of a multitude of factors. But a strong, open, and vibrant educational system is the key to ensuring that a region will grow and transform into an economically diverse and stable one. Thomas Gary is committed to ensuring that Triton College can serve as one of those key factors.

Triton College can have an important role in the lives of our communities and growth of our businesses, but is beset by internal dialogues and machinations. Triton must, first and foremost, create an open environment that is conducive to academic freedom and creativity. It must uphold rigorous standards of excellence, in both education and business. And Triton’s board must be willing to be held accountable for meeting these standards.”

Only three weeks after his 21st birthday, Thomas Gary was elected to the DeKalb County Board, making him one of the youngest elected officials in the State of Illinois and the first ever African-American elected to the Board. He was elected to two terms there, focusing on open governance and fiscal responsibility.

Thomas Gary worked full-time as a letter carrier and union leader while completing his undergraduate degree in Political Science at Northwestern University—so he is fully in touch with the needs of students juggling the demands of school, work, and family.

Thomas Gary has worked as a legislative assistant, to both State Senator Don Harmon and Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr., and whose community service ranges from working with the recently-released parolees to serving on the Service Academy Selection committee for US Senator Barack Obama to fighting for lower utility rates as a member of the Board of Directors for the Citizens Utility Board. In addition, Thomas Gary is an active Reservist with the US Navy and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Thomas Gary is the husband of one and father of two and lives in Oak Park.

Monday, January 29, 2007

A07, candidate contributions [D89, 209]

Proviso Insider has a list of candidates who filed for Districts 88, 89 and 209.

The following candidates have made political contributions.

District 209

Carla Johnson
  • $500 Sen. Kimberly Lightford 1/6/04
  • $300 Sen. Kimberly Lightford 1/2/04 (loan repayment)
  • $600 Sen. Kimberly Lightford 5/15/04 (loan repayment)
Theresa Kelly
  • $1,500 Children 1st Party 2/28/03 (Kelly, Shirley Madlock and Gary Marine)
Kevin McDermott
  • $500 3/6/04 Obama
  • $1000 11/1/2000 Brent Martin Christensen (ran against Henry Hyde)
District 89

Ric Cervone
  • $230 2/22/1999 Citizens for Ron Serpico (Judy Cervone same address)
  • $235 2/1/2000 Melrose Vision Party
  • $260 2/20/2001Citizens for Ron Serpico
  • $260 2/20/2002 Citizens for Ron Serpico
  • $225 3/5/2003 Citizens for Ron Serpico
Grady Rivers

  • $450 10/22/2004 Community to Elect Eugene Moore
  • $900 1/31/2005 Township Alliance Party
  • $200 2/4/2005 Township Alliance Party
  • $340 2/10/2005 The New Students First Party
  • $400 2/16/2005 Citizens to Elect Ron Serpico
  • $460 3/16/2005 Township Alliance Party (Glenda Rivers)
  • $440 3/17/2005 Township Alliance Party
  • $400 6/20/2005 Community to Elect Eugene Moore
  • $1000 10/27/2005 Regular Democratic Organization of Proviso Township
  • $500 12/14/2005 The People for Emanuel "Chris" Welch
  • $200 3/8/2006 Citizens to Elect Ron Serpico
  • $500 8/2/2006 Community to Elect Eugene Moore
Rivers is the brother of Doc Rivers, coach of the Boston Celtics and a former NBA player.

Marie Urso
  • $175 3/16/2005 Township Alliance Party
Marie Urso lives at the same address Peter Urso who is Melrose Park’s public works director.

Peter Urso’s contributions

  • $390 2/21/1999 Citizens for Ronald M Serpico
  • $300 10/7/1999 Melrose Vision Party
  • $195 1/31/2000 Melrose Vision Party
  • $65 2/1/2000 Melrose Vision Party
  • $50 6/18/2000 Melrose Vision Party
  • $650 2/6/2001Citizens for Ronald M Serpico
  • $500 2/8/2001Friends for a Better Veterans Park
  • $300 5/12/2001Citizens for Ronald M Serpico
  • $750 10/25/2002 Citizens for Ronald M Serpico
  • $375 3/6/2003Citizens for Ronald M Serpico
  • $200 11/28/2003 Community to Elect Eugene Moore
  • $250 5/6/2004 Citizens for Ronald M Serpico
  • $250 5/6/2004 Citizens for Ronald M Serpico
  • $400 5/6/2004 Citizens for Ronald M Serpico
  • $250 10/22/2004 Community to Elect Eugene Moore
  • $400 1/21/2005 Citizens for Ronald M Serpico
  • $2500 1/21/2005 Citizens for Ronald M Serpico
  • $250 9/10/2005 Citizens for Ronald M Serpico
  • $300 2/17/2006 Citizens for Ronald M Serpico
  • $250 9/28/2006 Citizens for Ronald M Serpico
The deadline for filing is next Monday, so other candidates may file to run.

A07, Nikita Johnson tries to get her aunt #1 ballot position [D209]

Today is the first day for candidates for most local offices to file nominating petitions for the April 17, 2007 elections. Candidates who are in line to file at 8:00 AM enter a lottery for the top ballot position. Professor Jon A. Krosnick of Stanford has determined that the top ballot position is good for a 2% advantage in presidential elections. See NPR Weekend Edition (audio). In a school board election 2% of the vote can confer an bigger advantage because there are more candidates.

According to Charles Flowers, a District 209 board member who is supporting the slate of Ralph Hill Harris, Theresa Kelly and Kevin McDermott, District 209 personnel attempted to engage in trickery to get a candidate the top ballot position. The candidate who would have benefited from this skulduggery is the aunt of Nikita Johnson, the business manager for Proviso Township High Schools (District 209).

When Kelly and the other candidates arrived at about 7:15 AM they were directed to wait on the first floor by Brandon Gale, the director of security, and a political ally of school board president Emanuel "Chris" Welch. The candidates said that the written instructions said the candidates were supposed to go to the fifth floor. Gale informed the candidates that the plan had changed and they were not allowed upstairs. The group included two current school board members Flowers and Kelly.

After 8:00 AM the candidates were told they should now go the fifth floor to submit to Sharon Willis, an administrative assistant to Superintendent Stan Fields. Johnson's aunt had already submitted her petitions after Nikita Johnson had escorted her in the building.

Flowers noted that Johnson's aunt wasn't required to sign the visitor log as other guests are required to do. Flowers requested a copy of the log. When the person working security consulted with Gale she told Flowers that Gale had said she was not allowed to copy the log. So Flowers took it and copied it himself.

Currently there is a 4-3 split on the school board. Dan Adams, Reatha "Sue" Henry, Shirely Madlock and Welch form the majority. Flowers, Kelly and Gary Marine form the opposition. The three seats up for election are Kelly, Madlock and Marine. Anti-Welch candidates need to win all three seats to switch control of the school board away from Welch.

