February 29, 2008

Selective Protesting?

The past weekend offered good walking weather. Before heading out on a hike to another part of the ward, I checked out Johnson’s condo rehab of Manderly. I was following up on a remark made by a policeman at the CAPS meeting about the ‘building on Ashland with the dumpster’. Since his building on the corner of Ashland/Juneway had two dumpsters for about 4 ½ of my 5 ½ years here my assumption was incorrect.

2.24.08 006

Sundays are Open House for prospective buyers. The sales agent came from somewhere in the courtyard with two gentlemen. All had just witnessed the local Coopers Hawk devouring a pigeon. As if that wasn’t shocking enough, the agent suddenly had total recall of me and/or my pink hat. I attended the BizArts breakfast in the fall. Jay glared at me but I stayed for the introduction portion of the meeting. She was professional though and asked if I was here to look. “No thanks, I’m not interested in seeing the condos today.”

2.24.08 005

As I looked at one of the worst buildings NOH that was allowed to house humans transform into condos, I wondered:

Why didn’t Marilyn Pagan and her followers protest this loss of 25-26 affordable rentals? After all, it is in her neighborhood. Why didn’t she demand that Jay Johnson provide affordable housing here? Why aren’t there protests over this building being allowed to go condo? What’s the difference between this building and the one on Morse? Why is one building outside Pagan’s neighborhood more relevant? If one listens to the litany, then any rental building going condo is a very baaadddd thang, right?

Could these awards at the entrance to the model at Johnson’s miracle turnaround hold any clues to my query?

2.24.08 007

Double keyed gate locks are against city code. Perhaps city inspectors aren't so hell bent on ticketing if it's a construction site?

2.24.08 008

February 28, 2008

Pink For Peraica!

From CBS News

"Commissioner Peraica, I totally disagree with you on your budget," Commissioner John Daley (D-11th) said. "And you can have all your press conferences and I will deal with you out of this room when you run for state's attorney. Believe me, I will!"

Hey Tony, I have some superpink ideas for you! Dealing with sandbox boys is tiring and pink is so uplifting!

Make sure you get Lorraine, she knows everything

An infinite number of bloggers is no substitute for one professional journalist.

Saved by the Sell

Oak Park’s Wednesday Journal rescues three city papers from certain death.

By Michael Miner, Chicago Reader, Hot Type, February 28, 2008

“I’d say two-thirds of the e-mails I got were ‘Make sure you get [veteran reporter] Lorraine [Swan­son],’ ” says [Chicago Journal publisher Dan] Haley. “We sat down with her and it’s like, this woman knows everything.”

More...

February 27, 2008

Follow The Single File Path

This strip of Howard Street was still a path this morning. While SSA#19 may be claiming it’s the Park District’s problem, we pedestrians don’t’ really give a damn. One is an agent of the City and the other is a part of our complex system. The rest of us just grab the shovel and start digging our homes out. It may not be good enough for some citizen reporters, but an attempt is better than none.

2.24.08 009

Some entity shoveled from the curb to the fire extinguisher but ran out of steam.

2.24.08 010

Looking back at the single file, lumpy, slippery path.

2.24.08 012

Round The Clock always clears their corner - day and night. Once safely across Howard we hit pavement so to speak - but for only a few steps! Looking east and then west on the south side of Howard, none of the sidewalks were ‘clear’ and salted. Hummm…
2.24.08 014 2.24.08 013

We’ve seen that DevCorp tractor/snowplow/salter on the Gale Side of the street in the past. By this evening it had been plowed. Does anyone know which entity finally came to the rescue? Thank you for preventing a few broken bones.

February 26, 2008

No Oscar For This Movie

To those who consider bloggers or citizen reporters to be opinionated observers, here's a collection of facts from the real journalists. Link by link, the insane reality of Cook County can barely compete with a grade B movie. Unfortunately, the Todd Stroger Movie is real. Some bloggers predicted a poor performance if Todd Stroger landed the leading man role. To all the 49th ward promoters of Todd Stroger, et al, here’s to you!

Steve Patterson Sun-Times

"Week after week, Cook County hospital chief Dr. Robert Simon painfully tells County Board members there's no waste and no frills in his bare-bones hospital operation. It's the same argument used by his boss, County Board President Todd Stroger, in asking taxpayers to cough up more to fund county government.

