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Proviso Probe

Monday, July 30, 2007

District 209 cans Stan Fields, hires Robert Libka

At tonight’s special board meeting the District 209 (Proviso Township High Schools) board of education voted to place Superintendent Stan Fields on paid administrative leave pending a termination hearing.

Former CEO Robert Libka was offered a 60-day contract as the interim superintendent.
ADVERTISEMENT: Hungry for Mexican food at a family restaurant? Eat at Los Cazadores in Oak Park.


Four board members voted affirmatively for these moves: Brian Cross, Robin Foreman, Reatha “Sue” Henry and Emanuel Chris Welch. Dan Adams was absent. Robert Cox voted against both moves. Theresa Kelly voted “present” on the issue of removing Fields and opposed hiring Libka.

The meeting had to pause when the move to hire Libka was announced. The audience was laughing loudly enough to disrupt the meeting.

The board took some other actions.

The contract with Glenn Gerard to consult on the Proviso foundation was terminated. And the group that had been working with Gerard was disbanded. As I understood the meeting the foundation will still be created, but it will be done in-house. Gerard was brought to the district by Fields.

The student codes of conduct were approved 6-0.

Kelly raised the issue of Fields being paid a bonus. When she asked the rest of the board if Fields had been paid a bonus no one would respond. Also, after the meeting Kelly reminded people that board member Charles Flowers had pushed for a review of Fields’ performance while he was on the board. Kelly made it sound like Welch resisted the performance review.

Also, the police liaison agreement with the Village of Hillside was approved “as discussed in closed session”. Board president Emanuel Chris Welch who makes money billing school districts for legal work used this language twice. This discussion should have happened in open session. When I questioned the lawyer from Giglio & Del Galdo about why this was handled in closed session he said it was a personnel matter.

The Open Meetings Act provides for discussing personnel matters in closed session because of the issues about privacy and candidly discussing performance. Renewing a contract with a police department doesn’t fall in this category. If one applied the Giglio & Del Galdo analysis any contract where the services were ultimately provided by people would be a personnel matter to be discussed in closed session. Construction would be discussed in closed session because personnel would be used by the contractor to do the construction.

I also think canning the superintendent was a violation of the Open Meetings Act. I think removing a superintendent needs to be specifically publicized in the agenda. The heading of “Personnel Matters” seems too vague.

Feel free to discuss the back story in the comments.

[UPDATE Tuesday, 8:56 AM: Getting lots of traffic this morning.

[What do you think of Fields getting canned? Bringing back Libka? How should the community react? What should other public officials do to make District 209 a properly functioning school district?]

[UPDATE2: Forest Park Review (Josh Adams) has a good summary. The board members for terminating Fields declined to give reasons. But the attorney told Adams it wasn't because of the federal subpoenas. There's more to the article. Good read it.]

[UPDATE3: Chuck Fieldman seemed to think the earliest Proviso Herald would cover the story is Wednesday, eight days from now. But he was wrong. See Proviso Herald (Chuck Fieldman)
Cox said he had been advised to "not comment on the logic of the Board's decision to remove Fields as superintendent." He added that he wants his "no vote" to speak for his view of whether Fields should have been placed on leave, pending a termination hearing.

[Bob, Bob, Bob, feel free to consider the possibility that the people giving you advice are giving advice designed to serve their interests, not you, the board, the taxpayers or the students.]

[UPDATE4: I talked to Cox this morning (August 6) and he voted against putting Fields on administrative leave and for hiring Libka.]

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CBS rehashes Melrose Park little league story

CBS2 (Dave Savini) has a new story on Melrose Park's missing little league money. It doesn't seem like there are many new facts.
The Cook County State's Attorney had the Little League case for years, but just two weeks ago passed it on to the Feds as part of a bigger investigation into other Melrose Park corruption. They wouldn't say why they waited so long. The office dropped the 1993 felony forgery case against Zito.

Earlier in the story:
The [Illinois AG's] office is also investigating past little league board president and brother of the mayor Terry Serpico. Zito has pointed the finger at him the past, he maintains his innocence and says he passed a polygraph.

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south suburban school story

Northwest Indiana Times (Joan Carreon) has a rundown of south suburban school issues. Johnny Diggs and Charles Flowers get mentioned.

District 88's interim superintendent Rosemary Hendricks stars in one of the disputes.

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Yarbrough political committees hit up village's legal counsel

West Suburban Journal (Kevin Williams with Nicole Trottie) detailed how two political committees aligned with Karen & Henderson Yarbrough received $9,000 since 2005 from Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, the attorneys for the Village of Maywood. (h/t Proviso Insider)

Karen Yarbrough is the state representative for Maywood and much of the surrounding area; she is also Proviso Township's Democratic Committeeman. Henderson Yarbrough is Maywood's village president. Before the April, 2007 election Yarbrough's block had a 4-3 majority on the village board; now they have a 6-1 majority.

In an email to me Karen Yarbrough wrote that the Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins contributions were a “non issue”. I disagree.

In the past I have expressed concern that politicians raising money from law firms that work for local taxing bodies is simply money laundering. At its simplest the taxing body picks a law firm—because legal work is a “professional service” it doesn't need to be bid out—and the law firms merely pad their bills to cover the contributions the politicians want. They can either build the cost of the political contributions into the firm's hourly rate or add extra hours.

Raising money from vendors and contractors looks bad, but there are a number of ways raising money from law firms is worse.

1. Legal work is not bid upon.
2. If there is a quid pro quo negotiated it is more difficult for outsiders, including law enforcement, to detect because of the protections of attorney-client privilege.
3. There is no protection against attorneys padding their bills other than the personal honor of the attorneys. Normally, law clients have an incentive to be skeptical of the bills and pay as little as possible. But when politicians are making money off the attorneys the incentives for keeping bills low are weaker than the incentives to “get along and go along”.
4. The interrelationship between attorney and client also taints the legal advice given. Normally an ethical lawyer counsels clients on ways to avoid legal costs. But if the politicians can reasonably anticipate a kickback to their political committee (or an ally's political committee) then they have an incentive to make choices that increase the legal bills, not keep them down.

When people want to rip on Karen Yarbrough they say she practices politics like the people she seeks to replace; at best she's a “reluctant reformer”. She's more articulate than Eugene Moore and less likely to do something flagrantly illegal. But from the community's point of view the new boss looks like the old boss.

I disagree with this assessment. But I think Yarbrough has to make an effort to be better. Most of the people with their hands on the levers of political power want the system to stay the same. The people with political power can convert it into wealth and power for themselves and their political allies. They are going to serve the community as little as possible while maintaining the perks of attaining political power.

There's always going to be a pull to “get along and go along”. Yarbrough and her team have to make an effort to resist this inevitable pull. The pull is inevitable, but giving in to pull of “get along and go along” politics isn't.

IMO, the Yarbroughs should return the contributions to Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins and the Village of Maywood should attach language to the contracts with all law firms that they are expected to stay out of local politics in the Proviso area.

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had problems with your health care provider?

Democracy For America is hosting a panel of experts to talk health care Wednesday evening.

The experts include:

When? Wednesday, August 1, 8:00 PM
Where? Unite HERE! Union Hall, 333 S. Ashland, Chicago, IL

People who have already RSVP'd:

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Sunday, July 29, 2007

Peraica & Lyons GOP hold picnic

Today the Lyons Township Republicans had their picnic. The day started with Commissioner Tony Peraica, Lyons Township GOP committeeman leading a bike ride from Cermak Pool the past the Chicago Portage National Historic Site and down the public access road next to the Ship & Sanitary Canal.

Later in the day was the picnic.

Peraica talking with someone attending the picnic


Guillermo, a Peraica campaign worker, and Proviso Township Trustee Jesse Martinez

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Des Plaines River cleaner than in the past

While biking to and from the Lyons Township GOP picnic I saw evidence that the Des Plaines River is cleaner than it was in the past.

Lesson: if we (humans) stop doing harm to the environment, it is often resilient about rebounding. Of course, Lake Michigan is an example of an ecosystem that was destroyed. While it's not polluted like in the past, the ecosystem didn't rebound.


Two views of the Des Plaines River from the pedestrian bridge in Riverside Township.

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West-View News hits news stands

Judy Brown-Marino has expanded her newspaper to include Westchester as well as Broadview.

The issue dated July 25, 2007 has a number of stories and columns that caught my attention.

"Broadview Sued Over Strip Club" (page 1) covers Chicago Joe's Tea Room suing the Village of Broadview in federal court.
The Complaint charges that Broadview's zoning laws are unconstitutional and violate the plaintiffs [sic] First Amendment rights....

