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Letter to the Editor from 9-4-14

A 911 public hearing is needed
Dear Editor:
An emergency response by police, firefighters or paramedics starts with a distress call.
The handling of that call can mean life or death for a resident suffering from a heart attack or a home invasion victim where police or paramedics get incorrect information.
Earlier this year the Village of Oak Lawn outsourced its 911 emergency call center. I opposed this action in the name of public safety.
The mayor, her supporters on the board and our Village Manager termed it a ‘cost-saving’ measure that was absolutely necessary. But saving lives of Oak Lawn residents should always be the top priority.
Besides, this administration squandered over $6 million of taxpayer money on no-bid contracts to political supporters and giveaways to developers and utility companies – dollars that could have been allocated to enhance the safety of residents.
Instead, Oak Lawn’s emergency 911 services were outsourced to a company that has too often ‘dropped the ball’ when it really mattered.
In one instance, a dispatcher failed to mention that a man had a gun when dispatching police in Evergreen Park. Initially, the dispatcher denied that the caller mentioned the gun. But a review of the tape showed that the caller – an off duty policeman – did report the firearm.
In another example, a caller reported a man with a gun at Oak Lawn Middle School. The company’s dispatchers did not know there were two middle schools in the village and initially sent a response team to only one of the middle schools.
Resident callers have experienced dispatchers asking them to repeat addresses four and five times when the address appears on the screen in front of them and when callers provide the location of a well-known establishment in town, dispatchers routinely ask “what town is this in?”
Many of these outsourced dispatchers live in towns distant from Oak Lawn and are unfamiliar with our community. As a result, emergency response times have increased and this can make the critical difference in a life or death situation.
The truth or embellishment of these incidents are contained in official reports maintained by the Village of Oak Lawn.
I’ve been trying to gather information and monitor the effectiveness of the outsourced 911 dispatchers since the company was retained. All along the way my efforts in obtaining that information have been met with foot-dragging, stone-walling, delays and denial on the part of the village administration.
So, another critical issue comes into play in addition to public safety – namely openness and accountability.
All the information regarding failures or short-comings of the outsourced 911 services is subject to Illinois’ Freedom of Information Act (F.O.I.A.), yet this administration has demonstrated time and again a wanton disregard for its obligation to be accountable and open to taxpayers.
At a recent board meeting, I asked for an independent audit of the 911 service. The mayor arbitrarily rejected that request claiming there was no need for the study.
Since the call for an independent audit there have been numerous requests for a public hearing on the operation of the dispatch center. Residents of the village deserve an open, honest forum to ask questions and get honest answers. Taxpayers have a right to know why our 911 call center was outsourced in the first place and whether or not their safety has been in anyway compromised since.
I urge every resident of Oak Lawn to call the village hall, call the mayor’s office and request a public hearing be held in the name of openness and transparency and public safety.
Bob Streit
Oak Lawn Village Trustee
in the 3rd District

Letters to the Editor from 7-24-14

Memories of the Medusa
Dear Editor:
Thank you to Don C. White for the wonderful article on the S.S Medusa Challenger (June 26 edition of the Reporter).
My parents, along with my brother and myself were fortunate enough to be guests of Medusa Cement back in the late 60s and we were treated to a trip aboard the Challenger.
Our family business, Prairie Material Sales in Bridgeview was a customer of Medusa at the time. If I recall correctly, we traveled to a cement terminal north of Mackinaw Island, Mich.
I vividly remember the captain waking us in the middle of the night to see the lights on the majestic bridge as we passed beneath it. For young kids in grammar school, it was a trip of a lifetime that we fondly recall today.
Mr. White is quite correct when he speaks about the fantastic meals and first class guest quarters!
The crew could not have been friendlier, as I am sure it was not often that they had young passengers aboard! They flew my family and myself home from Michigan on what was our first plane trip, so we could get to our first day of school on time that fall.
Times may change, business may change, but great memories never fade.
I would like to thank Mr. White again for taking me for a trip down memory lane.
Kim Oremus Hanson
Palos Hills

