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.



Jeff Vorva's Im-PRESS-ions: Here is what Paul should play at the Palooza

  • Written by Jeff Vorva


OK, I’m going to be a part of the solution rather than a part of the problem.Jeffs Col Impressions

When it was announced the Paul McCartney was going to headline the 2015 Lollapalooza Festival, I was disgusted.

Lolla used to be a traveling circus of edgy alternative groups with cult status rather than mainstream chart toppers.

Now it is calling Chicago its home and had grown into a megamonster event and a lot more mainstream acts have joined in on the act. But Paul McCartney? He’s older than some kids’ great grandfathers for gosh sakes. This is just so wrong in so many ways.

Let the guy sell out Wrigley Field. Let him sell out Soldier Field. But keep him out of Lollapalooza, pal-eeze.

Oh, well, I am spitting in the wind if I think that it’s going to change. Sir Paul will be there with his AFM and AARP cards on July 31 whether I like it or not.

So I will suggest a set list from his career more worthy of Lollapalooza.

First off, Sir Paul has a lot of lame garbage in his collection. So we’ll allow him a few soft ballads but  NOTHING from “Give My Regards to Broad Street.” No “Ebony and Ivory” either. 

Let’s keep this bad boy to about 90 minutes because if it goes any longer, the real McCartney fans will be nodding off to sleep because it will be past our, er, their bedtime. And they have to get home to soak their feet.

So here is what Sir Paul should play:

Revolution: Let’s open the show with a big scream and some guitars and catch the attention of the teens in the crowd wondering “Why am I here?” This Beatles rocker should get the show off on a good note.

Back in the U.S.S.R.: As long as we have everybody on their feet, let’s throw in this Chuck Berry romp that the Beatles covered.

Another Day: This give us old goats, er, those old goats a chance to sit down and rest with this medium-tempo hit from the early days of his solo career.

Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey: Another big hit from his early solo career, this song is so offbeat some of the shoegazers and avant garde crowd in the funny outfits might stop what they are doing and give it a listen.

Helter Skelter: OK, everybody back on their feet again! Make it loud enough to let Mr. Manson hear it in his cell in California.

I’m Down: A short Beatles B-side with more screaming and guitar that is worth plugging in here.

Ballroom Dancing: Not too fast. Not too slow. It’s just a cool song from his “Tug of War” album that isn’t played too much, but is worth reviving here.

Transpiritual Stomp: Now THIS is the ultimate McCartney Lolla song. Few know or remember that Sir Paul started up a group called The Fireman and recorded some offbeat songs. This is more Brian Eno than Brian Epstein.  This song, off the 1993 “Strawberries Oceans Ships Forest” is an ambient techno piece that should fascinate some of the younger crowd and, if it is played in its full nine minutes, could give the older crowd time for a little nap. I would add more of his Fireman work to the concert, but this is all one big moneygrab, so let’s just stick with some of the basics.

You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away: I’ve always been bored by this song except when Pearl Jam puts its spin on it. So, we bring up Eddie Vedder to play guitar and sing it and let Sir Paul take a three- or four-minute break.

Rock Show: This is just a great, great live song from his Wings days for a festival of this size and he can change the lyrics around to localize Chicago and the Lollapalooza fest.

Live and Let Die: This is a good spot for another Wings-ding for rock fans and James Bond fans as well.

Hi, Hi, Hi: OK, we’re done with the Wings era after this fist-in-the-air rocker.

I Saw Her Standing There:  Ratchet this baby up like Elton John and John Lennon did many years ago and you have a great way to end the regular part of this event.

And now for the one encore:

Hey Jude: He can’t leave town without playing this one, but how can we make this special?

Well, when it’s time for the na-na-na-na-na part of the song, various acts from the fest can start to fill the stage. You can have Florence and her Machine. You can have members of TV on the Radio, Of Monsters and Men, the Alabama Shakes with the Shakey Graves, the Black Tiger Sex Machine, Mista Cookie Jar and the Chocolate Chips, Sam Smith and even one of the chaps from Metallica to all cram the stage and have the tens of thousands of fans na-na-na-ing in unison for about 10 minutes.

Sounds like a good show. Now, I’ll go out and buy a ticket…


Juciest races in the area should have had a candidate forum

  • Written by Bob Rakow

I don’t live in Worth or Chicago Ridge.


But I recently attended candidate forums in those communities, which were sponsored by the Chicago Ridge Worth Chamber of Commerce.


Kudos to that organization for organizing them and understanding that doing so is an important part of their role in the two communities.


The forum in Chicago Ridge was well attended, attracting about 100 people, who nearly filled the council chambers. The next night, about 40 people came out to hear the Worth candidates speak. Both forums included lengthy question-and-answer sessions as well.


As I said, I don’t live in either town, though I have a handle on the issues, as I cover the communities for the Reporter. And I firmly believe even the most uninformed voter who attended either forum came away with a pretty decent idea of who the most qualified candidates are.


