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Proviso Probe

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Flowers appoints Miller-Berryhill to District 89 board

Suburban Cook County Regional Superintendent of Education press release:
Westchester, Illinois – September 25, 2007 –Dr.Charles A. Flowers, Regional Superintendent of Suburban Cook County Schools, today appointed Mrs. Sandra Miller-Berryhill to serve on the School District 89 Board of Education. Mrs. Berryhill a lifelong Maywood resident is married with 3 children currently enrolled in District 89 schools. Mrs. Berryhill serves as the Vice President of the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) at Irving Elementary School in the district, and past President of the PTA, position she has proudly held for the past two terms. A professional counselor on faculty at Triton College (www.triton.edu), Mrs.Berryhill obtained a Bachelors Degree in Liberal Arts from Mundelein College and a Masters Degree in Counseling from Illinois State University. “I am pleased to appoint Mrs. Berryhill as she brings an impressive background of professionalism, integrity and community involvement. She is focused on improving the quality of education for all students in District 89 and ensuring the fiscal accountability for the tax payers of the district. She has a clear understanding of the divisive politics that continue to plague the district and is committed to making a difference. Her background and experience make Mrs. Berryhill an ideal candidate to serve the students, parents and constituents of District 89.” states Dr.Charles A. Flowers.

The appointment of Mrs. Berryhill was a result of a vacancy created by the resignation of District 89 School Board Member Patricia Samuel-McFall, effective July 13, 2007. The Board of Education of School District 89 had 45 days from that date to fill the vacancy. The vacancy was not filled. Therefore, according to Illinois State law, “the Regional Superintendent under whose supervision and control the district is operating . . . shall within 30 days after the remaining members have failed to fill the vacancy, fill the vacancy as provided for herein . . .” (105 ILCS 5/10-10; Board of Education; Term; Vacancy).

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two rummage sales

There are two Proviso rummage sales coming up.

Citizens United in Forest Park will hold one.

Saturday, October 6, 2007 from 9 AM to 3 PM
First United Church of Christ
1000 Elgin

See the website for details about getting rid of your stuff.

And Suburban Life reports:
The Village Church of La Grange Park, 1150 Meadowcrest Road., La Grange Park, will hold its Fall Rummage Sale from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 29.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Proviso wants unions to accept furloughs

Proviso Township High Schools (District 209) business manager Nikita Johnson has asked the unions to consider taking two-week furloughs. The threat to the unions is that if the employees [UPDATE: don't] accept the furloughs then employees will need to be cut.

The teachers union thought it was doing pretty well to negotiated a 19.5% pay increase over four years.

And all the unions have either tacitly supported the board majority controlled by Eugene Moore and Emanuel "Chris" Welch or actively campaigned for them.

What's two weeks out of 52? 3.8%. So if the teachers got a 5% pay raise this year they'll lose most of it to the furloughs.

Maybe the unions should start electing representation that advocates for the interests of the members, not the interests of the political bosses.

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Jesse Martinez resigns as Stone Park trustee

Yesterday Jesus "Jesse" Martinez resigned as Stone Park village trustee. He remains a Proviso Township trustee.

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Wheeler investigated and protested

Chicago Tribune:
Maywood and Illinois State Police officials are investigating how an undercover drug operation turned deadly last week.

Police officials said Sgt. Dwayne Wheeler was conducting a drug investigation at 17th Avenue and Harrison Street about 3 p.m. Thursday when the alleged dealer fled the scene in his Lexus, striking several cars before trying to run down the officer. Wheeler fired one shot at the vehicle, killing Fred Henderson, 35, of Bellwood, authorities said.

Proviso Herald:
Around 100 people gathered in front of Maywood Police Department Sept. 25 to protest the Sept. 20 shooting death of Fred Henderson, 35, of Bellwood by a Maywood Police Sgt. Dwayne Wheeler.

What are the protesters alleging was done wrong by Wheeler or the Maywood Police Department?

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new pipes cost money

Proviso Herald (Cathryn Gran):
Bellwood officials are working with the Hillside/Berkeley Water Commission to ensure a water main replacement program runs smoothly and with as little inconvenience as possible to Bellwood residents....

The project consists of installing 16-inch water mains to replace the old 12-inch ones that connect the pumping station with the villages of Hillside and Berkeley, said commission attorney Dean Krone. The larger mains are necessary to provide a higher volume of water to serve increasing demands.

I wonder if Anthony Bruno helped put this deal together behind the scenes.

Christopher B. Burke Engineering is heavily involved in this project, so I did a search of campaign contributions by the company at the Illinois State Board of Elections.

The company has made 911 contributions totaling $697,611.41.

And that doesn't count when it gives $10,000 here and there to politicians pet causes. Forest Park Mayor Anthony Calderone got at least $10,000 from the company for some committee (party) that he was throwing.

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D87: "No cell phone for you!"

District 87 (Berkeley elementary schools) has restricted mobile phones in school. See Proviso Herald (Chuck Fieldman).

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Cook County gov't exposes corruption when politically expedient

In Harvey, the Cook County Sheriff and State's Attorney have been investigating and prosecuting cases neglected by the Harvey PD. See Chicago Tribune (Matt Walberg).

There's also video of the WGN-9 coverage, which includes Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart saying:
There is no safe harbor in this county. There are not towns where you can go to commit crimes and you can walk away from it. Whereever it is in the county we will collectively work together to ensure that all the citizens of the county get the same type of law enforcement protection that they deserve.

The village of Harvey alleges county officials are showboating to help the candidacy of First Assistant State's Attorney Bob Milan, who is running for State's Attorney.

The Trib article does make it sound like Harvey's PD was just taking paychecks without doing the work.
Cook County law-enforcement officials Tuesday announced indictments in two more cold-case murders stemming from a raid on the Harvey Police Department this year, and said they also are investigating about 200 rape kits found in the suburb's evidence vault, many of which were never sent to the state crime lab.

I have a little trouble with the State's Attorney's office getting too sanctimonious about law enforcement not doing their jobs. In my view, the corruption in Proviso Township is abetted by the State's Attorney and his assistants.

So, I can see Dick Devine and Bob Milan making the following political calculation.

If the South Side Blacks are going to run Ald. Howard Brookins against Milan in the primary then why not prosecute a Black suburban village allied with Brookins allies? It's not like Milan would risk losing votes to prosecute crooked cops in Harvey. It gets Milan's mug on TV. And it makes it look like he's the type of guy to stand up to corruption.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

D209 has a regular and special meeting on the same night

Proviso Township High Schools (District 209) board of education had a regular and special meeting last night.

The most significant points:

1. The district will borrow from its reserves to meet payroll on Friday. This is necessitated by Gov. Rod Blagojevich vetoing the property tax legislation last week. This delayed the county sending out bills. And the delay sending bills will cause the county to delay paying school districts.
2. During public comment a freshman at Proviso East said she does not feel safe in school. Another woman raised the issue of class sizes.
3. Bill Kirchner of Forest Park pointed to a number of non-educational areas where D209 spends lavishly compared to Morton and New Trier. And then he pointed out that on educational salaries and expenses D209 spends less than these districts.
4. Kevin McDermott of Westchester raised a number of questions about the budget. He pointed to discrepancies between the budget online and the one briefed to the board at the meeting. He pointed-out that the budget has grown 13% a year for the last two years while former superintendent Stan Fields and business manager Nikita Johnson have been crowing about deficit cutting. McDermott also criticized the budget for having large amounts of money under "other".
5. Barbara Cole of Maywood questioned the move to dismiss the foundation. She alleged the board ended the foundation project b/c the people working on it were insufficiently loyal (in a political sense) to the board of education. Cole also expressed a preference that the district conduct a nation-wide search for a new superintendent.
6. Robert Libka was given a one-year contract for $160,000 to be superintendent.
7. I raised the issue of the president of the board of education, Emanuel "Chris" Welch, dating the business manager, Nikita Johnson. I said this was relevant to the budget because Welch is approving his girlfriends (fiance's?) budget.

[UPDATE: Forest Park Review (Josh Adams) has his coverage.]

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Monday, September 24, 2007

Lipinski chief of staff tells citizen journalist to "talk to the hand"

On Friday, Congressman Dan Lipinski (D-Western Springs) hosted his annual senior fair at a recreation center in Berwyn. The fair brought together a number of government agencies and some businesses who provide services for seniors. Lipinski took three or so questions from the audience, but largely constituents got access to Lipinski by approaching him and talking to him.

