Monthly Archives: September 2013

Deborah Graham, a Don Harmon protege, approves TIF money for pusher after he gives her money

Ald. Deborah Graham, former state rep for part of Oak Park was snookered by phony TIF grant applicant?

Officials knew the Convenience For You store was coming — in fact, the city gave it $105,000 in tax increment financing grants.

Ald. Deborah Graham, 29th, then pushed through a special ordinance lifting the moratorium, saying she wanted to help an African-American businesswoman with stellar credentials.

Actually, the new liquor store was bankrolled and launched by convicted drug dealer Frederick “Juicy” Sims, who has been tied to the Vice Lords street gang, a Tribune investigation found.

And what do you know? After the drug salesman gave her money!

Six months before Graham lifted the moratorium on new licenses and cleared the way for its opening, the store sent her a political contribution, records show.

She told the Tribune the money had no impact on her decision, and she said she was not aware of Sims’ involvement in the business or his criminal background. “That’s new information to me,” she said. “If I had known then what I know now, I would not have supported them.”

Grim details:

In February 2012, the store donated $1,950 to Graham’s 29th Ward political fund. It was among the largest single donations she received that year.

Six months later, Graham reversed the long-standing moratorium on new liquor licenses in the 5300 block of West Madison Street.

And the pawnshop on North Avenue:

Last year she provided critical support to a special use zoning permit that enabled a fifth pawnshop to open in a half-mile stretch of North Avenue.

Angry residents filed a lawsuit disputing that permit for EZ Pawn at 6432 W. North Ave. They say the collection of pawnshops exploits the poor and is another visible reminder of the area’s economic decay.

The local lobbying firm helping EZ Pawn is run by Victor Reyes, a former aide to Daley. It has donated $2,100 to Graham’s ward organization to cover the expenses of community meetings on the issue, according to Graham.

Question is, how close is she to finding out who snookered her? Assuming she is giving it a college try.

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Two robberies in Oak Park

We report Jeep colors, not thief colors:

An unknown male in his 20s approached the victim, displayed a small pocket knife and demanded his wallet, police said. The offender then reached into the victim’s pants pocket and removed a cellphone.

According to police, the offender jumped into a beige Jeep and fled westbound on Garfield Street. Loss was estimated at $200.

Point already made by percipient comments:

* Oakparkbob 2_17_19_2_1_40x40-333333.png

Posted: September 20th, 2013 6:54 PM

The lesson is – be wary of people in beige Jeeps. Oops, that would be automobile profiling! Never mind!

* Violet Aura 2_17_19_2_1_40x40-333333.png

Posted: September 20th, 2013 6:45 PM

@Matt: Unfortunately this is the WJ’s misguided attempt to either assauge their White guilt or else avoid divulging the usual suspects’ descriptions to prevent people from making racist (racial?) comments. I am beginning to think that they are toying with us, though. The getaway car was BEIGE. Gee, that was really helpful! The loose perp was unknown. That’s it. Duh, I didn’t think he was familiar!

And finally, the first comment, with percipient analysis:

MattCordtwist from Island Dweller 2_17_19_2_1_40x40-333333.png

Posted: September 20th, 2013 6:18 PM

unknown male, late teens? sometimes we are given a hint of white gym shoes and blue jeans. why can’t we say it be a white elderly female offender? there are countless black folk who don’t commit crime & there are white folks that do rob folks. fact is most perps are from the other side of Austin from area of nearly 100% black. this isn’t racial profile of any sort but statistics. Chicago police, sun-times, the trib have no prob saying it was a young black male descript. OP police know Public??

It’s a matter of what the public has right to know and bad, bad editorial decision-making.

Hot time in Galewood for Harmon and Lilly

Sen. Don Harmon and Rep. Camille Lilly took it on the chin Sept. 12 from a crowd of 60 or so town-hall listeners in a Galewood church.

In a meeting of just over an hour, assorted cries from the heart filled the air while Harmon and Lilly responded civilly but as the evening wore on, less so, even testily, with Lilly fairly shouting at one point, talking over questioners.

Harmon was optimistic at the start. The state, he said, is turning the corner.” There has been “no borrowing for last three years.” The pension problem is not as dire as some of the media say. Pensions are not the issue but growth of benefits.

This didn’t satisfy a retired teacher, who asked why her benefits were on the line.

They aren’t, Harmon said. “It’s that they don’t grow at the same rate.”

Limiting rate of growth reduces what I receive, the woman said, giving a dollar amount.

Reducing state payout is the point, Harmon might have said, but didn’t. Later he would, when pressed even further. (It’s a Republican argument, however, and would take him off message, which is to minimize the problem and play down cuts.)

