Month: December 2013

2014 Election Ballots Nearly Finalized, Some Challenges Still Pending, Antoinette Gray Perhaps Rep. Welch’s Only Obstacle to Running Unchallenged

By Michael Romain

The ballots for local, county and statewide seats to be contested during the upcoming March 18, 2014, Gubernatorial Primary Elections came a step closer to being finalized after court hearings for candidate objections were held today.

Dan Roche, a Democratic candidate from River Forest challenging incumbent Rep. Danny K. Davis’s 7th Congressional seat in the United States House of Representatives, had his candidacy objected by Clayton C. Boyd of Chicago. The 7th Congressional District covers all of Maywood. At press time, the status of Roche’s candidacy was still pending. This was also the case with the candidacies of incumbent State Senator Don Harmon (D-39th) and his Democratic challenger Bob Galhotra, both of whose candidacies were challenged last month.

Antoinette “Toni” Gray, challenger to State Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch, a Democrat who represents the 7th District, which covers most of Maywood, had her candidacy objected to by Daphne Walker of Bellwood. Walker’s challenge, as of 4:05 pm today, is still pending as both campaigns wait for the Office of the County Clerk’s Election Department and/or the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners to compare the petitions and objections issued with registration records.

According to the objector’s petition, Walker challenged Gray’s candidacy based on claims that the Maywood businesswoman submitted invalid nomination papers and does not meet the residency requirements to run for office in the 7th District. Illinois election law requires a candidate to establish residency in a particular district for at least two years before running for office in that district. Rep. Welch’s campaign claims to have documentation proving that within the last two years, Gray voted in DuPage County, effectively establishing her residency there (since a person must live where he or she votes).

Rep. Welch’s potential Republican challenger, Mark Salispan, also challenged by Daphne Walker, had his candidacy withdrawn, which means that Antoinette Gray may be the only obstacle separating Rep. Welch from running completely unchallenged–unless an unlikely independent candidate comes forth to challenge him in the November general election.

The candidacy of Martin D. Reggi, a Democrat who is running against Democrat John Michael Allegretti to fill incumbent Judge Mary Mulhern’s vacancy in the 4th judicial subcircuit district, was objected to by Sharon Allegretti of Riverside. The 4th judicial subcircuit district covers the townships of Proviso, Lyons and Riverside, among others. Allegretti’s challenge, like Walker’s, is also in the examination process.

In the race for Democratic Committeeman in Proviso Township, the candidacies of the current Committeeman, Cook County Recorder of Deeds Karen Yarbrough, and James “Papa” Brewer (both of Maywood) were challenged. The objection to Yarbrough’s candidacy has been withdrawn, while the objection to James Brewer’s candidacy, filed by Art D. Johnson, is still pending.

In the race to replace outgoing Cook County Board Commissioner of the 1st District, Democrat Earlean Collins, the candidacies of Democrat Blake Sercye of Chicago, Democrat Brenda Smith of Chicago, Democrat Oddis “O.J.” Johnson of Chicago and Democrat Ronald Lawless of Oak Park were all challenged. All of those challenges, except for that filed by Betty Fletcher against the candidacy of Johnson, were either overruled or withdrawn. Fletcher’s objection was sustained. VFP

For more information on status of these objections, click here. For more information on the rules and procedures associated with electoral board hearings, click here.

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Most 17-Year-Olds Will Be Eligible To Vote Starting January 1, 2014

The Forest Park Review is Now Partnering with The Village Free Press

By Community Editor, The Forest Park Review 

COUNTRY OF COOK COUNTY CLERK DAVID ORR

Beginning Jan. 1, 2014, most Illinois 17-year-olds will be eligible to register and vote in a primary election – a first in our state’s history, Cook County Clerk David Orr said Monday.

The new “suffrage at 17” law will let voters choose in the primary election which candidates will be nominated to represent political parties in the general election.

“This expansion of voter registration will allow more young people to participate than ever before,” Orr said. “Suffrage at 17 will also get teenagers registered to vote before they leave high school, and studies show that establishing voting habits early boosts the likelihood of participation for years to come.”

U.S. citizens who were born on or before Nov. 4, 1996 can register and vote in the March 18, 2014Primary Election because they will turn 18 by the Nov. 4, 2014 General Election.

