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Proviso Probe

Thursday, January 31, 2008

three injured in Proviso West fight

Jeremy of Forest Park asked for this Proviso Herald (Cathryn Gran) story to be covered.
Hillside police are reviewing videos posted on the Internet for leads in a fight Friday at Proviso West High School that left three students injured.

The fight broke out just before students evacuated the building at 4701 Harrison St. because of a bomb threat call. On Monday police were still investigating the source of the false threat.

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Chicago Daily Observer covers Proviso

Bill Dwyer (Chicago Daily Observer) muses about Proviso Township High Schools and board president Emanuel "Chris" Welch.

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Monday, January 28, 2008

Jewel Osco front office to move from Melrose Park

Frank of Florida/Melrose Park drew attention to this story in Sun-Times (Sandra Guy):
Jewel-Osco will relocate its headquarters to Itasca from Melrose Park this summer and will include in its newest Chicago store a chef’s station and a wine steward, the company’s president said Monday.

The retailer will relocate 400 employees, but will keep its distribution center, with 1,500 employees, in Melrose Park.

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girls knife fighting in Maywood

Jeremy of Forest Park, a Proviso East grad, asked me to post the following Proviso Herald (David Pollard) story:
A 15 year-old female Proviso East High School student is at Loyola University Medical recovering from stab wounds that resulted from a fight last week, according to Maywood police.

Elizabeth Nellums, 17, of 1003 S. 17th Ave., Maywood, was charged Jan. 16 with attempted murder, aggravated battery great bodily harm, aggravated battery with a dangerous weapon and aggravated battery on a public way. She allegedly stabbed a 15-year-old Proviso East classmate with a knife during a fight in the area of Ninth Avenue and Madison Street.

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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Ed Smith to appear on Viewpoints

Arnie Bryant will have Ald. Ed Smith (D-28th Ward) as his guest on Viewpoints From the Other Side, 2-3 PM on WJJG, 1530 AM. Smith is running for Cook County Recorder of Deeds in the Democratic primary. The incumbent is former Proviso Democratic Committeeman Eugene "Gene" Moore. You can see Smith's campaign web site.

You are invited to call the show and ask questions, (708) 493-1530.

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Monday, January 21, 2008

Raging Goodfellow, a local film

Mario Bobzin is a Forest Park resident, childhood friend and film maker. His film short Raging Goodfellow is now available through Indie Flix.

Tony Fuller stars as Tommy Goodfellow, a juice-loan collector whose job becomes impossible when his mob family is bought out by a major corporation.

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Black motorist "not guilty" of resisting arrest in Forest Park

On Thursday, January 10, I testified for the defense in the case of the People vs. Clarence Davis. Davis was charged with misdemeanor resisting arrest. See Forest Park Review (Josh Adams).

The FPR article makes a big deal out of the police officer failing to use video camera in his vehicle.

I have a different take on what decided the trial. The defense presented three witnesses who testified that either the police were lying in their account or that the police officer was out-of-control or used disproportionate force (a Taser stun gun) given the provocation.

I was the third defense witness, and the defense attorney was somewhat dejected after my testimony. I was the defense witness who confirmed that the officer had told Davis to put his hands behind his back at some point. The defense attorney assumed that was enough to convict Davis of resisting arrest.

But the ASA (assistant state's attorney), who made it clear he didn't like me, decided he wanted to call a witness to impeach my testimony. When the ASA asked me if Det. Frey questioned me about the incident at the scene I responded that I did not remember Frey questioning me. I do remember Mike Keating speaking to me, but not any other officers.

The ASA called Frey as a witness. Apparently Frey said he questioned me and I said I didn't see anything noteworthy.

By calling Frey, I suspect the ASA shifted attention away from the fact that the officer did tell Davis to put his hands behind his back to a debate over which set of witnesses was lying more. The police officers wrote the incident report to say that Davis defecated voluntarily at the police station while being questioned. Two of the defense witnesses heard Davis blame the arresting officer for making him “shit himself”, a statement I took to be a reference to being shocked with the Taser stun gun.