The introduction of the Complaint reads, "This case results from an attempt by local officials's misuse of their power to censor speech and other expression with which they disagree. Defendants have imposed a unconstitutional prior restraint on the dissemination of erotic speech through Broadview licensing and zoning ordinances in violation of the First Amendment..."


Starting on page two the paper includes summaries of village meetings in Broadview and Westchester, including citizen comments. I expect that there's a reason other newspapers don't use this format. While it's truer to what happened at meetings than the traditional way reporters write about local meetings it's not as readable.

Judy Brown-Marino has a column expressing skepticism about Broadview considering one or two more TIF (tax increment financing) districts.
TIF Funds are not money sent from heaven. The money diverted into TIF's would otherwise go to the taxing bodies like the School, Library and Park Districts as well as to the Village itself.

I am disappointed in the school, library and park Boards and especially in their attorneys for not doing their jobs to protect their much needed revenue.

One additional issue about TIFs is that they let current elected officials borrow against future revenue to implement big projects today. Sometimes this is appropriate and sometimes this is just putting money in the pockets of politically connected developers.

I also have a column in the paper. I will have a regular column under the name "Probing Proviso".

You can get a copy of the paper at the following locations:
Broadview Village Hall
Westchester Village Hall
Broadview Public Library
Broadview Park District
Marquee Restaurant
Le Petite Cafe
Cookie Outlet
The Epicurean Restaurant
Westchester Citgo
Joe's Place
Sawa's Old Warsaw
Paul's Pizza
White Hen, 10235 Roosevelt
Gobber Real Estate
American Car Center

If you want to suggest a location, call (708)945-4942.

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the economics of blogging

I'm on a listserve for local bloggers called Blogs United.

One of the participants, Shai Sachs (Facebook profile), posted an entry about local blogging and the costs of local blogging on MyDD.
If you are blogging full-time, or your blogging precludes you from taking a job with benefits, then you're paying your own health insurance, and not receiving benefits like contributions to a pension or 401(k) fund.

Finally, there is the most important variable: time. There's time you donate to your own blog and (if you're managing a group blog) the time of your associates, which may or may not be donated. Writing time is the highest cost of writing a blog, and it frequently goes unreimbursed.

Many of the costs Sachs lists don't apply to Proviso Probe. But he missed one that does, FOIA requests.

I'll give you an example of a story that I haven't researched because I don't have the money to pay the FOIA costs. The Forest Park Review did a FOIA request and discovered District 89 (Maywood and Melrose Park elementary schools) paid Illinois Alarm, owned by Forest Park Mayor Anthony Calderone, over $800,000 to install alarms.

The Forest Park Review has follow-up FOIA requests submitted, but isn't looking at the bid process. Did the district request bids? How? I'd like to follow-up on this point, but I have a hard time justifying doing it with my money.

And tomorrow there's a meeting of the District 209 board of education. Do I go to the board meeting? Or to a job where I get paid some money?

There have a been a small number of people who have been very generous supporting Proviso Probe and a few that have been supportive. But money is an issue.

Anyways, think about it.

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Brookfield will raise taxes to provide recreation opportunities to disabled

Suburban Life (Dan Petrella):
A few months after joining a recreation association for residents with disabilities, Brookfield is considering levying an additional property tax — up to $25 a year — to pay for its membership.

In April, the Village Board voted to join the Downers Grove-based South East Association for Special Parks and Recreation – better known as SEASPAR – and to pay for the annual $60,000 membership fee out of the village’s general fund. But now other village projects are running over budget, and the board is expected to vote at its Monday, Aug. 13, meeting to approve a special recreation tax.

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La Grange Park woman hoardes artist's work for decades

An elderly La Grange Park woman had a bunch of artwork by Alfred Juergens. See Chicago Tribune (Ofelia Casillas).
By the time they had an expert look at them, they had collected 85 watercolors, sketches, and oils on canvas and wood, all by American impressionist Alfred Juergens -- an unprecedented and unexpected collection with a value that would start, conservatively, in the hundreds of thousands of dollars....

"One of the issues has been, there haven't been many important Juergens paintings that surface for sale. If 70 have been in one spot for all these years, that would explain why," [Richard] Norton said. [Norton directs an art gallery specializing in Juergens period.]

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La Grange Park OKs Panera expansion

The Village of La Grange Park OK'd the expansion of Panera in the Village Shopping Center on N. La Grange Road. See Suburban Life (Joe Sinopoli).

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Saturday, July 28, 2007

Viewpoints From the Other Side

Arnie Bryant will host Viewpoints From the Other Side on WJJG, 1530 AM, at 2 PM today.

If you're into the politics of law firms employed by this taxing body and that taxing body he's got a story that he's going to break.

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Friday, July 27, 2007

special board meeting for D209 Monday

On Monday, July 30, at 7 PM the board of education for Proviso Township High Schools (District 209) will hold a special meeting. See agenda (pdf).

It seems that whatever caused the special meeting to be called will be handled in closed session. The open session stuff, the foundation and code of conduct, could presumably wait until the regular board meeting.

What's in closed session?
A. Student disciplinary cases. 5 ILCS 120/2(c)(9).
B. The appointment, employment, compensation, discipline, performance or dismissal of specific employees of the District or legal counsel for the District, including hearing testimony on a complaint lodged against an employee or against legal counsel for the District to determine its validity. 5 ILCS 120/2(c)(1), as amended by P.A. 93-0057.

If you know what's on the real agenda, post it in the comments.

Does merely stating the reasons for closed session meet the requirements of the Illinois Open Meetings Act?

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Shakman exempt positions in Cook County government

Daily Herald (Rob Olmstead):
[The court-appointed monitor, Julia Nowicki, a former Cook County judge] also recommended that so-called exempt positions -- or those where the president can hire and fire at will -- be publicized by employee name. Nowicki did not cite it specifically, but critics have complained that administrators sometimes hire people to an exempt position and then shift them to a non-protected position to get around anti-political hiring safeguards.

"Thus far, the (compliance administrator's) requests for transparency have been met with mixed results," noted Nowicki. "The county has agreed to place on its Web site the list of exempt positions by department. Unfortunately, it has declined to post the names of the individuals holding the particular position."

I applied for a county job a few months ago. I got a letter saying to reapply after the hiring freeze ended.

Obviously the county has hired plenty of people since the hiring freeze was put in place. This article suggests how the politically connected are able to evade the hiring freeze. The politically connected are hired for exempt positions which are presumably exempt from both Shakman and the hiring freeze. Once in the system the politically connected are reprogrammed to non-exempt positions.

I remember asking Todd Stroger about the hiring freeze when he was running for office. Stroger's explanation for people getting hired in spite of the hiring freeze was that positions included in the budget weren't affected by the hiring freeze.

Back to the original article, Nowicki is right to demand transparency in who has the exempt jobs. The Nyberg observation on corruption is that to reduce corruption an organization needs to reduce conflicts of interest and increase transparency.

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Bellwood's Sandra Yusczak-Bunge going away for 10 years

A 54-year old Bellwood nurse gets 10 years for DUI. See Chicago Tribune (Art Barnum).

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is it OK to threaten to Taser someone already handcuffed?

Atlanta Journal Constitution (Rhonda Cook):
A Fulton County deputy has been fired for using her Taser on a handcuffed inmate and then lying about it to internal investigators, according to a report filed Thursday with a federal judge who demanded an accounting of the January incident.

I was with a citizen registering concerns about the Forest Park PD using inappropriate, if not excessive force, during an arrest. Sgt. Eric Bell, the Taser training guy for he FPPD, said that it was OK to threaten to Taser a handcuffed subject even if it wasn't OK to follow through.

IANAL (I am not a lawyer), but if using the force is illegal it's a battery. And threatening a battery is assault.

So, I think it's highly dubious for cops to be threatening to Taser subjects already restrained by handcuffs. And I am concerned that the head training guy is saying this is OK. But I was already suspicious of the Forest Park PD being a overzealous in the use of Tasers.

BTW, Amy Rita's claims about Tasers in the Forest Park Post don't make sense.

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Sheriff Tom Dart argues prostitution is not a victimless crime

The Cook County Sheriff arrested 250 in a prostitution sweep. See Daily Herald (Rob Olmstead).
“There’s still some people that are deluded into thinking prostitution is a victimless crime,” said Dart, who said that’s simply not true.

Dart then goes on to explain how street prostitution adversely affects communities and gave an example of a prostitute leaving her 1-year baby unattended to turn a trick.

But the operation also targeted prostitutes advertising on "a popular free Web bulletin board" (presumably Craigslist).

The article does not include any statements by Dart that make the case that women (and men) who voluntarily turn a trick now-and-then to help get extra money or for the thrill of it are harming anyone else.

