-- 'All politics is local' and ours kick off Monday

  • Written by Bob Rakow

Bruce Rauner won’t be sworn in as Illinois’ 42nd governor until January, but the next election season is already underway as candidates for various local offices submit their nominating petitions next week.


If, as former U.S. Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill once said, “all politics is local,” the coming races for seats on village boards and city councils as well as school, park and library boards are especially important to residents in the communities covered by the Reporter.


Potential candidates have been gathering signatures on nominating petitions for weeks. The filing period runs from Monday through Dec. 22. The election is April 7. December 30 is the last day to file objections to nominating petitions.


Municipal elections are expected to be more contentious in some suburbs than others, with Oak Lawn likely in the lead when in comes to no-holds-barred campaigns.


Political drama also is expected in Chicago Ridge, where at least four challengers, including a former trustee, have indicated they will run for three seats on the village board. At least two incumbents also are expected to seek re-election.


In Oak Lawn, the focus will be on the 3rd District where veteran Trustee Bob Streit finds himself in a three-way race. Scott Hollis, a relative newcomer to the village, and Steve Loulousis, whose run previously for trustee, both have confirmed they’ll take a run at Streit.


First District Trustee Tim Desmond also has indicted he’s running after being elected to a two-year term in 2013. Former Trustee Cynthia Trautsch, who lost to Desmond two-years ago, has not responded to inquires about her plans for a rematch.


In District 5, Trustee Carol Quinlan will not seek a third term. Rather, she has endorsed Bud Stalker, a longtime Oak Lawn resident, who announced his candidacy several weeks ago.


A second candidate for the open seat is Dan Johnson, the president of the Johnson-Phelps VFW Post, who announced his plans to run in July. Also seeking the 5th District seat is Paul Vail, a member of the village’s planning and development commission. Vail announced his candidacy in March.


A least six candidates are expected to vie for three seats on the Chicago Ridge Village Board. Trustee Mike Davies term also expires in April but he has not indicated if he is running.


Incumbents Jack Lind and Dan Badon have circulated petitions for re-election.


Additionally, Bill McFarland, a paid-on-call firefighter and a member of the Our Lady of the Ridge school board; Don Pratl, a former trustee; Fran Coglianese and Dave Conrad also have expressed interest in running and are gathering petition signatures.


In Worth, the seats held by Trustees Pete Kats, Mary Rhein and Warren Soldan are open.


In Hickory Hills, Mayor Mike Howley is seeking re-election as is City Clerk D’Lorah Catizone and Treasurer Dan Schramm. Additionally, half of the city’s eight aldermen are up for re-election: Mike McHugh (1st), John Szeszycki (2nd), Tom McAvoy (3rd) and Scott Zimmerman (4th).


Half of the 10 aldermanic seats in Palos Hills are open. The council seats are held by Marty Kleefisch (1st), Pauline Stratton (2nd), Bill Hansen (3rd), Joseph Marrotta (4th) and Frank Williams (5th). Hansen has said he will not seek another term.


Finally, in Evergreen Park, Trustees Mary Keane, Mark Marzullo and Jim McQuillan are running for re-election to the six-member village board.


Not all the attention will be on municipal races. There will be several races for school board seats in the towns covered by the Reporter.


North Palos School District 117: three, four-year terms. Board members Tom Kostes and Ian Chafee are seeking re-election, and Kelly Pavloski will not run for another term.


Ridgeland School District 122: three, four-year terms. Board members Jan Werner, Tim Landingham and Dan Sodaro are up for re-election.


Oak Lawn-Hometown School District 123: three, four-year terms. Board members Joe Sorentino and Barney Leifker are not seeking another term.


Evergreen Park School District 124: three, four-year terms. Board members Kathy Rohan, Kim Leonard and Dawn McNamara are up for re-election.


Worth School District 127: Five of the board’s seven seats are up for election. All are for four-year terms.