Yet, on weekends, Simon uses taxpayer money to drive his county-issued car 320 miles, round-trip, to and from his family home. It's the kind of perk few commissioners, or anyone else, knew about until the Chicago Sun-Times raised the issue this weekend." Simon abuses priveleges

"In a proposal to the County Board, Stroger's hospital chief asks for $120,000 for a five-month contract with a clout-heavy PR firm to spread the good word about the hospital and its services." Clout and more clout

Don’t snicker at this recent Stroger blast of misinformation. Is this why we need to spend $120K for five months of PR? This character is paid $100K per year from your tax dollars! Please! From CBS – Todd Stroger aid has good intentions

Thanks to some ‘adjustments’ the Stroger Team reduces the deficit to only $230M! What diligence!

"And while the deficit was pegged at $307 million, commissioners now say they're facing a $230 million hole, thanks to some adjustments.

Adding a wrinkle to the budget debate is a critical presentation today from the health community concluding that the county hospital system has been so mismanaged, control should be put in the hands of an independent, medical panel." From CBS – Cook County Budget

This article states a higher deficit amount. Hal Dardick Chicago Tribune 2/20/08

"CBS 2's Joanie Lum reports members of the public offered dramatic testimony on the two things no one wants: No one wants to cut health care in Cook County, and no one wants to raise taxes." Heated testimonies

“"The quarter percent would not get us to where we need to go," Stroger said after the meeting.” Tonight’s Tribune – Hal Dardick reporting

(No polite response on ‘where to go’)

Three were caught so how many more are hiding in the shadows?

County Employee Theft

Chicago isn’t the only corrupt city in the universe. But it just happens to be the one I live in and that makes all the difference.

February 25, 2008

Moore: Oops! Forgot to Hire Legislative Aide!

Moore is a career legislator, and has 5 lackeys on his paid staff, but Oops! he forget to hire a legislative aide who can actually, you know, aide legislation! In fact, every alderman has three taxpayer-paid flunkies (one "assistant" and two "staff assistants"), and usually a couple-few political hangers-on in their entourage. But between all the sad sack alderman who make claim to form the pathetic "independent caucus" in the Chicago City Council, and all their staffs, no one has any expertise in legislative matters.

Their solution: hire someone, as soon as they can all agree on the reporting structure and do some fund-raising and ... well, you know, you don't want to rush into anything! Typical Democrats, their answer to any given problem is to expand government, every occasion is an occasion for a new headcount. Moore's most important single responsibility, he has analyzed (and then voted in favor of) 17 City budgets in his career - but for his 18th, he wants to farm it out. We'll get 'em next year!

Meet Moore's Staff
  1. Betsy Vandercook, Assistant To The Alderman, employee of the taxpayers of Chicago, $5869/month, $70,428/year, since 2007
  2. Michael Land, Staff Assistant To The Alderman, employee of the taxpayers of Chicago, $4252/month, $51,024/year, since 7/16/99
  3. Alicia Lopez, Staff Assistant To The Alderman, employee of the taxpayers of Chicago, $4252/month, $51,024/year, since 8/12/99
  4. Wayne Frazier, employee of Citizens for Joe Moore, $2600/month, $31,200/year
  5. Anne Sullivan, employee of Citizens for Joe Moore, $2500/month, $30,000/year
The making of Chicago's independent caucus
By JENNIFER SLOSAR, Chi-Town Daily News, Feb. 11, 2008

Moore: We've also explored the possibility of securing funding to hire a staff person who will be able to do research and provide us with information that most legislative bodies have.

The hope is that we'd have a staff person that each of us could rely on for legislative issues--to analyze next year's budget, to explore what other cities are doing with respect to the budget or any other city policy issue. So, the long and short of it is that the progressive caucus is a work in progress.

Q: Have you actually hired a staff person yet?

Moore: No. By our nature we're very independent so right now we're trying to form a consensus as to who we should ask for money [read: SEIU] from and who we shouldn't. And then we still have to work out who this staff person would be accountable to [read: me]. So, a lot of nuts and bolts that have to be worked through.

Read Moore...

See Also:

Progress for progressives?

by Mick Dumke, Chicago Reader, December 17th 2007

Same lame story from two months ago, no progress since.

February 24, 2008

Disappearing Act

Further documentation of Moore's record of displacement.

... seniors in Chicago—particularly those living in gentrifying neighborhoods like Washington Park, Rogers Park, Woodlawn and Grand Boulevard—have disappeared from their homes in recent years more often than their counterparts elsewhere in the region. ...

* Chicago lost an estimated 50,000 seniors from 1990 [Moore 1st elected alderman: 1991] to 2006, a decline of about 15 percent. However, the number of seniors in suburban Cook County increased by nearly 11 percent during that span. Also, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will counties saw increases in seniors ranging from 36 percent to 71 percent during that span.

* Rapid condo development occurred in seven of the 10 community areas where the highest percentages of seniors moved between 2000 and 2007.

More...