It's interesting that news articles now include the sheriff having to argue that arresting prostitutes is worth the effort. It does seem that there's a change in thinking happening.

Medill Reports (Jacqueline A. Ingles) included this tidbit.
A high number of women charged with prostitution via craigslist were not residents of Chicago. Rather, they came here with round-trip airline tickets from as far away as California to engage in prostitution to evade the risk of embarrassment associated with arrest in their hometowns.

“There was a desire [among these women] to conduct these activities away from their hometown,” Dart said. “Most would come here and stay for a month and then go back.”

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Get educated on politics

The Democratic Party of the Tenth Congressional District has started Tenth Dems University. The goal is to engage and educate party activists.

There are some upcoming events.
Tenth Dems U: Internet Research in Politics
Saturday July 28th 2007, 02:00pm
Endeavor Realty Office
1121 Lake-Cook Road, Suite D
Deerfield
Contact:
info@tenthdems.org 847-266-8683


Ellen Beth Gill, an attorney, political activist and operator of Ellen’s Tenth Congressional District Blog will conduct a Tenth Dems U class on Dirt Digging and Legislative Lookup: Internet Research in Politics.

Tenth Dems U course are free and open to all, but please register in advance through the Tenth Dems U website.

In this day and age, the most up-to-date political information can be found online, completely free of charge. However, most people do not know it is there, much less how to find it.

Fortunately, Ellen Gill will tell you what you need to know about how the Internet has revolutionized the way our government is monitored and how campaigns are run, as well as what you can do to be a part of this new wave.

You will get hands-on experience at tapping into congressional voting records, court cases, committee hearings and more. The course will also help you decipher the information that you find.

Keep your schedule free for a second, related course in August. Details to come soon.

And I'm on the schedule to teach a class on August 25 on blogging and stuff.

[UPDATE: Ellen's Illinois Tenth Congressional District Blog covered a program where the government is going to give all of us a rating to determine how likely we are to be terrorists. It's kinda interesting that indicted cops in Melrose Park can keep their government jobs, but people who run afoul of some classified tripwire can be denied the right to travel by air.]

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

District 209 issue before federal grand jury?

Forest Park Review wrote about District 209 (Proviso Township High Schools) receiving a subpoena to provide documents and records to a federal grand jury.

YOU ARE ALSO COMMANDED to bring with you the following document(s) or object(s):

All Proviso Township School Board minutes, including minutes of open and closed or executive sessions, during the period January 2007 - June 2007, and copies of any audio or video tapes of closed or executive sessions during the period January 2007 - June 2007.


Any guesses what the feds are interested in for this period?

* I posted this on the January meeting.
* Jose Santiago's retirement date was something odd fiddled with in closed session.
* Melvin Berry was let go in January.
* The Technivista contract was approved at the February board meeting.
* Superintendent Stan Fields spent district money on a PLCCA fundraiser.
* This post covers the March meeting of the board of education.

I'm about to turn into a pumpkin. I'll look through May and June later.

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Brookfield Music Fest on Saturday

Twelve Brookfield bars will host Brookfield Music Fest on Saturday. See Suburban Life (Dan Petralla) for details.

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Illinois EPA orders Triton to clean-up mess

Riverside/Brookfield Landmark (Bill Dwyer):
The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) has ordered Triton College to removed numerous large piles of asphalt and other assorted waste materials that may include sewage sludge from Cook County Forest Preserve land adjacent to the college.

Last week the IEPA paid a visit to the campus to survey the dump site after receiving an anonymous phone complaint. Those officials subsequently ordered Triton Operations Director John Lambrecht to clean up the mess.

Proviso East was improperly dumping--mostly yard waste--in the forest preserve. After I complained the mess was cleaned-up.

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Welch hired at District 89

Since leaving James J. Roche & Associates, District 209 (Proviso Township High Schools) board president Emanuel Chris Welch has joined Sanchez, Daniels and Hoffman. See Proviso Herald (David Pollard)

District 89 (Maywood & Melrose Park elementary schools) has hired Welch to be the lawyer. District 89 board members are all either loyal to Cook County Recorder of Deeds Eugene Moore or Melrose Park Village President Ron Serpico.

In the past Welch has run-up exhorbitant legal bills. For example, he bill District 88 (Bellwood and Stone Park elementary schools) about $200,000 in a six-month period.

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Fox ally appointed to Broadview-Westchester Joint Water Agency board

Proviso Herald (David Weese) has a story on Westchester Trustee Patrick Casey being appointed to the board overseeing the Broadview-Westchester Joint Water Agency.

Casey was elected in April on the slate with Trustee Rick Fox. Fox had been in the minority, but Fox's slate sweeping the April elections put Fox and his allies in the majority.

There are concerns that the water agency has been a cash cow for employee Don Sloan, who is also a Proviso Township trustee. Sloan's political opponents suspect he is being paid for hours he either isn't working or doesn't need to be working.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Melrose Seven becomes Melrose 6+1?

I attended the arraignment of the seven Melrose Park Police Department personnel indicted by the feds this morning.

Two things seemed most significant.

Six of the seven were arraigned together as part of the 9:30 docket. Ric Cervone was arraigned separately as part of the 10:30 docket. All seven pleaded not guilty and had the same conditions imposed on them by Judge Joan B. Gottschall.

One of the conditions was that the defendants are not to have contact with potential victims and witnesses. I got the impression that the court was trying to allow at least Cervone to continue working as a police officer. How can Cervone or any of the others continue to work for the Village of Melrose Park and avoid contact with potential victims and witnesses?

One of the arguments in the indictment is that these private security companies run by the defendants diverted policing resources from the Village of Melrose Park to private contracts. If the U.S. Attorney takes this allegation seriously, it seems hard to reconcile allowing any of the defendants to continue on village payroll if the judge has ordered them not to be in contact with potential victims or witnesses.

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Proviso First Pary campaign disclosure

I obtained a copy of the semi-annual campaign disclosure report for the Proviso First Party. Two members of the Proviso First Party were elected to the Proviso Township High Schools (District 209) board of education on April 17.

The report was filed on paper, so it is not available online.

The report lists five contributions.
  • $349, not-itemized
  • $1,000, from Citizens for Emil Jones, Jr. on April 17
  • $14,000 in-kind contribution from ABS Graphics, 901 S. Rohlwing Rd., Addison for "marketing materials" on April 17
  • $11,935.94 in-kind contribution from PS Advertising, 1883 N. Neltnor, West Chicago for "marketing materials" on April 25
  • $10,000 in-kind contribution from McGaffer Communications, 310 Bussey Hgwy, Park Ridge for "marketing materials"
No expenditures are listed.

Robin Foreman signed the form. It was faxed from James J. Roche & Associates on July 20, the deadline for filing the disclosure statement.

It seems the reasonable inference is that Welch is still spending time at Roche & Associates. Officially Welch left Roche & Associates (or was fired) and is now working for Sanchez, Daniels & Hoffman.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Mike Del Galdo: the DOJ is curious about you

I occasionally check the Site Meter application at the bottom of Proviso Probe.

I saw a visitor from usdoj.gov. So I checked the details.

Apparently, somebody at DOJ did a Google search on Mike Del Galdo at 2:20 PM today. [UPDATE: It was 1:57 PM when the person at DOJ searched "Mike Del Galdo". Later someone searched "vito scavo navistar", although the outclick was to Proviso Insider. The link to that Proviso Insider blog entry is in this entry that talks about the lawyers coaching Melrose Park cops to lie to the feds. Proviso Insider floated the allegation that Mark Sterk coached Ric Cervone to lie. I suggested if the cops were coached by lawyers it was more likely Anthony Onesti or someone from Giglio & Del Galdo.]

One of the questions I've heard asked is about Giglio & Del Galdo representing the wife of Cicero Village President Larry Dominick in her child custody dispute. Inquiring minds want to know. Is Giglio & Del Galdo billing Dominick and his wife for this legal work? Or is it a freebie to a good customer?

See Sun-Times (Leonard N. Fleming) and Chicago Tribune (Sara Olkon). Austin Zimmer gets his number called in the Trib article. Zimmer is the Forest Park resident who got pissy with then Commissioner Patrick Doolin when Doolin opposed giving Giglio & Del Galdo legal work in Forest Park.

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Melrose PD mandatory volunteer work for political campaigns

From the files of Mike Manzo, who ran for village president in 2001:
MELROSE PARK POLICE DEPARTMENT
(official Melrose Park Police letterhead)

TO: ALL ELECTION DAY VOLUNTEERS
FROM: CHIEF VITO R. SCAVO
DATE: MARCH 7, 2001
RE: MANDATORY MEETING

THIS IS TO INFORM YOU THAT ON WEDNESDAY, MARCH 28, 2001 AT 7:00 P.M., THERE WILL BE A MANDATORY MEETING HELD AT the MELROSE VISION PARTY HEADQUARTERS, 2405 DIVISION. THE MEETING WILL LAST APPROXIMATELY 1 HOUR.

RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED,
//sig//Vito R. Scavo
CHIEF VITO R. SCAVO

VRS/jl

1 NORTH BROADWAY * MELROSE PARK * ILLINOIS 60160 * 708-344-8409
“911” FOR EMERGENCY

Who is "jl", the person who prepared this memo for Scavo?

Does it make sense to have a "mandatory" meeting for "volunteers"? Was "volunteering for political work required to be considered for promotion in Melrose Park? To keep one's job?

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Robert Libka & Tommie Miller have a history of looking out for each other

Proviso Insider:
The Insider is hearing rumors that the former CEO of Proviso Township High Schools District 209, Robert "Bob" Libka, is about to be named the number two person in charge of Bellwood School District 88.

Proviso Insider has good sources at District 88 (Bellwood & Stone Park elementary schools).

Proviso Insider characterizes Libka as affable. But Libka is agreeable because he's an incompetent that lets the world happen around him. He genuinely tries to be nice to everybody, but he accomplishes little to nothing.

I pretty much avoided discussing the allegations against Tommy Miller, Proviso West boys basketball coach, and now president of the District 88 board of education. The allegations are rather sordid and will inflict substantial hurt on Miller's family.

But there were allegations made that Tommie Miller was a serial sexual predator against student athletes that he coached. Miller allegedly had sexual relations with numerous female student athletes he coached including his wife when she was in high school.

These allegations were reported to Libka when he was CEO of Proviso Township High Schools (District 209) and Libka declined to investigate. (However, when anonymous allegations were made against a board member who was a Welch opponent, Libka photocopied these allegations and sent them to the entire board. The allegations were that this board member had a homosexual encounter.)

Miller is a political ally of Emanuel Chris Welch, who was president of the District 209 education. Miller was a board member at District 88 where Welch was racking-up massive legal bills as the district's attorney. At one point Welch billed District 88 about $200,000 in a six-month period.

Libka declined to investigate, but Chicago Public Schools did investigate the same allegations against Miller. CPS found the allegations "not substantiated", but I am skeptical of these conclusions.

The most solid piece of evidence against Miller is that his wife had a child at 16 years old in October. If you go back nine months Miller's wife was a 15-year old finishing basketball season.

The allegations against Miller include the detail that he reached financial settlements with the families of the girls/young women involved.

My experience doing similar investigations for the Navy was that the bureaucracy will contort logic into a pretzel to find messy sexual allegations unsubstantiated. If CPS substantiated the allegations against Miller, not only would CPS have to explain to the media that it had a sexual predator in its schools, it would also have to explain why CPS continued to OK Miller being in CPS after his sexual relations with student athletes were first detected. And CPS would have to explain how the information about the initial investigations disappeared from CPS records. And this would lead to follow-up questions. How many sexual predators has CPS allowed to stay in the school system? How does a sexual predator get results of investigations purged from his records?

So, CPS had plenty of incentive to find the allegations against Miller "unsubstantiated".

Libka can't find a job in a real school district. So he's come back to Welch and Miller so he can get the big buck for looking the other way while the political bosses enrich and empower their cronies.

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Monday, July 23, 2007

Democrats claim they want to end Iraq occupation; I say prove it

Yahoo (Natasha T. Metzler) wrote an article about Cindy Sheehan being arrested for protesting for impeachment at the office of Congressman John Conyers (D-MI). Conyers chairs the House Judiciary Committee where impeachment hearings would happen, the first step of the process that could lead to trying members of the executive branch for bribery, treason or other high crimes and misdemeanors in the U.S. Senate.
Conyers introduced a bill last term calling on Congress to determine whether there are grounds for impeaching Bush. [Speaker of the House Nancy] Pelosi has steadfastly dismissed any talk of impeachment, saying Democrats should focus their efforts on ending the war in Iraq.

Why are ending the occupation of Iraq and impeaching members of the executive branch for behaving illegally mutually exclusive?

BTW, what progress can Democrats show toward ending the occupation of Iraq? Aren't there more U.S. military personnel in Iraq now than when the Democrats were elected? What's the plan for ending the occupation?

Isn't in conventional wisdom among Beltway Democrats that as long as the voters are blaming Bush and the Republicans for the Iraq debacle that it's better to allow the war to fester so Democrats can use the issue in the 2008 elections?

BTW, don't Saudi Arabia and Israel--countries that exercise huge influence over U.S. Middle East policy--both want the United States to continue to occupy Iraq? And aren't Democrats exceedingly reluctant to offend the Israel lobby?

[UPDATE: Fire Dog Lake quoted Dr. Maryam, an Iraqi medical relief worker:
Stop telling lies to yourself American. We know that your racist brutal murdering war criminal troops came from your society and reflect its values. we know that because we see how they behave and have to bury their victims. If you are stupid enough to think we feel anything but hatred and contempt for your soldiers and the country that sent them to make war on my people then you are a fool.

As to Saddam bad though he was your country is far worse.

[The truth is humbling, eh? What can we tell someone like Dr. Maryam? "When we're not inflicting suffering on your country we like sports, home cooking and... we're not so bad...."]

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three principals leaving District 88

The Proviso Truth blogged about three principals leaving District 88 (Bellwood and Stone Park elementary schools).

What's the 411 on this situation?

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Bob Cox's misgivings about District 209

Proviso Township High Schools (District 209) board member Robert Cox is publicly expressing misgivings about something. Forest Park Review included a news article (right of the main article with background in gray) and a letter to the editor.
Here is an update of my personal perspectives as a BOE member of Proviso 209.

The PTHS board of education "is as what the PTHS board of education does." Our reputation speaks for itself.

At worst our actions, with their generated circumstances that followed, cast a shadow of hypocrisy and double standards. I entertained fears brought on by those distortions and exaggerations of becoming a parody of a healthy school board.

I consider my participation in a recent two day IASB (Illinois Association of School Boards) workshop a rehab type of an experience for me. The training did provide a safety net and new bearings for me to anchor to.

Moving forward, one of the biggest hurdles is breaking down the buffers that permeate the public education process. Those buffers extend to the BOE and its process also. Boards have guidelines, agreements and codes to adhere to. Board members have roles, responsibilities, and relationships to honor. Here is where I see a dysfunction manifesting.

Filling a vacancy of a BOE seat is a very important task for all boards. After the results of our decision this past Monday, I am embarrassed for myself and for the BOE. Not for anything personal against Brian Cross, we have history, but for allowing the presence of prejudice. By not taking more time for discussion we eliminated the "discovery" that discussion yields.

I can count on my hand the number of students I have influenced; Linda Howard's career in education as a teacher literally has influenced thousands of students. I do not feel the Proviso 209 board needed another political pundit. How did we lose this opportunity to strengthen our board's weakness in breaking down the buffers with teachers?

To the public that elected me, I wish I could say watch us because we are performing for our students. I am compelled to say watch us because we need your help. I cannot pretend that the board of education's actions and methods are not political any longer. I hope the silent majority of our board will take up the cause for discussion instead of limiting our abilities.

We need to be accountable and data driven in our entire decision making for District 209.

My self assessment as a BOE member is a grade of "F." I contributed to the infamous knowing-doing gap. In other words, knowing what to do but not actually doing it.

I offer no excuse for my past actions. I am committed to do better. I am committed to strive for a healthy board of education that in practice focuses on our students first instead of pretending to do so.

Students first, Proviso first.

Bob Cox
Forest Park, District 209 Board of Education member

If Cox has been "born again" as a reformer skeptical of D209's leadership, what do you expect him to do?

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CUFP meeting on Thursday night

Citizens United in Forest Park has been a successful citizen advocacy organization in Forest Park.

Thursday, CUFP will hold a gathering billed as a membership drive.

Please join us Thursday evening, July 26th atop 140 Marengo between 7:00 – 9:00 PM to enjoy refreshments and a beautiful rooftop view. Meet members and supporters of CUinFP and learn how we are improving the quality of life here in our community.

Informative presentations, Voter Registration, Documenting Village Meetings and Campaign Forums are only a part of what we do. Come discover what else we
have to offer to this great Village.

In addition, please feel free to bring friends and neighbors who may also have an interest in improving this town we all call Home.

If you have any questions about this event, please call me at 708 771 2478 or e-mail me at cuinfp@yahoo.com.

We hope to see you there! Thank you and regards,


Steven Backman

I encourage activists across Proviso Township to learn a little about CUFP and attend this meeting.

