Holiday season makes way for primary election

  • Written by Dermot Connolly



Now that the holiday season is nearly wrapped up, the election season is about to kick into high gear, with the March 15 primary election approaching fast.

Early voting begins Feb. 4 and will continue through March 14.

Of course, the presidential election is garnering the most attention now. But by the time Illinoisans go to the polls, the large field of candidates, especially on the Republican side, will likely be winnowed down following the Iowa caucus on Feb. 1, the New Hampshire primary on Feb. 9, and Super Tuesday on March 1, when 12 states go to the polls.

But many voters are inclined to forget that other races will also be decided on March 15. Dec. 21 was the deadline for candidates to submit their election petitions to be placed on ballots, and while some are being challenged and may be removed, we at least have a tentative list of who is running for the various offices

The only statewide Illinois race this year is for state comptroller, to complete the term of Judy Baar Topinka. After she died of a stroke last December, one month after being elected to her second term in office, Gov. Bruce Rauner appointed Leslie Geissler Munger to fill the position until the election.

Munger, who is running unopposed in the Republican primary to retain the seat, will likely face off in the Nov. 8 general election against Susana Mendoza, currently the Chicago city clerk, who is running unopposed in the Democratic primary.

The two local congressional races might be interesting.

U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-1st), who was first elected in 1993, is running for his 12th term in Congress. He will have three challengers in the primary, if they all survive the objections filed against their candidacy. They include O. Patrick Brutus, Howard Brookins Jr. and Harold Bailey. Brookins is the current 21st Ward alderman in Chicago.

Two objections are pending against Rush and one against Bailey. Hearings on them will be scheduled in January.

The winner of the Democratic primary will face either August (O’Neill) Deuser or Jimmy Lee Tillman II, who are running against each other in the Republican primary.

In the 3rd Congressional District, Rep. Dan Lipinski is seeking his sixth term in office. He is running unopposed in the Democratic primary.

The only candidate running in the Republican primary is Arthur J. Jones, a Lyons resident with a history of involvement in white supremacy organizations. He has run for the 3rd District seat before, including against Lipinski in 2012, as well as several other offices.

Some of the local Democratic state senators and representatives are running unopposed in the primary, and will be unopposed again in November because no Republicans have thrown their hats in the ring.

These include incumbent state Sen. Jacqueline “Jacqui” Collins (D-16th), whose Chicago-based district extends into Oak Lawn. Also, incumbent state Rep. Kelly Burke (D-36th) of Evergreen Park is running unopposed in the primary, and no Republicans have entered the race. The same can be said for state Reps. Robert “Bob” Rita (D-28th) and Andre Thapedi (D-32nd), whose district includes Hickory Hills.

In the 19th Senate District, which includes part of Orland Park and numerous other southwestern suburbs, incumbent Democrat Michael E. Hastings is seeking a second term. He is being challenged in the primary by McStephen “Max” Solomon, an attorney from Hazel Crest. Objections have been filed against both of them, but as of now, the winner will have no Republican opposition.

Prior to his election, Hastings, an Army veteran, served as vice president of High School District 230.

State Rep. Mary Flowers (D-31st), whose district includes Oak Lawn, is being challenged in the primary by Michael Crawford, of Chicago’s Wrightwood neighborhood.

Likewise, state Rep. Monique Davis (D-27th) is being challenged in the primary by Justin Q. Slaughter. But no Republican candidates have filed for either race.

On the other hand, state Rep. Frances Hurley (D-35th), faces no opposition in the primary, but in November, she will go up against Victor Horne, who is the only candidate running in the Republican primary.

Man charged in robbery of Evergreen Park bank

  • Written by Dermot Connolly




A man suspected of robbing the First National Bank of Evergreen Park on Dec. 11 was caught after dropping his cellphone and papers with his name on them as he fled the bank at 3960 W. 95th St.

Kenneth A. Holeman, 53, who was on probation for a 2009 bank robbery in Oak Brook already, was arrested without incident by Chicago Police on Dec. 14 near 69th Street and Marshfield Avenue in Chicago, where he was working on a car.

Holeman walked up to a teller window at the Evergreen Park bank about 11:30 a.m. on Dec. 11, and ordered the teller to “give me all the f---money,” according to a federal criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago.

The FBI said another teller and the bank’s armed security guard were behind the counter and overheard what Holeman said. The security guard told the tellers to comply with his demand.

According to the complaint, Holeman escaped after putting approximately $1,820 in a bag. But he left behind a ski mask and several sheets of paper he had used to cover his face, including a forfeiture notice from the Cook County state’s attorney’s office that included his name and address in the 8100 block of South Honore Avenue in Chicago.

The bank security guard then jumped over the counter and chased him, warning him to stop or he would shoot. Following him outside, the security guard fired one shot into the air, which startled Holeman, causing him to drop his cellphone, according to the FBI.

He continued chasing the robber across Pulaski Road to the Jewel-Osco parking lot at 9424 S. Pulaski, where he told investigators that Holeman got into a silver Pontiac Grand Prix and drove away. The guard fired at the back tires as he fled north on Pulaski.

