Month: February 2016

Early Voting Starts Today, Feb. 29


Monday, February 29, 2016 || By Michael Romain 

In-person early voting for the upcoming March 15 primary election started today, Feb. 29, at 9 AM, at 43 locations in suburban Cook County. Thirty-seven of those suburban locations will hold early voting until March 12.

A short list of those near you, includes:

  • Bellwood Village Hall, 3200 Washington Blvd., Bellwood. || Mon. – Fri., Feb. 29 to March 4 || March 7 through 11 || 9 AM to 5 PM || March 5 through 12 || 9 AM to 5 PM
  • Maywood Courthouse – Whitcomb Building, 1311 Maybrook Square, Maywood || Mon. – Fri., Feb. 29 to March 4 || March 7 through 11 || 9 AM to 5 PM || March 14 || 9 AM to 5 PM
  • Melrose Park Village Hall, 1000 N. 25th Ave., Melrose Park || Mon. – Fri., Feb. 29 to March 4 || March 7 through 11 || 9 AM to 5 PM || March 5 through 12 || 9 AM to 5 PM

For a complete listing of locations in Chicago and the suburbs, click here.

 Better Government Association’s 2016 Illinois Primary Elections Guide 

Am I registered to vote?

You can check your registration status by entering your name and zip code at the Registration Lookup website. If you’re registered it will also give your polling place location.

How do I register to vote?

Although the traditional voter registration period closes 28 days prior to the election, Illinois residents may register in-person at the office of their election authority during the “grace period” which runs from February 17th to March 15th. Find your election authority office here.

69 W. Washington St., 6th Floor
Chicago, IL 60626

 Cook County
69 W. Washington St., 5th Floor
Chicago, IL 60626

You need two forms of acceptable ID, at least one of which shows your current address, in order to register to vote during the “grace period.”

Acceptable forms of ID include:

  • Driver’s license
  • State identification card
  • Passport
  • Current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck stub, or other government document that shows your name and address

*You must immediately vote upon registering during “grace period” registration*

Where is my polling place?

You can find the location of your polling place at the Election Authority website. Each county’s polling places can be found on its website. If you’ve moved since the last election, make sure you check to see where your new polling place is before you go – your vote won’t count if you vote in the wrong precinct.

Do I need an ID to vote?

It depends. You will need to present a government-issued photo ID IF:

  • You register during the grace period registration from February 17th through March 15th
  • You are a new voter who has registered by mail and have not previously supplied the Election Board with appropriate ID

What time are the polls open in Illinois?

On March 15th, polls will be open from 6:00 AM to 7:00 PM.

Can I vote early?

Yes. Early voting is from February 4th to March 14th. You can find early voting locations, as well as their hours, here.

Can I vote by mail?

Yes. Anyone registered to vote may apply to vote by mail ballot without requiring any reason to do so. You must complete an application by mail ballot from your election authority and will then be mailed a ballot at the mailing address provided. You have till March 10th, 2016 to submit the application. Mailed ballots must be postmarked no later than Election Day (March 15th), and must be received within 14 days of the election. Click here for more information.

Chicago Mail Ballot Application

Cook County Mail Ballot Application

Telephone help lines:

For more information you can call the Illinois State Board of Elections at their Springfield or Chicago offices.

Springfield Office: 217-782-4141 Monday – Friday 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM

Chicago Office: 312-814-6485 Monday – Friday 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM

LETTERS: Summarizing Chris Welch’s Qualifications

Letter to the EditorMonday, February 29, 2016 || LETTERS 

Chris has served as a partner at the law firm of Sanchez, Daniels & Hoffman, LLP since July 2007 after originally joining the firm in December 1997. Chris has served as a State Representative in the Illinois General Assembly since January 2013.

He is a member of the following committees: Appropriations-Higher Education, Higher Education, Health Care Availability & Accessibility, Judiciary, Small Business Empowerment & Workforce Development, and Transportation/Regulation, Roads and Bridges.

Chris served on the Proviso Township High Schools District 209 Board of Education from Nov. 7, 2001 to May 2013. Chris served as President of the Board for a decade, and during his tenure, he championed the effort to create the first ever suburban-based magnet high school, the Proviso Math and Science Academy (PMSA).

