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Proviso Probe

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

What stories and issue are important to you?

Wednesday is the day most of the local papers are distributed. Any articles catch your interest?

Forest Park Review
Proviso Herald
Riverside/Brookfield Landmark
Suburban Life
West Suburban Journal


Monday, July 28, 2008

what's needed to fix U.S. public schools?

First, Kill All the School Boards (The Atlantic, Matt Miller) makes the case that local control is bad for schools.

While it's easy to cherry-pick data to make this case, Chicago Public Schools are much less locally controlled than suburban districts and CPS hasn't produced great results. Although, CPS is kinda an odd case to include in the debate because the district has a hybrid system of strong central control combined with elected Local School Councils that can exert some influence.

Back to Miller's article.
But let’s look at what local control gives us today, in the “flat” world in which our students will have to compete.

The United States spends more than nearly every other nation on schools, but out of 29 developed countries in a 2003 assessment, we ranked 24th in math and in problem-solving, 18th in science, and 15th in reading. Half of all black and Latino students in the U.S. don’t graduate on time (or ever) from high school. As of 2005, about 70 percent of eighth-graders were not proficient in reading. By the end of eighth grade, what passes for a math curriculum in America is two years behind that of other countries.

In Bowling For Columbine Michael Moore analyzed violence in the United States by comparing it to Canada, especially levels of violence and rates of firearm ownership. As I understood the film, Moore at least suggested that U.S. attitudes and traditions of violence were influenced by the history of racism and bigotry (against Native Americans, Blacks, certain religious groups, immigrants and descendants of non-European immigrants).

So, it seems possible that local control is not the only uniquely American attribute contributing to our public schools being different and inferior to other countries' public school systems.
Many reformers across the political spectrum agree that local control has become a disaster for our schools. But the case against it is almost never articulated. Public officials are loath to take on powerful school-board associations and teachers’ unions; foundations and advocacy groups, who must work with the boards and unions, also pull their punches. For these reasons, as well as our natural preference for having things done nearby, support for local control still lingers, largely unexamined, among the public.

Would District 88 (Bellwood and Stone Park elementary schools) be better off if bureaucrats appointed by Gov. Rod Blagojevich controlled the district? (FYI D88 just fired its fourth superintendent in four years. Three of the four were not allowed to even complete the academic year.)

Would District 209 (Proviso Township High Schools) be better off if state bureaucrats controlled the school district? Let me rephrase that, would students and taxpayers get better educations with more efficiency in spending if the State of Illinois was calling the shots?

I would give a relatively high probability to things improving if the state controlled these two districts.

But how would Oak Park do? Would Oak Park and River Forest High Schools (District 200) improve? Would District 97 (Oak Park elementary schools) improve?

Which community has more clout: Oak Park or Proviso? Oak Park has succeeded in preventing I-290 from being widened to four lanes causing traffic to bottleneck.

Back to Miller's article. He lists two problems facing local school districts and then writes:
Incompetent school boards and union dominance. “In the first place, God made idiots,” Mark Twain once wrote. “This was for practice. Then He made School Boards.” Things don’t appear to have improved much since Twain’s time. “The job has become more difficult, more complicated, and more political, and as a result, it’s driven out many of the good candidates,” Vander Ark says. “So while teachers’ unions have become more sophisticated and have smarter people who are better-equipped and -prepared at the table, the quality of school-board members, particularly in urban areas, has decreased.” Board members routinely spend their time on minor matters, from mid-level personnel decisions to bus routes. “The tradition goes back to the rural era, where the school board hired the schoolmarm and oversaw the repair of the roof, looked into the stove in the room, and deliberated on every detail of operating the schools,” says Michael Kirst, an emeritus professor of education at Stanford University. “A lot of big-city school boards still do these kinds of things.” Because of Progressive-era reforms meant to get school boards out of “politics,” most urban school districts are independent, beyond the reach of mayors and city councils. Usually elected in off-year races that few people vote in or even notice, school boards are, in effect, accountable to no one.

Thoughts? Reactions?

Miller also lists the inequalities in education funding as being interrelated with local control of education. I have shown in the case of Proviso Township High Schools that lack of resources is not the problem. Per student Proviso spends less that Oak Park-River Forest, but a comparable about to Lyons Township and Riverside-Brookfield. The following local high school districts spend less and get better test scores: Elmwood Park, Leyden, Morton and York.