It could be useful networking, but it would also help if each community had an organization like CUFP to hold local government accountable.

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will Cervone implicate Calderone for alarm deal at District 89?

Many of the anti-establishment, pro-reform crowd in Forest Park suspect Mayor Anthony Calderone is a nefarious political actor and using his official position for personal benefit. The allegations are largely that he uses the implied threat of being liquor commissioner to coerce support from bar owners and that he finds various ways to convert his political influence into contracts for his alarm business, Illinois Alarm.

For example, some suspected Illinois Alarm's contract with District 89 (Maywood and Melrose Park elementary schools) looked suspicious. Later we learned Illinois Alarm made over $800,000, not including the monthly fees. (BTW, when is Forest Park Review going to do the news story on this?)

Seven people connected with the Melrose Park Police Department were indicted on Thursday, including District 89 board member Ric Cervone.

Many of the anti-Calderone people are salivating at the possibility of Cervone telling the feds that Calderone's alarm contract at District 89 was an illegal sweetheart deal.

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over 200,000 visitors

Sometime earlier today Proviso Probe had its 200,000th visitor.

Thanks for reading Proviso Probe.

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Friday, July 20, 2007

did a lawyer assist Cervone in obstructing justice?

I usually resist the temptation to debunk each story on Proviso Insider. My brother analyzed Proviso Insider as being “entertainment”, a sort of parallel universe created by the author(s). It is based on “what ifs” and wishful thinking.

But the spin on the Melrose Park PD indictments is interesting. See Proviso Insider.
Sources tell the Insider that one of the current police officers indicted is G. Ric Cervone, a board member in School District 89. Sources say Ric Cervone was probably indicted because he takes advice from Mark Sterk of Odelson & Sterk. Sources say both Mark Sterk and Burt Odelson are also about to be indicted.

Or Proviso Insider:
Sources tell the Insider that Burt Odelson and Mark Sterk of Odelson & Sterk, Ltd law firm will be indicted next by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald. Sources tell the Insider that Mark Sterk was the attorney advising SD89 Board member Ric Cervone on how to lie to a grand jury. Sources also say Sterk was passing on fees for helping Cervone to Maywood SD89.

Proviso Insider says one of the Melrose Park police officers was coached to lie to the grand jury. This is not an exceptional insight. I heard this rumor when the cops were testifying and the indictment includes multiple obstruction of justice charges.

Proviso Insider claims that an attorney coached Ric Cervone to lie to the grand jury. The indictment doesn't name any attorneys, but it doesn't seem impossible that the attorneys played a role in helping Cervone and others to create a plausible defense.

Proviso Insider names Mark Sterk as the attorney who coached Cervone to lie. This part makes less sense. Proviso Insider claims Sterk helped Cervone because of their relationship at District 89 (Maywood and Melrose Park elementary schools). Cervone was on the board and Sterk was the board's attorney.

Why would Cervone turn to the school district attorney for help? He had a lawyer paid for by the Village of Melrose Park to work on this case.

If a lawyer coached Cervone to lie, it seems more likely it was either the attorney hired by Melrose Park to work on the case, Anthony Onesti, or, possibly, the village's general counsel Giglio & Del Galdo. Giglio & Del Galdo are large political contributors to Melrose Park village president Ron Serpico.

From the indictment:
COUNT TWO
38.It was further part of the scheme that on or about September 21, 2005, after learning of the existence of the federal criminal investigation, including the Grand Jury Investigation, defendant CERVONE met at the Police Department with Day Shift Officer 1 and Officer A and provided them with false information about their accumulated time due and how they had earned it, well knowing that time due was being investigated by the Grand Jury and with the intent that Day Shift Officer 1 and Officer A would present the false information to the grand jury and federal agents.
39.It was further part of the scheme that on or about September 21, 2005, after the meeting described in paragraph 38 above, and after learning of the existence of the federal criminal investigation, in the Grand Jury Investigation, defendant CERVONE again met with Officer A at CERVONE's home in Melrose Park, during which CERVONE directed Officer A to lie to federal agents and the grand jury about how Officer A earned his time due so as not to implicate CERVONE and defendant SCAVO.

COUNT TEN
2.On or about December 26, 2003, in the Northern District of Illinois, and elsewhere, VITO R. SCAVO and GUY RIC CERVONE, defendants herein, for the purpose of executing and attempting to execute the above-described scheme, knowingly did cause to be transmitted by means of wire communication in interstate commerce a writing, sign, and signal, in that defendants SCAVO and CERVONE caused a wire transfer, of which $2,149.21 represented Officer A's salary for the par period ending December 31, 2003, from Melrose Park's bank account at Banco Popular in Melrose Park to an ADP bank account through the Federal Reserve's facility in New Jersey;
In violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343, 1346, and 2.

COUNT ELEVEN reads like COUNT TEN except the date is August 17, 2005.
COUNT NINETEEN
2.On or about September 21, 2005, at Melrose Park, in the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, GUY RIC CERVONE, defendant herein, corruptly endeavored to influence, obstruct, and imped, and to influence, obstruct, and impede the due administration of justice, namely:
a. CERVONE provided Day Shift Officer 1 and Officer A with false information about their time due and how they accumulated it, well knowing that time due was being investigated by the grand jury and with the intent that Day Shift Officer 1 and Officer A would present the false information to the grand jury and federal agents; and
b. CERVONE directed Officer A to lie to federal agents and the grand jury about how Officer A earned time due so as not to implicate defendant CERVONE and Scavo;
In violationof Title 18, United States Code, Section, 1503.

Let's assume Cervone was going to work with a lawyer to concoct a story to protect himself or the enterprise from federal agents or the grand jury detecting the illegal acts. Which lawyer does it make the most sense for Cervone to engage? Or turn the question around. Which lawyer has a motive to approach Cervone about lying to the feds?
a. Mark Sterk
b. Anthony Onesti
c.Giglio or Del Galdo

Onesti and probably Giglio & Del Galdo already knew the facts of the case. If the feds brought down the enterprise Sterk wouldn't lose anything. He'd still have the same legal accounts. However, if bringing down the enterprise resulted in Ron Serpico losing his position as village president Giglio & Del Galdo would lose many of their most lucrative legal clients. Onesti got tapped for the MPPD contract because of his close relationship with Giglio & Del Galdo.

If Cervone worked with a lawyer on concocting a cover story it seems much more likely it was either Onesti or one of the lawyers at Giglio & Del Galdo.

What did Mike Del Galdo tell me at the special meeting of the District 209 board of education, “If you want to get treated like a professional you have to act like a professional.” Wouldn't it be ironic if unprofessional behavior got Del Galdo convicted? Hey, Mike, there's more to being professional than wearing a suit and sucking up to those in power.

BTW, props to Shamus Toomey for this lead, Sun-Times (Shamus Toomey):
The feds Thursday called it "an illegal racketeering enterprise."

In Melrose Park, it was known as the police department.

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Details of indictment of Melrose Park PD personnel

On Thursday, July 19, 2007, at the request of the U.S. Attorney, Northern Illinois District, a grand jury empaneled in December, 2005 returned indictments against seven Village of Melrose Park employees connected to the police department. The indicted include former chief of police Vito Scavo, two deputy police chiefs Gary Montino and James Caputo and one District 89 (Maywood and Melrose Park elementary schools) board member, Lt. G. Ric Cervone. The other personnel indicted were Michael “Mickey” Caliendo, Michael Wynn and German Cepeda.

The indictments were for extortion, ghost-payrolling, mail fraud, obstruction of justice and tax evasion.
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Scavo owned one private security company (DOD Security Consultants, Inc., “a for-profit unlicensed private security contractor agency”) and recruited clients for IFPC Worldwide, Inc. (Who are the officers and agent of IFPC?) Caputo and Caliendo, a civilian supervisor of part-time officers, also operated a security company called “Police Department Security” out of the Melrose Park Police Department.

The indictment alleges that these security companies used village police officers paid by taxpayers to provide security while the clients paid the private companies. In some cases the contracts were made under threat or misrepresentation. The security companies charged above the market rate for their services. Clients felt they could not decline the services without experiencing retaliation from the chief of police of the police department.

Taxpayers were also cheated out of legitimate police services because private security work took priority over village policing duties.

Montino is alleged to have billed Cinemark for hours he didn't actually work and ordered private security personnel to wear shirts and jackets identifying them as police in violation of Illinois law.

Also, Scavo tricked Navistar into letting him use their parking lot. Navistar thought it was providing a public service to the village. Scavo was charging people to park the cars and keeping the money.

The first grand jury investigation began in Spring, 2005.