Another woman cited the recently publicized expensive copper doors at the state capitol, while the state is cutting benefits. She said it demonstrates a Let them eat cake attitude.

Harmon explained that the money does not come from general revenues but from the “five-year-old” Illinois Jobs Now! program — in fact signed into law by Gov. Quinn on July 10, 2009, with accompanying taxation to pay for it, a cool $30 billion over six years.

“People in power need money, they get it,” said man in process of emptying a grab bag of populist complaints. “The state has a revenue problem, not a spending problem. We should raise taxes on the people who can afford it,” especially “cronies.” He said, he did not want “you guys” to “follow lockstep with Rahm and the others in closing [Chicago] schools.”

Lilly bristled. “I was one of the few” to oppose the closings, she said. I am very concerned . . . I am going to make sure this issue is revisited in our great state. . .

Then with increased intensity, she preached a gospel of austerity: Everyone will have to help. It’s not easy, it’s not comfortable. Someone spoke up, she cut her off: Not yet, raising her voice yet louder, in stern, indeed peremptory fashion.

A woman said her health insurance was rising yearly. The premium had doubled. To which Lilly: That’s why ACA [ObamaCare] is coming.

No, That’s the problem, the woman said, taking Lilly aback. I’m getting hit over and over . . .

Lilly interrupted. Pain is critical. It can be good.”

Finally, Harmon took the mike, commiserating — I feel for you — then picking up on Lilly’s argument — but we cant afford your free health care for life.

To the angry populist, he noted that he had been chief sponsor of a 67% income tax increase, from 3% to 5% — no longer calling it a 2% increase.

To which the angry populist: It’s not on the right people! To which Harmon: “I am chief sponsor of a fair [progressive] income tax.

But the turmoil continued. A man in the rear: Are you listening? So much is going on in state politics, constantly. Applause followed. Were paying you . . . It’s embarrassing . . . awful.

Lilly: I have heard every single word since I have been honored to be a state legislator. God gave me this opportunity. I have learned so much . . . She advanced, mike held close, raising her voice, intoning one of her mantras, This great state . . . She was shouting now, angry but trying somehow to identify with the complainer. Hands were raised all over the room.

Harmon: It’s discouraging, apparently conceding the sad state of things, but not the accusation. What have we not heard? he asked, seeking specifics.

We need fresh blood, said another angry questioner. We suffer while you guys do nothing.

What are we not hearing? Harmon asked again.

There’s so much . . . the man said. It was 7:30, 45 minutes into the meeting. Harmon’s aide stood with a clip board, said it was time to gather written questions from the audience. She begin walking around the room.

Other matters arose: illegal immigrants using scarce resources, not paying taxes (vigorously opposed by several from the floor); declining property values in Galewood and lack of a public library we can take our kids to; a North Avenue pawn shop.

Residents need a voice, a woman said. We are stuck. You have to listen.

The North Avenue problems raised a call for Alderman Graham, former state rep for Oak Park, who said she had learned quite a bit from this meeting. Harmon closed with thanks for those who had come, as did Lilly.

Confused at Patch

Blithe Spirit

North and Clinton?

Police charged Gregory Guzzo, 55, with driving under the influence of alcohol near the intersection of North and Clinton Avenues. Officers responded to a caller’s report of a reckless driver in the 7900 block of North Avenue. about 4:50 p.m. He was charged with a misdemeanor DUI, police said.

It Patch says so, it must be accurate, right?

WRONG.

There’s a Clinton, but not north of South Blvd.

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29th Ward problem

I have asked former state Rep. (for part of Oak Park) Ald. Deborah Graham why she is concerned with North Avenue when her ward extends only to Chicago. And only to Central on the west, for that matter.

Ward 29 Map

Rep. Lilly at Galewood Sept. 12

State Rep. Camille Lilly, who represents most of Oak Park, defended herself vigorously last night (Sept. 12) against what she took to be a scurrilous charge of loose morality from a woman at a Galewood town hall meeting.

The woman, one of sixty or so in the group at a small local church, had called for Lilly and Sen. Don Harmon to “be a moral voice” in their roles as public officials. It was one of many emotion-laden challenges put to them in an hour and fifteen minutes of citizens asking specific questions but also venting about the sad state of things in their neighborhood and the state.

The situation had become maybe too much for Lilly, who had felt the need several times to talk over questioners as she expertly handled the microphone held close to her lips. Whatever the reason, she took the questioner’s challenge as a blot on her reputation and leaped to reject it.

“My morals cannot be questioned. You are talking about me as an individual,” she complained, as the woman protested. She had been misunderstood, the woman tried to say as Lilly talked over her.

