Area taxing bodies adopting 2012 levies

By Laura Bollin

Area municipalities, libraries, park districts and school districts are in the process of approving their property tax levies for the 2013 fiscal year. The following taxing bodies in The Reporter's coverage area have approved their 2012 levies.

Chicago Ridge School District 127.5

The Chicago Ridge School District 127.5 board of education has approved a levy of $6.03 million. The levy is 4.5 percent higher than last year's extension, which was $5.77 million, business manager Sue Liston said.

Worth School District 127

The Worth School District 127 board of education has approved a levy of $10.8 million. The levy is 11 percent higher than last year's extension, which was $9.73 million, Superintendent Dr. Rita Wojtylewski said.

Oak Lawn-Hometown School District 123

The Oak Lawn-Hometown School District 123 has approved a levy of $34.6 million. The levy is 10.2 percent higher than last year's extension, which was $31.3 million. Eighty-two percent of the district's funding comes from property taxes, assistant superintendent for business and operations Mike Loftin said.

Village of Oak Lawn

The village's board of trustees has approved a levy of $19.9 million. The levy is 1.5 percent higher than last year's extension, which was $19.6 million, village manager Larry Deetjen said.

The village's board of trustees has approved a levy of $19.9 million. The levy is 1.5 percent higher than last year's extension, which was $19.6 million, village manager Larry Deetjen said.

City of Hickory Hills

The city council has approved a levy of $2.03 million. The levy is 2 percent higher than last year's extension, which was $1.99 million, city treasurer Dan Schramm said.

What do you say?

"What is the top present on your Christmas list this year?"

(Asked at Dorn Elementary School in Hickory Hills)

Justin Garcia, first grade
Hickory Hills

A PlayStation 3. I'm gonna play games on it if I do my homework first.

Zachary Svoboda, kindergarten
Hickory Hills

A Spider-Man toy that climbs on the walls.

Shannon Earley, kindergarten
Hickory Hills

A new ball because my dog popped my old one when he bit it.

Jeannie Miller, first grade
Hickory Hills

Stompies. They are a kind of slippers.

Nathan Ellis, kindergarten
Hickory Hills

A guitar. I want to play like C.J., my big brother.

Oak Lawn to rebid roof work

Streit's brother works for firm awarded project

By Laura Bollin

A contract awarded by the Oak Lawn Village Board last month for work on the public works building was rescinded Tuesday because the village did not follow proper protocol during the bidding process, according to village officials.

The contract for roof repairs at the Public Works Department's streets and sewers building, 98th Street and Central Avenue, was awarded Nov. 27 to Adler Roofing for $166,085. The board voted 4-3 in favor of awarding the contract, with Mayor Dave Heilmann casting the deciding vote.

The lowest bidder for the project was DCG Roofing at $161,175. Adler did not, however, follow the proper procedures for bidding on the project; and DCG contacted the village with concerns after the bid was awarded, Oak Lawn village manager Larry Deetjen said Tuesday.

On the recommendations of Deetjen and the village attorney, trustees on Tuesday voted to throw out all bids on the contract and rebid the project. Deetjen said he had "lost all confidence" in the bids for the project and wanted to restart the bidding process.

"The procedure that was followed when we redid fire stations [Nos.] 1 and 2 was that we engage an [independent] engineer to assist in bid process and make a recommendation," Deetjen said. "That wasn't followed. This is simple."

Rather than bring in an independent party, the village had Adler assess the public work's building's roof.

"The [lowest] bidder called me the next day at 1:30 in the afternoon, and he had clear and objective complaints," Deetjen said. "I gave my recommendation immediately to rescind the prior action and reject the bids."

Trustee Tom Phelan (District 6) believes the project should have gone to the lowest bidder.

"There is a compliant bid, [DCG] did nothing wrong, they deserve this job," he said.

Phelan said that in his seven years on the Village Board, he had never seen anything more "skeezy" than the awarding of the contract to Adler. In a newsletter emailed to residents and The Reporter, Phelan wrote, "All information so far has clearly shown that this contract couldn't have been more steered to that company unless it was put into a village truck and driven there."

"The bid specs identify particular needs for the job," Phelan said Tuesday. "They all get ignored. This is absolute absurdity. This is an embarrassment to the village of Oak Lawn."

Trustee Bob Streit believes the issue is "all politics" because his brother, Mike Streit, works as an estimator for Adler.

My brother does not have an ownership interest in the company," Streit said. "I don't have interest in the contract so I do not need to abstain. My brother being in the company is the perfect excuse for some people to defame myself, the mayor and the company. Adler Roofing is a private company that has been attacked because they employ my brother. It is disgusting and disgraceful."

The village received seven bids for the contract, and all were solicited in a competitive manner, Streit argued. Two of the companies did not meet bid specifications and were eliminated, and all bidders bidders were told the work had to be done quickly, he added.

"The schedule was a major factor," Streit said. "The roof was in critical need of replacement. I was told if you were on roof, you could fall through it. On the last agenda, we accepted Adler as the lowest responsible bidder."

Trustee Cindy Trautsch, other trustees and Mayor Dave Heilmann agreed that policies needed to be put in place to prevent such issues from happening again.

"It all boils down to policies," Trautsch said. "We have no policies that are formalized or followed."

Dawg of a Christmas

The speech team from Richards High School in Oak Lawn placed second at the 35-team Santaburg Oaklaus tournament co-hosted by Sandburg and Oak Lawn high schools.

