EP’s Sexton doesn’t think a 911 ‘hiccup’ will turn into indigestion

  • Written by Bob Rakow

 The mayor of Evergreen Park said a “hiccup” in Oak Lawn’s 911 emergency dispatch center is no reason for concern.
  His comments came shortly after a letter written by the Evergreen Park village attorney outlining serious concerns with the system was made public.
  “We’re confident everything will work out fine,” Mayor Jim Sexton said. “A couple of things didn’t get dispatched.”
  A Feb. 24 letter from Evergreen Park attorney Michael Cainkar to Kathy Hansen, Oak Lawn’s director of emergency communications, said Evergreen Park Police Chief Michael Saunders “outlined a series of incidents over the last several weeks involving delayed emergency dispatches.”
  Oak Lawn provides emergency dispatching services to Evergreen Park as well as other surrounding communities and fire protection districts.
  The letter added that dispatchers provided misinformation to Evergreen Park police officers. “To compound matters, the dispatchers and team leaders demonstrated an utter lack of concern, if not overt hostility, when members of the police department followed up on botched emergency dispatches seeking an explanation for what had happened,” the letter said.
  The letter goes on to detail a Feb. 14 incident in which an elderly Evergreen Park resident called police about someone knocking at the door. Police, however, were not dispatched to the house until five minutes after the call was placed to dispatch. The letter also referenced a Feb. 16 call in which police were not notified that an offender had a handgun.
  Sexton said there were some “hiccups” in the system but he did not believe the public safety in Evergreen Park was at risk.
  The issue was first raised when Oak Lawn Trustee Bob Streit criticized village manager Larry Deetjen for failing to notify trustees of the Cainkar letter.
  “Neither the mayor nor the manager thought it was important to tell the board about these issues,” Steit said at last week’s village board meeting.
  Streit the village board is responsible for setting policy, which it cannot accomplish “when complaints and issues are hidden from the board. There is no excuse, especially when it comes to the safety of the public and our residents.”
  “We have real complaints about a delayed response where a squad was not even dispatched for even six minutes on a 911 call. The board isn’t even provided any information,” Streit said. “We were never informed by the mayor or the manager.”
  Streit, who voted against the decision to outsource the village’s 911 services, has continued to criticize the move as part of his ongoing attack on Mayor Sandra Bury.
  Trustees in January voted 4-2 to outsource 911 services to Norcomm Public Safety Communications, a move that could save the village $1 million over two years, village manager Larry Deetjen said.
  Deetjen strongly rebuked Striet for making the Cainkar letter public.
  He said he was deeply disappointed that a trustee saw fit “to discuss a matter non- factually and also publically discuss an interdepartmental memorandum.”
  “It’s shameful,” Deetjen said at the village board meeting.
  The village manager said Cainkar was “flabbergasted that such a document would be displayed earlier today on a political blog authored by a former mayor and a sitting trustee.”
  Deetjen would not comment on the contents of the letter.
  He said that the village’s 911 dispatch center handles more than 100,000 calls a year. “He’s referring to three calls,” Deetjen said of Streit.
  “Every day, 24/7, (the dispatchers) do their very best,” he said.
  Sexton refused to comment on perceived political posturing that accompanied Streit’s decision to discuss the letter at the board meeting.
  “I just don’t want to get into their business,” he said. “I don’t want to get involved in their stuff.”
  He added that Evergreen Park’s concerns likely would not have been politicized if they were lodged before Oak Lawn outsourced its 911 services.

