Category: Commentary

My Trust in Maywood’s Politicians is Broken and Only They Can Fix This — By Actually Getting Stuff Done

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ratliffWednesday, February 15, 2017 || By Rev. Dr. Regi Ratliff || OPINION || @maywoodnews

screen-shot-2017-02-15-at-4-14-20-pmhere is a story about a snake who was having trouble crossing a bridge. He notices a man walking past and says, “Sir, I am having trouble crossing to the other side of the bridge. If you would be so kind to pick me up and walk me across this bridge, I would greatly appreciate it.”

Nervous at this request, the man looked down at the snake and responded, “I cannot pick you up, because you might bite me.”

The snake responded, “Sir, I am only trying to get to the other side of the bridge and nothing more.”

Although still skeptical, the man carefully picked up the snake and walked it across the bridge. Just as he was setting the snake down onto the ground, that dirty rascal bit him on the hand.

“Ouch!!” Squealed the man, “You bit me. You broke your promise,” to which the snake responded, “I am a snake, and biting is what we do!”

The moral of this story is quite simple. Never trust anything (or anyone) with a reputation for biting people.

There are times when we have trusted people and it has cost us dearly. We shouldn’t trust people who need us to co-sign so they can purchase a car, when they have a history of repossessions on their credit report. 

We should be cautious about trusting a person who says, “I love you,” but has a history of abuse. Love doesn’t hurt. Likewise, we shouldn’t trust a person who says he will call you right back, but never does. As a matter of fact, we shouldn’t trust a person who gossips to us about another person, because he is likely gossiping to someone about us.

There is a lack of trust toward black businesses in the black community. Why? Because of poor customer service, poor food quality or they overcharge?

Interesting, because I have the same experiences when I frequent stores that are owned by other ethnicities as well. Poor food quality, poor customer service and prices that are higher than black-owned businesses.

As a matter of fact, some of these other ethnic stores restrict you to a minimum $5 credit/debit card payment. That is a store rule and not a law. I don’t see many black-owned stores restricting patrons to this frivolous rule. If you can’t afford the transaction costs, go with a cheaper vendor. I trust black-owned businesses and will continue to support them.

Finally, we shouldn’t trust public officials who make promises they can’t keep, because they think you are dumb enough to believe their broken promises, play on words and “alternative facts.”

Have you ever noticed during an event when a politician reaches for that adorable little baby so he can kiss him in front of the camera? What is a child’s typical reaction? They are crying and screaming, because they don’t know that person and they are naturally afraid of them. The screaming and crying is their defense mechanism kicking in with a big message that they don’t trust you!

In my hometown of Maywood, that beautiful Village of Eternal Light, I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard candidates from various political parties proclaim they will improve the economic conditions in the Village of Maywood.

I guess when you consider this community no longer has a grocery store, combined with the closing of this state’s largest black-owned bank, our economy can’t go anywhere but up!

I really want to trust the park district candidates who are running for seats. There are promises to improve the Maywood Park District. However, I struggle believing these promises when the recreation building on the corner of 9th and Madison Avenue has been under construction for over 20 years. I simply cannot stand, nor do I trust, the rhetoric because there has been zero substance.

Until real efforts are made to build the economic structure in Maywood, I will continue to lack trust in the political leadership.

When steps are actually made to attract new businesses with real incentives; partner with financial institutions such as Citibank, who has a tremendous first-time homebuyers program called, the “Home Run” program; support the quality of life (education, recreation, arts and culture); and improve our infrastructure, then not only will my trust in my hometown not be restored, but the trust of so many others who are disappointed in these pretend promises we hear every four years will not be restored. 

As a consultant and educator who has been blessed to contribute to the village by creating and leading Eternal Light Community Services since 1997, I believe that trust starts from within.

For me, that means you must be able to talk to talk the talk and walk the walk. If you aren’t contributing in any capacity that will improve our community, you shouldn’t be talking.

The capacity for trusting means that your total life experiences have developed your current capacity and willingness to risk trusting others.

The perception of intentions is your perception that the actions, words, direction, mission, or decisions are motivated by mutually serving rather than self-serving motives.