The beginning of Miller's conclusion poses a good question.
I asked Marc Tucker, the head of the New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce (a 2006 bipartisan panel that called for an overhaul of the education system), how he convinces people that local control is hobbling our schools. He said he asks a simple question: If we have the second-most-expensive K–12 system of all those measured by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, but consistently perform between the middle and the bottom of the pack, shouldn’t we examine the systems of countries that spend less and get better results? “I then point out that the system of local control that we have is almost unique,” Tucker says. “One then has to defend a practice that is uncharacteristic of the countries with the best performance.

Miller comes down on the side of federalizing public education. To respond with a cheap shot, do you want the guys who decided to invade Iraq (and can't get us out) to decide how to fix Proviso Township High Schools?

I found Kevin Drum's entry (Washington Monthly) more persuasive than Miller's article in The Atlantic Monthly.
[Emily Bazelon's article about school integration in [the] New York Times Magazine is] basically a review of many decades of research showing that the most important way to improve school performance is to eliminate high concentrations of poverty: other things equal, it turns out that academic achievement for all races shows dramatic gains when the proportion of low-income students in a school falls below 50% or, even better, 40%. This finding, says UCLA education professor Gary Orfield, is "one of the most consistent findings in research on education."

Drum notes that many districts don't have the ability to dilute students from families in poverty with students from more affluent families.

But to bring it back to Miller's way of questioning the status quo, what do other countries with high levels of poverty do to deliver education?

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Friday, July 25, 2008

If you don't like the village manager, why do you need to change form of government?

Suburban Life (Joe Sinipoli) has an article about a Village of Westchester petition that may or may not exist. As I read the article, neither the journalist or the sources interviewed, have seen the petition to switch Westchester from a village manager form of government to a strong mayor (full-time mayor like Broadview and sorta like Forest Park).

I've heard rumors that village employees are unhappy with current village manager, Carl Goldsmith. OK. Employees are unhappy with their boss. Sometimes bosses do dumb stuff. And sometimes public employees think they are entitled to jobs for life even when they are providing crappy services.

The guy who comes out of the article looking classy is Angelo Luciano, who is no friend of the guys who threw him out of office.
Former Trustee Angelo Luciano said while he has heard about the petition, he was in no way involved with the movement.

“I told a lot of people that I don’t want my name attached to it,” said Luciano, who served on the village board for 32 years. Luciano added he was one of the key supporters of a village manager-based government when the village made the transition years ago.

“There’s no way I can sign a petition to do away with that,” he said.

BTW, I think the same question applies to Forest Park. If you don't like how Calderone runs things, why not beat him in an election? If Calderone had a 5-2 majority or a 6-1 majority and Forest Park had a village manager form of government, what would be different? Melrose Park and Maywood have village manager forms of government and the "mayors" (really, village presidents) still act like strong mayors because they have compliant board majorities and communities that assume things should be run by a boss.

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Was the DelGaldo Group beneficiaries of statements about Sterk on Proviso Insider?

Forest Park Review (Josh Adams):
In an expanding war of words being waged online and in court, District 209 school board President Chris Welch won a temporary restraining order against a Forest Park man, forcing him to remove allegedly slanderous material from an Internet site.

The judge's July 16 ruling was handed down just two days after Welch filed a lawsuit against Carl Nyberg, claiming that he is the victim of libelous statements posted on Nyberg's blog. Welch, who is being sued by the school district's former attorneys for slander, filed the paperwork with the Cook County Circuit Court.

If you haven't seen the Forest Park Review coverage of Welch's lawsuit against me, follow the link.

I thought it was odd that Michael DeBartolo, the District 209 lawyer from the DelGaldo Group, makes the claim that District 209 is paying for part of Welch's defense in the Odelson & Sterk v. Proviso Insider case and implies that the district isn't paying for the counter suit. This claim seems non-sensical to me. Also, note DeBartolo picks his words carefully.
As a point of clarification, DeBartolo said the $22,400 paid by the district does not cover any of Welch's expenses for the counterclaim filed by the school board president in January. The money expressly pays for Welch's defense in the Odelson and Sterk case.

What I think DeBartolo is saying here is that Welch hasn't submitted his bills for the counterclaim lawsuit. Those are yet to come.