When Flowers questioned Gale about who instructed him to run the misdirection play he initially said "they" told him. Then he blamed a couple secretaries. Finally, he told Flowers that Nikita Johnson was the one who told him to hold the candidates downstairs.

[UPDATE: Robin Foreman is the name of Nikita Johnson's aunt. She was delivering nominating petitions for four candidates. This is somewhat unusual because there are only three vacancies. The three candidates are Robert "Bob" Cox (Forest Park), Terrase Craig, Foreman and Carla D. Johnson. According to Theresa Kelly [UPDATE3: Carla D.] Johnson is the secretary for Sen. Kimberly Lightford and has a son with one of Recorder of Deeds Eugene Moore's sons.

[I assume that the Welch-backed slate fielded four candidates for a couple reasons. The more candidates the bigger advantage provided by simple name recognition. And team Welch loves to use yard signs and direct mail.

[Also, a year ago Rep. Karen Yarbrough ran against both Welch (who challenged her for state rep) and Eugene Moore (the former Proviso Township Democratic Committeeman). Yarbrough won by the biggest margin in Forest Park. So the Welch slate would love for a Forest Park candidate to cut into the votes that would otherwise go to Hill Harris, Kelly and McDermott.]

[UPDATE2: Apologies to Ralph Harris for getting his name wrong.]

POL, Iraq War veterans oppose escalation

Iraq War veterans contradict President Bush on surge being good for troops.

This is a musical critique of Bush's surge.

PO-PO, Harvey cops were protecting a murderer; could it happen here?

Daily Southtown (Lauren FitzPatrick):
One of Harvey’s open murder cases was solved today, three days after Cook County and state investigators raided the Harvey police station and seized evidence files.

It appears the Harvey police were sitting on at least one homicide case instead of bringing the perpetrator to trial.

I took a criminal justice class with a professor who made the point that crooked cops and crooked politicians go together. If the politicians aren't crooked it's much harder for the cops to be crooked. And if the cops aren't crooked it's much harder for the politicians to be crooked.

What local police departments do you suspect of failing to prosecute people because of their political connections?

SPORT, Panthers beat Lyons, boys hoops [D209]

Sun-Times (Brian Brown):
PROVISO WEST 59, LYONS 39: Proviso West came out hot, hitting nine of its first 12 shots to take a 20-10 lead -- and the No. 22 Panthers never let host Lyons recover.

ED, should district purchase educational search engine? [D88]

Proviso Herald (Chris LaFortune):

District 88 is looking into the purchase of netTrekker, a program similar to the popular Web search engine Google, Superintendent Nichelle Rivers said.

Instead of getting bogged down with a lot of information, as on a Web search engine, netTrekker allows students access to educational research material only, Rivers said.

Here's my thinking.

When students graduate they are going to use Google and other search engines. Why not train them on the search engines they will have available after graduating?

I'm not keen on spending money for something that is available for free. What's the value added of netTrekker? What's the downside educationally?

BTW, who is netTrekker's sales rep? Is some politically connected person going to get a commission on this?

TRANS, home additions need to be sound proofed [NORTH PROVISO]

Newswire (Brian Gilligan, POC):
The O’Hare Noise Compatibility Commission (ONCC) is launching a campaign to encourage communities around O’Hare International Airport to adopt newly developed building codes designed to make homes and commercial locations quieter.

The ONCC is concerned that the tear-down trend in older communities and new construction projects are resulting in an increasing number of homes located in areas impacted by various sources of noise.

According to Federal Aviation Administration guidelines, new homes and home additions are not eligible for the O’Hare Residential Sound Insulation Program overseen by the ONCC.
The O’Hare Noise Compatibility Commission includes many municipalities and school districts, including Bellwood, Maywood, Melrose Park, Northlake and Stone Park; School District 87 (Berkeley, Northlake, Bellwood), District 88 (Bellwood, Melrose Park, Stone Park) and District 89 (Maywood, Melrose Park and Broadview).

ED, retired teacher human interest story [D209]

Ron Singer taught at District 209 for 33 years. Singer was elected alderman in Geneva in 1996. See Kane County Chronicle (Gail Jardine).

Sunday, January 28, 2007

ADMIN, School districts of Proviso Township

Elementary schools, public

High schools, public

Private schools

ADMIN, Villages of Proviso Township

* Bellwood
* Berkeley
* Broadview
* Brookfield
* Forest Park
* Hillside
* La Grange Park
* Maywood
* Melrose Park
* Northlake
* Stone Park
* Westchester
* Western Springs

Saturday, January 27, 2007

CRIME, fake lawyer worked Maybrook court

George Robotis, 44, of the 300 block of South Halsted, was caught posing as a lawyer in Cook County criminal court.
Chicago Tribune (Carlos Sadovi):
Officials believe he has misrepresented himself for more than a year at courthouses in Maywood, Skokie and Chicago and at a courthouse in Indiana, [a spokeswoman for the Cook County sheriff's police] said.

Police are asking people who believe they have been a victim of Robotis to call the Cook County sheriff's police at 773-869-6403 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Mateck said.

If Robotis represented me in a criminal matter, what do I gain by calling the sheriff? A chance to be tried again? The need to hire two new lawyers: one to defend me, one to s Robotis?

CRIME, does Loyola have sexual predator working there [M, FP]

A lawsuit against Loyola University Medical Center alleges the hospital employed Kenneth Green, 49, of Forest Park, who had sexually fondled her.

Chicago Tribune:
In the lawsuit, the woman contends that hospital officials knew Green had engaged in improper sexual behavior toward patients, yet allowed him to work alone with her and "failed to properly control and supervise" him.

BUSINESS, Alberto-Culver has strong quarterly sales [MP]

A smaller, reconstituted Alberto-Culver reported Thursday higher first-quarter sales that beat analysts' forecasts but a decline in earnings.

This is the first quarter that the Melrose Park-based company is operating strictly as a consumer-goods manufacturer, making VO5 shampoo, St. Ives body lotion and TRESemme hair conditioner. Alberto-Culver spun off its Sally Beauty business into a new publicly traded company.

Alberto-Culver is based in Melrose Park. How significant is the company for people in the community? Does it hire many people? Does it get involved in local politics? Is it a major contributor to causes in the community. Currently Alberto-Culver is not hiring.

I ask these questions because Alberto-Culver sends lots of press releases. I don't usually cover the happenings at the company. But if someone persuaded me the company actually mattered to people living in Proviso I'd cover it more.

Friday, January 26, 2007

GOV, township treasurer of schools

The township treasurer of schools is a somewhat obscure post that manages a bunch of money for school districts. Oak Park, Cicero and Berwyn seem to be on course to dissolve the township treasurer of schools that serves their school districts. See Wednesday Journal (Terry Dean).