February 23, 2008

Converting Mice To Socialism

As blog land knows, Northside Power, a step-child of the Soup Kitchen, was having a sleepover to protest condo conversions last night. I’m not sure that praying and sleeping over will change anything; will truly address the problem or get the right kind of empathy. We’re supposed to regress to one of these political processes again. What next? Will we see a resolution from Moore to lift the embargo on Cuba? The ‘people’ haven’t fared too well on socialism there.

Why not protest owning vehicles too? How about restricting religious entities from owning property while we’re at it? Then the sanctimonious pig condo/property owners wouldn’t have to pay for their garbage pick up in their bill. The bills that keep getting higher and higher. Do City Council members vote on these hikes?

Oddly the alderperson and the director of Lakeside are both home owners. The ultimate parent of the Soup Kitchen owns a lot of properties too. Oddly, the alderperson accepts campaign donations from those creepy condo developers. It's really confusing isn't it?

Last night a neighbor stopped to read the flyer at the Soup Kitchen on Paulina. As most of us know: when the cats’ away the mice will play.

A portion of her email:
“Dancing around in the dining area in full view from the street were three mice. The little pesks probably slipped in through a back door they leave open a lot.” This vision of humor aside, the Kitchen is still a place where food is stored – and prepared and served daily. They’re required to have a license too.

Does politics play any role in passing or failing? Politics sure plays a role in getting certain permits or licenses.

Perhaps the next headline will be about a sleepover in the Kitchen to convert the dancing mice. But, they’ll have to be QUIET or the mice may not come out.

February 22, 2008

Bird Identified

From friend and neighbor:

The bird you have both identified as a Falcon hangs out some afternoons in our back yard by the cemetary. The Bench Falcon and the 24/7 Falcon

A friend who is a long time bird watcher used the pictures on your blogs to identify the bird as a female Coopers Hawk

February 21, 2008

Moore: 17th-Year Senior, Freshman Class President

In a recent interview, Moore did not deny he thinks of himself as the leader of the so-called "independent caucus" in the Chicago City Council, and further, that the incoming freshman alderman recognize him as their leader. I wonder if the Moore's colleagues know about this. Maybe only a naive freshman would think Moore might be some kind of leader.

But in another sense Moore is a reasonable choice, because for all practical purposes, Moore is still after 17 years a freshman alderman himself. Save for a scant hand-full of stunt votes that made no difference to anyone, but garnered beau coup publicity (the foie gras ban, the non-binding Iraq war resolution, the "Big Box" debacle, etc.), Moore has been biding his time, collecting his salary, waiting to make his move, meanwhile a reliable back-bench machine hack.

The making of Chicago's independent caucus
By JENNIFER SLOSAR, Chi-Town Daily News, Feb. 11, 2008

Q: You have been identified as one of the leaders of an emerging "independent caucus" on the Council. ... Do all the freshmen belong to this progressive caucus?

Moore: A large number of them do.

February 20, 2008

Lunar Eclipse Tonight

Thanks Fargo!

Silk Purses and Sows Ears

By Steve Patterson – Sun-Times

Commissioner Forrest Claypool said Stroger "can spend hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars trying to suspend reality through public relations, but the reality is that true reform of the health bureau is the only thing that is going to improve its image."
******
Big round of applause for all those Todd Stroger voters out there and an even bigger round for the Machine that manipulated him into office.

Great Job!

February 19, 2008

Shady Deals and Two Little Elections

Feds investigating only ONE alderperson?

OK, is Isaac the only one who’s taken money from developers and provided a little extra special help? Perhaps Troutman really opened a can of worms. Keep digging Feds, you’ll find more than some alderpersons dare think about.

Pitiful excuse to abstain.

This reminds me of ministers running for public office. Either be a preacher or a politician but not both.

City Inspector, was he trying to do the right thing?

AND, last but not least, here at home there’s the monthly meeting for Gale Park Advisory Council. REMEMBER, 30 days ago, notice was given to several entities, including the ward office that there will be elections to form a separate council for Triangle Park and for Harold Washington Memorial Playground. The meeting is at 7PM.

Howard Area Community Center
7648 North Paulina
Chicago, IL 60626

Be Wary of Con Artists

Courtesy The Bench for the post and thanks to the good neighbor who informed us.

February 18, 2008

Moore: Keeping Gentrification in Check for 17 Years

Stroll Howard or Morse, and you'll have to agree: Joe Moore has been successful in keeping gentrification in check during his 17 years. Moore imposed property tax increases on our commercial districts. Moore down-zoned vast areas to stifle development and force developers to tithe to him. Moore sponsors DevCorp North in making millions of dollars of economic development aid disappear. Moore talks about street-scape projects that never happen. No one can accuse Rogers Park of being "overheated."

