Month: June 2015

Hostage Negotiations: Area Nonprofits Brace for Looming Government Shutdown

Emanuel Welch photo

A photo showing the empty chairs reserved for state agency directors during a hearing in Springfield today, June 30. The hearing was held to discuss contingency plans in the event the government shuts down tomorrow. Courtesy state Rep. Chris Welch (7th)

Tuesday, June 30, 2015 || Originally Published: Austin Weekly News || By Michael Romain || Slightly Altered for Village Free Press

As Springfield lawmakers struggle to hash out a budget before the state government virtually shuts down tomorrow, some nonprofits that provide critical services to Maywood’s most vulnerable residents may be steadying themselves to lay off employees and reduce services.

One of those nonprofits, Youth Outreach Services (YOS), which has an office in Maywood, 1100 S. 11th Ave., “has already provided written notice to 60 employees that they will be laid off on July 1, 2015 if the state fails to have an approved budget by June 30,” said Rick Valesquez, YOS’s executive director, in a Wednesday Journal editorial letter.

“Because without a FY 2016 budget in place, there will be no state contracts to non-profit agencies, such as YOS, to provide critical services for at-risk youth in the Chicago area,” Valesquez said. “That means the immediate suspension of substance abuse treatment and prevention programs that keep kids safe.”

Judith Gethner, the executive director of Illinois Partners for Human Service, said the nonprofits across the state are in the same position as YOS.

“Nonprofits are deciding whether or not to risk delivering services [and] most of them are waiting to see if they even get a contract from the state,” she said, adding that many nonprofits received email notices warning them that if those contracts don’t come through, they won’t get paid.

“The media is only talking about union contracts that are set to expire, whether or not state workers will get paid and school districts,” Gethner said. “My frustration is that right in everyone’s backyard are these nonprofits delivering childcare, domestic violence services, homeless services … Why isn’t anyone writing about the dilemma they’ll face on July 1?”

Last Thursday, June 25, Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed the majority of a budget passed by Democrats in the House and Senate, making an exception for critical funds necessary for public schools across the state to open on time in the Fall. In order to override the governor’s veto, Democrats would need to martial a three-fifths veto-proof supermajority in the House and Senate.

The Democrats have the numbers for an override, but getting that many of them to actually vote on one has been historically difficult.

“We don’t have a history in our state of all the Democrats [getting together to override a veto],” said Gethner. “Even in the most difficult of times — like when they passed a temporary income tax—not all Democrats voted for it.”

Added to that difficulty is what some political observers say is state Democrats’ wish to force the governor’s hand by making him either implement cuts or raise taxes to cover a $4 billion shortfall in the Democrats’ proposed budget.

Rauner has reiterated that he won’t raise taxes unless the Democrats approve his controversial “turnaround agenda,” which includes a series of proposals that would freeze property taxes, establish anti-union ‘right-to-work-zones’ and place limits on the number of terms legislators and state officials can have, among other changes.

In the absence of the governor’s signature or a Democratic override of the governor’s veto, nonprofits — and, by extension, the livelihoods of the many people who depend on their services — hang in the balance.

“We’re held hostage because of them not getting along,” Gethner said of the two governmental branches.

Democratic lawmakers, however, say that the seriousness of a possible government shutdown isn’t lost on their side.

“Nonprofits are in trouble,” said state Rep. LaShawn K. Ford (8th). “The [Rauner administration] is not being truthful about the danger and recklessness of a government shutdown.”

Today, June 30, Democrats considered passing a $2.2 billion temporary budget that would fund a range of core state services, such as programs for the mentally ill, rehabilitation services, WIC food assistance and juvenile justice services — emergency funding that still doesn’t bring many area nonprofits into the clear.

But at a hearing in Springfield on contingency plans in lieu of a July 1 government shutdown, none of the state’s agency directors showed up.

“Illinois is on the verge of a government shutdown and none of the agency directors bothered to show up to discuss contingency plans. None. DCFS, DHFS, Public Health, Human Services, Aging,” wrote state Rep. Chris Welch (7th) on his Instagram page above a picture of empty chairs.

“The governor sent his chief budget person, instead,” said Rep. Ford. “The governor said there was no need for them to come. He said that, instead, the people who are working on the budget should show up for the committee of the whole. The directors are going to do what the governor tells them, anyway. All of them are Rauner’s appointees. They don’t have much to do with making the budget. They simply run the programs and spend the money the legislator appropriates.”

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the Democrats may likely call a vote today, June 30, on the one-month $2.2 bill temporary bill, which would “allow money to flow to some vital services since the state moves into a new fiscal year at midnight with no operating budget.”