Should Proviso Township work to reform or abolish the office in Proviso?

Is there an opposition candidate running for the board in this election?

POL, Santiago's contract extended through school board elections [D209]

At Monday's meeting of the District 209 (Proviso Township High Schools) board of education the contract of Jose Santiago was extended from February, 2007 until May.

Who is Santiago? According to the Forest Park Review (Seth Stern) he's the one who supervises the District 209 janitors doing political work.
Typically, he said, workers are given the campaign literature that they’ll be distributing on Thursday and Fridays by Director of Facilities Jose Santiago, who was himself once investigated by former Superintendent Greg Jackson for campaigning on school grounds during Welch’s last school board race.

Could it be that Santiago was extended through May, instead of the end of the school year, because he's being kept on payroll to do political work?

[UPDATE: I got this one wrong, I think. As I now understand it, the agenda distributed in advance had Santiago's contract being extended to May, but the board changed it at Monday's meeting. The motion passed reflected the original February retirement date. If Santiago leaves in February will this cut into Welch's ability to enforce political discipline with the janitors?]

GOV, Commissioner Earlean Collins says Stroger is pushing tax increase

Minus County Board President Todd Stroger, the County Board fielded complaints about Stroger's proposed budget at the Skokie Courthouse last night.

Sun-Times (Steve Patterson):
"This is all about putting the pressure on this board to come up with a tax increase," Commissioner Earlean Collins said, urging Stroger to slash all top management jobs first in order to close the county's $500 million budget deficit.

The public defender is pointing out that cutting that budget causes defendants to spend longer in the county jail which costs the county more than paying for public defenders. See Northwest Indiana Times (Leah Nylen). (Stroger's solution is to have the public defender to ask law firms to provide more pro bono representation. How much pro bono public defender work does Odelson & Sterk do?)

Carol Marin (Sun-Times)
has a partial list of the politically connected getting fat at the county tit.

Michael Sneed (Sun-Times)
Was that Cook County Board President Todd Stroger a Sneed snoop spied getting a manicure this week?

GOV, opponents resigned to statewide smoking ban

Peoria Journal-Star (Jeremy Pelzer, Copley News Service)
SPRINGFIELD - While most central Illinois lawmakers say they oppose legislation to ban indoor smoking statewide, many also predicted the proposal would win legislative approval.

Rep. Karen Yarbrough is a sponsor of the Smoke Free Illinois Act.

ECON, how's Exelon doing?

The argument for ComEd and other Illinois electric providers to raise rates was based on the money being needed.

Exelon is ComEd's parent company. ComEd made the claim that its rate increases were only to cover the cost increase from the provider from whom the electricity was purchased.

What ComEd neglected to mention was that it buys its electricity from Exelon, the company that owns ComEd.
Chicago Tribune (James P. Miller):
Exelon reiterated its forecast that 2007 earnings will be in the range of $4.00 to $4.30 a share. Interestingly, it thinks the generation group will generate about 85 percent of those earnings, assuming profits will be $4.00 a share in the current year.

Exelon predicted that the generation group will earn deliver $3.40 of the profit, while the company's Commonwealth Edison energy distribution subsidiary will contribute only about ten cents a share in earnings.

So Exelon was plenty profitable in 2006 before the rate increase. And the company is clearly accounting for its profits in the generation portion of the company, not the distribution part of the company.

h/t The Capitol Fax Blog and Chicagoist (Matt Wood)

REL, Tom Holmes' religion column [FP]

Tom Holmes (Forest Park Review) has a "year in review" religion column.

POL, Proviso Township Democratic Organization meets Saturday morning

The Proviso Township Democratic Organization Meeting will be held this Saturday, January 27, 2007 at 10:00am at 2301 W. Roosevelt Road Broadview, IL 60155.

RSVP to Jnell Blanco, jennybee_123 circled "a" yahoo spot c0m, (708)344-7062.

ETHNICITY, Illinois Black Caucus met

Lake County News-Sun reported that various African-American members of the Illinois legislature met with residents of Waukegan, North Chicago and Park City last night at the Waukegan Ramada Inn.

What should Black legislatures advocate for in this legislative session?

Thursday, January 25, 2007

SPORT, Proviso East's Fantastic Four [D209]

Sun-Times (Michael O'Brien):
Jacob Pullen, Nate Fuqua, Jamal Jones and Tydus Townsend, Proviso East's four senior starters, have decided on a nickname for themselves.

''We made up shirts that say 'Fantastic Four' on them,'' Pullen said. ''When we all play like we can, I think we're one of the best teams in the state.''

GOV, Markham meeting about county cutting spending

NBC-5 has video of the meeting of the County Board (minus Board President Todd Stroger) at the Markham courthouse.

Daily Southtown (William Lee):
The furor over proposed cutbacks in Cook County government’s 2006-07 budget moved south Monday night, as hundreds of disgruntled county workers filled the county courthouse in Markham to oppose the plan.

County Board President Todd Stroger wasn’t among the 13 county commissioners who attended the sometimes raucous meeting in a basement conference room at the courthouse. Tuesday’s meeting was the first of several public hearings on the budget plan.

One pastor complained that he felt stabbed in the back after working to get Stroger elected.

There was a complaint about the county spending money to build a clinic in Ford Heights only to save money by closing it.

(BTW, I think this is pretty typical of politicians. They are far more attuned to the benefits of building or demolishing infrastructure than to actually providing quality services.)

Illinois Dem Net has the details on a hearing tonight at the Skokie courthouse.

Will there be one at Maybrook?

[UPDATE: The Maybrook meeting will be on January 30. What would you like to say about Stroger's proposed budget cuts?]

A07, candidate websites, Forest Park Mayor [FP]

* Theresa "Terry" Steinbach
* Patrick Doolin
* Anthony Calderone

Any candidates who have websites or blogs, please let me know. I'll post links to all of them.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

ED, Westchester schools meet NCLB standards [D 92.5]

Proviso Herald (Chris LaFortune):
Westchester elementary schools achieved yearly progress targets set under No Child Left Behind on state tests last school year.

Schools are still waiting for state report card data, Westchester School District 92 1/2 Superintendent Myra Sanders said, but the district was notified it and its schools met progress targets on last spring's Illinois Standards Achievement Test.

On the 2006 ISAT, at least 47.5 percent of students tested needed to meet or exceed state standards in math and reading to make what is termed "adequate yearly progress" under No Child Left Behind.

Does this mean the No Child Left Behind Act is working for Westchester elementary schools?

ED, Lindop School seeks community input [D92]

As part of a strategic planning process guided by an outside consultant Lindop School is seek community members to participate and provide input.

Proviso Herald (Chris LaFortune):
"We're trying to identify key people in the neighborhood," Superintendent Karen Carlson said Friday. "We want parents, teachers, board members, community members, elected officials if they're interested.