An off-duty Evergreen Park police officer then reportedly observed Holeman’s car speeding through a red light at the intersection of 87th Street and Pulaski Road, almost causing an accident. The car’s license plate was radioed in for reckless driving.

Prior to Holeman’s arrest, Chicago police officers found the 2005 Pontiac Grand Prix parked with two flat tires in an alley in the 1100 block of West 87th Street in the city. Two relatives told investigators Holeman had the car towed there on Dec. 12 and told his relatives that the car was stolen.

According to the FBI, Holeman is also a suspect in three other Chicago bank robberies this year, including Oct. 23 at the Chase Bank branch at 11721 S. Halsted St.; Sept. 29 at the Chase branch at 8340 S. Kedzie Ave.; and Sept. 14 at the Byline Bank branch at 4050 S. Archer Ave.

They also believe he tried unsuccessfully to rob a Bank of America branch at 5601 S. Kedzie Ave. on Oct. 21.

No charges have been filed in those robberies.

Holeman was being held in the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago this week, and is due to appear in court for a status hearing onon Jan 13.


Hearing set for on-duty phone sex allegation

  • Written by Dermot Connolly

An Oak Lawn firefighter who is being investigated for possibly engaging in on-duty phone sex is going to be called to testify at a hearing scheduled for Jan. 7 at a firehouse in the village.

Oak Lawn Village Manager Larry Deetjen said on Tuesday that Fire Chief George Sheets undertook the investigation after a financial review by an outside firm called in by the Oak Lawn Firefighters Union “substantiated reports that there was a misuse of large sums of money” by an individual over the past year.

Deetjen said the money in question came from union dues.

The investigation came to light at a Dec. 17 hearing in Bridgeview Courthouse on a petition for an emergency restraining order that firefighter Robert Lanz had filed. Lanz, a former head of the firefighters union, is being investigated for possible on-duty phone sex, officials revealed in court.

The village manager said Lanz, whom he did not refer to by name, filed the petition for the emergency restraining order, which a judge rejected on Dec. 17, after Sheets asked him to produce his credit card and cellphone records in order to get to the bottom of the discrepancies.

Sheets had originally planned to interrogate Lanz on Dec. 18 but Lanz’s attorney, Patrick Walsh, argued at the hearing that Lanz was given less than two weeks to schedule the interview date, and his union representation would not have been available.

According to published reports, the village manager said in a sworn statement referenced at the Dec. 17 hearing that many of the unsubstantiated charges “were for services provided by two businesses” that he later learned “provide phone sex services."

In court on Dec. 17, Walsh argued that Lanz was given less than two weeks to schedule the interview date and that his union representation wouldn't be available by the deadline.

Walsh also argued that there was no precedent to compel Lanz to turn over the credit card and phone records, dating back to 2012. He said doing so would violate his right to privacy under the Illinois Constitution.

Deetjen said Lanz will be able to have union representation and legal counsel attorney at the Jan. 7 hearing, to be held at Fire Station 2, 6451 W. 93rd Place. He said the village will have the work records to show when he was supposed to be on duty, and they can be cross-checked against the dates of the calls in question.

“He will be placed under oath and the chief (Sheets) can complete his investigation,” said Deetjen.

“Only after the investigation is complete, will we determine whether appropriate action should be taken,” said Deetjen.

“At this point, it is an investigation. Whether any of this conduct took place while he was supposed to be on duty, that is our focus,” said Deetjen, who said he would not comment further until after the hearing.

Fallen firefighter's family files lawsuit

  • Written by Dermot Connolly

The family of fallen Chicago firefighter Daniel Capuano, who was laid to rest on Friday, has filed a wrongful death-negligence lawsuit against the owners of the warehouse where he died fighting a fire on Dec. 14.

Capuano, 42, of Chicago’s Mount Greenwood neighborhood, was a 16-year veteran of the Evergreen Park Fire Department, where he worked part-time in between full-time shifts with the Chicago Fire Department.

Evergreen Park Fire Chief Ronald Kleinhaus said last week that this was the first time an active firefighter for the village had died in the line of duty.

Anilroshi, LLC, is the listed owner of the warehouse at 9213 S. Baltimore Ave., Chicago, where Capuano was fatally injured when he fell from the smoke-filled second floor down an unmarked and empty elevator shaft. He died shortly afterward at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn.

The suit, filed in Cook County Court, claims the company is responsible for numerous safety violations including the failure to provide protection from falling through holes in the building, and failure to obtain building permits to safely decommission and remove the elevator.

The Chicago law firm of Motherway and Napleton is representing his family, including his wife, Julie; daughter, Amanda, 16; and sons Andrew, 13, and Nick, 12.
Chief James Graben, of the Palos Fire Protection District, where Capuano started his career, said more than 3,000 firefighters from across the United States and beyond attended the visitation and funeral services held last Thursday and Friday at St. Rita High School Chapel in Chicago.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel was also there, and spoke at the funeral, as were officials from Evergreen Park and other neighboring communities. Graben said that Capuano was remembered as a great firefighter and family man, who, among other things, helped coach his sons in hockey. His sons attend Queen of Martyrs School in Evergreen Park, as did his daughter, before going on to Mother McAuley High School.

