Saturday, May 22, 2010

Chicago Reader profiles Ray Hanania's media network

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Check out the Chicago Reader's profile of Ray Hanania's media network ...

Click HERE to read the feature by columnist Michael Miner

Monday, May 17, 2010

Veteran's Memorial to be enhanced and more respectful

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Veteran's Memorial to be enhanced and more respectful
By Ray Hanania
(Village of Justice Media Writer)

For more than 30 years, the Village of Justice Monument has been cast aside, almost forgotten and ignored by most residents.

Three years ago, Mayor Kris Wasowicz and several board members decided that something needed to be done, especially in this era when so many young American men and women are defending this country with their lives against terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Mayor Wasowicz organized a dinner his first year in office to honor the veterans, but last year could not because of budget constraints. Trustee Kinga Bartoszek started to collect the names of residents in the village who are veterans or who had family members who were veterans, publishing them in the newsletter.

This year, the board members decided that the village ceremony for the veterans had to be improved. Their first substantive act towards that goal is to relocate the Veteran's Memorial statue to a location away from the cramped location just north of the Village Hall where residents were forced to sit on folding chairs on the street during sparsely attended events. It will be moved to a new, more spacious and respectful location south of the Village Hall on an area of a Village Park that would allow the public a safe and appealing place to remember the heroic contributions of Village of Justice residents.

Trustee Bartoszek said she researched various proposals to enhance or relocate the monument including discussing ideas with Joe Vallez of the Justice Park District. Vallez has created other memorials in other communities and offered some great suggestions, she said.

"After much discussion and study, Mr. Vallez said the Justice Park District would be willing to cover the costs of relocating the monument and creating a Veteran's Garden around the statue," Trustee Bartoszek said.
The new garden would include benches for individuals to sit and reflect, and to pay tribute to the veterans, the flags, other memorabilia that the Committee is now soliciting and collecting from various agencies to enhance the monument and really provide a respectful area for the Veterans to gather for various ceremonies.

The current site would be used to erect a JPD sign - to advertise programs, etc.  The Board discussed this plan at the Wed, May 5th Committee meeting and voted to accept the relocation on May 10th.

Now, a small group of "regular" critics are trying to say that the effort to enhance the village's memorial to its veteran's is an "act of disrespect."

"Where were they when we were trying to improve this? For years, no one cared about this memorial. They didn't care. No one took any time to do anything. When it was neglected, the critics sat on the sidelines. Now, they are criticizing our plans because they think it is a good political issue. I don't believe that the criticism is really driven by concern for the proper recognition of the men and women who served this country from the Village of Justice," said Trustee Bartoszek, who chairs the Administration Building & Recreation Committee.

"When I attended my first memorial service I was very disappointed.  The Village had to put chairs in the street because there was no room to gather around the actual monument. The backdrop to the service was a parking lot of cars and the music for the event was the traffic noise from Archer Ave.  Not to mention that only a few people even bothered to attend this very important event. The event took less than 8 minutes and many of us on the board felt this was so disrespectful. We needed to do something. I said to the Mayor and Trustee Mary McGee that we need to do something to change this situation. Our veterans deserve better."

At the Village Board's May 10th meeting, Trustee Bartoszek and the board voted to approve a plan to enhance the village's memorial to its veteran's.

Part of the idea is to relocate the memorial statue to a location where families would be more inclined to attend, a place that would be safer where residents would not have to sit in the street and officials would not feel like they had to rush through the ceremony because of the traffic and vehicles on the street.

Trustee Bartoszek said the committee looked into the possibility of enhancing the existing site but said it would be "too costly and there would not be enough room to do this right."

She said the board will expand this year's Memorial Day service to include participation  from local residents and young people. The event will feature the High school band playing taps in a moment of true respect to the veterans and their families. The Boy Scouts will be there in full Scout Uniform. And the Village of Justice's VFW Post will also participate with a display of the American Flag and the posting of "The Colors."

"We are reaching out to many of our local government officials and asking them to attend. We are really trying to make this a much more memorable and meaningful event for the community, the veterans and for their families. They deserve it," Trustee Bartoszek said.

