Tag: Cook County

One Arrested During Another Morning Raid in Maywood on Sept. 19

Tuesday, September 19, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews 

A Maywood man was arrested during a raid carried out by a Maywood Police drug tactical unit and members of Cook County’s High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area task force early on Sept. 19.

Law enforcement authorities arrested Jamal Howlett, 32, at his home on the 1600 block of South 8th Ave. in Maywood on early Tuesday morning, said Maywood Lt. Dennis Diaz.

Continue reading “One Arrested During Another Morning Raid in Maywood on Sept. 19”

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Boykin Circulating Petitions Ahead of Possible Run for Board President

Monday, September 11, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews 

Feature image: Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, left, and Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin, during an event in 2015. | Wednesday Journal File

Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin (1st) — whose district represents all or parts of Broadview, Bellwood and Maywood — has taken another step toward running against Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.

Continue reading “Boykin Circulating Petitions Ahead of Possible Run for Board President”

County Commissioners Push for Repealing Sugary Drink Tax

Friday, August 11, 2017 || By Bob Skolnik/Wednesday Journal || @maywoodnews || Photo: Getty Images 

Five Cook County Commissioners announced on Aug. 9 that they will support an ordinance to repeal the controversial Cook County penny-an-ounce tax on pre-sweetened beverages.

Commissioners Richard Boykin (D-1st), Sean Morrison (R-17th) and Tim Schneider (R-15th) appeared at a press conference Aug. 9 at the County Building to announce their move to repeal the tax.

Continue reading “County Commissioners Push for Repealing Sugary Drink Tax”

Maywood Gets $206K, Melrose Park Gets $203K for Bike Lanes | Video Cameras for New Maywood Metra Station | More

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Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin (1st) addresses community members during a July 15 town hall held at village council chambers, 125 S. 5th Ave. in Maywood. | Michael Romain/VFP

Friday, July 28, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

During a town hall meeting he convened in Maywood on July 15, Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin (1st) announced that the county board was set to approve a grant of around $206,000 to install a bike path along Washington Blvd.

The county board unanimously approved the grant, which is part of a $7.2 million county-wide highway improvement project, at a regular meeting on July 19.

Formally called the 2017 Invest in Cook Awards, the projects are designed to provide incentives to municipalities to encourage “non-auto” forms of transportation.

Continue reading “Maywood Gets $206K, Melrose Park Gets $203K for Bike Lanes | Video Cameras for New Maywood Metra Station | More”

Op-Ed: How to Balance Cook County’s Budget Without Dangerous Layoffs or Soda Tax

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Boykin_SeptemberWednesday, July 26, 2017 || By Richard Boykin || OPINION || @maywoodnews

Cook County government headed into Fiscal Year 2017 expecting to balance its budget in part with $68 million in revenue generated by the sweetened beverage tax that narrowly passed the Cook County Board last fall.

This $68 million can no longer be counted on, due to a lawsuit filed by the Illinois Retail Merchants Association. As part of the initial phase of that lawsuit, a judge has granted a temporary restraining order that prevents the county from imposing the sweetened beverage tax.

From the moment it was first proposed, the sweetened beverage tax was based on a dishonest premise. Board President Toni Preckwinkle tried to sell it to commissioners and residents as a public health initiative, aimed at reducing obesity.

In fact, the tax was never about health — it was always about revenue. Taxpayers saw through the public health charade from the beginning. Now the Cook County Circuit Court has also seen through the charade.

As a result, President Preckwinkle presently confronts a fiscal crisis that she herself manufactured.

Unfortunately, rather than deal with the crisis collaboratively, with an eye toward maintaining essential public safety services during a time when we face severe levels of gun violence in the county, President Preckwinkle has once again yoked herself and the county to a false premise.

The board president now insists that without the sweetened beverage tax, the county must make sweeping, disastrous cuts to essential public safety services. These across-the-board cuts impact services we can ill afford to lose amid rampant shootings in poor communities of color.

However, just as her assertion that the sweetened beverage tax was motivated by public health turned out to be a false justification designed to push through a revenue grab, President Preckwinkle’s current insistence on these painful cuts presents the judiciary with another false choice designed to intimidate.

Allow the tax, she is saying, or I will withhold services from the communities that need them the most. And absent those services, those communities will almost certainly see more pain, more violence, more senseless death.

These disingenuous strong-arm tactics got us into this mess. They will not get us out of it.