If Maywood is going to really move in the right direction, we must first trust that God will bring the right leaders to us, place them in the right positions for us and trust them to move our community in the right direction for the right reasons. VFP

Reverend Dr. Regi Ratliff is the founder and executive director of Eternal Light Community Services. Eternal Light provides the following programs: public speaking, financial literacy, health and wellness, and entrepreneurship classes to youth, ages 5-18. Contact him at 708-940-2160.

The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of The Village Free Press.

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Opinion: An Open Letter to Congressman Peter Roskam

Peter Roskam .jpgSaturday, February 11, 2017 || By Michael Romain || OPINION || @maywoodnews

Dear Peter,

My name is Michael Romain and I am the journalist who was summarily told to leave a gathering of the Oak Park-River Forest Republican Organization, held at Good Earth Greenhouse in River Forest on Feb. 10.

I had RSVP’d hours prior to the event and was allowed entry when I showed up, roughly 30 minutes before you arrived, so I was at least able to glimpse some of the people you might consider your base.

They were all white and mostly middle-aged and older. I was ostensibly out of place — one of two African Americans in attendance, from what I could tell. The photographer who accompanied me, a Hispanic whose parents migrated from Mexico to the US seeking a better life — who would be considered a threat by the leader of your party — rounded out this minority.

But over the years, I have taught myself to recognize human beings when I see them. So, while I noticed this apparent racial incongruity and even felt some of the quizzical stares my presence attracted, I did not feel unwelcome. I spent a good part of my childhood and adult years in River Forest. I’ve fallen in love with this place. I was home and these people, for all intents and purposes, are my neighbors.

And they treated me splendidly. One of the first people to greet me at the door, as the event’s organizers checked for my name on the guest list, was the president of the local elementary school board — a man I respect and admire.

Before I even knew his political affiliation — and, quite honestly, I won’t simply presume to know that much now just because I saw him at a Republican event — I knew his love for Oak Park and his passion for education. We’ve met many times for coffee. And at Good Earth, I had the pleasure of meeting his beautiful wife, who flattered me when she said she actually reads what I write (for better or worse).

I was introduced to the only Republican on the Cook County Board of Review Commissioners, a man who has the utmost respect for you, Peter, and who told me so. I did not doubt his sincerity. And I did not doubt his decency. He invited me to some of his tax appeal seminars he hosts and, despite his proud fiscal conservatism, a philosophy that presents all kinds of problems for me, I may likely attend one or two.

After getting kicked out, I encountered a Republican radiologist who I’d interviewed over the phone when he ran for Congress last year in the heavily Democratic district where I live. He lost, but I wish he’d have fared a bit better because I agreed with the central theme of his campaign: congressional races need more two-party competition and would-be congresspeople should be forced to confront, and compromise with, a range of opinions, life experiences and political philosophies. That too many aren’t forced to do so has produced the likes of you, Peter, who apparently run away from forging consensus when push comes to shove.

Despite being mostly white, middle- to upper-class and Republican, the humanity inside of Good Earth was textured, diverse, complicated and authentic. It merited your attention, regardless of my suspensions that it was more than their innate humanity that brought you here to this affair.

But the humanity outside of the room merited your attention, too; perhaps even more so, since these people may be most affected by your decisions. These people holding signs and chanting outside of Good Earth are also decent and complicated and authentic human beings.

They are not, as you may be wont to think, paid agitators. They are doctors, retirees, stay-at-home moms. They are Democrats, but they are also Republicans. Some of them are more organized than others. Some live in your district. They are not astroturf dissenters.

They are people whose metaphorical lawns, their sense of ownership and agency, have been trampled on by the likes of you. They are people who feel that you aren’t listening (really listening) to them and that if you are listening, you simply don’t care what they have to say or how they feel or whether they live or die.

Many of them, Peter, are angry because of the aloofness and ignorance in which people in your positions of power — on both sides of the aisle — govern. For too long, this country has been held hostage by businessmen and politicians who have no skin in the games they play with other people’s lives.

Peter, your campaigns have been enthusiastically endorsed by the Tea Party, the closest analog of the current state of national outrage sweeping the country. The Tea Party, with its embedded racism, nationalism and xenophobia, paved the way for Donald Trump. It was the kind of protest movement that you’d probably sooner run toward than away from.

