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Jeff Vorva's Im-PRESS-ions: A few more orders as Rakow marches to Chicago

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

Jeffs Col Impressions

 

Every Thursday, I print out what I call a cheat sheet for reporter Bob Rakow.

He calls them his marching orders.

Whatever the heck you want to call them, I can’t break the habit of writing them out.

Rakow’s last night as a full-timer at the Reporter was Tuesday – election night. He picked up a job providing content for trade journals in the big city of Chicago and graciously stayed with us through the hectic times of elections.

He joined the paper in September, 2013 and we were lucky to have him this long.

I’m not sure he liked the cheat sheet at first. I’m still not sure he likes it. But I have one more for him and, since he is not employed here anymore, he can mash it into a ball and flush it down the toilet if he wants to.

So, Bob, here are your marching orders for the week, with a couple of added comments to our readers from your ex-boss:

Thursday

--Don’t worry about posting stories online.

Just think – Bob won’t be muttering swear words under his breath at our wonky website and he won’t have to listen to me scream out dark oaths when I am posting stories on the website.

--Don’t worry about getting me the B-Side column by the end of the day.

I like the B-Side a lot and as a note to our readers, it will be stopped for a while but we will try to figure out something in the future about bringing the Page 6 staple back on a limited basis depending on his work schedule.

--Don’t worry about getting photos for the Viewfinder.

Did you hear about the time Bob went to Lake Katherine to ask people questions and a woman almost had him arrested? He turned that into a hysterical column.

Friday

--Don’t go to the Evergreen Park Police Department out of habit.

Covering cops and police reports was a strength of Bob’s and once in a while he would turn a small but funny/unique item into a small story and challenge me to write a sick headline for it.

--Think about the inside humor we enjoyed at the office.

No matter what job I have held over the years, inside jokes are what keep us all going. Bob picked up on my tendencies to take almost anything spoken and turn it into a song.

For instance, if someone says “We’re in dire straits,” I would sing or hum “Sultans of Swing” and even if the word “summer” was used in a sentence, we would both break out into a Cars song, “Magic” in which they sing “Summer…it turns me upside down.”  It’s a bad disease to pass onto him and methinks it may not go over all that well with his new pals in Chicago.

Monday

--Don’t go to the Oak Lawn station for reports out of habit.

I think this will be his first day on the new job and he might be taking the train in. So it will give him a chance to give him a final memory of some of the local people he covered and come back in the office to imitate. Bob was no Rich Little, but the spirit and humor he showed with his impressions had me laughing it up big time.

--Don’t worry about finishing obits or anything else that popped up over the weekend

This guy covered murders, serious auto crashes, fires and other sad stories and most of the time, the stories were several days to a week old when they hit the newsstand. Bob had a great knack for finding something that no one else had and started off his stories with something fresh.

My favorite was when all the newspapers and TV stations ran the terrible story about Alfreda Giedroic, who allegedly beat her infant granddaughter to death with a sledgehammer and cut her throat with a carving knife in her Oak Lawn home.

By Thursday, that story was old news but through an insightful interview with Oak Lawn Police Division Chief Mike Kauffman, Bob was able to put us in the house.

He wrote:

  ”Alfreda Giedrojc sat stoically in a chair Sunday morning, moments after allegedly beating her infant granddaughter to death in her Oak Lawn home, authorities said.’’

            Later in the piece, he wrote,

“Kaufmann, a 28-year veteran of the Oak Lawn police department, said such crimes are typically driven by ‘plain evil or something with mental health.’ Giedrojc did not display any anger, denial or rage during interviews with police, he said.
  “ ‘She professed love for the child,’ Kaufmann said.’’

Powerful stuff. Chilling. And stuff no one else had.

Oh, and his coverage of the death of Worth teen Brittany Wawrzyniak’s death and the family’s anger over the investigation was top-notch. Bob’s not a big guy on awards, but we entered his work in the Illinois Press Association contest this year and I would be shocked if it didn’t win anything.

Tuesday

--Don’t worry about finishing everything up and don’t go to an Oak Lawn or Chicago Ridge board meeting out of habit.