I sat at the Chicago Ridge forum and listened to six candidates discuss their ideas for the future of the community and handle varied audience questions. Three of those individuals will be elected on April 7.


Incumbents Dan Badon and Jack Lind had a different take on things that the four challengers, all who are involved in the community and know the issues. That’s no surprise. Challengers can say pretty much anything during a campaign. Incumbents have a better idea of what is and isn’t possible.


No one could question the six candidates’ passion or love for Chicago Ridge. They’re running for trustee, after all. The job takes dedication and a fair amount of work. You’ve got to want to do it.


But to me, some candidates seemed better prepared than others, were more insightful, could think on their feet—skills voters should look for in a trustee.


Ditto in Worth.


Some candidates had a keen understanding of the issues. Others, not so much.  Some intelligently handled almost any of the questions submitted by the audience. Others had less to say or offered empty platitudes that sound great but mean little.


But at least the Chicago Ridge and Worth candidates were given a platform to say something, anything to impress the voters.


I live in Oak Lawn, where there are contested races in three of the village’s six districts—but there was no candidate forum and that’s a disservice to voters.


The Reporter covers six communities and none is more political than Oak Lawn. Yet at a time when at least one and as many as three board seats could change, there’s was no forum to give voters a chance to hear or question the candidates.


That’s too bad because the only other exposure voters have to the seven candidates is a barrage of signs and biased literature.


In District 1, incumbent Tim Desmond faces a challenge from Cindy Trautsch, the woman he defeated two years ago.


I’ve seen Desmond’s literature. Pictures of him shaking hands with the police chief, leading community meetings, looking serious at village board meetings.  That’s all well and good. I’ve also seen the piece he sent out that attacks his opponent. That’s fair game as well.


I’ve seen Trautsch’s short video that attacks Desmond, and heard about the allegations she has leveled against him.


In District 3, long-time Trustee Bob Streit faces opposition from Scott Hollis, a relative newcomer to town, and J.J. Zurek, who insists he’s not a plant in the race designed to take votes away from Hollis.


Hollis recently took grief from the Streit campaign about phony newspaper headlines used in his campaign literature to attack Streit.


There are many people who would like nothing more than to see the embattled Streit lose this election, but he hasn’t been around this long for nothing. It should be interesting.


Finally, in District 5, two candidates—Dan Johnson and Bud Stalker—are vying for the seat vacated by Carol Quinlan, who decided not the seek a third term. The Johnson literature I’ve seen plays up his significant military experience. Can’t blame him there. He won a Bronze Star and did tours of duty in the Middle East. I’ve not seen any Stalker material, but he’s got the backing of Quinlan as well as former Trustee Marge Joy, who held the seat before Quinlan.


The election is in less than one week. Maybe you’ve known all along who you’re going to vote for and nothing could change your mind. But Oak Lawn voters lost out when no forum was held.


The mayoral debate two years ago between Bury and Heilmann at Oak Lawn-Hometown Middle School was well attended and gave voters a better sense of the candidate’s priorities and how they responded under pressure.


Heilmann took some shots at Bury that night. She did not back down. Did it play a role in her victory? Hard to say, but it sure didn’t hurt.

In this election, Hollis has been extremely critical of Streit. It would have been great to see him spar in person with the veteran trustee and watch Streit defend his record.


First District voters didn’t return Trautsch to office in 2013, I’d love to see make a case for another term at a forum.


But Oak Lawn voters won’t be that fortunate. Don’t let it stop from you voting. There is noting worse than the apathy that accompanies low voter turnout.




CR candidates paint different pictures of the village with one calling it a 'mess'

  • Written by Bob Rakow

Chicago Ridge incumbant trustee candidate Don Badon sticks his hand in a jar to draw the order of speakers at the Chicago Ridge candidate's forum last Wednesday while candidate Don Pratl and moderator Peter Granvill laugh it up. Stories on candidates for Chicago Ridge, Worth and District 218 can be found on page xxxxxxx.



PAGE 3 or 5

HEADLINE -- Delivering a mess-age

SUBHEAD  -- CR candidates paint different pictures of the village with one calling it a 'mess'


By Bob Rakow

Staff Reporter


Chicago Ridge trustees Dan Badon and Jack Lind took their customary seats behind the dais at village hall last Wednesday, joined by four challengers who would like a permanent seat at the table.


Village Hall was the setting for a candidate’s forum, and the attendance—about 100 people—far exceeded the number of residents who attend a typical village board meeting.


Lind and Badon are joined on the April 7 ballot by Bill McFarland, a paid-on-call firefighter and a member of the Our Lady of the Ridge school board; Don Pratl, a former village trustee and member of the School District 218 board; Fran Coglianese, a former village employee; and Dave Conrad, a member of the Chicago Ridge Park Board.


