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Proviso Probe

Friday, August 31, 2007

is this the best health care system in the world?

Jane Hamsher (Fire Dog Lake):
I’m one of those lucky people who has insurance. And Blue Cross has decided to deny the $4000 test I had last fall which determined I had invasive breast cancer as “not medically necessary.”

When someone claims the U.S. health care system is the best in the world, ask them by what measure.

It's not the most cost effective. It doesn't cover everyone. We don't have the low infant mortality rates. We don't have the highest life expectancy.

The U.S. system probably does put the highest percentage of the cost in the pockets of shareholders. So, when Republicans say we have the best health care system in the world, they might be referring to the system that does the most to enrich the executives and shareholders.

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Yahoo (John Christoffersen, AP):
World Wrestling Entertainment has suspended 10 of its wrestlers for violations of a policy that tests for steroids and other drugs, the company said Thursday.

I can see punishing pro football players for steroids. They are nominally expected to bulk up to 300+ pounds on weight lifting and peanut butter sandwiches.

But pro wrestlers are supposed to do steroids, aren't they? I just assumed that it was something wrestling leagues set-up for the wrestlers.

But in the wake of Chris Benoit's death I guess Vince McMahon is gonna throw some of the second-tier talent under the bus.

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

buying or selling a home? Contact Patrick Doolin



Patrick Doolin has joined Proviso Probe as an advertiser.

If you are thinking about buying or selling a home, contact Patrick.

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Melrose Park making case for new TIF district

Chicago Tribune (Steve Brosinski) (scroll down to second part) covered a recent Melrose Park meeting about a proposed new TIF district.

Some members of the community are concerned the TIF money will be used to displace Latino families.

There are other general concerns about TIF districts.

1. Will current politicians borrow money against the future and make bad decisions about how to spend it?
2. Will TIF funds become a slush fund with less accountability than the normal village budget?
3. Will the TIF divert too much money from the schools?
4. Will the TIF district force the other taxing bodies (schools, library, park district, etc.) to raise taxes sooner and more frequently? Is the village putting too much of the tax base in TIF districts?
5. Will the TIF spending actually increase the tax base in the TIF district?

As Illinois law stands, there is too little accountability for local politicians creating TIF districts.

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Fields gets paid undisclosed amount to resign and take blame

At the Monday, August 27, special meeting of the board the Proviso Township High Schools (District 209) board of education approved the resignation of stan fields as superintendent. The resignation is part of an agreement with the board of education. The district will pay Fields an undisclosed amount. Fields took responsibility for losing the confidence of the board of education by not communicating with board members.

Bill Kirchner and Barbara Cole spoke in favor of keeping Fields.

I,Carl Nyberg, spoke against paying Fields money for resigning.

The board deliberated in closed session for slightly over an hour.

According to board member Theresa Kelly, board member Dan Adams voted by phone during the closed session. As I understand the Open Meetings Act it is contrary to Illinois law to take votes in closed session.

In open session five board members voted to accept the resignation package negotiated with Fields. Kelly voted “present” and Adams was not present.

Kelly spoke against paying Fields because of the ongoing investigations of the district and allegations from the Stark King report. In closed session interim superintendent Robert Libka assured Kelly that he and the lawyers from Giglio & Del Galdo would investigate the allegations. Kelly said she was sending the Stark King report to the Regional Superintendent of Education, Charles Flowers, and the Cook County State's Attorney. This triggered an angry reaction by Welch and Michael A. DeBartolo. Libka also expressed unhappiness with Kelly's decision.

See Proviso Herald (Chuck Fieldman) (who was present at the meeting) and Forest Park Review (Josh Adams) (who was covering a Village of Forest Park meeting) for other coverage, including details of Fields statement.

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re-enacting soliciting for sex in men's room

[UPDATE2: Countdown with Keith Olbermann does an even more entertaining job re-enacting Sen. Craig's bathroom incident.]


Channel 13, Sacramento, a CBS affiliate reenacted the conduct from the arrest of Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID) the anti-gay rights U.S. Senator who liked to have sex with men in bathrooms. But he's not gay.

[UPDATE: Below is a video with a song by Doug Clark, produced by Joe Barrentine for SpokesmanReview.com. h/t to TRex of Fire Dog Lake, who in turn credits Diane.]

The jingle is a 1971 #1 hit Knock Three Times by Tony Orlando and Dawn. Knock Three Times unseated George Harrison's My Sweet Lord as the #1 song in the USA.

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get ready for more BS from GOP, media elites and others who want to bomb Iran

Watch for a new propaganda campaign to get Americans whipped up into a frenzy against Iran. Grand Moff Texan (Daily Kos) says VP Dick Cheney has given the order to begin the propaganda campaign after Labor Day.

[UPDATE: Here's more warnings from Juan Cole (Informed Comment) and Jeff Huber, CDR, USN (ret) (Pen and Sword).

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Stone Park jewelry heist on Tuesday

Daily Herald (James Fuller):
Two armed robbery suspects remained at large Tuesday after evading several police departments in a car chase a day earlier and disappearing into the Wood Dale Grove Forest Preserve.

The chase happened after a Monday afternoon robbery at Salgados Jewelry Shop in Stone Park. The store is located across the street from the police department and owned by a police officer's family.

The story sounds like something out of a TV chase. It's kinda interesting.

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CTA blames need for fare increase on Springfield

The state budget isn't done. And public transportation may be affected.

I received the following message from the CTA.
Dear Valued Chicago Card Plus Customer:

Due to insufficient state funding, the Chicago Transit Authority Board recently approved a contingency plan which includes changes to CTA service and fares. Without additional funding, this contingency plan will take effect on September 16, 2007. Customers who pay with cash or Transit Cards and use the CTA weekdays will pay higher fares at rail stations and on buses (depending on the time of day they ride). Fares will also increase for customers who use Chicago Card® and Chicago Card Plus®. Visit www.transitchicago.com to learn more about CTA's 2007 fare changes.

Under this plan, beginning September 16, the fare for Chicago Card and Chicago Card Plus customers will increase from $1.75 to $2.00 per ride, and 25¢ for a transfer (which allows two additional rides within two hours of issuance), regardless of the time of day. However, the bonus structure currently in place will remain, providing a $2 bonus for every $20 of Pay-Per-Use value added to an account. The cost of a 30-day unlimited Chicago Card Plus card will also increase from $75.00 to $84.00.

If the fare change goes into effect on September 16, the new $2.00 fare will be deducted from your Pay-Per-Use Chicago Card Plus account. Those who use the Chicago Card Plus 30-day unlimited ride pass, and whose reload occurs on or after September 16, will be charged the new rate of $84.00 on their accounts.

Chicago Card and Chicago Card Plus offer the best value for traveling on CTA. Thank you for choosing Chicago Card Plus as your fare payment option.(link and emphasis in original

The CTA is using technology to organize its regular riders into a constituency that makes its desires known.

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Forest Park Police Department command climate & alleged rape

Forest Park Review (Josh Adams) wrote the headline, "Report says woman knew alleged rapist". I would have chosen something more like, "Alleged rape: incident report released," and then given written something like, "Village redacts details for privacy reasons," in the large text blurb.

On Forest Park Forums dogcatcher asked (in this discussion), How on earth could the off-duty behavior be the fault of our Chief or Mayor?

This is how I responded:
Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't this the same Mayor Calderone who effectively sided with a Forest Park police officer who sexually assaulted another police officer at a department function?

Didn't the FPPD engage in behavior that looked like retaliation against the officers who assisted the officer sexually assaulted? Isn't the reasonable inference that Calderone directed the retaliation and Chief Ryan carried it out?

And wasn't the officer who did the sexual assault not only retained on the force, but put in charge of internal investigations?

And hasn't Ryan bent over backwards to conceal police misconduct by FPPD officers and defend them against allegations of brutality (of course, minus the officers on Calderon's political hit list)?

So, is it any wonder that FPPD officers think the rules don't apply to them as long as they do the bidding of Ryan and Calderone?

Do you think it's a coincidence that the alleged rape happened in Forest Park?