The Tea Party was a movement that was started by people who were legitimately angry and outraged, but whose message was exploited by wealthy propagandists looking to ride this wave of outrage into power and, ultimately, to the goal of lower taxes and fewer obstacles to even more wealth. The little people in this movement got what in return? Email scams?

Nearly a decade ago, instead of seizing the opportunity to actually empathize and learn from their plight, Democrats largely ignored those Tea Party protesters and Republicans used and abused them. Peter, you got several more terms out of the deal. Now, when the protesters are not of your kind, you shut them out, but not so much that it hurts your image as someone who, at least in front of a reporter’s camera, supports free speech and the right to dissent.

“The way that we’re interacting with opponents today, the ability of people to come out and express their views, we celebrate that. People can come out and let their views be heard. We’re free to meet now. We’re free to gather freely and have a discussion with one another,” you said to a crowd inside of the Palatine Township Republican Organization’s offices as the dissenters (those who might prove helpful to the discussion) were locked outside.

That detachment has brought this country to the breaking point and eventually, Peter, there will be no leaving out of the back door. You and the likes of you will be forced to confront the world you have made; instead of always running away, like chastised children.

Uninformed, your staffers consider the people who have started to protest outside of your appearances agitators, as if being legitimately terrified for their lives is not enough to bring even middle-class white professionals, your kind of people Peter, to action.

You, Peter, have turned down multiple requests from legitimate and well-respected civic groups to host town halls. You have claimed that you won’t hold public meetings of more than 25 people; even though there were definitely more than 25 people inside of Good Earth and you definitely appeared to address more than 25 people in Palatine. All of this begs the question: Is the matter really the kind of people, rather than how many people, you’re willing to meet with?

If you had stopped to listen to any of those people outside of Good Earth, for instance, you’d have realized that they were are not political radicals. One woman said she even entertained voting for John McCain in 2008, that is before he selected Sarah Palin to be his running mate.

Another woman, a doctor still wearing her white robe (who, unlike you, cannot simply gerrymander and cherrypick audiences in order to avoid facing the consequences if she violates her oath and actually does harm), this doctor simply wanted to appeal to your ego. She told me that her strategy was to deliberately avoid antagonizing you. She said that you can be a “hero” if you saved the Affordable Care Act.

Peter, this is the type of person your extreme sensitivity, your ideological zealotry and your emotional fragility has driven to protest. That you perceive these people as ‘the opposition’ as opposed to the people you represent is a sign of your own radicalism, not theirs.

If you, and your fellow party members, continue to treat them as dangerous radicals, you will turn them into the radicals you now, errantly, imagine them to be. And when that reality comes, you will not be able to escape it. VFP

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Opinion: An Aldi on the Brink of Closing, A Village on Edge

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ratliffFriday, December 16, 2016 || Rev. Dr. Regi Ratliff || OPINION || @maywoodnews

By now, most of you are aware that the Aldi grocery store in Maywood will close its doors for good. The thought that my hometown will become a food dessert is painful. It is perplexing to believe that a western suburb of Chicago will not have a grocery store.

Aldi’s reason for deciding to no longer conduct business in the Village of Maywood is really irrelevant. Rumors of lower than expected sales is a smokescreen. The rationale that other Aldi stores exists in Broadview, Bellwood and Melrose Park is also a smokescreen. Those stores have existed for a long time.

Anything related to tax incentives as another reason is senseless, considering they’ve received tax incentives from the beginning of their existence in Maywood and will do so until the end of this year, according to Maywood Assistant Village Manager David Myers.

I cannot resist the thought of gentrification taking place in the village. This typically happens when a community is reduced to little or no resources, opening an opportunity for a different group to move in and rebuild a community with very little investments needed.

Whatever the true reason for Aldi’s closure, the actions set forth state they are no longer interested in conducting business in the community. The bottom line is that the public will never know the true reason for Aldi’s departure.

It is my belief that the public is never made aware of the true underlying factors that cause a business establishment to move out of a communities like Maywood. What I do know is that a community of Maywood’s size should not operate without a grocery store. Our seniors deserve an opportunity to frequent their own grocery store and parents deserve the right to purchase healthy food for their children at their neighborhood grocery store.

In economic terms, the closure of Aldi translates into money departing the village going to neighboring grocery stores in Forest Park, Melrose Park, Westchester, Bellwood, Oak Park/River Forest and Broadview.