Trustee Bartoszek said that she is disappointed that a small group of critics would try to exploit this effort for their own political purposes.

"I think that this is one of the most disrespectful acts that this group has conducted since I joined the Board," Trustee Bartoszek said. "They don't care about how this will impact the veterans.  All they care about is how to take everything and turn it into a political issue. And that is disrespectful not just to the veterans and their families, but also to the residents of our community. They should join and show respect to the veterans and stop this political exploitation."

Trustee Bartoszek stressed that the current location, being in the street, "is dangerous and not deserving for the sacrifices the veterans made."

"This memorial was set up in the 1970s. It's been almost 40 years. We need to do something to show our respect and I believe the proposals approved by the board do just that. I think most of the residents in the village recognize this as a great move and see through the self-serving complaints of a few people who do nothing but complain," Trustee Bartoszek said.

Trustee Bartoszek also noted that the new location symbolizes a new era of cooperation between the Village and the Park District.

"For the first time in Justice history, the Park District and the Village are working together to benefit the residents of the community.  The goal of this administration is to work with all Village entities.  This Village has worked in isolation for too long and it's about time that we join together for the benefit of the 12,000+ residents of this town," Trustee Bartoszek said.

"The new Veteran's Garden will provide all members of this community an area to sit, reflect and pay respect to the men and women who served and continue to serve our country."


Why Improvements are needed for the Village Veteran’s Memorial

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Why Improvements are needed for the Village Veteran’s Memorial
By Trustee George Pastorino
Village of Justice

I would like to provide a little background little that might be helpful in understanding the genesis of this project.

When I was the Administration, Buildings and Grounds Committee chair I went to the Memorial to study it and try to come up with some ideas to improve it. My conclusion was that the location was cramped and noisy and the improvements would not fit there. My idea was to move it to Lipinski, but several weeks ago we changed committee's and I was put in charge of Public Safety.

This is when my colleague Kinga Bartozek took over. At that time the Park District had a landscaper working on Park District property, so she asked the Parks Districts Joe Vallez if they could take a look at the Memorial and give her some ideas on improving it a bit for this year.....but not too expensive because we were going to move it in 2011.

 It was then that Joe Vallez asked what would become of the empty property after the Memorial was moved. He was told that we planned to put some grass in and leave it empty. That's when Joe asked if we would consider an agreement in which the Park District would bear all costs of the move including a spot in Commissioners Park that would be more visible than Lipinski. It was a win-win, since we had already decided that in order to the needed improvements, we were going to move it.

The timeline is important, because it is being spun that The Park District approached us to move the monument in order to put up a sign, this is completely opposite from the truth. We had already decided that moving it would be the only way to make the improvements that out veterans deserve. These include several rows of benches, a memorial garden, a wall with our Veterans names on it and much more room for Color Guards and High School Bands and perhaps a canon other decommissioned Military Memorabilia. So with the move decision made, there was no reason not to cooperate with the Park District concerning the soon to be vacant land.

My wife is at home recovering from surgery and today we got a visit from Don McGuire and his wife Jean. I served 2 years with Don on the Justice Police & Fire Commission and I know that Don comes from a family of Veterans and is very proud to be a Navy Vet. Don was very pleased with the proposed move and improvements to the Memorial
He says that it shows that The Village Board has not forgotten about their Vets and is being proactive in moving the Memorial from a location that is cramped and noisy.

Finally, this issue is not about lights or any one item, it’s about providing our Veterans with a much larger, more reflective Memorial that is more in keeping with the very high regard we have for them. My father, George Pastorino Sr. was shot through the back in the Korean War and had a lifetime of pain after the war ended. He taught me to respect the men who serve. He also reminded me that you don’t have to be a Veteran to be a patriotic American or to honor our Veterans. I am confidant that when all work is complete the Justice Veterans will have a Memorial that they are proud of.

