Tag: Mayor Serpico

Sun-Times: Melrose Park Police Raffled Off Assault Rifle During Taste

Monday, September 18, 2017 || By Local News Curator || @maywoodnews 

Featured image: Melrose Park mayor Ronald Serpico at the 2017 Taste of Melrose Park. | File 

Apparently, there was more than $3 dishes, music and dancing at the 37th Annual Taste of Melrose Park, which was held Sept. 1 through Sept. 3.

Continue reading “Sun-Times: Melrose Park Police Raffled Off Assault Rifle During Taste”

Taking Cue from State, Melrose Park Passes Trust Code

Friday, August 25, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

Feature photo: Proponents of a Melrose Park welcoming ordinance during a village board meeting in February. 

Last month, the Melrose Park village council unanimously approved an ordinance called the Trust Code, which mirrors Senate Bill 31 — also called the Illinois Trust Act — that Gov. Bruce Rauner is expected to sign on Aug. 28.

Continue reading “Taking Cue from State, Melrose Park Passes Trust Code”

Welcoming Ordinance Supporters to Attend Melrose Park Board Meeting Tonight, Monday, April 10, 6 PM


Community leaders and members of PASO-West Suburban Action Project during a regular board meeting in Melrose Park earlier this year. | File

Monday, April 10, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

For roughly four months, members of the Melrose Park-based social justice nonprofit PASO-West Suburban Action Project have been trying to get Melrose Park’s Board of Trustees to pass a welcoming ordinance.

And for roughly four months, the board has resisted, with Mayor Ron Serpico arguing that the measure would be unwise, given President Donald Trump’s threats to withhold federal funds from municipalities that won’t collaborate with federal efforts to deport individuals suspected of being in the country illegally.

On March 27, Attorney General Jeff Sessions doubled down on Trump’s threats when he threatened that the justice department would deny cities that adopt sanctuary ordinances federal law enforcement grants.

Serpico also argues that a welcoming ordinance measure would only be symbolic and would give a false sense of hope to immigrants who think that the proposal might prevent deportations in Melrose Park.

Officials with PASO, however, have said that the local immigrant community doesn’t believe that a welcoming ordinance would be a panacea. It will, they argue, act as an added layer of protection against the federal government’s efforts to deputize local law enforcement agencies so that they might carry out Trump’s orders nationally and on a comprehensive basis.

Last month, PASO organized a march outside of Melrose Park’s village hall, the culmination of months of advocacy.

“As a result, Mayor Serpico committed to placing an ordinance on the agenda for the next board meeting, which is scheduled for Monday, April 10,” according to a PASO statement released Monday. “Despite this previous commitment, [the village] has failed to place a Welcoming Ordinance on the agenda.”

During a regular board meeting last month where the proposal was discussed, Serpico refused to allow any other members of the village’s board to speak on the matter after a resident asked for their input.

Tomorrow, on April 11, Berwyn’s City Council is expected to vote on a proposed welcoming ordinance at a regular meeting in that village. In February, Oak Park passed one of the first welcoming ordinances in the western suburbs. Maywood and Forest Park have also considered the ordinance.

The Melrose Park board meeting is scheduled for Monday, April 10, 6 p.m., at 1 N. Broadway. VFP

F E A T U R E D  E V E N T

Easter Egg at Empowerment


Supporters of Melrose Park Welcoming Ordinance Protest Outside of Village Hall | Board Meeting Cancelled

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Community members participate in a March 25 demonstration outside of Melrose Park’s Village Hall in support of a welcoming ordinance. | Univision

Sunday, March 26, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

On March 25, PASO West Suburban Action Project — the Melrose Park-based social justice nonprofit — and other community members organized a demonstration outside of the Melrose Park Village Hall, 1000  N. 25th Ave., in support of a proposed welcoming village ordinance.

According to a press release put out on March 23, supporters of the proposal are advocating that local officials vote on an ordinance that doesn’t have “deportation loopholes.”

