Static on the airwaves

  • Written by Kevin M. Coyne

Ridge mayor opposes live meeting coverage citing
Oak Lawn bickering and ‘campaign mode’ speeches

  Chicago Ridge Mayor Chuck Tokar opposes allowing live streaming of village board meetings citing neighboring Oak Lawn’s behavior on cable television broadcasts.
  The mayor pointed out Oak Lawn trustees’ constant politicking, speeches and being on campaign mode during each meeting.
  Chicago Ridge Trustee Sally Durkin asked her fellow trustees at a Nov. 19 board meeting to approve a motion to stream board meetings via Internet and local cable television. After a 4-2 vote in favor of streaming a live feed online or on cable television, the motion was amended due to variable expenses and unknown logistics associated with recording board meetings. Trustees agreed to investigate pricing and expected costs prior to voting on streaming meetings on television and online. A final decision will be made at the Dec. 17 board meeting.
  “In terms of transparency I don’t have a problem with the meetings being on the air,” Tokar said. “But I think that the [trustees] in Oak Lawn think that since they are on television that they have to make speeches or have to read speeches into the record, and those things are done for political reason. It’s almost as if they are on campaign mode at every board meeting.”
  Trustees Amanda Cardin and John Lind both rejected the proposal. Cardin requested more information regarding the cost of streaming video while Lind agreed with Tokar’s statement regarding Oak Lawn’s meetings turning into a “political football” with a lot of “unseemly accusations flying back and forth.”
  In Lisle, board meetings are recorded by a expensive camera with a media crew that adds to the cost of streaming video. South of the canal, Palos Park and Palos Heights broadcast their meetings but Orland Park does not.
  “I don’t want to go Hollywood here, I would just like to make it easier for our public to have access to our meetings,” Durkin said. “It’s something to offer our citizens and I think it’s something we should do.”
  • In other news at the meeting, Rick Morrow, of Parkside Avenue, accused former Chicago Ridge school board member and current Chicago Ridge employee Robert Gushes of neglecting his duty as a village inspector during the summer months when Morrow’s apartment reached over 95-degrees, which caused his pet to overheat and die in August.
  Morrow said he reached out to numerous village employees to no avail. Due to the building’s broken attic fan, Morrow said he ran five portable fans to keep his 800-square-foot condo at livable temperature, which increased his air conditioning bills by $200 and a total of $600 in other bills.
  Morrow said he talked to the police and claimed that he saw Gushes sleeping on the job.
  One village inspector, Rich Sumner, came to Marrow’s aide upon his request and inspected the third floor condo. Sumner attested to the extreme heat and Morrow’s efforts to abate the heat by using multiple fans.
  “When I called [Tokar’s] secretary she said I was a problem and Gushes just hung up on me,” Morrow said. “It’s ridiculous but the animal didn’t have to suffer because of it. I did everything I could to save that animal, and I spent every dime I could.”
  Tokar said he sympathized with Marrow, saying that there are apparent legal issues outside the village’s control; however, the living conditions are an area of concern for the village.
  “This sounds like a legal problem between you as a condo owner and the condo association,” Tokar said. “It’s a different story if it’s unhealthy to live there.”
  Lind said the village will look into the issue of the code enforcement officer and make the health department available to Morrow to help determine if the condo association must be cited code violations.

  “Like Mayor Tokar said, a lot of these issues you have you’ll have to take up with the condo association, but I will make our health department available to you so you can sit down and have them hear your complaints,” Lind said. “I can’t say he can help you but at least he can hear your complaints and maybe cite them for any code violations.”