Chris also serves as legal counsel for various school districts and municipalities, and he is a member of the Illinois Council of School Attorneys.

Chris has successfully tried cases at both the State and Federal levels, and he has argued appeals in State and Federal Appellate courts. Chris is also a certified administrative hearing officer with experience serving as the hearing officer in code enforcement court.

Chris has received the Operation Uplift Hometown Dreamweaver Award (January 2005), the prestigious PLCCA Image Award (June 2006), the Village of Hillside Chairman’s Award for his contributions to Human Rights issues (January 2007), the Man of the Year Award from the Proviso Township Dream Team (May 2009), in August 2010 Chris was named one of the top 40 Game Changers under the age of 40 by Black Enterprise Magazine and WVON AM-1690, and in 2011 Chris was named a Rising Star by Superlawyers Magazine and Chicago Magazine.

In 2012, Chris was elected Illinois State Representative, 7th House District. Chris was named a SuperLawyer in 2013. VFP

— Robert Cox, Forest Park

Anyone interested in putting his or her comments, opinions, criticism, analysis or feedback up for formal publication should forward the content to in the body of the email (preferably) or in a Word file. VFP

District 89 Crowns Spelling Bee Winners; PMSA Achieves International Baccalaureate World School Status

Spelling Bee Photo IV

Winners of District 89’s Middle School Spelling Bee | Courtesy District 89

Monday, February 29, 2016 || By COMMUNITY EDITOR

On January 15, District 89 held their annual Spelling Bee for Irving and Stevenson Middle School students.

The 1st place winner, Isaiah Ketadji, a 6th grade student from Stevenson Middle School will continue on to the 6th Annual West 40 Scripts Spelling Bee, held at McClure Jr. High School, in Western Springs. Congratulations to Isaiah and the 2nd Place Winner- 7th grade student Yukila Russell from Irving Middle School and 3rd Place Winner- 8th grade student Makiyah Golden from Irving Middle School.

Proviso Mathematics and Science Academy is officially an International Baccalaureate World School

ibworldschool.jpg[Proviso Township High Schools District 209] On February 16, PMSA officially became the newest member of an ever growing global community of 4,267 schools offering the International Baccalaureate in 147 different countries. Students will be able to take the International Baccalaureate® (IB) Diploma Programme (DP) at the school, with the first cohort commencing their studies in August 2016.

“We wanted to offer our students a more holistic education which will instill in them the skills, knowledge, and outlook to succeed in the 21st century, both in their local community and in the wider world,” said Dr. Bessie Karvelas, principal at PMSA. “At the same time, we wanted to give our teachers the opportunity to be a part of an international network of experts leading the field in education. We are delighted to become an IB World School and we look forward to reaping the many benefits of the program.”

The IB has a positive impact on students, schools, and their wider communities with learning going well beyond the classroom, including at PMSA as it was a candidate school for the Diploma Programme for the last two years. Its unique and innovative approach to learning means both students and teachers are genuinely engaged with the programs and benefit from being a part of an unparalleled global network. Students are able to participate in international conferences and educators work with their peers internationally to ensure that the IB remains at the cutting edge of international education.

“The IB is recognized across the world for its innovative approach to education,” said Mr. Drew Deutsch, Director, IB America, International Baccalaureate. “We strongly believe that it is important to place an equal focus on academics and other transferrable skills in order to best prepare students for success beyond high school. That Proviso Mathematics and Science Academy has now successfully completed the authorization process and can now start offering the IB marks an exciting time for PMSA and more importantly, for the students who will benefit from an IB education.”

Dr. Nettie Collins-Hart, superintendent of District 209, congratulated the staff at PMSA for achieving International Baccalaureate World School status.

“We are in an exciting time in our District where we are able to offer our students new programs to boost their academic achievement and enrich their education,” she said. “With the changing landscape that is occurring in college and career readiness, we need to be able to offer our students new opportunities to grow and to learn, and I believe that the International Baccalaureate is a great way to achieve that goal. I commend the administration and staff at PMSA for earning this designation.

Dr. Collins-Hart added that there are plans to expand the IB program into Proviso East High School and Proviso West High School in the next few years.