If you want to place blame on why the Maywood continues to face one economic challenge after another, there is plenty to go around.

Let’s make one thing clear, current Mayor Edwenna Perkins did not cause this debacle. This runaway train was inherited by her office. One could review as far back as the early 1990’s, when companies such as Canada Dry, Jewel’s, The American Can Company, TP Foods, A & P and White Way Foods all closed but were never replaced. Mayor Perkins was not the mayor during this time.

Furthermore, Mayor Perkins was not in office when Maywood Proviso Bank and First Federal Bank closed their doors. Was Mayor Perkins in office when Flash Car Wash, Horseman’s Club, the Volkswagen car dealership and the Maywood Branch Library on 17th Avenue all closed their doors? No, she wasn’t, so let us keep things in perspective. If you want to point the finger, look at the administrations dating back to the early 1990’s.

I am not the greatest fan of Mayor Perkins. She is a wonderful woman and is passionate about Maywood; however, it is no secret that she has not received the support nor respect she deserves to effectively lead her town as mayor.

Let us be fair in our judgment of leadership. Every single elected board member, in addition to Village Manager William Norfleet, is culpable. With the exception of Trustee Rogers and Norfleet, I have been associated with every single board member for no fewer than 20 years.

Trustee Brandon was one of my first public speaking students at Canaan AME Church when he was a very young man. I’ve seen Trustee Toni Doris at most of my family’s barbeques and Trustee Ron Rivers was instrumental in the success of my non- profit youth organization, Eternal Light Community Service. After 19 years, we are still bringing quality programs to our youth in the village.

My relationships goes across the board on a personal level and I love them all unconditionally, but their inability to move Maywood forward is a cause for concern. Instead of placing the blame solely on this administration, intelligent citizens need to accept the fact that Maywood has been in an economic depression for greater than two decades.

This pending closure is a much deeper economic issue. The arguments that have taken place amongst board members over the years are boring. I am reminded of outside firms, who made these glamorous presentations of how their 20-year economic development plan was going to increase business in the village exponentially.

Every generation of politicians who claimed their seat at the Village Hall made a promise to turn Maywood around, yet there is nothing to show for it. Whether or not Aldi decides to continue conducting business in Maywood is not the real issue.

Our elected officials must realize that the community is on edge. We must recognize the best approach is to not wait until an establishment decides to close its doors before responding. The best approach is to take a proactive approach and renew incentives no later than within three years of an expiration date.

It is my prayer that Maywood will avoid becoming a food desert and leadership will use this experience to work together and build a stronger village. VFP

Reverend Dr. Regi Ratliff is the founder and executive director of Eternal Light Community Services. Eternal Light provides the following programs:public speaking, financial literacy, health and wellness, and entrepreneurship classes to youth, ages 5-18.

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F E A T U R E D  E V E N T 

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Two Meetings on Aldi Closing Planned for Thursday, Dec. 15 and Friday, Dec. 16

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Monday, December 12, 2016 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews || UPDATED: 7:21 p.m.

The Village Free Press, in coordination with Maywood Trustee Isiah Brandon, who secured one of two locations, will host two public meetings to explore the ramifications of Aldi’s recent announcement that it plans to close its Maywood store, located at 1008 S. 17th Ave., on Christmas Eve.

The first meeting will take place on Thursday, Dec. 15 at the Maywood Public Library, 121 S. 5th Ave., from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

The second meeting will take place on Friday, Dec. 16 at Proviso Missionary Baptist Church, 1116 S. 5th Ave., from 6:30 p.m to 8:30 p.m.

Village officials and employees will be in attendance at either meeting, while residents will have the opportunity to voice their concerns at both. We’ll also explore possible solutions to the numerous problems that may arise in the wake of the Aldi store closing.

Special thanks to the Maywood Public Library (and its director, Stan Huntington), and Proviso Missionary Baptist Church (and its pastor, Bishop Claude Porter) for opening their doors wide open on such short notice.

What Aldi’s exit means for Maywood

To many people, the discount grocery store, which has been a staple presence on Madison Street since 1994, seemed like the last business that would leave a community in desperate need of affordable groceries.

