CR's decision on auto repair shop still idling

  • Written by Bob Rakow

Chicago Ridge trustees on Tuesday temporarily put the brakes on plans for an auto repair shop at 103rd Street and Ridgeland Avenue.


For the second time in two weeks, trustees delayed a decision on a special-use permit for the property, which has been for sale for five years.


Alsip mechanic Walter Lindish has proposed moving his shop to the shuttered garage located at 10303 S. Ridgeland Ave. adjacent to Penny Lane School.


Lindish provided trustees with an outline of his plans to improve the property, including exterior paint, landscaping, an awning, improved lighting, privacy fencing and the conversion of a garage door into a window.


Lindish said he would complete the improvements over two years.


But the plans were not sufficient for some trustees, including Mike Davies, who said he asked at the previous board meeting that a detailed proposal be given to trustees ahead of the meeting.


“I’m not prepared to act today,” Davies said. “It’s not supposed to be a list. It’s supposed to be a timetable. I told him specifically what I wanted to see. [The delay] is not this board’s fault.”


A detailed plan with completion dates is important as it prevents a business owner from making promises to the village but never following through, Davies said.


Davies and Trustees Dan Badon and Jack Lind have voiced support for the plan, which was unanimously approved by the planning and zoning commission.


But Tokar again expressed his reservations about the proposal.


“I appreciate everything that you’ve done,” Tokar said. “I’m sure you run a very good business. I’m just not convinced at all that this is the best location.”


The mayor added that the village’s comprehensive plan calls for auto shops and similar businesses to be located in the industrial park, while Ridgeland Avenue is reserved for commercial business.


A coffee shop or convenience store likely would be a better use of the property, he said.


Lindish has said the Chicago Ridge shop is ideally located and offers everything his business needs, including a secure storage lot. He added wants his business to reap the benefits of being located on a busy street.


George Ball, the owner of the property, told trustees that the village has made it difficult for him to sell the property.


“I could probably have sold this place 10 times in the past five years,” said Ball, adding that the village has rejected other proposed uses for the property.


Tokar rejected that notion, saying no previous plans for the property have come before the board in the past five years.


Crain pain: EP Mayor Sexton not buying published report about failed Plaza sale

  • Written by Bob Rakow

Evergreen Park Mayor James Sexton isn’t ready to pull the plug on plans for a lifestyle center at the site of the Plaza despite reports that a potential deal to develop the property has fallen through.


Crain’s Chicago Business last Tuesday reported that a potential deal with Tampa-based DeBartelo group collapsed and the foreclosure process has restarted.

DeBartolo's loan purchase was the first step the firm needed to ultimately take over, demolish and redevelop the mall at 95th Street and Western Avenue.

News of the failed deal came just days after Sexton said at the annual State of the Village report that plans for the mall are “inching closer.”

Sexton remained optimistic Monday and said the news is unfounded.

“The jury is still out,” Sexton said. I’m very confident. I fully expect we’re going to get something done.”

S.L. Van der Zanden, CEO of Resolutions, a Chicago-based company that's serving as a court-appointed receiver for the mall during the foreclosure process, told Crain’s the deal fell through.

Additionally, Ben Wineman, principal at Mid-America Real Estate, the Oak Brook-based brokerage selling the Plaza, described the market for the mall as “a wide open playing field.”

But Sexton insists that a deal remains in the works.

“The story is not factual. You can’t believe everything you read,” Sexton told the Reporter.

Sexton reiterated his stance at Monday night’s village board meeting.

“The deal at the Plaza is alive and well and you’re hearing it from me,” Sexton said.

He also chided Crain’s for not speaking to him before publishing last week’s story.

“They didn’t really want to hear the truth so they wrote what they wanted,” he said. “It’s not dead. That’s from me.”

The mayor added that he doesn’t know why Mid-America Real Estate advanced the notion that the deal collapsed.

“I really don’t know what their motive is,” he said. “They haven’t had the decency to call here.”

Sexton was quick to point out that the village’s memorandum of understanding regarding a redevelopment plan with UP Development, a real estate firm based in Nashville, does not expire until the end of January.

Under the terms of the memo, the village said it would consider providing UP with around $10 million in funds raised through a new bonding district on the property, provide a sale-tax reimbursement to the firm and issue other incentives, Crain’s reported.

DeBartolo Development last year said it would buy a defaulted loan on the 733,986-square-foot mall.

The Plaza has just four tenants and more than 458,000 square feet of empty, enclosed mall space and is owned by a group of investors led by Kansas City, Mo.-based Provo Group, which is said to be cooperating with the foreclosure, Chicago Real Estate Daily reported.

