Month: July 2015

Rash of Burglaries Has Maywood Homeowners on Edge; Police Catch One Burglar — A United Airlines Pilot; Nat’l Night Out Aug. 4

Police LightsThursday, July 30, 2015 || By Michael Romain 

According to various citizen complaints, there has been a rash of burglaries in Maywood. One resident said that two happened on North 2nd Avenue the night of July 28 alone. Today, Maywood police announced that they apprehended a suspect on Mon. July 27 during a possible home invasion at 1620 S. 17th Avenue; however, they didn’t say whether or not the suspect is also responsible for other reported burglaries.

On July 27, at around 3:05 PM, officers received a call of a possible home invasion at the aforementioned address. When they entered the residence, they found Michael Hall, a white male from Sugar Grove, hiding in the closet. The suspect is reportedly a United Airlines pilot.

“When officers apprehended him, he put up a fight,” said Maywood community relations officer Pirsia Allen. Hall, 42, was charged with home invasion, aggravated battery and attempting to disarm a police officer. Police say he might have been under the influence of a narcotic. His bond was set at $25,000. VFP

N O T I F I C A T I O N 



Night out

At Quinn Center, A Summer Celebration of Community and Service

Quinn I

Participants in Quinn Community Center’s fourth-annual summer camp during a feast, held July 24, in the St. Eulalia parking lot to mark the camp’s end. Michael Romain. 

Quinn VThursday, July 30, 2015 || By Michael Romain 

On an evening in June 24, several hundred people gathered in the parking lot of St. Eulalia Parish, 1851 S. 9th Avenue, for an extravagant feast marking the end of what amounts to the very concrete extension of the nearly 90-year-old church’s mission. The parish’s community outreach arm, Quinn Community Center, was marking the end of its five-week summer camp.

Emily Obringer, a former Loyola University medical student who was present at the creation of the summer camp four years ago, spent the evening marveling at its growth.

What began as a small group of teenagers volunteering to mentor some neighborhood kids over a few hours a day during the summer has evolved into a five-week, full-day camp servicing more than 130 kindergarten through 8th grade students virtually free of charge. With funding from Loyola and other sponsor organizations, the camp was also able to hire 35 teenagers to work as mentors.

The participants get to indulge in the arts, physical activities and receive tutoring from Golden Apple scholars. Obringer said various community organizations and individuals offer time and resources to instruct students in different disciplines. For instance, medical student’s with Loyola’s Aspire program facilitated science activities for students and Rachel Weaver Rivera, a local artist who founded her own studio in the Chicago area, offered art lessons.

“That first summer, we did maybe a couple of weeks and a couple of hours a day,” Obringer recalled. “We had about nine teens and about 30 neighborhood kids. The teens were just volunteering at that point. They wanted to do something for their community.”

Rah ‘quell Watson, 13, was one of those kids the teens mentored four years ago. Now, she’s what’s called a junior mentor. She spent the camp working with kindergarten through 3rd grade children — present versions of herself not too long ago.

“I can’t even remember when I was in the camp at that age,” Watson said.

She said she now feels much more acutely the burden of responsibility that comes with caring for younger children, even within the relatively limited settings of a summer camp.

“This gave me more patience,” she said of her camp experience. “The kids really look up to what you do and they’ll copy anything you do.”

One of the high points of the camp for Sydney Idunate, 13, were the watermelon fights she had with some of the teen mentors. This year marked Idunate’s second year participating and likely not her last. When asked whether she’d be back, she didn’t hesitate for a response.

“Yes,” she said immediately.

“I like the people here and it’s fun,” said Amari Esper, 12, of Bellwood. Esper, who runs track and plays basketball, said the tutoring she received from the volunteer Golden Apple scholars who came in and helped campers with their academics will have a lasting impact on her.

“They came and tutored us, but I was having fun at the same time that I was learning,” she said.

Manuel Barnal, the camp’s coordinator and a medical student at Loyola, said the camp is the picture of a holistic approach to health. The medical student, who noted this was his first year working with children and running a camp, said the experience has had a lasting effect on his career aspirations.

