West Leyden Groundbreaking 

On May 18th, the Leyden Board of Education SD212 held a ground breaking for a $25,000,000 building project at West Leyden High School.  At West Leyden they are building an addition inside a portion of the inner courtyard.  The first floor will be a cafeteria/common area addition and a kitchen renovation.   The second floor addition will be a new  Library and media center.  Renovated spaces will include new classrooms,reorganized offices, student support areas and more. 

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Remember When You Could “Fly the Friendly Skies of United “







Without the shocking video, it unlikely that the world would have learned or cared about the violent manhandling of a 69 year old man on a plane last month.

The outrage on social media, the mea culpa by an airline CEO, the promise to treat customers better…………NONE of it would have HAPPENED.

The passengers who shot those videos on a United Express plane in Chicago violated United’s policy on photography.  By the letter of the airline’s law, they too could have been ordered off the plane.

Under United’s policy, customers can take pictures or videos with small cameras or cellphones “provided that the purpose is capturing personal  events. ”  Filming or photographing other customers or airline employees without their consent is prohibited.  America, Delta and Southwest have similar policies.

Passengers are accustomed to using their cellphones to take photos and videos that they can upload to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.  Airline rules on photography are sporadically enforced, but passengers should read them in the in-flight magazines because there can be consequences.  This month, a United ticket agent ordered a passenger’s reservation canceled as he filmed her while disputing a $300 baggage fee in the New Orleans airport.  After Navang Oza posted his video online, United apologized, saying that the video “does not reflect the positive customer experience we strive to offer”.

In April, a  Jet Blue Airways crew called airport police to meet a man who they said continued to record a selfie video during a security-sensitive time in flight, while the cockpit door was opened.  Michael Nissenshohn insists that he wasn’t recording the procedure.

“I told them there is no rule against taking a selfie on a plane,” Nissensohn says.  He says he was ordered off the plane and held up at LaGuardia airport in New York for more than an hour before being let go without charges.  JetBlue declined to comment  on the incident.  A spokesman says the airline doesn’t publish its photography policy for security reasons.

With airline customer service in decline, videotaping is the only way that passengers can make sure they are treated fairly, say Gary Leff, a travel blogger who has criticized the airlines over the issue.

Gary Leff noted that “the TSA allows more photography at the checkpoint than the airlines allow on board their planes.”

The Transportation Security Administration says that photography at checkpoints is fine if people don’t take images of monitors or interfere with screeners.  Travel bloggers say, however, that people have had run-ins with TSA officers, and you should expect  to be questioned if you snap more than a casual photo of a companion.

Lawyers who specialize in First Amendment or travel law say airlines generally cannot limit photography or recording in an airport because it is a public space.  But airlines have more power on planes because as private parties they are not bound by the First Amendment.

Joseph Larsen, a media law attorney noted that “they are within their rights to establish these rules, they are within their rights to throw you off the aircraft if you continue filming.”

However, there is no law against taking photos or video on a plane, and it is unlikely that anyone would face legal jeopardy for taking pictures of an altercation on a plane or their own peaceful selfie.

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Northern Illinois Hiring Practices and Expenditures Questioned