The making of Chicago's independent caucus
By JENNIFER SLOSAR, Chi-Town Daily News, Feb. 11, 2008

Q: What do you see as the top three challenges facing the 49th ward in next few years and how do you plan to address these issues?

Moore: Overall, it is how can we preserve and embrace the new development that's coming to our neighborhood but make sure that the improvements that development brings serve the people who live here now. How can we continue to preserve our economic, racial and cultural diversity in the face of development pressures.

How can we continue to improve our commercial districts, but do that in a way that does not overheat the residential market and cause unchecked gentrification. I see that as the biggest challenge facing us.

Comments, anyone? Do you live here? Are you being served?

February 15, 2008

Moore: Gale Park Community Center My Most Proud Accomplishment in 17 Years!

The making of Chicago's independent caucus
By JENNIFER SLOSAR, Chi-Town Daily News, Feb. 11, 2008

Q: Which accomplishments of your 17-year city council career do you take most pride in?

Moore: Probably the accomplishment I'm most proud of here in the 49th ward is our battle to secure funding for the Gale Park Community Center, which is set to open in the next few months.

Comments, anyone?

February 13, 2008

George W Bush Presidential Library

The George W Bush Presidential Library is now in the planning stages.
You'll want to be the first at your corporation to make a contribution
to this great man's legacy. The Library will include:

1. The Hurricane Katrina Room, which is still under construction.
2. The Alberto Gonzales Room, where you can't remember anything.
3. The Texas Air National Guard Room, where you don't have to even show up.
4. The Walter Reed Hospital Room, where they don't let you in.
5. The Guantanamo Bay Room, where they don't let you out.
6. The Weapons of Mass Destruction Room (which no one has been able to find).
7. The Iraq War Room. After you complete your first tour, they make you go back for a second, third, fourth, and sometimes fifth tour.
8. The Dick Cheney Room, in the famous undisclosed location, complete with shooting gallery.
9. Plans also include: The K-Street Project Gift Shop - where you can buy (or just steal) an election.
10. The Airport Men's Room, where you can meet some of your favorite Republican Senators.
11. Last, but not least, there will be an entire floor devoted to a 7/8 scale model of the President's ego.

To highlight the President's accomplishments the museum will have an electron microscope to help you locate them.

From my cousin, a retired Colonel, US Army

Beat 2422 February Meeting

CAPS Beat 2422 meets tomorrow night, 2/14/08 at the Gateway Senior Apartments, 7450 N. Rogers in the Community Room on the 1st floor at 7:00 pm.

February 12, 2008

Your Vote vs Their Vote

Crunching Delegate Numbers

After the first Dubya win, certain mortified public servants were yammering that election reform was needed. Four years passed and damn, if he didn’t get re-elected.

This whole electoral college process never made much sense. We have the delegate vote and we have the popular vote vote. The alleged fail-safe are the super delegates? Oh, more politicians making decisions for us?

So what’s the point and purpose of trudging to the polls so some delegate with a vested interest can re-represent you or me?

Are all of these Byzantine hoops really necessary? Considering the amount of money donated in Illinois for all candidates, these big spenders could have helped bail out the CTA and fixed a few potholes. Take that thought nationwide and just imagine what could have been accomplished.

The Sun-Times reports on a new proposal to address the issue.

No doubt our illustrious 49th Ward election judges will create new out-of-this-world excuses to circumvent any plan that's accepted. BS from invisible ink to 'phasing out provisional ballots' by election judges allows the machine to roll over fair election processes. Will they be allowed to judge here again?

Sure it's a long day for election judges. If they take that $150 task seriously then some of the problem judges should re-read TFM before election day. Taking it one step further, if anyone is challenged in the art of reading, then perhaps he/she shouldn't be judges at all.

February 11, 2008

RP Garden Group Digging for Ideas

Digging for Ideas

Tuesday, February 12

7-9 pm

Charmers Café (northwest corner of Jarvis & Greenview)


Come join your fellow gardeners, neighbors, and friends new and old for the first Rogers Park Garden Group meeting of 2008.

We’ll exchange catalogs (bring gardening catalogs to exchange if you have them!), announce the season programming and new initiatives, talk about the 2008 community garden project, and hand out some great tips to get you started successfully gardening in 2008. You can also renew your membership on site.

Come in from the cold and bring a friend!

February 7, 2008

City Snowscape

The morning walk.

2.7.08 003
2.7.08 001
2.7.08 004

This isn’t a real crime scene downtown.

2.7.08 008

It’s just a blocked off corner where ice was falling from a building. Rush hour pedestrians were given the choice of dodging ice or vehicles.