The meetings are scheduled from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Feb. 9 and then 8 a.m. or 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 10, Carlson said. The district will invite people to attend, but is looking for people interested in participating.

GOV, two South Side commissioners want to raise property taxes

Cook County Commissioners Deborah Sims and Jerry "The Iceman" Butler have indicated they prefer increasing revenue (raising taxes) to cutting health services. See Daily Southtown (Jonathan Lipman).

Could it be that President of the County Board Todd Stroger's ham-handed, across-the-board cuts are really a ploy to build support for increasing taxes?

CRIME, DUI driver hits elderly Brookfield couple [BF, NR]

Riverside/Brookfield Landmark (Bob Uphues)
The man charged with two felony counts of drunk driving for running down and killing an 83-year-old Brookfield resident and severely injuring her 88-year-old husband in the 4000 block of Prairie Avenue on Monday night was out on bond for a charge of driving under the influence in North Riverside just two days before.

North Riverside Police confirmed that Thomas J. Postulka, 45, had been arrested for DUI just after midnight on Jan. 20 after reportedly losing control of his 1999 Pontiac and knocking over a streetlight at the intersection of Cermak Road and First Avenue.

The victims were Helen and Francis Lilly.

CRIME, Bellwood man killed in Chicago [BW]

Chicago Tribune (Tonya Maxwell):
Ricky Pierce, [28,] of the 100 block of North 16th Avenue in Bellwood was shot about 2:20 p.m. [Sunday].

Pierce was shot multiple times inside a residence in the 4900 block of West Ohio Street, police said.

CRIME, trial begins in 2001 double homicide [SP, M]

Chicago Tribune (Victoria Pierce):
A murder trial began Tuesday in the Maybrook courthouse for a Stone Park man accused of killing two Schiller Park men and setting their bodies on fire in Maywood in 2001.

Luis Trevino, 27, could face the death penalty if convicted.

The victims were Jesus Lozoya, 40, and Jesus Rodriguez, 33.

According to Trevino's statement the killings were over a drug debt. Trevino also claimed to have an accomplice. The state's attorney says the evidence does not support this claim.

POL, responding to Bush's State of the Union address

Since Sen. Richard Durbin and Josh Marshall, publisher of Talking Points Memo, raved about Sen. Jim Webb's (D-VA) Democratic response to President Bush's State of the Union address, here it is.

Josh Marshall also recorded his own response to the State of the Union address. The comment I got from one of the people that watched the speech with me was that Bush seemed "desperate". Marshall identified this emotion too. Marshall's main analysis is that if one doesn't have coherent ideas it's impossible to craft a tight speech.

Capitol Fax Blog (Rich Miller) included Gov. Rod Blagojevich's response.
"President Bush’s plan to address the growing health care crisis in our country is disappointing. The plan he outlined tonight would do nothing to help the 1.4 million uninsured Illinoisans finally get access to coverage they can afford. In fact, his plan would discourage employers from offering quality healthcare coverage, could increase the number of uninsured and would mostly benefit the rich."

I think the point of the Bush health care proposal is to create the illusion of doing something about health care without antagonizing powerful interest groups. Credit goes to Blagojevich for explaining the shortcomings of the Bush proposal.

Durbin wrote his response on Daily Kos.
* The American people want change but the President still offers many of the same ideas he's been pushing for the last six years.
* Instead of a phased redeployment of US troops from Iraq, the President drew a line in the sand and defended his plan to send more American soldiers into the danger of a bloody civil war.
* Instead of a plan to make health care more affordable, the President is proposing a new health care tax on workers. His plan could actually reduce or eliminate health coverage for millions of Americans.
* I am heartened that the President is finally calling for meaningful fuel efficiency standards for cars and other vehicles and greater use of renewable fuels.

Durbin also made some points in the comments.

Webb"s comments really hit the nail on the head we not only need to promote good paying jobs; enforce trade agreements; and rewrite the tax code to discourage offshore profiteering, we have to elevate working people in our national forum. Today the way we finance campaigns leaves most working people behind in the Halls of Congress.

The Pres tonight gave us nothing new on Iraq.

Mary Landrieu [Dem Senator from Louisiana] warned us. The Pres gave Katrina 163 words last year. Zero this year. He wants to forget and we won't let him.

Rich Miller wrote the following about Sen. Barack Obama.
And, finally, did anyone else see Sen. Obama on TV last night? I caught him on CNN and MSNBC and his delivery seemed super-flat to me. It made me think that his attempt to move up the political ladder to the top rung has caused him to be too cautious, too hesitant to speak in his usual casual yet straightforward manner.

[UPDATE: WISC-TV (Madison, WI) fact checked the speech. Bush fudged some of the details that could be checked. If he fudged on the stuff that could be checked, how accurate do you think he was about his allegations about Iran, facts that can't be checked? How accurate was he about Iraq in 2002?]
"We are now in the 41st month of uninterrupted job growth, in a recovery that has created 7.2 million new jobs so far," Bush said.

A WISC-TV analysis found this statement "needs clarification."

[Bush doesn't count the job losses early in his administration. With that factored in, the true number of new jobs is 3.7 million.

(h/t Devilstower at Daily Kos)
One of the points Atrios, an economist and blogger, makes about job growth is that there are more people entering the workforce each month, more than the people retiring. So, the country can have an increase in the absolute number of jobs, but unemployment can be rising even faster.]

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

GOV, Yarbrough proposes gambling money for AIDS prevention [7th REP]

Rep. Karen Yarbrough has introduced legislation to create a scratch-off lottery ticket to fund AIDS education and prevention. See Bloomington Pantagraph (Blackwell Thomas).
Yarbrough’s proposal, which could be debated by state lawmakers this spring, is not the first cause-specific lottery the state has used. So far, lotteries for breast cancer research and veterans issues have raised $3.3 million and $2.8 million, respectively.

“I am not a proponent of gambling,” [Yarbrough] said. “But, looking at the numbers, I had to set aside my prejudices.”

SPORT, Superbowl Shuffle

I saw this on a couple blogs, Yin Yang and Pundit Nation.

CRIME, Bellwood man killed in Maywood [M, BW]

Terrell Hargrove, 21, of the 200 block of 32nd, Bellwood, was shot and killed at 9:30 PM on Sunday on the 2000 block of south 11th, Maywood. See Chicago Tribune (Jason Meisner).

POL, What's Sen. Dick Durbin think of Bush's State of the Union address?

Senator Dick Durbin will respond on Daily Kos (look for Durbin's diary). If you have an account--Daily Kos is the biggest Dem blog and requires users to have accounts--you can respond to Durbin's response or ask him questions. See Daily Kos.
Sen. Dick Durbin has decided to blow off the traditional media and give his SOTU reaction here at Daily Kos. Look for it in the diaries.