George J. Pastorino
Trustee, Village
 of Justice

Mayor Wasowicz brings back major funding commitments from Springfield

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Mayor Wasowicz brings back major funding commitments from Springfield
By Ray Hanania
(Village of Justice Media Writer)

Mayor Kris Wasowicz met with an array of legislative leaders on April 22 in Springfield, and returned with promises to complete several projects left unfulfilled by the past village administration.

Among the projects that will be revived is the long dormant plan to improve infrastructure to deal with flooding problems dating back to the early 1990s in the northern area of the Village of Justice.

More than $800,000 had been promised but the past village administration failed to use the funds to address the area’s flooding problems, Wasowicz said. 

Another problem addressed during the meetings was the planned cleanup of a contaminated waste area related to the former Brownfield Project closed many years ago located at Archer and 86th Avenues.

“All I had to do was present our case to the legislative leaders, to let them hear from us directly and they responded with complete support for our needs. They were glad that we were showing initiative,” Wasowicz said.

Wasowicz met with State Senators Martin Sandoval, Michael Bond, Louis Viverito, Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan, and later with officials of the Illinois EPA.

"In the 1990s, we have severe flooding problems in the village. The northern area of the village had been declared a disaster area. The state originally had set aside $800,000 so the village could address those problems but the past administration never applied for the money. The prior administration wanted to use the flood money instead for other projects and they ended up losing everything,” Wasowicz explained.

“We had received almost $800,000 from the government to do the flood project. But the former administration never took advantage of that funding. After four years, the grant was yanked and the village lost $800,000. But the plans and engineering studies were still completed and intact.” 

Wasowicz said resurrecting the flood improvement plan has always been one of his priorities.

“I am not going to wait four more years to do something that should have been done four years ago,” Wasowicz said.

"As a result of the meetings we had last month, the state agreed to grant the Village of Justice $1.6 million to do the flood project originally promised to the residents of Justice.”

Wasowicz said the only issue is how the funds should be disbursed. The funds are available in a state bill that would cover only 70 percent of the money needed. The remaining 30 percent are earmarked from anticipated but uncollected revenues from video gaming machines.

“But we don’t want to wait for the video gaming revenues to come in before we can start. The legislators I spoke with agreed that the $1.6 million promised to the Village of Justice will be allocated from the 70 percent that is now in the state budget and once that money is provided we can begin the project immediately,” Wasowicz said.

“I wanted to make sure the $1.6 million that has been promised is included in the 70 percent, not from the uncollected funds. We want that money now. By law it is our money but it hasn't come to the bank. It was appropriated but the money is not there. The risk is if we don't act now, we will lose the funds again and we do not want to lose the funding.”

Wasowicz said that while meeting to discuss the flood issues, he also met with officials of the Illinois EPA who offered to also help with any contamination issues that might exist in the village.

“I told them we needed help to clean up the area of 86th Avenue and Archer Avenue, the Brownfield Project. We had the Anthony Oil property there and it has been closed and abandoned. But the tanks are still underground,” Wasowicz said.

“The Illinois EPA said they would help us clean that up and they have already now initiated a contract with the Building Department to begin the cleanup. This is not a project that we could do on our own. The costs are prohibitive. We must have the state do it. It would be way beyond our ability to clean it up without federal or state money. Once it is cleaned up we can reconfigure 86th Avenue and give the portion of the land to the School District as we had promised."

Wasowicz said “The Village of Justice needs to maintain and strengthen ties with our local legislative leaders to insure that our community remains on their radar screens and that we not be forgotten. We have to be pro-active and that’s what this administration plans to do.”


Saturday, May 15, 2010

New reality TV Show launched: Star Chef Chicagoland

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New reality TV show launched, Star Chef Chicagoland

Columnist and media consultant Ray Hanania launched a new reality show this week called "Star Chef Chicagoland."

The program will feature celebrity judges and chefs. The chefs will bring int heir favorite recipes and serve them to the judges for review and commentary.

Star Chef Chicagoland is filmed in the kitchens and dining rooms of 94 West Steak & Seafood Restaurant, 154th and 94th Avenue in Orland Park, one of Chicagoland's top restaurants.