The FPPD has about 38 cops, right? About seven of these cops actually live in Forest Park, right? So the one time a cop decides to explore the limits of consenting to sex he just happens to do it in the jurisdiction where he thinks Calderone and Ryan will have his back. Just coincidence? Maybe. Maybe not.

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CeaseFire accounting and effectiveness questioned

CeaseFire is coming under criticism for poor accounting and because research is questioning its effectiveness as a violence reduction tool. See Sun-Times (David McKinney & Frank Main) or Chicago Tribune (Angela Rozas & Rex W. Huppke).

The primary way I've noticed CeaseFire is the demonstrations after homicides. I suspect there is limited potential for reducing homicide through candlelight vigils after killings.

In social sciences there's a phenomenon called the Hawthorne effect. It's named after the Hawthorne Works in Cicero.

If researchers tinker with a social system and then observe the results of the tinkering there will be a temporary improvement that is caused by the increased observation, not the changes in the social system.

I suspect CeaseFire vigils--at best--could produce a temporary and modest reduction in firearm violence and homicide.

I don't know about CeaseFire's other programs, but the research seems to indicate any benefits are difficult to detect.

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severe weather coverage

Riverside/Brookfield Landmark has a slide show. There's also a Bob Uphues article "Severe storms swamp area" and a slide show of the 1987 flood.

Suburban Life also has a slide show.

Proviso Herald (Jolie Lee, Cathryn Gran and David Weese) have the effects for the following communities: Bellwood, Berkeley, Hillside, Westchester, Stone Park and Broadview.

Forest Park Review (Bob Skolnik)
has the Forest Park perspective.

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new buyers intend to renovate Winston Plaza

Sun-Times (David Roeder):
California-based NewMark Merrill Cos. and Chicago-based GMX Real Estate Group LLC bought the 375,000-square-foot Winston Plaza Shopping Center at the southwest corner of North and Ninth in Melrose Park. The buyers plan a renovation. . . .

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

documentary on artists by La Grange Park man will air on WTTW

La Grange Park filmmaker Chris Olsen created a documentary about what motivates artists who are living without much money. See Suburban Life (Joe Sinopoli).
The artists will explain what moves them in Olsen’s documentary film “The Artsiders,” which will air at 10:30 p.m. Wednesday on WTTW-Ch. 11.

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RIP Jesus Cabral, 57, Northlake

Suburban Life (Joe Sinopoli) reports Jesus Cabral was killed by a Burlington Northern Santa Fe train in La Grange, near his workplace in Brookfield.

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Monday, August 27, 2007

Sterk v. Proviso Insider covered in Sun-Times

Sun-Times (Steve Patterson) reported on Mark Sterk's lawsuit against Proviso Insider.

I wrote about the case in some detail on Prairie State Blue.

BTW, when I talked to Sterk about the case he seemed pretty upset. He seems determined to inflict some payback to "John Doe", aka "Proviso Insider".

[UPDATE: Proviso Insider responds with... just read it. It's funny.]

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Is K. Yarbrough out and Ald. Ed Smith in?

Sun-Times (Abdon M. Pallasch) wrote about the possible Democratic candidates for Cook County State's Attorney. But it also includes some information about candidates for Cook County Recorder of Deeds.
Yarbrough had initially contemplated challenging Moore for his seat but more recently has decided to let Ald. Ed Smith (28th) challenge the incumbent to lead the $10 million, 200-employee office.

Comments?

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media & Michael Vick dogfighting case

While discussing the Michael Vick dog fighting case at a party, a friend pointed me to Nation of Islam Sportsblog.

I alluded to having an opinion on the case earlier. While at Club Napoletano, the center television is permanently tuned to ESPN. Maybe my circumstances skew my perception, but it seems like the issue of Vick engaging in dogfighting is the biggest legal story since O.J. Simpson was charged with murdering his ex and her lover.

My opinions:

1. Dog fighting should not be a federal crime except in cases where it's wrapped in with other criminal activity that crosses state lines.
2. Removing federal law enforcement agents from investigating political corruption and other serious crimes that diminish the quality of life for citizens is misuse of government resources.
3. The media coverage of the Vick case is mind boggling. We live in a country that invaded another country based on lies and racist innuendo. The occupation has caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. Millions have been displaced. Over 3,000 Americans have died. Over 10,000 Americans are maimed for life. Our political and media elites resist calling for an end to the occupation because they don't want to admit to how badly they got it wrong on Iraq. And the media is fretting over Michael Vick fighting and killing some pit pulls!? What the #%&@?

The media warps our reality. How many dogs died as the result of Michael Vick's actions? A half dozen? Two dozen? In the month of August--we're not done yet--the United States has lost 74 troops in Iraq. The Brits have lost four.

Not only are Iraqis less worthy of media attention than Vick's dogs--that's just a given--President George W. Bush (and the other screw-ups leading this country) can kill 80 Americans a month (that's a good month, some months are 100+) to procrastinate admitting they were wrong about Iraq and the media peddles the situation as reasonable. The media elite--who largely went along with the war--can pretend the absurd is reasonable as easily as they can make a case of an athlete dogfighting into this huge event. How many times did they replay the footage of Vick entering the court house?

To make the issue local, if the media wasn't absurd, the mismanagement, misconduct and criminality surrounding Proviso Township High Schools would get more media coverage than the Vick case.

And how would you feel if the FBI delayed prosecuting the politicians stealing from the high school for a year because the agents were spending time building a case against a dogfighting ring?

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Sunday, August 26, 2007

high water on the Des Plaines



These are a couple pictures taken from the Lake Street bridge over the Des Plaines River. There's the debris in one picture and the water is almost up to the Metra bridge in the other picture.

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preventing storm damage through enforcing code


This is a picture of a dead tree that was knocked over in Maywood (Saturday, August 25). If I remember right it's a property on 8th Ave.

The tree was dead--not just a little dead, but long dead. I presume it was knocked down in the storm. It took down a number of wires going to the house on the corner lot. (The leaves in the picture are from a second tree that was damaged by the falling dead tree.) However, the tree was technically on the adjacent property.

The Village of Maywood should have made the owner of the property remove the dead tree because it was a public nuisance.

Obviously, most of the problems caused by the storm couldn't have been prevented by better enforcement of local code issues. But some problems can be prevented by engaging in common sense preventive measures, like removing large, dead trees.

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board meeting, what will be Fields' fate?

Monday, August 27, at 7 PM the Proviso Township High Schools (District 209) board of education will hold a meeting on the fate of Stan Fields, PhD, the superintendent who is on leave pending a termination hearing.

From the agenda:
9. Approval of Superintendent Resignation Agreement
10. Approval of Superintendent Termination Charges and Hearing Date

Why would Fields resign instead of suing the district to buy out his contract? If Fields has two years left (I think that's right) and he's making $180,000 per year (which is worth more with benefits) why would he "resign" instead of going to court for the money?

When a homeless guy sues the Forest Park Police Department for police brutality, sometimes he'll take a small settlement sooner rather than later. So perhaps Fields is having money trouble. But I doubt it.

My understanding is that the Stark King report is over forty pages detailing money inappropriately spent while Fields was superintendent.
My report contains information regarding bonuses that I believe were unauthorized and improperly paid to two employees of the district.

I'm going to engage in some speculation. What if the two employees who received unauthorized bonuses were Fields and business manager Nikita Johnson?

Who else could pull the strings to get themselves inappropriate bonuses? And if some more junior employee did game the system for an inappropriate bonus, wouldn't Fields and Johnson have the power to correct the situation once it was identified by Paul Stark King, director of accounting?

I don't know what agreement to resign Fields offered, but I could see a win-win agreement between the board of education and Fields that said the board wouldn't prosecute Fields for pilfering funds and Fields agreed to keep his mouth shut on certain issues.

Keep in mind this is just speculation. I haven't talked to anyone on the board or anyone else who has inside information on Fields' resignation.

But if I were a board member at a school district considering hiring Fields, I'd want to read the Stark King report before I offered him a job.

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Friday, August 24, 2007

agency to help Latinas in cases of domestic violence

This is a pretty good lead, Medill Reports (Abby Gustus and Jacqueline A. Ingles):
Imagine this:

• You don’t speak English.
• You are not a legal citizen.
• You are economically dependent on your significant other.
• You are living in an anti-immigrant culture.
• He hits you.