 

A candidate for an Oak Lawn trustee position called Oak Lawn meetings a “circus act’’ last week and Bob was able to capture the raw emotion and sometimes surreal and funny events that took place there. While Chicago Ridge was tamer, it had its moments of sparks regarding the fire department and Bob was all over it.

Wednesday

--This is the end of the line – my last matching order: Enjoy and prosper in your new career. We hope you miss us as much as we’re going to miss you.

 

Streit hopes to bury opponents

  • Written by Bob Rakow

Veteran 3rd District Trustee Bob Streit minces no words when he discusses his re-election campaign: “This does represent a battle for the hearts and souls of Oak Lawn,” he said.

 

 

In Streit’s mind, Oak Lawn’s political landscape has only two sides: his and that of Oak Lawn Mayor Sandra Bury. There is no gray area, no middle ground.

 

One of his opponents, Scott Hollis, minces no words when he describes what it's been like the past couple of months to ram heads with incumbent Streit.

 

Hollis said his decision to oppose Streit has come at a price.

 

He said he’s received harassing telephone calls, some which are placed in the middle of the night, and said that he’s being followed at times.

 

“He goes to all extremes,” Hollis said of Streit.

 

Hollis said the tactics are designed to prevent him from focusing on the campaign.

 

About the campaign...

 

To Streit’s way of thinking, his re-election campaign is as much a referendum on his performance as that of the mayor.

 

“When the mayor was elected two years ago, she made it clear that she did not want to work with me,” he said.

 

On Tuesday, voters in the 3rd District will choose between Streit, political newcomer Hollis or John J.J. Zurek, who some believe was convinced to run by Streit in an effort to harm Hollis’ chances.

 

Streit, 59, has spent the past two years battling Bury and her administration on a variety of issues, including the decision to outsource the village’s 911 dispatch center and the way Stony Creek Promenade was ultimately developed.

 

He said the village is not as safe as it was just a few years ago and improving public safety—both fire and police—should be a higher priority for the administration.

 

“People know the outsourced (911 dispatch service) compromises public safety,” Streit said. “Burglaries are on the rise. I have every (burglary) report that is filed. I track them. The average resident knows somebody who has experienced a burglary.”

 

Streit last year proposed adding to the police patrol shifts additional officers who have other duties within the department. The proposal was not advanced.

 

“They immediately said it wasn’t necessary,” Streit said. “It’s something that has to be addressed. We need a stronger commitment to public safety.”

 

Streit also has criticized the development of Stony Creek Promenade at 111th Street and Cicero Avenue, saying Bury failed to carry out the initial vision for the center, which called for upscale stores to surround Mariano’s and Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurant. Instead, he said, a mattress store and fast food restaurants filled the remainder of the development.

 

Streit said he’s taking nothing for granted in this, his seventh straight campaign for trustee. He’s been going door-to-door since early November and has well over 100 signs placed throughout the district.

 

“I’m highly motivated to win. I campaign as though I’m 10 points down,” said Streit, adding that a near defeat four years ago to a candidate running a write-in campaign is a factor in his renewed vigor.

 

Hollis said the message he’s heard from voters is clear: “I think they want a better place to live,” he said.

 

Hollis, a former city of Chicago employee, points to the “blight” on Southwest Highway as an example of the village’s need for redevelopment.

 

He’s noted that Streit’s office is located along the strip of shuttered businesses on Southwest Highway, yet Streit has done little to change the face of the business district.

 

For his part, Streit said he has proposed locating medical offices on Southwest Highway.

 

“It should be one of his main issues,” Hollis said. “He’s always blaming someone else.”

 

Hollis said he is confident he can work with other trustees and looks forward to ending the infighting for which the board is known.

 

“It shouldn’t be a circus act,” he said.

 

Hollis denied that he has Bury’s support in the race.

 

“She didn’t ask me to run,” he said.

 

On the other hand, Zurek denies that Streit asked him to run as a stalking horse.

 

“I don’t even know how that got started,” he said, adding that he does not know Streit very well.

 

Zurek, 65, said he decided to run because there’s an anti-incumbency mood throughout the country, not just Oak Lawn. But there is some dissatisfaction in Oak Lawn as well.

 

“I’m thinking the entire board needs to be replaced,” he said.