“People ask me how this camp is health-related and how it is reflective of my medical career,” he said. “I believe that access to education and disparities in education directly relates to health disparities. We hired 35 team mentors, high schoolers, who otherwise would’ve been out on the street and getting into trouble. To me, that’s health. They were busy here. They were involved in an active learning process, instead of sitting at home in front of a TV. That’s health to me.”

Gabriel Lara, Quinn’s executive director, said the holistic approach to health and community laid out by Barnal is at the center of a philosophy shared by Quinn Center and Loyola University. He said the congruent missions are what has made for such an effective partnership.

“When the program started, it was the idea of the church to be in the community and we looked at who in the community also has that responsibility. We feel that, since we’re in the community, we have to help and Loyola has that same idea,” Lara said.

Tom Fuechtmann, a retired community relations professional for Loyola and DePaul, and who sits on Quinn’s board, said Quinn’s anchor has been Lara himself.

“Quinn is about five years old. It’s a new program for the parish, but it has grown remarkably because we have a remarkable director,” Fuechtmann said. “He really is one of the more talented community organizers I’ve seen and I’ve worked with some of the best in Chicago.”

Fuechtmann said Quinn’s mission to reach out to the community comes from “the faith commitment of the parish, which sees itself as building community within the parish and being a catalyst for community.”

“There is a definite need for programs like this in communities everywhere,” said Bernal, a native of Mexico who was raised in Memphis, Tennessee before coming to Maywood for medical school. “That’s why I went to Loyola — because I was so in tune with their idea of serving communities.” VFP

Quinn IIIQuinn II

Maywood Daycare Owner Says Rauner’s Childcare Cuts, Restrictions Are ‘Devastating’ Communities


Cynthia Brown (far left) with children who attend her Little People Christian Daycare summer camp. (Below left): Faith Arnold speaks about her experiences during a community teach-in on July 30 in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood. Michael Romain. 

FaithThursday, July 30, 2015 || By Michael Romain 

“We’re here because our communities are being devastated by budget cuts to childcare, school homes, home care and other services, while banks and rich CEOs make off like bandits,” said Cynthia Brown, the owner of Little People Christian Daycare in Maywood.

Brown was among a group of about 30 people who got together in a shaded corner of LaFollette Park in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood on a hot July 30 afternoon for a community teach-in. The idea for the gathering was hatched by the Grassroots Collaborative, a coalition of labor unions and community organizations. Most of the people at the park were females — teachers, paraprofessionals and childcare providers represented by SEIU Healthcare or the Chicago Teachers Union.

The outdoor session amounted to an hour-long lesson in an age-old power struggle — that between the capital-owning haves and the income-earning have-nots, with many of the afternoon’s ‘instructors’ putting personal testimonies and faces to what are often considered impersonal political and economic forces.

“One of the issues we see is there is a lot of money being left on the table, specifically money going to banks,” said Nathan Ryan, communications director for Grassroots Collaborative.

“Illinois gives millions of dollars away each year on the interest fees from bad financial deals. Two-thirds of the corporations in Illinois don’t pay income taxes. We think the wealthy should pay their fair share instead of going after our parks, libraries and schools.”

Many in attendance decried Gov. Bruce Rauner’s handling of the state’s budget crisis and his recent changes to the Department of Human Services’ (DHS’s) Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP), which provides subsidies for low-income parents to send their children to daycare.

The Rauner administration announced this month new, more restrictive guidelines for the CCAP program that are part of a comprehensive package of state spending cuts totaling more than $800 million. The restrictions were enacted after Rauner and state legislators failed to agree on a FY 2016 budget before the July 1 deadline.

“According to DHS, a new CCAP applicant has to be one of the following to be eligible for the program: a Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) recipient; a teen parent enrolled full-time in elementary or high school or GED classes; from a family with a special needs child; or a working family with a monthly income up to 50 percent of the federal poverty level,” Progress Illinois reported on July 10.

Sandra Knight, the executive director for the YWCA, told the Daily Journal recently that the maximum income a family of two, meaning one parent and one child, can earn and still qualify for CCAP funds decreased from $2,456 a month to $664 a month.