A countywide “Democracy Week” to register 17-year-olds is scheduled for Feb. 3-7. Clerk Orr’s office is coordinating with more than 80 suburban Cook County high schools to set up voter registration drives. The Chicago Board of Elections is working with the Chicago Public Schools to do the same.

Both election offices are partnering with deputy registrar organizations including (but not limited to): the League of Women Voters, Mikva, ICIRR, Rainbow PUSH Coalition, NAACP, National Action Network and the Constitutional Rights Foundation of Chicago.

“It will take a mighty effort to register students at every high school in suburban Cook County, so we are looking for deputy registrars to join the effort,” Orr said. VFP

Village Settles 2012 BGA Lawsuit, Board Approves $23K Payment to Plaintiff’s Counsel

By Michael Romain

At a December 17, 2013, board meeting, the Village Board approved the payment of $23,000 as part of a legal settlement of a lawsuit filed against the Village of Maywood by the Better Government Association (BGA), an investigative watchdog news outlet. The case, Better Government Association v. Maywood, was filed on August 21, of last year after the Village refused to release a grand jury subpoena, an action that the BGA said was a violation of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Based on its ruling, apparently a Cook County Circuit Court judge agreed with the BGA and ordered the Village to turn over the subpoena. The Village ultimately complied.

In an article published on the organization’s website the same day it filed the lawsuit, BGA President and CEO Andy Shaw said, “Maywood officials have a documented history of playing games and hiding public information […] We’re tired of it. The public is entitled to know how a local government is being managed, or mismanaged, and whether corruption is involved, and this subpoena may help us assess that.”

For its part, the Village stated its position in a letter addressing the matter, some of the contents of which were disclosed in the case file. The Village claimed that “the grand jury subpoena is exempt from disclosure because its release would a) ‘interfer[e] with a pending or actually and reasonably contemplated law enforcement proceeding conducted by the the Village’s Police Department;’ (b) ‘endanger the life or physical safety of law enforcement personnel’; and (c) ‘obstruct an ongoing criminal investigation by the Village’s Police Department,’ respectively […]”.

The BGA, not satisfied with this explanation, retorted in the August 21, article that “other news organizations are routinely provided copies of subpoenas upon request, and in 2007 the BGA successfully sued state government to obtain copies of federal subpoenas that then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich tried to keep secret.

“What’s more, as the new lawsuit asserts, Maywood’s reasons for withholding the subpoena don’t hold water under state law, which spells out when a public agency may or may not keep a public document from public view.”

The Chicago-based law firm Kirkland & Ellis, LLP, filed the BGA’s suit pro bono. As part of the settlement agreement, the Village has to pay the firm $23,000 in legal fees. Those fees were approved by the Board at the December 17, meeting as part of an omnibus agenda.

Kirkland & Ellis also filed pro bono a 2011 suit brought against the Village by four Maywood citizens–Mayor Edwenna Perkins and Trustee Cheryl Ealey-Cross among them–who alleged similar FOIA violations. That suit also led to a large settlement for both the legal firm and the individual plaintiffs. VFP

Proviso East Boys Fall to St. Joseph 68-61 in Proviso West Holiday Tourney Quarterfinals

Chicago TribuneClick the logo to see what they’re up to.

From the Chicago Tribune:

December 28, 2013 || Bob Narang, Special to the Tribune

Let the hype begin about Monday’s semifinal at the Proviso West Holiday Tournament between No. 2 Stevenson and No. 9 St. Joseph.

Jordan Ash scored 26 points, Joffery Brown added 16 and Glynn Watson scored 13 in St. Joseph’s 68-61 victory against No. 13 Proviso East on Saturday to set up a meeting of undefeated teams.

Glynn and Stevenson’s Jalen Brunson are two of the top junior point guards in the country, with the highly recruited Ash set to square off with Stevenson shooting guard Connor Cashaw at 6:30 p.m. Monday.

“We’re really excited to be finally playing (Stevenson),” Watson said. “That’s a game we’re trying to win to just stay undefeated. It should be a great matchup. Me and Jordan versus Brunson and Cashaw. It should be a good show. But it’s a team game.”

Ash, Brown and Watson combined for 55 points Saturday. Proviso East (8-2) shot 4-for-20 from 3-point territory and couldn’t recover from a 17.9 percent first-half shooting display. West Virginia-bound guard Jevon Carter scored 20 points, but was 2-for-12 on 3-point attempts.