This woman* asked Lipinski a question about his vote for the Bush-supported FISA bill in July. Wikipedia has background on the July vote.

Rita Maniotis is an activist with Near West Citizens for Peace and Justice and a Green Party candidate for state representative. Maniotis was video recording Lipinski at the senior fair.

Jerry Hurckes, Lipinski's chief of staff, was trying to keep Maniotis from getting good footage of Lipinski.

In the video clip you can see Hurckes using his hand to block Maniotis' view of Lipinski. When I saw Hurckes doing this, I turned my camera on and began filming. The clearest view of Hurckes harassing Maniotis is at about 15-17 seconds into the view I posted. Assuming it took me a few seconds to get my camera set up, Hurckes was behaving like a poorly socialized third grader for 20-30 seconds before Lipinski told him to behave.

I owe a huge thanks to Steve Backman of Citizens United in Forest Park for help making this video tape. He loaned me the camera and transfered it to a digital format that could be posted on You Tube.

  • What is Hurckes thinking when he is harassing Maniotis?
  • What should people infer about Lipinski based on Hurckes' behavior?
  • Should Lipinski fire Hurckes over this incident?

BTW, show some love to Proviso Probe advertisers. If you are buying or selling property, contact Patrick Doolin.

Also, the candidates running against Lipinski in the Democratic primary are: Jerry Bennett, Jim Capperelli and Mark Pera. Jerry Pohlen of Berwyn is circulating nominating petitions to run for the seat as a Green Party candidate.

*I assumed she was with Near West Citizens for Peace and Justice, but Rita Maniotis didn't know her name. Maniotis is the secretary for Near West Citizens for Peace and Justice. [UPDATE: EK wrote down the woman's name as "Loretta Luizzi". I will check to verify this.]

[UPDATE: In a May 7, 2007 article in Daily Southtown, two Hurckes political rivals expressed suspicion that Hurckes used a village inspector to retaliate against and individual who challenged Hurckes in the village elections. On election night Hurckes made a quote that foreshadowed Hurckes getting even.
"If you battle the king, you better kill him, or he's going to come back and haunt you," Hurckes said on Election Day as he ribbed the rival Unity Party and alluded to a challenge for the mayoral seat in 2009.

[Suspicion about Hurckes using the village to retaliate against his political opponent was probably re-enforced by a March 4, 2007 Kristen McQueary column (Daily Southtown) that tells the story of Hurckes calling the police to see how they handled a flimsy complaint against his opponent about improperly shoveling snow.]

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Maywood cop shoots and kills Bellwood man

On Thursday Maywood Police officer Dwayne Wheeler shot and killed Fred Henderson of Bellwood. According to Maywood Police Department Henderson was driving his vehicle at Wheeler in a threatening manner. After shouting a warning Wheeler fired a single shot that killed Henderson. See Proviso Herald (David Pollard) and Chicago Tribune.

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D209 BOE meeting to approve budget tonight

Proviso Township High Schools (District 209) board of education has its regular meeting tonight. Documents: agenda (pdf), documents and the budget (pdf).

The meeting will be 7 PM at Proviso East High School.

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Giglio & Del Galdo getting rich in Cicero

Giglio & Del Galdo are in the news for the law firms exorbitant bills in the village of Cicero. See Sun-Times (Leonard N. Fleming, Carol Marin and Don Moseley). h/t to a Proviso Probe contributor for bringing the Sun-Times article to my attention.

Giglio & Del Galdo is the law firm that has given extensively to political committees controlled by Melrose Park Village President Ron Serpico.

The firm has also been expanding its clients in Proviso Township. Mayor Anthony Calderone attempted to bring the firm to Forest Park to condemn residents homes to turn them into parking lots.

Also, Proviso Township High Schools (District 209) dumped Odelson & Sterk in favor of Giglio & Del Galdo.

Law firms serve as money laundering operations in local politics. The law firms run-up big bills. The politicians don't challenge the bills. The politicians don't object to the bills because they know they will derive some benefit from the money down the road. The politicians are "banking favors".

The system is very because legal work is not required to be bid out. And the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission doesn't see this behavior as violating the rules against attorneys mixing their financial interests with their clients.

Allegations of this kind of corruption are hard to investigate because the conspirators can claim attorney-client privilege, as the Village of Cicero has done in the Sun-Times article.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

the Army's new speech prepping GIs for Iraq

Yahoo (Kristin M. Hall, AP) wrote about the Army test people prior to exposing them to conditions that will result in traumatic brain injuries.

Picture Sgt. Hulka from Stripes giving the following speech:
While you are in my Army, you are government property.

The Army loves you and wants to take good care of its property.

Because of this great love the Army has for you and your bodies the Army has become more successful in treating battlefield injuries than in the past. This is especially true of brain injuries.

You are part of the 101st Airborne Division. The Commander and Chief of the most powerful military in the world has ordered the 101st Airborne Division to Iraq. That means you and your bodies are going to Iraq.

Unfortunately, there are people in Iraq who do not want the U.S. military to be there.

While you will be more successful at killing them than they will be at killing you, some of you will be killed and injured.

My Army is wise and learns from experience. Experience tells us that some of you will receive traumatic brain injuries.

In order to take the best possible care of its property the Army wants to learn more about traumatic brain injuries.

People with traumatic brain injuries are kinda fucked-up. But my Army is wise. The Army has observed many soldiers without traumatic brain injuries are kinda fucked-up. Some of you may even think I'm fucked-up.

So, the Army wants to know how much traumatic brain injuries increase the amount a soldier is fucked-up.

To measure your basic fucked-uppedness the Army has designed a test. This test measures your brain, like a hearing test measures your ears. The Army wants to know if you lose hearing due to loud noises. And now the Army is working on measuring how badly its loved ones get fucked-up by traumatic brain injuries.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Welch wants BOE to speak with one voice: his

Apparently the president of the board of education Proviso Township High Schools (District 209) is upset with board members Theresa Kelly and Robert Cox for the statements they made to Proviso Herald (Chuck Fieldman).

Board president Emanuel "Chris" Welch has order Cox and Kelly not to speak to the media because it undermines the school board speaking with one voice.

I seriously doubt that discouraging minority voices from speaking to the media is ever appropriate for a school board.

But even if you assume the Cox and Kelly owe Welch respect because he's the president, he doesn't show Kelly any respect at meetings.

Welch regularly ignores her questions and proceeds to vote on issues without even giving the Kelly an evasive answer or an answer that dodges the question. And the board members that elected Welch president never stand up for Kelly and say, "Could we answer her question?" or "That was rude."

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school budget issues

Next Monday, the board will vote on the 2007-08 budget for Proviso Township High Schools (District 209).

The Forest Park Review encouraged everyone to study the document.

BTW, the State of Illinois may have fouled-up the system of collecting property taxes by not passing legislation in Springfield. See Phil Kadner (Daily Southtown), h/t Capitol Fax Blog (Rich Miller).

The state needs to pass legislation that sets the level of the property tax bills. The county can't determine the amount to bill property owners until the level is passed into law. And if the county doesn't get the property tax money then the schools don't get their property tax money, which is their primary source of income.

From a theoretical perspective, property tax revenue is supposed to the most reliable. The cyclical nature of the economy causes income taxes and sales taxes to fluctuate. However, property owners are expected to absorb the economic uncertainties with property taxes. That is, the property owner pays $X not matter if the economy is booming or in the doldrums.

From Kadner:
"I told my school districts that we can expect to lose $300,000 a month, or about $10,000 a day, just in the interest we would have made off of the property tax money, had we received it and put the money in an interest-bearing account," said Rob Grossi, treasurer of Bloom Township schools.

Finally, we know what the township treasurer of schools does. In weird budget situations s/he gives a quote to the newspaper.

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Citizen Utility Board gives info an alternative gas companies

Citizen Utility Board has analyzed whether consumers save money by switching to various different gas companies. With the exception of one company the overwhelming majority of people paid more by switching. See the explanation and graphic.

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Judge Ginex rewards cops for destroying evidence

There's a rumor that Forest Park police officers are systematically violating village policy on the use of video recording devices in squad cars. These cameras are supposed to begin recording when the officer turns on the cars sirens. The officers are disabling the cameras.