Congratulations to the staff and administration at PMSA on becoming an International Baccalaureate World School! VFP

P A I D  A D V E R T I S E M E N T


Maywood Man, Former Proviso East Student Murdered In Chicago

image.jpgSunday, February 28, 2016 || Originally Published: Chicago Sun-Times Homicide Watch || By Jeff Mayes || Updated: 2/29/16 

A man killed in a drive-by shooting on a [Feb. 23] Tuesday afternoon in the South Austin neighborhood on the West Side has been identified as 23-year-old west suburban resident Diamond Garner.

Garner was outside in the 0-100 block of South Leamington about 4 p.m. Tuesday when a vehicle drove by and someone inside fired shots at him, Chicago Police said.

He was taken to Stroger Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 6:38 p.m., according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office. An autopsy showed he died of a gunshot wound to the head.

Garner attended Proviso East High School and lived in the 1200 block of South 17th Avenue in Maywood, according to the medical examiner’s office. VFP

P A I D  A D V E R T I S I N G


Maywood On The Hook For More Than $100K Due To Late Audits

Saturday, February 27, 2016 || By Michael Romain 

At a Feb. 24 Legal, License and Ordinance Committee (LLOC) meeting, the Maywood Board of Trustees confronted what amounts to the total price tag of the village’s historical tardiness in filing its annual financial audits.

Village Manager Willie Norfleet, Jr., at the request of Mayor Edwenna Perkins, reported a delinquent notice the village received from the Illinois Comptroller’s office earlier this month showing the village thousands of dollars in arrears.

Since 2010, the village has accumulated more than 6,600 delinquent days past the annual Oct. 27 deadline for filing audits for the village itself and for the village’s three Tax Increment Financing (TIF) districts.

The late days range from a high of 423 in 2012 to a low of just 31 in 2015, which indicates a rather sudden, drastic improvement over the village’s historic pattern of late filing. In 2014, for instance, the village was 379 days late filing financial audits for the Madison St./5th Ave., St. Charles Road and Roosevelt Road TIFs, and 253 days late filing its annual audit and annual report for that year.

The state fines municipalities $5 each day up to 15 days they’re past the filing deadline, $10 each day if they’re between 16 and 30 days late, $15 each day if they’re bertween 31 and 45 days late and $20 each day beyond that.

Maywood, since 2010, has accumulated more than 5,500 days beyond the 45-day delinquency threshold. A rough estimate puts the village on the hook for at least $120,000 in fines.

During the Feb. 24 meeting, Norfleet noted that the state comptroller allows municipalities to file for a reduction in late fees, which the village manager said he intends to do within the next 30 days; however, Norfleet didn’t say how much the state would reduce from the total amount of fines the village owes.

“I’m looking for a committment from somebody to be early, zero days late, on the next [audit]” said Trustee Michael Rogers. “We should be in a position where we can make that happen.”

“I can commit to that,” Norfleet said, before noting the drastic improvement in filing audits the village had already achieved on his watch.

“You’re coming from a high of more than 400 days to 31 days, so next year we’ll be able to [at least be on time],” he said.

Norfleet said he couldn’t specifically account for why the village was late filing audits for its TIF funds, but noted that the main audit may have been late due to a slow down in the human resources department.

“I don’t have a historical answer for the other years, but what I can say for this current year is that one of the obstsacles that made us late was not getting the HR information to the auditors on a timely basis. That was the thing that pushed this current year back. I’m not sure exactly what relationship that has with the three TIFs, but that’s the reason the main audit was late.” VFP

Piling it on: A chart of Maywood’s pattern of delinquency when filing its annual audits (Illinois Comptroller’s Office)



Maywood Board Divided Over Welcoming Video Gambling Bistro


Patrons at Penny’s Place, a video gambling facility in Calumet Park, in 2015. | Gary Middendorf/Daily Southtown

Friday, February 26, 2016 || By Michael Romain 

During a Feb. 24 public hearing, the Maywood Board of Trustees discussed the merits of welcoming a video gambling bistro at 611 W. Roosevelt Rd., which would be called Lacey’s Place.