In order to pass, the temporary budget will need to be voted on by a supermajority in the House and Senate. One “Democratic insider” told the Sun-Times that the likelihood of the budget passing is “strong.” VFP

Briefly in Public Safety: Maywood Firefighters Battle Car Fire; Firefighter Challenge May Be Coming to Maywood; Chief Talley in the Community; More

Maywood firefighters

BATTLING THE FLAMES: Maywood firefighters fight to extinguish a car fire before it spreads to a house earlier this week. Photo courtesy Maywood fire chief Craig Bronaugh. 

Saturday, June 27, 2015 || By Michael Romain || Updated: 12:54 PM

Chicago Firefighter Challenge could be coming to Maywood 

6th+Firefighter+Combat+Challenge+bm-AkpmHcW_lAccording to one website, competitions are held among firemen throughout the world, including New Zealand, Germany and Chile. The Challenge “seeks to encourage firefighter fitness and demonstrate the profession’s rigors to the public. Wearing ‘full bunker gear’ and the Scott 5.5 Air-Pak breathing apparatus, pairs of competitors race head-to-head as they simulate the physical demands of real-life firefighting by performing a linked series of five tasks including climbing the 5-story tower, hoisting, chopping, dragging hoses and rescuing a life-sized, 175 lb. “victim” as they race against themselves, their opponent and the clock.”

It’s one of the world’s most rigorous challenges and it may be coming to Maywood in July. According to one of the event’s planners, Environmental Beautification Commission chairman Laura Lange, the event would be held on the library-owned strip of land from St. Charles Road to 4th Avenue.

At a June 16 board meeting, Lange presented the proposal to the village board, noting that the event would be cost-free to taxpayers. Most of the costs of putting it on, she said, would be born by corporate sponsors.

Maywood firefighters would compete with firefighters from across the region during the event, which would span July 31 to Aug. 1, Lange said, who noted that the Challenge is a “media magnet.”

“To get the news out, the [Firefighter Combat Challenge, or FCC], often kicks off with a ‘Battle of the Network Affiliates’ — where local TV traffic news crews don firefighter gear and broadcast the resulting video during the local news cycle, demonstrating the challenges of the profession and encouraging local audiences to come to the community celebration,” according to a memo from On Target Challenge, Inc., a firm that helps local communities put the even on.

Police department academic boot camp 

The Maywood Police Department’s JAG Program launched its Academic Boot Camp at Irving Middle School, 805 S. 17th Avenue, last week. The Tiger Boot Camp provides “intense intervention for struggling students, focusing on essential reading and math skills,” according to a department flyer.

Students in the program “receive targeted instruction from certified instructors who have been specifically selected for their abilities to facilitate high level student learning and increased academic achievement.”

The program, which services students in 5th through 8th grades, ends June 30th. A story on this service will be out later in the week.

Swearing in 

Swearing in IAt a June 16 regular board meeting, two Maywood Fire Department officials were sworn in. David Krefft was sworn in as captain and Emanuel Coker (pictured right) was sworn in as a probationary firefighter.

Crossing guard appreciation 

Crossing guard appreciationOn June 19, the Maywood Police Department held its annual crossing guard appreciation breakfast. Special distinction was reserved for Guard Robert Jones, who was struck earlier this year by a distracted motorist. The event was hosted at Kathy’s Kitchen, 11 N. 5th Avenue.

“I owe a debt of gratitude to Mr. Dennis Moran and his daughter Dee Dee, who continues to be an outstanding supporter of the police department and provides wonderful service to the community,” said Maywood Police Chief Valdimir Talley.

Connie Pooch event goes off without hitch

Connie Pooch

Connie Pooch ILast Saturday, the Maywood Police Department held its second annual Connie Pooch K-9 registration event in Veterans park at 4th Avenue and Fred Hampton Way.

Maywood police are strictly enforcing the village’s pit bull ordinance, with fines ranging from $50 to $1,000. The event was supported by the village’s finance and animal control departments.

Out and about with the chief 

Maywood Police Chief Valdimir Talley is often out on the town. Here are some snapshots of his ventures into the community.

Left to right: Talley at anJ.W. James Memorial AME Usher Board Walk and Fundraiser held Sat., June 27; with participants in the AKA Lambda Alpha Omega Chapter’s mentoring program on Sat., June 27 — the program has ended but will restart in September 2015 and be held each fourth Saturday of the month; with South 8th Block Club President Tennile Ward and one of Maywood’s youngest residents at a May 23 event; with Maywood Fine Arts co-founder Lois Baumann at MFA’s pop-up block party and groundbreaking event held Thursday, June 25; at a Summer Food Kickoff event sponsored by Nate Comic Inc., last Sat., June 20;  with participants in a walk on 5th Avenue and Prairie Path on June 20; with participants of a walk on the Prairie Path held last Sat., June 20. Photos courtesy Chief Talley. 