Instead, President Preckwinkle should reverse course and do the following:

1. Ask Chairman John Daley to convene an ongoing, emergency meeting of his County Board Finance Committee. Do not adjourn the meeting until key areas of waste in county government have been identified for immediate spending freezes and reductions. We know from previous budget hearings where the fat is. It’s long past time that we trim it. Immediate areas of opportunity include procurement, litigation and overtime.

2. Institute an immediate, countywide hiring freeze, exempting those positions that are court-ordered.

3. Immediately eliminate the 1,500 positions in the county budget that are vacant. I estimate this action itself would save $70 million.

4. After the above three actions are taken, President Preckwinkle should call a special meeting of the Board of Commissioners in August to consider enacting an emergency package of reductions that accomplish meaningful savings while continuing to provide vital services.

President Preckwinkle would have us believe that the above course of action is impossible. It is not.

Cook County never needed a sweetened beverage tax to operate with both efficiency and compassion. Now that we do not have that tax for the foreseeable future, we have another opportunity to achieve meaningful reforms while protecting our most vulnerable citizens.

It is time for President Preckwinkle to abandon her bullying tactics and work with others to solve these long-standing problems.

Richard Boykin is the 1st District Cook County commissioner.

To submit your perspective, email thevillagefreepress@gmail.com. 

Maywood Business Expands Thanks to County Brownfield Grant

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Seaway Supply Company owner Tom Engoren inside of his Maywood-based company on July 13. Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, along with numerous other elected officials, were at Seaway to announce the results of a brownfield grant. | Michael Romain/VFP

IMG_6050Thursday, July 13, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

Tom Engoren, the owner of Seaway Supply Co., located at 15 N. 9th Ave. in Maywood, said that a $600,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has allowed his business to stay, and possibly expand, in Maywood.

Seaway Supply, which deliveries janitorial products, office supplies and other materials throughout the Chicago area, is looking to acquire a gravel parcel adjacent its Maywood location that’s currently owned by the village.

The company wants to turn the parcel into a fenced-in parking lot and eventually use the land to possibly develop even more warehouse or office space in the future. Seaway has been located in Maywood for around six years, Engoren said.

But the village-owned land is located on a brownfield, which is “property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the
presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant,” according to the U.S. EPA.

The contamination is often petroleum-related. Examples of brownfield sites include “old gas stations, auto service businesses, factories, mill sites, shipyards, transit stations, and junkyards,” the EPA notes.

Typically, a business looking to build, expand or redevelop an area that’s suspected to be contaminated has to pay to conduct soil tests and, if those tests find that the area has been polluted or contaminated, then the business also has to pay for the necessary cleanup.

An official with Weaver Consultants Group, the firm that Cook County contracted with to provide environmental testing and remediation services, said that it can cost between $3,000 and $5,000 to conduct phase one soil testing. Phase two cleanup efforts start at around $15,000 to $20,000.

The EPA grant — which was administered by the Cook County Department of Environmental Control in collaboration with the villages of Maywood, Bellwood, Melrose Park, Forest Park, Schiller Park, Northlake and Franklin Park — basically pays for those phase one and phase two costs. The county received the grant money in 2014.

“These tests, while they’re not terribly expensive, they’re not cheap,” said Engoren. “Even before you buy the [land], you have to invest money to just look at it and consider it. This program takes the guesswork out of the process for potential buyers.”

Engoren added that completing the environmental remediation process also clears a big hurdle for businesses trying to access the necessary credit to fund expansion and redevelopment efforts. As of press time, it wasn’t known how the land that Seaway is trying to acquire got contaminated. Seaway is located in an area zoned for industrial and manufacturing uses.

According to estimates by the Center for Neighborhood Technology, there are nearly 90 brownfield parcels located in western Cook County. And the Illinois State Fire Marshall has counted 684 petroleum-related Underground Storage Tank (UST) locations in the seven municipalities participating in the grant program.

The CNT estimates that there are 17 brownfield parcels in Maywood alone that cover nearly 50 acres, six brownfield parcels in Bellwood covering 17 acres and nine brownfield parcels in Melrose Park covering nearly 50 acres.

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Maywood brownfield sites targeted by EPA grant 

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Bellwod and Melrose Park brownfield sites targeted by EPA grant 

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“This program is truly an economic development driver,” said Maywood Mayor Edwenna Perkins during a July 13 press conference convened at Seaway Supply to mark the completion of the grant program.

