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.





MVCC student trustee gives last board report

  • Written by By Kelly White

Moraine Valley Community College Student Trustee Karim Awwad gave his final board meeting presentation on March 9

Awwad’s one-year term is coming to an end in April. Moraine officials have not yet decided on a new student trustee.

“I say this every year and it probably sounds like a broken record, but every year the student trustee gets better and better and better,” said Joseph Murphy, chair of the Moraine Valley Board. “The time flew by and it’s been a true pleasure having Karim on our board. His dedication, time and opinions have been very much valued.”

Awwad, an American citizen who grew up in Jordan, was determined to be different from his 10 cousins and brother. He wanted to attend school in the United States but not Moraine Valley Community College like they did. However, after several discussions, they influenced him to choose Moraine Valley. Nearly a year later, the Orland Park resident not only attends Moraine Valley but has been representing all of its students. He was sworn in on April 15 of last year as student trustee.

“This is just the beginning of my journey,” Awwad said. “Moraine has changed my perspective of community colleges in general. It is a playground of opportunities.”

Under his leadership, the student body has had a successful and involved academic and extracurricular year filled with activities, including several groups on camps experiencing the spirit of giving. The Women in Action, Action Social and Political Empowerment (ASPE), International Women and Phi Theta Kappa clubs participated in food drives. The Combat to College Club participated in a toy drive. The Asian Diversity Club participated in gathering and donating coats and winter accessories during the harsh winter months. The American Red Cross Club participated in Cards for Heroes. Student Government Association held a blood drive where more than 75 units of blood were collected. Student Life held its annual Thanksgiving dinner served by administrators and during which the hard work of students was recognized.

His guidance and leadership over Moraine Valley students doesn’t end there. The Model Illinois Government Club took a trip to Springfield to promote civic responsibility of the Democratic practice. In November, students had an opportunity to join an interactive dialogue with Palestinian students living under Israeli occupation to examine and discuss educational topics. And, a petition with 7,887 signatures of community college students – with 258 from Moraine Valley – was presented to Gov. Rauner regarding the state not funding MAP grants. The petition expressed how important higher education is to the students and how the issue is directly affecting them.

“Trustee comes from the word trust, and since students are putting their trust in me, as promised, I have offered my commitment, dedication and loyalty to the needs of my fellow students,” Awwad said.

Awwad will be leaving the college majoring in Economics/Finance with a minor in Political Science. After he completes his term in April, he has his eye on attending the University of Illinois to earn his bachelor’s degree and then pursue an MBA. After that. he may start his own business or work in the government sector either in the U.S. or Jordan — wherever the best opportunity arises.

“Karim has done an excellent job representing the students this year,” said Dr. Sylvia Jenkins, president of Moraine Valley Community College.

Dual-credit enrollment increases at Moraine Valley

  • Written by By Kelly White

Today’s students are entering the community college world sooner and going on to enter four-year universities quicker, according to Moraine Valley Community Dual-Credit Coordinator Alexandria Elvira.

Elvira said during the Moraine Valley Community College Board of Trustees meeting on March 9 that the popularity of dual-credit enrollment courses continues to increase each school year.

Dual Credit provides an opportunity for high school students to take college courses for credit at both the college and high school levels. The classes are taught by high school instructors qualified to teach college-level courses. Classes are held at the students' high school during the regular school day.

Benefits include: exposure to college-level rigors while still enrolled in high school, reduction of time and costs toward a college degree, introduction to and development of career pathways, and a jump-start on earning post-secondary credentials.

“With our dual-credit courses, we believe students are 20 percent more successful once they transfer to a four-year college or university,” Elvira said.

High school students can also earn college credit through dual enrollment, which involves students enrolling in on-campus courses at Moraine Valley while still in high school and requires high school authorization. Also, Moraine Valley does grant college credit for students who earn specified scores on Advanced Placement exams.

During the 2015 fall semester, Moraine received 38,000 hard copies of dual-credit enrollment forms. The college has since implemented an online application hoping to increase enrollment even more.