Voters will select three of the six candidates for four-year terms. Incumbent Mike Davies is not seeking re-election.


The forum was sponsored by the Chicago Ridge Worth Chamber of Commerce, which sponsored a similar event for Worth trustee candidates on Thursday night.


At times, the candidates painted very different pictures of Chicago Ridge.


Pratl said a recent walk on 111th Street and Ridgeland Avenue opened his eyes to a troubled business district.


“I was appalled. It’s just a mess. How will we ever attract new business when our business district is in decay, and how will we keep the few that are making money,” Pratl said.


He added that he opposes the current administration’s decision to share a fire chief with Oak Lawn because it makes the community appear second rate.


Pratl said he supports a transparency ordinance that would make important village documents easily accessible to residents. He added that he would summarize meetings on his blog and make sure plans to televise board meetings are ultimately realized.


McFarland, a longtime Chicago Ridge resident, stressed that he would bring his business and finance background to the village board.


He added that village must do a better job communicating with residents, some who believe village board meetings are closed to the public, he said.


He also criticized the appearance of the village and said action must be taken to drive more traffic through the business district.


“Who do you trust with your tax dollars?” McFarland said during his closing remarks, adding that he’s running as an independent and not accepting donations for his campaign.


“I’m an individual. I don’t want to owe a single person,” he said.


Conrad, a 30-year resident of the village, stressed the need to maintain village services.


The travelin' man has returned

  • Written by Jeff Vorva




Photo by Jeff Vorva

By Jeff Vorva

and Tina Butler

Reporter News

Kevin Lee is back home in Oak Lawn.

For how long is anyone’s guess.

Since he graduated in 2007, he’s been a lot of places. While he probably can’t compete with the country song “I’ve Been Everywhere,” keep in mind he’s just 25. He has time.

He’s crammed a lot of living in recent years but for now he’s back home and is a math teacher’s aide at Richards after seven years of playing college baseball at Iowa, teaching in Atlanta, getting a master’s degree in education at Harvard and following the rock band The Youngest all around the Midwest for a film documentary.

His homecoming actually came about because of a homecoming game. This fall, he attended the homecoming game at Oak Lawn High School, which hosted Richards. 

While the Bulldogs were taking care of business on the field, Lee was in the stands with some friends and they engaged in a conversation with a guy about American linguist Noam Chomsky.

It’s probably not all that often that the visiting stands of the Oak Lawn football stadium finds a group of people dropping quotes from a man who wrote books titled “How the World Works,” “Government in the Future” and “Getting Haiti Right This Time.’’

But in this case, it worked and fate had it that the man they were talking to was the vice principal of Richards, Mike Jacobson. Jacobson asked Lee if he was interested in a job at Richards and now Lee is back at a teacher’s assistant and pitching coach.

And he has a message he wants to get out there to every student he meets.

School doesn’t suck.

Lee doesn’t mince words about his profession and he hopes to drill that in his students’ heads.

“I am very interested in education policy and would like to shift kids mentality from ‘school sucks’ to ‘school is our opportunity.’ ” Lee said and added that he wants to find ways to make it beneficial and enjoyable for all involved.

Lee’s career path to this entry-level job at his alma-mater had several twists and turns.

Lee, who said he is related to former major league pitcher Bill “Spaceman” Lee, was a pitcher for the Bulldogs and was recruited by the University of Iowa. His junior season, he set the school record with 13 saves in 2010. During his career, he pitched in an exhibition game against Iowa Triple-A Cubs and said he struck out future major leaguer Eric Patterson.

But injuries hindered his baseball career and teaching became a new love for him. After leaving Des Moines, he headed to Atlanta to teach at a high school for a couple of years and then headed to Harvard to work on his master’s degree.

After spending time on the movie and rock scene, he is back at his school and is ready to share his enthusiasm for education to his students and players.

Although he is teaching math, Lee said an English teacher helped shape his career.

“Mr. [Albert] Teunissen influenced me in a positive way and had made an impact on my life,” Lee said. “I learned how to write at Richards from Mr. Teunissen, and he's one of the only reasons I got into Harvard. My test scores were [poor], but they loved my public school background, success in Teach For America and writing style.’’

The former Kolmar Elementary School student said that getting into Harvard wasn’t impossible.

 “I took the GRE test and wrote a statement of purpose. It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be,’’ Lee said.  “I did wonder and worry if I have enough in common with my classmates. I was happy to discover these people were like everyone else and they weren't all [Mark] Zuckerbergs. Also, I'd like to send the message to kids out there about Harvard University and that it is not as daunting or out of reach for regular people. And don't worry about new situations because that’s how we all grow.

I chose Harvard because they had a great education policy and film program,’’ he added.  “And I also thought, ‘hey, I got into Harvard. It's probably too expensive for my South Side bank account, but I probably should go anyways.’ The master's program was only one year so I figured what the heck.’ ’’