Family says cops still not ‘aggressive enough’ regarding Brittany’s death

  • Written by Bob Rakow

Worth police have interviewed the two people who discovered the body of Brittany Wawrzyniak, but family members of the 18-year-old girl remain skeptical of the department’s interest in the case.
“I almost don’t know how to react,” said Earl Lane, Wawrzyniak’s step-grandfather. “I still don’t think they’re being aggressive enough.”
The family has planned a March 29 rally in Oak Lawn to bring attention to the circumstances surrounding Wawryzniak’s death and to prompt Worth police to ramp up their investigation. The rally is scheduled for noon at the Oak View Center, 4625 W. 110th St., and will include a presentation including all of the information the family has gathered so far.
Family and friends also plan to attend the April 1 Worth Village Board meeting to demand that police and community leaders focus on the case.
The police interviews were held March 5, four months after Wawrzyniak died near the Worth boat launch. Prosecutors said she was ejected from the backseat of an alleged drug dealer’s car after buying pills from him—an explanation that her family does not accept.
Worth police questioned Adam Wilczek and his girlfriend, Agnes Smyk, several days after the couple met with Wawrzyniak mother, Rebecca Tully, at an emotional meeting also attended by several other family members. The two-hour gathering was held at Lane’s Hickory Hills home.
Family members believe a story published in The Reporter about that meeting led police to interview Wilczek and Smyk. The Burbank couple shared with police the same information they provided family members at the Feb. 22 meeting, they said.
Police met with Smyk for about 30 minutes followed by a one-hour session with Wilczek.
“I told them the same thing I told you guys,” Wilczek said. “I told them I was a little disturbed that we were doing this four months after the fact. They didn’t want to answer my questions. Someone has got to push the investigation in the right direction.”
Wilczek said he asked police if they had interviewed residents who live on 115th Street across the street from Water’s Edge Golf Course, which abuts the boat launch. He also asked if they have reviewed footage from the camera at the nearby Worth Metra Station.
He added that police took a considerable amount of notes during his interview, but Smyk said the opposite was true during her interview.
Smyk, who said she was nervous during the meeting, was asked to describe the teenage boy who approached her car when she and Wilczek arrived the boat launch to walk their dogs. She also was asked to estimate how long Wawrzyniak was lying in the parking lot before the couple arrived.
Smyk and Wilczek told Tully that they spotted a group of teenage girls in the parking lot that appeared to be looking for something on the ground. A teenage boy approached their car and “starts feeding me a story,” Wilczek said.
Only one of the seven girls in the parking lot was kneeling next to Wawrzyniak. The other girls on the scene did not appear shaken by the tragedy, Smyk said.
“I was holding her hand,” Wilczek told Tully. He said he knelt at Wawrzyniak’s side for about three minutes until police and paramedics arrived.
Police would not reveal if they were interviewing others or offer any details about the status of the case, Smyk said.
Smyk informed Tully that she was she and Wilczek were interviewed by police.
The Feb. 22 meeting with Tully occurred after Smyk posted on Facebook that she and Wilczek discovered Wawrzyniak’s body when they arrived the Worth boat launch to walk their dogs.
The couple spotted a group of teenage girls in the parking lot that appeared to be looking for something on the ground, Wilczek said.
They said she met Eric Steven Johnson at the boat launch near 115th Street and Beloit Avenue, got into the back seat of his car and handed him $200 in exchange for 30 pills of Clonazepam.
The prescription drug is used to treat panic and seizure disorders, according to medical experts.
Wawrzyniak’s family believes she faked a drug buy at the boat launch to arrange a fight between a friend and another girl.
The Worth police have confirmed that there were no drugs in Wawrzyniak’s system the night that she was died, the family said. But Tully remains critical of the way the police have handled the case.
Wawrzyniak began counting the pills while still in the backseat as Johnson drove away. She opened the door of the moving car, was ejected and struck the pavement, prosecutors said. She was pronounced dead at Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn less than one hour later.

Jeff Vorva's Editor's Notebook: (Heart) breaking news – I am older than this paper


jeff columnNOOOOOOOOOO!!!
Say it ain’t so!
Short of a loved one dying or getting sick, it doesn’t get much worse to hear news like this.
It was such a surprise – a depressing surprise.
I noticed that last week’s Reporter’s front page said Volume LV No. 1 on it. Hmmm. No. 1?
The genius reporter in me figured out that it must mean the paper may have celebrated a birthday.
So I used all of my investigative skills and resources (I asked around in the office) and publisher Amy Richards informed me that indeed the Reporter is now in its 55th year and just turned 54.
Upon deeper and more thorough investigation (Amy gave me a couple of special sections from 2005 and 2010 to look over) I discovered that the first Reporter came out March 16, 1960.
I was born in December, 1959.
That means I’m older than this newspaper.
I’m older than a newspaper that some people have saidpage-3-2-col-with-jvcolA look at the cover of the first Reporter on March 16, 1960. The paper is heading into its 55th year but it is still a few months younger than its current editor. Photo by Jeff Vorva. “has been around a long time’’ and some people have said, gulp, “has been around forever.”
I knew I was older than some high schools.
I knew I was older than a handful of towns.
But older than a newspaper that’s “been around forever’’ is a true shock to my system.
There were two other times in my professional life when the ol’ time-is-speeding-by-too-fast realization hit me.
The first time was when I covered a high school softball game and asked the coach for a roster. This particular roster happened to have the birthdates of all the players on it. They were all born after I graduated high school.
The second time came when Lincoln-Way football coach Rob Glielmi retired in 2007. This is a coach who won an Illinois High School Association Class 6A state championship in 1997 and played football at Illinois.
I remember him for messing up his name when he was a kid.
I was just starting my newspaper career as a sportswriter in the late 1970s and, to my knowledge, might have been the first person whose name I botched up in the paper. Hey, the Internet wasn’t around to double check and I thought it was “Gliemi.’’
Anyway, back then he was a young defensive player for Lincoln-Way and I’m sure more than one dopey writer forgot to drop that second L into his name.
Now I find out I am older than a long established newspaper.
Most papers I worked for were born around the time my grandfathers, great grandfathers, not-so-great grandfathers and great, great grandfathers were walking the earth.
Oh, well. Time to put away the self-pity and to try to make issue Volume LV No. 2 – and future issues – of the Reporter as compelling and fun as we can around here.
Happy birthday, Reporter, and may we all live on for many, many years.

