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Here’s some of the 411 on OL’s 911

  • Written by Bob Rakow

Village and MAP work morning, noon and night to make headway in dispatcher mess

  The dispute between Oak Lawn and the union that represents the emergency dispatchers, whose jobs were outsourced in December, was settled Tuesday following a marathon mediation session.
  “Any and all disputes have been resolved as part of this agreement,” village manager Larry Deetjen said at Tuesday’s village board meeting. “Today was a very productive meeting.”
  Terms of the agreement were not available Tuesday night. Representatives from the Metropolitan Alliance of Police, the union that represents the 911 dispatchers, did not attend the village board meeting.
  “We were prepared to issue a joint statement but it requires the executive council of the (Metropolitan Alliance of Police) to approve that statement. They were not prepared between 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. to sign off on that agreement and we agreed. They needed some time.”

  The mediation session started at 9:30 a.m. and ended at 6:30 p.m., one hour before the village board meeting, Deetjen said.
  He said it was likely that some of the village’s dispatchers would be hired by Norcomm Public Safety Communications, the company that is taking over emergency dispatching services for the village and the towns it serves. Norcomm will begin operations out of the village’s dispatch center Wednesday.

  The union in December filed an unfair labor practice charge with the Illinois Labor Relations Board against the village following the village board’s controversial decision to privatize the service. It stated that the village has no right to terminate the dispatchers because they have an existing contract with the village. The contact was not set to expire until December, 2014.
  The labor board recommended that the village and union consider mediation, Deetjen said. The village accepted the recommendation followed by the union, he said.
  “I’m a strong believer in mediation,” Deetjen said. “I think both parties talking together is a proper way to conduct labor management.”

  Deetjen described the agreement, which requires village board approval, as “fair and just.”

  The agreement covers the Nov. 27 administrative leave and pending disciplinary action involving emergency operator Lori Gromala. Gromala was the subject of an investigation into behavior disrupting call center operations during her shift, according to a village press release. Gromala also received a three-day suspension in 2012 for misconduct, according to the village.
  The village board voted 4-2 to privatize 911 call center dispatch services, a move that could save the village $1 million over two years, Deetjen said.
  Trustees Robert Streit and Carol Quinlan voted against the proposal.
  At that meeting, union attorney Ron Cicinelli pleaded with the board to continue negotiations with the union to reach an accord.
  He added that he blamed elected officials, not Deetjen, for the decision.
  Deetjen in August received authority from the village board to negotiate with two national dispatching firms to operate the emergency dispatch center, which handles fire, police and ambulance calls for Oak Lawn, Evergreen Park, Burbank and Bridgeview. The center also handles fire department calls for Bedford Park and a portion of the Central Stickney Fire Protection District.

  Deetjen said the move was not a reflection on the performance of the current dispatchers.
  The Metropolitan Alliance of Police in late 2012 approved a contract with the village after a lengthy negotiation, Cicinelli said. The union was hopeful it could extend the contract through at least 2016, he said.

  One month after the current contract was ratified, the village asked the union to consider cost-saving measures, including deferring the 2.5 percent wage increase included in the contract, regular pay for overtime hours, hiring part-time dispatchers and changing the wage scale for new employees, Cicinelli said.

Taking a whack at the hacks — Hickory Hills buys cyber insurance

  • Written by Kelly White

  With the trend of cyber-hackers creating havoc across the world, the city of Hickory Hills has decided to take precautionary action by purchasing cyber insurance.

