Adult toys no longer ‘in your face’

  • Written by Bob Rakow


Adult toys will no longer be on display at a Spencer’s in Chicago Ridge Mall.
Trustees on Tuesday night unanimously approved an amendment to the village’s ordinance regarding adult book and video stores that would prohibit the practice.
The change to the ordinance will requires stores such as Spencer’s to place adult toys and videos in a section of the store restricted by doors or walls.
“It certainly should address the issue that’s been put before us,” Mayor Chuck Tokar said.
That issue was raised two weeks ago when a small group of residents told trustees that Spencer’s had a large number of sex toys displayed on a wall in the rear of the store.
“I was appalled,” resident Elaine Pecenka told trustees. “I don’t think this is funny. It’s there. It’s in your face.”
Pecenka complained that the display was not separated from the rest of the store, making it visible to underage shoppers.
She added that a store employee told her that there are no age restrictions on who can purchase the items. The employee said that girls as young as 12 purchase the adult toys.
Spencer’s appears harmless from the outside, Pecenka said, attracting teenagers with displays of gag gifts, costumes and games. Once in the store, however, children are bound to discover the adult merchandise, she said.
In other business at Tuesday’s meeting, trustees agreed to delay for two weeks a vote on a special-use permit for property at 103rd Street and Ridgeland Avenue.
Alsip mechanic Walter Lindish has proposed moving his shop from to a shuttered garage located at 10303 S. Ridgeland Ave. adjacent to Penny Lane School.
But while at least two trustees were willing to approve the special-use permit on Tuesday, Tokar asked the board to take additional time to consider the request.
 “I’m still a little bit concerned,” Tokar said, adding that the garage will require a significant amount of upkeep. “I don’t want to see the board rush into this.”
Tokar added that he wanted to visit Lindish’s Alsip shop and encouraged him to put together a detailed improvement plan for the Chicago Ridge location.
Lindish, whose current shop is in an industrial park, said the Chicago Ridge shop is ideally located and offers everything his business needs, including a secure storage lot.
Tokar favored an industrial park location for Lindish’s shop and said he was concerned about cars being parked in front of the business, along Ridgeland Avenue.
“I’m just not sure (the proposed location) is a good idea,” the mayor said, adding that a body shop located 103rd Street and Oxford Avenue frequently has cars stored in front of the business.
Trustee Jack Lind said he favored approving the special-use permit, which was unanimously approved by the planning and zoning commission.
“I don’t have to wait,” Lind said. “I don’t think we should hold it up. What else is going to go in there?”
Trustee Dan Badon also favored the plan but agreed to table the matter for until the next board meeting.


Chicago’s new archbishop knocks three times and is ready to roll

  • Written by Bob Rakow

On a night when bone-chilling cold gripped Chicagoland, incoming Archbishop Blase J. Cupich predicted, “We will probably end up rattling some bones” during his first homily at Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago.

Monday’s night’s Mass, which was followed by a reception, marked the start of a three-day celebration that saw Cupich installed as the ninth Archbishop of Chicago. He officially started his duties Tuesday.

“Notice that the spirit evoked brings about a rattling of the bones, not to assemble skeletons as individuals, but as a vast army,” Cupich said. “There is a dryness in many people’s lives because they have little experience of being connected in society. For them, the only economy that counts is one that depends on connections they never had and never will.

“So many are left unconnected because of poverty spread across generations, racism or not having mentors to guide and inspire them about the value of education, hard work, and the self-discipline needed for personal stability.”

Cupich succeeds Cardinal Francis George, who is retiring as he battles cancer. He served as the spiritual leader of more than 2 million Catholics since 1997.

Cupich, 65, was the bishop of the Diocese of Spokane, Wash., when he was selected by Pope Francis to succeed George.

Cupich went on to laud the charitable works he has witnessed since arriving in Chicago.

“Already, in the short time I have been here, I have been edified by the great work so many of you are doing through various charities, apostolates, labor unions, the business community, government programs, schools, volunteer and civic groups and you should be encouraged to know that helping people get connected, experience being a part of society, is where God is active, working and gracing you in your dedicated ministry and labors. You are using your connections to help those disconnected and that is the work of God,” he said.

Local pastors and religious leaders are impressed with Cupich.


“He seems to be open and outgoing,” said the Rev. Wayne Svida, the pastor of Our of the Ridge parish in Chicago Ridge. “I think he’s a little bit more to the people.”


For example, Svida said, an Our Lady of the Ridge parishioner sent Cupich a congratulatory note shortly after he was named the new archbishop. Cupich replied a few weeks later with a thank you card that included a handwritten note.


“I thought that was very nice,” said Svida, who attended Monday’s night’s service.


Cupich led off his remarks on Monday praising Cardinal George for his service the archdiocese.


“On behalf of all of us, all those whose faith and lives have been enriched by your witness and your ministry, I want my first words on this occasion to be ‘thank you Cardinal Francis George.’