In a statement, DeBartolo said it didn’t acquire the loan because it is busy working on other projects and did not want to take on additional regional shopping centers, according to Crain’s.

The Plaza currently has just four tenants: a Carson Pirie Scott department store, a Planet Fitness gym, an Applebee's restaurant and an Enterprise car rental office.



More trouble for ex-Worth Park District Commissioner

  • Written by Bob Rakow

Page-2-Martin-INBOX-857674A former Worth Park District commissioner faces sex crimes in Colorado, 15 months after being charged with a similar offense in Orland Park, police said.


Anthony Michael Martin was charged in Jefferson County, Colo., with Internet luring of a child and Internet sexual exploitation of a child. The charges were filed in October.


Martin remains in custody on $10,000 bond.


Martin resigned as a park board commissioner on Aug. 21, 2013. He cited “personal reasons” for his resignation, said Worth Park District Director Carlo Capalbo.

He became a park district commissioner in April 2013 following a successful write-in campaign for an open seat on the five-member board.

The Colorado charges came after an investigator for the Jefferson County District’s Attorney’s office, portraying a teen under 15-years-old, communicated with Martin on a social networking site, according to a four-page affidavit filed Oct. 22 in Jefferson County Court.


The investigator, who was not participating in chat room communications, received an Oct. 18 message from “olderguy407” ( whom police said was Martin) that said, “You are beautiful and very sexy.”


Martin’s profile said he was from Chicago, but he told the teen that he would be in Colorado beginning Oct. 20, would love to meet her and provided his phone number, the affidavit said.


The investigator then texted Martin using the teen persona. Martin said he liked petite girls. “I like drinking and making out. [Your] house or my hotel room,” he allegedly texted.


Martin allegedly also described his sexual preferences in detail and asked the female persona specific details about her appearance. He also asked if the girl had nude pictures and if she would send some to him, according the affidavit.


Police said Martin added that he liked younger women. “I’d marry one,” he allegedly texted.


The teen persona on Oct. 19 asked via a text if Martin if he wanted to meet. Martin said he did and asked for her address. But on Oct. 21 he told the girl he would be unable to meet her, the affidavit said.



Police learned where Martin was working in Colorado after speaking with Sean Morrison, the CEO of Morrison Security Corp., located in Alsip. Martin was a vice president at the company.


Martin was arrested on Oct. 21 as he was leaving a Denver, Colo., location where he was working on a project. He asked for an attorney before police read him his rights, police said.


Also, on Oct. 21, Martin reportedly admitted during a phone call with a detective that he had talked to a teen persona about meeting and having sex. He also admitted to requesting naked photos of her. Martin told the investigator, “it was just idle chat,” according to the affidavit.


Martin was charged in August 2013 of indecent solicitation of a child, Orland Park police said.


The charge, a felony, stems from text messages he allegedly he sent to a 14-year-old Orland Park girl, who he met at a party, according to 20-page police report.

Martin worked with the boyfriend of the girl’s mother, and the party was thrown by their boss, police said.

Martin was released on $100,000 bond, said Orland Park Police Commander John Keating.

Martin’s texts allegedly asked the girl if she drank, was interested in piercings and if he could sneak her out for an overnight visit so she could get her navel pierced, according to the Orland Park police.

Martin allegedly called the girl a “sexy dork” and asked if she would like to “mess around with” him or consider getting to know him romantically, police said. He allegedly asked her to send him a picture of her belly, face, fully clothed or whatever she wanted to send him, reports said.

Police said the girl also told them that Martin touched her inappropriately while at the party. She said she did not react to being touched and did not tell anyone while at the party, police said.

The Orland Park police said that Martin admitted to sending the messages while he was drinking and added that he probably should not have sent them, according to reports. He allegedly told police he did not recall the entire contents of the texts, but realized the following morning upon reviewing them that he should not have sent them.

Martin said he asked the victim for her email address and added that he knew she was under 18 years old, police said.


Thankful to be able to write this Thanksgiving column

  • Written by Bob Rakow

Sometimes an idea for this column comes easy. Sometimes I struggle to come up with an idea.


There are weeks—like last week—when I realize how much I’m annoyed by the way local TV news stations exaggerate the first signs of winter weather, and a column is a breeze.


Thankfully, most weeks bring forth some idea or another. I believe some columns are stronger than others, but hope you enjoy them all.


I’m grateful for the opportunity to write The B-Side. And even though I promised myself I’d pass on the traditional Thanksgiving-themed column (it’s a bit passé) that ‘s what you’re getting this week. Be grateful.


After all, I recently turned 50 and declined to write the standby “I Just Turned 50” column. You don’t care that much, do you? I don’t feel any different, any older.