Applying a little common sense, the defense witnesses' story probably made more sense than the version presented by the police. And if the police were lying in part of their account that raises the question of why were they lying. Was the initial stop bad? Did the police use excessive force? What were they doing wrong that they felt compelled to lie?

And I suspect the jury probably had reservations about how the officer used the Taser stun gun. Given the provocation—Clarence Davis asked to call his boss so he could arrange for the car to be picked-up—it seems likely that the jurors felt uncomfortable endorsing the use of the Taser stun gun. Police aren't authorized to shoot people who disobey orders. And I think most Americans are uncomfortable with the idea that disobeying—or in this case delaying obeying an order—automatically authorizes a cop to use a Taser stun gun.

I have heard second-hand from two sources that the officer who shocked Davis resigned from the Forest Park Police Department within days of the verdict. While it seems likely there will be some cover story, it's hard not to draw the inference that the Davis verdict and the resignation were connected.

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who is responsible for the Recorder of Deeds office being full of "knuckleheads"?

Congratulations to Ed Smith on receiving the endorsement of the Chicago Tribune for Cook County Recorder of Deeds. Smith is running in the Dem primary, but the Republicans have not identified a candidate and have no realistic chance of winning even if they did have a candidate.

Someone called me Sunday morning crowing that the Trib called the employees in the Recorder's office “knuckleheads”. But the Trib didn't call the employees “knuckleheads”, it quoted Deputy Recorder Darlena Williams-Burnett calling her subordinates “knuckleheads”.

In the Navy officers didn't get much choice what enlisted personnel they had working for them. An officer got the sailors s/he got. It was considered the mark of a weak officer to blame one's subordinates for generally poor performance. A specific screw-up could be blamed on the person who screwed-up, but there were still questions about training and supervision.

The quote makes Williams-Burnett sound like she's blaming her subordinates for the inadequacies of the office. From what I've been told, under Cook County Recorder of Deeds Eugene Moore and Williams-Burnett the Recorder's office has used underhanded methods to try to push senior employees out the door to make room for more patronage employees who will work campaigns.

So, if Williams-Burnett has problems with her subordinates she should probably consider if she and her boss are doing things that would cause competent people to undermine the office in a passive-aggressive way. She should probably consider the possibility she could be a more effective supervisor.

And the thing that really offends me about Williams-Burnett whining about her employees is that she and her boss get to pick their employees. If they have an office full of ne'er-do-wells who can barely function in society, it's because they hired them. Moore has been the Recorder since January, 1999. Those “knuckleheads” are the people hired on this watch.

For people who have strong partisan biases toward Ed Smith, remember the Trib endorsement isn't something to be particularly proud of. Remember, the Trib endorsed Chris Welch over Karen Yarbrough for state rep. And the Trib endorsed candidate got 11% (IIRC) in the last GOP primary for governor. If the Republican Trib isn't swinging Republican votes, I doubt it's swinging many Democratic votes.

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the rumor about Sterk vs. Proviso Insider trial being soon is NOT true

There's a rumor circulating that the Sterk vs. Proviso Insider (aka Welch, E.C. & Robinson, E) will start imminently. I spoke to Mark Sterk Friday and he said this is not true. The trial is far enough in the future Sterk declined to give a specific estimate of when it would happen.

See Proviso Probe.

BTW, this what Proviso Insider originally wrote:
Will Odelson & Sterk Be Indicted Next???

Sources tell the Insider that Burt Odelson and Mark Sterk of Odelson & Sterk, Ltd law firm will be indicted next by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald. Sources tell the Insider that Mark Sterk was the attorney advising SD89 Board member Ric Cervone on how to lie to a grand jury. Sources also say Sterk was passing on fees for helping Cervone to Maywood SD89. According to sources close to the situation, all the parties involved knew the indictments were imminent, and the indictment is one of the reasons why Odelson & Sterk has been getting fired by all of their clients. In recent months, in order to help save face in numerous govermental entities, Odelson & Sterk has been fired by SD89, SD209, the Village of Oak Brook, the City of Berwyn, and many other places. Sources say Cook County Board President Todd Stroger will be the next to dump Odelson.