An Office of Executive Inspector General investigation into Northern Illinois University’s hiring and spending practices has found that President Doug Baker routinely circumvented state laws and regulations to reward friends and associates.
The report, commissioned after watchdog groups and whistleblowers questioned Baker’s use of the so-called “affiliate employee” classification for hires in key university positions, shows what investigators call a pattern of dodging procurement code requirements.
“As a result of (Baker’s) actions, since 2013 NIU has paid over $1 million in public funds to consultants who were not selected through a competitive procurement process,” the report released Wednesday said.
In addition, the school, facing millions of dollars in cuts due to a $35 million funding gap, has paid nearly $200,000 in legal fees to outside counsel for Baker during the course of the OEIG investigation.
The report also found numerous support staff to Baker had assisted in the practices, and some had further used their positions to gain extra payments over and above their salaries. 
Another Baker hire, Ron Walters, received $463,125 in compensation as an affiliate employee from June 2013 to Dec. 2014. According to the report, Baker described Walters as a friend and explained to then NIU Dir. of Human Resources Steve Cunningham that Walters was a “turnaround consultant.”
The OEIG report says that when Cunningham informed Baker that the school could not pay Walters more than $20,000 for his services, “Baker showed a ‘high degree’ of dissatisfaction with the Procurement Code,” and that Baker instructed Cunningham to “find a way” to onboard Walters.
The report identified five employees: Ron Walters, who was paid $463,125; Nancy Suttenfield, who was paid $425,041; Ken Wilson, who was paid $135,963; Magaly Rodriguez, who was paid $85,031; and William Pfeiffer, who was paid $23,516. […]
Although Baker agreed with the report’s findings that there were no violations of the state’s Ethics Act, he disagreed with any implications that there was intent to circumvent NIU’s guidelines or state regulations.

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Happy Birthday, Wrigley Field

April 23, 1914………Weeghman Park (Wrigley Field), opens for the first time, with the Chicago Federals as the first tenants. The Federals are part of the upstart Federal League, the 3rd Major League. The Federals will remain in Weeghman Park for 2 years, winning the championship in 1915, before the league dissolves, and the Cubs move in, in 1916. The Cubs had been playing in West Side Park. Charley Weeghman owns the Cubs that first year, with William Wrigley also owning a small percentage, and the park remains Weeghman Park until 1920, when it becomes Cubs Park. It remains Cubs Park until 1926, when William Wrigley, the sole owner of the Cubs then, officially names it Wrigley Field. Why was this park built in a more residential section of Chicago and not near a major road? Well because the park, built in 1914, was situated near the Milwaukee Railroad. This is the only remaining Federal League park that still stands. The photos are Weeghman Park, April 23, 1914.

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Parakeets in the Chicago ‘Burbs ?

Have you seen parakeets in Chicago? Some time in the 1970s, somebody’s pet parakeets escaped. These weren’t tropical parakeets, but ones that evolved in the relatively cold climate of southern South America, called Monk Parakeets (Myiopsitta monachus). Their cold-tolerance and huge apartment building-like stick nests, along with food from backyard bird feeders, allows them to survive Chicago winters. There are still populations on Chicago’s south side, where they have been since the 70s, and there are other colonies in the suburbs.

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Ringling Brothers Circus Memories 

Join the group Ringling Brothers Circus Memories and share your memories and experiences 

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Community Fundraisers We Should Consider Attending

