'Whistling past the graveyard'
I would like to clarify and comment on a couple of items from Sally Cody's Letter to the Editor last week. First and foremost, the ordinance for the position of Deputy Village Clerk clearly states the above position is performed only in the absence of the Village Clerk. No such absence exists, as we have a duly appointed Village Clerk, nor has there been notification of her appointment as Deputy Clerk to the council. The fact that Sally Cody has portrayed herself as a public official is troubling but not surprising. Insomuch as she has no formal education, training or experience in dealing with legal matters on behalf of the village, Sally Cody should focus on her real job at village hall, Mayor Calderone's secretary.
Sally Cody would have no way of knowing the significance of subpoenas from the federal government on this issue and incorrectly infers that this happens on a regular basis. As far as I am concerned, this is an extremely serious matter and I am dismayed by the Mayor and his secretary flippantly referring to them as glorified FOIA requests. Bill Dwyer was right, they're whistling past the graveyard, sweating palms and all.
What is the basis for these subpoenas? Simple, it is the people this Mayor has chosen to do business with! Those people would include the infamous disbarred Melrose Park attorney, Anthony Bruno and by association, Melrose Park Mayor Ron Serpico. Being as the Forest Park water project was a near replica of the Melrose Park water project, employing the same cast of characters, one could reasonably suspect that this is just the beginning, not the end of Forest Park's interaction with representatives of the Federal government.
But our village's connection to Melrose Park doesn't end with the Water Project. Recently I discovered that the village is nearing the completion of a multi-million dollar no-bid contract for waste disposal with BFI. It seems that when Commissioner Tim Gillian negotiated this contract in 1999, he didn't see the need to put this one out to bid. After all, we had disbarred Melrose Park attorney Anthony Bruno's girlfriend Patty Bex, our BFI sales rep at the time, looking out for our better interest. After collecting from Forest Park's garbage contract, she signed on with the engineering firm of Postl-Yore. Postl-Yore was then hired by Mayor Calderone and his coalition to run the Forest Park water project. The consulting firm for the project was Illinois Developmental Corp., run by Anthony Bruno. See the pattern here? That means that the huge garbage payday, engineering fees and consulting fees flowed through the household of disbarred Melrose Park attorney Anthony Bruno, who, by the way, is a childhood friend of Melrose Park Mayor Ron Serpico. BFI, Postl-Yore & Illinois Developmental Corp. have all in turn made handsome contributions to Citizens for Calderone.
Want more? In 1999 when Mayor Calderone took office, yet another change was on the horizon. It seems our then auditing firm was a rather stingy company when it came to making political contributions. In Melrose Park, Mayor Ron Serpico, used an auditing firm by the name of PTW & Company. PTW&Co has a well documented willingness to make sizeable contributions to local officials that pay them top dollar for their services. On Melrose Park's recommendation, the Village of Forest Park hired PTW&Co as its auditing firm and guess what? PTW&Co is now a regular contributor to Citizen's for Calderone.
How about indicted vendors? Ronan Potts L.L.C., our former lobbyist and Mickey Segal of Near North Insurance, our former insurance agent, are big power brokers in the game of politics. Both were big Serpico contributors when Anthony Calderone got elected and both are now contributors of record to Citizens for Calderone and both have been indicted. Of course Mayor Calderone activated his legendary vision and dropped those hot potatoes after the Fed's came a knockin,' but has he returned their generous contributions?
Sally Cody was correct when she wrote that Mayor Calderone was not omnipotent or acting alone. The employment of Anthony Bruno and all these other companies had the full and complete backing of village council members Tim Gillian and Mark Hosty, who also received handsome campaign contributions from many Forest Park "vendors." To this day, the coalition comprised of Calderone, Gillian and Hosty continues to publicly flaunt their decision to invite Melrose Park "consultants" into our village even in the face of overwhelming indications that no good has, nor will come from these associations.
These scams have been played out several times in the last couple of years. Keep an eye on the Proviso Magnet School and their sudden budget crisis. It is now apparent it's being run by the same group and will end with the same results, paying out your tax dollars like a malfunctioning ATM.
All this leads me to question, if Mayor Anthony Calderone is such a great visionary, why can't he see right from wrong?
Clean up Madison St.
