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School buses based in Evergreen Park will require village stickers

  • Written by By Sharon L. Filkins

Action taken at the Evergreen Park Board Meeting on Monday approved an ordinance that will require that village stickers be purchased for school buses based in the suburb.

Mayor James Sexton explained that only buses with a base of operation located in the village will be required to purchase stickers.

“If buses are operating in the village, but their headquarters are elsewhere, they will not be required to have a village sticker,” he said.

Also approved were ordinances updating Evergreen Park’s Intergovernmental agreement with the Village of Oak Lawn to provide emergency dispatch services and to establish and authorize the operation of a 911 joint authority.

Participating in the Intergovernmental agreement in addition to Evergreen Park, are Burbank, Hodgkins and Bridgeview. Also participating is the Bedford Park Fire District and the Central Stickney Fire Protection District.

Additionally, the approval of an ordinance providing for the acquisition of property located at 9138 S. Kedzie Ave. will allow the village to move forward in its efforts to purchase the property. Sexton said the property has been in foreclosure for a number of years and the village is hoping to purchase it in order to provide off-street parking for ThiThi’s Restaurant, located just north of the property.

Other approvals included granting a request from Tavern in the Green to erect tents on the east side of its building at 3422 W 95th St. on April 29, July 1, Aug. 19 and Sept. 16.

An application for a business regulation certificate was approved for Shaker Subs Elite, d/b/a Firehouse Subs, a fast food restaurant located at 9204 S. Western Ave.

In other board action, approval was given on the selection of Environmental Cleansing Corporation as the company to demolish two buildings at 2942-2946 W. 95th St. at a cost of $23,554. Their bid was one of eight bids received. Two of the bids presented reflected lower cost estimates, including IESCO Construction Company at $16,385 and Signature Demo Service at $22,500.

Trustee Mark Marzullo questioned Public Works Director William Lorenz on why the lower bids were not considered. Lorenz replied that he was not familiar with either of the companies and that none of his peers in nearby municipalities had ever heard of the businesses.

“Also, Environmental Cleansing Corporation has previously worked in Evergreen Park and is familiar with our village and its environment,” Lorenz said.

Sexton also added that when a company submits such a low bid on a major project, it usually results in trouble down the road.  

Palos Hills is ranked one of 50 safest cities in Illinois

  • Written by By Michael Gilbert

Palos Hills Mayor Gerald Bennett has made no secret of his support for the city’s police department.

“Quite honestly since the time I became mayor (35 years ago) I’ve been proud of our department,” Bennett said last week. “Our crime stats have always been low, and the crimes that are out there our detectives solve them.”

So Bennett was rather pleased on March 17 to share with the city council that Palos Hills was ranked 17th on BackgroundChecks.org’s list of the 50 safest cities in Illinois.

The rankings, which were released on the website earlier this month, are based on FBI violent crime stats and propriety BackgroundChecks.org research data.

This is the second time in less than six months a website has recognized Palos Hills as a “safe city.” In November, Safewise.com listed Palos Hills as the 47th safest city in the Prairie State.

“We continue to receive those recognitions, which we are very proud of,” Bennett said. “We thank our citizens for helping us (be a safe place to live). We don’t have a neighborhood watch but the citizens of this town do a very good job of keeping us informed and being an extra eye on the streets.”

Western Springs topped the BackgroundChecks.org list and nearby Orland Park ranked 13th. Worth and Palos Heights were ranked No. 27 and No. 28, respectively.

For the Palos Hills entry, the website wrote “A southwest Chicago suburb, Palos Hills is located in Cook County and is home to 17,400 residents. The city covers just 4.29 square miles and is served by the North Palos School District. The violent crime rate here is 34.2, and residents have just a .07 perfect chance of being affected by property crime.”

While there is no official award or certificate the city receives from BackgroundChecks.org, Bennett said there is a “web badge” – essentially a small graphic stating the honor – Palos Hills can display on its website, www.paloshillsweb.org.

“Our police do a great job,” Ald. Pauline Stratton (2nd Ward) said. “Even though we are short-handed with the police department they really are good with working to help the people out, and our residents are very aware of what is going on in their city too.

“This honor is absolutely something our city can be proud of.”