[UPDATE: Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo invites anyone with a video camera to respond to the State of the Union address.]

[UPDATE2: Sorry for fouling-up the links the first time.]

[UPDATE3: This is a comedic State of the Union address. The guy probably overdoes the Bushisms in the speech, but the end of it has the Democratic response by Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.]

Monday, January 22, 2007

MEDIA, new Forest Park news outlet [FP]

Ed Vincent has expanded his Oak Park Journal business to have a Forest Park Journal.

Speaking of online businesses, what do you make of MaywoodSingles.com? I saw the yardsigns this weekend, but the website looks like it was designed by someone who has never been to Maywood.

GOV, tonight's school board meeting [D209]

Tonight Proviso Township High Schools (District 209) Board of Education held a regular meeting. I did not attend, but I'm sure people will have comments.

* The general agenda (pdf)
* The document links (pdf)

Any comments on...? (all pdf)

* Grant management report
* District foundation report
* Personnel report
* Contracts for student residency investigation services
* Evaluation of ex-session minutes

What is the goal of the student residency investigation services? For every student removed from District 209 over residency issues the district loses the per student money it gets from the State of Illinois.

Doesn't it seem unusual that all the minutes of all the closed session meetings (going back to the beginning of 2005) still need to be kept confidential?

CRIME, man killed in hit and run on Madison [FP]

Last night at about 8 PM a 52-year old man was killed by a hit-and-run driver on Madison near Constitution Court. See Sun-Times.

SPORT, former R-B star receiver playing indoor football [BF]

Have you heard of United Indoor Football?

Bloomington, Illinois has a team, the Bloomington Extreme.

Bloomington Pantagraph (Joel Fellers):
[Shatone] Powers holds the Illinois High School Association record for most passes caught in a season. He set the record with 117 receptions in 2001 at Riverside-Brookfield High School.

Powers is battling for a roster spot.

OBIT, Tom Mowinski, 60, former Northlake cop [NL]

Tom Mowinski, 60, died of brain cancer. The former Northlake police officer "served as Northville Township supervisor and was a La Salle County Board member for 10 years." See News Tribune (Kevin Caufield).

GOV, should Illinois discontinue township government?

The Inside Dope questions the need for township government. Some Proviso Probe readers are critical of township government. What would you tell The Inside Dope about Proviso Township government to help make the case for eliminating township government in Illinois?

POL, three candidates vying for chair of Cook County Dems

According to Rep. John Fritchey, who has a blog with an excessively long name, Rep. Lou Lang, Niles Township Committeeman, has joined the fray to become chair of the Cook County Dem Party.

Board of Review Commissioner Joe Berrios
was the first candidate. Alderman Ike Carothers (29th Ward) was the second candidate. See Proviso Probe.

(BTW, Congressman Danny K. Davis staffer Tumia Romero withdrew her challenge to Carothers on January 12. See Chicago Board of Elections (page 6 of 16)(pdf). Carothers is now running unopposed.)

Back to Fritchey:
The biggest point of discussion has been why anybody would want the job. Many organizations are in disarray, and any County infrastructure is essentially non-existent. Accordingly, a lot of people envision the job as being a thankless one consisting of fundraising and headaches.

The latent enemy of a local Party organization has been various competing personal agendas and a certain level of distrust among many committeemen. But as the traditional (by Chicago terms) Democratic apparatus continues to erode, the focus needs to turn to ideology and methods to identify, attract and energize Democratic voters.

This would be a great opportunity for a discussion about what the County Party should look like and what it should be doing to help generate interest and expand the base in these changing political times in which we find ourselves.

How should the Cook County Dems organize the party?

How should the Proviso Democratic Party improve its organization?

And should Proviso Democratic Committeeman support her ally from the legislature, Lou Lang, or her ally from local politics, Ike Carothers?

Sunday, January 21, 2007

GOV, a better plan for Iraq?

Daryl Cagle
Jan 18, 2007

President George W. Bush will give his penultimate State of the Union address on Tuesday.

SPORT, local angle on Bears franchise [MP]

Tom McNamee (Sun-Times) wrote a column about a letter from George Halas to Guy Giordano of Melrose Park in 1982.

Giordano was skipping school. His mother sent him to a counselor. Giordano told the counselor he did care much about school. His aspiration was to go to Notre Dame and play football for the Chicago Bears. The counselor contacted Halas. Halas wrote Giordano a letter extolling the virtues of an education. Did you know Halas had an engineering degree from the University of Illinois?

Giordano didn't graduate, but his life turned out OK.

Congratulations to the Bears for beating the New Orleans Saints and winning the George Halas Trophy.

KLEPT, Hastings makes inaccurate statements about allies drinking on taxpayer dime [D209]

Kyle Hastings is the mayor of Orland Hills and the Democratic State Central Committeeman for Illinois' Thirteenth Congressional District (southern DuPage County, northern Will County and some of southwestern Cook County). Hastings was recently appointed to the Pace board of directors. The Daily Southtown editorialized against this appointment.

And Hastings draws a six-figure paycheck from District 209. Under CEO Robert Libka Hastings was all but invisible. He was in some photo shoots. And when his biggest program--summer school--had problems Hastings was on vacation. See Forest Park Review (Seth Stern).

Since Hastings left a job working for the Secretary of State with allegations of ghost payrolling reported in the Daily Southtown, people speculated Hastings wasn't pulling a full 40 hour work week at District 209 under Libka.

To his credit Stan Fields has given Hastings some specific duties, including managing grants. This was a problem area under Libka. A multi-million dollar federal grant was misappropriated requiring District 209 to repay the money. And District 209 lost at least one automatic grant by not filing the required paperwork by the deadline. [UPDATE: I am researching these allegations further. At this point it seems like the grant information originally posted is incorrect.]

A Proviso Probe reader requested some coverage be devoted to allegations about Hastings management of the Village of Orland Hills.

The trustees of Orland Hills have been running up bar bills on village expense cards. According to this Daily Southtown (Isaac Wolf) article very little of the money has been paid back. The article also refers to Hastings claiming that he didn't drink with Trustee Cal Million. Only the receipts tell a different story. Hastings wouldn't return phone calls for the article.

SPORT, results of hoops games [D209]

In boys hoops, Conant (ranked 23) beat St. Joseph (ranked 2) 65-59. Proviso West (ranked 20) beat Hinsdale Central 69-55. See Sun-Times (Phil Brozynski).

In girls hoops Hinsdale Central beat Proviso West 57-38. See Sun-Times (Phil Brozynski).

In boys hoops Oak Park-River Forest beat Proviso West 68-57. See ChicagoSports.com (Bob Sakamoto, Tribune staff writer).