See Forest Park Review (Bob Skolnik):
[Officer Biel] failed to record the arrest with a dash-mounted camera. Department officials have said Biel was disciplined for the violation, but declined to discuss what action was taken against him.

Albukerk wanted to gather evidence to argue that Forest Park police officers had a systematic practice of not turning on the dash-mounted video recorders in their squad cars. Albukerk subpoenaed Deputy Police Chief Tom Aftanas, Lt. Steve Weiler, civilian employee Jane Maxwell, and village mechanic George Prescott, along with records of how many times the tapes were changed in squad cars for a four month period in 2006.

Judge Gregory Ginex disallowed the defendant from making this argument.

I'm not a lawyer (IANAL), but there is a principle in contract law that if there is ambiguity in a contract the courts resolve the ambiguity against the party that wrote the contract.

To me, it seems like the same principle should apply to the Forest Park Police Department. If FPPD officers willfully disable there cameras, it should be assumed that they are up to no good. Courts should, when there is a conflict of accounts between FPPD officers who turned off video equipment and others, resolve the conflict by assuming the others are telling the truth.

Ginex's ruling rewards the police officers for essentially destroying evidence. The Village of Forest Park has paid for these cameras that turn on automatically. The police officers--I suspect with the approval, if not the explicit instructions of the ethically challenged chief of police--are disabling the equipment because the courts give the officers more credibility than the suspects.

If the courts have a policy of deciding against police officers who disable their cameras the police will stop disabling their cameras. It's really pretty simple.

Maybe there's some legal nuance I'm missing, but from my perspective Ginex looks lazy, foolish, ignorant or crooked.

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Monday, September 17, 2007

why is Peraica running for State's Attorney?

Stephen Covey wrote The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. You can read all seven habits. I'd like to concentrate on habit #2: begin with the end in mind.

As I've mentioned before, Cook County Commissioner Tony Peraica's campaign for State's Attorney seem to involve an awful lot of insulting other Republicans.

Here's my question for Peraica, why are you running for Cook County State's Attorney?

a. To fulfill some need for attention and approval;
b. To prove to God that you are on the right side of the issues in a wicked world;
c. Because the people around you expected you to run and you couldn't say “no”;
d. To get a platform from which to push for reforming the Cook County Republicans;
e. To get elected State's Attorney;
f. To get elected State's Attorney and use the power to reduce corruption in Cook County

I'd like to believe the answer is “f”.

Even if you assume Commissioner Liz Gorman, chair of the Cook County GOP, did maliciously push the story about Fred Ichniowski (see Sun-Times (Steve Patterson)), what's the best way to respond?

If Peraica's larger goal is to get elected State's Attorney, what's the smaller goal in how he handles the Ichniowski story?

I would think the goal is to get past the story while minimizing the damage.

How did Peraica respond? He attacked Gorman. See Peraica's campaign blog.
The record of Liz Gorman speaks for itself. She has proven herself to be a committed ally of the Democrats - a close associate of indicted political insider Ed Vrdolyak and the disgraced Shaw brothers.

Gorman also has been a staunch ally of Todd Stroger - recruiting Stroger's former spokesperson, Sean Howard (who was arrested last year for harassing a woman) to join her public relations team at the Cook County GOP. She supported Todd Stroger's disastrous budget. She has supported the Stroger position against numerous and even bi-partisan reform efforts. She has gone out of her way to oust good Republicans from Cook County GOP committeeman positions - in favor of Democrat shills that will toe her "party line."

Liz Gorman's motives are clear: she is smearing me now to provide herself a reason to slate a primary opponent against me for State's Attorney. Rest assured that any Liz Gorman-backed candidate will be an enemy of reform, and a friend of the corrupt, Democratic machine.

There is a long road ahead before Election Day in November of 2008. The Democrats and Gorman allies will spend the next 13-plus months slinging mud at us ... because they fear us. And fear us they should - because our campaign for honest reform will win and put them out of business.

By attacking Gorman, Peraica kept the story alive. He also undermined his claims he didn't encourage his supporters to do anything inappropriate. And he reinforced the impression he doesn't play well with others.

Peraica is a highly driven, highly successful person. He's charismatic and he can turn a mildly hostile crowd into a sympathetic audience in a relatively short amount of time.

However, Peraica is running in a majority Democratic--overwhelmingly Democratic--county. He might be good enough to beat the Democrats in an election year that's probably going to be brutal to the GOP. But he's got to play his situation about perfectly.

When Peraica was running against Todd Stroger for President of the County Board, there were plenty of Democratic committeemen willing to let Stroger lose because they felt the Eighth Ward was hogging the jobs and contracts. So, the Democrats weren't so united behind Stroger.

However, if Peraica runs promising to prosecute political corruption, the Democratic committeemen with juice are going to feel threatened. The Democratic Machine is going to be more unified in keeping Peraica out of the State's Attorney's office than they were when he ran against Stroger.

Peraica can't be fighting with the chair of the Cook County Republicans and "corrupt" GOP committeemen in the media and still win the election.

I want see more focus on getting elected State's Attorney and less intra-GOP bickering.

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former Proviso East teacher is Green Party candidate

This weekend I went to the meeting of the West Side Greens. I met three candidates: Jerry Pohlen (IL-03), Rita Maniotis (District 21 Representative) and Kevin O'Connor (District 41). Pohlen and Maniotis live in Berwyn. O'Connor the Green Party committeeman for Proviso Township lives in La Grange Park. If you want to contact O'Connor his email is Kevin.OConnor circled "a" ilgp.org.

Maniotis was a teacher of English and drama at Proviso East in 2006-07. It would be kinda cool to have an Illinois legislator that understood District 209 from an insiders perspective.

And she seems like she personable enough to be a serious political candidate.

I was less enthusiastic about the issue she put in her literature.

She supports the tax swap idea for shifting the cost of education from the property tax to the income tax. She says this should be done to make education funding "sustainable and equitable".

Property taxes are a sustainable source of income. In fact, the good thing about property taxes when compared to sales taxes and income taxes is that the taxing bodies know how much money they will get before the year starts. Sales and income taxes depend on the cyclical nature of the economy.

What's not sustainable with property taxes is having public sector employees having their pay and health insurance compensation grow faster than the tax base.

As for making education equitable, people don't want education to be equitable. As a matter of policy we divert more resources to high performing students and students with special needs. There are many different types of inequity built into the education system. Liberals may be influenced by Marxist ideas about equality, but I think it's denying reality to think people want education to be equal for all.

Maniotis wants to invest in mass transit. This makes sense to me.

She favors implementing universal health care at the state level. I don't think states have the resources to do this. However, I'm open to switching around the tax code so that they do.

Maniotis is skeptical of vaccines. I'm ok with applying some skepticism, but I'm skeptical about anti-vaccine paranoia. Most people think the people who try to make a political issue of opposing HPV vaccines are kooks. Left Wing opposition to vaccines flirts with kookiness too.

Maniotis also favors "Good Example Government"
--Implement recycling, renewable energy and energy conservation at all levels of state government
--Buy-Illinois! Support Illinois-based firms & farms

I did like her bio:
I am a high school teacher and a former radio producer. I am happily married with 3 children and ahve been an active member of the PTAs and PTOs at their schools. I presently serve as president of Morton West High School PTO. I am also secretary of Near West Citizens for Peace and Justice and a volunteer with Chicago Indymedia. I produce their monthly radio program, From the Trenches heard on 88.7 FM WLUW.

To contact Rita Maniotis, call (708)749-1891 or email RManiotis circled "a" Yahoo spot Com.

The Green Party is still looking for candidates to run for various positions, including challenging U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-IL07) and to run for Cook County Recorder of Deeds.

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sometimes cops and pols just don't get along

Cop accuses politician of battery. Politician loses election. Politician wins criminal trial. Politician threatens to sue municipality where he sits on the city council.

Not only is no one from Forest Park involved, it appears no one connected to Proviso is involved either.

It's Republicans in Naperville. Weird, eh? See WurfWhile.

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Hillary Clinton's wants to require health insuranc

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has proposed a universal health care system that requires everyone to buy health insurance. Employers that don't provide health insurance for employees would be required to pay a tax. See Yahoo (Beth Fouhy, AP) or Lynn Sweet's blog.