The funeral procession from St. Rita, at 7740 S. Western Ave., Chicago, to Holy Sepulchre Cemetery at 111th and Austin Avenue in Worth, was more than a mile long. People wanting to show their support to his family lined the route as the procession made its way through the city and suburbs.

“People came from coast to coast. I talked to firefighters from Seattle and New York, and someone told me that they even met a firefighter from Australia,” said Graben.

“The Chicago and Evergreen Park fire departments did everything very professionally. He couldn’t have asked for a better send-off. It really was an amazing show of support from the fire service community as a whole for a fallen hero,” said Graben.

Football and Volleyball Players of the Year announced

  • Written by Jeff Vorva



Brendan Skalitzky, Marist


Page 1 Brendan action

Photos by Jeff Vorva

Even in an era when video-game football scores and stats are being racked up in high school football, Marist senior quarterback Brendan Skalitzky stood out.

Skalitzky passed for 3,705 yards and ran for 1,088 and scored 47 touchdowns helping to lead the RedHawks to an improbable trip to the Illinois High School Association Class 8A state championship game, where they lost to Loyola, 41-0 this season.

Marist was 5-4 during the regular season and became just the fifth team in state history to make it to a title game with four losses.

One of the reasons the RedHawks made it to the state title game was because Skalitzky accounted for 633 yards and all eight touchdowns in a 59-56 quarterfinal stunner over Barrington in the highest scoring game in Class 8A history.

Skalitzky has been named the 2015 Reporter-Regional Football Player of the Year.

His coach watched the Evergreen Park resident carve up defenses all season.

“You talk about being one of the best quarterback around, all year he was great for us,” Marist coach Pat Dunne said. “He threw the ball. He ran the ball. He can hurt you in a lot of different ways. He’s been a leader. What he’s done all year – his stats have shown it.

“But more important, the biggest thing about him is that he is such a team player.’’

Whenever people ask him about his own accomplishments, Skalitzky is quick to praise others on the team.

“It’s all the offensive line and [running back Darshon McCullough]—you give that kid the ball in an open space and he is going to make some big plays,” he said. “My wide receivers got open and made big catches. It’s all a team effort.’’ 

The RedHawks opened the season with a 21-14 loss to Mount Carmel at Soldier Field but then went on a three-game streak in which they beat DuSable, 56-0, St. Viator 45-28 and knocked off Niles Notre Dame, 49-42.

After  a loss 29-25 loss to Benet Academy the offense was rolling again, in a 45-21 win over St. Patrick, and a 41-7 victory over Marian Catholic.

They closed the regular season with losses to eventual Class 5A champ Nazareth Academy (62-45) and Joliet Catholic (35-28). They drew the 23rd seed out of 32 teams knocked off Notre Dame again, 17-14 to open the playoffs and then the explosive 59-56 win over Barrington followed by a 31-16 semifinal win over Waubonsie Valley before the Loyola loss.

--Jeff Vorva


Kayla Caffey, Mother McAuley



Even as a sophomore. Mother McAuley’s Kayla Caffey was making an impact as a volleyball player -- especially when she turned out to be one of the most valuable players on the Mighty Macs’ Class 4A state championship win over Benet Academy in 2013 by pounding a team-high eight kills in just 10 swings of her right arm.

Two years later, she took her game to a different level when she assumed the role of a leader, where she impacted the play of entire roster of talented player while not missing a beat with her own ability to take over a match.

Those tangibles, along with a.461 hitting percentage, 286 kills, 123 service points, 98 blocks and 17 aces, led the Caffey being named the Reporter-Regional’s first Girls Volleyball Player of the Year.

“My senior season was like no other because I was an upperclassmen and a leader,’’ Caffey said. “There were a lot young players that I was able to take under my wing and teach them the ropes because they were coming up from JV. Varsity is a huge step between the levels both mentally and physically.

“I encouraged them that they could get this. I remember the way (former Macs player) Gabby Innis took me under her wing and how it meant so much to me. I remember playing much more intense at state.’’

And Caffey admitted it took extra effort involved in leading.

“You just can’t just pay attention to only what you’re doing,’’ she said. “You have to focus on everyone else and that they’re doing their job too.’’

Head coach Jen DeJarld said that Caffey was hesitant to step into a leadership, but she ultimately took her game to the next level when she did and had the ability to control a given match.

“Kayla definitely became a captain and team leader her senior year,’’ the coach said. “She did a really good job of leading despite kind of shying away from in the past. With so many great players who were older than her as a sophomore, she felt pretty comfortable with them taking the reins and following their lead.

“But she really embraced the leader role for her senior year, and it showed the court. She is one of the most talented players I’ve had the pleasure to coach in 21 years at Mother McAuley.’’

--Anthony Nasella