But it’s not just “him,” and it’s not just a hit – if you are abused psychologically, physically or sexually on a recurrent basis, and feeling isolated to an even greater degree than most people who are suffering abuse feel, there is a place for you.

Mujeres Latinas En Accion serves Latinas in our local communities. Mission statement:
Mujeres Latinas en Accion, a bilingual/bicultural agency, women, their families and youth to become self-reliant and able to take full advantage of available opportunities, and create new opportunities to improve the quality of their lives.

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PETA writes to Maywood Village President Henderson Yarbrough

PETA press release:
This morning, PETA sent a letter to Maywood Mayor Henderson Yarbrough Sr. and the Village of Maywood Trustees urging them to enact legislation that would ban the use of bullhooks, electric prods, and other devices commonly used to inflict pain on elephants. PETA's request comes in light of Carson & Barnes Circus' scheduled August 31-September 3 visit to Maywood. Carson & Barnes is a chronic violator of the federal Animal Welfare Act, and its animal care director has been caught on videotape viciously attacking elephants with bullhooks and electric prods. PETA points out that similar legislation is already pending in Chicago and has requested to meet with Mayor Yarbrough and the village trustees to discuss making next weekend's Carson & Barnes performances the last time that these instruments are used against elephants in Maywood.

A wise anarchist once made an argument that resonated with me. He said that anti-abortion activists and animal rights activists were both activists who wanted to take on morally black-and-white cases.

Because animals and fetuses lack the capacity to make moral decisions or judgments they can never disappoint their advocates. Anti-abortion activists and animal right activists have staked out a niche where they will never be disappointed by the entities they advocate for.

If someone advocates for poor people, women, veterans, immigrants, African-Americans, Palestinians or Iraqis, there will always be individuals who behave badly. And the opposition is always able to throw an anecdote of someone behaving badly in the face of the activist.

But animal rights activists and anti-abortion activists don't have to worry about this.

BTW, Angry Black Bitch wrote about the Michael Vick case. I disagree with her somewhat, but she makes some interesting observations.

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

how did the weather affect your day?

Today while I was doing laundry at The Laundry Room in Forest Park (next to Sub Tender with free wi-fi and 75 cent top load washers, Tues-Wed-Thurs) I got hot and decided to go to the Fred Hampton Pool. By the time we got there the sky had become overcast. And just as I got to the edge of the pool the lifeguards whistled everybody out of the pool for a tornado watch.

My friend and I drove one of the lifeguards home to Austin. The visibility sucked and a couple streets were blocked by down tree limbs (Chicago Avenue and Ridgeland).

Forest Park Review (Bill Dwyer) has an article up.

I've created a thread of All Proviso Network for people to leave their experiences.

[UPDATE, Friday afternoon: I've been told significant portions of Melrose Park and Westchester are without power and are expected to remain this way for another day or two.]

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What should Proviso Probe do about comments?

A suggestion was made that Proviso Probe should eliminate comments entirely since the low level of discourse in comments undermines the credibility of Proviso Probe as a source.

Since All Proviso Network is available for people to make comments it seems like a reasonable suggestion to me.

What do you think?

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Hillside activities

Suburban Life (Tanya Pantone) included an article on the Civil War re-enactment.

Proviso Herald (David Weese) looks ahead to Taste of Hillside, Sunday, August 26, 12:30 to 9 pm.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

itch mite questions answered

Illinois Department of Public Health created this web page of questions and answers about mites that are now considered the most likely cause of a local outbreak of rashes.
How will I know if I have been bitten?

You may develop red welts that look like chigger bites on your neck, face, arms and upper body. These bites are not usually on legs where chigger bites may be found. The itch mite welts form into a pimple-like lesion after about 12 hours. The bites are very itchy and can be present for up to two weeks.

This is pretty much exactly my experience. The welts have one or two pimple-like things near the center. I was bitten on my arm (crux of elbow) and abdomen (an inch or two about the waistline).

BTW, wikipedia has an entry for Pyemotes herfsi, also known as the oak leaf gall mite or itch mite.

Remember, it still hasn't been confirmed that oak leaf fall mites are the cause of these rashes. It's not obvious why these mites would hit humans so hard this year when they haven't done it before. The mites feed on insect larvae and don't derive any benefit from biting people.

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when the TV tells you scary stuff about Iran you are probably being bamboozled

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District 89 holds closed-door meeting on Cynthia Broughton

Proviso Herald (David Pollard):
Lawyers for School District 89 and the district's superintendent, Cynthia Broughton, met behind closed doors last week to iron out the process of the hearing that will determine Broughton's fate as a district employee.

Broughton has been on administrative leave with pay since June. Her paychecks ended Aug. 15, less than a week after the School Board voted to stop her pay and start the hearing. As part of Broughton's contract with the district, a hearing is required if the board wants to terminate her employment prior to the contract's expiration.

Rosenthal and Murphey (it's misspelled in the article) is the same firm that represented Proviso Township High Schools (District 209) in litigation connected to firing Greg Jackson as superintendent.

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flooding along Addison Creek

Rivers and creeks flood. Floods are powerful, destructive forces.

Global warming will change climate patterns. One general trend is that more heat means more evaporation, overwhelmingly from oceans. More evaporation means more rain.

Proviso Herald (Cathryn Gran) writes about the governments attempt to reduce the size of the flood plain along Addison Creek.
The Addison Creek Restoration Commission is working to reduce or eliminate overbank flooding, thus decreasing the need for flood insurance, said Bellwood Village President Frank Pasquale.

In addition to Bellwood, the commission consists of representatives from Broadview, Melrose Park, North Riverside, Northlake, Stone Park and Westchester.

The emphasis seems to be on using mechanical methods to contain the water from overflowing the banks.

But the standard being used--a hundred year flood--is problematic. Rainfall patterns are likely to change. And if more (or less) of the Addison Creek drainage covered with impermeable surfaces, e.g. roofs, roads, parking lots, etc., then the water gets to the creek even faster (or slower).

In the past the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been quick to build structures, particularly dams, to try to control rivers and flooding. Often these projects have trashed the environment. Sometimes they have had unintended consequences that have been undesirable.

Rather than spending a ton of money building "a 400-plus-acre reservoir with channels to control flood water" why not buy out homeowners over time and build some open space along the creek that's designed to flood?

I suspect the village is getting advice from people who know how to build structures to contain water, but know much less about creating a more natural flood plain that's designed to be deluged periodically.

I also suspect, it's more lucrative for the usual pigs at the trough to build lots of concrete barriers than to create parks along Addison Creek.

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District 209 aggregator

I'm behind on writing about Proviso Township High Schools (District 209), including giving more detail about Monday's board meeting.

But here's what others are writing.

Proviso Herald (Chuck Fieldman) has an article on Robert Libka saying he wants to be superintendent. The article doesn't include any quotes from people critical of Libka or the fact that Libka used district funds without board approval to attend classes at Western Illinois University last time he was in charge of the district. Libka's course work at WIU caused him to be absent from District 209 during the work week, something he did not clear with the board of education in advance.

Forest Park Review (Josh Adams) emphasized the budget almost being balanced and mentioned the increase in attendance driven by the board placing Fields on administrative leave.

Forest Park Review (Josh Adams) digs into the story of District 209 parting ways with the designers of the district's web sites.

Forest Park Review also has an editorial on school budgets, both District 209 and Forest Park elementary schools (District 91).

Proviso Insider also wrote about the board meeting.

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merger mania hits local Protestant schools

I was aware Walther Lutheran was taking over St. John Lutheran School in Forest Park. Proviso Herald (Chuck Fieldman) informs that Oak Park Christian Academy will also be part of Walther Lutheran.

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how media is and will cover Yarbrough's campaign against Moore

Pioneer Press (John Huston) wrote about Rep. Karen Yarbrough challenging incumbent Recorder of Deeds Eugene Moore in the Democratic Primary.
"Whatever I run for, she wants to have that position," [Moore] said. "That has always been an understood situation.

"She ran against me for state rep ... as well as the committeeman twice. Who knows, it might be a personal thing."

Yarbrough denied any vendetta.