Faith Arnold, the owner of Sun Children Home Daycare in Bellwood, told the teach-in crowd that the new regulations would affect her ability to enroll more children.

“It seems like we’re going to get funding for fiscal year 2016,” Arnold said. “That’s kind of bittersweet as a provider. Yes, it’s great to know we’re going to be compensated for the work we do […] but I don’t have any children who can come into the program!”

Arnold recalled the story of one of those parents who she said was denied a childcare subsidy because she’s going to start a job that pays her more than 50 percent of the federal poverty level.

“I had a situation where a mom needed care for her children, her two kids. She relocated up here from Atlanta, had a job waiting for her. She was referred to me by a friend of a friend who asked if I could help the parent. But I couldn’t help her, because she was about to make minimum wage. She didn’t qualify. So she came to see me Tuesday [of this week] and I told her I don’t know what to tell you. ‘What am I going to do,’ she said. She told me that she needed to know something, because she starts her job on Monday. ‘I need to know what to do with my children,’ she said. So she got on the bus yesterday and took her two babies back to Atlanta, Georgia to live with a family; hoping everything will be okay.”

Arnold, who at one point was so irate she needed to pause a few seconds to gather her thoughts, said she believes the state’s budget crisis isn’t about wasteful spending; rather, it’s about an unjust lack of revenue.

“I’m highly upset about this. Gov. Rauner has not asked his wealthy billionaire friends to take a concession! All we ask is for them to just pay their fair share of taxes! That’s all we ask! That would give us the revenue we need.” VFP

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Restorative Justice, Nonviolent Security Training Moves Forward at Proviso East

ProvisoEastWednesday, July 29, 2015 || Originally Published: School Board Focus West || 7/28/15 || By Jean Lotus

Proviso Township High School District 209 will take a new approach to training security guards next year, Chief Financial Officer Todd Drafall told the school board at the July 14 meeting. The board approved a contract with Conflict Prevention Institute (CPI) from Milwaukee a company specializing in “nonviolent crisis intervention” training.

These changes are an example of a quick improvement in school culture that can happen when a board is relieved of the pressures of answering to Cook County political overlords. The D209 board turned over in April, 2015, in a surprise election that brought independent candidates to the majority.

Proviso Township HS D209 has some of the lowest-performing schools in the state of Illinois. Seven percent of students at Proviso East test ‘college-ready’ according to the Illinois Interactive Report Card. PEHS is plagued by student fights, especially since the racial composition of the school has changed to 55 percent black and 41 percent Hispanic.

“They say it will take a long time to ‘turn a big ship around’ and change school culture, but this is happening very quickly,” school board Secretary Ned Wagner said. Wagner pointed to a new student discipline committee consisting of a Maywood police officer, board members, teachers, students from all three schools and community residents.

Starting this year, the district staff will be on the lookout for students who are having behavioral health, family, relationship or “other life issues” that are interfering with success in school.

Security guards and fights at Proviso East, caught on cellphone, plagued the district last school year. In December, local television stations broadcast cellphone video showing Varsity Boys Basketball Coach Donnie Boyce allegedly choking a girl involved in a fight. Boyce was working full time as a security guard for the school. Then on May 13, WGN broadcast more cellphone video of two security guards who appeared not to intervene in a fight between two girls. The guard, who was fired, told the board she was never trained in restraining a student with a weapon.

Wagner called for a “less martialistic” approach to security and student discipline. Board President Theresa Kelly has repeatedly called for improvement in security guard training.

Superintendent Nettie Collins-Hart also praised the board for “making our number one goal student achievement” instead of focusing on cutting costs. Collins-Hart said the board approved more new programs last year than in the past six combined, citing the new cosmetology and IB programs.