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A Day of Remembrance 

Today, April 15th, we celebrate the life and times of Harold Lee Washington (April 15, 1922 – November 25, 1987); an African American lawyer and politician who became the first African-American Mayor of Chicago, serving from 1983 until his death in 1987.
Harold Washington was born in Chicago and was raised by his father. After dropping out of high school during his junior year, Washington earned a high school equivalence degree in the Army, after being drafted during World War II. He graduated from Roosevelt University in 1949 with a degree in political science followed by a degree in law from Northwestern University in 1952. Washington began his political career when he succeeded his deceased father in 1953 as a Democratic Party precinct captain. After positions as a city attorney and a state labor arbitrator, he served in the Illinois House of Representatives for eleven years.
He then advanced to seats in the Illinois State Senate in 1976 and the United States House of Representatives in 1980. Washington was instrumental in the 1982 effort to extend the 1965 Voting Rights Act. In 1977, Washington made an unsuccessful bid to become the mayor of Chicago. In 1983, he again entered the mayoral race and won the primaries. He edged out Republican Bernard Epton in the general election to become the city’s first African-American mayor. Washington increased racial diversity in city administration, assuring equal opportunities for women and minorities seeking employment and ended city patronage.
He had difficulty implementing his initiatives since his political opponents held the majority of the 50 City Council seats. In 1986, after a Federal court called for new elections in certain wards that were deemed racially biased, however, Washington achieved more legislative success. He unexpectedly died of a heart attack shortly after his reelection in 1987, ending hope for a popular, progressive, multiracial city government.
Despite the bickering in City Council, Washington seemed to relish his role as Chicago’s ambassador to the world. At a party held shortly after his re-election on April 7, 1987, he said to a group of supporters, “In the old days, when you told people in other countries that you were from Chicago, they would say, ‘Boom-boom! Rat-a-tat-tat!’ Nowadays, they say [crowd joins with him], ‘How’s Harold?’!”
In later years, various city facilities and institutions would be named or renamed after the late mayor to commemorate his legacy. The new building housing the main branch of the Chicago Public Library, located at 400 South State Street, was named the Harold Washington Library Center. The former Loop College in downtown Chicago was renamed Harold Washington College. In addition to the downtown facilities, the 40,000-square-foot Harold Washington Cultural Center was opened to the public in August 2004, in the historic South Side neighborhood of Bronzeville, at 4701 S. King Drive. Across from the Hampton House apartments where Washington lived, a city park was renamed Harold Washington Park, which was known for “Harold’s Parakeets”, a colony of feral monk parakeets that inhabited an ash trees in the park. On the campus of Chicago State University, at 9501 S. King Drive, one of the campus’s buildings is named Harold Washington Hall.

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Piltaver the “Accidental Mayor”