But when yet another member of my elementary school graduating class died just days after I celebrated that birthday, I realized that I’m slowly but surely heading into that stage of my life when people I know will died with some regularity.


I didn’t pay much attention to the phrase “you have your health” when I was younger, but let’s face it, without good health all the other stuff sort of takes a back seat.


I’m grateful for my parents. Both passed away in the last two years, but the longer they’re gone, I realize what huge influences they were. Former Oak Lawn Mayor Dave Heilmann once told me, shortly after my dad died, to continue talking to him. It makes sense.


Oh, how I wanted tell my dad the Cubs hired or Joe Maddon or listen to him scream and swear about the pitiful Bears team, but I’ve got the memories from other years. So thanks to you both.


Naturally, I’m grateful for my wife, Annette. Again, it’s damn tough to explain why. But in an era when even longtime married couples are getting divorced, I know that any fight, any disagreement with my wife will end and be forgotten. No hard feelings, no grudges. We’ve been at this for 23 years. Thanks, Annette.


The kids obviously are next in line. The idea, when they are little, is to teach and guide them. What I didn’t know years ago is how much they’d teach me.


My oldest son, Bob, and I battled for years. I could write columns about our tough times. Now, he calls me every week. We actually talk without either of us feeling awkward. I don’t dare ask him what led to the change. But I am beyond grateful that it happened. 


My younger son, Mike, has had a rough year. I’ll leave it at that. But despite the many challenges he’s faced—most entirely of his own making—he seems to have dusted himself off, learned some valuable lessons and is ready to go forward. Throughout it all, we never lost touch. Ask anyone in the office how many times Mike calls me each day. Too many, especially if I’m busy. But I wouldn’t want the opposite. He wants to tell me stuff, get my advice. Thanks, buddy.


Then there’s Brigid. Fifteen-years-old. My youngest child and only girl. The girl who goes everywhere, does everything with her daddy. Always has. She’s mature, she’s thoughtful and not much like her brothers. A sophomore at Mother McAuley High School, she and her classmates recently chose uniform kilts for their junior and senior years.  Upperclassman, I thought. Two more years and she leaves for college. I’ll save that emotion for another column. I am extremely grateful for my baby girl.


OK, so I got family out of the way. What else to be grateful for?


I can’t forget my close friend, Chuck. He was my best man and I’ve known him for more than 30 years. As recently as last week (though he’s done this hundreds of times over the years) I was steaming about some crappy comment made to me. I’m a bit thin- skinned. Tend to let things fester. Chuck listened and then responded with some remark that had me laughing. He’s done that for years. Thanks, you’ve made some bad situations tolerable.


I’m grateful I can write. Well, at least I think I can write. My entire career (save for some substitute teaching) has been connected to writing and editing. And most of the jobs, this one included, have been pretty enjoyable.


The heat in my car only works when I drive. When I arrive at a red light, I immediately feel cold air. Still, I am grateful for a car when I pass people standing at bus stops or walking through the community. And, I know my car will start every morning. Not everyone has that guarantee when the weather is cold.


I’ve worked jobs that caused me to be tense and anxious on the drive in. I never knew what the day would bring or the boss’ mood. If it was bad, watch out. Not so here at the Reporter. There’s nothing quite like the newsroom atmosphere, and I’m thankful to be working in one. We work hard, laugh a lot and put out a good production every week.


There’s a lot more for which I am thankful for, I am sure. These are what came to mind first. Happy Thanksgiving.



Micetich to be named Worth police chief

  • Written by Bob Rakow

The village stayed in house and selected Deputy Chief Mark Micetich to replace Martin Knolmayer, who retired in October after 28 years with the department.

Meanwhile, the board is also expected to name Charles Kulisek as deputy chief.

Trustee Warren Soldan, who chairs the board’s public safety committee, said trustees discussed both hiring from within the department or interviewing outside candidates.”

“The thinking of the board was, ‘do we go outside or stay in house and see if we have qualified people,” Soldan said.

The village never considered any specific outside candidates, he said.

Micetich is a 22-year veteran of the Worth police department.

He joined the department in 1992 and worked his way through the ranks beginning with a decade in the patrol division, according to the village website.

He was promoted to detective in March 2002 and assigned to both the South Suburban Major Crimes Task Force and the South Suburban Major Case Unit.

He later was promoted to sergeant and reassigned to the patrol division where he supervised a shift.

In December 2006, Micetich was promoted to lieutenant and oversaw the patrol operations. He was appointed acting chief of operations in November 2010 and assisted with the reorganization of police department.

Micetich began his law enforcement career in 1988 at Little Company of Mary Hospital in Evergreen Park, and also worked for the Hometown Police Department.