“I’m encouraged and excited we’re going to have those discussions,” she said. VFP

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Rescheduled LLOC Meeting Tonight, Wed. July 29, 7 PM (Agenda Packet Inside)

Wednesday, July 29, 2015 || By COMMUNITY EDITOR

A rescheduled Legal, License and Ordinance Committee (LLOC) meeting is scheduled for tonight, Wed. July 29, 2015, 7 PM, at village council chambers, 125 S. 5th Avenue. Among items up for discussion:

Mayor’s Report
1) Appointment of Theresa L. Kelly to the Maywood Housing Authority
Appointment of Theresa L. Kelly to the Maywood Housing Authority.pdf
2) Appointment of Barbara Bailey to the Maywood Housing Authority
Appointment of Barbara Bailey to the Maywood Housing Authority.pdf
B. Village Manager’s Reports:
1) Presentation by Willie Winters, Director of Cook County Sheriff’s Office regarding the RENEW Program.
2) Discussion and consideration for approving a Resolution to enter into an Intergovernmental Agreement by and between The Illinois Office of the Comptrollers and Village of Maywood regarding access to the Comptrollers Local Debt Recovery Program.
Local Offset IGA – MAYWOOD.pdf
3) Discussion for review and authorization pursuant to Letter of Engagement for entire Agreement between American Appraisal Associates, Inc. and the Village of Maywood and supersedes any prior oral or written agreements.
Letter of Engagement 7-17-15.pdf
4) Discussion and consideration pursuant to 1701 South 1st Avenue Variance for Accessory Structure Height.  The project is in accordance with the 2014 Comprehensive updates recommending Service Industrial use for the property.
5) Consideration to approve a contract between the Village of  Maywood and Malcor Roofing of Illinois, Inc.  for  the Police Station Roof Replacement Project located at 125 S. 5th Avenue, Maywood, IL in the amount of  $232, 000.00. MOTION TO MOVE THIS AGENDA ITEM TO THE AUGUST 3, 2015 REGULAR VILLAGE BOARD MEETING FOR FINAL ACTION.
Police Station Roof Replacment Bid Review 072215.pdf
Malcor Roofing of Illinois, Inc Bid Form.pdf
Permit Drawings-Maywood Police Station Roof Repair.pdf
6) Discussion and consideration to add attached document to the already submitted Bid Proposal to purchase a new fire truck item pursuant to HGAC Buy Program.
HGAC Buy Program for Firetruck.pdf
7) Discussion pursuant to the Maywood Train Station Relocation Matter.
Norfleet – Metra Station Station Location Timeline (2).doc

For more info, click here. VFP

Mother of Sandra Bland Finds Strength in Church Family

Sandra Bland Mother

Geneva Reed-Veal, the mother of Sandra Bland, wipes away tears during her daughter’s burial service Sat. July 25, in Willow Springs. William Camargo/Wednesday Journal. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015 || Originally Published: Austin Weekly News || 7/27/15 || By Michael Romain 

The day after burying her daughter, Sandra Bland, in a Willow Springs cemetery, Geneva Reed-Veal was in the only place she knew to be — her West Side church. Reed-Veal is a minister at The Word Works church in Chicago’s Humboldt Park community.

A member of Wednesday Journal’s West Side Business Network and managing broker at an East Garfield Park realty firm, Reed-Veal had been scheduled to volunteer at an Oak Park community fest in June. But she was due to appear at a church-based outing around the same time. The community outing would have to wait. Her church came first.

On Sun. July 26, as the still-grieving, but battle-ready, mother stood in the front-row — at one moment she was stretching her hands in praise; at another motioning ecstatically to her pastor, Bishop Jeffrey Davis, in righteous agreement; at another comforting a close friend, whose father is gravely ill, seated next to her — it wasn’t hard to understand why.

“Yesterday was the service, but life is now,” Davis said. “I tried to get her to just stay home, but she said, ‘No Bishop, I’m coming to church. I’m not listening to you. I’m coming to church.’ She’s here and she knows we’re praying for her.'”

But the West Side church has done far more than that. At Bland’s funeral last Saturday, Davis announced that the church would establish a $1,000 continuing education scholarship in her name. It would be called the Sandy Speaks Scholarship, Davis said. The announcement prompted Reed-Veal to jump out of her seat and start dancing in the aisle of the DuPage AME Church in Lisle, just steps away from her daughter’s white casket.

The scholarship was both a gesture of support for Reed-Veal’s desire to keep her daughter’s voice and name alive (“If you want to keep Sandy’s memory alive — that road they stopped her on? Get them to change it to Sandy Bland Way,” she told those at the funeral), and an extension of what Davis believes is one of his church’s primary missions.