Usher Board Mentoring Block club Lois BaumannMary May LarryPrairie Path Walk

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County Board Prez’s Proposed Sales Tax Hike Gets Pushback

boykin-and-preckwinkle_vfp

Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Commissioner Richard Boykin (1st) at a town hall meeting held earlier this year in Oak Park. Chandler West/Wednesday Journal. 

Friday, June 26, 2015 || By Michael Romain 

With Cook County facing a pension fund shortfall of $6.5 billion — a hole that may be deepening by about $30 million a month — County Board President Toni Preckwinkle has proposed a 1-percent increase in the county’s sales tax.

Although Preckwinkle opposed the tax increase when she ran for board president against Todd Stroger in 2010, ultimately repealing it in 2013, she said circumstances have changed.

“I don’t think we should kick the can down the road, as people like to say, and foist these problems off on our children and grandchildren,” Preckwinkle told the Chicago Tribune recently. “I think the responsible adult thing to do is address the issue yourself.”

Preckwinkle noted that the county’s pension problem puts it in the unenviable position of choosing between two evils: either raise property taxes or raise the sales tax rate.

“There was no appetite — zero appetite — for a property tax increase, and we’re going to work hard to get nine votes for a sales tax increase,” Preckwinkle said.

In order to raise property taxes, the measure requires a three-fourths supermajority of the board’s 17 commissioners.

According to the Tribune, if the board approves the so-called “penny tax,” the increase would go into effect Jan. 1 and bring in an estimated $473 million.

But that increase in revenue could come at the expense of small businesses and customers considering capital purchases in Oak Park and nearby areas such as Maywood and Forest Park, said Cathy Yen, executive director of the Oak Park-River Forest Chamber of Commerce.

“The tax won’t hugely affect somebody buying a cup of coffee, or going to restaurants or convenience stores, but it’s really going to affect major purchases that drive the sales tax,” she said.

“So, if I’m going to buy a refrigerator, I’m not going to buy it at Grand Appliance on Madison Street in Forest Park, I’m going to go to DuPage County and buy it,” Yen said. “That’s a huge chunk of change if you’re collecting sales tax. Definitely, in Oak Park and River Forest, we can get to DuPage in 10 minutes. Maybe it’s not so easy in Hyde Park [where Preckwinkle lives], but this will ultimately drive the county’s revenue down.”

The base sale tax rates in DuPage, Lake and Will counties are 7.25, 8 and 7 percent, respectively.

Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin (D-1st), who represents Oak Park and Forest Park, echoed Yen’s sentiments, adding that’s the sales tax increase would also disproportionately burden poor residents.

Boykin said he doesn’t believe the county’s pension system is in a fiscal crisis and would like for Preckwinkle to put forth a 2016 budget before considering a sales tax increase, which he said should be levied only on certain goods and services.

“It’s a false choice — you don’t have to choose between increasing the property tax and increasing the sales tax,” said Boykin, who added that he’s against undergirding the county’s pension system with sales tax revenue.

“The sales tax is the most regressive tax ever,” Boykin said. “It hits the poorest of the poor. It means that kids who go into the store to buy a candy bar don’t pay the same kinds of taxes as a wealthy person.

“The poor haven’t had a cost of living increase in their wages. If this tax goes through, we’ll have the highest sales tax in the country at 10.25 percent.”

Boykin said he believes Preckwinkle doesn’t want to fight lobbyists who might vigorously oppose more targeted revenue options, such as the county’s hotel/motel tax.

“The hotel/motel tax hits people traveling to Cook County to do business, but they do that everywhere around the country,” he said. “Those are pretty high everywhere. At least you’re not hitting people who live here.” VFP

Rev. Leslie Perkins, Husband of Maywood Mayor Edwenna Perkins, Dies

Friday, June 26, 2015 || By COMMUNITY EDITOR || Updated: 6/29/15 

The Rev. Leslie Perkins, the husband of Maywood Mayor Edwenna Perkins, died last night. He was 73 years old. His visitation will be Sunday, July 5, 3 PM to 7 PM, at Wallace Broadview Funeral Home, 2020 Roosevelt Rd., Broadview. His funeral will be Monday, July 6, at Rock of Ages Baptist Church, 1309 Madison St., Maywood, from 10 AM to 11 AM || 11 AM to 12:30 PM. VFP

CORRECTION: This post has been updated to include the correct times of the wake and funeral.