ETHNICITY, NC Dems apologize for using terror to implement "White" supremacy

The North Carolina Democratic Party has apologized for its role in an 1898 riot that deposed the integrated government of Wilmington, NC and replaced it with a "Whites" only government. See Star-News (Veronica Gonzalez). The incident was mentioned recently on Proviso Probe in a summary of a Dave Neiwert post on sundown towns. See the Wikipedia article on Wilmington Insurrection of 1898 for more background. One of the most significant aspects was that the federal government refused to act to oppose "White" supremacists using murder and terrorism to take control of local governments.

This incident reminds us that America did not live out Lincoln's ideals after the Civil War. Some of the discrimination against Blacks was passive. However, the passive discrimination was backed with the threat of being implemented by violence, including violence against "Whites" who violated the segregationist and discriminatory policies.

PO-PO, Cicero hires son of corrupt former police chief

Cicero's village president is defending the decision to hire the son of the former chief of police (convicted of corruption that cost the village over $6 million) as a police officer. The hiring has nothing to do with political connections. See Chicago Tribune (Joseph Ruzich).

POL, county keeps Dem committeemen employed

The Palos Township Democratic Committeeman makes $76,000 inspecting picnic benches. Under team Todd's budget cutting his job is safe. See Daily Southtown (Phil Kadner).

What do you think? Should the guy at least be asked to take a pay cut?

CRIME, body of missing woman found; car found in Bellwood [BW]

The body of a woman missing since 2000 was recently discovered near Durand, IL (northwest of Rockford). Sandra M. Daniels, 49, lived in Elm Grove, WI, a suburb west of Milwaukee. Her car was found in Bellwood in 2000. See Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Dan Benson).

Any theories what happened to Daniels?

GOV, cut services or cushy assignments?

Chicago Defender (Charles O’Toole):
The [rehabilitated] women credit their transformation to the compassion and support offered through the Cook County Sheriff's Department of Women's Justice Services. The department, founded in 1999, provides services ranging from addiction treatment and pre-natal care, to a furlough program that lets women spend nights with their families and receive counseling during the day.

But now the future of those programs is in jeopardy. In his proposed budget released this week, Cook County Board President Todd Stroger recommended eliminating the department and its $4.1 million in annual appropriations. The cut is part of Stroger's effort to rein in a $500 million county budget deficit without raising taxes.

How much do the deputy sheriffs working the x-ray machines at county buildings make? How much would it cost to replace them with people like TSA uses at airports? In Cook County plaintiffs have to use deputy sheriffs as process servers first. Only if the deputy sheriffs can't find the person can the plaintiffs use private process servers. How much money could Cook County save by privatizing process service?

I like providing good jobs with nice incomes. But it's sometimes a choice between cutting services that uplift people and privatizing that doesn't diminish services. Unfortunately, I suspect team Todd would rather stick it to women who could have been rehabilitated than to demand deputy sheriffs give up cushy, high-paying duties.

GOV, Senator Don Harmon gets praised [39th SEN]

Sen. Don Harmon (Oak Park) represents northern Proviso Township (Melrose Park and Stone Park). He's more active in other parts of the district, but he's a highly talented legislator.

Lake County News-Sun (Dan Moran)
reminds us of Harmon's stature. A freshman senator from Lake County considers just sitting next to Harmon in the legislature an advantage.
For the swearing-in ceremony itself, Bond was joined on the Senate floor by his wife, Jennifer, and their three children. He noted that his decision to sit near state Sen. Don Harmon, an Oak Park Democrat starting his third term, proved to be more fortuitous than he could have predicted.

"I wanted to sit near Don Harmon because he's one of the leading thinkers in the Senate, and we're about the same age and both have young children," Bond said. "So I had my kids down there, and the ceremony was about an hour-and-a-half, so he pulled out crayons for them that he already had in his desk."

F07, Shaw gives money to village to make an excuse to attack Doolin [FP]

Jim Shaw owns Doc Ryan's, a Forest Park bar that is a popular hangout for OPRFHS grads and Mayor Calderone's political allies. Shaw didn't get his way at a village council meeting and got unpleasant with Commissioner Patrick Doolin. Doolin requested Shaw be arrested. Doolin's former business partner, Lt. Steve Johnsen, directed a subordinate officer to arrest Shaw.

Shaw complained that his poor behavior didn't rise to the level of criminal misconduct. The village hired an investigator. The disciplinary action against Johnsen is a separate plot line.

Shaw sued Doolin and the Village of Forest Park. The suit was settled for an undisclosed amount. ("A nuisance lawsuit was settled for a nuisance amount," is the way one person put it.) Shaw donated $9,000 to the Forest Park Centennial Committee, but used the donation as an opportunity to attack Doolin. See Forest Park Review (Michelle Keefe).

If you want to comment this is your opportunity.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

GOV, Forest Park to take testimony on smoking ordinance Monday [FP]

See Nyberg for Commish for details. It also has my position as a candidate.

[UPDATE: Commissioner candidate John Plepel wrote an entry on his campaign blog on the smoking ban issue.]

Friday, January 19, 2007

PO-PO, Forest Park officer deactivated vehicle camera prior to making arrest [FP]

Proviso Probe resported on the initial arrest of Clarence Davis for a traffic matter. The Village of Forest Park is now acknowledging that the arresting officer did not videotape the encounter. See Forest Park Review (Josh Adams).

The system in the police car would have automatically recorded the incident unless it malfunctioned or was manually disabled by the arresting officer.

My source claims that even though it has been mandated policy to use the cameras since March, 2003, the officers have collectively disobeyed village policy on this matter and have all been disabling the cameras. The supervisors were aware of this insubordinate behavior and allowed it to continue.

A07, third Triton challenger emerges [D504]

Dolores Tapia-Reyes will run for the Triton board of trustees. Tapia-Reyes lives in River Forest and organized Latinos Unidoes con Voz, a Melrose Park organization advocating for Latino interests.

Thomas Gary of Oak Park is running with the support of the Oak Park Democratic Party.

Al McKinnor of Maywood is a former Triton instructor who has run before.

The incumbents are Irene Moskal Del Giudice of Schiller Park, Stephen Kubiczky of Riverside and Diane Viverito of Elmwood Park.

[UPDATE: A campaign website for Dolores Tapia-Reyes.]

GOV, is Kyle Hastings worth his salary? [D209]

Bill Dwyer (Forest Park Review) encouraged Stan Fields to fire Kyle Hastings to save money.

Would this work? Did the board recently approve Hastings for a multi-year contract?

What do you think of Hastings performance at District 209? What do you think of his work history? What about his political connections?

SPORT, Pirates (13) beat Panthers girls hoops [D209]

Sun-Times (Pat McGrath):
Tiara Perry hit a three-pointer to help No. 13 Proviso East to a 61-54 victory over upset-minded Proviso West on Tuesday in Hillside. The Pirates (20-2) trailed 54-53 when Perry sank her shot from the corner with two minutes left.