 

He added that he has “the unique ability to being people together.” Further, he said, the current trustees are unable to put aside their egos and tackle the issues facing the community.

 

 

Jeff Vorva's Im-PRESS-ions: Here is what Paul should play at the Palooza

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

 

OK, I’m going to be a part of the solution rather than a part of the problem.Jeffs Col Impressions

When it was announced the Paul McCartney was going to headline the 2015 Lollapalooza Festival, I was disgusted.

Lolla used to be a traveling circus of edgy alternative groups with cult status rather than mainstream chart toppers.

Now it is calling Chicago its home and had grown into a megamonster event and a lot more mainstream acts have joined in on the act. But Paul McCartney? He’s older than some kids’ great grandfathers for gosh sakes. This is just so wrong in so many ways.

Let the guy sell out Wrigley Field. Let him sell out Soldier Field. But keep him out of Lollapalooza, pal-eeze.

Oh, well, I am spitting in the wind if I think that it’s going to change. Sir Paul will be there with his AFM and AARP cards on July 31 whether I like it or not.

So I will suggest a set list from his career more worthy of Lollapalooza.

First off, Sir Paul has a lot of lame garbage in his collection. So we’ll allow him a few soft ballads but  NOTHING from “Give My Regards to Broad Street.” No “Ebony and Ivory” either. 

Let’s keep this bad boy to about 90 minutes because if it goes any longer, the real McCartney fans will be nodding off to sleep because it will be past our, er, their bedtime. And they have to get home to soak their feet.

So here is what Sir Paul should play:

Revolution: Let’s open the show with a big scream and some guitars and catch the attention of the teens in the crowd wondering “Why am I here?” This Beatles rocker should get the show off on a good note.

Back in the U.S.S.R.: As long as we have everybody on their feet, let’s throw in this Chuck Berry romp that the Beatles covered.

Another Day: This give us old goats, er, those old goats a chance to sit down and rest with this medium-tempo hit from the early days of his solo career.

Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey: Another big hit from his early solo career, this song is so offbeat some of the shoegazers and avant garde crowd in the funny outfits might stop what they are doing and give it a listen.

Helter Skelter: OK, everybody back on their feet again! Make it loud enough to let Mr. Manson hear it in his cell in California.

I’m Down: A short Beatles B-side with more screaming and guitar that is worth plugging in here.

Ballroom Dancing: Not too fast. Not too slow. It’s just a cool song from his “Tug of War” album that isn’t played too much, but is worth reviving here.

Transpiritual Stomp: Now THIS is the ultimate McCartney Lolla song. Few know or remember that Sir Paul started up a group called The Fireman and recorded some offbeat songs. This is more Brian Eno than Brian Epstein.  This song, off the 1993 “Strawberries Oceans Ships Forest” is an ambient techno piece that should fascinate some of the younger crowd and, if it is played in its full nine minutes, could give the older crowd time for a little nap. I would add more of his Fireman work to the concert, but this is all one big moneygrab, so let’s just stick with some of the basics.

You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away: I’ve always been bored by this song except when Pearl Jam puts its spin on it. So, we bring up Eddie Vedder to play guitar and sing it and let Sir Paul take a three- or four-minute break.

Rock Show: This is just a great, great live song from his Wings days for a festival of this size and he can change the lyrics around to localize Chicago and the Lollapalooza fest.

Live and Let Die: This is a good spot for another Wings-ding for rock fans and James Bond fans as well.

Hi, Hi, Hi: OK, we’re done with the Wings era after this fist-in-the-air rocker.

I Saw Her Standing There:  Ratchet this baby up like Elton John and John Lennon did many years ago and you have a great way to end the regular part of this event.

And now for the one encore:

Hey Jude: He can’t leave town without playing this one, but how can we make this special?

Well, when it’s time for the na-na-na-na-na part of the song, various acts from the fest can start to fill the stage. You can have Florence and her Machine. You can have members of TV on the Radio, Of Monsters and Men, the Alabama Shakes with the Shakey Graves, the Black Tiger Sex Machine, Mista Cookie Jar and the Chocolate Chips, Sam Smith and even one of the chaps from Metallica to all cram the stage and have the tens of thousands of fans na-na-na-ing in unison for about 10 minutes.