McAuley principals: a line of distinction
Dear Editor:
A feature story in The Regional [and The Reporter Newspaper on July 10] correctly noted that the board of directors of Mother McAuley Liberal Arts High School promoted their vice principal, Eileen Boyce, 29, to the position of Principal. The age of the new appointee was the focus of the piece. The article begins: “OK, let’s get this out of the way.”
OK let’s do that, but he doesn’t. Eileen Boyce is well qualified for the position: educated, attractive, chosen by the board members, and well aware of the challenges ahead. She will have a fresh perspective, techniques and ideas during her term of leadership. She must continue the vision of Mother Catherine McAuley, as well as the legend of the firm foundation laid and developed for 60 years by the religious.
[The Reporter editor] Jeff Vorva acknowledges Catholic school Principals breaking “knuckles” is a tiresome cliche and use rulers for their intended purposes. However, a real story is Catherine McAuley, founder of the Mercy Order, born in 1778 in Ireland at a time when women and children were chattels. She saw the education of women as a serious purpose for social change.
Catherine was convinced that Almighty God required her to make some lasting efforts in the relief of the suffering and give the underprivileged a chance to a good education. As a result today McAuley High School’s mission statement contains : “Prepare students to live in a complex, dynamic society by teaching them to think critically, communicate effectively, respond compassionately to the needs of their community and assume roles of Christian leadership”.
Vorva comments about principals in the past as “ancient and cranky.” I am a retired teacher of 25 years at McAuley and no insult could be more contrived and untenable. My superiors were educated, affable, properly gowned, oriented to current times, masters of education and administration.
Some will remember Sister Inviolata (Catherine Gallagher) the first long-time Principal; Cathleen Cahill, Corinne Raven, Rose Wiorek. Sister Brian Costello Principal in the 1970s was appointed Director of Catholic Schools for the Archdiocese of Chicago and later Chief of Staff to Cardinal Bernardin, the first and only woman to be chosen to do so.
This is a tremendous mantel for Miss Boyce and all those before her wish her the best.
Susan Lang
Palos Park

Editor’s Note: Vorva never wrote that anyone at McAuley used rulers to break knuckles or that past principals at Mother McAuley were “ancient and cranky.”

The actual paragraph of the story said “There are likely still some people out there who think an all-Catholic girls school principal should be ancient and cranky and ready to break knuckles with rulers. There are some people out there who realize that men and women of various ages can handle the job of principal quite well.”

Letters to the Editor from 4-24-14

Mental health screenings needed in military
Dear Editor:
  On April 9, the Medical Evaluation Parity for Servicemembers (MEPS) Act was introduced by U.S Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Jay Rockefeller (D-W). 
  A companion bill was proposed by U.S. Representatives Glen Thompson(R-PA) and Tim Ryan (D-OH., on March 27,a week before the tragedy at Fort Hood occurred.
  This legislation would require the military to conduct a mental health assessment prior to joining the service. Why does it take an Act of Congress to address this problem? 
  If Law Enforcement applicants must pass a battery of psychological tests, than why hasn’t the military included mental health screenings as part of the recruitment process?  Whether in the street or on the battlefield, both face stressful, life and death situations.
  What happened Tuesday, April 2, 2014 on a Army base outside Killeen Tex, shouldn’t of taken an Act of Congress to address, or the loss of four lives.
Gayle Bukowski
Johnson-Phelps VFW Ladies Auxiliary
Oak Lawn, IL

Gala a success
Editor.
  I would like to take a moment to gratefully thank all those who contributed to the wonderful success that was Chicago Ridge’s Centennial Gala on April 12th.
  First, I need to thank and congratulate the great group of Ridge residents who have been working tirelessly for months planning our event. Leg with contagious enthusiasm by Gala Committee Chair Denise Ridley, along with the excellent assistance of my fantastic secretary Judy King, these volunteers all went above and beyond in their combined efforts, bringing an army of skills and abilities to the talk. My sincere gratitude goes out to Denise and Judy, as well as to Rich Blackwell, Cindy Koschetz, Lisa Lenz, John Mrozck, Rita McQuaid, Stacy Reichard, Jamie Bisiules, Lori Witt, and Grace Muszynski. I cannot say enough about how well these individuals came together as a team to pull off “Party of the Century.”
  I also need to acknowledge the generous sponsorship of the many individuals and businesses who contributed to our success. Special thanks goes out to our four major sponsors, Village Engineer Christopher Burke, Village Attorney George Witous, Labor Attorney Nick Cetwinski, and Hearing Officer Cary Cosentino, without whose exceptional contributions the Gala would not have been possible.