Wisdom from the past
The guy who first ran the Reporter, Edward E. Roelofs, wrote his Publisher’s Statement of Policy 54 years ago about his brand-spankin’ new paper.
Among his comments were: “The publisher and his staff present it with hope that you, the reader, will find it meets for needs for an unbiased, scrupulously accurate, friendly and complete newspaper covering local people, organizations and events.”
He also said: “We want you to LIKE our paper – and to be proud it is circulated in your area.’’
Those thoughts ring true for us today.


Two area buffets flame out

  • Written by Bob Rakow

The Flaming Grill Buffet has beenpage-1-color-3-col-flameThings were flaming hot when the Hibachi Grill and Grand Buffet opened up in December, 2012 in Orland Park. The Hibachi Grill and Chicago Ridge’s Flaming Grill closed earlier this month. extinguished for good.

Taking a page from the Robert Irsay playbook, the owners of the Chicago Ridge restaurant left town for good about two weeks ago without a word to anyone.
“They’re gone. They disappeared in the middle of the night,” Chicago Ridge Mayor Chuck Tokar said. “It’s very peculiar.”
Irsay, the former owner of the Baltimore Colts football team, required a fleet of moving trucks in 1984 to move his team and its possessions out of the city under the cover of darkness to its current home in Indianapolis.
The Flaming Grill’s departure wasn’t quite so elaborate.
Tokar said he received a phone call from Chicago Ridge Commons management informing him that the embattled restaurant had closed.
“Can you believe it? After all the nonsense they put us through,” Tokar said.
While the Flaming Grill Buffet left the premises without reason, the Hibachi Grill and Grand Buffet in Orland Park was evicted in early March by the Cook County Sheriff’s Office for non-payment of rent, a sheriff’s spokesperson said.
A notice of code violation in the entrance window said Flaming Grill was cited for “nuisances regarding premises.” Specifically, the notice said, the restaurant had an overflowing dumpster and the area around the dumpster had to be cleaned.
But it seemed things were looking up for the Asian-American buffet in recent weeks, Tokar said.
Management apparently resolved the issues village health inspectors had raised in recent months, and the village board recently approved the business license transfer required when the restaurant changed hands.
The saga between the village and Flaming Grill, 101 Commons Drive, has gone on for several months. The village threatened to close the restaurant late last year after it did not pay several months’ worth of food and beverage taxes it owed the village. Restaurant owners also failed to appear at numerous village hearings regarding the taxes.
The sanitation issues were identified by village health inspector Rich Ruge who said he was concerned with the way the Flaming Grill has been conducting its day-to-day operations and ticketed the restaurant in January for some sanitation violations.
Ruge said he made a routine inspection on Jan. 15 and saw some things he didn’t like and gave the restaurant officials time to conform. But when he returned on Jan. 20, the restaurant was still “not following the best-case practice for Chicago Ridge.”
He wouldn’t get specific on what he saw but said “it was nothing severe that would cause us to close it down.’’ He said he identified some sub-par sanitation practices that required immediate attention. When he conducted a follow-up inspection, the restaurant had not rectified the problems and Ruge issued a ticket, he said.
The buffet, which served a mixture of Japanese and Chinese cuisine, opened in the former Old Country Buffet location. The restaurant also features American food, desserts and a hibachi grill.
Tokar said Chicago Ridge Commons management will attempt to fill the space, which might be difficult because it features three dining areas.
“It’s an opportunity for some restaurant to come in there,” the mayor said.

