Chew on this: Incumbent D218 president knocked out by Kats

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

Bon appetit.

With a couple of recent food controversies surfacing in District 218, the lone contested board member spot found Board President Marco Corsi knocked out by Carol Kats in District 5. Unofficially, Kats garnered 784 votes, which beat out Jennifer Bylut (489) and Corsi (319). Corsi has served for 15 years on the board.

“I am very surprised, I thought this would be a lot closer,’’ Kats said Tuesday night. “A lot of people were trying to get the word out in Chicago Ridge and Worth. I was knocking on a lot of doors . I thought Jennifer ran a great campaign as well. I think people were ready for a change. Marco was there for a lot of years and people wanted a change.”

Corsi did not return a phone call Tuesday night seeking comment.

The election came five days after the Chicago Tribune revealed investigation results that the district spent $10,000 since July 2010 on food for its board members, mostly for board meetings.

Corsi defended the expense to the paper by saying that on meeting nights, members are coming in from their regular jobs and putting in long hours.

“Is a sandwich too much to ask?” he was quoted. “I would say no.’’

Kats, a teacher who wrapped up her duties serving as a member of Worth School District 127’s board, said the food issue may have swayed some votes.

“People may not have appreciated the way Marco responded,” she said. “The attitude is that a lot of boards have that practice and I don’t think that’s true. I can see a few pizzas once in a while. On our board, we had a few instances when we knew we were going to be running long and we had snack bags with a bottle of water.’’

Retiring Superintendent John Byrne rationalized the spending in an it’s-always-been-done-this-way vein.

“My only reasoning, excuse, rationale is it’s historical,” Byrne told the Tribune. “It’s been that way all the time I’ve been here. If I ask people to stay until 10 … at some point I’m thinking they should have a hot dog.’’

Byrne told the paper this practice has gone on for more than two decades.

This recent investigation came on the heels of the district making headlines after it announced on its agenda that it was hosting a special meeting March 9 to choose a superintendent at Louie’s Chophouse in Oak Lawn.  After media pressure, the board changed plans and had the meeting at the district’s administrative offices.

Robert Stokas ran unopposed in District 6 and Johnny Holmes ran unopposed in District 1 and both kept their seats on the board.

Election for Streit is sweet

  • Written by Bob Rakow



Photo by Jeff Vorva 

Fifth district candidate Dan Johnson offers 3rd district candidate Robert Streit a donut Tuesday morning at Oak Lawn VFW polling place. Both shared a laugh in the morning but when the night was over Johnson had lost his bid for a trustee spot and Johnson lost. 

Four years ago, Oak Lawn Trustee Robert Streit and his supporters gathered at Deja Brew Bar and Grille and anxiously awaited returns in an unexpectedly tight race in which a write-in candidate nearly defeated the veteran trustee.

It wasn’t Déjà vu in 2015.

Things were much sweeter this time.

There were no such worries on Tuesday night, as Streit was easily elected to a seventh term as a 3rd District trustee. Streit and his supporters returned to Deja Brew to celebrate his victory.

With seven of the district’s eight precincts reporting, Streit garnered approximately 55 percent of the vote, easily defeating challengers Scott Hollis and J. John Zurek.

Streit received 837 votes to Hollis’ 595, according to unofficial results reported by the Cook County Clerk’s office. Zurek came in a distant third gathering 81 votes.

Less than 25 percent of the district’s 6,404 registered voters turned out to cast ballots in the premier race in Tuesday’s contests.

Several of Streit’s political opponents worked hard to unseat him.

Village Clerk Jane Quinlan endorsed Hollis and Trustees Alex Olejniczak and Terry Vorderer both walked the 3rd District to convince voters to end Streit’s 24-year run as trustee.

But their efforts weren’t enough.

Streit, who could not be reached for comment Tuesday night, said recently that he has worked since November on his election campaign. He added that he approached the campaign as though he was a 10-point underdog.

Streit, who has spent much of the past two years criticizing Mayor Sanda Bury and her administration, was noticeably quiet at recent board meetings, leading some to speculate that he toned down his admonitions leading up to Election Day.

Hollis, who also could not be reached for comment Tuesday, has said Streit ran a dirty campaign that included telephone calls to his house in the middle of the night. Hollis also was convinced that he was being followed.

In District 1, incumbent Tim Desmond easily defeated challenger Cindy Trautsch in a rematch between the two.

Desmond received 520 votes to Trautsch’s 346, according to unofficial results.

Turnout was low , with only 883 voters casting ballots.