  I’d also like to thank all those individuals, business people, residents and friends of Chicago Ridge, who came out to the Gala and supported our event. Our original goal was for 300 attendees and we ended up with a packed house of 420. Their enthusiastic participation in our silent auction, gift basket raffle and especially our live auction allowed the Gal to raise over $20,000, which will be used to help pay for upcoming Centennial events.
  With the gracious hospitality of Glendora Banquets, transformed by Lisa Lenz into an elegant black and gold dining room wit historic photos lining the walls, the music of the City Lights Orchestra and the great menu from caterer Tomas Psaltakis, the evening could not have been better.

  Finally, I don want to acknowledge the assistance of our wonderful Master of Ceremonics, NBC Meteorologist Andy Avalos, who came out with his family and did an incredible job, especially so during our live auction as our fast-talking auctioneer.
  Commemorative glasses are on sale at the Village Hall, and keep an eye out for our many upcoming Centennial events by checking the Village’s website at www.chicagoridge.org.
Charles E. Tokar
Mayor, Chicago Ridge

Letters to the Editors 1-9-14

  • Written by Rebecca Lanning

Christmas Without Cancer still going strong

Dear Editor:

Before the Christmas ornaments are tucked away in boxes and stored in crawl spaces, allow us at Christmas Without Cancer to share with you readers the magical blessings you — and our new partners — extended to those staring down cancer during these past months.

Your financial support over the last decade has helped hundreds of families and, miraculously, this year, your efforts caught the attention of our newest neighbor and partner, Binny’s Beverage Depot in Evergreen Park.

With the star power of Da Coach, Mike Ditka, Binny’s hosted a fundraising event and penned a check for $10,000.

The magnitude of such generosity is relative in nature to what you have done over the last 10 years. The fine people of Binny’s were the first to point that out when they approached us. Binny’s wasn’t attempting to grab the spotlight as much as stand shoulder to shoulder with a caring community — you.

We are partners and it showed in the totals raised to directly help families. A tally of 186 Ditka signatures on personal items generated another $4,650 while random walk-up gifts in the store brought in $483.

Every penny from this outpouring of support is earmarked directly for families in need. Support from you has brought steady growth and the privilege to help families throughout the year in Beverly, Morgan Park, Mount Greenwood, Oak Lawn and Evergreen Park.

The Christmas Without Cancer mission has always been brilliant in its simplicity: Identify need and provide gifts and basic necessities to Chicagoland families with members stricken with cancer, so as to allow the beauty of Christmas to shine through while family members find comfort in their devotion to one another.

Allow us to share with you the sights and sounds we volunteers encountered during our family visits this past season:

  • A young mother has found shelter in her parents’ Oak Lawn home while she struggles with radiation and chemotherapy. Her three pre-school children only see their mother’s smile under the collared scarf that covers her baldness. Your donations allowed our volunteers to enter the living room and place gift-wrapped boxes under the tree where there were none. We watched Christmas come alive through the eyes of the children as they tore away the pretty paper to embrace the simple toys that meant so much.
  • Elsewhere, a young adult son and daughter grieve. Their mother was diagnosed with brain cancer in October. She died Christmas Eve. All of their resources were spent on expensive oral chemotherapy medicines to alleviate discomfort. Your donations entitled Christmas Without Cancer to write a check for the children’s last wish — a dignified memorial service for their mother.
  • A young dad in his Hospice deathbed reading softly to his 4-year old daughter. His four-year battle with colon cancer was coming to a close.
  • A proud grandfather shaken at the recent loss of his daughter and our arrival with gifts for the missing mom’s children. When the youngest announced “we have an angel in heaven,” our throats tightened and our eyes welled with tears.