If the logic behind paying Welch's legal bills is that the case is intertwined with his duties as a school board member--a bullshit claim, but let's pretend for a little bit--then the one part of the suit that touches on Welch being a school board member is the countersuit, about Welch getting fired from Roche & Associates because he stopped giving taxpayer money to James Roche's buddies, Odelson & Sterk.

The part of the lawsuit DeBartolo says taxpayers should pay for revolves around Proviso Insider making statements about Mark Sterk and Melrose Park police officers. How is the responsibility of District 209 taxpayers that Welch and Emily Robinson wrote probably slanderous statements about Mark Sterk on a blog? Welch had his identity concealed. What part of the case involves District 209?

One conflict-of-interest that might not be immediately apparent is the role of the DelGaldo Group. The claim Proviso Insider (Welch and Robinson) made was that Sterk was coaching Melrose Park police officers to lie to the federal grand jury that subsequently indicted seven, including the chief of police and deputy chief.

Someone familiar with Village of Melrose Park politics speculated if any law firm was involved in coaching these cops it was the DelGaldo Group. The firm is very close with Melrose Park village president Ron Serpico. If the feds indicted Vito Scavo, the chief of police, he would be tempted to give them a bigger fish to reduce his sentence. (I'm a bit of a contrarian on the issue of who is the big fish in Melrose Park. Scavo was chief of police before Serpico was village president. I think Scavo has his scams going and ran the patronage in the police department and he agreed to bring in Serpico as his flunky. The counter argument is that Ralph "Babe" Serpico, Ronnie's dad, was a big fish when Scavo was just a kid.)

We don't know if any lawyers were involved in coaching those police officers to lie. But it seems a potential conflict of interest that a lawyer from the DelGaldo Group is deciding whether Welch was acting in the scope of his D209 duties while anonymously spreading gossip, if not lies, on his blog.

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Is the pastor the bad guy in the closing of McNelty School?

McNelty School, 2100 Main St., Melrose Park, will close after summer school. Chicago Tribune (Jo Napolitano) played up the conflict side of the story.
The abrupt closing of a Melrose Park private school last week, allegedly for financial reasons, has left parents fuming, accusing the pastor of its sponsoring church of putting his ambitions ahead of the students.

[The pastor] said it is true that the church is looking to expand and that he is now searching for a larger building. "The congregation has outgrown the facility," he said.

McNelty School is affiliated with First Baptist Church in Melrose Park. Rev. John Belser is the pastor.

Proviso Herald (John Huston) also covered the story.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Joe Burdi alleged to have violated contracting rules in District 88

Someone sent a letter alleging that District 88 Transportation Director Joe Burdi and perhaps others engaged in malfeasance. See Proviso Herald (David Pollard). (Burdi is also a village trustee in Stone Park.)
The letter alleges that Burdi on numerous occasions last year had work done in the district costing more than $10,000 without obtaining quotes for the work or board approval. It also alleges the bills were paid without board approval, which violates school code and school board policy. He was interim director of building and grounds for the school district in 2006 and 2007, when the alleged violations took place.

Proviso Herald (David Pollard) had a second article giving Burdi's defense.
Joe Burdi said a letter sent to county and federal attorney offices alleging he steered School District 88 business to friends and political associates and authorized work without board approval is all political.

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Hillside taxpayers asked to help Archdiocese of Chicago

Hillside Village Manager Russ Wajda said the village anticipates annexing three properties at a July 28 meeting. See Proviso Herald (David Pollard). The properties are two cemetaries and a golf course.
The properties, including the golf course, are owned by Archdiocese of Chicago and are in unincorporated Cook County. Combined, the golf course and cemeteries make up 300 acres.

The village will provide services previously not provided and/or they were the responsibility of Cook County government. In exchange the village will get some tax revenue from the golf course.

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Cermak Aquatic Center officially re-opens today

The Riverside/Brookfield Landmark (Bob Uphues) has an article on the re-opening of the Cermak Aquatic Center. The pool is under the jurisdiction of the Cook County Forest Preserve District and getting it re-opened was a project that Commissioner Tony Peraica (R-Riverside) expended considerable effort.

An older Maywoodian told me that before Fred Hampton succeeded in intergrating the Maywood public swimming pool that now bears his name. African-Americans would go to the Cermak Pool where they were allowed, if not welcomed.