Sounds like a good show. Now, I’ll go out and buy a ticket…

 

Worth Church at a crossroad

  • Written by Claudia Parker

DR-Page-1-couple

Photo by Claudia Parker 

Max and Patricia Hodges of Palos Hills were married at Worth UMC in 1967.

 

As most churches prepare to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Worth United Methodist Church officials hope to revive their perishing congregation by merging with Palos Heights United Methodist Church.

It appears the 9 a.m. Sunday service will mark the final Easter celebration at the 130-year-old church at 7100 W. 112th St. Perhaps next Easter the members of this church will be celebrating at the Palos Heights church at 12101 S. Harlem Ave.

During a service on March 22 Worth UMC Pastor, Sung Kown Oh, urged his congregation to vote and it had nothing to do with the April 7 municipal or school board elections.

It had to do with the possible merger.

“Sunday, May 3, right after worship service, we need to make sure all of you attend, this is an important decision,” Oh said. “We’ll decide if we will be merging with Palos Heights UMC. We need each of you to vote on this.”        

What God has joined let no man put asunder is often heard during wedding ceremonies but this sentiment could be heard among the congregation as they gathered in their fellowship hall after the March 23 service.

Max and Patricia Hodges of Palos Hills were married at Worth UMC in 1967, 48 years ago. The two have been active members since 1980.

“We’re going to vote to merge so we can remain with our church family,” Max said.

Max Hodges said he has served on various church auxiliaries including trustee, vacation bible school and the United Methodist men’s group.

“My wife does more than I do,’’ he said. “She’s a certified lay servant, worship leader, food pantry volunteer and she reaches out to the sick by sending cards and things.”

Tom and Carol Martin of Chicago Ridge said they’ve seen seven pastors come and go since 1958 when they joined.

“Yes, I intend to vote,” Tom Martin said. “I want our members to stay together too. This is the only church my family has ever known.”

The Martins have two daughters, Suzanne Osinski of Chicago Ridge and Julie Malcerk of Palos Heights who are also members.  

Of the 20 members present after the service, there wasn’t one who said he or she felt good about the closure. The church started the year Mark Twain’s “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” was published and professional baseball players made a maximum of $2,000. Many believe with so many of the founding members having passed away, their families, little by little, have gone elsewhere.    

Jane Hughes of Orland Park has been a member so long she quantified the years as, “Forever!”

“I’ve been here a long time.”  Hughes said while sipping coffee. “This is depressing. I’m not sure which route I’m going to take.”

Helen Kristufek, an 86-year-old Worth resident, said she isn’t even Christian but she’s upset too.

“I’m a Greek Orthodox but I’ve been coming here off and on since 1954.” Kristufek said. “I come because of the people; I’ve built good relationships here. I don’t understand how this happened. It’s very sad.”

Abby Morgan of Alsip is only 14 years old but she said she likes to hang with members who don’t look like her.

“I’m not a man but I love going to the men’s breakfast for their chocolate-chip waffles.” Morgan said. “And, I like hanging around the old ladies, listening to their conversations makes me laugh.”

Morgan didn’t refer to any particular senior but there was one who didn’t have a problem speaking her mind.

Ramona Paulumbo, of Bridgeview, had very strong opinions about previous church leadership and program cuts causing drops in membership.

  

Paulumbo said the writing was on the wall when members stopped getting financial status updates on the church budget.

Pastor Oh has been pastoring Worth UMC for two years, but for 30 years total. He and his wife, Sunghee of 37 years plan to retire and relocate to their home country of Korea once the merger is complete.

“I don’t see this as a closure. It’s a rejuvenation process, like a life cycle.” Oh said. “I don’t want to see the church settle independently. The merger would be best.”

“There were conversations about a merger when we were appointed to this church,” Sunghee Oh said.“We knew there were financial difficulties and that this was a possibility, but it’s still sad.” 

     To some it feels like a total liquidation sale.

     Everything must go, including the church food pantry that feeds upwards of 200 families per week and a daycare center. Members said they’re praying for a buyer so the food pantry and daycare can remain as tenants to the new owners.