ED, ISBE cuts funding for second chance programs

Chicago Defender (Mema Ayi):
The Illinois State Board of Education will not recommend spending $40 million to re-enroll dropouts to its 2008 budget when the board votes Thursday, a spokeswoman said Wednesday.

Despite a plea by Chicago-based Alternative Schools Network and five student testimonies on re-enrollment at the board's Wednesday finance and audit committee meeting of the whole, the funding proposal came too late to be considered, ISBE spokeswoman Andrea Preston said....

London Clark said he was "clowning" when he attended Proviso West High School in Hillside. But after eight months at home, he was itching to go back to school. Academy of Scholastic Achievement gave him the fresh start he needed.

"It's changed my whole life and I didn't even know it would," he said.

To what extent should society subsidize high school alternatives for drop-outs?

Do these subsidies implicitly OK schools neglecting some of their students? Do they make dropping out a safer choice for students?

[UPDATE: I just read on Capitol Fax Blog (linked to Chicago Tribune(Diane Rado)) that the State Board of Education is looking to significantly boost spending on students.

[Could it be that the money for increased spending on students is partially coming from cutting second-chance programs. How do you feel about this?

[BTW, I think this is pretty typical of how Blagojevich operates. He establishes new expectations (All Kids, more school spending, etc.) without funding the programs long-term. But he does establish the higher expectations of government for the scope of existing programs.]

PO-PO, cops clear cops of wrongdoing in killing handcuffed autistic man

Chicago Tribune (Carolyn Rusin):
No charges will be filed against three Des Plaines police officers accused of using excessive force 14 months ago while trying to subdue an autistic man who died while in handcuffs, authorities said Wednesday.

The weird thing about Rusin's article is that it never tells how the autistic man died.
Cunningham broke free from police inside the group home and ran into the back yard, where officers used pepper spray and a stun gun in an attempt to subdue him. When he continued to resist, they tackled and handcuffed him.

OK. The reader can follow the action to this point.

But what happens after the three officers handcuff the individual?

The first sentence makes it sound like the subject didn't die until after he was in handcuffs, right? So wouldn't a normal reader want to know how the subject was treated after being cuffed so they can evaluate the three Des Plaines cops and the Illinois State Police public integrity task force?

And how big was the subject? When the subject is unusually large or strong the police typically make a big issue of the size? Should readers infer from the absence of reference to his size that he was average size or smaller?

BTW, file this incident under Taser failing to get intended result. Do Taser stun guns ever stun the subjects? Or do they only inflict pain?

CRIME, Northlake man sentenced for killing his mother [NL]

James Pastorello, 51, of Northlake killed his mother, 88, in her Franklin Park home. Judge Lawrence Terrell sentenced Pastorello to 60 years in prison. See Chicago Tribune (Victoria Pierce).
Pastorello admitted on the witness stand that he then went to the basement, retrieved the hammer and hit his mother in the face seven or eight times. He washed off the hammer and placed it on a peg board before leaving his mother gurgling and struggling to breathe....

Defense attorney Thomas Glasgow argued that Pastorello has a low IQ and is confused easily. Glasgow said Pastorello confessed to police in the hours after the murder because he didn't fully understand what was going on.

Glasgow had asked for the minimum sentence of 20 years. "He has lost everything in his life. He has no family; his wife divorced him. He has no one to turn to," Glasgow said.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

POL, Broadview TEA Party has nice website [BV]

The Broadview TEA Party has a nice website. It includes a discussion forum like the website formerly known as Forest Park Dot Com.

GOV, Westchester Image Council [W]

Chicago Tribune (Nancy Munson) wrote a short article on Westchester Image Council.

Mission statement:
The Westchester Community Image Council is comprised of volunteer residents, business owners and local institutions committed to improving Westchester through enhancing its visual appeal and preserving its heritage.

Along with identifying viable projects, the Westchester Community Image Council will co-ordinate funding, planning, implementation and after-project support.

The Council's efforts are dedicated to establishing a high standard of quality for the visual impact of Westchester, thereby instilling community pride among business and residents thus enhancing its appeal.

Is the Westchester Image Council making Westchester a better community?

Should other Proviso communities try to imitate the Westchester Image Council?

ED, discipline at Proviso Township High Schools [D209]

Forest Park Review (Josh Adams) has an article that opens the door to discussing student safety at Proviso East.

Forest Park resident Joe Burdett is the father of a Proviso East senior and had another daughter graduate from D209.
"We have not found the schools to be unsafe," Burdett said. "I think the school is suffering from the reputation it got in the 60s."

I'm skeptical of Burdett's anecdotal take on the situation.

Burdett has had daughters in the school system. So female honors students of European descent probably have a different experience than male students, Blacks & Latinos and non-honors students.

Also, I've heard anecdotes from students, ER physicians and members of the security staff that contradict Burdett's anecdotes.

A Proviso East student told me that he avoided certain hallways because of concerns about physical safety. He portrayed it as being an unwritten code of where certain students could and couldn't go.

I talked to a Westlake Hospital ER physician who was appalled at the number of students who got in fights at Proviso East and went to the emergency room.

And about six weeks ago a group of students (6-8) engaged in a coordinated attack against a member of the security staff. Superintendent Stan Fields did not notify the entire board of this immediately or at the December board meeting. Was he trying to cover-up the incident? Was the attack so routine that it didn't stick out from the other disciplinary issues?

I don't know.

My recommendation would be for District 209 to create some sort of standard reporting criteria so parents and taxpayers can evaluate the conduct and discipline at the schools.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

POL, Sheila Simon is running for mayor of Carbondale

I received the following invite from Lauren Beth Gash, the Democratic Committeewoman of the Tenth Congressional District. Gash has been doing a great job organizing in the district. Tenth Congressional District Democrats has a website.
Dear Friends,

As a former Paul Simon staff member I know firsthand how hard he worked and how much he cared about his constituents. I have fond memories of being on the campaign trail with him all over Illinois, and traveling with Jeanne and with his children. Even before that, I went to Georgetown University Law Center with his daughter, Sheila.

As you may know, my friend Sheila is continuing the Simon family legacy of public service and she is now a member of the Carbondale City Council. More significantly, Sheila is running for Mayor of Carbondale. She, like both her parents, is a strong voice for the values we share and that's why Gregg and I are proud to co-host this reception in her honor:

Date and Time: Thursday, January 18, 2007, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.

Place: Miller Shakman & Beem, 180 N. LaSalle, Ste. 3600

Paul Simon was a strong voice for political campaign reform and I'm sure he'd be proud that Sheila is limiting campaign contributions to $50. We hope you can give to the campaign. As you can imagine, with that limit, many supporters will be needed and appreciated. I hope you will be able to attend this event, or send her a small check even if you cannot, and PLEASE feel free to forward this email. You can call me if you have any questions, or need to arrange carpooling, at (847)702-6635.