The Germany-based company’s decision seems even more confusing considering that, according to a November article in Consumer Affairs, it plans on opening 500 more stores by 2018. Currently, Aldi operates around 1,500 stores across the country.

In a statement released last week, Aldi officials didn’t go into details about the company’s decision to close, although Maywood officials have noted that they were told that the reason is because the store was under-performing. What, precisely, that means, no one has yet to say.

But that’s beyond the point. Stores open and close based on a host of reasons. And by no means is Aldi, a for-profit entity, required to explain its business strategy to Maywood residents — most of whom have shopped, and will continue to shop, elsewhere.

The people who will bear the brunt of Aldi’s exit are, as is the case with most decisions made by corporations and governments, the vulnerable — the elderly, the poor, the disabled.

On a macro level, the store closing only exacerbates the problem of Maywood’s already insufficient commercial property tax base. This will only be yet another vacant building to dot the village’s already much too blighted landscape and to add to the daily stresses of the town’s police, fire and public works departments.

Aldi’s loss also means that Maywood will have the unenviable distinction of being the only municipality among those with which it shares a common border that does not harbor at least one international, national or even regional full-service grocery store chain.

Maywood Grocery Chain Map.jpgThe absence of a large-scale grocery retailer like Jewel-Osco or Meijer means that the local food landscape will worsen for Maywood residents who either desire or are forced by circumstances to shop within the village for their groceries and household needs.

Those residents will be even more reliant on a handful of dispersed neighborhood establishments whose offerings may not be as affordable as those sold by larger retailers  (because the smaller stores don’t have the advantage of scale) and may not be as fresh or plentiful or reliable (because the smaller stores don’t have the benefit of sophisticated supply chains).

Stores like Walgreens or Family Dollar can’t seriously fall into the category of full-service grocery stores, but they do offer at least some array of grocery and household items.

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Locating the vulnerable

The bottom line is that, although the majority of Maywood residents can drive to other communities in order to do shopping, there is a critical mass of residents who likely don’t have this option.

The United States Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service, which relies on 2010 U.S. Census data, provides a snapshot of where those residents may be and it turns out that many of them live within a square mile of the soon-to-close Aldi store.

Although no Census tract in Maywood is designated by the USDA as a food desert, according to the agency’s original measure, there are multiple census tracts in the village that come very close.

According to the USDA’s original measure, a food desert is a low-income census tract where a significant number or share of residents is more than one mile (in an urban setting) or 10 miles (in a rural setting) from the supermarket.

No census tracts shown on the USDA’s Food Desert Locator quite meet that standard; however, that map was devised before Aldi closed.

According to the USDA’s analysis of 2010 U.S. Census data, more than 1,400 low-access seniors (those living more than a half-mile from the nearest supermarket) were in the four census tracts closest to Aldi. And more than 2,800 low-access children, ages 0 to 17, were in those four census tracts.

How many seniors and children among that population relied on Aldi for groceries, including fresh fruit and vegetables, is currently not known.

It’s worth exploring, though, so that these residents can know what resources are available to them that will make their post-Aldi lives easier.

For more information on the USDA’s evaluation of food access, click here. To explore the USDA’s Food Desert Locator, click here.

Where the disadvantaged are located.jpgCensus Tracts 8176 and 8173.jpg

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What’s the impact on your taxes?

According to village officials, the Maywood Aldi wasn’t exactly a heavyweight in terms of its contribution to sales and property taxes. The company took advantage of multiple rebates and subsidies.

In 1992, according to the Good Jobs First subsidy tracker, Maywood agreed to grant Aldi tax relief in the form of a local sales tax rebate, which was designed to help offset construction and environmental remediation costs.

The local subsidy was valued at $390,000, but so far it hasn’t been confirmed how much of the subsidy Aldi utilized or if the company was given any other subsidies after that point.

According to Cook County records, Aldi’s property tax bill ranged from a low of $3,705 in 2011 to a high of $4,923 in 2015.

So far, we don’t know how much total revenue the village received annually from Aldi in the form of sales and property taxes, license fees, permits and other forms of revenue. That would be worth exploring in order to concretely evaluate the fiscal impact of the store’s closing.

Some other things to think about

Public safety

When the Maywood Aldi closes, another vacant commercial property will be added  to the list of abandoned buildings that will need to be secured, monitored and maintained.