Capitol Fax Blog posted the indictment.

I'll have more on the indictment later.

CBS2-Chicago had a useful summary.
Charges in the indictment returned Thursday include:

-- Scavo, 59: 10 counts of mail or wire fraud, nine counts of filing false individual or corporate federal income tax returns, and one count each of racketeering conspiracy, extortion and obstruction of justice;
-- Montino, 51: one count of racketeering conspiracy and four counts of mail fraud;
-- Caliendo, 64: one count of racketeering conspiracy and seven counts of mail or wire fraud;
-- James Caputo, 63, former deputy police chief who resigned in 2004: four counts of mail or wire fraud;
-- Cervone, 56: two counts of mail fraud and one count of obstruction of justice;
-- Michael Wynn, 53, a part-time police officer: three counts of mail fraud; and
-- Cepeda, 40: one count of extortion.


Chicago Tribune (Sara Olkon and Joseph Sjostrom) also covered the story.

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and the big news out of Proviso

A shoe has dropped in Melrose Park. See Capitol Fax Blog (Rich Miller):
The former chief and six other former and current officers and employees of the Melrose Park Police Department operated the department as an illegal racketeering enterprise for at least a decade between 1996 and 2006, according to a federal grand jury indictment returned today, announced Patrick J. Fitzgerald, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. The indictment alleges that the former chief, Vito R. Scavo, and other defendants defrauded west suburban Melrose Park and its citizens by using police department personnel and property to operate several private security guard companies and provide personal services to Scavo; extorted village businesses into using security guard services provided by companies that Scavo and others controlled; and that Scavo committed individual and corporate tax fraud and improperly compensated police department employees who performed personal chores for him with compensatory time off that they had not earned. Scavo, who was village police chief from 1995 until he resigned in September 2006, was charged with racketeering conspiracy along with Deputy Police Chief Gary Montino and Michael “Mickey” Caliendo, former civilian supervisor of part-time police officers.

As part of the alleged conspiracy, Scavo and two other defendants, Guy Ric Cervone, a former police lieutenant recently promoted to commander, and German Cepeda, a former police department janitor and current code enforcement inspector for the village, allegedly obstructed a grand jury investigation of their conduct and tampered with potential grand jury witnesses.

Ric Cervone is the VP of the District 89 (Maywood and Melrose Park elementary schools) board of education.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

the big news?


[UPDATE: Cook County Recorder of Deeds Eugene Moore was neither arrested nor indicted today. He was served with a subpoena for information connected with his insurance brokerage business.

[There are two main areas it would make sense for investigators are scrutinizing: Proviso Township High Schools (see Forest Park Review (Josh Adams)) and the Maywood Police Pension fund. Last I check EMM, Moore's front company, is not properly registered as a business in Illinois, but this seems too small an issue for a subpoena.]

I have been told be two sources who have talked with members of the State's Attorney's office that Eugene Moore will be arrested or indicted today for misconduct connected to Proviso Township High Schools (District 209).

I've also been told (yesterday) be a source that, “If it was going to happen tomorrow I think I would have heard about it.”

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Burt Odelson of Odelson & Sterk is closely linked to County Board President Todd Stroger. District 209 fired Odelson & Sterk in May, 2007. Subsequently the president of the D209 board of education, Emanuel Chris Welch, was let go by his former law firm, James J. Roche & Associates. Roche & Associates and Odelson & Sterk feed each other business.

It may be that personal issues caused the friction between Welch and Odelson. But it's also easy to paint a scenario where the grand jury testimony made it clear that the noose was tighening for some people connected to District 209.

Maybe Welch asked Odelson to make some phone calls to the State's Attorney to take the pressue off. Odelson could have told Welch, I can't help you.

Maybe Odelson saw the D209 house of cards was about to come crashing down. And Odelson encouraged Welch to fire his firm to minimize the damage and involvement of Odelson & Sterk.

Also, last night District 209 cut its relationship with Anthony Scariano's law firm. Scariano may be politically connected, but his firm is actually respected within the field of school law. Most of the law firms that get used in Proviso politics have minimal expertise beyond cashing checks and making political contributions.

One theory holds that both Melrose Park village president Ron Serpico and perhaps others are trying to bank favors with Giglio & Del Galdo in preparation for criminal litigation.

Cutting the relationship with Scariano's firm would be consistent with giving Giglio & Del Galdo more hours.

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last night's District 209 board meeting

Last night the Proviso Township High Schools (District 209) board of education held its regular meeting.

District 209 has a new board of education. Robert Cox and Robin Foreman were elected in April. Brian Cross was appointed last week.

The interpersonal dynamics are different from the old 4-3 split, so the meetings feel a little different.
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There were a large number of parents and community members who raised concerns. Having a long public comment period followed by a long closed session left the board members a bit drained. It sometimes seemed like board president Emanuel Chris Welch was fishing for a motion or a second and the board members were too weary to do it.

The board largely approved the agenda items. One twist is that the board voted to pay Anthony Scariano's firm for legal work, but not to use the firm in the future. This vote was unanimous. (I think Dan Adams was absent. IIRC there were only six board members voting and the rest of them were there. Adams doesn't say much, so there's not much difference whether he's there or not.)

The board also voted down the line items to pay for community liaison officers at Proviso East and Proviso West. The Proviso West positions died when no board member seconded Robert Cox's motion. Brian Cross requested more information before approving the Proviso East liaison officers.

A number of parents expressed suspicion of the plan to have the Hillside PD write local ordinance violations against Proviso West students. Police Chief Joe Lukaszek explained the local ordinance violations are like parking tickets and a better deal for students than handling the issues through arrests. The parents didn't like the idea of the police being involved because it would lead to students having permanent records that could penalize them in the future.

What Lukaszek said may have been the truth, but the parents probably had some reasonable concerns. At some point someone is going to call the cops for something minor and then it's going to escalate with the police officer on scene. And employers are looking for ways to more efficiently search police records, so that which is hard to search today may become easier to search tomorrow.

Cox made the statement, “I'd rather have police than National Guard in my school.” Apparently when Cox was a Proviso East student the National Guard was called out to keep discipline in response to a crisis. (Anybody know the details?)

My two cents is that teachers and deans relinquishing (abandoning?) disciplinary duties has led to hiring legions of school disciplinary personnel. And discipline has become more of a problem. I predict that increasing reliance on the police will make discipline within the schools worse not better. The schools that function the best don't have lots of security goons, cops or National Guard keeping order. The schools that get the best results use teachers supported by deans to keep good order and discipline.

However, I expect once Brian Cross gets to read “exhibit 'A'” he'll be fine with hiring the liaisons at Proviso East. And once the meeting is in another building with fewer Proviso West parents the board will approve the Proviso West liaisons. Without the parents there some board member will second Cox's motion.

The parents and citizens raised a number of concerns. Arbdella Patterson asked details about Bateast Insurance (see Proviso Herald (Chuck Fieldman)), the company hired to replace Eugene Moore. I raised concerns about hiring Danielle Ashley and David Bonoma & Associates. One family raised a discipline issue pertaining to a specific student. The local ordinances were an issue that got members of the audience giving the “amen”. One person raised the issue of reducing the number of credits to graduate. Another raised the issue of student fees. One citizen objected to the short notice on filling the vacancy on the school board.

Katrina Steele (sp?) objected to removing the boys bathroom doors at Proviso West. Welch put Principal Alexis Wallace on the spot after she said, “[The doors] were removed by the maintenance department because of vandalism.” Since Wallace avoided answering the question about who authorized the removal Welch said in an accusatory way, “You're not running your building.”

A source says the doors were ordered removed by Superintendent Stan Fields. Later in the meeting when discussing replacement of the fence at Proviso West it was clear Fields was managing the project without involving Wallace. So, if Fields feels he can remove a fence at West without involving Wallace, why wouldn't he feel the same about bathroom doors? And what is Welch trying to achieve by belittling Wallace?

One citizen asked about the Proviso foundation and was concerned about secrecy. Board member Kelly said that one of the school board candidates (in addition to Brian Cross, Kevin McDermott and Linda Howard applied; see Forest Park Review (Josh Adams)) identified herself as a member of the foundation board. Fields claimed the board does not exist, but avoided saying Howard was incorrect. It seems likely Howard has been promised a position on the foundation board even though the board doesn't formally exist.

Fields also made the claim his advisory board is open to all. He claims he solicited people to join at every community forum he attended. Neither Josh Adams or I remember him making the offer at the Forest Park forum. Although another local journalist remembers the offer being made at a forum in Berkeley.

Welch and Fields used their ability to decline to answer questions to dodge critics. If Welch or Fields felt they had a good answer to a citizens question or a question by board member Kelly they'd give the answer. If they didn't have an answer they felt would make them look good they merely ignored the question.