"It doesn't have anything to do with personal," she said. "He's the one who ran someone against me for state rep. Every time I've run for re-election, he's the one who has identified people to run against me."

Unless Yarbrough can come up with a compelling reason why she'd be a better Recorder of Deeds--more compelling than improving her pension situation or avoiding trips to Springfield--the story line of this race is going to be Maywood feud goes county wide.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

appeals court upholds conviction of former Gov. George Ryan

I'm not going to reinvent the wheel. Go see Capitol Fax Blog (Rich Miller).

But before you leave remember this quote in the column by Bill Dwyer (Forest Park Review).
Patrick Collins said it best in a recent Chicago Magazine interview. "Any advice for potentially corrupt government officials?" he was asked. "Fast forward to your sentencing day," Collins replied.

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D209 board meeting: Fields pushed back, director of accounting pushes back

On Monday, August 20, the Proviso Township High Schools (District 209) board of education (BOE) held its regular meeting at Proviso Math & Science Academy (PMSA). The meeting started at 7 PM and went past 11 PM. It was punctuated by an hour of closed session, mostly spent deliberating the fate of Stan Fields, the superintendent on administrative leave pending a termination hearing.

The meeting was well attended by 100-110. Normal meetings attract 35-45, I estimate. An ad hoc committee of dissatisfied parents, alumni and taxpayers I call "the grumblers" accounted for much of the above normal attendance.

The BOE decided to hold another special meeting on Monday, August 27 at PMSA at 7 PM.

(This will be the fourth special board meeting since July 2. The first was to remove Charles Flowers from the BOE. The second was to appoint Brian Cross to the BOE. The third was to place Fields on administrative leave pending a termination hearing. And the fourth special meeting will be dedicated to developing charges Fields will have an opportunity to answer in in administrative hearing.)

Paul Stark King, the director of accounting, was on the agenda to be transfered back to classroom teaching. He gave a report to members of the BOE and delivered a statement during public comment that I considered quite damning.
Although I certainly feel that my transfer is retaliatory because of the questions I asked in the report I just handed you, I want to assure you that the purpose of my report is to benefit the district as this Board considers the extension and promotion of one of the individuals that is subject of my report.

My report contains information regarding bonuses that I believe were unauthorized and improperly paid to two employees of the district.

My report contains information regarding a salary that I believe was overpaid and not properly adjusted when discovered. This salary was unauthorized and improperly paid.

My report contains information regarding payments of cash in lieu of vacation days that I believe were unauthorized and improperly paid to two employees of the district.

These total to an excess of $60,000.

King Solomon wrote regarding retaliation:
In the sight of the unwise they seemed to die: and their departure is taken for misery,
And their going from us to be utter destruction: but they are at peace.
For though they be punished in the sight of men, yet is "there hope"

I ask the Board to consider carefully both my removal as Director of Accountng and the promotion of one of the individuals who was behind all the things in my report.

Of the 60-70 hours a week I worked for this Board without 30% of my staff while getting chastised for a failure to meet deadlines (and with all deadlines met since May I might add) I again quote King Solomon:

Then shall the righteous man stand in great boldness before the face of such as have afflicted him, and made no account of his labors.
When they see it, they shall be troubled with terrible fear and shall be amazed at the strangeness of his salvation, so far beyond all that they looked for.
And they repenting and groaning for anguish of spirits shall say withing themselves, This was he, whom we had sometimes in derision, and a proverb of reproach:
We fools accounted his life madness, and his end to be without honor.


Members of the Board, if it is your wish to confirm my transfer into the classroom, then it is with great honor that I continue to teach the young people of Proviso


There's more to blog about last night's meeting, but I need to take a break.

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Monday, August 20, 2007

District 209 meeting tonight

The Proviso Township High Schools (District 209) board of education will have its monthly meeting tonight at the Proviso Math and Science Academy at First and Roosevelt. See agenda (pdf) and the detailed agendas are linked from this page.

A number of grumblers plan to make statements during the public comment period.

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Eugene Moore holds what looks like political picnic at Proviso East

Saturday, August 18, I briefly visited the Eugene "Gene" Moore, Recorder of Deeds Annual Outreach event. Proviso Insider referred to the event as "Back To School Picnic" hosted by board members. But it seemed only board members aligned with Eugene Moore were participating.

Was this event approved by the board of education? I don't remember it being approved at any of the recent board meetings? Did Stan Fields approve the event? Robert Libka? Someone else?

There were activities for children. If any participants were injured, whose insurance policy would the claim be applied against?

And to get back to the purpose of the event, I didn't see the words "back to school" anywhere. However the event was staffed by people wearing two types of t-shirts. One merely said Eugene Moore, Recorder of Deeds. But about half the staff wore t-shirts saying, "I support Eugene "Gene" Moore, Recorder of Deeds."

It sure looked like a political event on school property, subsidized directly and indirectly by the District 209 taxpayers.

Will State's Attorney Dick Devine now enforce the law?

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Brook Park School addition being negotiated

The Village of La Grange Park and District 95 (Brookfield-La Grange Park elementary schools) are trying to reach a compromise on parking so constructing an addition on Brook Park elementary school may proceed. See Suburban Life (Joe Sinopoli).
Key to approval is whether the district can provide enough parking on 29th Street to accommodate staff once the addition to the school is completed on the building’s north side. Plans call for the addition of seven classrooms, two conference rooms computer labs and a multi-purpose room.

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building international connections

Katie Meyer works as a counselor at the North Riverside Recreation Day Camp. She also goes to Belize to work at a camp there.

She's exchanging photos and letters so the campers in North Riverside can build relations with the campers in Belize.

Meyer started going to Belize through La Grange Park’s Nazareth Academy which has be organizing trips since 2003. See Suburban Life (Catherine Leyden).

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have you gotten a rash lately?

Chicago Tribune (James Janega) has a story on the possibility that the outbreak of skin rashes may be caused by mites.

Since I was personally affected by this, it meets my definition of news. It affects me.

Knowing the specific species of mite is only a partial solution. One has to apply this knowledge in a way that alleviates the rashes and prevents the parasites from attaching themselves to new hosts.

That's if the problem is caused by mites. The August 17 article promises the mites will quickly be ID'd once in the hands of the expert in Nebraska.
"As soon as we get it, we'll try to identify them," said the specialist, James Kalisch, an entomologist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln who co-wrote a study on a form of Pyemotes mite blamed for a 2004 rash outbreak in Kansas and Nebraska.

Once received, identification would take "not long at all," he said. The samples were expected to arrive in Nebraska Friday, Kalisch said.

A Google news search did not show any newer articles with "Chicago" and "mite" in them.

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Forest Park ZBA considering changes to zoning rules

Citizens United in Forest Park sent out the following email:
Greetings,

The next two Zoning Board of Appeals meetings will be
public hearings to consider text and map amendments to
the zoning ordinance. Some of you may be interested in
attending and participating in these hearings. Over
the last year, there has been much talk about revising
the Zoning Ordinance. This is the first significant
public hearing in that direction. For those who feel
strongly about how our village manages change, growth
and development, I urge you to become a part of the
process.

The complete agenda packet with related documents is
on the village website, forestpark.net. At the bottom
of the home page, click Village, from there, click
Commissions & Boards (on the left), then click Zoning
Board of Appeals (on the left), then ZBA current
agenda and supporting materials (in the center). This
document gives detailed explanation and justification
for these proposed changes.

Tomorrow, Monday, August 20th, will cover these
changes:
1. Expand the Zoning Administrator Hearing Process
for allowable modifications to non-conforming
structures to apply to all residential buildings
instead of just single-family buildings.

2. Modify non-conforming language as it applies to
the replacement of residential garages.

3. Evaluate possible additional public hearing notice
requirements that would require applicants to post a
sign on the lot.

At the September 17th ZBA meeting, the public hearing
will continue for the following two items:

4. Evaluate maximum lot coverage and minimum green
space requirements and to clarify what is and is not
included in lot coverage calculations.

5. Add "adult use" provisions in the Ordinance,
including a map amendment in the I-2 Industrial Zone
where these uses can be regulated.

The public hearing process allows for citizen input.
It's in our best interest to make the most of it.