The concept from the first list of family names scribbled on my kitchen table in 2003 has flourished into Christmas Without Cancer. If not for your generosity, it would be a discarded scrap of paper. In 2013 we helped more families than ever before.

You write checks; drop off gift cards; attend our fundraisers; help us identify those in need; and share with us your humanity by giving to those faced with the prospects of death.

I am so proud of what we’ve accomplished over the last 10 years and even prouder to know you are my neighbors, my friends and my fellow humanitarians.

Gerri Neylon and the Christmas Without Cancer team, Evergreen Park

Letter to the Editor from 1-2-14

A long goodbye from Grabowski
Dear Editor:
  To the many friends, acquaintances and accomplices I have made here in Illinois over the past 47 years:
  I want to take this opportunity to say goodbye.
  For those who don’t already know, I have accepted a position with a company in Conroe, TX, about 20 miles north of Houston, and will begin my 2014 year there. I will be working with Hydraulic Systems, Inc., a hydraulics company that manufactures, fabricates and services oil rig moving and raising equipment in the oil extraction industry.http://www.hsi-power.com/.
  I’m sort of saddened to leave Illinois, but the future is much brighter just up ahead.
  I was born and raised, and have lived most of my 47 years of life, on the south side of the city of Chicago and in the nearby southwest suburbs. In all my years here, I never would have imagined the extent of the damage and the demise of this once great Midwestern state that I grew to like. To see what’s happening socially and economically, right under our noses and occurring in mine and my children’s lifetime, to our state now seemingly like a dead carcass run over several times being picked apart and devoured by the political vultures and the policies they’ve created that caused our state’s current brutal demise.
  The state of the economy here in Illinois is heartbreaking. And it is perpetuated by the droves of politically influenced and government benefit driven low information voters who believe like sheep what their ‘leaders’ tell them, like the children following the tune of the Pied Piper, wearing their blinders 24/7/365 throughout the state. I can’t see this disasterous situation getting better here any time soon.
  Businesses have been leaving Illinois at an alarming rate for the past five years now. It is not any longer, and leaders refuse to maintain this as a business friendly state. Each business that closes its doors and moves to another state takes with it on average between 50 — 100 jobs that will never return.
  With a realistic unemployment rate of 16% in northeastern Illinois currently, and an outflow of jobs to other states, the deck is stacked against my kids finding gainful employment and moving out on their own by the age of 30. I have four teenagers who will soon be competing with 30, 40 and 50 year olds for even a simple McDonalds jobs right out of high school. I feel I have an obligation to my kids, in the very least, to put them in a thriving economic area where their talents, abilities and education will quickly and easily take them to where they will want and need to go to become successful. Remaining in Illinois did not provide that as a viable option to me.
  The Texas economy is and has been thriving, while many other states are still looking for this so called ‘recovery’, with an average unemployment rate of only 3.7%, not because of the failed federal government level policies that have crushed many other states, but because of the policies of smart state leaders who refuse to let their citizens down with power grabs, intrusive and prohibitive tax schemes, not trampling on their rights, freedom and liberties.
  The top two cities growing by leaps and bounds economically in the United States are from the same growing and thriving state, Houston, TX is number one, and the Dallas / Fort Worth area is number two. During the economic crash at the end of 2008 through 2009, Texas businesses produced 33% of all NEW JOBS throughout the entire country as a whole. Texas is a very business friendly state, welcoming businesses that are weary from existence in economically crumbling states like Illinois, which also translates to more jobs available by far than here in Illinois. Did I also mention that there is no state sales tax in the great state of Texas, as they don’t see a need to have a large, cumbersome and intrusive state government? Yahoo!!
  I have made many friends here and will remember you all for years to come. I will keep in touch.
  Thank you for a great 47 years.
Richard L. Grabowski
Hometown