I can't agree more with the disgust and outrage noted by Nick Martinski in the August 24th edition of the Forest Park Review as he described a man urinating in front of the School District building in broad daylight. Unfortunately, all I can do is add to it. It's Friday night, August 26th at 10:30 p.m. and I am not only outraged, but also completely disgusted with this town. My husband and I just returned from walking our dog, which is something we do most evenings around this time. We walked north on Ferdinand only to discover an over served patron of Zambonie's bending over and vomiting on the sidewalk. Right there on busy Madison Street, at a relatively early hour. We averted the scene and walked through an alley to continue the walk and route back north.
Back to the beloved and much acclaimed Madison Street. Isn't it great how there are antique shops and restaurants and record stores? Isn't it great that those of us who appreciate the "Big City Access and Small Town Charm" can shop, eat, get a haircut, have a cup of coffee, and buy records or other items without having to drive anywhere? Yes, it is great until people start using it as a public toilet.
We continued east on Madison and made a right on Hannah, only to encounter two twenty-something women staggering toward us. One was shrieking something about being depressed. The other, who possessed a little sense said to her friend, "Could you BE any LOUDER?" to which the shrieker responded, "I don't fâ€"-ing care. Fâ€"k these people." Yes indeed. Fâ€"k us. Fâ€"-k us for wanting to be able to walk our dog in the neighborhood where we live. Fâ€"k us for not wanting to deal with drunken idiots puking all over our sidewalks most nights of the week and leaving garbage in the planters. And fâ€"-k us for moving here, thinking this was a nice place to live. Nick, you're not overreacting. I'm not even a long time Forest Parker and I'm through with it already.
Thank you for including an article on Medicare's new prescription drug program, Medicare Rx, in the August 24th edition ("Progress Center educating people about drug plan"). As one of three lead agencies in the Make Medicare Work Coalition, one of several efforts in Cook County, Progress Center would like to clarify or correct some information in the article. Our partner in the education and outreach effort is Suburban Area Agency on Aging in Oak Park ("SAAA"). While they focus on seniors and senior service providers, Progress Center focuses on people with disabilities and disability service providers.
Previously, Illinois has been number one among the states in providing prescription coverage through such state programs as Senior Care and Circuit Breaker. When Medicare Rx goes into effect beginning January 2006, the state program, Illinois Cares Rx, will work alongside Medicare Rx and provide additional coverage for qualified Medicare consumers. Illinois Cares Rx enrollees who are eligible for Medicare will also be required to apply for extra help under the federal program.
To qualify for extra help, an individual must have income below $14,355 ($19,245 for a couple), which is 150% of the federal poverty level, and assets below $11,500 excluding home and car ($23,000 for a couple). For more information, contact SAAA at 708-383-0258 or Progress Center at 708-209-1500.
Progress Center for Independent Living
District 209 wasting tax dollars
School District 209 Board President Chris Welch has finally admitted that Proviso High Schools are among the worst in the state! Forest Park residents are already aware of this fact. Since 2002, Mr. Welch's first year at Proviso, Proviso high schools have been placed on the state academic watch list each and every school year. Another fact is that the Proviso high school district is a wealthy school district. Proviso's yearly budget exceeds $70,000,000!
The problem is the money is not going towards education. For example, the cost of the magnet school went from $15 million to $40 million without explanation. Perhaps Anthony Bruno has the answer. Now, Board President Chris Welch wants to raise our taxes and Forest Park trustee Tim Gillian says the residents won't mind. Well, Mr. Gillian, I do mind!
Does Mr. Gillian believe my taxes should go up to politically connected individuals can obtain no-bid, lucrative contracts at Proviso high school. Mr. Gillian, you know all about no bid contracts, don't you. In my opinion, we give Proviso high schools enough of our tax dollars without getting anything in return. Now Proviso has spent $40,000,000 to educate 120 students.
The tax dollars Forest Park gives to Proviso High Schools are being wasted, so why should we give them more? Further proof of this can be seen in the most recent political hirings done by Mr. Welch. The 209 Board has hired family members and political friends instead of hiring educators!