Sincerely,
Steve Backman

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Saturday, August 18, 2007

Forest Park police officer accused of rape

Forest Park Review (Josh Adams)
A Forest Park police officer has been placed on paid administrative leave while state police investigate an allegation of sexual assault against him. No charges have been filed and no arrests have been made, village officials said, but a Forest Park woman reportedly named the officer in a criminal complaint filed with the Forest Park police.

The alleged assault occurred during the late evening hours of Saturday, Aug. 11 or early morning hours of Aug. 12 when the officer was off duty, according to Mayor Anthony Calderone. The mayor said he was not aware of the circumstances leading up to the alleged assault, nor was he clear on the relationship between the officer and the woman....

Ryan refused Friday to answer any questions, saying only that he cannot comment on personnel matters.

If Ryan can't comment on personnel matters, why could Village Administrator Michael Sturino comment on the brother of a police sergeant being implicated in something? Is there one standard for allies of Calderone, Sturino and Ryan and a separate standard for those on their hit list?
"There is no allegation of combative, physical harm," Calderone said in an interview Friday. "This allegation centers around what would be considered a rape."

Hmmm... Well, maybe the village can comment on personnel matters and ongoing investigations if the comments serve the interests of the accused criminals (and if the accused criminals are also Forest Park police officers).

When Forest Park police arrested Paul Cruikshank for attempted rape, did the Forest Park PD wait to release his name until charges were filed? See Sun-Times (Maureen O'Donnell).

[UPDATE: Forest Park Review (Josh Adams) is now including a more detailed history of the Forest Park Police Department.]

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Friday, August 17, 2007

audio pinpointing to be used for firearms discharges in Bellwood

This is corporate propaganda (Wireless Developer Network), but it could affect law enforcement techniques in Bellwood.
Village of Bellwood Integrates ShotSpotter to Enhance Public Safety

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.--In a move to further enhance public safety, the Village of Bellwood is integrating the ShotSpotter Gunshot Location System with its wireless surveillance camera network.

The integration, scheduled for completion in early September, will allow the ShotSpotter GLS to interoperate with the city’s cameras and surveillance system to provide Bellwood police with real-time notification of gunshot events as well as precise event data, detailed forensic and intelligence analysis for arrest and prosecution, and information on a shooter’s location, including drive-by shooters on the move.

Bellwood is the first municipality in Illinois to cover its entire service area with a ShotSpotter Gunshot Location System.

Is there any connection to Bellwood being on the cutting edge of this technology and Bellwood being one of the first three communities to allow AT&T to compete with Comcast?

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Gilberto Diaz Moreno of Northlake arrested with 2,339 pounds of weed

See ABC7 Chicago.

Being involved in an operation moving over a ton of marijuana makes one a professional criminal, right? It's not like a hobby anymore.

Why does a professional criminal give consent to search premises with a ton of marijuana? Is he confident he's got it hidden so well it won't be found? Doesn't he watch crime shows on TV?

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Tammy Lynn Moote died in a vehicle collission

Tammy Lynn Moote, 35, of La Grange Park died on August 10, in Cloyne, Ontario, Canada. The hearing impaired woman "taught in the Holy Trinity Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program at Children of Peace Catholic Grade School in Chicago." See Chicago Tribune (Joan Giangrasse Kates).

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Proviso Township High Schools Education Quality Assessment

This email from Scott Schroeder has been circulating among the superintendent's advisory committee.

Schroeder is the head of Technivista, the company hired by Superintendent Stan Fields to do the new websites and the Education Quality Assessment.
From: Scott Schroeder [mailto:REDACTED]
Sent: Sunday, August 12, 2007 8:39 PM
To: Libka, Robert
Cc: Willis, Sharon ; Avant-Bey, Tracy; Moyer, Ed ; Johnson, Mona; Umans, Margo
Subject: Technivista and PTHS Dist. 209

Dear Mr. Libka,

In November 2006 I had the responsibility of presenting the District 209 Board of Education with the results of the Education Quality Assessment (EQA) conducted by Technivista. District 209 Board of Education hired us to do the EQA and Superintendent Stan Fields instructed us to “present the findings exactly as you see them. No sugarcoating. No politically correct spin. To develop effective plans we have to know exactly what we’re facing. Everyone in this community has to understand where we’re at and what the challenges are.” This no-nonsense approach was familiar to me. When I first met Stan, he was superintendent at Mundelein High School, my kids’ high school. MHS hired Technivista during a time when Stan was moving quickly to transform Mundelein High School into a best practices showcase. It was done with forceful urgency and by taking a radical U-turn from the status quo. He transformed the district’s declining financial condition, redesigned an academic strategy that had previously produced mediocre results, and revitalized the under-performing athletic and activity programs. When asked if he was changing too much too quickly, his responses were always along the lines of “If your kid went here, how much time would you want me to waste in improving things?” and “The families in this area pay a lot in taxes.

Why wouldn’t they expect the best education for their kids?” From what I've seen, Stan Fields brought those same questions to his Proviso job. During the months before the EQA presentation, our team conducted interviews with dozens of people in the “Proviso Family” – teachers, principals, administrators, staff, community leaders, parents, students, union leaders, and a school board member. While most had first-hand experiences with what was plaguing the high schools, they also shared an undercurrent of hope and energy. As reported, they talked about a multitude of deeply rooted ills flourishing in an environment mightily polluted by politics, gossip, negativity, and mistrust, yet also brought forward creative ideas on how Proviso could rise. A unique picture emerged between the underachieving world of Proviso’s high schools, the beaten-down, but not broken spirit found in all the people I listened to, and everyone’s thoughts and dreams for a much improved future. The EQA produced a clear, objective picture of the state of District 209.

Once the Proviso EQA was completed, the District 209 Board of Education then hired Technivista to develop websites for each of the three high schools, the district, and private intranets for each location. Apparently there’s a great deal of misinformation out there about the cost of the websites. To set the record straight, the total cost to District 209 was $192,000 for all eight sites, an average of $24,000 per site, and the majority of the costs were paid for with grants so the
cost to the District was minimized. Technivista was not contracted and doesn’t get paid to maintain the sites. We have, however, donated over $70,000 of in-kind contributions for our time to maintain the sites since their launches. We’ve done this because we wanted the sites to sustain their high quality. Unfortunately District 209 internal staff hasn’t yet had the time needed to create and manage content on their own. So, we’ve stepped in to help carry the load during the transition.

The District 209 Board of Education also hired Technivista to help develop quality processes based on the Baldrige National Quality Award criteria. In the past, Technivista has had the privilege of working with several school districts that won Illinois ’ Lincoln Award for Performance Excellence and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Baldrige National Quality Award including District 15 in Palatine . The processes at District 209 were to be used to support District 209’s strategic plan
(which Technivista help develop as part of the District’s application for this year’s Illinois ’ Lincoln Award). This approach would be used to accomplish the “Scoreboard” goals based on the results of the EQA and the “Four Cornerstone” model (Students, Parents, Community, and Proviso Team). The 3-year strategic plan we developed called for the district to demonstrate significant improvements in key areas, enough to win the Lincoln Silver Award (“Progress towards Excellence”) in 2007, the Lincoln Gold Award (“Achievement of Excellence”) in 2008, and the
Baldrige National Quality Award in Education in 2009.

For Technivista, it was an exciting opportunity to help another district in the quest for excellence. This time, with Proviso, the challenge was to turn-around a district in dire need of improvement. It was a project with potentially historic impact – to have the chance to take the 90th out of 90 Chicagoland districts with high schools and transform it into one of best in the state. Needless to say, it was an energizing endeavor.

So under Stan’s leadership we began this once-in-lifetime project, using proven best practice tools from some of the highest-performing schools in Illinois , in the United States , and in the world. To make a long story shorter, the project unfortunately has recently slowed due to the roadblocks of politics, a lack of commitment, talent shortage, and misdirected focus. The brakes were fully applied to the quality initiatives when Stan was taken out of the picture on July 30, shortly
before most Proviso administrators were due to turn in their sets of quality processes that would support the 118 key measurements used to monitor results in academics, athletics, activities, finances, communication, human resources, and technology. These sets of processes would shortly become the Administration Handbook. On the due date, not one set was received.