In other news, Palos Hills officials unanimously approved an ordinance setting the guidelines for the placement, use and maintenance of rain barrels in the city.

The ordinance was necessitated due to an intergovernmental agreement the city authorized with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District this past September that allows residents to receive rain barrels at no cost from the MWRD.

Prior to the ordinance, the city had no restrictions on the number, color or placement of rain barrels on one’s property. The ordinance allows a single family residence to have one black or white rain barrel located at the rear of the residence to limit its visibility from the sidewalk or street, said Ald. Mark Brachman (2nd Ward).

The rain barrel must also be “maintained and serviced frequently by the resident so that it functions properly as intended,” Brachman noted.

The ordinance prohibits water collected in a rain barrel from being deposited in the public sanitary sewer drainage system, Brachman said.

In an effort to reduce basement backups, sewer overflow and flooding, the MWRD began offering the free rain barrel program in 2014. Municipalities needed only to opt in by signing an intergovernmental agreement with the MWRD.

The barrels are designed to capture rain water from a downspout with the intention of the homeowner then using the water during dry months or for uses like watering plants or washing vehicles.

In order to receive a rain barrel a resident must fill out an application at City Hall, 10335 S. Roberts Road. A Palos Hills staff member will then notify the MWRD that a resident has requested a barrel, and the MWRD will then deliver the barrel to the resident’s home.

Clinton, Trump prevail in Illinois; Alvarez is ousted as Foxx breezes; Duckworth wins

  • Written by By Joe Boyle

With a large voter turnout in Cook County, Hillary Clinton was the victorin a tight race with Bernie Sander in the Democratic primary in Illinois, while Donald Trump was the easy winner in the Republican race Tuesday night.

In another highly contested local race, Cong. Tammy Duckworth (D-8th) was easily victorious over the former head of Chicago Urban League Andrea Zopp and state Rep Napoleon Harris. Duckworth will face Republican incumbent Mark Kirk, who cruised past James Marter.

Kim Foxx, former chief of staff to Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, stunned Democratic incumbent Anita Alvarez in the race for Cook County State's Attorney. Former state and federal prosecutor Donna More was a distant third.

Clerk of Circuit Court Dorothy Brown was the winner Tuesday night despite not receiving the support of the Cook County Democrats, who were concerned when the FBI began investigating her office. Brown defeated Chicago Ald. Michelle Harris ((D-8th), who received the support of the Cook County Democrats in October, and attorney Jacob Meister.

In the Democratic presidential primary, Clinton had 50.3 percent of the vote, or 970,268, with 97 precincts reporting. Sanders had 48.9 percent, or 942,637 votes. Despite the narrow win, Clinton continued to collect delegates with primary victories also in Florida, Missouri, Ohio and North Carolina. Sanders, currently in Arizona, said he plans to continue his campaign.

“If we stand together, there is nothing we can't accomplish,” Sanders said.

Clinton campaigned heavily in Illinois after Sanders recorded a surprising triumph in Michigan. She visited Vernon Hills, which was quickly added to her campaign visits, and made several trips to Chicago's South Side.

Trump, despite recent controversy over disturbances at recent campaign stops, continues to surge ahead of his Republican opponents. With 96 percent of the precincts reporting, Trump had 38.9 percent of the vote for a total of 527,504. Cruz recorded 30.5 percent of the vote for a tally of 414,956.

Kasich was third with 19.6 percent of the vote, or 267,358. Rubio was in fourth with just 8.5 percent for a total of 115,527.

Primary victories in Florida, Missouri and North Carolina has provided Trump with a large lead, along with his Illinois win. However, Kasich won his home state of Ohio, which opponents of Trump that includes Republicans state will result in a contested convention in August.

However, that race will not include Rubio, who lost his home state of Florida to Trump. Rubio has decided to suspend his campaign.

Speaking from West Palm Beach, Trump said he is proud of his campaign and the supporters he has drawn.

“We have people who are working (for us),” he said. “Democrats are coning in. People are voting who have never voted before.”

With 85 percent of the precincts reporting, Duckworth compiled 64 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary race for U.S. Senate. Zopp, who got a late start in the race, had just 25 percent of the vote. Harris was a distant third with 12 percent of the vote.