Are Burt Odelson and Mark Sterk crooks? Will they be indicted next?

Sterk has denied coaching Melrose Park police officers to lie to the grand jury and Proviso Insider backed-off the claim once it was challenged. Proviso Insider initially responded to the lawsuit by removing the defamatory claims. Now the updated entry has been removed.

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Mark Pera tries to sound like a populist on health care

I have a sign for Mark Pera at my residence, so it's fair to say I've endorsed him at some level. I prefer Pera to the incumbent, Dan Lipinski, and I judge Pera as having the best chance at beating Lipinski.

First, Pera says, "The quality of medical care in the United States is world renowned...." This is a vague statement. While people differ on what measures to use to compare health care systems, I think it's fair to say that the U.S. health care system is about average, maybe worse, among developed countries.

The World Health Organization (WHO) did a study which ranked health care systems. The United States ranked 37 of 191 countries which includes backwaters like Afghanistan, Cambodia and Haiti. Critics have raised reasonable concerns about the methodology. See Glen Whitman (Agoraphilia). The U.S. system is far and away the most expensive health care system.

The countries that have public health care systems have lower costs. If a country delivers health care on a for profit basis, the people and companies within the "for profit" health care system will figure ways to squeeze customers for more money.

Pera and I differ on health care. Pera talks about wanting to restrain the influence of insurance industry and big pharmaceutical companies. However, his vision for health care is fundamentally a market-based approach. It's this "for profit" or market-based approach that makes health care unaffordable.

Pera is clearly trying to sound populist, but his vision for improving health care involves relatively minor changes to the system, not radical overhaul.

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Monday, January 14, 2008

bad PR for Flowers' ROE

SouthtownStar (Angela Caputo) rips the Cook County Regional Superintendent of Education. (h/t Proviso Insider)

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LWV hosts candidate forum for IL-03

All four Democratic candidates for Illinois' Third Congressional District appeared Sunday afternoon at a League of Women Voters forum at Lyons Township High School in LaGrange. The small to medium-sized meeting room had an overflow crowd, which seemed to be mostly affluent, “White” suburbanites with relatively few seniors.

The organizers seated Mark Pera (Western Springs) on the left (from the audiences perspective), Jerry Bennett (Palos Hills), Jim Capparelli (Chicago) and Dan Lipinski (Western Springs) on the right. The moderator had the candidates answer questions in a random order.

Lipinski started awkwardly. He arrived late and then started by complaining he hadn't gotten the questions in advance like the other candidates. The organizers wanted candidates to address health care and immigration in their five-minute opening statements. Lipinski asked to give his opening statement last so he could prepare while the others spoke. The moderator didn't respond to the request for a few seconds. Pera was scheduled in the fourth spot and offered it to Lipinski; Lipinski thanked Pera for making the exchange.

Capparelli emphasized his “working class background” and his military experience. He's a combat veteran (Grenada) and a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserves. Capparelli favored forcing employers to provide health insurance coverage. Lipinski also shared this opinion, but wanted a lower employee threshold (20 vs. 50 employees).

Pera gave his background on the Lyons Township school board and working as an assistant state's attorney (environmental crimes, public utility regulation). He emphasized the contrast between him and Lipinski on abortion rights, the Iraq War and warrantless wiretapping. Pera favors abortion rights and capping funding for the war to force the President to withdraw. He's critical of President Bush asserting a right to surveil U.S. citizens without a warrant. On health care Pera expressed optimism the Democrats would win the presidency and said, “We are going to get universal health care. I will support it.”

Bennett grew-up in Chicago in a large Irish family. He was elected mayor of Palos Hills at age 30. He's been mayor 27 years and has been a leader in coordinating mayors on municipal issues. He made a point of how the Iraq War is diverting funding from spending for local projects to spending overseas. Bennett said:
As local officials, as local mayors, we are already on the cutting edge. Whether it has to do with issues of environment or, again, economic development, creating jobs with good health care benefits. We have been in the trenches doing that. We haven't waited for Washington. We have taken the initiative locally to solve those kind of problems. And I believe as the Congressman I can bring that experience to Washington and bring back to this metro region, and specifically this district, the type of federal fundings and assistance that we need. And we need it desperately. Washington over the last few years has taken a step away under the this administration. This Bush administration has lost where local government [fits into the economic picture] and the ability of local government to be the economic engine in this country. In fact, 79% of the Gross National Product in this country is generated by cities. We need to reestablish that federal-city partnership.