It was near the meeting’s end. Lilly thanked the people for showing up, having done so earlier more than once. She added, “I want you to contact me.”

But I did contact her, twice, asking about something she said at the Franklin Park town hall meeting July 30, copying Harmon each time, and never heard. I was looking for verification of the item, which she alone had brought up during a five-legislator discussion.

In slim hope of her having the verification I was looking for, I wrote on Aug. 1:

The other night in Franklin Park, you mentioned signing (passing?) legislation on that day that helped small businesses in Illinois get loans. I looked it up and found nothing about it. I may not have looked in the right places. Can you help me locate that legislation?

Response to which was nil. Repeated it Aug. 16:

Have you had a chance to give this a look? Find anything?

Again, no response.

I’m a constituent. I attend meetings and listen closely. She wants me to contact her.

She does?

Yet more about Dist. 97 air-conditioning

School board president Robert Spatz sounded a cautionary note in the exchange with complaining parents, again in an email to a list on which I have been included. After detailing some of the costs and complexities of a district-wide air-conditioning install, he added this about a “disconnect” between parents have been relating about their children’s extreme discomfort and worse and what the district is hearing:

Last, but certainly not least, as [Supt.] Dr. [Albert] Roberts mentioned in his message, there is clearly a disconnect between the information we are receiving from our buildings about heat-related illnesses and what you have been sharing with us this week.

We do plan to investigate this so we can get to the bottom of the discrepancy. However, what will be helpful for us is if you can please let your childs school know if he/she comes home with what you believe to be a heat-related illness so we can track this important issue more effectively and accurately.

More later, I am sure, on this hot issue.

More about air-conditioning in District 97 schools

Things are heating up (per email, expanded by editor):

No School on Sept. 10 for Non-Air-Conditioned Schools

Reported by 204-enews@ipsd.org on 9/9/13

In looking at the weather forecast and the continued high temperatures expected for tomorrow, district administrators have decided to cancel classes at the 20 schools without air-conditioning on Tuesday, September 10. Staff members will report to work in all district buildings. . . . .

Per the announcement linked above, 20 Naperville schools without air conditioning will be closed tomorrow. In addition, District 204 has formed a “Heat Plan Committee”, and the district also has a heat plan with guidelines for early dismissal and school closure.

Heat Plan for Non-Air-Conditioned Buildings

The district monitors internal/room temperatures in non-air-conditioned schools throughout hot days. When the temperature exceeds the recommended guidelines of safety, which is when the Effective Temperature calculation (ET) reaches 85 degrees, we recommend the following early dismissal plan for students be implemented at the non-air-conditioned buildings. . . . .

What is District 97 doing? It has none of these things, and children continue to become ill from the heat.

Air-conditioning on (parents’) agenda at District 97 board meeting tomorrow

This from the latest of a series of concerned, even indignant emails about non-air-conditioned Oak Park classrooms:

Dear Mr. Spatz [District 97 board president],

Since you have been included on this email chain, I trust that you will ensure that the Board allocates time at tomorrow night’s meeting for parents and other concerned parties to be heard on the issue of heat emergencies and the district’s plan to address same (including but not limited to both short and long-term solutions like air conditioning).

As noted in [parent] Laura Garcia’s email, that issue does not appear on the Board’s published agenda but clearly it is an issue of great and immediate importance to your constituent families, seeing as we are in the midst of yet another heat emergency this week, with temperatures projected to reach and perhaps exceed 95 degrees tomorrow.

Thank you.

Tracey Truesdale

The meeting is set for 7 pm at district headquarters, 970 Madison St.

Other districts have this problem, it should be noted. Some solve it by sending kids home.

Uncle Danny Davis, Obama’s friend Whitaker, poor guys betrayed by niece,

Blithe Spirit

Condolences to Rep. Danny Davis (D-West Side and suburbs), whose niece has been caught (says indictment) with greedy hand in public-money cookie jar:

Defendant: Quinshaunta R. Golden, former Illinois Department of Public Health chief of staff

Filed: Aug. 7, 2013

Charges: Bribery/theft, mail fraud and obstruction of justice

Details: Golden, a niece of U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-Ill.), is accused of pocketing about $433,000 in kickbacks on health department contracts and grants that she oversaw. Her boss at the time, Obama’s friend [Eric E.] Whitaker, has said he is cooperating with the investigation and “had no firsthand knowledge of the activities outlined in [Golden’s] indictment.”

Status: Trial set for Oct. 1.

Same for Pres. Obama, whose friend has been maybe victimized by a trusted employee. Congratulations to O’s friend Whitaker, who had no “firsthand” knowledge of the thievery (but apparently secondhand) and is nonetheless…

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