2.7.08 005

February 5, 2008

Ward 49's Magic Machine

Yes Obama, we need change, shall we begin with this?

My polling place is the old Gale School Auditorium with three precincts. And for the 4th election in a row, many of the hand-picked Fagus ‘judges’ were on guard. My girlfriend judges across the way didn’t try to take cell phone photos this time. I kept waving my pink glove and smiling but they seemed rather oblivious. Did the heat get called off? I am grateful that the baseball hat girl got those cones outside though!

My precinct judges recognized me since we were together three times from November 06 to April 07! While one judge was looking for me in the book another handed me a ballot. The male judge snapped at her for giving me a ballot before he found me in the book. Both snarled and made faces at one another.

Finally, the judge told me I wasn’t in the book, the closest name he could find was Tone. I wasn’t sure what he was talking about. So I suggested he try looking me up on the long sheet and the ‘ballot’ judge told me I couldn’t touch it. “OK but instead of holding up the line, could you look it up then?” As in the past, these two began their verbal exchanges.

I showed him my name and the light bulb went off. He began looking for my last name. I laughed and said, ‘Come on, we all went through this three times in less than six months’. A third judge piped up ‘but we don’t do this all the time and we forget’. I know, we’re all capable of losing it we don’t use it. But most names are filed in alphabetical order by last name, first name in any professional setting aren’t they?

I voted and was told to put the ballot in the box. OK, no problem. Oh, and take a receipt from the pad since you’re up! That’s what I call self-service voting or just familiarity. I just hope they did better with people they didn’t know.

Really Mr. Fagus, we need judges who really passed the how to be an election judge test. Really, can’t you find time for continuing ed especially in the filing department? These are good people who need extra coaching. If you can’t provide capable judges, then how credible is any election?

When I read about the magic pen, this old WHO song popped into my mind.

I don't care how much I pay (Too much, the Magic Bus)
I wanna drive my bus to my baby each day (Too much, the Magic Bus)
*[Magic Bus, Magic Bus, Magic Bus
Magic Bus, Magic Bus, Magic Bus
Give me a hundred (Magic Bus)
I won't take under (Magic Bus)
Goes like thunder (Magic Bus)
It's a bus-age wonder (Magic Bus)

Magic Bus, Magic Bus, Magic Bus, Magic Bus
I want it, I want it, I want it...(You can't have it!)
Think how much you'll save...(You can't have it!)]
I want it, I want it, I want it, I want it ... (You can't have it!)

Magic Bus

Ward 49 is not a Magic Machine!

February 4, 2008

Breaking News From The Bench

Hope the news about the Ace Reporter doesn't fog up the local machine too much!

I wonder if certain politicians and their pals who may have been snickering at the demise of our local newspaper thought this could happen?

Congrats to Lorraine and Hat Tip To Mannis

Political Satire (open with care)

A friend sent this and no doubt it's making the Internet circuit just in time to ponder its merits in the polling place.

New Government Seal

Creator Unknown

February 3, 2008

Create Your Ballot For Fat Tuesday

First, there's the presidential primary - yawn. Pick the person YOU want, not what the machine pushes through the mailbox or the telephone. The above link will lead you to all candidates, including all those judges.

Then there are the local options that are much closer to your home and your pocketbook.

The 3x3 Race for States Attorney…. Do you want a real prosecutor or a politician with a law degree?

All 6 Democratic States Attorney Choices

My preferred choices.
Alvarez, Milan, Brewer

Allen and Brookins are aldermen. Sufferdin is a Cook County Commissioner who backed Todd Stroger. I’m sure you can find their websites on google.com.

Then there are Choices for Cook County Recorder.

There’s a challenger for the 9th District State Representative

There’s also the Elder versus Steans to fill the Senate seate vacated by Carol Ronen.

Deratany has the hilarious animated commercial about Berrios and Stroger….He’s challenging the 20 year Madigan backed incumbent for Cook County Board of Review Don't forget, Berrios was a Todd Stroger man.

From The Chicago Tribune Editorial 1/31/08

“Your property tax bill from Cook County likely will land in your mailbox next Monday or Tuesday. Joe Berrios, one of the Democratic bosses who helped put Todd Stroger in his late father's job, wants you to believe he fights rising taxes for put-upon homeowners. The truth is just the opposite.

As we said in endorsing his primary opponent, Jay Paul Deratany, Berrios' Board of Review has been instrumental in unfairly shifting hundreds of millions of dollars in property tax burden from commercial properties to residential homeowners.