“Our job as a church is to be a family, a community, of believers that support each other in faith and in life,” said Davis, before addressing Reed-Veal’s friend. She had taken off work during the week to travel back and forth to the hospital. That cost money, Davis said.

“I told my wife that, not from the church but from us — we’re going to fill your tank up and make sure you’ve got money to eat with this week,” he said.

Davis also reassured Reed-Veal that the church would stand behind her struggle to resolve her daughter’s death.

“When the lights, camera, action are gone, they’re going to need us,” Davis said. “We’re going to put pressure in the spirit on the powers that be that nothing be hid […] God knows how to expose a thing.” VFP

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‘This Means War,’ Says Mother of Sandra Bland

Sandra Bland Funeral I

Mourners, including sister Shante Needham (left), bid farewell to Sandra Bland, 28, on Sat. July 25 at a cemetery in the DuPage County suburb of Willow Springs. William Camargo/Wednesday Journal.

Sandra Bland Funeral IITuesday, July 28, 2015 || Originally Published: Austin Weekly News || 7/26/15 || By Michael Romain 

The line to get into Sandra Bland’s funeral, held Sat. July 25 at DuPage African American Episcopal (AME) Church in Lisle, spanned the length of the church’s roughly block-long parking lot. Not far from the church, on a grassy knoll abutting a busy roadway, a coterie of camera crews angled for shots of the 28-year-old’s white casket being slowly carried into the sanctuary from the hearse.

Some people in the line wore t-shirts boasting the slogan “Unite, Not Incite” and “#SandySpeaks,” the Facebook hashtag that Bland started in January to bring awareness to the issues of race and justice symbolized by the deaths of young black men like Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin and Eric Garner.

The roughly two-hour service was part memorial, part civil rights rally and part canonization for a woman who, cryptically enough, in death became the kind of martyr she devoted the last stage of her life publicizing through social media.

The mourners filled the sanctuary’s more than 1,000 seats, in addition to the overflow areas in the facility’s chapel and basement, where they watched the service through video feed. Among them were complete strangers like Evelyn (she preferred not to give her last name), who treated Bland’s funeral as a pilgrimage of sorts.

“I came here because I’ve been through the same situation,” she said. “I called the police during a family dispute and when they showed up to my home, they were trying to get into an argument with me; and I’m the person who called with the complaint. I didn’t experience any kind of courtesy.

“So when I saw the video [of Bland’s arrest], I knew what she was going through. She fully complied with the officer, but he got upset because he couldn’t find anything. This type of thing is pervasive. It’s unfortunate. As human beings, we should all be treated with respect […] Maybe it was her hair. I don’t know. But that officer had to find a reason to harass her and it escalated to what it went to.”

Rev. Ira Acree, pastor of Greater St. John Bible Church in Austin, also lined up to pay his respects. Acree knows Bland’s mother, Geneva Reed-Veal, a minister at The Word Works Church on the West Side.

“We have a big platform right now. This young lady’s death has put the spotlight on systemic racism across the board in America. Anybody who saw that dashboard video can see we have another instance of police aggression that was instigated by racial profiling. Sandra Bland died in a cell she never should’ve been in in the first place,” Acree said.

The circumstances of Bland’s death are now infamous. The police dash cam of the July 10 confrontation between Bland and Texas State Trooper Brian Encinia, 30, has been uploaded to YouTube many times, with those videos garnering millions of views among them.

After Encinia pulls Bland over for allegedly failing to signal while changing lanes, he walks to the car to retrieve her license and, moments later, returns to issue a warning ticket. That’s when the video exchange begins. Officer Encinia, noticing Bland’s apparent irritation, says, “OK, ma’am. Are you okay?”

Bland responds, “I’m waiting on you, this is your job,” before explaining to Encinia why she’s irritated.

“I was getting out of the way, you were speeding up, dialing me. So, I move over and you stop me. So, yeah, I am a little irritated. But that doesn’t stop you from giving me a ticket, so I am irritated.”