Leslie Perkins

Broadview School Board Members Billed for Investigation — of Themselves

LindopThursday, June 25, 2015 || Originally Published: School Board Focus West || By Jean Lotus 

After Lindop School District 92 write-in coup, lawyers submit bills for residency, criminal record checks

The new board president of Broadview’s Lindop School District 92 was shocked to receive a $1,426 bill from a lawyer investigating herself and another board member.

A bill for 12 hours of surveillance of Board President Princess Dempsey (pictured below left) to see if she lived in the district and an investigation into an alleged felony charge for a newly elected board member Anissa Cubie were submitted for payment by the district’s lawyers at the June 16 board meeting.

Both investigations were found to be unfounded, documents show.

Princess DempseyDempsey alleged at the meeting that outgoing nine-year President Carla Joiner-Herrod (pictured below) was behind the investigations along with Superintendent Dr. J. Kamala Buckner – who abruptly quit.

“I live in Broadview, period. That’s where I live. The investigation found that,” Dempsey said. “It was a waste of the district’s dollars to pay for me to be followed by investigators.” She suggested the board send the bills to Joiner-Herrod to pay for personally.

Dempsey led an overthrow slate of write-in candidates in the uncontested board elections April 7. Dempsey, Anisssa Cubie and Shyrl Griffin were elected with a total of 37 write-in votes. Griffin is the mother of new Vice President Tamara Whitfield.

According to a memo from the district’s lawyers posted on the D92 website, on April 28 – three weeks after the election, but before new board members were sworn in – representatives of the Lindop Teachers Association requested Buckner investigate the residency of Dempsey and investigate rumors Cubie had been convicted of a felony.

“Additional investigation was conducted under authority of the board president,” wrote Franczek Radelet attorney Dana Fattore Crumley. Crumley did not return emails or phone calls for comment.

The bill also showed a half-hour of research billed at $76.50 April 9 for “review for write in candidates to the board.”

Cubie, who works for the Broadview Park District and is licensed to work with children through DCFS, said the accusation that she was a convicted felon was, “ a big pill to swallow.”JoinerHerrod-3

“I’m a mandated reporter for the state and I’m fingerprinted every year. My-ten-year old daughter attends school in the district,” Cubie said. “I could have lost my job.”

Documents show the district’s residency investigator billed for an online search of Dempsey and 12.4 hours of surveillance. The law firm enclosed correspondence with the State’s Attorney’s office confirming no felony conviction existed for Cubie.

LTA Co-President Diane Schoenheider said in an email the union had no comment.

“I had no idea I was being followed,” Dempsey said. “I have a busy life and I run a business. I didn’t even notice.”

In a statement, outgoing nine-year Board President Joiner-Herrod denied she authorized an investigation of her fellow board members.

“The allegations concerning this situation are misguided and false – including the authorization of any alleged investigation,” she wrote (See statement here).

“This is the first time in my 9 years of serving on the Lindop Board School Board that our district has been faced with such chaos.  The level of turmoil that has occurred over the past 45 days has been unprecedented,” she wrote.

“[Dempsey] has chosen to publicly humiliate the district that she serves and herself by fueling division between board members, LTA and district administration,” she added.

Dempsey said the new board majority got rid of the old guard with close ties to Broadview Mayor Sherwin Jones. Board member Tanya Taylor is married to Broadview Trustee Lincoln Taylor.

In the April 7 election, Jones supported unsuccessful referenda for home rule and dissolving the Broadview Park District. He also supported failed candidates for library trustees.

Wins by write-in candidates in suburban Cook County elections are not uncommon, said Cook County Clerk Election Spokesperson Courtney Greve. In the April 7 election many write-in candidates won uncontested positions including races in 17 school districts and multiple library and park district boards.

Dempsey said the board has already found a new superintendent.

“We want to keep this district moving forward and make sure everyone knows we are watching district dollars,” she said. VFP

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Death Notices: Arlee Bunn

Thursday, June 25, 2015 || By COMMUNITY EDITOR

Service times for Arlee Bunn, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother of many in Maywood and communities beyond it, are as follows:

Visitation || Friday, June 26 from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. || Woodlawn Funeral Home, 7750 West Cermak Rd., Forest Park, IL 60130 (entrance is on Desplaines Ave.) || 708-442-8500

Memorial Service || Sunday, June 28 from 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. || Second Baptist Church, 431 South 13th Ave., Maywood, IL 60153 || 708-681-1713

Please send thoughts of condolences to: P.O. Box 7670, Westchester, IL 60154

In lieu of flowers, please donate to: Legacy Flight Academy, 159 N. Marion St., Suite #267, Oak Park, IL 60301 VFP

In Remembrance of Bettye Rivers — Maywood Royalty

Wednesday, June 24, 2015 || Originally Published: Maywood Matters || By Rhonda Sherrod, J.D., Ph.D.