The proposed venture’s co-owners, Jeffery Rehberger and Jeffrey Mick, were in attendance at the meeting to seek the board’s approval of a Class M liquor license, without which they said the business wouldn’t be feasible. Rehberger said the bistro would require patrons to purchase a minimum of two alcoholic drinks, so the bistro’s operation would be dependent on the liquor license.

At a Jan. 13 LLOC meeting, the board discussed a draft ordinance prepared by village staff that would set the maximum number of video gambling businesses with Class M liquor licenses in Maywood at three during any given time.

The draft ordinance, which will likely be amended and has yet to be approved by the board, would also prohibit the establishments from locating within 1,500 feet of each other or 100 feet from a “church, school, hospital, home for the aged or indigent persons or veterans, their spouses or children, or any military or naval station.”

The Feb. 24 hearing on the Rehberger proposal was the first forum where members of the board publicly aired their opinions on both the specific Roosevelt Road gambling bistro and on video gambling bistros, in general.

“I like the concept of the location,” said Trustee Isiah Brandon, who lauded the development’s potential to generate tax and sales revenue for the village, in addition to enhancing the local business climate.

Rehberger estimated that, based on figures from other video gaming establishments he’s opened, the Roosevelt Rd. location could generate between $30,000 and $40,000 of annual revenue for Maywood from taxes and fees.

Brandon said he’d visited a similar gaming bistro in nearby Berwyn and that it seemed a place that would attract senior citizens seeking entertainment. And Trustee Michael Rogers noted that he talked with a village official in Brookfield about a video gaming bistro in that town and the official praised the establishment.

“I’m not really seeing anything that I fear wouldn’t work on the surface,” said Rogers, adding that the high traffic volume on Roosevelt Rd., would be good location both for attracting passersby driving through Maywood and for preventing any nuisances or criminal potential, since the location would be under such heavy visual surveillance.

But other trustees were leery of welcoming what several residents who delivered public comments considered prospective hotspots for attracting loiterers and criminal activity.

“I am sick and tired of … just welcoming just anything,” said Trustee Ron Rivers. “We want to welcome good neighbors. No disparity on you guys. I’ve got to dispel this idea of anything that will take a for rent sign off this property — I’im not doing that anymore.”

“I don’t want any kind of gambling or liquor stores or taverns on Roosevelt Road,” said Trustee Melvin Lightford. “I’d like to have nice restaurants and nice businesses. It looks like we’re going downhill. I don’t want any gambling on that side of Roosevelt Road. As a matter of fact, we don’t need any gambling here at all.”

Brandon said the perception of video gamblign bistros as havens for vice didn’t jibe with what he considered the reality, adding that the village would be giving up a prime economic development opportunity if it shut the door to the establishment.

“In order for us to deal with the financial challenges of our community, we will have to bring in some businesses,” he said. “I don’t see any major issues and I haven’t heard any from our colleagues, or at least it wasn’t clear to me that they presented … I think it’s a win for the taxpayers and for the community as well.”

The debate among the village trustees was only a microcosm of a debate that’s been happening statewide since a 2012 law legalized video gambling in establishments, such as restaurants and cafes, that sell liquor.

The gambling aspect of the establishments, which are basically places where video slot machines are setup, is regulated by the Illinois Gaming Board; while liquor licenses are granted by local municipalities. As with Rehberger’s proposal, the liquor license is typically essential for the gaming operation to function as a feasible business proposition for many owners of the establishments.

In the last several years, the gaming establishments have proliferated throughout the western suburbs. According to an October 2015 Chicago Tribune report, Oakbrook Terrace had nine, and Countryside had 17, such establishments at the time.

“The state collects 30 percent of the net income from the gambling machines, but is supposed to forward 5 percent of that amount to the municipality where the gambling take place,” the Tribune noted.

And for those municipalities where video gambling had firmly taken root, the economic benefits seem to be rather substantial, according to a February 2015 Tribune article.

“What started out as a trickle as video gambling first appeared in the south and southwest suburbs a little over two years ago has turned into serious money, according to state gaming board data.

“Chicago Ridge, for instance, saw tax revenue from gambling nearly double last year, to $200,000. Matteson had revenue of $77,500 last year compared with just $2,600 in 2013, and Mokena realized more than $122,500 in tax money last year compared with about $15,600 in 2013. Oak Lawn’s tax revenue more than doubled last year, to nearly $351,500.”