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stingrays die at Brookfeild Zoo

The stingray exhibit at Brookfield Zoo is closed until further notice. A July 14 mishap resulted in the deaths of 19 stingrays. See Riverside/Brookfield Landmark (Bob Uphues).
The remaining 15 stingrays survived and appear to be doing well. Nurse sharks, spotted sharks and horseshoe crabs that also are part of the exhibit appear not to have been harmed.

The Chicago Tribune (William Mullen) has a discussion that ties together stingray die-offs at four North American zoos.

The Chicagoist (Amy Mikel) also coverd the story.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

July board meeting D209

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

The agenda proposed cutting a number of support staff positions. Only one person was terminated when the superintendent withdrew the proposal.

Two attorneys (Myron Mackoff and __ Travis) who are representing Emanual "Chris" Welch in two civil matters (Odelson & Sterk v. Proviso Insider and Welch v. Nyberg) attended the board meeting and made the case in executive session that Welch being sued for defamation (O&S v. PI) was sufficiently intertwined with his duties as a member of the board of education that District 209 should pay his legal bills. Board member Theresa Kelly registered a concern to me that this presentation was not on the agenda distributed in advance.

In open session Welch floated the idea that since he didn't bill the district for defending himself against past ARDC complaints that this somehow makes it alright to bill the district for his legal defense in the case of O&S v. PI.

Kelly questioned hiring a PR firm for $8,000 for one month as a temporary measure until a contract can be written.

The Proviso West cafeteria was quite hot, maybe 10-20 degrees hotter than the outside temperature. The board went into closed session (another location, presumably cooler) for close to three hours. One woman fainted while the board was in executive session and the paramedics were called.

Both Chuck Fieldman, of the Pioneer Press, and Josh Adams, of Forest Park Review, left before the board reconvened in open session. Before Fieldman left he suggested that the meetings be scheduled so that the July and August board meetings are at Proviso East and PMSA. At those locations the meetings are in rooms with air conditioning.

When I relayed this suggestion to Proviso West Principal Alexis Wallace she responded that she wanted to have people see how hot Proviso West is without air conditioning. Although, it seemed like most of the building was fine there's something that causes the heat to be higher in the cafeteria.

I raised the issue of paying deans hourly money on top of a salary with Wallace. She explained that since the deans were on 10-month contracts they got paid hourly for participating in the student registration process. I said that this made no sense. If registering students is part of their duties every year then it should be part of their contract. Wallace argued the deans were undercompensated because they didn't get certain perks and schools like Oak Park and River Forest High School pay more ($24,000 per year more). Wallace also used the argument that it's been that way since she arrived in the district over 20 years ago. Wallace's sister is one of the deans.

Board member Reatha "Sue" Henry is normally a reliable vote for the board majority, although she usually votes against terminations. When the minority had three votes Henry sometimes saved a person getting fired. Last night Henry abstained from the termination vote and the hiring of the public relations firm.

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Monday, July 21, 2008

tonight's meeting of the D209 BOE

The Proviso Township High Schools (District 209) board of education will hold a meeting tonight, 7 PM, at Proviso West High School, 4701 Harrison, Hillside, Illinois. This is the outline of the agenda with links to pdf files including the details.

What do you see in the agenda that is noteworthy?

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what do you want in Dem platform?

The Obama campaign is encouraging citizens to participate in writing the platform for the Democratic Party. See Prairie State Blue (bored now).

You can locate meetings near where you live using the Obama campaign website.

The nearby meetings that haven't passed are in Oak Park and Cicero.

July 22:
Obama Platform Input Mtg. (Oak Park, IL)

July 27:
Economy & Health Care (Cicero, IL)

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Did you know Obama was left-handed?

h/t Jeff Wegerson at Prairie State Blue

At some point during the 1992 campaign for president it was pointed-out that George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Ross Perot were left-handed.

The video shows that Obama shoots left-handed.

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

D209 paid his legal bills, what's to stop Welch from having district pay to settle case against him?

Question for District 209 Superintendent Nettie Collins-Hart and the Proviso Township High Schools board of education: if District 209 paid the legal bills for Emanuel "Chris" Welch in the case of Odelson, Sterk and Odelson & Sterk vs. Proviso Insider (Welch and Emily Robinson), what's to keep Welch from buying-off Odelson & Sterk with a big settlement and sticking it to the D209 taxpayers?

Should we have confidence that the D209 board members will protect us from wasting taxpayer money this way?