Celebrity Judges include regulars Bryan Sord, owner of 94 West Steak & Seafood Restaurant and also owner of the Charley Horse Restaurants in Hammond, Indiana, Tinley Park and New Lenox. Also judging is Nemer Ziyad, a member of the Les Ames Escoiffier Society of chefs and the Vice President of Ziyad Brothers Importing one of the largest distributors of Mediterranean food in the country (

The first Celebrity Guest Chef is Je'Niece Mac, the daughter of the late comedian Bernie Mac. She is the executive director of the Bernie Mac Foundation.

Our first celebrity chef is Heather Warthen, of 22nd Century Media Newspaper Group and editor of the Orland Park Prairie Newspapers. Heather prepares her favorite recipe "Pesto Chicken"and a dessert of Vanilla Roasted Pears in Episode 1 filmed this week and slated for broadcast Friday may 28.

The show will be broadcast every Friday on Comcast Cable TV on Channel 19 at 7 PM or 8:30 PM depending on your suburban location. The show is broadcast in 145 suburban Chicagoland locations and is a part of Hanania's Radio Chicagoland and TV Chicagoland enterprises.

The show web site is

Judges Nemer Ziyad, Je'Niece Mac and Bryan SordCelebrity Chefs Nemer Ziyad, Je'Niece Mac and Bryan Sord.

Heather Warthen talks with host Ray Hanania with Nemer Ziyad at the table in background.

Celebrity Chef Heather Warthen of the Orland Park Prairie Newspaper

All photographs courtesy of photographer Glenn Kaupert


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Little league baseball, moms and not enough apple pie

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Little League Baseball, moms and not enough apple pie

Southwest News-Herald Newspaper May 13, 2010

My son is nothing like me when it comes to sports. He loves sports, I don’t.

My parents were too busy working to spend the time needed to walk me through the rigorous schedules of Little League and other sports programs when I was growing up.

And if they did, I’d probably guess I would not have been very good at it any way.

But my son is in a Little League hosted by the Orland Youth Association. I support him and cheer him on. I go to all the practice scrimmages and I go to the games. I’ve even taken him to the batting cages

Although I’ve never been more than an “Easter Sunday” sports fan (ignoring the games until the Super Bowl or the World Series), I’m really in to his performance.

OK, he’s not a “natural” yet — a term I learned from Robert Redford, not sports. But being at the games only reinforces why I stayed away from the sport. I can’t handle sports-politics!

I used to always say that politics is my sport. But after only a few games with my son in Little League, I know sports is the real politics.

I’ve learned a lot, though.

For example, “good eye” is the most popular cheer at a Little League game. That’s what you say after a batter doesn’t swing for a pitch that is a “ball.”

See? I am learning. It’s not all hopeless.

I’ve also learned not to sit next to the moms, who cheer and scream instructions to their sons on the field. “Put your ear muffs on!”

I don’t know how the coaches do it. Sitting there while the moms scream out more instructions than the coaches.

That’s not to berate the moms at all. I admire them. Men are wusses when it comes to kids.

Want to know about sex? Ask mom.

Want to know about baseball? Ask mom, too.

OK. I admit it. Every time my son gets on base, I give him $20. (It goes in his savings account.)

Ever since I offered him the payola, his batting average has shot up dramatically.

That’s what dads know best. Have a problem? Throw money at it. Punish a kid? No way. Give the kid money and ask them not to do it again. It works.

Then there are the stories about elected officials in Orland Park who use their clout to get to pick the best players so they can have the best teams.

I’m looking in to that one, of course. But I’ll wait till the season is over.

It’s all too intense for me, though. I like watching the kids play ball. Why do they have to be under such pressure? Why can’t they have fun and learn teamwork, and the game, of course?

It seems too much for me. As soon as the moms start shouting, I’m down the field near third base watching and taking pictures of my son.

In the end, though, I think the concern of the moms make it all worthwhile for the kids. They’re young. They listen to their moms.

So here’s a toast to the moms. And I’ll bet Babe Ruth’s mom was at many of his first few games yelling at him often.

“Tuck in that shirt, Little Georgie!” (That was the Babe’s real name, George Herman Ruth Jr.)

