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Proviso Probe

Friday, March 20, 2009

forum: Bellwood and Maywood candidates for village president

Last night West Suburban Journal sponsored a forum for Bellwood and Maywood candidates for village president (popularly called "mayor"). Neighborhood United Methodist Church hosted the forum. From Bellwood Jeanette Johnson had the stage to herself because incumbent Frank Pasquale declined to participate.

From Maywood all three candidates participated. Seated from left to right on the stage was Grady Rivers (Proviso Township Clerk and president of the board of education District 89), Demetrius Davis, Henderson Yarbrough.

Before the forum began Davis, Rivers and Yarbrough responded to the following questions in writing.

  • What is your vision for the village?
  • What are three things you will attempt to do if elected?
  • What is the probability each will succeed?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of the village?
  • What are the opportunities and threats?

Below are the answers provided. (It's going to take me a little time to type Rivers' response because he sent it by fax. The others were emailed.)

The candidates also offered to respond to questions that did not get included in the forum in writing. If you have questions you can email them to me at RadioNyberg circled "a" Yah00 spot C0M or greatdebate circled "a" westsuburbanjournal spot C0M.

What is your vision for the village?

My vision is to transform Maywood into the "pace-setting" community of the western suburbs. The Maywood of tomorrow will be a diverse community of residents expressing deep love for both their neighbors and neighborhood. 5th Avenue will once again be the vibrant downtown section that it once was. Unique boutiques, shops, and eateries will line both sides of the street. The "Town Center" (1st/Eisenhower) will serve as our retail and entertain complex. This area will house big box retailers as well as entertainment venues such as a bowling alley, skating rink, video arcade, and a fine arts theater. Finally, my vision for Maywood includes weeding out the criminal elements infecting the town to provide a safe environment for families and businesses to thrive.

What are three things you will attempt to do if elected?

1.) Provide Safe Streets by increasing the number of police on patrol, and by launching a full assault on gangs and drugs

2.) Provide New Jobs by hiring seasonal employees within public works, providing summer jobs for youth, and requiring 5th Ave road improvement contractors to hire a certain percentage of Maywoodians.

3.) Attract New Businesses by using our available resources to attract businesses through incentives.

What is the probability each will succeed?

There is a high probability each will succeed, but it will be a collaborative effort between government and citizens. The community must be supportive of their mayor abandoning the status quo and calling the entire village to a higher standard.

What are the strengths and weaknesses of the village?


Resilient Residents
Rich Tradition


Poor Leadership
Politically Divided
High Number of Foreclosures
High Property Taxes
Poor Schools
Lack of Businesses
High Unemployment

What are the opportunities and threats?


The Most Vacant Land in Western Suburbs
TIF and Empowerment Zone
Residents Ready for Change
Attractive Location


Low Employee Morale
Poor Reputation
High Unemployment
High Drug Abuse
Political Division
Poor Educational System


What is your vision for the village?

In the last four years the village of Maywood has reshaped its image from a community primarily known for crime, poor service and lack of professionalism to a village that is proactively addressing issues of public safety, service and 21st Century professional management. Moving forward, my vision of Maywood is a West Cook leader for developers looking for business prospects. Additionally, my vision of Maywood is as a destination tourists want to come to for its unique history, its showcase homes and what will be an economic development boon that will draw shoppers from throughout the Chicago-land area and beyond. Also in that vision is a hope of improved public education, which is a major factor in how families choose where to live.

What are three things you will attempt to do if re-elected?

My administration will continue its efforts to improve public safety, develop our next phase of economic development, and further accelerate our efforts to deal with infrastructure needs.

What are the probabilities each will succeed?

In the area of public safety, I look to a continuation of reduced crime and increased arrests and convictions. The 77 security cameras, the tightening of our ordinances dealing with graffiti and prostitution, the stepped up vigilance and visibility of our police officers and our efforts to patrol in collaboration with our county, state, other villages and Cease-Fire partners all result in a safer community. Maywood will continue to increase public safety.

We are very satisfied with the first phase of our economic development plan—finalizing our Comprehensive Plan and updating our zoning to reflect contemporary Maywood realities. Additionally, we have “shopped” our villages through numerous conferences and seminars and have developed solid relationships with proven developers who await a brighter economy before being able to finalize a development. Most importantly, we have gained control of a significant amount of land, which gives us leverage in dealing directly with developers without having to deal with property owners. Therefore, our economic development planning will result in many new businesses opening in Maywood.

Our on-going relationships with elected officials on the federal and state level have resulted in significant grant monies for infrastructure. This year’s ambitious capital improvement plan will yield $15 million for projects in key Maywood roadways—5th Avenue; Lake Street; Madison Avenue; Roosevelt Road; 9th Avenue and others. Those projects include roadway improvements, sidewalks, gutters, curbs and lighting. We will be getting funds to fix some long-standing water main problems and drainage problems which are exacerbated every time it rains. I am proud to say for the first time in recent history we have allocated dollars to pave alleys and will look for additional funds to pave more alleys.

What are the strengths and weaknesses of the village?

I have already talked a lot about Maywood’s strengths; in short, Maywood is the equal to any West Cook village. If Maywood has a weakness, it is the perception that Maywood is inferior to its neighbors and will never get better. There are nay-sayers and stone-throwers who would rather criticize from afar than get involved in continuing our efforts to move Maywood forward. I applaud the 100 or so commissioners who serve our village as volunteers in many capacities. I applaud our special events committee, which has helped Maywood build a new community spirit by their involvement in our movie nights, our family fests, and our holiday special events. I have experienced the wonder of our new senior club, which every Friday provides fun and fellowship for our most treasured citizens. I am very pleased that our M.A.P.S. program of community-police engagement continues to grow and help all of us become crime fighters. To those who find comfort in hurling insults from sidelines, I challenge you to come on the playing field and help make Maywood better.