Chicago Ridge School District 127.5: The race is wide open as six board seats are up for election. Three of the seats will be four-year terms, and the additional three seats will be two-year terms.


Oak Lawn Community High School District 229: The seats currently held by Matt Egan, Mike McCarthy and Tim Burke are up for election.

Community High District 218: Board members Marco Corsi (sub district 5) and Don Pratl (sub district 4) are up for re-election. Pratl is not seeking re-election, as he is running for trustee in Chicago Ridge.

Consolidated High School District 230: Three seats are up for election. They are currently held by Rick Nogal, Patrick O’Sullivan and Kathy Quilty.



Jeff Vorva's Im-PRESS-ions: Noel Cowards – another anonymous blog in OL pops up like a pimple

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

Jeffs Col Impressions

Just in time for Christmas, we have another Cowardly Blog.

First we have the original Cowardly Blog, started up by former Oak Lawn Mayor Dave Heilmann. But he said he is no longer associated with the project and it is being run by a bunch of anonymous slugs who seem to always side with Trustee Bob Streit.

Streit, along with Carol Quinlan rarely play nice with Mayor Sandra Bury and the other trustees. The division is pretty clear at the village’s action-packed twice monthly snipefests that are also known as board meetings.

While many people swear that Striet is behind the Cowardly Blog, he publicly denies it.

Dennis Brennan said he is the Cowardly Blog’s attorney and that’s the only name we have associated with this blog, which continually goes on the attack of Bury and those who agree with her.

And now…

We have a second blog. Call it Cowardly Blog II or Cowardly Blog Jr. For the sake of the rest of this column, we’ll call it Junior.

Junior’s first effort last week pretty much broiled Streit. It resorts to vulgar namecalling, some swearing and brings a family member into the abyss.  Streit was also identified as “pure evil.”

OK, I’ll admit I had a guffaw when Junior referred to Streit as a “smooth-talking wackadoo’’ but it was mostly because the word “wackadoo” is funny and we have a person in the office who uses that term quite a bit. Oh, and she denied having anything to do with Junior.

Interestingly, Junior unearthed an item in showing that Heilmann and Streit are registrants for the original Cowardly Blog’s domain name. So they must think Streit is cowardly lyin’.

So what we have here are two competing Cowardly Blogs who should just have someone come out and be man or woman enough to admit who is slinging this mud. Hiding behind anonymity gives you absolutely no credibility.

The next election around here is coming up in April, Streit will try to keep his spot on the board and at least two other candidates are trying to unseat him. Are they behind Junior? It Bury behind Junior? Any trustee not named Streit or Quinlan?  Who knows?

The bottom line is that it’s going to be a long and ugly three months with the competing Cowards duking it out.

Bong, bong, bong…

Starting this week, we plan on using Bob Bong’s fine Comings and Goings column for our consumer page.

Bong is the editor of Southwest Regional’s Desplaines Valley News and has been on top of the comings and goings of businesses in the south suburbs and southwest suburbs for years. He will tell you about news places coming and he will tell you about places who are leaving or who have left. Hence the name of the column.

Granted, not all of his bits and scoops will be in the boundaries of our six towns, but I have a sneaky feeling that people from around here take their cars and drive to places like Oak Forest, Bridgeview and other places that Bong writes about.


Mayor votes to approve Oak Lawn budget after 3-3 split on the board

  • Written by Bob Rakow

Trustee Robert Streit actually sided with fellow trustees Tim Desmond and Alex Olejniczak.


Trustee Carol Quinlan, who recently called Mayor Sandra Bury "a piece of work" at a board meeting, actually agreed with the mayor on this one and was in the unfamiliar position in being in the same camp with Terry Vorderer and Mike Carberry.


It not not a usual night -- or vote -- when it take to Oak Lawn's village board meeting on Tuesday night. The usual Streit/Quinlan vs. rest of the board blueprint on important issues was shaken up.