“I couldn’t get my shots to fall this game,” Carter said. “I have to pick it up next game.”

Ash, a junior, scored 11 of St. Joseph’s first 26 points and broke loose for 10 points in a three-plus minute span in the fourth to stop a Proviso East rally. The Chargers (11-0) overcame 18 turnovers and a 19-for-31 effort from the free-throw line.

“We could be a really good team by the end of the year, but we got to get smarter,” St. Joseph coach Gene Pingatore said.

Player of the game: Jordan Ash, St. Joseph, 26 points, 8 rebounds, 3 3-pointers.

Key performers: Proviso East — Kalin Fisher, 22 points; Antonio Williams, 13 points, 11 rebounds, 3 steals. St. Joseph — Joffery Brown, 16 points, 5 rebounds; Glynn Watson, 13 points, 3 rebounds. VFP

Proviso East Boys Defeat Homewood-Flossmoor 43-40, Advance to Proviso West Tourney Quarterfinals

Screenshot 2013-12-28 at 4.59.10 PM
Kalin Fisher of Proviso East pull up for a 3-Pointer (Worsom Robinson/For Sun-Times Media).

December 27, 2013 || Patrick Z. McGavin (Sun-Times Media)

Basketball is the most unpredictable of games. The frequency of possessions only intensifies the randomness of chance.

Homewood-Flossmoor had chances to pull the upset Friday of Proviso East to advance to the Proviso West Holiday Tournament quarterfinals.

Homewood-Flossmoor played with toughness and purpose against the quick and athletic Pirates, but the Vikings missed 19 free throws and failed to make the plays down the stretch in the 43-40 second-round loss in Hillside.

“We’re normally a good free-throw shooting team,” Vikings coach Jim McLaughlin said of his team’s 10-of-29 performance. “(Friday) there was just a lid on the rim.”

Proviso East’s Jevon Carter hit two crucial three-pointers and scored eight of his team-high 18 points in the fourth quarter.

Center Tai Odiase shouldered the load offensively for the Vikings and posted a double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Time and again in the second half, he brought the Vikings back from the brink. The UIC recruit was the only Homewood-Flossmoor player to score from the field in the second half.

The Vikings (6-4) shook off a slow start and rode the strong play of Odiase and Destin Barnes (9 points, 10 rebounds) to lead by as many as six points in the first half. Consecutive turnovers led to Proviso East breakaways that narrowed the Vikings’ margin to 25-23 at the break.

“We were trying to run our offense and spread the lead out to eight, 10 points and we just had two horrible possessions there. Suddenly, instead of up six, we’re up just two,” McLaughlin said.

The swing foretold the struggles of the third quarter. Homewood-Flossmoor missed 12-of-13 field-goal attempts in scoring just two points, an Odiase dunk, in the period. Proviso East shot just 2-of-9 in the quarter and led by two.

Screenshot 2013-12-28 at 4.59.36 PM
Proviso East Jevon Carter brings the ball up court against Hoomewood-FloosMoor. (Worsom Robinson/For Sun-Times Media).

Carter’s three-point shooting put the Pirates up 33-27 but Odiase scored six unanswered points on strong post moves to forge the final tie at 33. Proviso East’s Antonio Williams (11 points) scored on a putback with 4:18 remaining for a 35-33 Pirates lead.

Carter’s second three-pointer extended the margin to 40-34.

Odiase responded with a three-point play, his only made free throw of the game, that pulled the Vikings to within three.

Homewood-Flossmoor’s Davon Smith had a chance to forge a tie after he was fouled on a three-point attempt with the Vikings down 41-38 with 20 seconds remaining. He missed the first free throw.

The Vikings had a final chance to tie when trailing 42-40 but Williams stole the ball with five seconds remaining. He split two free throws, and Smith’s desperation three-pointer hit off the back of the rim.

McLaughlin saw positives.

“I really liked the way we competed and fought hard,” he said. “The whole reason of being in this tournament is playing against other great competition. That sixth-place trophy is still out there for us. That’s something we’re going to play for.” VFP

A Hero’s Farewell

Officers salute as the body of Estrada is taken into Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago
Officers watch as the body of Cook County sheriff’s officer Cuauhtemoc Estrada is taken into his funeral service at Holy Name Cathedral. (Abel Uribe, Chicago Tribune).