Proverbs 31:26  (KJV): She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.

“We were there, because so many parents weren’t.” Grady Rivers, Sr., Boston Globe, October 1, 2006

Betty RiversThey were always “there.” This is a tribute to a beautiful lady who was always there, along with her husband, to support the hopes, dreams and aspirations of Maywood’s young people. Mr. and Mrs. Grady Rivers, Sr. were fixtures at sporting events when the Village of Eternal Light was in its glory days. Anyone who came of age in the 1960s and 70s knew Mr. and Mrs. Rivers because they were the kind of “community parents” who made their presence known. They had the kind of visibility that provided stability for Maywood and its young people. They were a part of the group of parents who, like my own, breathed a real sense of community into Maywood as White flight was gripping this village. The community parents took pride in our town, undergirded it firmly, and kept it strong and secure, for as long as they could, while building traditions that most of us will never forget for all the days of our lives.

One can’t help but admire the way the Rivers loved their sons, Grady, Jr. (“Gar”) and Glenn, or the way they provided wise counsel, intelligent guidance, and the blessed assurance of their support for those boys. Even beyond that, the fact is, they were always there to speak a kind word, and provide loving encouragement, to all the kids in the neighborhood. So many of us who grew up in Maywood have nothing but fond memories of Mrs. Rivers and her husband. We basked in their presence, as we understood and embraced their standards; and I am deeply saddened by her transitioning — just as I was when Mr. Rivers passed. I told the friend who delivered the news to me on Saturday afternoon that she had just ruined my day.

I remember when I filed my papers to take the bar exam to become a lawyer. I chose Mr. Rivers, a law enforcement official, as one of my references who could vouch for my “good character and fitness” to be a lawyer, a position of public trust. He had known me since I was a little girl sitting in the bleachers on the little league field with my parents watching my older brother play. However, Mrs. Rivers was the one who helped him fill out the document, as he attested to in the field on the form that asked who aided him with his responses. I recall that Mrs. Rivers was as proud of my accomplishment as she could possibly be, because that was a time when other people’s parents were proud of the kids from the community who did what they had advised us to do — go forth and acquire knowledge. In fact, Mr. Rivers once told me that Glenn, who entered the NBA before graduating, would earn his college degree “if for no other reason than to shut his mother up!” As we all know, Glenn went back and earned that degree!

I also warmly recall chatting with Mrs. Rivers when I finally made it to the Chicago Stadium, as it was then called, to witness Glenn (“little Glenn Rivers”to me) play a professional game. (My younger brother, Duane, used to tell me all the time that Glenn was “really good” when he played at Proviso East, and I used to laugh and say, “little Glenn Rivers?”  After all, I left town for college the same fall he entered Proviso, and all I could remember was little Glenn pulling my hair on the playground when we were both students at Garfield Elementary.) Anyway, during that Stadium encounter, despite the fact that her son had been in the NBA for a while, and was a star at that point, Mrs. Rivers’ conversation centered around my work as a licensed attorney. Ever thoughtful and sweet, always kind and loving, that moment has always stuck out in my mind whenever I have thought about Mrs. Rivers over the years.

Then, too, I have to chuckle about the fact that Mrs. Rivers had no problem “fussing” at Glenn. That very night when the “star” came out of the locker room with no socks on, in the wintertime, Mrs. Rivers “gave him the business.” Everyone there cracked up laughing with the full understanding that we will never be too grown or elevated to be beyond our parents’ reach, or Mrs. Rivers’ reach for that matter! (Glenn and Gar will always hear her voice.) And even though I had not seen Glenn in years, there were no airs. He was as nice and kind as I remembered him to be — another testament to the good parenting he had received.

I once heard famed poet, author and professor, Haki Madhubuti, who first came to prominence during the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s, paraphrase an African proverb when he said, “When a Black elder dies, it’s like the closing of a library because they take so much knowledge and wisdom with them.” I can only hope that this village, her beloved village, learned some of that wisdom Mrs. Rivers possessed. Mrs. Rivers was a woman of class, substance and integrity, a significant member of this community and a woman of tremendous virtue. She was Maywood royalty.

Gar and Glenn, from my family to yours, you have our deepest and most heartfelt condolences. VFP

Rhonda Sherrod is founder and president of the Need to Know Group, an educational services firm that specializes in helping people view troubling social issues and personal problems within the context of a psychohistorical framework, with the objective of finding solutions.

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