Friday, August 27, 2010

One of Chicagoland's most influential Hispanic suburban mayors dies, Alex Lopez of Chicago Heights

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TO: All news media outlets
FROM: Office of the Corporation Counsel – Tj Somer
DATE: August 27, 2010

It is with great sorrow that I must announce that at 6:39 p.m., this date, Mayor Alex Lopez, 44, Mayor of the City of Chicago Heights, Illinois was pronounced dead after collapsing from what is believed to be a heart attack. Mayor Lopez was with his daughter watching a basketball practice at the time of the collapse, and was transported to St. James Hospital, Chicago Heights, unresponsive.

Mayor Lopez was appointed to the office of Mayor in July of 2008 to fill the vacancy of the former Mayor Anthony DeLuca. He thereby became the first Latino and minority Mayor in the history of Chicago Heights. Mayor Lopez is survived by his Wife, Sandra and two children.

We ask that you please respect the family’s privacy as they attempt to endure this tragic ordeal. The City will follow up with further information regarding services and arrangements as it becomes available.

T.J. Somer
Corporation Counsel
City of Chicago Heights

FEMA selects Cicero for Flood Disaster Relief Center

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Town President Larry Dominick has agreed to provide FEMA officials with office space to serve as one of three FEMA flood disaster processing centers. Cicero is making the Public Service Office building at 5410 W. 34th Street available so that residents from Cicero and the surrounding suburbs can come and obtain direct assistance to apply for flood disaster relief.

"We're very proud that President Obama's administration and state and county officials have recognized the hard work of the Town of Cicero to provide assistance to its residents by asking us to serve as one of the processing centers," Dominick said.

The centers are funded by the local community, although FEMA will cover the expenses of their employees.

FEMA and Cicero officials will be at the PSO building/FEMA processing center on Saturday morning. Although there will not be a press conference, the media is invited to come to the center to obtain information and interview applicants.


FEMA is now taking applications for flood damage from Cicero residents.

If your home was flooded, you must begin the process to apply for FEMA relief now

You can go online and complete the FEMA form at


Or, you can call FEMA at 1-800-621-3362 ... That's 1-800-621-3362 ... between 7 am and 10 pm every day.

Or, you can come to the Town of Cicero Public Safety Office at 5410 W. 34th Street from 9 am until 7 pm every day.

Department of Homeland Security officials credited the Town of Cicero and Town President Larry Dominick for their fast action in beginning the process to assess damage estimates. That data became the basis of President Obama's decision to provide funding.

For more information, you can visit also visit the Town of Cicero' s web site at


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Trustees suspend their wages in symbolic fight for better economy

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Trustees suspend their wages in symbolic fight for better economy
By Ray Hanania
(Village of Justice Media Writer)

The Village of Justice's five trustees unanimously voted to adopt a resolution asking all elected officials of the Village of Justice to suspend their wages for the remainder of calendar/fiscal year 2010 as a means of demonstrating leadership and helping offset the budget deficit that the Village will face in the coming months. 

Trustee Phil DePaola said the Village completed an analysis of its budget and concluded that there is “no quick fix” for the economic challenges facing the Village of Justice.

The resolution asked the Village’s elected officials, who are all part-time, to agree to voluntarily forgo their monthly wages in order to strengthen the public resolve to fight to improve the economy.

“We need to lead by example … this job can’t be about pay,” DePaola explained in presenting the resolution for a vote.

Each of the trustees, including newly installed trustee John Koslowski, voted to suspend their own pay. No one was forced to surrender their pay, the resolution was strictly voluntary. Mayor Kris Wasowicz, who is part-time and has been covering much of his office expenses through his wages and Clerk Kathleen Svoboda whose salary is her only source of income declined to participate.

“As we move into our 2011 budget and continue to have hardships, we need to address the financial issues facing our Village,” said Trustee Kinga Bartoszek, the primary sponsor of the resolution. Bartoszek, who was interviewed on WBBM AM Radio prior to the board meeting, said she hoped that not only would the move reinforce public confidence that the village board is serious about tackling the budget challenges but that it might also spread to other suburban communities.

“I think this is a good step for other suburban communities to take action and demonstrate leadership. As public servants we have to strengthen public confidence in good government. We were elected by the residents and entrusted to be good stewards of this Village's resources,” Bartoszek said.

Trustee Mary McGee also supported the resolution, saying, “I will participate. With the current economy and the way it has impacted families we need to demonstrate leadership. … Leading by example is a principle that I follow in my personal life.”

Newly installed Trustee John Koslowski told the board, “I feel we are here not for money but to make the village a better place to live. A lot of people in this village are willing to sacrifice and I am willing to do so too. We need to come together as a community and I believe this is a good move forward to strengthen that community spirit.”

Trustee George Pastorino also said he supports the resolution and agrees to suspend his salary, explaining “ We are doing the right thing. The Village needs some help now and Leadership is called for, that must start with us.”

DePaola emphasized that the move was not politically motivated nor should any judgments be made about officials who could or could not participate in the voluntary salary suspension. “Do not hold it against anyone who cannot do this pledge,” DePaola said.

The resolution will continue through the end of the Fiscal Year, Dec. 31, 2010.