“Suck in that gut, Junior! Shoulders back, elbow out!”

“You’re not focusing on the ball, George Herman! You want to grow up like your father?”

(Listen to Ray Hanania on WJJG-AM 1530 from 8 to 9:30 a.m. Monday through Thursday. He also may be heard from 7 to 9 a.m. Fridays on in the Chicago area, Dearborn, Mich. and Windsor, Ontario. Check out the Web site at or call [708] 493-1530.)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Is everything being asked about the death of 5 year old Michael Langford?

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I have a real concern about the story of a 5 year old boy killed in a DUI related accident in Steger last week.

A friend of mine, who is a photographer, noticed something disturbing about the pictures that were being shown on television of Michael Langford, the five year old boy who died in that car crash last Saturday after his mother was arrested for driving on a suspended license and his mother's boy friend, a passenger in the car, was allowed to drive the car and boy home.

The car never made it. The boyfriend crashed the car, killing Langford and the boyfriend reportedly was under the influence of drugs. Alcohol? Illegal drugs? Marijuana?

The immediate attention has been on the Chicago Heights police officer who stopped the mother, Kathie Lafond, and took her in releasing the car to her boyfriend, Cecil Connor.

Did you notice anything strange about the young child's photographs? I noticed immediately the tattoo on Michael Connor's neck, a tattoo that looks to me like it might be something more than just a decoration.

But more disturbing is the picture of the child. Some pictures were cropped closely around the boy's face. But others showed the boy with his hands crossed, flashing reverse "Victory" signs with his fingers. Was this boy in a mock pose of a street gang member, flashing what appears to be street gang signs with his hands? Or was it just child's play. Look at the picture carefully. You be the judge.

Lafond hired a lawyer and plans to file a lawsuit against the Chicago Heights police, but maybe the real responsibility rests on the shoulders of the irresponsible mother herself. She new her boyfriend. She knew Cecil Connor. At any time during the police arrest, did Lafond tell the police officer that her boy friend might have been high on drugs? Lafond's lawyer insists she had no responsibility in the matter and could not speak once being taken in to custody by the police.

Yet maybe, had she opened her mouth and told the officer that little bit of information, her son might still be alive. Is that too harsh to ask? The truth is often difficult to find, but it is necessary. Is it the fault of the police officer or could it really be the fault of the mother and her boy friend, who, according to police, had a blood alcohol level three times higher than what is permissible. Was it all alcohol or was it partially drugs, making it more difficult for a police officer to have noticed? But clearly something the mother should have known about.

Connor's cousin even made that issue in recent media reports. (Click here to read one of the stories.)

But lingering in my mind is the picture of the baby, flashing what looks like disturbing signs with his hands.

Click here to view story and original photograph.

What kind of family is this that we are talking about? And is it alright to slander the Chicago Heights Police Department rather than ask the hard tough questions about the mother, about her boy friend and about the lifestyle that her tragic son was being raised? These questions might help to pinpoint the real fault in this case.

And blaming the police in a lawsuit for money doesn't seem like the most appropriate direction in which to take the truth.

I'm just asking questions, questions the public needs to ask, too.

-- Ray Hanania

Saturday, May 8, 2010

FCC ruling in favor of movie companies intrudes in your privacy

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FCC votes to begin Big Brother campaign to control your lives
By Ray Hanania

The FCC (Federal Communications Commission) has voted to give movie companies the ability to literally turn out a part of your home entertainment system so that the Movie Industry can prevent you from making a copy of their newest released movies.

The fact is that once I purchase a movie, I have a right to make a copy of it for my personal use, despite the ridiculous warnings and threats made by the movie industry.

For years, the movie industry has been driven by greed, a greed that helped destroy this economy by undermining independent video rental stores and mom-and-pop retailers who could not compete with the bigger retailers.

Here’s how it now works.

The movie industry releases their films to big screen theaters. You pay up the wazoo. It costs a typical family of four now more than $60 to see a theatrical movie release. Ticket prices at movie theaters are outrageous, and that doesn’t even include the snacks.

About four months later, the movie companies grant the cable companies the right to make the film available to your home entertainment system at another outrageous cost.