Duckworth will face Kirk in the general election , who had just over 71 percent of the vote in his victory. Marter had 29 percent. Kirk said he is ready for the challenge and describes himself as a moderate.

Duckworth had a different view of Kirk.

“We sent a clear and loud message tonight,” said Duckworth. “We are going to lead without fear.”

Duckworth said that Kirk would support Trump. Kirk responded by stating that an earlier statement was taken out of context. He said a decision on the Republican candidate he will support for president will be made in July.

In Brown's victory in the Clerk of the Circuit Court race, she had 47 percent of the total with 427,253 votes. Harris recorded 275,207 votes for 38 percent. Meister was third with just 21 percent and 197,944 votes.

“We had some great, great endorsements,” said Brown, who had support from some south suburban mayors. “I am grateful to them for believing in me.”

Brown will face Diane Shapiro, the Republican committeeman from Chicago's 46th Ward, in the general election in November. Shapiro was unopposed in the primary.

Also unopposed in the primary Tuesday were Cong. Dan Lipinski (D-3rd) and Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza, who faced no challengers in the race for state comptroller. She will face Republican Leslie Munger in the November election.

Democratic state representatives Mary Flowers (31st), Andre Thapedi (32nd), Fran Hurley (35th) and Kelly Burke (36th) were also unopposed.

This year, Democrats accounted for 90 percent of early voting in Chicago, with Republicans recording 10 percent. In suburban Cook County, Democratic voters registered 72 percent of early voting, while Republican accounted for 29 percent, according to the Cook County Clerk's office.

Sanders brings 'revolution' to southwest suburbs

  • Written by By Tim Hadac and Mary Hadac

Throngs of suburban voters joined their city cousins at a political rally at Argo Community High School in Summit last Friday, cheering calls by Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders for “nothing short of a revolution” to build “an America for all, not just billionaires.”

Several thousand men, women and children lined the south sidewalk of 63rd Street in the late afternoon sun, stretching from the Argo doors near Harlem Avenue to Archer Road, some four blocks west.

Despite a wait of at least an hour for most to even get inside the high school, spirits appeared universally buoyant.

“I’ve waited all of my life for a presidential candidate I believe in this much,” said Orland Park resident Beth Stein, 66. “I think I can wait a couple hours more.”

A self-described liberal “former Rockefeller Republican” who came of age as a campaign volunteer in the early 1970s for Illinois Senator Charles Percy, Stein said she, like many, has grown increasingly troubled in recent decades “by the growing gap between rich and poor, black and white. I think we’ve lost our way as a land of opportunity, of fairness.”

Echoing the theme was Oak Lawn resident Barbara Travis, 47, who said she is “troubled by the school-to-prison pipeline, by an America where millions of young people don’t have the financial ability to go to college, so their options are mostly limited to the military or the penitentiary. We need to change that.”

Many in the line described Sanders, a career politician, as someone quite different from the usual candidates. Burr Ridge resident Mary Edwards said, “Bernie is not just a breath of fresh air. Bernie is pure oxygen. We need Bernie so badly. If he wasn’t there, we would have had to invent him.

“The man has been consistent from day one, and I am not a millennial,” added Edwards, a middle-aged woman. “That’s a bunch of baloney about ‘millennials for Bernie.’ There are plenty of millennials, but believe me, there are also a lot of people on Social Security who are desperate for Bernie Sanders.”

Adding a bit of levity to the line was Park Forest resident Jerry Nowatzke, a self-described shaman who blessed his fellow Sanders supporters with burning sage to “keep the Trump vibes away.”

He said he supports the Vermont senator’s candidacy mostly because of his honesty.

“He’s not a phony, he’s for real,” Nowatzke said. “He talks straight. He doesn’t re-arrange himself for focus groups or what some blog said. He is who he is, plain and simple. He’s like Harry Potter, whereas Trump is like Voldemort—you know, bad vibes, negative energy, greed, racism.”

While Trump’s scheduled rally Friday night at the UIC Pavilion was called off for security reasons and descended into shouting matches and fisticuffs between Trump supporters and several thousand protesters committed to disrupting and even stopping the event, the Sanders rally at Argo was orderly, with a strong law enforcement presence led by Summit police.