April 12, 2017

If there is any lesson to be learned from the April 4 suburban elections, it is this: Voters were singularly unimpressed by a good tan, good connections, good background and good intentions. In Lincolnwood, Norridge, Park Ridge and Schiller Park, “goodness” bit the dust.
In suburban municipalities, most of which are smaller than a Chicago ward, a different dynamic exists. Local contests are not partisan or ideological. A meritocracy prevails. Voters, especially property owners, know whether an incumbent mayor is competent, because incompetency directly affects them in the form of higher taxes, higher crime, and an overall decline in the quality of their neighborhood. Many voters personally know their mayor, and are leery of any change, absent clear incumbent ineptitude, ignorance or misconduct.
In LINCOLNWOOD, which has a population of 12,590 and a registered voter pool of 9,417, three-term mayor Gerald Turry spent three weeks of the 2017 campaign in Mexico. He should have been working the 10 precincts in dreary Lincolnwood. Voters knew where Turry was, knew the village functioned quite well in his absence, knew they had an alternative, and decided Turry was expendable. Turry lost 1,161-877, or 56.9 percent, to Trustee Barry Bass.
This year’s turnout was 2,060, or 21.9 percent, less than 2013’s 2,223 turnout. Turry, the 12-year mayor, backed by the dominant Lincolnwood Alliance Party, got the support of 9.3 percent of the registered voters. Turry, a former Niles West High school administrator, was elected mayor in 2005, announced his retirement in 2013, unretired, and won 857-776-564 in a three-way mayoral race as an Alliance-backed independent, getting 39 percent. Bass, from Lincolnwood’s east end, which has a large Jewish Orthodox contingent, was elected trustee on the Alliance slate, which has ruled since 1931.
Bass, sometime in 2016, decided that the Alliance-run government was a “cabal,” and announced for mayor, blasting Turry for the village’s alleged high crime, insider favoritism and economic stagnation. Nobody took Bass seriously. But Turry, in some people’s eyes, showed that he didn’t take his job seriously. Alliance has 4 of 6 trustees, so Bass, whom they most likely deem an opportunistic turncoat, will be powerless. When the bickering and obstructionism begins, nobody will take Lincolnwood’s government seriously.
In NORRIDGE, which has a population of 14,572 and a registered voter pool of 8,989, deputy Illinois Secretary of State Tom Benigno disproved the notion that “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” In 2013 Benigno, despite a multitude of Democratic connections, lost to James Chmura 1,910-1,209, with 266 votes to a third candidate, largely because (a) Chmura, a village official, had a village network of supporters and (b) Benigno imported a bunch of precinct workers from Mike Madigan’s 13th Ward. In 2017, Benigno lost 1,889-1,331 with Chmura getting 58.7 percent and carrying 8 of 9 precincts.
“They just didn’t turn out,” said Benigno. Give me a break. Benigno had a horde of what he said were “volunteers from Norridge, not outsiders” blanketing the town, devoted the last 4 years plotting his comeback, ripped Chmura for Norridge’s alleged high crime, wasteful spending and storefront vacancies, spent more than $75,000, and got 253 fewer votes in 2017 than in 2013. Norridge is economically booming, and voters resented Benigno’s doom-and-gloom fabrications. Turnout was 3,611, or 42.4 percent, in 2013 and 3,253, or 36.2 percent, in 2017. But there is an upside: Benigno has his $165,000-a year day job.
In PARK RIDGE, which has a population of 37,480 and a registered voter pool of 23,796, 39-year old attorney Lucas Fuksa thought the city was ready for a change. Fuksa was born in Poland, came to the United States at age 3, and was running in a city where at least a quarter of the population is immigrant or second-generation Polish. His opponent was acting mayor Marty Maloney, who took over in 2015 when Dave Schmidt died. Fuksa’s presumed Polish base was MIA, and the little-known Maloney won by a hefty 4,668-2,117, or 68.9 percent, carrying 28 of 29 precincts in a turnout of 6,805. The election was non-partisan.
In 2013, Schmidt, an avowed Republican, won 5,614-3,432 over Democratic-backed Larry Ryles. Turnout was down by 928.
In SCHILLER PARK, which as a population of 11,793 and a registered voter pool of 5,638, incumbent Barbara Piltaver, who won by 10 votes in 2013, got bounced after one term. She is a publisher of the local People and Places newspaper, penned editorials critical of the Republican-leaning local establishment, was viewed as an inconsequential gadfly, and was not taken seriously by former Mayor Anna Montana. Piltaver was the quintessential goody-goody, good-intentions candidate.
Montana was part of Rosemont Mayor Brad Stephens’ Leyden Township political machine. Stephens is also the township Republican committeeman. So complacent were the Montana-Stephens crowd that, on Election Day, Montana had nearly $50,000 unspent in her campaign account. Piltaver won 1,211-1,201, carrying 4 of 7 precincts, and has been a competent, reasonably popular mayor. Her opponent was Nick Caiafa, a township trustee and a product of the Stephens Machine, who spent $58,253 through Dec. 31, and probably another $50,000 through April 4.