What the cable companies have done, of course, is violate the promise they made 25 years ago when they were first launch to provide pay-per-view without commercials. Today, cable TV channels are littered with commercials, more than so-called “free TV” which is no longer free because you can’t watch the local TV channels with any guaranteed quality without a cable hook-up that costs over $100 (when you include the government taxes).

The cable companies not only now charge you for the “new” movies. They also have put cost requirements to see old classic movies, too. Just look through your cable TV lineup. You are paying for movies that have been out there for years.

The cable company wants to also be able to take the new releases and sell them to you for at least three months before the movie is released on DVD, which the movie company wants to sell to you at another outrageous price and oppressive scheme. Yes, an oppressive scheme.

When the DVD comes out, it costs usually over $24. Now, they have added the Blue Ray option, which the movie industry falsely claims provides better viewing quality. Viewing quality has nothing to do with the movie DVD but everything to do with the quality of your home TV system. A great TV makes any format look good. A cheap TV makes them look bad.

Why Blue Ray? Because the movie industry wants you to throw out all the old movies from your home collection in order to force you to purchase more. All the VHS copies will soon be worthless as they phase our VHS players. They want the DVD players phased out too, forcing you to eventually buy Blue Ray. And believe me, after a few years of investing in Blue Ray DVDs under the exaggerated claim that your viewing pleasure will be better, they will come up with something new to replace that.

It’s not about better technology. It is about greed. Pure evil greed. That greed destroyed the way Americans used to enjoy movies as a family. They are the ones who forced drive-in theaters to shut down. They are the ones who made going to a big screen theater less and less enjoyable.

And now the FCC is joining in on the scheme to make our lives more miserable by forcing us to pay more.

The FCC has never cared about the interests of the public. All they care about are the high-priced lobbyists who donate money to the politicians who sponsor the appointments to the FCC board.

The only people who lose in this new law are the very people who should be the priority, the consumers and viewing public.

If you let the Movie Industry control your home entertainment system, starting with the “analogue” output devices (which will automatically be shutdown by the new DVD you rent or purchase, then you might as well give the keys to your home to the Hollywood movie industry fat cats who destroyed the whole experience of entertainment and the American Dream.

(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist, media consultant and for many years owned video stores while working in the Chicago news media. He can be reached at

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Won two awards this month for journalism

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In addition to the Society of Professional Journalism Lisagor Award I received last month (my 4th Award) from the Chicago Headlline Club, the SPJ's largest chapter, I also received the SPJ National Sigma Delta Chi Award for columns writing.

Here's the press release.

Announcing winners of the 2009 Sigma Delta Chi Awards for journalism

For immediate release

Lauren Rochester, Awards Coordinator, (317) 927-8000 ext. 210,
Karen Grabowski, Communications Coordinator, (317) 927-8000 ext. 215,

INDIANAPOLIS – The Society of Professional Journalists is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2009 Sigma Delta Chi Awards for excellence in journalism.

Judges chose the winners from over 1,300 entries in categories covering print, radio, television and online. The awards recognize outstanding work published or broadcast in 2009.

Dating back to 1932, the awards originally honored six individuals for contributions to journalism. The current program began in 1939, when the Society granted the first Distinguished Service Awards. The honors later became the Sigma Delta Chi Awards.

The awards will be presented Oct. 2 during the 2010 SPJ Convention and National Journalism Conference in Las Vegas.

For more information contact Lauren Rochester at (317) 927-8000 ext. 210 or at

Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well- informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. For more information about SPJ, please visit

2009 Sigma Delta Chi Winners:

General Column Writing (Daily Circulation 1-50,000)
“Sunday Reflections,” Tracey O'Shaughnessy, Republican American

General Column Writing (Daily Circulation 50,001-100,000)
Sean Kirst, The Post-Standard

General Column Writing (Daily Circulation 100,000+)
Nicholas D. Kristof, The New York Times

General Column Writing (Non-Daily Publication)
Ray Hanania, Southwest News-Herald

Click HERE to read the entire list of winners.

-- Ray Hanania