Color me unimpressed. A large number of Americans nominally have health insurance and don't receive health care guaranteed by their contracts.

Insurance companies don't exist to keep health care costs down. They exist to be profitable.

The United States has the one health care system dominated by private insurers. And the United States has the most expensive health care system in the world.

[UPDATE: TRex (Fire Dog Lake) explains my main reservation about Clinton's proposal.]

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Lipinski Iraq forum at Summit American Legion hall

Last Thursday night I attended a forum for Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL03) to talk to veterans at the Summit American Legion hall. Lipinski's website advertised that the subject would be the Iraq occupation, but seemed it drifted off into various veterans issues.

The event started with Lipinski giving the Distinguished Service Cross to the family of some GI killed in the Pacific in 1943. The Distinguish Service Cross is a big deal. It's the award one step down from the Medal of Honor. From Wikipedia, since Vietnam, as of early 2007, six Distinguished Service Crosses have been awarded.

I was struck be how awkward Lipinski was giving the award to the family. He couldn't make up his mind if the award was from him (it wasn't) or from Congress or the country. As Jim Capperelli, who is running against Lipinski, noted later, it's painful to watch Lipinski speak.

I also felt that the evidence justifying the Distinguish Service Cross seemed a bit thin. The guy was wounded. He was later found dead. Around him were a bunch of dead Japanese (number vague). So the inference was that he killed a bunch of Japanese by himself.

I suspected that the family had pushed for this award. And if some family wants a military decoration to commemorate their loved one, I'm OK with that. I don't like using flimsy evidence or inflating the award, but it doesn't seem like there's great harm in it.

Later I found out that U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL10) was also handing out military medals for ancient events at one of his local forums. I suspect that this is a PR offensive by the Bush administration and the U.S. military, not driven by the awardees and their families.

There were a couple questions asked about depleted uranium exposure. Bob Gronko is a member of Veterans for Peace, a friend and and works in an organization that provides services to veterans. Gronko said this of the forum:
I asked Congressman Lipinski what he would do to protect our brethren in service from DU (depleted uranium), if they would be tested for DU exposure upon return, and if they would be treated by the VA if exposed.

He answered in vague terms about supporting our troops and treating them for PTSD and TBI upon return. He apparently doesn't know what DU is or intentionally evaded the question for other reasons.

My impression is: He is not interested in protecting and supporting our troops, only in sounding like he does without doing any research - even when provided. He needs to be replaced by someone veterans can trust.

A Near West Citizen For Peace and Justice pointed out to him that a film detailing the dangers of DU was delivered to his office. He merely acknowledged the comment.

I raised multiple issues about the Iraq War and occupation. Realizing this is not verbatim this is what I said/asked:
1. There should be a forum on Iraq for all constituents, not just veterans.
2. Knowing what we know now, should the United States have invaded Iraq.
3. From the last 100 years is there a precedent for a foreign military defeating an insurgency that survived the first 4 1/2 years?
4. If the insurgents always win these conflicts, what makes you feel confident the U.S. military is going to defy historical precedent?

Lipinski said that he was hosting a general forum. I think he referred to a Berwyn event. On his web site (scroll down) that event is for senior citizens.

Lipinski made an unequivocal statement the United States should not have invaded Iraq. Lipinski's father voted against authorizing the war. As Yoda (Prairie State Blue) reminded people recently, then-Rep. Rod Blagojevich was the only Illinois Democrat who voted to authorize Bush to invade Iraq.

Lipinski said that he didn't think historical precedents applied to the U.S. military in Iraq because the U.S. military isn't there as an imperial power. I interjected with the follow-up question, "How do you think the Iraqis see the situation?" Lipinski didn't answer it.

Generally, Lipinski said a few things.

1. He will vote to fund the troops as long as they are in harms way.
2. He is for getting U.S. troops out of Iraq.
3. But the troops shouldn't leave now or leave too quickly.
4. The troops may (will probably) be in Iraq for as long as U.S. troops stayed in Germany or Korea.

Lipinski obviously wants credit for wanting U.S. troops--especially the loved ones of constituents--to be home. But he's not going to force the issue by withholding funds. And he's opposed to leaving if it will possibly result in bad consequences. And he's basically resigned to giving the President a blank check.

The Korea and Germany analogies are flawed because once the hot war was over in both of those theaters things calmed down and the chief threat was motor vehicles accidents and doing stupid stuff while intoxicated.

After asking my questions, I did speak to Capperelli. He has a fairly detailed knowledge of military history. He pointed to a few examples of defeating long-term insurgencies, including in Peru, South Africa and Malaysia. If you want to discuss it in the comments, I'll explain why I don't think those examples apply. However, I was impressed with Capperelli's knowledge, even if I disagree with him on the issue of Iraq.

There were a couple women at the forum who were hot about the immigration issue.

One woman gave the impression that she took vacation to go check on the progress of the 700-mile fence that is supposed to be built along the U.S. border with Mexico.

The other woman--I didn't hear this, but a couple people recounted it to me--had a granddaughter who tested positive for TB. She then talked for a couple minutes, which is when I stopped paying attention. Ultimately, she got around to blaming her Mexican daughter-in-law for exposing her granddaughter to TB. This is a meme being pushed by Lou Dobbs, Rush Limbaugh and other anti-immigration activists: immigrants, especially illegal immigrants, increase the spread of serious diseases, like TB. Dobbs has an obsession with leprosy (as Lisa Simpson reminds us they are trying to move to the term "Hansen's disease"), even though his "facts" have been debunked. See Media Matters.

The one time when Lipinski seemed fired-up and angry with someone was when discussing the 700-mile fence. Lipinski was mad at President George W. Bush about not spending the money authorized to build the fence. Unlike the disloyal Joe Lieberman, Lipinski never criticized any Democrats or spoke disrespectfully of more liberal positions on issues.

But I got the impression that Lipinski was most comfortable speaking to constituents who think immigration is the top issue facing the United States (and that there should be less immigration).

I was impressed with Jerome Pohlen's campaign. Pohlen is the Green Party candidate in IL-03. Pohlen's campaign had someone there video taping Lipinski's performance.

There was also a representative from Mark Pera's campaign, but I only found out after the forum when he emailed me that he was there.

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Broadview's Templeton, Kenly & Co. bought by Wisconsin company

Chicago Tribune (James P. Miller):
Templeton, Kenly & Co., a Broadview maker of hydraulic pumps, mechanical jacks and other products, was acquired for $48 million by Butler, Wis.-based Actuant Corp., Actuant said Thursday.

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what do you think of Rep. Dan Lipinski's performance on Chicago Tonight?

I don't want to bias the responses by asking a leading question, but what do you think of how U.S. Dan Lipinski (D-IL03) speaks and carries himself in this interview?

[UPDATE: Mark Pera, president of the board of ed for Lyons Township High School, is running against Lipinski in the Democratic primary. You can see him grovel for campaign contributions at Prairie State Blue. Pera says that last week he was in the top five candidates in the country on Act Blue, a site for raising money for Democratic candidates. This is impressive because the only candidates ahead of him were running for POTUS or U.S. Senate.]

[One can make a strong case that LT is the best run high school in the area based on producing the most National Merit Scholar semifinalists and costing less that "we heart property taxes" Oak Park.]

[The other candidates running would probably also like your money before September 20, so you might want to visit their websites too. Jerry Bennett, Jim Capparelli and Dan Lipinski. And Jerome Poehlen is running as a Green Party candidate.]

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Sunday, September 16, 2007

cutting in line results in cops putting beat down on minister

Last week a man waited in line to attend the Congressional hearings in which Gen. David "Bush's Mouthpiece" Petraeus made the case for the U.S. military continuing to occupy Iraq. The Capitol Police decided that the man should be excluded from the hearing.

The Capitol Police officer claimed the man cut in line. The man, Rev. Lennox Yearwood, a former U.S. Air Force officer, claims he was excluded after the officer read his button that says, "I love the people of Iraq".

In the video of the incident, there is no reference to anyone complaining about Yearwood cutting in line. I would have expected that the police officer would say something like, "These people behind you have complained that you cut in front of them in line."

Anyway, a relatively minor issue ended-up resulting in an arrest and the Capitol Police injuring Yearwood.

With all our great media companies--New York Times, Washington Post, etc--it seems the best journalism on the incident is by Air Force Times (Seamus O’Connor).