Has anyone explained to Collins-Hart how the board paid a $500,000 judgment against Melrose Park Village President Ron Serpico with taxpayer money?

Who will stop the inappropriate diversion of taxes paid for education to bailing Welch out for his own bad behavior? The Cook County State's Attorney?

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Saturday, July 19, 2008

Did you like The Dark Knight?

I like the idea of comic book movies, but mostly they are mediocre or worse.

Did you see The Dark Knight? Did it earn the rave reviews it is getting on Facebook?

I did like Batman Begins which I thought was probably the best superhero movie I've seen.

Feel free to comment on other superhero movies, including this summer's The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man and Hellboy II: The Golden Army.

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what should Proviso Township Wikipedia article include?

Wikipedia has an article on Proviso Township.

What is Wikipedia?
Wikipedia's articles have been written collaboratively by volunteers around the world, and nearly all of its articles can be edited by anyone with access to the Internet. Having steadily risen in popularity since its inception, it currently ranks among the top ten most-visited web sites worldwide.

Wikipedia is a project that attempts to summarize all human knowledge.

Wikipedia has articles on all sorts of things, including Proviso's state legislators: Kimberly Lightford, Louis Viverito, Dan Cronin, Don Harmon, Karen Yarbrough, LaShawn Ford, Robert Molaro, Bob Biggins and Deborah Graham.

What informatio do you think should be included in the Wikipedia article about Proviso Township?

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hospital facilitated rapes in Forest Park

Riveredge Hospital (north side of Roosevelt Road, west of the Des Plaines River) has come under scrutiny for allowing known sexual predators to sexually assault mentally disabled children. See Chicago Tribune (Associated Press).
A Department of Children and Family Services spokesman said the punishment was made because of "serious concerns" about the way Riveredge Hospital in Forest Park handled a fight among patients, including its failure to promptly notify DCFS. But Kendall Marlowe said other changes -- including retraining staff about their legal duties to report abuse and more training by DCFS -- were a direct result of a Chicago Tribune's investigation published Thursday....

According to government records, the attacker allegedly raped the same victim again the next day.

In all, records indicate at least 10 mentally disabled children were assaulted at Riveredge during the last three years, six by other youths and four by adults.

Do you really think it was lack of training that caused the staff to not report rapes? "Gosh, it never crossed my mind that I have a legal obligation to report rapes to competent legal authority."

Chicago Tribune (David Jackson):
After the newspaper asked about the series of assault reports, the state Department of Children and Family Services last week stopped admitting wards to Riveredge—a punishment imposed on just three other psychiatric hospitals since 2004, records show.

Do you get the impression DCFS waited to do the right thing until it was exposed that the agency was doing the wrong thing?

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Judge grants temporary restraining order against Proviso Probe

Emanuel "Chris" Welch has sued me for defamation (again). He is represented by Myron Mackoff, of Richardson & Mackoff.

Today Cook County Judge Martin Agran granted a temporary restraining order that required me to remove one paragraph of the original entry. While I'm not happy about this, I don't feel it substantially changes the meaning of what I wrote.

I disagree that Judge Agran's interpretation of the law is a good interpretation of the law, but I'm not sure that it's incorrect.

Under Illinois law, as Judge Agran explained it, accusing someone, including a public figure, of a crime is sufficient to constitute defamation, even if it's couched in what a former boss called "weasel words". For example, "I believe X committed a crime," "I speculate X committed a crime" and "The State's Attorney should prosecute X for a crime" would all be potentially defamatory.

And, according to Judge Agran, it would be proper to issue a temporary restraining order to remove these statements irrespective if they were true.

I was representing myself. I'll post the gist of my arguments later. So, maybe if I quoted some case law and had an attorney I would have prevailed.

Based on Judge Agran's ruling, if a blogger wrote, "Based on the testimony at the Rezko trial Governor Rod Blagojevich should be prosecuted for corruption," Blagojevich could get a temporary restraining order to get the sentence removed.

Of course, the downside for Blagojevich would be that he'd be opening himself to depositions. Welch has the same problem. I don't think he will want to be deposed on the issues in question.

I disagree with the interpretation Judge Agran is using, but I'm not sure he's misinterpreting the case law incorrectly. I think public figures should be open to being accused of criminal activity, especially politicians.

Whether someone gets prosecuted or not is an intrinsically political decision. Prosecutors (the Illinois Attorney General and county state's attorneys) are elected.