It would help to know which entity, Aldi or Maywood, will bear the financial burden of making sure that this property doesn’t become a community nuisance. And how much taxpayer money will be used to avoid that unwelcome reality.

The big, big picture

If you get a chance to read the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning’s Maywood Retail Market Analysis (a draft copy of the document is available below this article and by clicking on the maps below), you’ll notice that Maywood’s dearth of grocery stores is just an aspect of a much larger absence.

Maywood sits within a trade area that is roughly 125 square miles in size and serves an area where households spend $6.6 billion on retail goods in any given year, CMAP estimates.

“The trade area has approximately 19 shopping centers, most of which have GLA [gross leasable area] between 325,000 and 650,000 square feet and the median GLA is 450,000 square feet,” CMAP notes.

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“Maywood has approximately 90 to 120 retail establishments, none of which are part of a major shopping center,” according to CMAP. “Retail within this community is approximately half retail stores while the other half is food service establishments. Most of the retail businesses occupy smaller retail spaces, as approximately 95% of the establishments occupy less than 10,000 square feet and around 50% occupy spaces less than 2,500 square feet.”

Maywood’s $6.6 billion trade area (maps by CMAP)

Maywood Trade Area.png

Maywood’s wider commercial dilemma is that it has no major shopping centers and retail establishments located within its borders, which means it doesn’t benefit from the sales and property taxes, the permits, the fees and fines (etc.) that all of that commercial activity generates.

Shopping centers and retail establishments.png

Spatially, Maywood is dominated by single- and multi-family housing, relative to other suburbs (even much smaller ones). And for revenue, it largely depends on property taxes from homeowners.

Trade Area Land Use.png

An important question that needs to be posed to village officials for future consideration is whether or not they have a comprehensive action plan for addressing this big picture issue.

Below is CMAP’s draft retail market analysis for Maywood (recommendations are on pages 5-7): 

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OPINION: After a Perilous Election, A Nation in Peril

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Friday, November 18, 2016 || By Rev. Dr. Regi Ratliff || OPINION 

ratliffWith the shocking victory by Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton, one must wonder how Trump pulled off this improbable victory.

Was the voting system rigged? Did Russia have anything to do with the results from behind the scenes?

Saturday Night Live performed monologues of all three debates, including a one-liner from Clinton’s character: “I think I’m going to be President of the United States!”

Anyone who watched these monologues thought Alex Baldwin, who played Trump, and Kate McKinnon, who played Clinton, had masterful performances.

But now the nation isn’t laughing!

Since Clinton’s concession speech on Nov. 9, the nation has responded in dramatic fashion. Marches have taken place in major urban cities, such as Chicago, New York City, Portland, Seattle, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Los Angeles and Miami, just to name a few.

Citizens are angry and protesting Trump’s victory for various reasons. Some include his goals of repealing the Obamacare, building a wall to prevent Hispanics from crossing into U.S. territory, sending all criminal foreigners back to their home country and solving crime in black communities through methods he simply described as ‘law and order.’

Now, there are other reasons why Americans are vexed about the thought of Trump serving as the 45th President of these United States.

His attempts to justify his comments about touching a woman’s vagina as “locker room talk,” the refusal to release his tax returns, his premature conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and his desire to provide top secret clearance for his three children and son in law are all valid reasons to look at Trump with disdain.

In my 20-year wrestling career, I have been in thousands of locker rooms, both large and small. Not once have I ever heard males provide such intimate details about touching a woman’s private parts. Those comments he said were made up and overly perverted. The audio tape shows the world an old man reveling in a sick fantasy.

Trump and his followers have told the American people to “get over it!” That means get over the fact that he has defeated Clinton and now wants everyone to work together during this time of transition. To eliminate the hate that currently exists and display love towards your fellow man. To support the incoming Trump administration and his agenda of making “America Great Again!”

Now, I may not be the brightest bulb in the room. I am getting a little older now and my elevator doesn’t always rise to the top these day, if you know what I mean. However! I am still smart enough to know that during the campaign season, Trump’s rhetoric was very belligerent towards women, minorities and his Republican colleagues.