The confrontation escalates from there, with Encinia forcing Bland out of the car by threatening her with his Taser (“I will light you up!”) and tackling her to the ground. Bland yells that she has epilepsy and Encinia responds, “Good!”

Bland was transported to the Waller County Jail. She was charged with assaulting an officer. Her bond was set at $5,000. Three days later, on July 13, Bland was found dead in her jail cell from what authorities have ruled a suicide. According to autopsy reports, Bland hung herself by tying a white trash bag into a slip knot around her neck–a finding Bland’s family vigorously disputes.

Bland’s case has provoked a maelstrom of national dialogue about everything from police and civilian relations to racism in law enforcement to gender relations.

“The authorities in Waller County are going to discover something that I learned and each of us learned at our mother’s knee. You can disrespect a strong black woman if you want, but you’re going to pay for that,” said Rev. James Miller, the pastor of DuPage AME, where Bland had been a member for nearly 20 years.

Miller urged those in attendance to go online and “shutdown the justice department website” with demands for a federal investigation into Bland’s death.

“If one person is held to the law, all persons should be held to the law,” he said.

Sandra Bland Funeral III

U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) and U.S. Rep. Bill Foster (D-11th) ramped up the demands for a federal investigation when both announced that they were sending letters to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch demanding a “full, complete, unbiased” investigation into Bland’s death.

Durbin said, as he was traveling on the expressway from Chicago to the DuPage County church, “there were many people changing lanes in traffic and there were many not using their signal and their lives continue.”

The service — which ironically occurred on the anniversary of Emmett Till’s 1955 death at the hands of a white Mississippi mob — was also an opportunity for Bland’s family and friends to humanize a woman whose famous passing some worried might obscure the details of her having lived.

“We’re not funeralizing a martyr or victim — we’re celebrating a hero,” said Miller.

Bland’s Sigma Gamma Rho sorority sisters recalled a woman “who understood the concept of order” — even serving as sergeant-at-arms in her local chapter. She was on the dean’s list at Prairie View A&M University, her alma mater. Many of them, dressed in the sorority’s characteristic royal blue and gold colors, stood throughout the sanctuary and the overflow areas as members of the sorority’s international leadership team read a resolution.

“We, the women of Sigma, acknowledge that we will say her name,” one soror read. “In this movement, in this space, in the climate of this world — her life mattered.”

Reed-Veal insisted that her daughter, despite the autopsy report, did not commit suicide. She also voiced frustration with how Waller County officials have handled her daughter’s death.

She said during a trip to Tennessee three weeks ago, she and Bland, who had been at odds for some time, forgave each other. The music of gospel recording artist Fred Hammond, which was sang throughout Bland’s service, came constantly through the car’s speaker system.

“To have had that last week with her […] we cleaned up everything,” Reed-Veal said. But she noted that the conversation seemed far from a farewell at the time; rather, it felt like a preface to something greater.

“She said, ‘Mama, I’m ready to go back to Texas and stop all the injustice against blacks in the South,'” Reed-Veal recalled, adding that the new job her daughter had taken at her Texas alma mater entailed the school paying for her to pursue a master’s degree.

“We’re not funeralizing a martyr or victim — we’re celebrating a hero …”

“That baby did not take herself out of here,” Reed-Veal said, before expressing her frustration with Waller County law enforcement officials.

“The folk told me that they were going to [have this ready and they were going to do that] — a lie! Her personal belongings are still not with her mama,” she said.

Reed-Veal’s defiance and resolve struck a chord among the mourners, with many standing the entire time she spoke.

“This means war!” she said, before preemptively swatting down any attempts to mistake her marshal metaphor as a provocation.

“Don’t go to [Trooper Encinia’s] house, because the man has a family,” she said. “Don’t make his family collateral damage for what he did.”

Reed-Veal said her war is “a spiritual” one and that she wants to fight it the right way; not through chaos and disorder, she noted, but through disciplined and prayerful persistence.

“One thing I know about Geneva is when she’s locked in, she’s a pit bull,” said Bishop Jeffrie Davis, the pastor of the West Side church where Reed-Veal is a minister.

“I want to know what happened to my baby and I’m going to find out what happened to my baby,” Reed-Veal said. VFP

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