This is a system that tilts criminal justice in favor of political bosses. Why would a county state's attorney prosecute people who can cause him/her problems in the next election?

Local officials, like Welch, Eugene Moore, Ron Serpico and Karen Yarbrough, can do stuff that looks like it violates Illinois law. And regular citizens need to be able to afford a lawyer to call-out the public officials who are already getting a massive benefit-of-the-doubt from the state's attorney.

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Friday, July 11, 2008

Westchester Fest

Anyone go to Westchester Fest 2008. How is it? Was it?


Who writes the Proviso Insider?

Myron Mackoff, the lawyer for Emanuel "Chris" Welch and Emily Robinson, in the matter of Odelson & Sterk vs. Proviso Insider have filed court documents that reveal the identities of all the people who write on the Proviso Insider blog.

Drum roll please....

The first two names you already knew:

Welch and Robinson (duh!)...

More drumroll...

There are two others....

More drumroll...

Ron Anderson, a member of the District 88 board of education and, last I knew, a D209 employee.


Agarnon Stamps, D88's director of technology.

One time I was research all the cases of Proviso Insider defaming local figures. The person who was attacked the most on Proviso Insider was not Karen Yarbrough, Charles Flowers, Arnie Bryant, Mike Manzo, Tony Peraica or myself. The person who was attacked the most often, and arguably the most unfairly was, Nichelle Rivers, the D88 superintendent.

In hindsight it makes sense that two and a half D88 people were involved, since there was so much written about D88.

I believe Odelson & Sterk's strongest argument that Proviso Insider defamed Welch is regarding the claim Sterk counseled Melrose Park police officers to lie under oath to the federal grand jury that ultimately indicted seven, including then chief of policy Vito Scavo, then deputy chief Gary Montino and officer Ric Cervone, a member of the District 89 board of education.

From the response to the interrogatory:
Algarnon Stamps told Chris Welch in a casual conversation what he had heard about SD89 Board member Ric Cervone and attorney Mark Sterk. Welch mentioned this information to Emily Robinson in a casual conversation.

Earlier the interrogatory said Robinson wrote the entry in question.

I guess the interrogatory makes it necessary to depose Stamps. Stamps saying he told Welch the original story doesn't get Welch and Robinson off-the-hook so much as it puts Stamps on-the-hook.

I suppose I can see a scenario where Stamps thought he was making some conjecture or floating a scenario.

(I was in a room where a politician who was backing the late Penny Severns for Secretary of State was floating the scenario that Tim McCarthy, one of her two opponents in Dem primary, was not shot protecting President Ronald Reagan, but instead was at a hot dog stand at the time of attack and shot himself to cover his negligence. So, there's a tradition of circulating some scurrilous rumors in Illinois politics.)

And Welch played the game disseminating the rumor. But maybe Stamps did have a source for his information. It's still clear from the interrogatory Welch did not contact Stamps' source, and he doesn't seem to have cared enough to ask who it was. But this might be covered in a later interrogatory.

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Proviso connections at the Green Party convention

I've been attending the Green Party's national convention some. It started yesterday and runs through Sunday.

I'll be commenting generally on the convention on Prairie State Blue at some point. However, there is something of a Proviso angle.

I most of last night socializing with Jerry Pohlen, candidate for Congress; Kevin O'Connor, Proviso's Green Party committeeman and a candidate for state representative; and Rita Maniotis, a former Proviso East teacher and candidate for state representative. I also spoke to Rob Sherman, a candidate for state representative in the northwest 'burbs, but he also has a couple Proviso connections.

Pohlen is running against U.S. Representative Dan Lipinski in IL-03, which includes Brookfield, LaGrange Park and the southern portions of Forest Park and Westchester. Pohlen's partner Jim Frost, owner of Urban Flora, says the occupation of Iraq provides an easy way to connect with voters. When voters understand Pohlen is for withdrawing promptly and Lipinski is for the status quo the voters almost always respond positively.

Pohlen also has a new book out, Progressive Nation, a travel guide covering "more than 400 of the places in the United States that are important to progressive politics". See reviews on Amazon.com, New York Times and Barnes & Noble.

Maniotis was grumbling about her experience at a charter school. She didn't like that students could complain to the CEO about anything and then the teacher had to drop everything to respond to the complaint.