During a board meeting earlier this month, Serpico agreed to place the proposal on the agenda of the next board meeting, which was scheduled for Monday, March 27. That meeting, however, has since been canceled.

This is the second time in roughly two months that the village has canceled a board meeting where the proposed welcoming ordinance was to be discussed. Village officials also canceled a Feb. 13 board meeting where the proposal was to be discussed.

At the time, a spokesman for the mayor explained the cancellation by noting that Serpico was out of town and recovering from back surgery. No explanation for this most recent cancellation was given on the village’s website and no members of the board could be immediately reached for comment.

Since Trustee Arturo Mota expressed what seemed like support for at least the idea of a welcoming proposal, or a similar measure, at a Jan. 23 board meeting (where Serpico was absent), no member of the board, outside of the mayor, has spoken on the matter.

During a Feb. 27 board meeting, Serpico said that he could not commit to supporting the welcoming ordinance due to concerns he had about President Donald Trump’s threats to withhold funding from local governments refusing to help carry out his recent executive orders, which call for ramped-up immigration enforcement.

Serpico also said that the village was already welcoming and had implemented measures that expressed support for the village’s immigrant community. He said that the welcoming ordinance would not carry much weight and disputed the argument, made by PASO officials, that the ordinance would provide an added layer of protection for immigrants.

Serpico added that the measure would provide a false sense of security for immigrants and their families.

When a Melrose Park resident asked trustees for their opinions on the matter during a March 13 board meeting, Serpico refused to allow to them weigh in.

PASO Executive Director Mony Ruiz-Velasco wrote in a recently published letter to the editor that those “who argue that welcoming policies are symbolic or create false protection are misinformed.

“Immigrant communities know that ‘welcoming’ or ‘sanctuary’ policies do not create absolute protections from deportation. However, these policies create a layer of protection by requiring immigration agents to obtain court-issued warrants, a practice they rarely employ.

“Immigrant communities know that ‘welcoming’ or ‘sanctuary’ policies do not create absolute protections from deportation. However, these policies create a layer of protection by requiring immigration agents to obtain court-issued warrants, a practice they rarely employ.”

The next regular board meeting of the Melrose Park Board of Trustees is scheduled for April 10, 6 p.m., at 1 N. Broadway in Melrose Park. VFP


Sun-Times: ‘Melrose Park Mayor OK With Deputy Chief’s Moonlighting’

Melrose Park deputy chief.pngTuesday, March 21, 2017 || Local News Curator || @maywoodnews

The Chicago Sun-Times reported on March 18 that Melrose Park Mayor Ron Serpico “is standing behind his deputy police chief amid new questions about the high-ranking cop’s moonlighting.”

The Sun-Times reports that Deputy Chief Michael Castellan works a side job as a plumbing contractor.

“Several years ago, Serpico and the Melrose Park Village Board adopted a conflict-of-interest policy for village employees after revelations the deputy chief, Michael Castellan, was running a side business called Shirt Stop that sold police uniforms to underlings answering to Castellan,” the Sun-Times’s Robert Herguth reports.

To read the full story Sun-Times story, click here. VFP

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Breaking: Melrose Park Mayor Says He Can’t Commit to Welcoming Village Ordinance


Residents stand up in a show of support for a Welcoming Village ordinance in Melrose Park during a Feb. 27 regular board meeting. || Michael Romain/VFP


Monday, February 27, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews || Updated: 11:11 p.m.

The atmosphere inside of a packed room at 1 N. Broadway during a regular Melrose Park board meeting felt like the pre-ceremonial rumblings of a wedding audience. At least 100 people filled council chambers tonight, most hoping to hear that the board would at least start the process of approving a Welcoming Village ordinance.

Thirty minutes later, after a 15-minute ode to immigrants and a litany of prior good deeds done on behalf of his village’s Hispanic community, Melrose Park Mayor Ronald Serpico left most in the crowd feeling like jilted lovers.

