Monday, July 16, 2018

West Nile Spreads Across SW Side

 No plans to spray insecticide yet, health dept. says

By Tim Hadac
Managing Editor
Southwest Chicago Post

The West Nile Virus has been detected in the Archer Heights and Chicago Lawn neighborhoods--but a Chicago Department of Public Health spokesman says the city has no plans to spray insecticide yet.

The news was revealed on Monday, July 16--about three weeks after CDPH announced that it had detected the virus in West Lawn and one week after it was detected in Ashburn.

According to CDPH’s most recent disease surveillance report, Archer Heights and Chicago Lawn are two of 13 of the city’s 77 community areas where the virus has been detected in 2018—joining neighborhoods on the North, Northwest and South Sides.

Despite the finding, CDPH officials have said that the public health risk is low at this point.


While most people bitten by a WNV-infected mosquito will have only a mild illness or no symptoms at all, the disease was an occasional hot topic of discussion at Southwest Side community meetings and in local Facebook groups last year.

The concern is due in part to several severe cases, including that of Jeff Walls, a union carpenter from Garfield Ridge who was laid low by the disease in 2016 and is still struggling to recover—paralyzed and unable to eat or even breathe without assistance.

His story was told publicly in March 2017 by the Southwest Chicago Post. It is unknown whether Walls was bitten by an infected mosquito in Garfield Ridge or elsewhere in the city or suburbs.

In 2015 in Illinois, there were 152 known human cases of disease caused by WNV, with 90 of those scattered throughout Cook County. Statewide, five cases were fatal. The City of Chicago has not released information on its cases.

CDPH’s annual effort rolls out in phases. The first is treating city catch basins—notorious stagnant-water breeding grounds for the Northern House Mosquito, the type of mosquito most closely associated with transmission of West Nile Virus.

This year, CDPH’s contractor, Arkansas-based Vector Disease Control International, is dropping larvicide into 80,000 catch basins on the public way—a task that should wrap up this week.

The larvicide is basically a gut toxin. The [mosquito] larvae ingest the product, it ruptures their gut walls and they die.

Under perfect conditions, the larvicide is long-lasting and will kill larvae in a catch basin for up to six months—more than is needed in Chicago, where the arrival of cold weather essentially ends the West Nile threat each year. A heavy rain, however, can flush away larvicide from catch basins.

The city used to treat all 210,000 catch basins on the public way, but it has been scaled back because some areas of the city—most notably the Loop—have not seen West Nile Virus since it first appeared in Chicago 16 years ago.

On the Southwest Side, catch basins are being treated in an area bounded by 51st Street on the north, 87th Street on the south, Western Avenue on the east and Cicero Avenue on the west. Others are not.


Surveillance is key

CDPH also maintains an active WNV surveillance network. Its backbone is its 83 mosquito traps scattered throughout the city, which are monitored twice weekly for presence of Northern House Mosquitoes—including how many mosquitoes and what percentage are infected with WNV.

When traps indicate a significant amount of infected mosquitoes over two weeks, CDPH rolls out its final weapon: spraying insecticide to kill adult mosquitoes before they can bite and infect people.

Spraying occurs at dusk, when infected mosquitoes are most commonly in the air in search of a blood meal from a person or animal.

Last year, CDPH initially declined to spray insecticide in Clearing and Garfield Ridge, saying the threat to human health was not great enough. Under pressure from 13th Ward Ald. Marty Quinn, CDPH reversed course and sprayed.

CDPH attempts to educate the public each year on what individuals can do to reduce the risk of WNV infection.

First is a campaign to get people to look around their property and eliminate sources of standing water, such as clogged rain gutters, stagnant birdbaths and more.

Second is an effort to encourage people to avoid contact with mosquitoes, such as using insect repellent, wearing certain types of clothing and avoiding going outside at night, when the Northern House Mosquito feeds.