During his campaign, he did not display any goals of working together as a nation, nor did he work with President Obama during his eight years in office. Now he pretends that working together is his goal! Nah, I don’t think so.  Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.

I openly laughed when I read Facebook comments from African Americans, a few from my hometown of Maywood, suggesting that we give Trump a chance when he officially becomes president.

The audacity to defend such a sexist to the point where those who think his behavior was simply tongue in cheek proves that people are just as crazy as he is. To suggest that Trump will be like a breath of fresh air is like saying I will get used to the smell of coal, when it’s actually damaging my lungs.

Over the course of his presidency, I believe the Trump administration will damage America, much like George W. Bush damaged America during his presidency. Trump is already moving in that direction by bringing well known racist Steve Bannon to serve as a top advisor and possibly former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani as his Attorney General.

Oh, and let’s not forget Trump’s encouragement of the black vote in front of a mostly white audience in Michigan, “You live in poverty, your schools are bad, you have no job, what the hell do you have to lose?” This is not the person I desire to see as the leader of the free world.

Our nation is in peril! In order for us to continue to be great and keep President Obama’s legacy alive, every able person in America needs to become active at the grassroots level, volunteer your time to a local organization and vote in the 2018 mid- term elections.

The 2020 presidential elections will be here before you know it. At the local level, I want to wish congratulations to Emanuel “Chris” Welch for winning reelection as State Representative for the 7th District of Illinois, as well as my Proviso East classmate Kimberly Lightford for winning reelection as the State Senator for the 4th Legislative District of Illinois. You have both made our community proud! VFP

Reverend Dr. Regi Ratliff is the founder and executive director of Eternal Light Community Services. Eternal Light provides the following programs:public speaking, financial literacy, health and wellness, and entrepreneurship classes to youth, ages 5-18.

Contact Rev. Ratliff at (708) 813-4722 to register your child for one of our programs today.

Beautiful colonial home for sale in Maywood

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203 S. 7th Ave., Maywood. | Beals & Associates LTD

[PAID POSTING] Beautiful Colonial Home on 85 by 130 North Maywood Corner Lot!

$199,900. Excellent opportunity to own a well kept home, in the same family for generations.

It features a huge family room addition on the main level, with windows overlooking an expansive rear yard. Recently, painted and floors refinished, with updated mechanical features that make this home move-in ready!

In addition, it has an extra large semi-detached garage with extra-wide driveway. Click here for more info. VFP

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Cubs Break Curse, But Maywood Still Cursed With No Little League

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The Chicago Cubs celebrate after winning the World Series on Nov. 2. | Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Ratliff.pngFriday, November 4, 2016 || By Rev. Dr. Regi Ratliff || OPINION || @maywoodnews

By now, the entire world has heard about the Chicago Cubs finally breaking the curse and ending the longest championship drought in any major sport. That elusive World Series championship has finally been realized in Cubs nation! That’s the same World Series championship that the cross-town rivals White Sox claimed only a decade ago, which only reminded the Cubs of their years of futility. Yes, that championship!

Playing baseball in the Village of Maywood was a blast. I was inspired to play by watching Cubs games on WGN Channel 9. David Kingman and his towering home runs. Bruce Sutter and his split-finger fastball. Lee Smith and his 100 miles-per-hour fastball. Bill Buckner’s sleek fielding at first base. Ivan DeJesus’ cannon arm at shortstop. Heavyweight pitcher Rich Reuschel and his lollypop curve balls.

Back then, I knew those rosters wouldn’t reach the World Series, let alone make the playoffs. Of this small list of names, only Lee Smith and Hall of Famer Bruce Sutter would have significant careers. Sutter won a World Series with hated rival St. Louis Cardinals in 1982 and was the only reliever to ever make the Hall of Fame without starting a major league game.

Among the next generation of players, only the 1984 Division Champs, led by Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg, gave fans any hope they would win a championship. Of course, the Cubs choked in the National League Championship Series against the San Diego Padres, who were promptly dismissed by the Detroit Tigers in the World Series.

A division title in 2003 was the Cubs’ best shot at the World Series. They had it made! Only six more outs against the young Florida Marlins. Six more outs and we were headed to the World Series! But a foul ball resulted in mayhem. Left-fielder Moises Alou’s cowardly fit towards fan Steve Bartman opened the floodgates to disaster.