But don't take my word for the incident. You can see the video yourself.

Watching the video a second time, I'm pretty sure the person behind Yearwood in line is Aaron Hughes, the the president of the Chicago chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War. It seems natural that Yearwood would be next to Hughes in line, especially considering the next video (h/t Siun (Fire Dog Lake)).

My general take is that war makes everybody tense. This is especially true of wars that drag on past the point where everybody knows we're sacrificing lives just to procrastinate the elites admitting the were wrong to start the war.

This tension has the ability to make a minor issue--how often does cutting in line at the Capitol result in arrest or injury?--into something bigger. This is the same basic problem--normal people operating under tense conditions caused by war--that resulted in Allison Krause, Jeffrey Glen Miller, Sandra Lee Scheuer and William Knox Schroeder being killed by their government on May 4, 1970 at Kent State University.

[UPDATE: According to Yearwood, he and Ann Wright, Col, US Army (ret), were deliberately blackballed by Capitol Police. The officer gave tickets to people in line, but deliberately withheld tickets from Wright and Yearwood.]

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National Merit Scholar semifinalists

Sun-Times has a list of National Merit Scholarship Program semifinalists.
How did Proviso high schools do?

Nazareth Academy-1
Proviso East-0
Proviso West-0
St. Joe's-0
Walther Lutheran-1

PMSA doesn't have students who would normally be taking the test, right?

Other area schools:

Elmwood Park-0
Morton East-0
Morton West-0

This makes me sad. I rail against Proviso Township High Schools not living up to their potential because people in power are subverting them for political and personal agendas.

But the distribution pattern suggests that if one wants to provide a quality education for one's child, there are two public schools in the area worth considering and maybe three private schools. If you combine Cicero, Berwyn, Proviso and Leyden there isn't one student attending public school who would score in the top twenty at OPRF. Realize that there may be another 20 or more OPRF students who didn't qualify as National Merit Scholar semifinalists who still outscore all the public school students in Proviso, Cicero, Berwyn and Leyden.

[UPDATE: Lyons Township High School has 22 National Merit Scholar semifinalists. I apologize for overlooking LT.]

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Near West Citizens for Peace & Justice

At Thursday's Lipinski forum, I met Laurel Lambert Schmidt, an organizer of Near West Citizens for Peace and Justice.
Near West Citizens for Peace and Justice (NWCPJ) is a group of Riverside, Brookfield, Berwyn, Lyons, La Grange, La Grange Park, North Riverside, Western Springs, Countryside and Stickney residents in Illinois' 3rd Congressional District who came together in opposition to the continued Iraq War and its disastrous consequences.

If you would like to get involved, see NWCPJ's contact page.


money, politics and the county health care system

Many taxpayers don't know what the county uses their money for.

Chicago Tribune (Andrew Schroedter):
Malcolm Holec knows that he pays a portion of his property taxes to fund Cook County government, but he said he wasn't sure what he was getting for his money....

"I don't see what comes back from that money," said Holec, 70, of Mt. Prospect. "I'm spending the money, but what am I getting?"

A large portion of the county's money--probably the largest portion--goes to providing medical services.

People are starting to question the wisdom of letting the Eighth Ward administer health care for poor people in Cook County.
Crain's (Mike Colias):
A committee backed by U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin is preparing to recommend that direct oversight of Cook County's embattled health system be taken out of the hands of President Todd Stroger and the board of commissioners, according to people with knowledge of the panel's work....

It would be the latest in a drumbeat of calls from outside groups urging greater expertise for the Cook County Bureau of Health Services, which is among the few public hospital systems in the nation controlled directly by politicians. But this proposal carries added weight because of Mr. Durbin, a fellow Democrat who's made clear that Mr. Stroger must take steps to fix the system before Illinois' congressional delegation works to secure more federal money (Crain's, May 14). Federal funding accounts for more than half of the system's patient revenue.

Do you think the county health care system will be reformed with health care professionals hired instead of political hacks? Or do you think county government will make some moves and some noise but protect the political class as much as possible?

On a related note, Chris Miller wrote that he saw similarities between the death of Orlando Jones (see Sun-Times (Chris Fusco, Steve Patterson, Tim Novak and Natasha Korecki)) and the movie, Casino. The Las Vegas public health system was being investigated for questionable consulting contracts to the politically connected. Jones was at least someone asked to provide documents in that investigation, if not a target.

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Friday, September 14, 2007

what has the Iraq War got to do with Proviso Township?

When President George W. Bush speaks about Iraq, he's lying--at least on the important stuff.

What has this got to do with Proviso Township?

According the the National Priorities Project the war has cost $451.5 billion as of when I'm writing. There are 435 seats in Congress. We've spent over a billion dollars per district. If Danny K. Davis had a billion dollars to spend on improving IL-07, do you think it would make sense to spend it all on Iraq?

How about Dan Lipinski? If he had a billion dollars to spend bettering the lives of the people of IL-03, would it make sense to spend it all on Iraq?

The argument for not leaving has become, "Things will really descend into chaos if the U.S. military leaves."

Let me get this straight. We've spent over a billion dollars from each Congressional district--much of this Bush charged to the national credit card--to make the United States less secure than before Bush decided to invade. And now we have to keep giving money to Dick Cheney's company or things will get worse.

What has this got to do with Proviso Township? Bush, Cheney and their fellow war profiteers have spent over $450 billion. What's Proviso Township's share?

In the 2000 Census Proviso had 155,831 residents. The United States of America had 281,421,906. If you divide the number of people in Proviso Township by the total number of people in the United States and multiply that by the cost of the Iraq War and subsequent occupation you get $250 million.

Bush, Cheney and the other war profiteers have sucked $250 million (and the meter is still running) out of Proviso Township. And what have we gotten in return? We get blackmailed that if we don't give them more money things will get truly disastrous.

And are the Democrats holding the Bush administration accountable? No, not really. Are the Democrats making sure we don't throw good money after bad? Nope, not really.

There's something wrong with our society. I can't explain why, but our leaders aren't behaving rationally.

But hey, a couple weeks ago Suburban Life ran an article saying a Broadview company got a $55,000 contract in connection with Bush's military adventurism. So we got some of the $250 million back.

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remembering Olamide Adeyooye

Saturday, in Normal, Illinois, there will be a fund raiser for the Olamide Adeyooye Memorial Scholarship Fund. She was a Berkeley native who died while at Illinois State University.

Play for Olamide bean bag tournament; 1 to 6 p.m., parking lot of Alamo II, 319 North St., Normal. Benefits Olamide Adeyooye Memorial Scholarship Fund at Illinois State University. Cost: $15 per person, $20 per two-person team. Call (309) 438-GIVE.

[UPDATE: The scholarship fund has raised over $45,000. See/listen WJBC-1230 AM.]

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shooting in Melrose Park Monday

Monday, there was a gang related shooting in Melrose Park. Eric Torres, 19, of Northlake allegedly shot a Hillside resident. According to police Torres is a member of the Imperial gang and the victim a member of the Latin Kings. See Proviso Herald.

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

too many trees at Wolf Road Prairie?

Jim Hodapp is an activist who focuses on local ecology issues. He is also a former instructor at Proviso East High School.

He wrote the following letter to Steven Byers of the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission.

Dear Steven M. Byers,

As you probably already know, the Wolf Road Prairie savanna is dying and is now on the verge of total collapse. The killer is shade.

The Prairie Society has a 1968 aerial photo showing the Wolf Road Prairie savanna with only about four large trees in it. Forty years later as a recent FPD management report (see attachment) indicates the savanna is no longer a savanna but a forest with a 90% canopy.

I remember 20 years ago when rare savanna plants bloomed in abundance...today White snakeroot dominates and the Prairie Lily has completely vanished from the savanna area of the prairie.

I am a long-time member of the Save the Prairie Society but am not writing to you as a member of that society since the Prairie Society has never voted or taken a position on whether or not the many scrub Burr oaks that popped up after the fires where stopped in the 1960's should be trimmed back to their original scrub oak size. I think they should be. Scrub Burr oaks are actually very fast growing trees their first 40 years of near fire-free growth. Twenty years ago they were tipi-pole-sized trees and now they are almost full-sized trees. We must act this winter or the rarest of the rare will have slipped away forever...Yes an extremely rare Burr oak savanna ecosystem at a dedicated Illinois Nature Preserve called Wolf Road Prairie will soon die...Why?..."to protect and maintain a grove of oak trees!" That makes no sense.