Lipinski identified himself as a former engineer, in addition to being a former educator. (He was a political science professor.) Lipinski claimed to have done things to help families, the economy, the environment, seniors and veterans. “I have delivered results for the people of the Third District.”
Unfortunately today middle class families are being increasingly squeezed by higher costs, higher property taxes and stagnant wages. That's why I helped pass a bill that protects 82,000 families in the Third District from being hit by the AMT this year.

Bennett and Capparelli espoused a conventional view of immigration. The federal government should do more to keep undocumented aliens out. There should be some path to citizenship for immigrants already here. Employers should be held accountable for hiring illegal workers. And undocumented immigrants should receive basic legal protections. Bennett specifically said he supports the Kyl-Gutierrez bill. Pera did not address the immigration issue even though the LWV asked all candidates to speak to the issue in their opening statements. Lipinski said, “We cannot allow those who are here illegally to get a leg up on becoming citizens.” [UPDATE: Pera did address immigration. I either missed recording it or missed apprehending it when I was listening to the recording. Pera said,
Immigration: I hope you all saw the article in The Doings, the endorsement in The Doings, the strong endorsement. We had a long conversation at The Doings about immigration. It's set forth in the pamphlet that you've probably got, but the fact of the matter is we need to secure the borders, we need to secure the ports. We need to crack down on employers who are taking advantage of the undocumented, but we have to do it in a humane way and we have to find a path to citizenship for those that are already here. We can't have a situation where a woman who is raped, or is the victim of domestic violence is afraid to go to the police.

Social Security:
  • “Social Security is not in jeopardy,” Lipinski. “We cannot use Social Security to pay for our yearly deficits.”
  • Capparelli favors removing cap for Social Security withholdings.
  • Pera discussed the possibility that Baby Boomers would work past retirement which would cause more people to continue to pay into the system and delay drawing out.
  • Bennett expressed reservations about putting the money in the stock market.

NCLB (“No Child Left Behind” Act):
  • Lipinski favored more fed funding for local districts and wants to change how AYP is measured.
  • Bennett favored the federal government investing in capital improvement of schools.
  • Capparelli expressed his support for funding federal mandates.
  • Pera said,
It is and is going to be the largest unfunded mandate from the federal government, the largest back door property tax increase, that any of us are going to see on our property tax bills as school systems attempt to meet the requirements of the law. The fact of the matter is that by 2014 every school in this country will be run by the federal government, which is something that none of us want to see happen. I haven't heard yet anyone say really what they will do in regard to this law. But it's coming up for reauthorization. And if it can't be substantially corrected then I would not vote to reauthorize it. Sure, it's a catchy sounding name. But it hasn't accomplished what it's intended to do. Without adequate federal funding to meet the goals then I don't think it should be reauthorized.

Energy, fossil fuels:
  • Bennett supported bio-fuels and increasing corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards. “We need to get away from Middle Eastern oil and all foreign oil. And that can be done by alternatives in this country.” He went on to mention local government's role in reducing congestion and creating green cities.
  • Lipinski:
Well, I've been a leader in Congress in pushing legislation to do this. I helped to write the new energy law that just passed that increases fuel efficiency standards for cars. I helped write the law, to help Hydrogen to become a possible replacement for gasoline. I fought for--we passed in the House, the Senate took it out--a part of the energy bill that would tax energy companies $22 billion so that money woud go to alternative fuel research. I strongly support alternative fuel. I think we need to do that.... Some people want to open up places in the United States like Artic National Wildlife Refuge and offshore drilling. I have said no, and I have voted against doing that. We cannot threaten our environment, but we do need to get away from our dependence on foreign oil.