O'Connor, a LaGrange Park resident, has gotten lucky in his race against State Rep. Bob Biggins (R-Elmhurst). Biggins was arrested for DUI on May 28. See State Journal-Register. Since there is no Democratic candidate appearing on the ballot, O'Connor has the opportunity to make the race between the DUI candidate and the non-DUI candidate.

This afternoon I spoke to Sherman. He's the plaintiff in the lawsuit to overturn Illinois' moment of silence law. See Daily Herald (Rob Olmstead). The law was sponsored by State Sen. Kimberly Lightford (D-Maywood). Sherman has appeared in the media with Lightford. He said she invited him to her birthday party and danced with him.

Previously, Sherman had been a talk show host on WJJG, 1530 AM. WJJG's studios are in Berkeley and various local personalities have hosted shows on WJJG, including the late Arnie Bryant.

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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

reader participation requested: list the active litigation

Dear Proviso Probe readers,

I was trying to think of a list of active litigation involving local units of government or local public officials in Proviso Township.

The following is the list I came up with:
  • Sterk vs. Proviso Insider, aka Welch and Robinson
  • The federal prosecution of the Melrose Park PD
  • Greg Jackson's civil suit against District 209
  • James Graham's civil suit for wrongful termination at District 88
  • Clarence Davis' civil suit against the Forest Park PD

Has Dan Harder's suit against the Forest Park PD been resolved or did the judge merely rule that the firing was bogus?

Is there anything involving Proviso Township? The Proviso Township Mental Health Commission? Memorial Park District? Any of the villages? School districts?


Friday, July 04, 2008

did you get an email about so-and-so losing her/his wallet in Nigeria?

Be careful of Internet scams.

I received the following email from the local public figure.

How are you doing?Please i need a huge favor from you.I have to be quite brief about my present situation which requires your urgent response and help..Actually, I had a trip to Nigeria for a official purpose but unfortunately for me i was robbed on my way back from a meeting and the robbers went away with my money and some other valuablesi
I am so confused right now, I dont know what to do or where to go.I have access to only emails at the moment because my cell can't work here so i didn't bring it along.Even if it is a loan i can pay back when i get home.I need about $3200 to get the hotel bills sorted out.As soon as I get home i would refund it immediately.
Write me so i can let you know how to send it.Even if you can't afford all please try and arrange the little you can so i can come back home.I hope you read and
respond to this email on time because i am desperately in need of urgent help.
Await your swift response
[name redacted]

I don't have this person's phone number in my mobile phone, but I strongly suspect this is a scam.

The New York Times (David F. Gallagher) has an article on this.
Here’s how it works: The scammer somehow breaks into a victim’s Web-based e-mail account. He then impersonates the victim and sends an emergency plea for help to everyone in the account’s address book, asking them to wire money to Nigeria. The e-mail includes some variation on a story about getting mugged or losing a wallet while on a trip to Nigeria.

I'll put some research into verifying this public official is OK, but my guess is that s/he is fine, minus getting control of his/her Yahoo email account.

I've learned to hate strongly dislike (MLK said, "Hate is too great a burden to bear.") Yahoo at my place of employment. The spam filter sends legit emails to spam and allows way too much spam. Other web-based email seems to be much better, especially Gmail.

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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

analysis of Welch's counter suit

Forest Park Review (Josh Adams) covered Emanuel "Chris" Welch's counter suit against Burt Odelson and Mark Sterk.


  • Welch was president of the Proviso Township High Schools (District 209) board of education.
  • Odelson & Sterk is a politically connected law firm. At this point O&S's most important patron is Cook County Board President Todd Stroger.
  • The D209 board of education hired Odelson & Sterk.
  • Odelson & Sterk made campaign contributions to Welch.
  • The D209 board of education terminated Odelson & Sterk (and hired another politically connected firm Giglio & Del Galdo, now known as the Del Galdo Group).
  • Proviso Insider wrote a blog post accusing Odelson & Sterk of criminal activity in the federal probe of the Melrose Park Police Department. (Proviso Insider defamed many other people, including, me (Carl Nyberg)).
  • The identity of Proviso Insider was technically unknown, but based on the subject matter and perspective it was widely assumed Proviso Insider was either Welch or people working on his behalf.
  • To identify Proviso Insider, the plaintiff in Sterk vs. Proviso Insider had to subpoena computer records that showed the computers used to post to Proviso Insider were at Sanchez & Daniels, Welch's employer. Sanchez & Daniels further provided that the addresses corresponded to computers at the work stations of Welch and Emily Robinson.
  • Welch has now filed a counter suit claiming his former employer, James Roche, fired Welch for objecting to over billing by Odelson & Sterk.