What are the opportunities and threats?

As Maywood continues to progress in all ways, the opportunities are limitless. We can be the economic engine for the West Cook suburbs; we can be the model community that illustrates diversity can work; we can continue to hold the line on taxes yet operate in the black while delivering professional, efficient services to all our residents; if public education in the district is reformed, we can advertise our village as a model community within which to raise a family. There are only two threats—an economy that presents infinite challenges both now and for the immediate future; and a gnawing yet happily reduced number of nay-sayers who don’t believe that Maywood can truly take its place as a community leader. I am both an optimist and a realist. I believe in Maywood and look forward to leading my village to a new and brighter future.


What is your vision for the village?

My vision for Maywood is for it to be a community that all residents can be proud of because it is sage and a great place to raise a family in. I envision a town with robust economic development, and good recreational facilities for our children. In order to do this we must get a handle on crime so my focus will be on working with our local police department as well as state and federal agencies in order to battle the gangs and drug dealers that plaque (sic) our community.

What are three things you will attempt to do if elected?

1.When elected I will work to change the image of the village, because as long as we are viewed in a negative light it makes it difficult to move forward in a positive manner.
2. I will fully implement the park district referendum that was overwhelmingly approved a couple of years ago. This is how we improve recreational opportunities in Maywood and our parks should be under one entity the Maywood park district because all they deal with is recreation, if you look at the successful park districts in our area for example veterans park district in Melrose park (sic) and memorial park district in Bellwood all they deal with is recreation. The current situation in Maywood where you have the village recreation department which levies a tax and then you get taxed again by the Maywood park district is unfair and has been proven to be unsuccessful.
3. I will establish a better business bureau in town in order to promote Maywood as a viable business destination, and help current business be successful.

What is the probability each will succeed?

I don't see any reason why these goals can't be accomplished with strong leadership.

What are the strengths and weaknesses of the village?

One of our greatest strengths is the location of our village, people want to be close to the city. The north south dividing line for Chicago is Madison st. (sic) which runs right through the center of our town. We have the railroad that runs along st. charles rd. and the Eisenhower expressway on the south end of town. Also most maywoodians take great pride in our community, anyone who has lived here the last few decades remembers what a nice place Maywood used to be and realizes our great potential.

One of our biggest weaknesses I believe is the image people have of Maywood because of our high crime rate. It has led some people to give up on our village and has contributed to business not wanting to invest here.

There also seems to be a lack of faith in our political leaders. We need strong leadership in order to succeed.

What are the opportunities and threats?

Opportunities are numerous the Roosevelt road corridor needs to be developed. Loyola hospital needs restaurants, and a hotel. Loyola is our areas biggest employer yet they are hardly mentioned in Maywoods comprehensive plan. We need a full service grocery store, the downtown area (5th ave) stands mostly abandoned. Our biggest parcel of open space, the old comed property at 1st ave. and the Eisenhower must be developed these are great opportunities that must be taken advantage of.

The biggest threats to Maywood are the high unemployment rate, high taxes, gangs and drugs all are tough problems but with bold leadership they can be overcome.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Is it St. Patrick's Day?

Remember, the Irish lived under a brutal oppression by the English. Before there was English oppressing Africans in Rhodesia and South Africa, before English oppression of Indigenous Australians, before the English subjugated Hindus and Muslims on the Subcontinent, the English were practicing how to control a foreign people in Ireland.

The greatest grievance of the Irish against the English was the Great Famine, aka the Irish Potato Famine, 1845-52.

When the Civil War began in 1861, the United States conscripted large numbers of Irish to fight against the Confederacy. In 1863, people opposed to conscription held demonstrations that turned into the New York Draft Riots which...
the protests degraded into "a virtual racial pogrom, with uncounted numbers of blacks murdered on the streets". The conditions in the city were such that Major General John E. Wool stated on July 16, "Martial law ought to be proclaimed, but I have not a sufficient force to enforce it." The military suppressed the mob using artillery and fixed bayonets, but not before numerous buildings were ransacked or destroyed, including many homes and an orphanage for black children.

David Kincaid

Here's some more Irish music for St. Patrick's Day.

Those videos are from The Pogues.

Sunday, I went to the South Side Irish Parade. My girlfriend and I left early and went for a bite and drinks at North Eye's Bar, 2701 W. 87th, Chicago. A local had told us it was an Irish bar frequented by cops and firefighters. The bar is decorated with the posters that portray a romanticized version of Ireland. (Malachy McCourt, the brother of Frank McCourt, has been very critical of Irish-Americans who neglect the real issues facing Ireland by romanticizing Ireland excessively.) The bar also had a sign about the kitchen, "Help Wanted, No Irish Need Apply".

The bar had the South Side parade on the television (ABC-7). The announcer mentioned that President Barack Obama has Irish ancestry. One of the guys at the bar chimes in that Obama is from "the County of Coon". This guy further expounded that if the government didn't force neighborhoods to change there wouldn't be any hate crimes. I didn't engage him on the details of the Chicago Race Riot of 1919. This guy was no old-times, he looked to be in his early 20s.

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