Members of PASO – West Suburban Action Project, a nonprofit that advocates for immigrants and other vulnerable populations throughout the West Cook County suburbs — including Melrose Park, Stone Park, Maywood and Bellwood — have been vocal in their support of a proposal that would “draw a firm line between police and ICE, disentangling the criminal and immigration system,” according to a flyer the group has circulated.

The possibility that Melrose Park would pass some measure similar to what PASO is proposing seemed strong earlier this year. During a meeting in January, which Serpico did not attend due to a reported illness, members of the board seemed to get behind the measure.

Trustee Arturo Mota said at the time that Melrose Park “has been very supportive of being a welcoming community,” adding that the village has also gotten behind local initiatives and state laws that would ease the burden of living for immigrants.

A motion to “establish Melrose Park as a sanctuary village and authorize the offices of the mayor and village attorney to prepare all documents for the aforesaid” was tabled due to Serpico’s absence. Mota said the mayor wanted to “address everyone who is for or against” the ordinance before the vote was held.

But a Feb. 13 regular meeting where further discussion on the proposal was to take place was canceled, with a Serpico spokesman explaining that the mayor had been out of town and recuperating from “very serious back surgery.”

On Monday night, Serpico and the trustees heard at least 15 minutes of public comments from numerous community leaders expressing their support for the measure and arguing that it would alleviate some of the fear that’s been palpable in many immigrant communities since President Donald Trump’s election.

“Immigrants have always been part of the fabric of the United States of America. I’ve seen too many families torn apart due to deportation,” said Sister Noemia Silva, of the Missionary Sisters of Saint Charles Borromeo-Scalabrinians.

“Pope Francis asks each of us to help those who, for various reasons, have been forced out of their homeland and immigrate to a new land,” she said. “We cannot wait. It’s urgent for Melrose Park to become a welcoming village for immigrants.”

Silva and others referenced raids conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement earlier this month that resulted in the of 680 people across the country, according to ICE. Seventy-five percent of them, the agency claimed, were “criminal aliens.” One of those arrests took place in Melrose Park.

Recently, President Trump has called for local law enforcement officials to cooperate with the federal government during his administration’s efforts to ramp up on immigration enforcement.

“People are afraid to take their children to school, to go to restaurants and to generally live their everyday lives,” said Mony Ruiz-Velasco, the executive director of PASO who is also an immigration rights attorney.

“The federal government is threatening to deport more than two or three million people this year and they are not going to be able to do that without deputizing local officials,” Ruiz-Velasco said.

“Two weeks ago, new policies were issued by the president making all immigrants targets for deportation,” she said. “This does not apply only to undocumented immigrants. They are threatening to prosecute people who came to the United States with their children, to charge them with smuggling.”

Martha Ortiz, a Melrose Park business owner, said that Trump’s immigration policies are hurting local businesses.

“Many of my employees are terrified that something can happen to their friends or their family and businesses like mine are beginning to see less sales, as people are fearful of being out and about,” she said. “They live with the fear that something can happen to them or their family. They’re also trying to save money in the case of an emergency or a tragic deportation.”

Samuel Valtierrez, a 25-year resident of Melrose Park who is running for a seat on the Proviso Township High Schools District 209 school board in the April 4 election, compared the trials of Latino immigrants today to those of immigrants in the past.

“If today was 1910 and [this were happening to the Italian community], I would be here saying the same thing,” Valtierrez said. “If it was 1870, I would be here to defend the Irish community, because they went through the same thing. But it’s 2017. And [it’s happening] to the Latino community.”

Serpico touted his record of taking stances on numerous immigration-related issues, noting that he’s spoken “all over the world” on behalf of immigration. The mayor said that he’s met on numerous occasions with Silva and also met recently with PASO officials about the proposed Welcoming Village ordinance.

The mayor added that the village has already taken steps to mitigate the widespread fear of deportation among area immigrants and their families by instituting numerous measures, such as stopping a click-it-or-ticket program because of the fear it elicited among some immigrant motorists. He also said that Melrose Park police officers don’t inquire about immigration status or cooperate with ICE.