  The council unanimously voted Thursday to buy insurance from the Beazley insurance vendor based out of Chicago at a cost of $6,501 annually with a 3.6 percent state tax rate on a $1 million liability coverage claim.
  Cyber insurance includes coverage for theft of personally identifiable non-public information in computer data and hard copy form and liability rising from failure to comply with state breach-notice laws; and coverage for failure to comply with the insured’s privacy policies.
  “With what happened at Advocate and most recently, Target, I believe it’s necessary for us to have cyber liability (insurance),” Alderman Mark Szesycki said at Thursday’s City Council Meeting.
  Szesycki said he has received three quotes from cyber liability insurance vendors, including AIG, ACE and Beazley.
  Beazley’s Information Security and Privacy Insurance provides coverage for fast changing industries confront fast changing risks, the alderman said.
  Beazley will be providing Hickory Hills with a variety of industry-leading coverages for emerging data security and privacy exposures facing companies today.
  Hickory Hills will receive third party coverage in response to unauthorized access, theft of or destruction of data, denial of service attacks and virus transmission involving the insured’s computer systems resulting from computer security breaches, along with electronic media liability coverage.
  The electronic media coverage covers the display of electronic content on the insured’s website; and extends to many internet-related exposures including advertising injuries that are not covered under many of today’s general liability policies. Hickory will also be receiving an additional coverage endorsement for the destruction and loss of data as well as network business interruption and cyber extortion caused by failures of computer security to prevent a security breach.
  City Treasurer, Dan Schramm, said there is no credit card information available in Hickory Hills’ online files; however, if someone does hack into a city computer or a city employee loses a city computer or city government file, Beazley will provide the proper coverage.
  “We don’t really have the same type of risk as Target did with credit card information saved on file,” Schramm stated, “But, we do have enough of a risk.”
  Schramm added that at first he was hesitant of the $6,501 annual fee from Beazley; however, with the one million dollar liability coverage offered to the city, he feels it is well worth it.
  Szesycki agreed the city having cyber liability insurance at the offered cost is definitely worth it. “We don’t want anyone getting into our computer files,” he said.
  The information that could be stolen in the case of a hacker situation within the city of Hickory Hills City Government would be all current and former employees’ personal information, personnel files, payroll files and social security numbers.
  Schramm noted the importance of employees’ social security numbers saved within the city’s database, and the necessity to keep that information safely guarded and insured.
  City Attorney Vince Cainkar voiced his opinion on the issue by reminding the city council about 3-4 years ago, the Alsip Park District had their employee account hacked into and the bank affiliated with the park district at the time did nothing about it.
  “I couldn’t believe it,” Cainkar said. “I definitely think cyber liability insurance is a good idea.”

B-Side: Childhood friend was an extraordinary Joe

  • Written by Bob Rakow

I learned that the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey team defeated the Soviet Union when my best friend, Joe, raced out the side door of his house screaming the news. If memory serves, we were playing ball hockey in his driveway—using a section of the garage door for a goal—when he rushed outside with the exciting, unbelievable news.

I thought about that moment last week when I learned via a Facebook post that Joe had died. I had not seen him in more than 25 years. People move on, go their separate ways. But news of his death truly saddened me. He’s not the first member of the Class of 1978 at St. Thomas More School on the southwest side of Chicago to pass away, but he’s the first one I knew well.

Joe and I were as close as could be for about three years from 7th grade until freshman year, when my family moved out of the neighborhood. During those years, we did everything together, and the memories came flooding back upon news of his death. I’m told he suffered from a host of maladies, and I know that he lived a tough life, but the thought of someone passing away at 49-years-old is tough to comprehend.

I don’t remember what brought the two of us together, but I vividly recall how we spent our time. Neither of us had much in the way of athletic ability. In fact, when we played together on a on an organized softball team, we took turns playing catcher. But, we did it together, had fun doing it and somehow that was enough. Who could imagine that 35 years later, I’d learn of Joe’s death from another player on that same softball team via social media?

In the days long before Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and the like, Joe and I spent our time outside in the neighborhood—me peddling Joe’s old Schwinn while he sat on the handlebars. We were not especially popular, and I’m sure that’s part of the reason we became friends.

We played endless hours of home run derby with a Wiffle ball and bat. The batter stood on the sidewalk across the street from Joe’s front lawn, the outfielder was positioned on the lawn. A caught ball or one that did not get across the street was an out, while a ball that fell on the lawn counted for one run. A ball that landed on the lower-level roof of Joe’s house was a grand slam, and the rare ball that reached the upper roof counted for eight runs. We played basketball, ball hockey, tossed around a football, you name it—sports were everything to us.

On Fridays during the NFL season, we got together after school and bet on the games. It was a simple affair. We threw the names of the all the teams in a hat and took turns selecting one. One week the big wagering—50 cents a game—was conducted my house and the next week we’d circled back to Joe’s place. We made endless calls to Sports Phone to track the Sunday scores in the days long before sports radio and the Internet.

Saturday’s were reserved for trips to Ford City. We’d get together at Joe’s house, walk to 79th Street and hop a bus to the mall. It seems one of us would always buy an album, t-shirt or sports apparel. We’d have lunch at Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour, and more often than not I’d have to quash Joe’s plan to dine and ditch. But that was Joe. He was a crazy guy that occasionally would step over the line. I routinely reached over than line and reined him in. I’d get mad sometimes, but somehow our friendship maintained.