As for Rehberger’s proposed Roosevelt Road location, talks between him and the Maywood Board of Trustees broke down during the Feb. 24 hearing when village officials learned that he had not followed proper protocol, bypassing the village’s community development office and submitting paperwork straight to the village clerk.

When asked to give staff’s recommendation on the Rehberger proposal, Angela Smith, the village’s business development coordinator, noted that she hadn’t met Rehberger or Mick before. She said that the village has been approached by numerous developers seeking to open video gaming bistros in Maywood, but that they’ve all channeled their requests through community development office.

The board tabled the discussion relating to Rehberger’s Roosevelt Road bistro until the next LLOC meeting on March 9. VFP

Milestones: Maywood Native Paris Lee Makes ISU Basketball History For … | Village Salutes 100-year-0ld

Paris Lee_Getty Images_Dilip Vishwanat.jpg

Paris Lee #1 of the Illinois State Redbirds looks to keep the ball in bounds against the Wichita State Shockers during the MVC Basketball Tournament Semifinals at the Scottrade Center on March 7, 2015 in St. Louis, Missouri. | Caption and photo by Getty Images/Dilip Vishwanat.

Friday, February 26, 2016 || By COMMUNITY EDITOR || Updated: 5:20 PM

Paris Lee, 20, a sophomore point guard for Illinois State University, made that school’s athletic history books during a 70-53 win in Carbondale on Feb. 25 against Southern Illinois University.

Lee, a Proviso East Pirate, led all scorers with 21 points, a career high, according to SB Nation. Lee’s two steals also moved him “into second place on the Redbirds all-time list with 182. He is 40 behind record holder Ron Jones.”

Lee’s performance boosted his team into second place in the Missouri Valley conference. They “can finish no lower than third heading into the conference tournament.”

As a Pirate, Lee averaged over 10 points and 5 assists a game, helping a 29-4 team advance to the Illinois High School Association 4A semifinal game, where they lost to eventual state champion Chicago Simeon. Lee also played for the renowned Mac Irvin Fire AAU program.

Maywood salutes 100-year-old Bithella Bulger

Bulger pic.jpg

100-year-old Bithelle Bulger with (left to right): Maywood Police Sgt. Daryl Fairley, Maywood Trustee Isiah Brandon, Maywood employee Jonette Greenhow and Maywood Deputy Police Chief Elijah Willis. | Photo courtesy Maywood Police Department.

At a Feb. 24 Maywood Legal, License and Ordinance Committee (LLOC) meeting, the village Board of Trustees presented Bithelle Bulger with a resolution marking her 100th birthday.

The longtime Maywood resident turned 100 on Feb. 25, according to the resolution, which noted that Bulger “continues to amaze everyone with her positive attitude and her ever-present warm and friendly smile.”

It also noted that Bulger “is a faithful member of the community and it is well known that few have accomplished as much in their lifetimes as Mrs. Bulger,” who still leads a full life and maintains a good sense of humor.”

Maywood Fine Arts To Kickoff New Studio Construction With March 5 Fundraiser

MFA pic.jpg

[MAYWOOD FINE ARTS] Maywood Fine Arts and Stairway of the Stars Alumni are coming back to Maywood to put on a show that shouldn’t be missed. Over 30 Alumni will be performing on March 5 at Maywood Fine Arts.

The show entitled “Dig a Little Deeper” features dancing, singing and comedy skits performed by this extremely talented group. Stop by the old bank vault for a beer, wine or a signature “Stairway Girl” cocktail. Margaritas and Tamales will be served in the newly renovated art studio.

Hors d’oeuvres will be served throughout the night and our band, Phase 2, will hit the stage at 11 PM.  This fundraiser will also kickoff the construction of the brand new $1.8 Million Dollar Dance Studio, which will unify Maywood’s Arts District.

The show has a casino/construction theme and the message is to “Double Down” and give to the children of Maywood and its surrounding communities.

Tickets can be purchased by clicking “Dig a Little Deeper” by clicking here. VFP

N O T I F I C A T I O N 

Jeremy Williams bball game