The Sanders crowd included people of all ages, yet the senator’s storied support among college-age adults was clearly present.

Summit resident Darrell Vanderbilt, a fairly recent Argo graduate, was one.

“Compared to the other presidential candidates, Bernie is by far the most honest,” he said. “I guess the biggest thing has to be that he’s not being bought. When you hear him speak, he’s passionate, he doesn’t sound practiced. My top three issues are the environment, money in politics, and the criminal justice system with education coming in as a close fourth. Bernie Sanders hits on all of them -- right on the head.”

Palos Hills resident Shannon Vincent, 19, sounded a familiar theme about the crippling costs of higher education.

“I’m $30,000 in debt from one year of college, and I don’t think that’s right,” she said. “Last year I went to Northern Michigan University, and this year I go to Moraine Valley. Just the amount of money that it was started messing with my head, and knowing that my family can’t afford this anymore made my grades start to drop. I had to transfer. I don’t think that it’s right that for one year of college I’m $30,000 in debt and by the time I pay it off it will be $60,000 just for that one year.”

Three hours after the Argo doors opened, Sanders was introduced by Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D-7th) to loud and sustained applause.

Sanders broke no new ground, delivering his standard stump speech and reiterating his promise to end what he calls the domination of the American economic and political structure by the super-rich. The crowd cheered his swipe at Republican front-runner Donald Trump for allegedly demonizing people of color, immigrants and Muslims. They also hailed his poke at Democratic rival Hilary Clinton for her ties with Wall Street billionaires.

A thunderclap of cheers and applause, however, was reserved for Sanders’ slap at Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

“I want to thank Rahm Emanuel for not endorsing me,” he said. “I don't want the endorsement of a mayor shutting down schools and firing teachers.”

Predicting that the outcome of the March 15 primary would all come down to voter turnout, Sanders insisted that his supporters do all they can to get their families, friends, neighbors, college classmates and co-workers to the polls. “When turnout is high, we win,” he said.

Rush rolls over his opponents in a landslide

  • Written by By Dermot Connolly

In the 1st Congressional district of Illinois, incumbent Bobby Rush ended up easily beating two Democratic challengers who sought to deny him the nomination for a 13th term in office.

This time around, Howard Brookins, alderman of Chicago’s 21st Ward and a former ally, ran against Rush, with the backing of House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-22nd). So many observers thought the race would be closer this time around. The third candidate in the race was O. Patrick Brutus, the coordinator of economic development for the Chicago Department of Planning and Development.

With 99 percent of precincts reporting, according to unofficial results, Rush won in a landslide, with 123,913 votes, or 71 percent of the vote.

Brookins came in a distant second, with 33,416 votes (19 percent), and Brutus was third with 16.218 votes (9 percent).

The 1st District stretches from the South Side of Chicago to Will County, taking in all or parts of Evergreen Park, Oak Lawn, Worth, Palos Heights and Orland Park along the way.

In the suburban Cook County portion of the district, Rush tallied 21,625 votes (63.3 percent), while Brutus came in second, with 6,797 (19.9 percent). Brookins trailed in third, with 16.81 percent (5,742 votes).

Rush’s campaign didn’t start off well, because he had to overcome a challenge to his nominating petitions to even stay in the race. But he sounded a triumphant note when he was declared the winner.

“This campaign started with them saying, ‘We got him!’ They said ‘we knocked him off the ballot.’ Well, I’m here — look at me now,” he said in a triumphant email after the election results came back heavily in his favor.

Asked what he sees as his first goal in his new term, Rush said, “Creating jobs in the energy sector for the 1st District.”

The congressman must first beat the Republican nominee, August Deuser, a Mokena resident, in the Nov. 8 primary, to get to that next term. He is expected to win that race too, in the heavily Democratic district.

According to unofficial results, Deuser received 24,172 votes (74 percent), beating Jimmie Lee Tillman, who received the remaining 26 percent (8,489 votes).

Tillman, who has run unsuccessfully for the 1st District seat twice before, is the son of former Chicago Ald. Dorothy Tillman.

Rush said that in his next term, he plans to focus on “creating jobs in the energy sector for the 1st Congressional District.