The day after Stan’s removal, I requested direction on our open projects as school was scheduled to open in a matter of days. As of today, we have received no direction or indication if the strategic initiatives are still in play or if the District is even interested in continuing the projects. While we’ve continued to update the websites, design the quality processes, and prepare for the Lincoln Award Review Team’s visit, it’s become apparent that District 209 would prefer to go in a
different direction. From our perspective, it’s best that at least for the time being, we begin the transition process, shake hands and go our separate ways. If you agree that this is the best thing to do, I recommend that we begin the transition as soon as possible with a targeted separation date of Friday, August 31, 2007. Please let me know how you’d like to proceed with transitioning the projects.

Technivista is proud of the work we’ve accomplished with District 209 on the Education Quality Assessment, the websites, the strategic plan, the Proviso Rising campaign, and the quality improvement processes that are firmly aligned with the Baldrige Criteria for Education. All of these projects provide District 209 with an exceptionally solid foundation on which to build great schools and generate outstanding results. I hope District 209 takes advantage of these assets in future improvement efforts.

Personally speaking, nothing could have been achieved without the invaluable assistance of Tracy Avant-Bey and her staff, Ed Moyer, Mona Johnson, Margo Umans, Sharon Willis, and especially Stan Fields, and all of the wonderful people who participated in the EQA. Their support, advice, and encouragement were invaluable and fueled our efforts.

Sincerely,

Scott Schroeder
Technivista

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District 209 ad hoc committee meeting notes

Notes from meeting of District 209 grumblers, as compiled by Tawana Jones and sent out by Bill Kirchner.
Proviso Township High School District 209
Community Meeting Minutes
August 8, 2007

Attendees: This meeting was represented by several members of the community from educators, taxpayers, village officials and Press.

Summary:
The group is considering calling themselves the Proviso Township High School District 209 Watch Group. The goal of the watch group is to ensure our children are receiving the best education possible at the highest quality. The concerned citizens broke out into several work groups to collaborate on their concerns and recommendations. These ideas were prioritized within each individual work group and only the items that gained consensus within each group was present to the group at large.

The attendees expressed many reasons why they were present and the below list depicts the various reasons:
• Board is corrupt
• How to change reoccurring issues?
• Poorly ran
• Concerned and trying to gather facts
• Most poorly ran school system
• Cease unfair Hiring and Firing
• Dads Program
• Get parents involved
• Interest in improving schools
• Misappropriation of tax funds
• Paying three Supertindent’s for one Job
• Lack of patience to allow leadership to make effective changes
• Lack of information sharing by Board supporting their actions; secretive, i.e. budget
• Board failure to abide by the Boards Rules and Regulations, i.e. evaluations, Open Meeting Act
• Previously terminated Supertindent was placed back in charge


August 20, 2007 Board Meeting Objectives
• The concerned citizens objectives at the next board meeting is to have three representatives to address the Board on behalf of the citizens
• Develop three pungent questions and points to present at the Board meeting
• Address the Board agenda being community friendly, i.e. violation of open meetings act
• Ensure a huge presence. Each concerned citizen should bring 6 individuals with them to the Board meeting for support
• Invite neighbors, the Press, ministers and distribute flyers to recruit audience
• Obtain more information on the release of Stan Fields
• Be civil vs. strident
• Request a copy of the audit being performed
• Board lack of review of the Board Code of Conduct
• Recommend a Review process by which the Board self-evaluates annually and share the results with the public; Accountability
• Allow leadership the opportunity to make changes
• Get all 209 schools involved
• Bring all affect communities together
• Consider obtaining advice from legal consultant to achieve solution to issues
• Fund Raise
• Volunteers to organize and develop information gathering efforts
• Consider ways to get an effective Board

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Congressman Luis Gutierrez reneges on announced retirement

Capitol Fax Blog (Rich Miller) quotes an unnamed Capitol Fax subscriber:
US Rep. Luis Gutierrez just announced, at the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Business Expo, that he has reversed his prior retirement plans, and will indeed run for re-election to represent Illinois’s 4th Congressional District.

I've heard rumors Gutierrez wants to go into real estate after leaving politics. I assume Gutierrez didn't make as much progress setting-up his next career as he hoped.

Gutierrez's move jerks around the politicians who wanted to run to be his successor.

But, as I suggested in the comments of the Capitol Fax Blog, one of them could probably win Cook County Recorder of Deeds with a diligent campaign.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Eddie Avant, 16, of Bellwood is dead

Chicago Tribune (Jason Meisner):
Bellwood police are interviewing a "person of interest" in the death of a teenage boy shot early Wednesday while riding in a car near his home.

Killed was Eddie Avant, 16, of the 400 block of Frederick Avenue in Bellwood, said a Cook County medical examiner's office spokesman. Avant was pronounced dead at 11:15 a.m. at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, where he had been on life support.


[UPDATE: Chicago Tribune (Jason Meisner):
Bellwood police are interviewing a "person of interest" in the death of a teenage boy shot early Wednesday while riding in a car near his home....

The person being questioned is 18 years old and was picked up in the afternoon, said Blass, who said police are not calling him a suspect.

[The article also claims this is the first Bellwood homicide this year.]

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Broadview budget hearing TONIGHT

From the West-View News:
What: Public Hearing for Broadview Fiscal Year 2008 Budget
When: Wed. August 15th 7:30 to 10:00 pm
Where: Village Hall, 2350 S. 25th Ave.

Broadview has had various issues with its budget over the years. Notably it has had to make extreme cuts in fire and police services.

It was reported Broadview lost its budget once. Although since the original story, another explanation has emerged. Broadview didn't lose its budget; village leaders just didn't want the auditor to see how egregiously the actual spending differed from the budget that was passed. So they concocted a story about "losing" the budget.

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D89 superintendent to face hearing Thursday

Proviso Herald (David Pollard):
A hearing will be held Thursday to determine whether School District 89 Superintendent Cynthia Broughton will remain in her position.

The hearing is scheduled for 6 p.m. at School District 89 Board of Education, 906 Walton St., Melrose Park. Broughton has been on administrative leave with pay since June.

Another superintendent getting canned for reasons that appear political or arbitrary... What can I say that's new?

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R-B grads will picnic on Saturday

Riverside/Brookfield Landmark (Chris Stach):
Are you ready to be there, or be square? Saturday, Aug. 18 is the date of the next "Blast from the Past, Everyone's Invited Grove Party" at Kiwanis Park for alumni of Riverside-Brookfield High School.

Last year, the "Blast from the Past, Intergenerational Reunion" for all RB students was such a success that it has been expanded so that "everyone who attended RB, young and old, past or present, and to all their friends and relations, including those friends of RB who went to other schools [you know who you are] in the area" can attend.

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newspapers cover ad hoc group, aka the D209 grumblers

Because the Proviso Probe audience can never get enough of Proviso Township High Schools (District 209)....

Last Wednesday there was a meeting of District 209 grumblers.

Now you can read and discuss coverage by the weeklies.

Forest Park Review (Josh Adams):
A cross-section of township residents bent on pressuring federal, state and local officials to wipe out the corruption they say plagues the public high schools have begun laying the groundwork for a grassroots movement.

But for all the steam carried into the group's first meeting, held last week on the heels of Superintendent Stan Fields' July 30 suspension, a question exists whether the range of political and socio-economic backgrounds will be a hindrance or a help.

Proviso Herald (Chuck Fieldman):
Unhappy with the goings-on of the Proviso High School District 209 Board, approximately 30 residents of the district have banded together with plans to question and voice concerns to the Board.

A first meeting of those residents took place Aug. 8 at the Forest Park Public Library. The meeting was organized by Forest Park resident Bill Kirchner, who has been a member of both a citizens' advisory group initiated by suspended Superintendent Stan Fields and of the PTSA at Proviso Mathematics and Science Academy.

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Brookfield Library allows people to print from home

Riverside/Brookfield Landmark (Bob Skolnik):
Now you can work on your computer at home or any other location and print out your work on the state of the art printers at the Brookfield Public Library without even being there. You can print from anywhere if you can connect to the Internet....