Oak tree groves are not rare; however original Illinois Burr Oak Savannas are very rare.

Please join the many people interested in restoring and preserving an ecosystem of major importance. We need to start trimming many of the oaks at Wolf Road Prairie back to their eco-healthy/scrub-oak size now.
Jim Hodapp

If you want a copy of Hodapp's attachment, email me, RadioNyberg circled "a" Yahoo spot c0m.

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another Lipinski challenger

At the Rep. Dan Lipinski forum at the Argo-Summit American Legion Post I met Jim Capperelli, a Democrat challenging Lipinski in the February 5, 2008 primary.

Reading on Walden Blog quotes a Southwest New-Herald article by Dermot Connolly.
About 250 people turned out to hear Capparelli make his official declaration of candidacy at a party held last Thursday evening at the Argo-Summit American Legion Post, 6050 S. Harlem Ave.

Capperelli is an attorney and Army veteran of the Panama invasion.

[UPDATE: Looks like Palos Hills Mayor Jerry Bennett is running too.]

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Ald. Ed Smith to challenger Eugene Moore for Recorder

Austin Weekly News (Delores McCain):
In an exclusive announcement to the AWN, 28th Ward Ald. Ed Smith said he will be running for Cook County Recorder of Deeds in next year's election....

"The reason why we're [running] is because of responsibility or the lack of responsibility," Smith said Sunday.

If I was in Smith's position, I'd be a little disappointed, if not miffed, that I gave a small paper an exclusive and the paper buried it inside a story about someone else. If Smith just wanted to be mentioned as an aside in some other article he could have gotten that from the dailies.

But Smith and Rep. Karen Yarbrough sorta brought media skepticism on themselves. Yarbrough said she was running then she changed her mind. And Smith sending a proxy to the meeting of Dem committeemen didn't exactly inspire confidence that he's really trying to win this race.

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Lipinski wants to talk to veterans about the Iraq occupation

See Congressman Dan Lipinski's website (scroll down):
Congressman Lipinski invites all veterans of the Third Congressional District to join him on Thursday September 13th at 7:00 p.m. at the Argo-Summit American Legion Post #735 in Summit for a Veterans Town Hall. 6050 S Harlem Ave., Summit

The district includes southern Proviso Township, including Brookfield, La Grange Park and southern Forest Park and Westchester.

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Nyberg comments on Wylmarie Sykes letter to Proviso Herald

Dr. Wylmarie N. Sykes, Chairman, Operation Safe Child, sent the following letter to the Proviso Herald.

I've added some commentary.
This community is suffering from a failure to take control. We are suffering from a failure to take control of the behavior of our young people.

Do successful communities aspire to control their young people? And is it young people that are screwing-up our schools? Or adults who are considered respected members of the community?
A few days ago, I drove into a gas station at First Avenue and Madison Street. Many students were coming out of Proviso East High School . School personnel were standing on the northeast corner keeping order as the students streamed past them. On the south east corner, where we were getting gas, I saw two policemen apprehending someone. Then we pulled out of the gas station and turned onto Madison going west. At Second Avenue and Madison, we almost ran into many Proviso East students running and fighting in the street. Approximately 75 students were spread out between Second and Third Avenues, fighting, congregating, and blocking Madison Street so that cars could not pass in either direction.

Sykes runs an organization supposedly focused on children, right? Is she concerned about the welfare of the students involved in the fight? Or is she more concerned about whether vehicle owners can drive on Madison?
This is outrageous and intolerable. The students appeared to be out of control. They did not seem to have either the intelligence or the values to step away from violence.

Stepping away from violence is often easier to preach than to do. Do you think Proviso East students would choose to attend a violent school if they had a choice in the matter?
Something must be done.

Let me guess, Dr. Sykes thinks giving her organization more money would help.
The school officials were out on school property keeping order. The police were out and present but were busy apprehending other criminals.

Everyone apprehended by the police is a criminal? "Criminal" is the word Sykes uses to describe the young people on the scene?
The schools and the police cannot do everything. The community and the parents have to take control and responsibility for the behavior of the young people of our community.

And having bougie Blacks scold the hoi polloi has been so effective at getting people to treat each other with more respect in Proviso.
Operation Safe Child attempts to teach Maywood students how to be safe, to use good character habits, and to have good attitudes about being law abiding citizens. But, we are only able to work with 700 fourth and fifth grade students. That is only a drop in the bucket of what is needed. This program is very effective, but it needs to be expanded.

Yeah, she wants our money.
But in the meantime, the community and the parents have to take control and responsibility for the behavior of the young people of our community. I suggest that parents be fined for the misbehavior of their children. When older students are picked up on the streets for fighting and other misbehavior, the parents should be fined. When younger students are caught fighting or misbehaving in school, again, the parents should be fined.

Does Sykes know that the police do write tickets for minors that break the law and the parents (guardians) do have to pay? If the self-styled leaders of the community don't know how basic law enforcement works....
Going further, we would not have such low performances in our schools if our students were all doing their homework. If parents properly supervised their children’s homework, achievement scores would rise.

Aren't the local elites responsible for electing screw-ups to the school boards? Aren't the local elites responsible for putting incompetent cronies into education administration? No, the teachers and local elites blame the students and parents.

If Proviso Township just had the students and parents that River Forest has, all the incompetent cronies could still get jobs at the schools and the parents would make sure the students were educated. And no one would realize that the schools are run by a bunch of screw-ups. And the local Black elites could still be paying themselves the big salaries and nobody would complain. Because the students would be getting good test scores... and more importantly, not obstructing Dr. Sykes' car.
Therefore, if a student does not bring his homework to school, the parents should be fined a few dollars.

How about we fine every person suckling at the government tit--including at grant funded non-profits--making over $45,000/year until we have competent governance of our schools?
If this were done consistently from Kindergarten to Twelfth Grade, positive changes would soon occur.

I'll bet fining the people with power would produce results faster than trying to collect $5 from single parents working two jobs without benefits.
With more parents supervising and controlling their children, we would soon have some of the best schools in the area.

If Dr. Sykes thinks that the only problem facing the schools is unruly students and disengaged parents she hasn't got a clue.
More students would go on to college, thereby, earning more money. These higher wage earning graduates are our community’s greatest promise for economic development. Best of all, student behavior would improve.

Doesn't it seem like Sykes could live with Proviso students getting an unsatisfactory education as long as misbehaving students didn't offend or inconvenience her?
Taking charge and encouraging parents to provide more control and supervision of their children is a win-win situation for all concerned.

Fixing the schools would be a win-win for the community too. But it doesn't happen.

Anybody know how many of Sykes friends and relatives have been on payroll at the high schools over the years? Wasn't there a Rev. Sykes on the school board in the 1990s?

[UPDATE: It was Dr. Wylmarie Sykes who was on the school board, not Rev. Sykes, her husband. And Dr. Sykes says Operation Safe Child does not get any grant funding.]

[UPDATE2: This is Wylmarie Sykes' response:
Dear Mr. Nyberg:

This letter is in response to your comments in the Proviso Probe.

Like you and many of your readers, I, too, am disappointed in many things that are happening in our high schools. However, one must pick and choose which battles to fight. My particular concern is for the students who are not receiving the discipline that they will need in order to graduate, to go on to college, and to become laws abiding, productive citizens. Students who do not have the wits to stay out of mob actions risk arrest and jail records that may hinder them from getting good jobs.

The students engaged in the mob action two blocks away from their school would be much better off if they displayed some common sense ethics. Common sense ethics for our young people is something that we all should be working toward.

As I said before, Operation Safe Child is working toward common sense ethics for our community’s children. Many community volunteers, as well as the Maywood Police Department, the School District #89 Administration, and the Maywood Village Administration are cooperating in this effort. However, contrary to what you implied, we are not receiving any grants for this work.

We do have a sincere concern to provide 700 fourth and fifth Grade students with information and activities that teach them good character habits. We also teach the students to think critically about illegal drugs, to avoid gangs, to avoid abduction, to know the consequences of crime and to value being law abiding, productive citizens.