Your next governor?

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

Wealthy Rauner takes aim at Quinn after primary win

This man is so rich, he not only DR-Page-1-COLOR-4-col-BRUUUCERepublican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner told a crowd in Hickory Hills Monday night that Pat Quinn was the “worst governor in America’’ during his rally. Photo by Jeff Vorva.has money to burn, he has money to buy fire departments.

Opponents have called him a “bazillionaire’’ although he says he is not even a billionaire.
But he has some cash.
Bruce Rauner spent a reported $6 million of his own dough on the campaign that wrapped up Tuesday night and that was only a primary. But he needed every penny in what turned out to be a close race.
Even before he dispatched Bill Brady, Kirk Dillard and Dan Rutherford in the Republican Primary, the Winnetka venture capitalist took aim at seated governor Pat Quinn – his November opponent.
“We’re going to sweep Pat Quinn into the dustbin of history,” Rauner told a crowd estimated of 500 at the Lexington House in Hickory Hills on Monday night during his final rally before the election.
His speech was less than five minutes but it was full of Quinn bashing without a syllable directed to his primary foes. It was almost as if they didn’t exist. But Dillard made Rauner sweat a little Tuesday night after watching a double-digit percentage lead shrink to two percent at about 9:30 p.m.
During that time, Quinn was already running television commercials bashing Rauner so the mud started slinging at Rauner’s face before he could wipe the sweat off his brow.
But the man who wants to make big noise from Winnetka claimed victory an hour later as he had the unofficial two-DR-Page-1-color-1-col-signA gentleman dressed in a period costume was a part of the festivities at Lexington House in Hickory Hills Monday night. Photo by Jeff Vorva.percent lead with 97 percent of the precincts reporting.
It was closer win than expected. Dillard received crossover votes – Democrats voting on the Republican ballot -- in Democratic-heavy Chicago.
“There are some thoughtful Democrats out there,” Dillard told reporters at what he was hoping would be a victory party while he was inching closer to Rauner. “I welcome them.’’
But the night ultimately belonged to Rauner, who is vowing that he will be the next governor.
Republican Governors Association Chairman Chris Christie threw his weight and Hosannas Rauner’s way late Tuesday night in a statement.
“It’s time to leave behind the days of high unemployment and job losses, skyrocketing taxes, unaccountable spending and failing schools that have blighted the last five years in Illinois under Pat Quinn,” Christie wrote. “Illinois is ready for a real leader: someone who can’t be bought or intimidated. Illinois is ready for a governor who is willing to solve the toughest of problems, not avoid them; for a governor who works to foster economic growth, not stifle it; for a governor who can balance a budget without saddling the taxpayers time and time again; for a governor who refuses to endure the persistent failure of government that has racked Illinois for years.”
Rauner took to the stage Monday night in Hickory Hills with the Rolling Stones’ “Start Me Up” blaring on the PA system and well-dressed adults acting like kids at a rock concert yelling “Bruce! Bruce! Bruce!” 
“This is our year,” Rauner said. “This is our election. We’re going to sweep Pat Quinn into the dustbin of Illinois history. We’re going to turn our state around just like Indiana did and Wisconsin is being turned around and Michigan is being turned around. We are going to shake up Springfield and transform our state.’’
He was just getting warmed up.
“Pat Quinn is the worst governor in America,” Rauner said. “He has buried the people of Illinois. He is driving up our taxes. He is driving our employers out of the state. He’s driving our unemployment through the roof. He had defunded our schools.
“He is a failure. We are going to get him gone.’’
After the Quinn-essential bashing of the governor, Rauner got around to what he wants to accomplish if he gets the votes in November.
“We want to go to work for you,’’ Rauner said. “We want to do four things. No. 1, we want more jobs and a pro-business economy, No. 2, lower taxes and spending in Springfield, No. 3 great education and No. 4, term limits – eight years and out.’’
Not everyone was a Rauner fan that night.
Near the entrance of the Lexington House stood a handful of protesters who loudly booed any car that drove into the lot.
They had signs the said “Billionaire Bruce: I iz buying your state,” “Union yes, Rauner No’’ and “Rauner is a downer.’’
On the other side of the driveway, a guy wearing a period costume holding up a sign that said .01%ers for RAUNER! cheered as loud as he could as cars came while police kept an amused eye on the proceedings from a distance.
Quinn had an easier time with his opponent in the primary, beating Tio Hardiman by gobbling up 72 percent of the vote according to returns counted late Tuesday night.