Print jobs cost 10 cents a page for black and white printing and 20 cents a page for color printing. Print jobs remains in the print queue for five hours. You pay when you come to the library to pick up your printing.

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Iraq War profiteering gets local

Remember the story about the Forest Park cop (Maureen Frawley) on medical leave having $100,000 cash (not her cash) stolen from her home and then it was returned without explanation?

Apparently, there's a connection between Frawley's brother, the purported owner of the money, and Antoin "Tony" Rezko. (The Wikipedia article emphasizes Rezko's connection to U.S. Senator Barack Obama. This is probably because Obama is a presidential candidate. I think most people who follow Illinois politics see Rezko as being more involved with Gov. Rod Blagojevich.)

See Forest Park Review (Josh Adams) for the latest twists and turns. Or you can read Sun-Times (Tim Novak & Chris Fusco).
Two years ago, Iraq's Ministry of Electricity gave a $50 million contract to a start-up security company owned by now-indicted businessman Tony Rezko and a onetime Chicago cop with a checkered financial past.

Within a month, an Iraqi leadership change left the deal in limbo.

Now the company, Companion Security, is working to revive its contract to train Iraqi power-plant guards in the United States.

The true face of the Iraq War (and most wars): shady people getting rich off of shady deals while politicians blather about security, rape, genocide, honor, "before they strike us" and other bullshit.

Anyway, Mike Sturino couldn't help taking a shot at Maureen Frawley. Along with Dan Harder and Steve Johnsen, Frawley was one of the three cops the Forest Park PD was trying to can. Frawley, Harder and officer Andrea Caines successfully sued the village for sexual harassment and generally behaving badly. Johnsen found himself in Chief Jim Ryan's sights after testifying on Harder's behalf at Harder's termination hearings.
Asked whether Frawley's connections to Rezko scandalize the village or its police department, Sturino said the links are unfortunate.

"I think any time any employees are associated with anything controversial it has the potential to reflect poorly on the village," Sturino said.

But you didn't catch Sturino wringing his hands like this when the feds subpoena'd the Village of Forest Park for records pertaining to Anthony Bruno, who matches or exceeds the sleaziness of Dan Frawley.

And when Sturino hired Giglio & Del Galdo and "forgot" to tell the board about it, you didn't hear Sturino embracing guilt by association.

I doubt Sturino is really bothered by Frawley associating with the wrong element so much as he's kicking someone he wanted to kick anyway.

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R-B constructing prior to school year

Riverside-Brookfield Landmark (Bob Skolnik):
With the start of school less than a week away, construction activity continues at a feverish pace at Riverside Brookfield High School. Hallways have been blocked off for much of the summer and the dust has been flying.

Workers are racing to put on the finishing touches in 21 renovated second-floor classrooms. Earlier this summer workers created a new temporary student services office suite from a conference room and two classrooms to replace the old office suite. That space will be part of a new music area that is being built as part of a courtyard infill. This week, massive new air-conditioning units that have been sitting on the school's front lawn will he hauled into place on the roof.

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Hillside to host Civil War buffs

Hillside Historical Society is holding a Civil War re-enactment to raise money to convert a home into a museum. See Proviso Herald (David Weese) or Suburban Life (Tanya Pantone).

I had a history professor at the U.S. Naval Academy who was quite derisive of the kind of history that emphasizes who was at what battle and the kind of pedantic details that go into re-enactment when the scholarship failed to connect the details with the larger society.

If you go to the encampment, please take the time to ask about the big picture. Let me know if there's anybody there pushing the meme that the war wasn't about slavery.

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new Italian grocery store to open in Brookfield

Suburban Life (Dan Petrella):
Less than two years after opening Trattoria Gemelli at Grand Boulevard and Prairie Avenue, Brookfield resident Sal Sciortino is getting ready to expand his business with a new Italian deli and grocery store across the street.

The new store, Toscanino, to be located at 3740 Grand Blvd. in Brookfield, will be a full-service deli offering lunch meats, sandwiches, salads and prepared meals with cooking instructions, as well as numerous grocery items imported from Italy. Sciortino and his business partners, Dan Fissinger and Patrick McKenna, have been working for about a year to prepare for their new venture.

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two Maywood shootings in Proviso Herald

Proviso Herald:
A 19 year-old Maywood [Cortney Wesley] man was shot Sunday afternoon while sitting in his car.

Wesley is in good condition at Loyola University Medical Center.

Proviso Herald (David Pollard) also gives more details about the killing of Willie Fobbs.

[UPDATE: I meant to include the Forest Park Review (Josh Adams) report of a shooting in Forest Park. No one was injured.]

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

should we expect Karen Yarbrough to switch state rep candidates?

On the Chicago Tribune blog Clout Street Mickey Ciokajlo reports state representative and Proviso Democratic Committeeman Karen Yarbrough has solicited the Cook County Democratic Party for support to be Cook County Recorder of Deeds.

Yarbrough represented to me that she was running for re-election as state representative.

I haven't done the research, but I am pretty sure she can't hold both positions at the same time. If it was possible, why would Eugene Moore have resigned as state representative when he was appointed recorder?

Ciokajlo's piece was published at 8:40 Monday morning. Yarbrough's text message to confirming she was the candidate for state rep was 5:57 PM Saturday.

I sent Yarbrough an email asking the following questions at 12:16 PM yesterday.
Who are you supporting for Recorder of Deeds?

Can you guarantee there won't be a last minute switch of some other candidate for state rep in the 7th district?

As of almost noon today she hasn't responded.

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old guys living the gangster lifestyle in Maywood

Chicago Sun-Times has the story of a 56-year old man shot and killed in Maywood. A 59-year old has been apprehended.
“The relationship between the suspect and victim is not known at this time as this case is currently under investigation,” [Maywood Police Sgt. Tim] Curry said.

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Monday, August 13, 2007

La Grange Park resident wins photo contest

Health Lakes, Healthy Lives is a coalition of "more than 90 organizations representing millions of residents in the Great Lakes have joined a new coalition whose goal is to restore and protect the Great Lakes."

Healthy Lakes, Healthy Lives sponsored a story and photo contest.

Brian Lisek of La Grange Park was one of the winners of the photo contest for Fun and Laughter on the Beach.
“Our family travels from Chicago to South Haven, Michigan every summer for its annual beach vacation. The kids always look forward to digging in the sand, finding beach stones for their collection, and playing in the the water (no matter how cold it is).”

h/t Sun-Times (Dale Bowman)

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Peraica has campaign kick-off tomorrow night

This weekend State's Attorney Dick Devine announced he will not run for re-election. See Sun-Times (Steve Patterson).

Cook County Commissioner Anthony Peraica (R-Riverside) will announce his candidacy tomorrow night. For information on Peraica's candidacy see his campaign website.

When? Tuesday, August 14, 6:00 PM
Where? Pescatore Palace, 3400 N. River Road, Franklin Park

The campaign wants $50 per person. Larger contributions are welcome.

  • $1,000--activist
  • $2,500--crimefighter
  • $5,000--reformer

If I could mention one issue I have with Peraica's website.... The section with news articles reprints the whole articles. There are five links under "latest updates" slightly right of center on the main web page. The titles are:
These are all reprints of entire articles from local newspapers. Copyright law prohibits reprinting entire articles without obtaining permission (which usually costs money) from the original publication. If you want more background on copyright law, see Wikipedia.

One is allowed to borrow small portions of the original article under the Fair Use Doctrine.

No politician should be making the mistake of using whole newspaper articles. But it's doubly embarrassing for Peraica since he's an attorney who is already an elected official and he's running to be the chief law enforcement officer for the county.

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Sunday, August 12, 2007

Yarbrough camp nominating petitions

I asked Democratic Committeeman Karen Yarbrough who she is circulating petitions for. She responded by text message, "St. Rep, Obama delegate, Durbin, Obama Prez". I asked two follow-up questions. Is Karen Yarbrough the state representative candidate? She replied affirmatively. I asked who she's circulating for Cook County Recorder of Deeds. She didn't respond to this question.

Proviso Insider claims Yarbrough is running for recorder and Emanuel "Chris" Welch is going to run against a Yarbrough-backed candidate, perhaps Karen's husband, for state representative.