In the 5th District, William “Bud” Stalker defeated Dan Johnson, garnering 667 votes to Johnson’s 414, according to unofficial results. Only 1,094 ballots were cast in the district, which has 8,249 registered voters.

Desmond said his campaign was successful because he focused on his accomplishments of the past two years while Trautsch ran a negative campaign.

He said the campaign featured “so much garbage” and mudslinging that “people were disgusted by it.”

“I’m happy,” Desmond said, adding that flood prevention, expanding his jobs program and redeveloping the 87th Street business district will be his top priorities.

Desmond said he was hopeful he could work with Streit in the coming four years.

“I would hope that now that he’s won, he can work with the rest of the board and move the village forward,” he said.

Stalker credited his victory to his business background and length of time living in Oak Lawn.

He also credited his close ties to St. Linus parish as a reason for his win.

Stalker also enjoyed the support of outgoing Trustee Carol Quinlan, her predecessor Marge Joy and former village clerk Jayne Powers.

He said he’s willing to work with Bury.

“If she wants to run good government, I will be on her side,” he said.


Jeff Vorva's Im-PRESS-ions: A few more orders as Rakow marches to Chicago

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

Jeffs Col Impressions


Every Thursday, I print out what I call a cheat sheet for reporter Bob Rakow.

He calls them his marching orders.

Whatever the heck you want to call them, I can’t break the habit of writing them out.

Rakow’s last night as a full-timer at the Reporter was Tuesday – election night. He picked up a job providing content for trade journals in the big city of Chicago and graciously stayed with us through the hectic times of elections.

He joined the paper in September, 2013 and we were lucky to have him this long.

I’m not sure he liked the cheat sheet at first. I’m still not sure he likes it. But I have one more for him and, since he is not employed here anymore, he can mash it into a ball and flush it down the toilet if he wants to.

So, Bob, here are your marching orders for the week, with a couple of added comments to our readers from your ex-boss:


--Don’t worry about posting stories online.

Just think – Bob won’t be muttering swear words under his breath at our wonky website and he won’t have to listen to me scream out dark oaths when I am posting stories on the website.

--Don’t worry about getting me the B-Side column by the end of the day.

I like the B-Side a lot and as a note to our readers, it will be stopped for a while but we will try to figure out something in the future about bringing the Page 6 staple back on a limited basis depending on his work schedule.

--Don’t worry about getting photos for the Viewfinder.

Did you hear about the time Bob went to Lake Katherine to ask people questions and a woman almost had him arrested? He turned that into a hysterical column.


--Don’t go to the Evergreen Park Police Department out of habit.

Covering cops and police reports was a strength of Bob’s and once in a while he would turn a small but funny/unique item into a small story and challenge me to write a sick headline for it.

--Think about the inside humor we enjoyed at the office.

No matter what job I have held over the years, inside jokes are what keep us all going. Bob picked up on my tendencies to take almost anything spoken and turn it into a song.

For instance, if someone says “We’re in dire straits,” I would sing or hum “Sultans of Swing” and even if the word “summer” was used in a sentence, we would both break out into a Cars song, “Magic” in which they sing “Summer…it turns me upside down.”  It’s a bad disease to pass onto him and methinks it may not go over all that well with his new pals in Chicago.


--Don’t go to the Oak Lawn station for reports out of habit.

I think this will be his first day on the new job and he might be taking the train in. So it will give him a chance to give him a final memory of some of the local people he covered and come back in the office to imitate. Bob was no Rich Little, but the spirit and humor he showed with his impressions had me laughing it up big time.

--Don’t worry about finishing obits or anything else that popped up over the weekend

This guy covered murders, serious auto crashes, fires and other sad stories and most of the time, the stories were several days to a week old when they hit the newsstand. Bob had a great knack for finding something that no one else had and started off his stories with something fresh.

My favorite was when all the newspapers and TV stations ran the terrible story about Alfreda Giedroic, who allegedly beat her infant granddaughter to death with a sledgehammer and cut her throat with a carving knife in her Oak Lawn home.

By Thursday, that story was old news but through an insightful interview with Oak Lawn Police Division Chief Mike Kauffman, Bob was able to put us in the house.

He wrote:

  ”Alfreda Giedrojc sat stoically in a chair Sunday morning, moments after allegedly beating her infant granddaughter to death in her Oak Lawn home, authorities said.’’

            Later in the piece, he wrote,

“Kaufmann, a 28-year veteran of the Oak Lawn police department, said such crimes are typically driven by ‘plain evil or something with mental health.’ Giedrojc did not display any anger, denial or rage during interviews with police, he said.
  “ ‘She professed love for the child,’ Kaufmann said.’’