The Board of Review hears appeals of assessed property valuations. In the most recent assessment cycle -- for taxes paid in 2007 -- the board awarded more than $2 billion in valuation cuts. That shifted $335 million in taxes from 8 percent of county properties to the other 92 percent. Almost 80 percent of the assessed value cuts went to commercial and other non-residential properties; only 20 percent went to residences.

In some cases, those Board of Review decisions fixed assessment errors. But a huge share of the relief routinely goes to clients of lawyers who have made generous campaign contributions.

The lopsidedness of the assessment cuts has begun to shift away from the clout crowd since voters replaced two of the three board members, in 2004 and 2006, with newcomers Larry Rogers Jr. and Brendan Houlihan. But the board's insider culture won't fully change until angry taxpayers vote Berrios out of office.”

From today’s 2/3/08 Tribune

For the record, I don't agree with every endorsement by the Tribune or the Sun-Times. But as with all elections, it's time for a turnover and definitely not recycling.

February 1, 2008

Suffredin lobbyied for Fred Barbara landfill sued for IEPA violations

Larry Suffredin is fronting for Fred Barbara on a new landfill in Kankakee.

The company Suffredin keeps

Larry Suffredin wants to be the next Cook County state's attorney and says he'd fight corruption. But as a lobbyist, he's been working for a man implicated in a mob bombing

January 30, 2008, BY ERIC HERMAN AND TIM NOVAK Sun-Times Staff reporters

Larry Suffredin -- a self-styled reformer running for Cook County state's attorney -- lobbied for a landfill controlled by Fred Bruno Barbara, a businessman once charged with extortion and implicated in the mob bombing of a restaurant, the Sun-Times has learned.

Suffredin, a Cook County commissioner (D-Evanston), has come under attack by rivals for his work as a lobbyist on behalf of casino and drug-company interests. State records show he also lobbied for Kankakee Regional Landfill LLC -- a company tied to Barbara -- in 2005, 2006, and 2007.

More...

Freddie "Blue Bag" Barbara is close personal friend of Mayor Daley, a major Daley campaign contributor, and as Fred Barbara Trucking Co. Inc. also a "consultant"-lobbyist with the local franchise of the national waste management conglomerate Allied Waste, our home town's $77M/yr garbage hauling and recycling contractor. Chicagoans will be familiar with Fred Barbara's name from pretty much every article you'll ever read about why Chicago's "blue bag" program is a miserable failure. Followers of the "Family Secrets" mob trials will recall that there was testimony that Freddie participated in the bombing of Horwath's Restaurant in Elmwood Park, which was a well-known hangout for mobsters. Barbara is a nephew of the late Chicago Alderman Fred Roti, who has been identified by the US Justice Department as a made member of the Chicago mob. More recently, Barbara is behind the Park Grill restaurant in Millennium Park that for some reason pays no property taxes and gets taxpayer-paid garbage pick-up and gas.

Freddie formed a partnership with Thomas A. Volini, President of the quaintly-named waste management firm Town & Country Utilities, Inc. of East Chicago, Indiana (among other diverse firms). Freddie and Tommy called their new partnership Kankakee Regional Landfill LLC, also, oddly enough, of East Chicago, Indiana.

Barbara, Volini, Suffredin

Here's the official online record of Suffredin's hire by Barbara and Volini. You can look it up:

SECRETARY OF STATE LOBBYIST LIST

Kankakee Regional Landfill LLC gave the Illinois Secretary of State Department of Business Services as their address of record the address of one of Volini's many companies, Town & Country Utilities:

Town & Country Utilities, Inc.
1620 E. CHICAGO AVE.
EAST CHICAGO IN 46312

But when
Kankakee Regional Landfill LLC's registered Suffredin as their lobbyist, they gave the Illinois Secretary of State Lobbyist Division the address of a near southwest side property owned by Barbara, which Barbara uses as the address of record of many of his companies:

RIVERVIEW RECYCLING, INC.
Fred Barbara, President
2300 S. ARCHER AVE
CHICAGO, IL 60616

You may recall America's most beloved fictional mob waste management professionals, The Sopranos, had a particularly brutal episode where a garbage truck crew took a beating from the crew of a rival company's garbage truck over routes. But as Tony later says, "There's plenty of garbage for everyone." And as Mick Dumnke reported recently in the Reader, there is no shortage of landfills in the Chicago area. The real money is not in the pick-ups, like waiting tables it's in the tips. If you can tip into your own or a friendly dump, you're golden, but if you have to pay tip fees for someone else's, you're hurting your bottom line big time. And besides, Ottawa Illinois and northwestern Indiana are getting sick & tired of our garbage. So Tommy and Freddie hired our very own friendly neighborhood corporate lobbyist Larry Suffredin to help them foist a new dump site on some unsuspecting under-empowered community somewhere.