A deadlock on Oak Lawn’s 2015 budget forced Bury to cast a rare tiebreaking vote to approve the spending plan Tuesday.


Streit, Desmond and Olejniczak—the latter two who are allies of Bury—voted against the budget following extended debate about the $54.3 million plan.


Vorderer, Quinlan and Carberry voted in favor.


Olejniczak first asked the board to delay a vote on the budget so village officials could revisit the document and find more cost savings for the village. His motion died for lack of support.


“I don’t know what the big rush is,” Olejniczak said.


Olejniczak and Desmond agreed that the village should approve the leanest budget possible in order the make further strides in funding its pension obligations.


Streit did not comment on the budget prior to the vote.


“The fact is, we owe our employees these pensions,” Olejniczak said.


The problem for Oak Lawn and many other municipalities is that the pension funds are seriously underfunded and the state is looking to resolve the problem.


The state has mandated that towns and cities start a payment plan to gradually improve their police and fire pensions to 90 percent of the funding they need.

If required pension contributions aren’t made, the state will automatically subtract the required contribution from the village’s share of sales and use taxes.

Olejniczak also disapproved of the village’s decision to sell property it owns to help balance the budget, calling the move poor long-term planning.

Village manager Larry Deetjen pointed out some positives of the spending plan, including no fee increases, $2.3 million dedicated to infrastructure improvements and an increase in pension funding over the previous year.

“We don’t have all the money to do what we want to do,” Deetjen said regarding infrastructure work, which includes road, alley and sewer work.

He added that mostly through attrition, the village’s work force is 25 percent smaller than it was 15 years ago.

Village Treasurer Pat O’Donnell said the village must focus on its finances over the next three years with an eye funding the pensions.

“We’ve stopped taking on debt, but we still have a ways to go,” O’Donnell said.


The village must submit its tax levy by Dec. 30, which would give the staff and the board nearly two weeks to fine tune the budget, said Olejniczak, who did not offer specific suggestions for further cost savings.


The budget is good, but we could do better,” he said. “All I’m asking is that we sharpen the pencil and take another look. Are there other things that are out there? We’re not being honest with the residents.”


Vorderer disagreed saying the budget process was lengthy and included several workshops in which trustees could voice concerns or propose cuts.


“The budget didn’t [just] get here tonight,” Vorderer said. “How much can you cut out of this budget. It’s realistic. We got this down to the bare bones.”


He added that he budget is not etched in stone and department heads car be asked to make additional spending cuts during the year if needed.


Shaken and speared

  • Written by Jeff Vorva





Photo by Jeff Vorva

St. Xavier’s team huddled for a final meeting Saturday on Bruce Deaton Field under the backdrop of the scoreboard signaling the end of its season in the semifinals of the NAIA national championship series.


Folks around here learned two things about Ashland, Oregon, courtesy of veteran Southern Oregon football coach Craig Howard.

“It’s renowned for being the home of the Shakespearean Festival,” he said. “In addition to the Shakespearean Festival, we also have a pretty good football team.’’

 Those who watched his team play on Saturday afternoon in Chicago probably won’t protest that statement too much.

The Raiders and their record-setting quarterback, Austin Dodge, kept their high-powered offense rolling with a 62-37 victory over St. Xavier University Saturday in the NAIA national semifinals at Bruce R. Deaton Memorial Field.

It was the first time SXU hosted a semifinal game and when the Cougars owned a 17-10 lead after the first quarter, fans were dreaming of a return trip to the national title game. The Cougars won the national championship in 2011 when several of the Cougars’ seniors were freshmen.

But things quickly turned into a William Shakespeare-like dramatic tragedy when the Raiders scored 31-straight points and the Cougars could not catch up.

Dodge threw for 460 yards and five touchdowns. He completed passes to nine different teammates.

“He’s the best quarterback I’ve seen in 16 years,” SXU coach Mike Feminis said.