Michael McCarthy, seen here with Santa, led the Bulldogs' by winning the tournament championship in Humorous Interpretation. Other highlights included Jason Warrior placing second in Poetry Reading and Taylor Gabby placing second in Prose Reading.

Lauren Davis, Prose Reading; Brendan Johnson, Radio Speaking; Eftihia Peroulas, Oratorical Declamation; and Jason Warrior and Tambra Bullock, Dramatic Duet Actin, placed fourth in their respective categories.

Roxanne Segina placed fifth in Special Occasion Speaking and sixth in Oratorical Declamation, while Jasmine Ortega took sixth in Impromptu Speaking and Jeanine Cyze sixth in Original Comedy.

Oak Lawn magician part of Chicago History Museum exhibit

By Laura Bollin

Oak Lawn magician Jack Gwynne has not completely disappeared. Though he died in 1969, his tricks are living on - he is being featured in the "Magic" exhibit at the Chicago History Museum, 1601 N. Clark St. in Chicago.

Gwynne worked as an investigator and built magic tricks for Harry Houdini in the 1920s and 1930s, according to magician Glenn Bishop on his blog, Glenn Bishop's Magic and Hypnotic World, glennbishopmagicandhyp

The blog posts are part of the Oak Lawn Public Library's local history file about Jack Gwynne. Bishop decided to be a magician after he saw Gwynne perform a magic show at Harnew School when he was a student there in fourth grade. Gwynne reportedly put one of Bishop's classmates on a "flying carpet," and made a dove disappear using a vanishing box. When Gwynne retired to Oak Lawn, he performed magic at local schools.

According to a blog post from Gwynne family friend Steve Draun at the library, Jack and his wife, Ann, would host parties where Jack would perform magic tricks at his home on Cicero Avenue, which was known around town as "Magic Manor."

Houdini hired Gwynne after seeing him perform magic tricks at a department store in Pittsburgh. investigator would go to a town before Houdini and meet with all of the fortune tellers and mediums. Investigators would learn the tricks they were using to get money from people, and then Houdini would expose them as part of his show.

One of Gwynne's most famous tricks, the Temple of Angee (named for his wife, Ann Gwynne,) is on display at the museum, said curator John Russick.

"The Temple of Angee is a classic disappearing act," Russick said. "Magic is sort of categorized into things that appear, disappear, transform and move. In this trick, a magician's assistant usually, Jack's wife, Ann, would climb into this small box. It appeared to only be large enough for a human being to get inside. The box would spin on wheels, and Jack would turn the illusion around so the audience could see all sides of it. Then, he would slowly slide in metal swords. He'd bang them on the ground first, so people would know they were real. He would push the swords into the box at all different angles and directions, so the audience couldn't imagine how anyone inside could survive. He would turn the box back around, and open the doors and there would be no one there. The viewers would see all the swords piercing through the space. He'd close the doors, say some magic words, pull the swords out, and his assistant would reappear."

The trick came to the museum through Marshall Brodein, an "elder statesman of Chicago magic," who is well known for his work as Wizzo the Wizard on The Bozo Show. He was a good friend of Gwynne, Russick said. When Gwynne died, Brodein was given the Temple of Angee, which he loaned to the museum.

"The House that Jack Built" was another trick Gwynne was known for, according to Bishop's blog. In the trick, Gwynne's wife, Ann, would step out of a doll's house, and behind her would be a seemingly endless streamer with pictures of the "house that Jack built." Bishop has the streamer in his personal magic collection. The doll's house was the precursor to the Temple of Angee, according to Bishop.

Gwynne didn't only perform magic tricks - he also built them, many of which are still used today, according to Oak Lawn Public Library local history coordinator Kevin Korst. One of his most famous tricks was the Gwynne Trunk, which would hold a person up to 6 feet, 4 inches and 240 pounds for a disappearing trick. According to a flyer at the library, trunks like the ones Gwynne built are still made today, and cost $800 or more.

Gwynne didn't just stay in Oak Lawn. He and his wife were both captains with the psychological welfare division of the Army in 1945 during WWII, and they spent a year in India, China, Tibet and Burma. During his time in Calcutta, Gwynne learned how to charm snakes, which he added to his act. He is the only American to receive lifetime membership in the Indian Magic Circle, a group of Indian magicians, according to a magic program booklet at the library called "Jack Gwynne and his Amazing Mystery Revue."

The Chicago-area magic community has been strong for more than 100 years, with magicians, magic shows, magic television shows, traveling vaudeville shows and magic manufacturing all here in Chicago, Oak Lawn magician part of Chicago History Museum exhibitRussick said.

"Usually, our job is to demystify things here at the history museum, but this is one of the unusual projects where we kept the faith of the magic community," Russick said. "We allowed them to keep the secrets of their tricks. The secret is not the history. We kept the tricks behind the trick. There are a lot of interesting and beautiful things about magic, and sometimes, we talked a little bit about tricks that were inventive or innovative."

The museum exhibit runs through Jan. 6. The museum is open from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Saturday, and from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Magicians will be performing for free at the museum on the weekends. Admission is $14 for adults, $12 for seniors and students age 13 to 22 with identification, and free for children under 12 years old. For more information, visit For more information about Jack Gwynne, visit the Oak Lawn Library's local history department, 9427 S. Raymond Ave. The local history department is located on the second floor, and is open from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday and 9 p.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Friday.