Lauren Beth Gash LaurenBethGash circled "a" aol spot c0m

Most of you will remember that Sheila Simon did a highly successful TV commercial for Sen. Barackk Obama that helped him break through in the primary.

In addition to liking a respecting Lauren Beth Gash, I consider her father, the late Senator Paul Simon, the model of what a politician should be.

Who will join me in saying hello to Sheila Simon when she's in Chicago?


The Village of Forest Park and the YMCA have agreed to a price for the property where the YMCA would locate (south of Madison and east of Concordia Cemetery). See Forest Park Review (Josh Adams).

I live about equal distance from the current YMCA location and the proposed location. But the move should make it easier for Proviso residents, especially from Forest Park, Maywood and people who work at Maybrook to go to the YMCA.

I hope the move doesn't undermine fund raising in Oak Park and River Forest.

POL, Emil Jones looks for scapegoat to change the subject on "Big Box" law

Rich Miller (Capitol Fax Blog) pulled this quote from Chicago Tribune (Dan Mihalopolous):
In black wards, incumbents already are trying to counter the unions by alleging that labor discriminates against African-Americans, particularly in the high-paying building trades.

"They can't influence voters," said former 7th Ward Ald. William Beavers, whose daughter and successor faces Sandi Jackson, the congressman's wife, at the polls next month. "People in the community know what the unions are about. How can you tell blacks how to vote when you are freezing them out of unions?"

Unions should push for more construction jobs for blacks, said Illinois Senate President Emil Jones (D-Chicago). "I told the unions, 'Don't come messing with me and my aldermen, but then you're silent about breaking down the walls of discrimination'" in the trades, Jones said.

Lots of unions serve almost entirely Black and immigrant membership, especially the unions pushing the "Big Box" law. So Beavers and Jones are sorta like Republicans who blame hippies for lack of loyalty to George W. Bush.

I sorta feel like saying, "Have you left the house in 35 years?"

To the extent unions aren't being as inclusive as they should be in the trades that problem should be addressed.

But lets assume the Black aldermen actually believe their own rhetoric on the "Big Box" law. According to Black aldermen if Chicago passed a "Big Box" law Walmart would not open stores in Chicago it would otherwise open.

How would this affect "White" guys in the trades? Wouldn't unionized construction workers lose jobs?

The move to pass the "Big Box" law is driven by the unions that organize low wage workers--the unions that do represent Blacks and immigrants.

So Jones and Beavers attacking the trades unions is dishonest. And I expect if you looked at Jones' record he's done very little to push the trades unions to include more Blacks. He's only raising this issue because he knows the Black political elite screwed working class Blacks on "Big Box". The Black political class took Walmart's money to screw regular Black folk. Just like they took ComEd's money to screw regular Black folk. And just like Black members of Congress took the telecom money to vote against net neutrality.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

ETHNICITY, Sundown Towns and eliminationism

Dave Neiwert of Orcinus has a ten-part series on eliminationism in America.
What, really, is eliminationism?

It's a fairly self-explanatory term: it describes a kind of politics and culture that shuns dialogue and the democratic exchange of ideas for the pursuit of outright elimination of the opposing side, either through complete suppression, exile and ejection, or extermination.

Part VII discusses "Sundown Towns". It is based heavily on Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism by James W. Loewen.

It's a long entry for a blog. Here are some of the points that jumped out at me.

1. American communities outside of the South didn't develop with a natural lack of Blacks. These communities enforced "Whites" only policies as a matter of law or organized ethnic violence.
2. Sundown towns existed across the country. Most suburbs started as sundown towns.
3. From 1865 to 1890 Republican communities tended to welcome Blacks and consider it fulfilling Lincoln's vision and patriotic for their communities to be open to Blacks.
4. From 1890 to 1930 "White" America treated Blacks poorly. The Republican Party gave up advocating for Blacks because Democrats wore them down by calling them "nigger lovers".
5. "White" southerners methodically took away Black rights. Republicans and Blacks were removed from office by violence and chicanery. In 1896 the Supreme Court decided Plessy v. Ferguson which made segregation legal. In 1898 President McKinley allowed rioters to remove the mayor of Wilmington, NC and all Republican office holders.
6. Employment discrimination was worse for Blacks in the North than the South during this period (1890 to 1930). And Blacks were perceived as being the problem.
7. In the West the Chinese were subjected to ethnic riots, as Blacks were in communities across the country.
8. One of the large communities that expelled Black through ethnic riots was Springfield, IL. Sundown towns were unusually popular in Illinois; Loewen reports that he was able to identify 475 of them. They also enjoyed great popularity in states like Indiana and Oklahoma.
9. In 1921 a two-day assault that included bombings destroyed 35 city blocks and killed 100-300 Blacks. The prosperous Black community was destroyed.
10. After 1916 the Ku Klux Klan became a vehicle for organizing anti-Black "Whites". The Klan wielded considerable political power and controlled the state governments in Tennessee, Indiana, Oklahoma, and Oregon.
11. There were individual exceptions in sundown towns. A woman in the Klan said, "You get several of them together and they become niggers. Individually, they're fine people."
12. The one African-American or one family that was allowed to stay in a sundown town was cited to prove the community wasn't racist.
13. Neiwert ties sundown towns to modern politics by discussing how the GOP appeals to the sensibilities of sundown towns without explicitly playing the race card. He also discusses the similarities between Blacks speaking for Republicans and the token Black living in a sundown town.

Neiwert writes insightful stuff on ethnicity. I recommend periodically checking his blog.

PREZ08, Obama forms exploratory committee

I'm skeptical about a main portion of Obama's message.
But challenging as they are, it's not the magnitude of our problems that concerns me the most. It's the smallness of our politics. America's faced big problems before. But today, our leaders in Washington seem incapable of working together in a practical, common sense way. Politics has become so bitter and partisan, so gummed up by money and influence, that we can't tackle the big problems that demand solutions.

And that's what we have to change first.

We have to change our politics, and come together around our common interests and concerns as Americans.

This won't happen by itself. A change in our politics can only come from you; from people across our country who believe there's a better way and are willing to work for it.

The government is big business. If people will fight bitterly over control of District 209 (Proviso Township High Schools) with a budget of $60-70 million, why wouldn't they fight that much more over control of the federal government?

And people who stand to make money or lose money are going to invest in the process. The most reliable way to get money and interest groups out of politics is to shrink the government so small it's irrelevant.

I kinda feel Obama is trying to be appealing rather than providing a specific diagnosis. This is good politics. Obama can't govern if he doesn't get elected. And people don't want to hear a detailed analysis of the problems. They want somebody they feel they can connect with and trust.

I'm hoping that Obama's judgment will shine if and when he gets elected President of the United States. The next President is going to have to make some tough calls.