The future landfill site Barbara and Volini snatched up was not in some obscure corner of Kankakee County, it is within the southern municipal boundary of the City of Kankakee, a city of 27,000. They were shopping for a community they could muscle for tax incentives, and they found one. The Kankakee County Economic Development Council is real excited about the project, to them it looks like jobs. As is Kankakee Mayor Donald Green (R-Ryan) who happens to be a recipient of campaign contributions from Volini. With little discussion, the Kankakee City Council in August, 2002 obliged by approving the application for the landfill and, a month later, extending an "Enterprise Zone" to Barbara's property south of town, making it eligible for lucrative property tax abatements. The Illinois Pollution Control Board denied the application, so a year later the City Council pushed through a SECOND application, this time including accepting extensive "findings of fact" cooked up by their hired "expert" to bolster their plan.

There's nothing green about this project except Barbara's and Volini's money. Understand Barbara, Volini and Suffredin were not talking about just Kankakee's own garbage; as the name Kankakee Regional Landfill LLC implies, the proposal was to accept trash from Illinois and Indiana. And not just residential refuse - a crucial component of their business plan is to accept industrial and construction waste.

The people of Kankakee are less than thrilled. They organized, attended hearings, asked questions, and hired their own experts. The people who live there know the proposed site is in an aquifer in the flood plain of the Iroquois River, which drains into the Kankakee River. Not ABOVE the aquifer - IN it: they planned to excavate to below the water table, sell the quarried limestone, and then line the 200-acre hole with a plastic sheet to form a "bathtub". Water company Aqua Illinois takes much of Kankakee County's fresh water from the river a few miles downstream. Many locals hope to revitalize the area by featuring their rivers as a recreational mecca. Recall earlier this month the Iroquois flooded its banks, forcing hundreds from their homes in communities along its length, like Watseka. The proposed landfill site flooded most recently in 2005.

Suffredin must not be very good lobbyist, because the skids do not appear to be greased very well: his clients are spending an awful lot of time in court trying to have their way. Suffredin's clients appealed the unfavorable ruling by the Illinois Pollution Control Board all the way to the Illinois Supreme Court, trying to force the people of Kankakee to accept their garbage.

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS
TOWN & COUNTRY UTILITIES, INC., et al., Appellees,
v. THE ILLINOIS POLLUTION CONTROL BOARD et al., Appellants.


Thankfully, the Supreme Court backed up the experts on our state Pollution Control Board over the so-called "experts" hired by Barbara and Volini.

Meanwhile, unwilling to wait for permit approval, Volini decided to force the issue and simply went ahead and started dumping at the site. Although they had been warned of security guards with shotguns, some brave neighbors photographed a bulldozer scrambling to bury the trash. An Illinois Environmental Protection inspector, Donna Shehane, was dispatched to the site, and wrote 21 citations for violations of Illinois law. Sheehan's position had been jointly funded by a delegate agreement between the Illinois EPA and Kankakee County Health Department, but shortly after her citation-writing spree the powers that be in Kankakee County eliminated her position, for doing her job too well. Volini's lawyers claimed the IEPA inspector were mistaken, what was dumped (and buried) was not trash but merely "construction materials" being "stored" in anticipation of permit approvals and the infrastructure improvements necessary for the site! Most recently, our state Attorney General's office is in court trying to collect on the $4,100,000 in resulting fines, and Suffredin's client is, surprise, surprise balking, rejected a settlement offer, and wants a jury trial.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources got involved when they noticed Barbara-Volini failed to get a permit from them. Minnie Creek surrounds the proposed garbage dump on three sides and drains into the Iroquois. After studying the site, IDNR is now requiring a mile-long, 280’ wide relief channel to be dug along the banks of Minnie Creek to handle flood water. Yup, you read that right, the relief channel is not 280' LONG it is a football-field WIDE, all the way around the site. Meanwhile Volini boasted to the Sun-Times that his permit proves his project is legit.

Volini came back to the Kankakee City Council again and again with one hair-brained scheme after another, arm-in-arm with what he hoped would be a more attractive partner. Next, it's not a regional industrial landfill, it's an asphalt shingle plant, that just happens to have a landfill nearby to generate methane to power the plant. That fell through after the asphalt shingle plant decided to locate at a far less flood prone site elsewhere in the County. Next, it's not a regional industrial landfill, it's an ethanol plant, and Volini had Mayor Green shilling for him touting how many millions of bushels of Kankakee County corn he would be buying every year. That fell through, too. The latest scheme is forget the regional garbage, it's just Kankakee municipal waste for now, the permitting process is much simpler, and it's composting of yard waste.