He also thanked those who attended the Monday’s service when Cupich knocked three times on the front door of the cathedral, in accordance with tradition, before being ushered in to receive the archdiocesan stole.

“For me it is quite humbling as I come to offer servant leadership to this local church to be associated with lay women and men, clergy, religious and bishops who continue to have an enormous impact in society,” Cupich said.

Cupich will celebrate six welcome Masses throughout the diocese starting   in January, beginning Jan. 8 at St. Rita High School, 7740 S. Western Ave., Chicago.

The Rev. Tom McCarthy, St. Rita’s chairman of the board, expects Cupich to do well in Chicago, but asked people not to compare him to his predecessor.

“I hope people don’t compare the two. It’s kind of unfair,” McCarthy said.

Ultimately, McCarthy said, Cupich’s task is “to bring people closer to Jesus.”

“Let him be our pastor, our leader,” McCarthy added.


Cupich said he does not have a detailed agenda because having one would be a disaster.

“No, the agenda has to be God’s, which is beyond our imagining and our abilities. And unlike our priorities, God’s agenda has staying power, it endures,” he said.

Cupich also reached out to young people throughout the diocese.

“There are others who feel little sense of belonging and stability. Many youth have no dreams, no real aspirations, no sustaining hope. And so they turn to a destructive world of drugs, gangs and lethal violence.

“There are no easy answers to this, but I am aware that good people within our parishes and in the city are working imaginatively to address this issue. I admire the creativity of bringing gang members together for sports and in other venues to ease growing tensions. I believe that shoring up and strengthening family life and education are also essential ingredients.”

A sticker situation Worth tag-teams with the DMV

  • Written by Kelly White

Every car must have a sticker; if not, they will find you. They are members the DMV, and they are working hand-in-hand with the Village of Worth.
The village is pairing with the State of Illinois Department of Motor Vehicles and Direct Response database for vehicle sticker sales. The board voted unanimously Tuesday night to approve a $1,200 expenditure for the merger with the DMV database. The cost is broken down two ways: a $500 fee to connect to the State of Illinois database and a $700 fee for a direct response to merge with Worth’s personal database that holds records of all vehicle stickers purchased within the village. Stickers are $41 for 18 months for passenger vehicles and $49-$200 for trucks. Motorcyles are $26.
“We tried using only the DMV database about five years ago when we did not have our own database,” City Clerk Bonnie Price said at Tuesday night’s meeting. “Now we do have our own database through our software system, MSI.”
The village will be using the connection with the DMV database to look for addresses for vehicle owners who have not purchased a vehicle sticker. The DMV will prompt a village sticker application to be sent out to those addresses.
The DMV will also allow the village to have access to the number of cars each household owns, even if they are claiming to own less.
“If (someone) claims they only have three cars but the DMV database shows four vehicles, it will add the fourth car onto our database and the owner of that vehicle will be issued a village sticker application,” Price said.
The crosschecking with the DMV database will allow the village to compare the number of vehicles at the number of households and per owner throughout Worth. Although it sounds like a simple process, there may still be a few errors in its system.
“Some people may have moved and still be listed in the DMV database with a Worth address,” Price said. “These people need to be removed from our database so they do not show up as not having a vehicle sticker.”
Trustee Rich Dziedzic questioned if the village has access to how many stickers were not purchased in 2014.
“There should be a way to tell how many people did not purchase stickers in 2014 versus the number of stickers available,” he said.
Mayor Mary Werner confirmed 2015 vehicle sticker sales in conjunction with the DMV database will have this information down.
The merger with their database will let village officials know immediately who has not purchased a vehicle sticker, she said.
The $1,200 expense will not be an annual fee. Price confirmed the incurred fees will only need to pay out every two to three years.
“This is not something that would be done every year,” she said, “I would, however, recommend it be done every couple of years to keep track of the number of vehicles in the village failing to obtain a vehicle sticker.”
Even with the $1,200 expenditure, vehicle sticker prices are not set to rise in 2015. Werner states to be very comfortable with the village’s fee.
“We have not raised fees for vehicle sticker sales for the past couple of years,” she said, “I do not see any need to increase them in 2015.”

Will the new D-218 super walk on water?

  • Written by Kelly White

Public making huge demands for outgoing Byrne’s replacement

  Community High School District 218 is looking for a candidate to achieve the impossible in its superintendent search. 