The Marlins put eight on the board in that inning. The Cubs no longer put up a fight. They lost a 3-1 series lead and a shot at the World Series. It’s laughable for so-called fans to still blame Bartman for a professional team blowing a lead. I blame the baseball players and managers for choking.

So many losses, so many disappointments of years past. But, I believed that this year would be different. Ever after getting swept by the New York Mets in the National League Championship Series last season, I believed this season’s Cubs were more prepared mentally. They were determined to replace that bitter taste with the taste of victory. They were hungry, they were focused, they embraced the challenge of being World Series favorites. They won the most games in the league. They never backed down, never wimped out when faced with a series deficit.

They persevered and they won!

Now that the Chicago Cubs are finally World Series champions, I still have hope that Little League baseball will return to the Village of Maywood. I understand that whatever materializes will be a smaller version of yesteryear’s little league that exists today and that it will take major efforts to get it up and going. I hope it will be a league that will allow games to be played in Maywood during the week and on weekends.

Baseball is one of the most difficult sports to play, but Maywood has loads of young, talented athletes who play the sport in other neighborhoods. Maybe, just maybe, we can break our own curse—years of going without Little League baseball in the Village of Maywood.

I believe a revitalization of Little League baseball in Maywood could springboard the next Dexter Fowler, Carl Edwards, Jr., or Wilson Contreras into Major League Baseball. Until that day happens, here’s to hoping for a Chicago Cubs repeat in 2017. VFP

Reverend Dr. Regi Ratliff is the founder and executive director of Eternal Light Community Services. Eternal Light provides the following programs:public speaking, financial literacy, health and wellness, and entrepreneurship classes to youth, ages 5-18.

Contact Rev. Ratliff at (708) 813-4722 to register your child for one of our programs today.

The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of The Village Free Press.

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Maywood, It’s Time for a Call to Action

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Thursday, October 6, 2016 || By Rev. Dr. Regi Ratliff || OPINION || || @maywoodnews || @village_free

After one of the most active summers of recent memory in the Village of Maywood, our youth have returned to their respective schools in Districts 89 and 209.

The school year is already off to a great start, as individuals and groups have welcomed our students on the first day of school. This is a great start to a promising school year, as this step is the beginning to improve the performance of two underachieving school districts.

In order for our schools to be successful, it’s going to take more than adults showing up for the first day of class. It’s going to take residents from the Village of Eternal Light to make a commitment to our youth and work as volunteers for the entire school year by attending PTA meetings, school ceremonies, school plays, concerts and graduations — not just sporting events.

It is time to commit ourselves to becoming a community that is proactive and cohesive. It’s going to take a call to action from adults to show our students that we care about their future.

There is an African Proverb that states, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Imagine the growth of a student if we work together as a community to raise a child in the classroom.

Imagine the joy of a student when we take time to volunteer in the classroom to ensure they are prepared for life.

Imagine the confidence of child when they have the confidence to reject the poisons which has hurt our Village like drugs and gangs.

Malcolm X once said, “Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.”

As a former Garfield Elementary and Proviso East High School graduate, as well as the founder of Eternal Light Community Services, I am blessed to be part of an organization to have invested twenty years of year-round quality programs to our Maywood youth in the areas of public speaking, financial management, entrepreneurship, healthy living and sports (wrestling, modern dance, soccer and basketball).

Most of our volunteers and staff either reside or lived in the Village of Maywood as a child.

We want our youth in the Village of Maywood to have a passport to a bright tomorrow. We want that passport to take them on a path where they will succeed anywhere they desire to settle down as adults.

We are currently witnessing this with recent Proviso Math and Science Academy graduate and current Cornell University football player Marquan Jones. With the support of his parents, mentors and the community at large, Mr. Jones enjoys a bright future.

There are many students who are blessed with a great deal of potential like Marquan Jones. They attend our schools in the Village of Maywood and we see them every day in the Village.

With a new attitude from leadership in District 89, as well as major leadership changes which has taken place in District 209, there is a great opportunity to continue producing excellent students like Mr. Jones.

Maywood, it’s time for a change of attitude to take shape and provide full support for our youth in the Village of Maywood. It’s time for a call to action! VFP

The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of The Village Free Press.

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