After Pera finished, Lipinski asked, “Do we have an opportunity to respond?” The moderator answered, “No, sir. Not at this point.... [You can later] if you choose to return to a prior question.”
  • Capparelli mentioned that France gets much of its electrical power from nuclear and that the U.S. Navy operates nuclear reactors on submarines. He went on to say:
I feel very comfortable with nuclear energy as a way to reduce our foreign consumption of oil. I am for the drilling of resources off the coast. It doesn't mean their will be a natural catastrophe. But I'll tell you what: the working men and women of the Third Congressional District don't want to pay $200 to fill up their car.

Stem cell research:
  • Pera, supports embryonic stem cell research. “Congressman Lipinski was one of fourteen Democrats to uphold George Bush's veto of the stem cell research bill.”
  • Bennett:
I guess I also find it difficult for Congressman Lipinski, who brags about being the vice chairman of the science committee in Congress, that [he] would take a position against an important research in stem cells.

  • Lipinski:
I do not support embryonic stem cell research. I have been a leader in getting funding for other types of stem cell research. We have seen the great advances that have been made in that regard. I'm a diabetic. People talk about people with diabetes maybe some of the first to be cured. I strongly support--y'know I'm an engineer, scientist--I strongly support science. I do not support tax payer funding going to embryonic stem cell research. Embryonic stem cell research is legal in this country and it is going on.

Going back, check the record on oil. Check the record how I voted for the amendment to take drilling out of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge out of the energy bill a couple years ago. Check the record on how I voted three times this year to tax oil companies. Or check the record. I have received no money whatsoever from oil companies. Just because you say something, put something down on paper and send it out to people doesn't mean it's true.

  • Capparelli opposes embryonic stem cell research as “a question of faith” and identified himself as a “pro life” candidate.

I'm going to try to write-up the other questions later today, but I did want to get something posted sooner rather than later.

After the Democrats spoke, Art Jones (R-Chicago) spoke. I was walking out of the room and he railed against the federal government, starting with the Iraq War. He began at a borderline yell and escalated the volume and intensity as he spoke. You can read more on Jones in this Proviso Probe entry.

To disclose fully, I did place a Mark Pera sign in the window this weekend, although I will probably vote for Jerry Pohlen, the Green Party candidate, in the general election.

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Every generation leaders must emerge

Fred Hampton was a Maywood native and chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party. Image taken from The Two Malcontents.

Harold Washington was the first African-American mayor of Chicago. He was elected by energizing large numbers of voters. Image taken from Encyclopedia Britannica.

Barack Obama is the junior U.S. Senator from Illinois. On January 3, 2008, Obama received 38% support in the Iowa caucus by energizing large numbers of voters. (Two other candidates received slightly less than 30% support.) Today, New Hampshire voters hold the first in the nation primary. Image taken from The Stranger, Seattle's Only Newspaper.

In Proviso Township the delegates for Obama are:

If you live in the IL-03 (Brookfield, La Grange Park, North Riverside, southern Forest Park or southern Westchester):
* Martin Arteaga, Chicago
* John Daley, Chicago
* Lisa Hernandez, Cicero
* Shirley Roumagoux-Madigan, Chicago
* Albert D. Tyson, III, Chicago
* Arthur Velasquez, Palos Hills
* Diane Viverito, Burbank

If you live in the IL-04 (Stone Park, part of Melrose Park):
* Leticia DelGadillo, Chicago
* Miguel De Valle, Chicago
* Soraida Gutierrez, Chicago
* Jesse Ruiz, Chicago

If you live in IL-05 (Northlake and part of Melrose Park):
* Margaret Laurino, Chicago
* Sylvia Martinez, Chicago
* David Ernesto Munar, Chicago
* Renae Ogletree, Chicago
* Mike Quigley, Chicago
* Henry Tamarin, Chicago

If you live in IL-07 (Bellwood, Berkeley, Broadview, Hillside, Maywood, northern Forest Park, northern Westchester):
* Byron T. Brazier, Sr., Chicago
* Deborah Graham, Chicago
* Mattie Hunter, Chicago
* Mike Kruglik, Chicago
* Bill McNary, Chicago
* Amalia Rioja, River Forest
* Ed Smith, Chicago
* Karen Yarbrough, Maywood

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