In the years after I moved out of the neighborhood, I’d talk to Joe now and then, spend a little time with him occasionally, but it wasn’t the same as the bond between us as kids. Still, Joe’s death really saddened me. It’s as though a lot of childhood memories—good times—died along with him.

Rest in peace, my friend.

Bob Rakow is a news reporter for the Reporter.

Ridge parking restrictions about to get tighter near Desmond’s Pub

  • Written by Kevin M. Coyne, Correspondent

Irish eyes won’t be smiling

Photo by Kevin M. Coyne. Chicago Ridge officials are expected to create permit parking only on Kerry Ridge Court, off Birmingham Street, which is across from Jack Desmond’s Irish Pub, 10339 Ridgeland Ave. Photo by Kevin M. Coyne. Chicago Ridge officials are expected to create permit parking only on Kerry Ridge Court, off Birmingham Street, which is across from Jack Desmond’s Irish Pub, 10339 Ridgeland Ave.

Chicago Ridge officials hope barring pubgoers from parking on Kerry Ridge Court, located on Birmingham Street, will give rest to the residents living across from the popular Jack Desmond’s Irish Pub on Ridgeland Avenue.

Chicago Ridge Attorney George Witous along with officials from the building, fire and police departments are working together to create an ordinance that will bring peace to the residential area while allowing access to emergency vehicles that otherwise are unable to fit down the packed street on Friday and Saturday nights.

“The problems are continuing over there and I feel sorry for those people,” Chicago Ridge Mayor Chuck Tokar said. “They’re dealing with all sorts of litter; broken bottles, broken glass, cups and people are fighting in the streets and coming out at 2 a.m. in a residential area.”

If passed, Chicago Ridge residents who do not live in the small townhome subdivision are prohibited from parking in Kerry Ridge Court. Violators will be ticketed and towed at the owner’s expense.

Photo by Kevin M. Coyne.Photo by Kevin M. Coyne. The residential parking is for members of the townhome subdivision only.

“A lot of people have the idea that if they have the Chicago Ridge vehicle sticker that constitutes residential parking and that’s just not the case,” trustee Daniel Badon said.

Village officials have yet to determine which side of the street will become permit parking only. Chicago Ridge Fire Chief Robert Muszynski said at Tuesday’s board meeting that he wants access to the fire hydrants and access to the buildings along Birmingham Street.

“This has been going on for quite a while now and a fire truck or ambulance wouldn’t be able to get down that street especially on a Friday or Saturday nights,” Muszynski said.

Tokar reiterated that the Chicago Ridge vehicle sticker is not considered a residential parking permit. Kerry Ridge Court will not be the only area with residential parking. Streets such as Princess Avenue, Oxford Avenue and Oak Avenue also prohibit non-residential parking.

“We need to let people know in our next newsletter that a vehicle sticker is not a residential parking sticker,” Tokar said. “We should also put this on our website so people are made aware of the residential parking area.”

Evergreen officials ready to game plan where medical marijuana will be sold

  • Written by Bob Rakow

Evergreen Park officials Monday took the first step toward controlling the location of clinics that distribute marijuana for medical purposes.

Photo by Jeff Vorva. Evergreen Park Mayor Jim Sexton wants to limit where medical marijuana can be sold in his community.Photo by Jeff Vorva. Evergreen Park Mayor Jim Sexton wants to limit where medical marijuana can be sold in his community.Trustees approved a resolution that “authorizes a moratorium on the establishment of medical cannabis facilities and the issuance of building permits or zoning certificates of compliance for construction or operation of such uses in the village.”

Mayor Jim Sexton said the resolution is designed to buy the village time until the village board decides on approved locations for medical marijuana facilities that locate on the village in the future.

The village’s zoning board will meet on Tuesday to discuss the issue. Residents are welcome to express their opinions at the hearing, Sexton said. The village board will consider the zoning restrictions proposed by the zoning board, he said.

“You can’t say ‘no’ (to a clinic),” Sexton said. “We can limit where they go.”

For example, he said, a medical marijuana clinic would be best suited for a commercial or medical district, such as Little Company of Mary Hospital. It would not be appropriate in a residential area or near a school, he said.

No clinics have petitioned to locate in the village, the mayor said at the meeting.