In the original post on Proviso Insider (now removed) Welch included details of Odelson saying the over billing was going to campaign contributions.

I'm pretty sure the biggest recipient of Odelson & Sterk contributions in Proviso Township were elections where Welch was running (school board or state rep) or elections where school board candidates loyal to Welch were running.

The fact that Welch was the recipient of Odelson & Sterk campaign contributions for years, makes me highly skeptical that Welch didn't know the bills were being padded earlier. If the system worked for years with Welch being perfectly ignorant (an incredible premise in the first place) what happened that caused Welch to see the system for what it was?

Also, Welch is alleging Odelson & Sterk defrauded District 209. Has Welch filed criminal charges against Odelson & Sterk? Why not?

Has Welch initiated a District 209 suit to recover the money Odelson & Sterk billed illegitimately?

If Odelson & Sterk acted unethically in its conduct with District 209, an attorney who was aware of this unethical conduct was obligated to report this conduct to the Attorney Registration & Disciplinary Commission of the Supreme Court of Illinois. Welch is an attorney. Why didn't he file an ARDC complaint against Odelson & Sterk?

And when did Welch learn he had been sacked from Roche for firing Odelson & Sterk? Why did he wait until now to file this suit?

Here is some speculation on my part.

1. [This paragraph was removed as a result of Judge Martin Agran granting a temporary restraining order ICO Emanuel C. Welch v. Proviso Probe and Carl Nyberg (2008) on July 16, 2008.]
2. Welch is feeling the heat of the Sterk v. Proviso Insider suit. Welch knows the facts and the law are on Sterk's side. And the only way Welch can avoid the consequences of losing the case is to delay the resolution of the case or to convince Odelson & Sterk they have too much to lose pursuing the case.
3. In the deleted post on Proviso Insider there were anonymous that included further dirt on Odelson & Sterk. One of the posts provided details about a mistress of one of the parties involved. I think Welch was clearly saying, "I will make this painful for you [Odelson & Sterk] even if I lose."
4. The counter suit also allows Welch to make a weak claim, but a claim nonetheless that Sterk v. Proviso Insider does peripherally touch on his duties as president of the D209 board of education. This is an important fact to create since Welch and three of his allies have already voted over $22,400 of tax payer money to pay Welch's legal bills (delaying legal consequences is expensive work, y'know?) in the Sterk v. Proviso Insider case.

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delinquent property taxes

Forest Park Review, and I assume other local newspapers, published the list of people who are delinquent on their property taxes.

The Cook County Treasurer has the following explanation:
Annual Tax Sale Background Information

Under Illinois law, the Treasurer's Office is required to conduct two types of tax sales in which delinquent property taxes are sold.

The first is the Annual Tax Sale, held once a year, sometime after the Second Installment. If property taxes for the immediately preceding tax year are delinquent on a parcel, they are offered for sale to tax purchasers at the Annual Tax Sale. The sale might be held any time from the fall of that year to the spring of the following year.

Those interested must meet a set of qualifications to participate in the annual tax sale. They must complete registration materials and provide collateral or a bond. The registration materials include rules for the conduct of a tax sale.

The biennial Scavenger Sale (conducted in odd-numbered years), offers taxes on properties that have delinquencies on two or more years that were not purchased at the annual tax sales. In Cook County, the sale has traditionally taken place in the fall or early winter months.

For a complete understanding of the distinctions between these sales and how to proceed to tax deed, read 35 ILCS (Illinois Compiled Statutes) 200/1-1, et. seq. This information can be found in any law library.

Click here for information on what to do if taxes on a property you own were sold.

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review of the rules

The reason Proviso Probe doesn't allow anonymous posting is that discussions get difficult to follow with multiple people posting as "anonymous".

If you aren't going to use the Blogger feature that allows you to create a pseudonym, please incorporate a pseudonym into your posts, e.g. "Mrs. Coffee says:".

I don't enforce this rule as strictly if I think a person is posting to Proviso Probe for the first time, e.g. a story about a death and someone is leaving a comment about the deceased.

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