  The district has turned to the public for qualities it is looking for the new superintendent after three community meetings were recently held. There is a high list of demands by the public and consultant Margaret Longo stated the new superintendent better be able to “walk on water.”
  After eight years, District 218 Superintendent John Byrne is leaving his position at the end of the school year and officials hope to name his successor in February. The district and PROACT Search reached out to teachers, parents, government officials and many others while conducting a list of positive qualities and discussing obstacles they anticipate the superintendent to have.
  "The Board of Education is committed to finding a talented leader for Community High School District 218 and wants community input to ensure broad based stakeholder engagement in the process," said Longo, senior consultant for PROACT Search at Monday night’s board of education meeting.
  Longo organized opportunities for community members to participate in with three public forums as well as gathering information from an online survey. With 18.8 percent of parents’ responses, Longo noted the majority of feedback came from school and faculty advisors.
  “The community has stressed ten common traits they would like to see in the next superintendent,” Longo said, “One of the most important qualities is developing and maintaining strong relationships in a diversified community. There are very different schools in the district, made up of all different kinds of children and families. Diversity and culture collaboration were stressed heavily in the superintendent process.”
  Aside from understanding diversity, some of the other characteristics listed in her Community Engagement Summary were: strong moral character, effective communication skills, humility as a leader, being able to create a culture of ethics, recruiting and retaining a team of strong leaders, strong strategic planning, delivering strong curriculum, knowledge and the ability to make instructional decisions and work experience in a similar district.
  “These are just the top ten characteristics that kept reoccurring during the discussion in what community members expect from their next superintendent,” Longo said.
  A concern brought up by parents was the superintendent’s availability.
  “A lot of parents work conflicting hours with a typical school day,” she added, “They want to make sure the superintendent is available to be contacted, is present at parent/teacher meetings and involved with the community.”
  Another concern discussed by parents is the district’s relation with Moraine Valley Community College and preparation steps being taken to ease student’s transition into college.
  “The community was very grateful the board reached out to them for their personal opinions during the search for a new superintendent,” Longo said.
  The board of education will be conducting rolling interviews all throughout the month of December with a candidate hoping to be selected by the second week of January. Since word has spread about the position, the board has received 65 inquiries and 11 completed applications. During the interview process, applicants will also receive criminal and financial background checks.
  The process is a long one but taking the time to go through each step thoroughly is of utmost importance, Longo said.
  “We will definitely have a decision by February,” Marco Corsi, president of CHSD 218 school board, said.

A winter tradition: TV news hot on hype but sub-zero on substance

  • Written by Bob Rakow

Getting cold out there.  Autumn’s over. Did you see the weather they got in Minnesota? Won’t be long before we see some of the “white stuff.”


Polar vortex is on its way.


I’d wager most folks couldn’t explain what a polar vortex is, but they like saying “polar vortex.”


Can we please stop? Seriously.


This is Chicago.


We experience four seasons. Winter is one of them. It’s mid-November and it’s getting cold. Shocking.


Of course, the local news broadcasts feed this silliness. Years ago, I don’t remember newscasts leading with weather stories unless we were in for a “grind the city to a halt” type storm.


But now, any threat of snow, any significant drop in temperature and weather is the star of the TV news.


Last week, I caught the national news and weather was genuinely the story in places like Minnesota and some Great Plains’ states where the temperature dropped to below freezing in mere hours. Sheets of ice blanketed the roads in some places. Winter weather had arrived with little warning.


Real news, to be sure.


We escaped the deep freeze here in the Chicago, but it was getting colder and that certainly deserved news coverage.


News anchors chatted with the weatherman, feigning disappointment about the end of warmer temps. Everyone was resigned to the fact that autumn was over.


But news coverage of the onset of winter is only the opening act. The real fun begins when we finally get the first big snowstorm.


Breaking news. It’s snowing in Chicago. Dispatch the reporters and the camera crews.


They follow the same template year after year and year.


Images of snowplows clearing the streets and maybe few words from the guy who drives the plow. Talk to the city dweller who spent hours shoveling snow in front of his house and used kitchen chairs to reserve the space. A long-held Chicago tradition, we’re reminded.


Real news would be footage of a driver getting out of his car, moving the chairs and parking in the “reserved” spot, leading to a fight with the guy who shoveled the snow.


“Snow fall leads to brawl. Tonight at 10.”


Instead, it’s more of the usual.


A reporter is stationed along the side of a highway or on one of the overpasses. Traffic is snarled as a result of the snow. Who knew? And by the way, if you don’t have to go outside….don’t.


Of course, what’s wall-to-wall weather coverage without getting a reporter to Home Depot or a similar store? The unprepared masses are buying shovels, snow blowers, salt, and the like. “What brings you out tonight?” the reporter asks a shopper. We eagerly await the response.


Sometimes, a reporter will check in on the grocery stores as well. Some people are stocking up on the staples before supplies run out. The dawn of the apocalypse is upon us. Ready yourselves.


And let’s not forget to talk to the tow truck drivers putting in double and triple shifts as well as the folks whose cars are stuck in the snow.


And no one can say the TV reporters aren’t prepared for the elements. Big, goofy hats with earflaps, ski gloves and boots suitable for someone taking a team of dogs into the artic are all part of the garb. And despite the garb, reporters still look cold and miserable.


It will happen this year just like every other year. We expect it, I suppose, and that’s why the TV news feeds it to us. Plus, in a town with several newscasts, one station can’t afford to downplay the first flake that falls from the sky.


So get ready. It’s getting cold out there. Winter’s upon us.


The TV news told me so.