Astutely, Caiafa ran a low-key, high-intensity campaign focusing on precinct contacts, eschewing negative anti-Piltaver mailings. With 2,500 voting households and close to 50 workers, and a warchest of $75,000, the machine had the ability to identify, persuade and turn-out the anti-Piltaver vote. On April 4, Piltaver lost 1,279-1,014, or 55.8 percent, carrying only two of 7 precincts. Compared to 2013, Piltaver’s vote declined by 197. Clearly, she was an accidental mayor.
In MORTON GROVE, which has a population of 23,270 and a registered voter pool of 17,210, the big loser was conservative firebrand Dan Proft and his Liberty Principles Political Action Committee. Proft is attempting to rebuild the north suburban Republican Party in his image, spending money for targeted candidates in Maine Township. Incumbent Danny DiMaria, an ostensible Republican, beat then-mayor Dan Staackmann in the 2013 Action Party (local Republicans) primary, with the help of cross-over Caucus Party (local Democrats) voters.
Staackmann, a hardcore conservative, made a comeback in 2015, winning a Park Board seat. Proft’s PAC reportedly paid for two mailings to 9,000 households attacking DiMaria for taking an increase in his wi-fi and cell phone expense allowance while mayor. Voters were non-plussed. DiMaria, with the covert assistance of Democratic township committeeman Lou Lang, stomped Staackmann 2,383-794, getting 75.1 percent and winning all 16 precincts. The Action/Caucus party is firmly in charge.
In DES PLAINES, which has a population of 58,364 and a registered voter pool of 40,971, 30-year old wunderkind mayor Matt Bogusz infuriated the city’s patriarchy by not being sufficiently docile and capitulative. Especially aggravating was the fact that Bogusz ordered all city officials (but not himself) to take a polygraph when somebody leaked confidential personnel records to the media, and spent over $80,000 for an ad agency to create a new city motto; they came up with “City of the Good Move,” which the oldsters lampooned as sounding like Des Plaines was a constipation-free zone.
Nevertheless, with the local economy booming and Rivers casino revenue flowing, there was minimal discontent with the “Boy Mayor.” Malcolm Chester, one of the anti-Bogusz aldermen, waged an inept mayoral campaign. Bogusz won by a thumping 4,717-2,715, getting 63.5 percent and losing just three of 43 precincts. In 2013, against a former mayor and an alderman, Bogusz, then an alderman, won 4,599-2,652-1,120, getting 54.9 percent. Bogusz got 118 more votes than in 2013, but his opposition got 1,057 fewer votes.
Des Plaines has term-limits, so Bogusz will be out-the-door in 2021. A Democrat, Bogusz is looking for a soft landing somewhere. The patriarchs are well-placed for 2021.
In NILES, which has a population of 29,803 and a registered voter pool of 21,521 political longevity is a virtue, not a vice. Nick Blase was mayor for 48 years, until he went to jail. Incumbent Mayor Andy Przybylo is a local institution, having been a trustee for 20 years, Blase ally, and mayor since 2013. Przybylo won a second term 2,262-597 over Steve Yasell, not much different from his 2,770-1,604 2013 win. Niles’ voters are content with the status of the status quo. However, they did pass a referendum mandating term-limits, so Przybylo will, like Bogusz, be a goner in 2021.
The mayor-in-waiting is George Alpogianis, a local restaurateur who led the trustee field in 2017. To put it in perspective, Przybylo’s 2,262 votes were 10.5 percent of the voter pool.
In SKOKIE, it’s the same old, same old. Skokie’s population is 64,784 and its registered voter pool is 41,677. The city is less than 40 percent white, and under 30 percent Jewish. Mayor George Van Dusen is the lineal descendant of a clique of insiders who have run Skokie since the 1960s. Van Dusen was unopposed for a fourth term in 2017, getting 3,063 votes in an 8.4 percent turnout, or 7.3 percent of the registered voter pool. Skokie is a politically peaceful city and that won’t change anytime soon.
In MAINE TOWNSHIP, Proft did score a win with the triumph of Susan Sweeney for trustee. Sweeney will be groomed for a future legislative race.

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In Schiller Park, I Predict…………………….

It’s 4 pm on Election Day in Schiller Park, and it is clear by the turn out and conversations that Nick Caiafa and his entire slate are the clear winners.     

Let me be the first to congratulate Nick Caiafa as the new Village President of Schiller Park as well as his entire slate who worked quite hard.    

At this point Nick’s slate were able to secure almost 400 mail in votes to Mayor Piltaver’s slightly over a hundred, meaning it is likely that Nick had a 300 vote lead before the polls opened today, with possibly a greater lead achieved through early voting.   The turnout today does not appear to support Mayor Piltaver in overcoming the the pre-election day work of her opponent.   

Mayor Piltaver would have to win precinct 2 by a margin of 3 to1, as well as win either precinct 44 or 25 by a very healthy margin, looking very dim at this hour.  Piltaver is likely going to win precincts 17, 27 and maybe win precinct 1 by a slim margin, but clearly she is getting clobbered in precinct 45. 

Final tallies may be delayed with the paper ballots, but I predict in the end Nick and his entire slate are winners in Schiller Park.  
Let me be the first to Congratulate Nick Caiafa, Rosa Jos, Tom Deegan, Moses Diaz, and Joan Golembiewski.

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