Powerful stuff. Chilling. And stuff no one else had.

Oh, and his coverage of the death of Worth teen Brittany Wawrzyniak’s death and the family’s anger over the investigation was top-notch. Bob’s not a big guy on awards, but we entered his work in the Illinois Press Association contest this year and I would be shocked if it didn’t win anything.


--Don’t worry about finishing everything up and don’t go to an Oak Lawn or Chicago Ridge board meeting out of habit.


A candidate for an Oak Lawn trustee position called Oak Lawn meetings a “circus act’’ last week and Bob was able to capture the raw emotion and sometimes surreal and funny events that took place there. While Chicago Ridge was tamer, it had its moments of sparks regarding the fire department and Bob was all over it.


--This is the end of the line – my last matching order: Enjoy and prosper in your new career. We hope you miss us as much as we’re going to miss you.


Streit hopes to bury opponents

  • Written by Bob Rakow

Veteran 3rd District Trustee Bob Streit minces no words when he discusses his re-election campaign: “This does represent a battle for the hearts and souls of Oak Lawn,” he said.



In Streit’s mind, Oak Lawn’s political landscape has only two sides: his and that of Oak Lawn Mayor Sandra Bury. There is no gray area, no middle ground.


One of his opponents, Scott Hollis, minces no words when he describes what it's been like the past couple of months to ram heads with incumbent Streit.


Hollis said his decision to oppose Streit has come at a price.


He said he’s received harassing telephone calls, some which are placed in the middle of the night, and said that he’s being followed at times.


“He goes to all extremes,” Hollis said of Streit.


Hollis said the tactics are designed to prevent him from focusing on the campaign.


About the campaign...


To Streit’s way of thinking, his re-election campaign is as much a referendum on his performance as that of the mayor.


“When the mayor was elected two years ago, she made it clear that she did not want to work with me,” he said.


On Tuesday, voters in the 3rd District will choose between Streit, political newcomer Hollis or John J.J. Zurek, who some believe was convinced to run by Streit in an effort to harm Hollis’ chances.


Streit, 59, has spent the past two years battling Bury and her administration on a variety of issues, including the decision to outsource the village’s 911 dispatch center and the way Stony Creek Promenade was ultimately developed.


He said the village is not as safe as it was just a few years ago and improving public safety—both fire and police—should be a higher priority for the administration.


“People know the outsourced (911 dispatch service) compromises public safety,” Streit said. “Burglaries are on the rise. I have every (burglary) report that is filed. I track them. The average resident knows somebody who has experienced a burglary.”


Streit last year proposed adding to the police patrol shifts additional officers who have other duties within the department. The proposal was not advanced.


“They immediately said it wasn’t necessary,” Streit said. “It’s something that has to be addressed. We need a stronger commitment to public safety.”


Streit also has criticized the development of Stony Creek Promenade at 111th Street and Cicero Avenue, saying Bury failed to carry out the initial vision for the center, which called for upscale stores to surround Mariano’s and Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurant. Instead, he said, a mattress store and fast food restaurants filled the remainder of the development.


Streit said he’s taking nothing for granted in this, his seventh straight campaign for trustee. He’s been going door-to-door since early November and has well over 100 signs placed throughout the district.


“I’m highly motivated to win. I campaign as though I’m 10 points down,” said Streit, adding that a near defeat four years ago to a candidate running a write-in campaign is a factor in his renewed vigor.


Hollis said the message he’s heard from voters is clear: “I think they want a better place to live,” he said.


Hollis, a former city of Chicago employee, points to the “blight” on Southwest Highway as an example of the village’s need for redevelopment.


He’s noted that Streit’s office is located along the strip of shuttered businesses on Southwest Highway, yet Streit has done little to change the face of the business district.


For his part, Streit said he has proposed locating medical offices on Southwest Highway.


“It should be one of his main issues,” Hollis said. “He’s always blaming someone else.”


Hollis said he is confident he can work with other trustees and looks forward to ending the infighting for which the board is known.


“It shouldn’t be a circus act,” he said.


Hollis denied that he has Bury’s support in the race.


“She didn’t ask me to run,” he said.


On the other hand, Zurek denies that Streit asked him to run as a stalking horse.


“I don’t even know how that got started,” he said, adding that he does not know Streit very well.


Zurek, 65, said he decided to run because there’s an anti-incumbency mood throughout the country, not just Oak Lawn. But there is some dissatisfaction in Oak Lawn as well.


“I’m thinking the entire board needs to be replaced,” he said.


He added that he has “the unique ability to being people together.” Further, he said, the current trustees are unable to put aside their egos and tackle the issues facing the community.