“This program allowed Maywood to receive funding for environmental assessments that will lead to redevelopment of several vacant lots that had not hope for redevelopment.”

In all, the grant program identified and assessed 30 sites in the seven aforementioned coalition communities that cover 127 acres. Currently, more than 120 acres are in the process of redevelopment or are being planned for future reuse, according to a statement released by Cook County Board President on June 13.

“Brownfield sites are difficult to redevelop,” Preckwinkle said at the June 13 press conference. “By freeing up these sites for reinvestment, we not only protect the environment but we reduce eyesores for these communities.”

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Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Maywood Mayor Edwenna Perkins and other elected officials inside of Seaway Supply Co. on June 13. | Michael Romain/VFP

In addition to Seaway Supply Company, other sites that were tested and/or cleaned up include the former Maywood Racetrack in Melrose Park, six parcels that sit on over five acres in Bellwood and several more parcels in Maywood that cover nearly four acres.

“I can think of no better place for this to happen than in the village of Maywood,” said Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin (1st), whose district includes Maywood and Bellwood.

“Maywood has had significant challenges relating to unemployment and businesses leaving … This is a shot in the arm for businesses that want to expand, want jobs and want to work here. It’s good for our tax base, it’s good for everybody.” VFP

DON’T MISS THIS!Business reception Detailed Flyer_July

 

Broadview Opts Out of Minimum Wage Ordinance | 25th Ave. Overpass to be Dedicated to Former Bellwood Mayor

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A member of the Chicago-based advocacy group Black Workers Matter during a June 15 march in Forest Park protesting that village’s decision to opt-out of the Cook County minimum wage ordinance. | William Camargo/Wednesday Journal 

Thursday, June 15, 2017 || By Michael Romain || OPINION || @maywoodnews || Updated: 7 p.m.

Last week, the village of Broadview opted out of the Cook County’s minimum wage ordinance, contrary to my original reporting that indicated that Broadview would automatically be subject to Cook County’s minimum wage ordinance because of its non-home rule-status.

Cook County Chronicle reporter Jean Lotus was in attendance at last Monday’s board meeting where the decision was made. According to Lotus, the village’s decision could open it up to a potential lawsuit.

Lotus noted that Despres Schwartz and Geoghegan, a public interest law firm, has issued a memo stating that non-home-rule municipalities are liable to lawsuits if they opt out of the county law.

Back in April 2015, nearly 85 percent of Broadview residents voted against giving the village home rule authority, which allows municipalities to override the mandates of larger governments, namely the State of Illinois.

In the case of a new Cook County ordinance that would bring the minimum wage up to $10 an hour, home rule municipalities have the authority to “opt-out” of going along with the county ordinance so that businesses located within those towns’ borders only need to comply with the statewide minimum wage of $8 an hour.

Broadview isn’t a home-rule town, but it adopted an ordinance stating that the Illinois Constitution “provides that if a home rule county ordinance conflicts with an ordinance of a municipality, the municipal ordinance shall prevail within its jurisdiction.”

In an email letter, attorneys with the village’s contracted law firm, Del Galdo Law Group, noted that, “In effect, this provision of the Illinois Constitution serves as a check on the expansive powers of home rule counties, not as a limitation on the powers of home rule or non-home rule municipalities.”

According to the ordinance, Broadview officials found that the county’s minimum wage ordinance places “an undue burden on employers within the village given the current rights of employees available under federal and state law.”

Read the full ordinance below. This article will be updated to include the village board vote breakdown.

Village Free Press regrets the error. 

 

25th Avenue overpass to be dedicated to former mayor Frank Pasquale

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The 25th Avenue overpass will be named in honor of former Bellwood mayor Frank Pasquale, pictured below.

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Officials are preparing for a bridge dedication ceremony to take place on June 16, 10 a.m., at the 25th Avenue overpass, which will be named after former Bellwood mayor Frank Pasquale, who served in the position for 16 years before stepping down last year.

State Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch (7th) introduced a House resolution that made the bridge naming possible.

“I have known Mayor Pasquale for many years, and am proud to have worked alongside him to make Bellwood a better place for everyone,” said Welch in a recent statement. “As mayor for 16 years, Frank gave so much to Bellwood, and this small token of gratitude will solidify a legacy of community service for many more years to come.” VFP

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