“The students who participate in the dual-credit program have quicker access to a college opportunity,” Elvira said.

The program began over 10 years ago and the partnership expanded to include private high schools, starting with Brother Rice, which has a growing dual-credit program that includes 80 students in its IT Essentials class.

Currently, there are 27 public and private in-district and out-of-district high schools involved in the dual-credit program, including Andrew, Brother Rice, Sandburg, Queen of Peace, Stagg, Evergreen Park, Reavis, Shepard, Eisenhower, Providence, Argo, Richards, Oak Lawn, Marist, Mount Carmel and Mother McAuley.

Morton College and St. Laurence, St. Rita and Nazareth Academy high schools are planning to be added during the 2016 school year.

Moraine Valley faculty teaches Orientation to IT Professions and Security Awareness. The high school teachers then instruct other selected Local Area Network classes at their respective schools while receiving support from Moraine Valley. Not only are these students earning college credit, but easing their future transition to college.

“We have high schools that have been reaching out to us that are further outside of our district as well,” said Sylvia Jenkins, president of Moraine Valley Community College.

The Basic Nursing Assistant Program is the most popular dual-credit program at the college, according to Elvira.

The college holds annual dual-credit articulation meetings to foster the relationship between Moraine and each individual high school.

“Through these meetings, we are able to identify high schools and their course offerings,” Elvira said.

New programs are on the horizon for the program’s future, including culinary arts, math and science.

Hickory Hills loses one proposed business, gains another

  • Written by By Sharon L. Filkins

Action taken at the Hickory Hills Council meeting last Thursday resulted in a “win one, lose one” business situation in the city, with one business opting out and a new one opening up.

Sonny’s Slots & Café was scheduled to open at 8841 W. 87th St., and had submitted a request for a Class E Liquor License, which was approved unanimously at the Jan. 14 council meeting. However, Ald. Joe Stachnik (3rd Ward) was not present at the meeting.

At the Jan. 28 council meeting, an ordinance amendment was approved, increasing the number of liquor licenses from nine to 10, which included the license for Sonny’s Slots & Café. The motion passed with a vote of 7 to 1. Casting the “no” vote was Stachnik.

Later in the Jan. 28 meeting, Stachnik expressed a need for the council to consider that a requirement be included in future business requests requiring that a new business select a name that reflects a more residential atmosphere.

At the March 10 meeting, Mayor Mike Howley cited the reason the ordinance was amended to reduce the number of licenses was because Sonny’s Slots & Café was no longer planning to open the business.

“We don’t want an open liquor license on the records. If we have another business requesting one, we will simply amend the ordinance to add an additional license,” Howley said.

Ald. Brian Waight (2nd Ward), who chairs the Laws and Ordinances committee, stated that Sonny’s owner had not given a reason for withdrawing the planned business.

However, a new business, MNM Signs, will be opening at 8719 W. 95th St., in the Hill Creek Shopping Center. Owned by Martin Orozco, the shop will specialize in signs, decals and promotional items such as pens, mugs and hats.

In other action, the council approved a $200 donation to the Hickory Hills Baseball team and a $100 donation to the Eagles Wing Walk, Run and Roll 5K Walk for Autism, scheduled for Saturday, May 7 at the Elim Christian School.

Also approved was a final payment to Len Cox & Sons Excavating in the amount of $21,630 for their storm sewer improvements at the 83rd Court and 89th Street Intersection.

Village Engineer Mike Spolar said total costs for the project had come in at $349,000, which was less than what the original bid had been.

On other matters, Village Treasurer Daniel Schramm announced that three draft budget meetings have been scheduled for Wednesday, April 27, May 4 and May 11. The meetings will be held at the City Hall at 6:30 p.m.

The council adjourned and went into executive session to discuss police personnel and a police collective bargaining update. No action was announced following the meeting.

Aldermen Brian Fonte and Tom McAvoy were absent from the meeting.