Cox and board member Robin Foreman both cast “no” votes. I think this was at least partially done to try to create the appearance of independence. However, the “no” votes weren't attached to substantive critiques on the issue being voted. And neither Cox or Foreman supported Kelly in trying to get more information.

Remember, Cox is the board member who voted for Brian Cross to be the candidate to be considered by the board when they were in closed session and then voted against Cross in open session. Because Welch's block was split between Howard and Cross the closed session vote was more important than the open session vote. So Cox has already established a track record of casting meaningless votes of dissent to create the appearance of being independent.

Kelly is trying to establish herself as an independent voice of opposition. She finds it more intimidating to be in a 6-1 minority than a 4-3 minority. She's also sensitive to the criticism that she's both not confrontational enough by insisting her questions get answered and the criticism of not working in a cooperative way with the majority.

Welch did engage in some criticism of Fields for not communicating with the board and residents better. Of course, this could be seen as self-serving because one of the agenda items was to rehire the publicity firm Danielle Ashley. The contract calls for Danielle Ashley to keep its bills below $10,000 per month.

Also, Fields has this weird way of phrasing district policies. He talks about district policies in the third person describing them as the policies pass by the board of education. Look, Dr. Fields, if you recommended the policies to the BOE and the policies were passed, why not talk about the policies as being district policies? It sorta sounds like Fields is trying to evade responsibility for policies like he's some flunky bureaucrat implementing policies decided by some remote governing body.

Danielle Ashley was hired as was David A. Bomona & Associates. Bomona will be the district's lobbyist for $8,000 per month, plus expenses.

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Democracy For America considering Pera

One of the local Democracy for America (DFA) chapters is mulling the decision whether to support Mark Pera in his quest to unseat U.S. Representative Dan Lipinski in the Democratic primary. See Blog For American (Sandra Verthein). DFA is the legacy organization from Howard Dean's campaign for President.

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killing for a cause you don't believe in


In These Times (Joel Bleifuss) has an article on Vincent J. Emanuele, a Marine Corps veteran who participated in the invasion and occupation of Iraq. (Photo from In These Times)

When did you change your mind about the wisdom of this war?


In 2004. What did it for me was Fahrenheit 9/11, which really gave me a new perspective.

Being over there with an antiwar mindset was difficult. The guys I was with knew I was opposed to the war, and I had a lot of support from them, even if they didn’t agree with me. But whenever I would voice my opinion to commanding officers, I was told to shut up.

Knowing what I knew, it was difficult to go on combat patrols and kick doors in and have to pull my trigger in self-defense. My attitude shifted particularly in terms of not wanting to take anyone’s life. Unfortunately, we encountered scenarios that dictated differently.

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Monday, July 16, 2007

District 209 school board meeting tonight


The Proviso Township High Schools (District 209) board of education meets tonight.

Agenda items that caught my eye:

David A. Bonoma & Associates will be hired as lobbyists for $8,000 per month plus incurred expenses. The firm does not have a website I can find. $8,000 per month is $96,000 per year.

Who does District 209 need to lobby? State of Illinois? Regional Superintendent of Education? Township government? The villages?

Here's my observation: between board president Chris Welch and board member Theresa Kelly they have the personal mobile phone numbers of everyone the district could want to lobby already programmed into their mobile phones.

By the way, the agreement with Bonoma says, "DAB will work in conjunction with The Roosevelt Group, an affiliated Springfield lobbying firm, in providing these services."

Here's my offer to District 209. I'll do the lobbying for half of what DAB is offering.

Danielle Ashley is being hired again. Supposedly there was a bid process. Danielle Ashley was the second lowest bidder at $10,000 per month, but the document compares apples to oranges. Foresight Advertising bid $115,000 per year.

There's also a $100,000 contract with Highland. Apparently no one else bid on these services.

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Peraica annual picnic

Who? Commissioner Tony Peraica & Republican Organization of Lyons Township
What? 3rd Annual Cermak Pool Picnic
When? Sunday, July 29th, 11:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Where? Cermak Park, 7701 W. Ogden Avenue, Lyons, IL 60534

Of course, it's free.

Forest Preserve bike tour starts at 8:30 AM in Cermak Park.

For more info call (708)344-1600

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Saturday, July 14, 2007

Peraica sued by former chief of staff

Daily Southtown (David H. Montgomery) reports that Commissioner Tony Peraica's former chief of staff, Terrence G. Austin, is suing Peraica and a local hospital.
[Austin was] found comatose in his home and taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center on July 7, 2005.

Police found a hypodermic needle in Austin's home and charged him with possession of drug paraphernalia July 9, 2005. Two days later, Peraica placed Austin on an unpaid leave of absence from his $78,345-a-year job....

Austin claims his firing was based on the illegal release of his confidential hospital records.

Comments?

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new District 88 superintendent has a history

Northwest Indiana Times (Joan Carreon):
CALUMET CITY | Hoover-Schrum Elementary District 157's former superintendent [Rosemary Hendricks] has been hired by west suburban Bellwood Elementary District 88 as its interim superintendent, according to a published report.

Looks like D88's new superintendent is no stranger to controversy.

BTW, the article mentions Chris Welch, who also worked as attorney for D157. Small world, eh?

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Muslims meeting in Rosemont on Labor Day

Sun-Times (Cathleen Falsani):
Aug. 31 - Sept. 6
Do: Labor Day in Chicago means it's time for the annual Islamic Society of North America convention. The largest annual gathering of Muslims in the nation is now in its 44th year and will meet at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont Aug. 31 - Sept. 3. If you want to see what the cross-section of Islam in America looks like, this is an event not to be missed. Featured: renowned theological and societal speakers, a film festival, live music and an enormous bazaar with exotic food and fashion. Visit www.isna.net.

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Jesse Jackson picks on Melrose Park small business to get his name in the news

Chicago Public Radio (Natalie Moore):
The Reverend Jesse Jackson and a coalition of community leaders are weighing in on how to stop youth violence. Organizers say suburban gun stores are part of the problem. Tomorrow they plan to march outside a Melrose Park gun shop.

What are the contributing factors to violence in Proviso Township?

How many of the following factors would you rank above the gun shop in Melrose Park?

  • Street gangs engaging in drug dealing
  • Corrupt cops allowing drug dealing
  • Politicians forming alliances with street gangs and corrupt cops
  • The State's Attorney protecting politically connected drugs dealers
  • A high school system that fails to retain and graduate students
  • A high school system with a high level of "normal" violence
  • A community culture where street violence is perceived as normal

Jesse Jackson is an opportunist. He wants to keep his name in the media by railing against some "safe" scapegoat. Jackson likes kicking around a "suburban" small business owner, but he won't rock the boat among the Black political elites by calling-out their game.

Remember, a few months ago Jackson was recording radio ads for Com Ed telling us how it was a good deal for Com Ed to jack our electric bills. When you pay your electric bill, remember, Jesse Jackson gets a cut of that action.

The Democratic Party has largely abandoned pushing gun control. This is partly a political calculation, but it also reflects that there's little to no research to support that gun control reduces crime and some research suggests that gun control has no effect on crime rates.

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Friday, July 13, 2007

watch Proviso Probe on Tuesday

A previously reliable source has told me that a major local story will break next week on Tuesday. It may not make the deadline for the newspapers that come out on Wednesday, but it's a big enough story that it should get articles with some details in the daily newspapers.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Mark Pera speaks to DFA in Oak Park

Mark Pera and his wife, Leslie, attended the local Democracy for America meeting at La Majada in Oak Park. Pera is running for Congress against Dan Lipinski in the Democratic primaryin February, 2008.

I interviewed Pera before, but it was good to see him field questions from others. Both he and his wife are physically attractive people. Pera's wife is a management or financial sector professional currently working on privatizing portions of the United Kingdom's health care system.

Pera made it clear that he's going to be a consensus builder and rejects strident, ideological politics. The good of this is that he will probably be a productive member of Congress. The bad is that I could definitely see him getting behind something like the Iraq War because the Beltway class portrayed opposition to the war as being limited to extremists. Pera did refer negatively to “extremists” within the Democratic Party.

In my previous interview Pera emphasized getting involved in transportation issues. The district includes Midway Airport as well as rail lines and Interstate. In front of DFA Pera showed passion for environmental issues. Since he prosecutes and litigates environmental and utility matters for the Cook County State's Attorney it makes sense for him to serve on a committee dealing with these issues.

Pera reiterated a few issues where he contrasts with Lipinski. Pera is pro-abortion rights and pro-stem cell research. Lipinski is opposed to abortion even in cases of rape and incest. Pera is for rapidly withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq. Lipinski has been mostly supportive of Bush's Iraq policy.