Forest Park Resident
Education is fundamental
Just a reminder to Mark Hosty: Chief Ryan, Administrator Sturino, Director of Public Health & Safety, Michael Boyle, Former Finance Director, Abigail Yacoben, Former Building Director, Nancy Hill, Assistant Park Director, Larry Piekarz, a large number of our police and fire officers, at least one member of our Zoning Board, etc., all live outside of Forest Park because we don't have a residency requirement.
Living in Forest Park doesn't make you any better qualified to do a job. Do you know what does? It's educating yourself in the areas necessary to perform your job better. I hope you teach your children about the world beyond the 4 corners of Forest Park.
Relay for Life a success
The recently completed 2005 Forest Park Relay for Life was a smashing success. The American Cancer Society uses these relays held throughout the country as its major fundraiser, to support research in its mission to eradicate cancer. The Forest Park Relay raised almost $30,000, which will again place the village near the top of the list in the State of Illinois in fundraising on a per capita basis.
Thanks go out to all who worked tirelessly for the better part of the last year. Team captains, committee members, and other volunteers, hats off to you. In particular, we would like to thank the Park District of Forest Park, for once again hosting the event and providing an unparalleled level of service.
We hope to see you all again next year.
Co-Chairs, 2005 Forest Park Relay for Life
Gang awareness workshop thank yous
Citizens United in Forest Park (CUinFP) would like to thank those who participated in our August Work Shop on Gang Awareness. First and foremost we would like to thank Mike O'Connor and Scott Frey of the Forest Park Police Department for providing such interesting and informative presentations and graciously staying so late and answering all our questions so thoroughly.
We would also like to thank Chief Ryan to making two members of the department available to our organization and Lt. Johnson for helping us along the way in preparing for this event. Dr. Tinder of the Forest Park Schools not only allowed us to use the Cafetorium, but also gave us permission to distribute flyers and place posters at the public schools and attended our meeting. Thanks to Mary Drent, who distributed flyers at the Middle School Market Day, and to Harry Calderone for setting up the Cafetorium and staying so late before locking the school after us. Thanks also to Larry White of St. Bernardine's School, Dave Novak of the Park District, and Bev Thompson of the Community Center as well as the businesses in all parts of town that allowed us to display posters in their windows. Lastly, we would like to thank all the citizens who came out on a work night, listened, asked such thoughtful questions, and shared their ideas and concerns with the FPPD. We couldn't have done it without all of you! This still is the "Village with a Smile!" For those who were unable to attend, please visit our web site, www.cuinfp.org, for a recap of this meeting and information about future events.
Speakers and Special Events CUinFP
Open letter to all of Cook County
In order to adopt a balanced FY06 Cook County budget, commissioners have no choice but to mirror trends in the private sector by employing a strategy of elimination and consolidation.
Taxpayers across the county are struggling with an unrelenting burden of rising gasoline prices, housing costs, real estate tax increases, and new user fees and sales taxes. Can we, as public servants, now go to our constituents and attempt to justify the imposition of an even greater tax burden upon them, even as they are already tightening their own belts and budgets while struggling to provide for their families?
The answer, of course, is no. We, as elected officials, must tighten our own collective belts by making tough choices. Payroll expenses make up about 85 percent of the County budget. Therefore, those choices are going to involve reduction of our bloated payroll â€" especially among managers, supervisors, and department heads. It goes without saying that this will be neither easy, popular, nor painless. However, the only way to formulate a FY06 budget free of yet another round of tax increases is to effectuate a 10 percent reduction in regular and overtime payroll expenses by management employees.
This does not have to be done simply by firing employees and reducing benefits across the board, nor should it be. We must eliminate duplication and waste in our structure. Consolidation of finance, human resource and marketing positions across all departments is not only the responsible thing to do, but a necessity if we are to continue to provide services while reducing our overall costs.
Nor must hard-working and essential county workers bear the burden of these cuts. Expenses relating to what has been termed a "corruption tax," what is, the costs of padding the payroll with and protecting the positions of patronage workers, must be eliminated expeditiously.
Cook County taxpayers have elected us to make the tough choices that are required to relieve them of an unfair tax burden, and businesses of the ever-increasing strain of doing business and providing jobs in tax-heavy Cook County. The elimination and consolidation of our top-heavy departmental and management structure is the only way to achieve this without negatively impacting upon the services that the front line County workers provide. We need to make these choices, and we need to make them now.
Anthony J. Peraica
Commissioner, 16th District