That his landfill has yet to open is due in no small part to concerned local citizens, but is also stalled thanks to an unattractive squabble between national waste management giants Allied Waste and Waste Management, and between the City and County of Kankakee. The County does not want to share property tax revenue with the City. Waste Management has teamed with the County on a competing project, just east of the Kankakee Regional Landfill site, on the opposite bank of the Iroquois, on County land outside City limits. The local proxies for Allied and Waste Management are in court trying to slow or stop each other's projects. As Dumnke reported, the skyrocketing price of diesel is eating into the industry's bottom line, and the attraction here is the proximity to the south Kankakee exit of I-57. Unfortunately, I-57 parallels the Iroquois in southern Kankakee County.

But Suffredin and Barbara and Volini are still fighting the good fight, pushing their second landfill application through the courts. Has Suffredin met his match, lining up against the Illinois EPA, the Pollution Control Board, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the Illinois Attorney General, the Illinois Supreme Court, Waste Management, the government of Kankakee County, and the good people of Kankakee County? Time will tell. Even as he runs for Cook County States Attorney, Suffredin continues to represent this client, and hopefully, he'll be back on the case full time Wednesday, February 6.

Suffredin & Volini to the Rescue of the Cook County Hospital Building!

But wait, there's more! File this under "small world."

Using his part-time job as a Cook County Commissioner as leverage, Suffredin arranged for Volini to take a shot at pitching a plan to save the old Cook County Hospital building to the Cook County Board back in April, 2006. You can look it up. Read the transcript, it's a hoot. How a career as a waste management executive prepares you to rehab a massive public building, you tell me. Volini himself stated to the County Board that his main qualification was that "four of his close family members have spent about 40 years working in the old Cook County Hospital building." Uncharacteristically, reason prevailed at the County Board and a developer (US Equities) with actual experience got a County contract to draft a proposal for the building. But now Suffredin is bragging on being the savior of the old County Hospital building in his campaign appearances and on his website.

More about Thomas A. Volini: The 48th Ward Democratic Machine Connection

Thomas A. Volini is the brother-in-law of former
Chicago Alderman (48th) turned real estate broker Marion Kennedy Volini, and the uncle of her son, former 48th Ward Democratic Committeeman and realtor Michael A. Volini.

Another Indiana-based Volini company, Midwestern Electric, Inc. had its Illinois business license revoked by the Illinois Secretary of State on 1/3/05.

A New Jersey-based Volini company, Continental Waste Industries, Inc. had its Illinois business license revoked by the Illinois Secretary of State on 7/1/96.

The town of Winfield, Indiana was planning to purchase a sewage treatment plant from Volini. Days before the closing, Indiana Department of Environmental Management inspectors found sewage flowing from a tributary near the plant, which winds its way through Lake George in Hobart, Indiana and eventually flows into Lake Michigan. Indiana issued a violation letter to Volini. The sale went through a month later, and Indiana is still considering fines against Volini.

And get this: 2001-2002 Volini served on the board of directors of American Ecology, Inc., "the oldest radioactive and hazardous waste services Company in the United States", with former congressman Dan Rostenkowski. I guess if you are trying to fill out the board of a radioactive and hazardous waste disposal firm, you might have to occasionally call on a few ex-cons.

Suffredin for Cook County Prosecutor? WHA?

Let's face it, communities desperate for development, campaign contributions from developers, mobbed-up waste management companies, waste management firms using the courts to enforce their god-given right to site a landfill on their land, are all old stories. But what you don't expect to find is your own County Commissioner and a candidate for County State's Attorney involved on the landfill operator's side, for pay.

Local corporate lobbyist and part-time Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin is currently using union money to run television ads where he looks into the camera and says with a straight face, "As a reformer ... " Will someone please ask him how he squares lobbying for a landfill operator with his progressive reform agenda? Thanks!

Suffredin asks us to look the other way on his lobbying activities. But you can learn a lot more about Suffredin's character from looking at the projects he takes on in his day job than you can from his TV spots.

Speaking for myself

If it was me, I guess I wouldn't run for Cook County Commissioner unless I could be content with the Commssioner's salary, and I guess I wouldn't be seeking outside work unless everything were under control at the County, and there was absolutely nothing else I could possibly be doing for my constituents (not likely).

And I guess if I decided I needed outside income, I don't think I would work as a lobbyist, taking money to influence legislation while also serving as an elected representative of my constituents, lest my constituents get confused.

And I guess if I decided I needed a little something on the side, and I HAD to do it as a lobbyist, and if I had any ideas about higher office, having seen an episode of the Sopranos or two, I think I might take a pass on Italian-American waste management executives knocking on my door seeking help foisting a landfill on a community that doesn't want it.

But that's just me, I guess.