Pastorino also responded strongly to one member of the audience who tried to turn the issue into a political statement, saying that the community members he has spoken to support the measure and believe the village is moving in the right direction.

“We’re doing many good things in the Village of Justice and we will not let a small handful of people who do nothing but complain derail the progress this village is making in order to move forward,” Pastorino said.

“We have a new trustee, John Koslowski, who has a long history living in Justice with his family joining our board. He brings with him his experience, his passion for this community and his enthusiasm that will help us move forward. We’re very proud of the direction and the achievements we are seeing. We need to continue to work together in order to move this Village in the next direction.”


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Relief now available for flood victims from FEMA

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President Barack Obama quickly approved Disaster Area status for Cook and DuPage counties in response to the series of floods caused by heavy rains and the failure of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago to better respond to flood concerns.

Obama's federal designation now opens the door to disaster relief support that could come in the form of grants and low interest loans. This first step is the result of the tremendous work of the Cook County Department of Homeland Security office and its leadership, David Ramos and Kevin Joyce who reached out quickly to residents on July 24 the morning of the flood to let them know that something could be done. In the Town of Cicero, (where I work now as spokesman), Town President Larry Dominick declared Cicero a Disaster Area.

In fact, on order to get Obama to declare it a disaster area and make FEMA funds available, towns and villages had to do so first. That was immediately followed up by Cook County Board President Todd Stroger and then by Gov. Pat Quinn also declaring the region a disaster area. Without those declarations, Obama could not act.

A second essential step was to collect data to support a Federal Disaster Area designation. Cicero, under the leadership of Emo Cundari the Town Assessor, set up a data collection process that begin within hours of the flooding and county support. On Sunday and Monday immediately after the flooding that prior day, more than 75 volunteers were at Town Hall at tables filling out the preliminary damage estimate forms provided by Ramos and Joyce.

Over the two days, the Town of Cicero collected data from more than 5,000 people and homes that suffered damage.

The extent of the damage is noteworthy, too. Although Water Reclamation District President Terry O'Brien was not seen in most of the suburban communities, he did appear on television recently to declare that the lfooding problem was not his problem but blamed it instead on the suburban communities themselves. He asserted in an interview with Channel 7 WLS TV that the sewer systems in the suburban communities are old and aged and can't get the water to the Reclamation District.

Of course, that is ridiculous. The fact is most witnesses will tell you that during the unprecedented rains, the water had no place to go and backed up into streets and homes. And suddenly, after the Reclamation District finally opened the Locks, the water was sucked down the sewer systems like you unplugged a bathtub.

The water dispersal was dramatic in each and every town.

No one town or village is responsible because the flooding was across the region. Water does not sit in a bowl and communities are not bowls. They are linked together by landmass and sewers that connected to the Reclamation District.

IF YOU HAD FLOOD DAMAGE you can and should now immediately act:

If your home had property damage as a result of the recent flooding on July 24, you can begin the process to apply for FEMA relief every day from 7 am until 10 pm starting on Friday August 20. To do so, you can go online to the FEMA web site and complete the necessary application forms 24 hours a day. That web site is That’s You can also begin the process by calling FEMA at 1-800-621-3362. The toll free numbers will operate from 7 am until 10 pm, seven days a week until further notice.

Department of Homeland Security officials credited the Town of Cicero and Town President Larry Dominick for their fast action in beginning the process to assess damage estimates. That data became the basis of President Obama’s declaration.

-- Ray Hanania

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Bridgeview issues arrest warrant in

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Bridgeview Police have issued an arrest warrant for a third suspect sought in the murder of Adam Abdallah. Abdallah, 27, of Burbank, was murdered at the Shell station at 8700 S. Harlem Ave. in Bridgeview on June 22.

Matthew Doolan, 24, and Marchello Cappeletti, 23, are each charged with one count of aggravated battery, a Class 3 felony, according to Cook County State's Attorney's office spokeswoman Tandra Simonton.
They appeared in court Friday in Bridgeview and were ordered held on $75,000 each, Simonton said. A preliminary hearing was set for July 19.

The third suspect is Stephen Miller. The arrest warrant is below:

Click to view larger image

Monday, August 9, 2010

Governor State University should be denied its university and educational status; refuses to place Blagojevich portrait

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Governor's State'University says it will not put up a portrait of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who has been charged and is awaiting a jury verdict on federal corruption charges. The college -- hard to use the word any more to describe this place -- argues that the legislature passed a law prohibiting the state from spending money to put his portrait in Springfield along with the other convicted felons and corruption that now hangs on its walls.

Click here to read the story.

Maybe Governor's State University should remove the portraits of other past governors convicted of crimes while they were in office, like that of Gov. George Ryan, whose corruption was tied to the deaths of six children.

Sounds like Governor's State University -- named after the state's governors duh! -- isn't the place where students should go to get a good education, unless they want an education filled with hatred and stupidity and hypocrisy. Pathetic place.

I'd be ashamed if I attended there. Colleges and Universities are supposed to be about academic and thought freedom where students can debate all issues and where things like bigotry and political hatred are battled not coddled.

-- Ray Hanania