Pera took heat from the audience on various issues. Pera favored improving access to health care, but didn't provide details about how to do this. He cited Hillary Rodham Clinton as being a health care expert with unlimited access to other experts and she has yet to formulate a plan. Pera's wife seemed quite influential on his thinking about health care. Pera criticized countries with universal health care systems because of issues of “rationing” health care. I criticized this language forcefully and argued that the U.S. system performs poorly by any measure. After hearing from the audience Pera and his wife seemed to be rethinking their position on health care. They seemed most persuaded by the argument that health care costs were stifling small business and big business.

Pera also described Iran acquiring nuclear weapons as a threat to U.S. security. He prefers diplomacy, but would be open to using military force.

I tried to give credit to Pera for doing a good job running Lyons Township High School. He's the president of the board of education. Pera demurred and said credit should go to the superintendent and other professional staff.

Pera also took some grief over gay marriage. Pera favors civil unions, not gay marriage.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Brian Cross appointed to board of education, District 209


Brian Cross has confirmed that he was appointed to the board of education of Proviso Township High Schools (District 209) to fill the position previously held by Charles Flowers, EdD. (There are probably Flowers allies who would argue the seat isn't vacant because the board of education doesn't have the authority to remove an elected board member.)

Like board member Reatha "Sue" Henry, Cross is a full-time employee of Cook County Recorder of Deeds Eugene Moore. Moore is the political boss that influences who gets hired (and fired) at District 209. And until recently Moore was the "broker of record" for the district.

As the broker of record Moore made $18,000. See Forest Park Review (Josh Adams). Recently the contract was changed to Bateast Insurance Group. See Proviso Herald (Chuck Fieldman). Bateast is connected to Moore and one of the bosses pulling Moore's strings, Rev. Claude Porter who runs PLCCA, a social service agency.

Cross is an inappropriate person to appoint to the board of education because he has no independence whatsoever. He will vote the ways he's been told to vote or he will lose his job with the Recorder of Deeds.

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Sunday, July 08, 2007

Russ Stewart expects Eugene Moore challenged in Dem primary

Russ Stewart wrote about the possibility of Cook County Recorder of Deeds Eugene Moore being challenged in the Democratic primary by either State Representative Karen Yarbrough or Alderman Ed Smith.
My prediction: Moore is a "Dead Man Walking." He has no powerful mentor and no political base. Getting sometime Daley critic Smith out of the City Council is a Daley priority, as is keeping Yarbrough out of the recorder's office, from which she could run for county board president in 2010 or later. Expect Smith to be slated, and expect a close and nasty Smith-YarbroughMoore primary, which Smith will win. [Replaced "Yarbrough" with "Moore" b/c I think that's what Stewart meant.]

I was sorta surprised to see the reasoning against Yarbrough as Recorder of Deeds including the possibility she'd run for President of the County Board.

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Thursday, July 05, 2007

Keith Olbermann and some other people on Bush commuting Libby's sentence


I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby committed obstruction of justice. Why would Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff obstruct justice when dealing with a special prosecutor investigating who outed undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame?

Libby was protecting Cheney and/or President George W. Bush. Either Bush and/or Cheney engaged in criminal activity or conduct that would have been politically explosive.

Libby was rewarded for his criminality by President Bush who protect Libby from being sent to prison. The lies used to justify invading Iraq where protected by a planned effort to retaliate against Ambassador Joe Wilson. The retaliation included Wilson's wife, a CIA operative specializing in learning about nuclear weapons programs, including Iran's.

Bush has abused the power of the presidency to protect one of his co-conspirators from the consequences of his actions. Will our members of Congress--Reps. Danny K. Davis, Dan Lipinski, Rahm Emanuel and Luis Gutierrez--rise to the occasion and do something about it?

Fire Dog Lake (Christy Hardin Smith) quotes extensively from a Baltimore Sun editorial. She also includes Digby quoting Thomas Paine.
…in America THE LAW IS KING. For as in absolute governments the King is law, so in free countries the law ought to be King; and there ought to be no other….

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relationship between grades and test scores

Proviso Herald (Chuck Fieldman) writes that Proviso Township High Schools (District 209) Superintendent Stan Fields suspects grades are being inflated.

Fields reasons that 1/3 of Proviso students failed at least one class during the spring. But only 20-25 percent meet or exceed state standards.

What's Fields solution? Buy computer software.

"The Pearson Benchmark software provides valid, reliable assessments that are aligned with the state learning standards and (Prairie State Achievement Exam/ACT) objectives, and organized by courses identified with our graduation and classification policies," Fields wrote in a July District 209 newsletter.

The plan, he continued, is to deliver instruction subject only to the valid, reliable assessments maintained with the Benchmark software. Doing this, he stated, restricts the variables impacting student proficiency.


This article raises a number of questions.

1. To what extent are Proviso schools using grades to reflect disciplinary issues? Are teachers inflating grades for students who don't make trouble? Why are grades inflated?
2. Fields seems to want Proviso to teach to the tests. I suspect this will improve test scores a small amount. However, I doubt it will produce large gains over a sustained period of time. Who wants to be a teacher or a student in a school optimized around cracking the whip on test scores and worshiping the boys basketball teams? I doubt the schools that get the best test scores are most extreme examples of the back-to-basics movement.

It will be interesting to see if grades correspond to test scores. If 25 students in a class are ranked by test scores, will the rankings correspond to how the same students rank by their grades? If not, is this a failure of the grading system, or is it perfectly appropriate?
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increased stink from Hillside dump should be temporary

Have you noticed the Hillside dump emitting more stink than usual lately?


Suburban Life (Joe Sinopoli)
has what the company has told the village. And the village's representative on the issue, Joe Pisano, director of public works and building services, buys the explanation.

Pisano said 14 new gas wells have been installed in those quadrants that are expected to be connected to an active vacuum system no later than early next week....

As of this week, roughly the western third of the landfill is about 85 percent complete as far as filling and gas collection, and it’s now being prepared for the installation of a final membrane that will be capped by 3 feet of topsoil.

I was at a backyard barbecue yesterday with a contractor who described driving down to the bottom of the landfill to dump his construction waste decades ago.

He said it was 1,500 feet deep. And that he was allowed down because it hadn't rained recently. He described enormous machines for rolling over the dumped material and crushing and compressing it.

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Development: how dense is too dense?

Development density is an issue in Brookfield. See Riverside/Brookfield Landmark (Bob Uphues).

Last year there was a proposal to build a 60-unit condo building in the Hollywood section of Brookfield. Community opposition killed the proposal.
[The] village's director of planning and zoning, Keith Sbiral, will host a special town hall meeting on July 12 at 7 p.m. at Brookfield Village Hall, 8820 Brookfield Ave., to specifically discuss the future of Hollywood in relation to the Brookfield 2020 Master Plan.

"If the community doesn't want density there, if that's really the case, then the community plan should reflect what the community thinks," Sbiral said.

What test should be applied to new development regarding density?

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Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Are you outraged about Bush commuting sentence of Libby?

President George W. Bush commuted the prison sentence of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby. Libby was the chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney.

Libby was convicted of obstructing justice in the investigation of who leaked the identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame. Plame's identity was leaked as retaliation for her husband, Joe Wilson, a former U.S. ambassador and career diplomat, writing an opinion piece in the New York Times debunking Bush administration claims about Iraq trying to acquire Uranium in Africa. Wilson explained that parts of the Bush administration new the claims about Iraq trying to acquire Uranium were bogus, however, President Bush and others kept using the claims as part of their case for selling the American people on going to war with Iraq.

Libby obstructed justice as part of the conspiracy to take the United States to war based on fraud and psychological manipulation. Bush and Cheney were leaders of the conspiracy. And Bush has protected Libby from the consequences of participating in the conspiracy. The implicit quid pro quo is that Libby will continue to protect Bush and Cheney by not revealing what he knows about how the American people were bamboozled.

Fortunately, the U.S. Constitution provides for a way to hold the President of the United States accountable when he violates the law. When the President of the United States is guilty of "bribery, treason and other high crimes and misdemeanors" he may be tried and removed from office.

Bush and Cheney have committed numerous crimes in office. And the Democrats declared impeachment was "off the table" so as not to offend the pundit class and other media elites. This was supposed to make Democrats seem reasonable.

If you are outraged by Bush commuting the sentence of one of his co-conspirators, please email me. With your contact information include your member of Congress. To get members of Congress to do their duty, we need to do our duty as citizens and be persistent. There needs to be accountability.

Email me: RadioNyberg circled "a" Yahoo spot c0m

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