December 28, 2013 || Mitch Smith and Kate Thayer, Chicago Tribune

Cook County said goodbye Saturday to officer Cuauhtemoc Estrada, the sheriff’s investigator and Marine Corps veteran who was shot and killed last weekend while protecting his daughter and her boyfriend from armed robbers.

In Holy Name Cathedral, Estrada was celebrated as a dedicated officer who cared deeply about his family and his community. He died serving both, and law enforcement officials from every corner of Cook County and beyond filled the pews at the Near North Side church to pay their respects.

“He was just a good, strong person with a lot of love for our family,” said Felipe Gallegos, a nephew who gave the eulogy. “He’d give out the best helping hand he could give to you.”

Suburban, county, state, Chicago and federal law enforcement officers lined the street outside the Roman Catholic cathedral before the service. The block in front of the church remained quiet until a band of bagpipes and drums signaled the hearse’s arrival.

The officers and deputies, many wearing dress uniforms with black mourning bands across their stars, saluted Estrada’s casket, which entered the church draped in an American flag. Many passing pedestrians stopped to watch and photograph the procession, which also included a police color guard. Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart and State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez were among those in attendance.

After the service, Ford Crown Victorias, Ford Explorers and Chevrolet Tahoes from dozens of jurisdictions sped off toward the burial site at Queen of Heaven Cemetery in west suburban Hillside with their blue and red lights flashing.

Screenshot 2013-12-28 at 4.40.04 PM
Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, center, watches as the body of Cook County sheriff’s officer Cuauhtemoc Estrada is taken into his funeral service at Holy Name Cathedral. (Abel Uribe, Chicago Tribune).

Estrada, 50, died Dec. 20 after two men in ski masks and hoodies attempted to rob Estrada’s daughter and her boyfriend outside a Veterans of Foreign Wars hall in west suburban Bellwood, according to prosecutors. The couple were carrying food inside from a car when they were attacked.

Estrada, who was hosting a holiday party at the building and was off duty, went outside and attempted to break up the robbery, police and prosecutors said. When he reached for his gun, he was shot by one of the men. The officer, a nearly 20-year veteran of the sheriff’s department, was later pronounced dead at Loyola University Medical Center.

Police tracked footprints from the crime scene to a nearby house, where they arrested two men. Brandon Jackson and Gage Thornton, both 22, were ordered held without bail on Monday. They face charges of first-degree murder and attempted armed robbery.

The slaying was a tragic contradiction of the holiday spirit Estrada was celebrating that night, said Monsignor Dan Mayall, who gave the homily.

“What happened on the 20th of December was sudden, was horrible,” said Mayall, Holy Name’s pastor.

But the priest said the hundreds who gathered at the cathedral were a testament to the promise that, despite the heartbreak, there was hope.

“On a day like this, a unique day, when you commend someone with whom you worked, served — someone you loved, respected — you want to say and do all the right things,” Mayall said. “That’s exactly what we’re doing this morning. The light always wins. The light always wins.” VFP

A memorial fund has been established for Estrada’s family and loved ones. Click here to support them in their time of bereavement.

PLCCA Among Organizations Receiving More Than $130K Worth of Nicor Energy and Food Assistance

By Michael Romain

On December 18, 2013, a community contributor announced on The Chicago Tribune‘s Bulletin Board that the Maywood-based Proviso-Leyden Council for Community Action (PLCCA) was among 29 nonprofit agencies and food pantries in northern Illinois that received grants from Nicor Gas totaling more than $130,000. The grants included more than $80,000 to go to 19 nonprofit organizations and Low Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP) intake agencies, and $50,000 for 10 food pantries in the region.

Beth Reese, the president of Nicor Gas, emphasized her company’s venerable presence in the communities it serves. “Nicor Gas has been part of the fabric of this region for more than 150 years, and we are dedicated to the well-being of the communities we serve. We recognize that many Illinois families are facing economic challenges so we are pleased to fund programs that help provide additional relief during the holiday season,” she said.

“We believe it is not only our duty – but a privilege – to help those most in need, and that is why we have partnered with several local organizations that work tirelessly to help the communities in our region” (quotes via Duane Bourne). VFP

To see how you can apply for home energy assistance with PLCCA, call (708) 450-3500, or click here