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building friendships and alliances based on political firings


James K. Graham, Sr., and Generoso "Gino" Trombetta at the Neopolitan Social Club, aka Club Napoletano, on Friday night.

Trombetta was wrongfully terminated at District 209. Outside of superintendents Trombetta is the most famous Proviso case of someone wrongfully terminated going to court and winning a big judgment.

Graham has the same position at District 88 (Bellwood and Stone Park elementary schools) as Trombetta had at Proviso Township High Schools (District 209). Graham was fired after less than two months on the job, in a firing he believes was political. This entry linked to an article that explained the back story.

Graham met Trombetta for the first time at Club Napoletano. The club is a private social club. Members get to eat and drink for a flat rate fee. Call club president Mike Manzo, 708-268-4050, for details.

I have been working at Club Napoletano for about three weeks.

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Thursday, August 09, 2007

meeting of citizens critical of District 209

Last night an ad hoc group met to discuss their dissatisfaction with the district and particularly the board of education of Proviso Township High Schools District 209. The meeting happened at the Forest Park Public Library and was initiated by Bill Kirchner of the advisory and foundation committees assembled by dismissed superintendent Stan Fields.

I expected more people to attend. Maybe as many as 40-45 people attended some portion of the meeting. A few people observed that the meeting included people who were aligned with either Chris Welch or Eugene Moore as recently as the April, 2007 elections.

The other thing I learned at the meeting is that Fields is an exceedingly charismatic figure for some people. There's a small group of people who think he's great and bringing him back would be great for the district. Kirchner and some other members of the advisory committee and foundation committees fall into this category.

Kevin McDermott, who ran in the April, 2007, election on a slate backed by Democratic Committeeman Karen Yarbrough, seemed to be able to convince people that to build a coalition the group needs to focus on the commonalities of the members and not on what divides them. And as McDermott explained, Fields is a divisive figure. Many if not a strong majority of the people dissatisfied with District 209 were also dissatisfied with Fields.

District 209 board member Bob Cox spoke at the beginning of the meeting. A number of other public figures were present, including Barbara Cole, Daryl (didn't get the last name), Lula Greenhow, Larry & Linda Howard, Della Patterson, Ami Relf, Marty Tellalian, Carl Williams and Gary Woll. Rich Vitton was in and out of the meeting. James Graham appeared very briefly. And both Chuck Fieldman (Proviso Herald) and Josh Adams (Forest Park Review) attended. (Apologies to anyone I missed, I'm working from memory.)

I don't think the group has any chance of accomplishing anything if the anti-Welch, anti-Moore people spend their energy trying to detect and purge pro-Welch, pro-Moore people. If people show up to meetings and are helping the cause—or at least not hurting the cause—that should be enough. It's not like applying pressure to the board of education is some secret project.

However, whether she's actively trying to be obnoxious and disruptive or whether she can't help herself, Lula Greenhow, needs to be counseled that she needs to behave at the meetings. And if she can't or won't modify her behavior she should be excluded. Greenhow got into squabbles with multiple people. She talked all the time, including when other people had the floor. She offered nothing constructive and basically argued that the group should let the board do what it wants because it was elected by the people. She made statements that caused Kirchner to give a long explanation of the Open Meetings Act. I can't divine her intentions, but Greenhow acted like she was on a mission to make the meeting less effective. Since Greenhow's daughter works under Grady Rivers, a Moore politician, at Proviso Township it seems possible that she was deliberately trying to disrupt the meeting. On the other hand, Greenhow was a counter-demonstrator at the anti-pimp demonstration in Maywood. So she does have a history of eccentric contrariness.

Sharon Daley suggested the group use All Proviso Network to communicate. The software allows individuals to initiate discussions, be anonymous (or not) and engage in private communications. I'm not sure about setting up group communications. IIRC Kirchner said he was going to create a listserve on Yahoo Groups. (BTW, Google Groups may be slightly superior.)

After the meeting Daley expressed the sentiment that the challenge of organizing for reform in District 209 seems daunting because of the number of communities and the size of the project. She asked for an example of another high school district with so many feeder communities.

Relf said that she doubted the parents group from Proviso West would continue to be active with this group. I can understand why they would feel frustrated. The vision and purpose of the group didn't gel as smoothly as some would have liked. But I think it will get better over time.

The pro-Fields people are still feeling hurt about the board's action to begin termination of Fields. And some of them still believe there is a window of opportunity to overturn the decision.

The people who were critical of the district and board of education before Fields was put on leave get a little impatient with the pro-Fields people.

For example, everyone seemed to agree the district is doing as little as possible to fulfill the requirements of the Open Meetings Act with its minimalist agendas. The people who have been following the district from before the 2006-07 academic year know that the minimalist agendas were implemented by Fields. Somehow Fields' personal charisma keeps his supporters from assigning responsibility to Fields for the bad and questionable decisions that happened while he was superintendent.

There seemed to be consensus that we should all try to bring more people to the August 20 board meeting.

You can also read the Proviso Insider's take on the meeting.

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Bob Cox considering resigning

A Forest Park Review editorial makes reference to Proviso Township High Schools (District 209) board member Robert Cox considering resigning from the board of education to protest the direction of the district.

Cox mentioned the possibility to me on Monday.

Sorry, Bob, you can't get off that easy. You helped keep Emanuel "Chris" Welch as board president. Now you have a duty to do what you can from the minority to make things right.

You will learn to look for things that just don't seem right and use the media to raise issues so the voters will be informed.

Bob, the penalty for your sins is to witness the consequences of what you have wrought. Other reformers have been toiling longer than you. Hell, you might get off easy if the feds, the state superintendent of education or the regional superintendent of education swoop in and take out some or all of the board.

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Todd Stroger wants to kill poor women

Yahoo (Reuters--Julie Steenhuysen) reports that Partnership for Prevention, a nonprofit health policy group, has written a report saying that 100,000 lives per year could be saved in the United States by five preventive health procedures.

From the Partnership for Prevention website:
3,700 additional lives would be saved each year if we increased to 90 percent the portion of women age 40 and older who have been screened for breast cancer in the past 2 years. Today, 67 percent of women have been screened in the past 2 years.

Remember, African-American women are disproportionately victims of breast cancer. This is especially true in Chicago. And Cook County Board President Todd Stroger wants to cut breast cancer screening. See this earlier entry on Proviso Probe.

When Mark Pera (D-Western Springs, challenging Congressman Dan Lipinski in primary) took grief from Democracy for America activists for not supporting universal health care he pleaded that he supported making health care accessible.

Breast cancer is a very good example of why accessible health care is inferior to universal health care.

The difference between universal health care and accessible health care is the difference between living and dying. Under universal health care a woman gets mammograms in acordance with the current recommended practices. This allows detection and treatment.

Under a system that emphasizes health care accessibility the cancer is allowed to get more advanced before being treated.

The galling thing is that in most cases it's cheaper to detect cancer early and treat it than to let it progress and then treat it.

When Todd Stroger says he wants to cut mammograms he is advocating policy that will kill poor women.

And when politicians say they are for something less than universal health care they are advocating policies that will kill people with preventable illnesses, like the flu, colorectal cancer and breast cancer.

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Proviso Insider attacks Tommy Miller

Proviso Insider posted a letter supposedly from Mike Jones attacking District 88 (Bellwood and Stone Park elementary schools) board president Tommy Miller and D88 employee (and Stone Park trustee) Joe Burdi for misspending District 88 funds.

Has Proviso Insider been "born again" as an advocate of good government?

Or did Miller help Stone Park village president Bennie Mazzulla get some action that the Moore-Welch faction wanted? Are the attacks on Miller and Burdi part of a squabble within the coalition that won in April?

IMO comparing James Graham to Joe Burdi is completely inappropriate. Graham is a professional engineer, who was drawing attention to waste at District 88, especially wasteful contracts to politically connected vendors. Burdi's resume was highlighted by having vague duties at International Bank, an institution that had both Ron Serpico and Anthony Bruno on its advisory board, and driving trucks in the Army. (If you click to the advisory board you can see an extra hand on the far right hand of the table. That's Bruno's hand. The photo was digitally altered after Bruno became too controversial to have on the board.)

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