But, we know that what is done in school needs to be reinforced at home. Parents who will not discipline and control their children’s behavior are doing irreparable harm to their children. As a matter of fact, undisciplined children are often doomed to a life of poverty. Is that what you want? These undisciplined young people will not go on and finish college. These undisciplined young people will not become, as you said, “Bougie Black,” or the “Black elite.” Is that what you want? However, we know from U.S. Census data that people that go on and graduate from college bring, on average, $2,100,000.00 back into the community. This is tax-lowering economic development. This and the welfare of the students is what we all should be working for. Let us not waste time and resources on name-calling.

It is noticeable that you referred to River Forest parents. You said, “…the parents would make sure the students were educated.” That is all I am asking for, that this community’s parents make sure their children are well educated. Unfortunately, it takes more than asking. This community must provide structure that informs parents about what to do and how to do it, and then encourages parents to do the right things for their students. If parents were fined for their child’s misbehavior or failure to do their homework, these infractions would soon diminish and, thus, allow more time for academic development.

Is it safe to say that we all want improved Proviso schools? Then let us work together for that.

Incidentally, there was a Sykes on the School Board in the 1990’s. That was me.

Dr. Wylmarie N. Sykes, Chairman

Operation Safe Child

[End update2]

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campaign worker used to paint Peraica team as thugs

Cook County Commissioner Tony Peraica (R-Riverside) is running for State's Attorney.

Peraica was something of a media darling when he ran against Todd Stroger for President of the County Board. Media people liked Peraica because he was accessible, gave good quotes and reflected back the media's perception of Stroger. Peraica railed against the cronyism, corruption and incompetence.

On election night Peraica's campaign was celebrating, including drinking. Mike Manzo was at the location where the ballots were being tabulated by the Cook County Clerk. There had been a number of irregularities and Manzo witnessed a bunch of Stroger people being on the inside.

Manzo called Peraica and informed him that the campaign should get there people to come over to prevent any cheating.

Peraica marched his campaign staff, many under the influence of alcohol, to the location and they were not allowed to get the equivalent access that the Stroger campaign had.

The media saw and filmed Peraica's celebrants, including intoxicated people, marching like an angry mob. This became the defining image of the campaign: Peraica's angry mob.

The Democrats and their allies in the media are now playing-up stories that re-enforce this image. This is somewhat analogous to the media deciding Howard Dean was unhinged for opposing the Iraq War (before it was socially acceptable on the DC cocktail circuit to say the invasion was a bad idea). So, when the media got an image to match the story they already told themselves, they repeated it over and over again.

For Democrats that want to pooh-pooh Peraica, his complaints about election fraud in Cook County were quite similar to complaints Democrats were making about electronic voting in other parts of the country. The basic complaint is that the dominant party has access to the machines and the votes and if the votes were tampered with the tampering is exceedingly difficult (impossible?) to detect.

I imagine if the Peraica campaign would have had it to do over again... they would have done certain things differently.

But the image of Peraica as the leader of an angry mob is getting re-enforced by other stories now. Capitol Fax Blog (Rich Miller) tied together a couple stories under the title "More thuggery from Peraica".
There are those who say that Peraica’s infamous march to the County Building on election night last year was simply an unfortunate, isolated incident, despite the obviously stupid move of leading a drunken mob across town. But Tony apparently loves him some thugs, and likes to have them do his bidding.

I like Peraica. And the need to reform Cook County government, and especially law enforcement in Cook County, doesn't disappear because the reformers are uncouth.

I think Cook County Commissioner Liz Gorman, who is chair of the Cook County GOP, is closer to the mark on Peraica than the image the media is trying to sell.

Capitol Fax Blog quoting Daily Southtown (Steve Patterson):
“Peraica thinks everything is a fight, but it takes two to fight, and I won’t be part of this,” Gorman said. “He’s tossed too many grenades. One was bound to backfire on him.”

Peraica, and the people around him, often refer to other Republicans as venal, corrupt or incompetent.

When Peraica kicked-off his campaign for State's Attorney he had a conference call for bloggers. Someone--not me--asked a question.

Peraica starting ticking through suburban townships where he had good words for the GOP committeemen, but they he got to Proviso Township and gave a more detailed analysis of the local political landscape.

Peraica said of Michael Corrigan, the Proviso Township Assessor and GOP committeeman, that he barely shows up for his township job, how could you expect him to do any work as committeeman?

Having seen firsthand how the Cook County State's Attorney covers for local politicians not following the law, I see the need for reform. And if Peraica fails to deliver reform at State's Attorney it will be easy enough to dump him in four years.

However, Peraica seems to have trouble focusing on saying things that advance his cause of getting elected without adding gratuitous insults of others, especially local Republican officials.

Gorman may think Peraica's a jackass, but she's not hell bent on sticking it to Peraica. One Peraica campaign worker told me that when he approached Gorman--he'd known her for a long time--she got her people out to help Peraica's campaign.

My two cents is that Peraica and his staff should resist their inclinations to engage in conflict with others when it doesn't advance their interests in accomplishing something specific, like winning an election.

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Blagojevich needs a favor from "What was she thinking?" Judy

I watched Chicago Tonight last night, and I understood that Gov. Rod Blagojevich had offered the CTA $24 million to avoid the so-called doomsday scenario for the CTA.

But apparently, there's a wrinkle to the plan. The RTA board has to decide whether to accept the money. See Sun-Times (Monifa Thomas, Chris Fusco and Dave McKinney).

The argument against accepting the money is that it's money borrowed from the next fiscal year. If the legislature and governor don't pass a comprehensive solution the RTA and CTA will start the next fiscal year in a deeper hole which may lead to even more extreme cuts and fare increases.

Also, the quick fix doesn't commit the state to provide money for infrastructure fixes. And if you've taken the Blue Line to O'Hare Airport you know that the tracks include numerous "slow zones".

And who sits on the RTA board of directors? One of them is Judy Baar Topinka.
Blagojevich's former GOP gubernatorial opponent Judy Baar Topinka was more direct, saying the governor could expect "a flat-out no" from her and other RTA board members on Friday. "To not include [funding for] Pace and Metra or a capital plan, this is just a payday loan," Topinka said.

Should the governor's bailout plan fall through, making cuts on the CTA almost certain, Topinka said CTA riders should blame Blagojevich and the General Assembly, not the RTA.

Topinka has a difficult situation to play. She's raising valid issues. And she should use her leverage to extract concessions from Springfield-types. But cutting services and raising fares is pretty much "going nuclear". Topinka has the power to screw-up a bunch of people's lives. She should use it... wisely.

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Obama's family tree examined

Sun-Times (Scott Fornek) scoured Sen. Barack Obama's family tree and found he's related to an interesting cast of characters.
Obama definitely has presidential timber in his family tree: He's distantly related to three U.S. presidents -- Harry S Truman, George W. Bush and George Herbert Walker Bush -- as well as to Vice President Dick Cheney.

I don't know how significant most of this stuff is, but it's news because it's interesting and about someone important.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

the war is over, if Democrats want it

This week Congress is holding hearings on the situation in Iraq. Representing the Bush administration before Congress is Gen. David Petraeus.

While Petraeus has been portrayed in the media--you know the people who were generally uncritical of the Bush rational for invading Iraq--as being a professional soldier. Glenn Greenwald makes a convincing case that Petraeus is and always has been a guy who tells the media that things are going great in Iraq. (See You Tube below.)

The Bush administration has one solution to all questions economic. Cut taxes on the wealthy. Petraeus is sorta the same one-size-fits-all solution on Iraq. He wants to do what Bush wants to do. And Bush wants to continue the occupation of Iraq indefinitely, or at least until Iraq is the problem of some other President of the United States. Petraeus is a sociopath used car salesman in cammies.

A group of people, many who are bloggers, are organizing to help persuade the Democrats in Congress to not fall for the con game... again. These people created StoptheDCestablishment.com.

Personally, I'm getting a bit peeved at Congressional Democrats.

The U.S. Senate allows the minority to block action with a filibuster, if 40 (of 100) Senators agree to block the issue from coming for a vote.

The Republicans--who want to continue the Iraq occupation as long as it remains profitable for Vice President Dick Cheney's friends at Halliburton--have blocked all the amendments calling for an end to the occupation with the threat of using a filibuster. The Democrats claim they have enough votes to pass legislation calling for an end to the occupation.