Dodge has thrown for more yards – 16,820 – than any other QB in the history of the NAIA.

Did SXU fans get a chance to watch a future NFL player on Saturday? Possibly.

Howard, who coached Tim Tebow in high school, said NFL scouts have stopped by Ashland to watch Dodge practice.

Dodge is not thinking about the NFL or his NAIA legacy. He is centered on Dec. 19 when his team plays Marian (Ind.) in the national title game at 2 p.m. in Daytona Beach, Fla.

“I’ll feel like I’ll cement my legacy if we win the national championship,” Dodge said. “And only if we win the national championship. I want to put a ring on every one of these guys’ fingers. I’m going to do my part to help lead this team.  It’s going to be a fun experience. It’s something that we haven’t done before and we’re going to get down to Florida and take care of business.’’

Cougars quarterback John Rhode threw for 308 yards including a 75-yard strike to Evergreen Park resident and Marist High School graduate Ryan Carroll for a score.

St. Xavier finished the season 10-3. The Cougars opened the season beating Marian 65-38 but the Indiana school was able to get past that huge setback and make it to the national championship game.

“There’s a lot of hurt,” Feminis said after the loss. “These seniors had the unbelievable feeling of winning a national championship when they were freshmen and they were a step away as sophomores. Last year, we had the season we had [not making the playoffs] and that doesn’t happen to us.

“This year’s team grew and matured as the season went on. I don’t want to say we maxed out but I don’t know if too many people thought we would get this far.’’

A huge chunk of players from the South Suburbs make up the Cougars’ roster.

Those from the Reporter/Regional area are Carroll (from Evergreen Park/Marist High School), Joe DeMarco (Chicago Ridge/Richards), Mike Sheehy (Chicago/Brother Rice), John Glover (Oak Lawn/Oak Lawn High School), Denzel Watts (Evergreen Park/Evergreen Park High School), Mohamad Ashkar (Alsip/Shepard), Ronald Luce (Oak Lawn/Oak Lawn High School), Kevin Lonergan (Oak Lawn/Oak Lawn High School), Greg Hayward (Oak Lawn/Oak Lawn High School), John Frederickson (Evergreen Park/Evergreen Park High School) and Kevin Berrigan (Oak Lawn/St. Rita).



of Hearts jackpot

  • Written by Bob Rakow

Pearl Harbor Day was a lucky one for an American Legion member who won the Ace of Hearts jackpot at the American Legion Marrs-Meyer Post 991 in Worth.


The unidentified member, who does not belong to the Marrs-Meyer post, hit it big Sunday afternoon and walked away with half of the more than $287,000 generated over the several weeks the jackpot was in play.


The Marrs-Meyer post keeps the other half of the winnings and will use the money for facility improvements and veterans’ causes, officials said.


Four hundred people packed the Legion, 11001 S. Depot Ave., for Sunday afternoon’s drawing, while another 3,500 people were gathered outside the facility, officials said. In fact, the Legion recently erected a tent to accommodate the overflow crowds.


“Outside it was just insane,” said Lisa Finnegan, manager of the Legion bar. “It was nuts. I’m just glad it’s over.


“Someone had to win. Too bad it wasn’t me,” Finnegan added.


When the eventual winner’s ticket was drawn, all he had to do was choose the ace of hearts from the remaining six cards in the deck. Had he guessed wrong, the jackpot would have continued another week and the Legion would have probably been even crazier.


Previous Ace of Hearts jackpots at Legion have not exceeded $8,800.


The raffle had been going on for weeks, and the jackpot continued to grow. It was $227,000 the Sunday before the winning card was chosen. Hefty ticket sales caused the jackpot to jump $60,000 in one week.


The game is simple and begins with a full deck of cards plus two jokers. Each week, players buy raffle tickets for a chance to pick the winning the card—the ace of hearts. If the card is not chosen, the game carries over to the following week causing the jackpot to grow.