“Who wants to see families be broken up? That’s not Christian,” Serpico said. “That’s not the right thing to do.”

But the mayor stopped short of committing to the creation of an ordinance that would be legally binding. The mayor briefly mentioned President Trump’s threats to yank some federal funding from local governments who refuse to cooperate with federal officials on immigration enforcement measures.

He also said that, besides, there’s not much a local government can do to stop federal authorities from coming into Melrose Park to conduct immigration-related actions. One village official said that the police learned about the one ICE arrest that occurred in town after reading it in the newspaper.

Ruiz-Velasco, however, pushed back, insisting that, although an ordinance would not stop deportations, it would at least provide “a layer of protection” against the federal government’s efforts and would help ease some residents’ fears.

Serpico said that he was concerned about Trump’s instability and unpredictable nature, adding that he didn’t want to pass an ordinance only to have the president implement an even more draconian policy that, given the village’s status, would perhaps open it up to potential financial repercussions.

The mayor, who didn’t explicitly say the ordinance was dead, said that he would be in communication with community stakeholders about the proposal. That explanation wasn’t enough for one Melrose Park resident, who insisted on Serpico providing a firmer declaration of his intent. No trustees on the board talked during the meeting.

“I’d like to be able to go home tonight and [tell my son some good news],” she said, adding that she was not a member of PASO.

“I can’t make that commitment,” Serpico said. “We’ll [keep] the lines of communication open.”

Valtierrez compared Serpico’s noncommittal speech to a boyfriend claiming that he loves his girlfriend without making a commitment to marriage, adding that an ordinance would be similar to a marriage or birth certificate.

“For me as a father, for my kids to feel secure, [and to know that] I am their father, my signature is on the birth certificate,” Valtierrez said. “That’s what makes me their father legally. That’s all we want. We want a legal document to feel protected.”

“I feel like someone whose been living with a woman for 20 years and has two kids, a house, two cars and I come home every day, and after 20 years she says, ‘Let’s get married,'” Serpico responded, in keeping with the marriage metaphor. “Does that paper change anything after 20 years?”

“If gives you some security, that’s for sure,” someone yelled from the audience.

“But how many people live with people,” Serpico responded, “and as soon as they get married, they get divorced?” VFP

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Melrose Park Could Discuss Welcoming Village Ordinance at Board Meeting Tonight, Feb. 27, 6 PM


Members of PASO during a Melrose Park board meeting in January. | File

Monday, February 27, 2017 || By Community Editor || @maywoodnews

The Melrose Park Board of Trustees is scheduled to hold a regular meeting tonight, Monday, Feb. 27, 6 p.m., at 1 N. Broadway in Melrose Park.

Members of PASO – West Suburban Action Project, a nonprofit that advocates for immigrants and other vulnerable populations throughout the West Cook County suburbs — including Melrose Park, Stone Park, Maywood and Bellwood — have spread the word about the meeting on the organization’s Facebook page.

In January PASO members attended a board meeting to urge Melrose Park board members to support a Welcoming Village ordinance.

At the meeting in January, Melrose Park trustees expressed support for the ordinance and said that the board could vote on the measure at the next regularly scheduled meeting. Mayor Ronald Serpico wasn’t in attendance at that meeting in January and a Feb. 13 regular meeting was cancelled.

According to a flyer that PASO posted to its Facebook page, the proposed ‘Welcoming Village’ ordinance that the organization supports would “bar city officials from contacting, collaborating with, or assisting Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) solely because of a person’s immigration status.”

The ordinance would also “draw a firm line between police and ICE, disentangling the criminal and immigration system.”

For instance, federal immigration authorities would not be allowed access to village databases, “facilities, and other resources for the purpose of implementing registries based on race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, immigration status, national or ethnic origin, or to conduct civil immigration enforcement.”

The Melrose Park board hasn’t discussed the details of what, if any, Welcoming Village ordinance it would vote on. VFP

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