What I don't understand is why the Democrats don't threaten to filibuster the money for continuing the occupation until the Republicans allow votes on a timetable for exiting Iraq. Will Bush and the Republicans blame the Democrats for cutting money for the occupation? Yep. Democrats should have the courage to do the right thing and explain that they will allow a vote on funding the occupation when the Republicans allow a vote on setting a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq.

Why aren't the Democrats playing hardball?

Possibilities that come to mind:
1. Democrats are intrinsically cowardly.
2. Democrats think the American people are stupid and won't understand the political maneuvering.
3. Democrats believe the American people are subconsciously more pro-war than the surface level polling indicates.
4. Democrats and Republicans are playing a game of "good cop, bad cop" on us, where the elites of the country have decided to continue the occupation and the Democrats are merely creating the illusion of fighting to end the war. (The Republicans have used the same tactic on the issue of abortion. Republicans have run as anti-abortion candidates for decades and done very little to actually make abortion illegal when elected.)

I'm not sure how to get members of Congress to do the right thing, but it irks me that we are wasting money and lives in Iraq when the situation has gone to hell and there's nothing left to do, but let the forces the United States unleashed by invading play themselves out.

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meet the Green Party candidates on Sunday

Sunday, September 16, from 1-3 PM, the West Side Greens will be holding their fall meeting at Kiwanis Park (Brookfield Ave. & McCormick Ave.), Brookfield, IL.

There will be two state representative candidates.

Rita Maniotis of Berwyn will run in the 21st district (currently Robert S. Molaro (D)).
Kevin O'Connor will run in the 41st district (currently Bob Biggins (R)).

Jerome Pohlen is running for Congress in IL-03.

For more info, contact Bruce Samuels, bjs613 circled "a" comcast.net or (708) 383-7711.

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Lopez denies rigging union election; factions explained

Maywood trustee Richard Lopez, who recently ascended to the presidency of Teamsters Local 743, was indicted for disenfranchising the members of his union to keep his ticket in control of the local.

Proviso Herald (David Pollard)
interviewed Lopez.
"I got a lawyer looking over it," he said about the indictment. "I don't understand what's going on here. I think it's politics. It's just (George) Bush politics. I've never done anything wrong and I don't admit to doing anything wrong."

Lopez characterized the losing slate as making sour grapes allegations of election fraud as an excuse for losing. The opposition, 743 New Leadership Slate, has a web site that allows comments.

Lopez is right that election losers often complain of fraud. But it's rare that law enforcement authorities bring charges. And U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald has an exceptional conviction rate. As far as I know in every political case where Fitzgerald has brought an indictment the defendant has been convicted of at least some of the charges.

Normally union elections are skewed in favor of the incumbents. It's difficult to organize an insurgency from within the ranks.

Richard Berg, ran as one of the opposition candidates, explained that there are two factions vying for control of Local 743. The incumbents are aligned with International Brotherhood of Teamsters President James P. Hoffa, son of iconic union boss Jimmy Hoffa, Jr.

The opposition slate was aligned with Tom Leedham. Leedham was supported by Teamsters for a Democratic Union.

Richard Berg ran on Leedham's slate as Central Region Vice President. Berg received 41% of the vote.

Berg says that the anti-Hoffa faction does not want the union put into trusteeship as a result of the charges against Lopez and his slate. Berg explained that if the local was put into trusteeship Hoffa would appoint the leadership who would then work to marginalize the opposition. Berg expressed confidence that he and his allies can win a free and fair election at this point.

Berg says that Lopez was not slated to be one of the candidates in the upcoming election.

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Karen Yarbrough to run for re-election as state rep

Rep. Karen Yarbrough announced that she will run for re-election. See Forest Park Review (Josh Adams).

She did take a swipe at Eugene Moore, the Cook County Recorder of Deeds. Yarbrough had been considering challenging him.
"It wasn't about challenging him [Moore], it was about holding the office," Yarbrough said of squaring off against Moore. "He's just warming the seat, and not very well, I might add."

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state tries to help veterans exposed to toxins

Gov. Rod Blagojevich's office issued a press release about a bill he signed (sponsored by Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) and Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia (D-Aurora).

The bill is intended to help veterans exposed to toxic materials, especially deplete uranium.
SB 597 creates the National Guard Veterans Exposure to Hazardous Materials Act. The Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs will assist veterans and members of the Illinois National Guard who may have been exposed to depleted uranium while serving in Afghanistan, Iraq, or the Persian Gulf in finding information on federal treatment services, including health screening tests for exposure to depleted uranium.

Ideally the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs would help every Illinois veteran navigate the VA bureaucracy.

I get quite angry when I think about the story Ray Parrish, a veterans counselor, told me. Ray explained that the VA denies people with mental health issues disability claims knowing the veterans lack the skills to go through the appeals process. So, I hope that the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs will be expanded to help almost all veterans deal with the obstacles put in our way when applying for benefits.
SB 597 also establishes a task force within IDVA to study the health risks of exposure to hazardous materials, including depleted uranium. The task force will consist of a representative from the Adjutant General’s office, IDVA, and Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), eight members of the General Assembly, two veterans with knowledge of hazardous materials exposure, and four physicians or scientists with knowledge of the health effects of hazardous materials exposure. Appointments to the task force will be made within 30 days and the task force’s first meeting will be held within the next 60 days.

It sounds like part of this bill is having the state of Illinois pay for what the federal government already should be doing, but probably isn't.

I guess I'm a little concerned that this task force will be one more way to give the politically connected paychecks without having to be accountable for producing any results.

And, I'd feel better if there were some method to making sure Illinois' work on this wasn't redundant with other states.

And then there's the issue that Blagojevich and the legislature have screwed-up the public transportation legislation which is a core function for state government. It's not like they can make-up for the transportation screw-up by ameliorating the federal governments screw-ups on veterans issues.

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17th & Madison drug arrests

Proviso Herald:
A three-month undercover investigation in the area of 17th Avenue and Madison Street resulted in nine arrests last week.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Springfield Democrats can't make trains run on time

Normally, I don't care much about posturing and bluster in Springfield. Governor Rod Blagojevich, Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President Emil Jones do their stuff, and I do my stuff.

If the three of them want to jerk around a bunch of state legislators and journalists because they didn't pass a budget on time. Oh, well. I figure the inconvenience goes with the beat and the paycheck.

But now it seems like the Chicago area is going to experience cuts and public transportation services and increases in fares because Blagojevich, Madigan and Jones aren't doing their jobs.

RTA, CTA, Metra and PACE have sponsored a website to build support for public transportation. See Moving Beyond Congestion. It also has a feature for contacting legislators.

I can accept that the legislature would criticize the management of the CTA and RTA. I can accept that there will need to be adjustments in routes and perhaps modest fare increases.

I cannot accept that CTA, RTA and PACE will have to implement drastic cuts and huge fare increases because Blagojevich, Madigan and Jones are not passing legislation. This is a core duty. It's why they get elected. It's what they get paid to do.

You can see Capitol Fax Blog (Rich Miller) for more info. It sounds like the "doomsday" scenario is gonna happen. See Hiram Wurf (WurfWhile) for more commentary.

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La Grange Parker wins national title

Suburban Life (Joe Sinopoli):
[Carmen] Young won the cheerleading title and scored in the top 10 of all of her events during America’s Youth on Parade competition held July 18-22 at University of Notre Dame, in South Bend, Ind.

She came home with medals for first place in solo cheer; third place in national and world open three baton championship; fourth place in solo saber championship; fifth place in solo rifle spinning championship; and sixth place in solo color guard championship.

Young trains with Twirling Bears Baton and Flag Corp.

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which state Senators are up for election?

For some reason, the General Assembly website doesn't make it clear which state Senators are up for election.

The State Board of Elections has a document (pdf) under "Candidate Information" and "General Assembly" that has the list of Senators up for four-year terms.

Three of Proviso's four state Senate seats are up for election: Sen. Louis Viverito (D-11th), Sen. Dan Cronin (R-21st) and Sen. Don Harmon (D-39th).

The following is the list of districts across Illinois up for election: 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 11, 12, 14, 15, 17, 18, 20, 21, 23, 24, 26, 27, 29, 30, 32, 33, 35, 36, 38, 39, 41, 42, 44, 45, 47, 48, 50, 51, 53, 54, 56, 57 & 59.

You can cross reference the district number and the incumbent on the Illinois General Assembly web site.

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