             

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Crime News Update

Editor's note: The crime news reported by the Southwest Chicago Post---taken directly from Chicago Police Department incident reports---is not by any means an exhaustive catalogue of all crime reported in the Chicago Lawn (8th) District. For example, it typically does not include news of crimes committed in the eastern and southern sectors of the district---because the Southwest Chicago Post's coverage area is primarily the neighborhoods that border Midway Airport and secondarily because including the relatively large volume of crime news from elsewhere in the district would be a logistical challenge. We make this note to offer a little helpful perspective and remind everyone that while crime is definitely a concern in all parts of the district (as it always has been), crime remains relatively low overall in the western section of the district. May all of us work together diligently to keep it that way. May all of us also remember that a person charged with a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

* * *

LeClaire Courts reunion ends in shooting
A 22-year-old man was shot in the groin and buttocks as he participated in the annual outdoor LeClaire Courts reunion near 44th and Lavergne at 1:27 a.m. Monday, July. The shooter was on foot when he fired, witnesses told police, and fled in a vehicle. The victim was transported to Mount Sinai Hospital, where he was listed in stable condition. Police did not provide a description of the shooter.


* * *

Want to work directly with Chicago Police to prevent crime in your neighborhood? If you live in Beat 811 (see map), come to Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church, 5550 South Merrimac, at 7:00 p.m. Tuesday, July 17 and attend your monthly CAPS meeting. Hear updates on crime in your neighborhood and learn how you can work with neighbors and police to make the community safer and better for all.



* * *

Argument leads to graze wound in the head
A 20-year-old man suffered a graze wound to his forehead after he was shot during an argument in traffic in the 7400 block of South Kostner at 2:30 p.m. Friday, July 6. The victim told police that he was driving his vehicle south when a silver minivan pulled up next to him. The shooter, a passenger in the minivan, was described as a “male Hispanic with a shag hairstyle,” police said. The driver was described as a Hispanic woman with red hair. After he was shot, the victim drove away but crashed into another vehicle. He was transported to Advocate Christ Medical Center in stable condition. The driver of the vehicle that the victim struck was listed in good condition and refused medical attention, police added.




Charge two with defacing Archer Heights business
Severo Hernandez


Two men were charged with criminal defacement of property after they allegedly used spray paint on or near the roof of a storefront at 5100 S. Archer at 9:56 p.m. Friday, June 29. 

Arrested were Severo Hernandez, 27, of the 5700 block of South Kildare, and Diego Elizarraraz, 19, of the 4900 block of South Leamington.





Diego Elizarraraz

Bust three after fight on basketball court
Pierre Richie


Three suburban teens were charged with misdemeanor battery after police broke up a fight on a basketball court at Valley Forge Park, 59th and Nottingham, at 7:18 p.m. Monday, July 2.

Arrested were Justice resident Pierre Richie, of the 8600 block of South 86th Avenue; and Summit residents Diante Harris, of the 7400 block of West 63rd Place; and Treasure Bolling, of the 7500 block of West 64th Street. All are age 18.

Police responding to a 911 call of a robbery “observed a large group of males jumping a male in the basketball court,” a CPD spokesman said.

“As officers approached, the group of males and one female dispersed. Officers and
Diante Harris
assisting units were able to detain all offenders. All offenders were positively identified by the victim and witnesses and were arrested on signed complaints.”



Harris also was charged with aggravated assault after police reportedly recovered a BB gun from his waistband.








Treasure Bolling


garfieldridgenw.com


Claim man tried to threaten elderly woman

A 46-year-old Brighton Park man was charged with assault after he allegedly followed a 70-year-old woman in a threatening manner and told her to marry him.

Francisco Mastache, of the 4400 block of South Sawyer, was arrested in the 4400 block of
Francisco Mastache
South Keeler at 6:10 a.m. Monday, July 2 after witnesses reportedly detained him until police arrived.


A charge of urinating on the public way was added after he allegedly relieved himself when police arrived. He is due in court at 51st and Wentworth on July 30.

According to public records, Mastache has been arrested 12 times by CPD since 2014, on such charges as violating an order of protection, urinating on the public way, retail theft, criminal trespass to land and unlawful use of a blackjack or knife. In May, he was charged with attempted robbery after he allegedly tried to steal a 67-year-old Archer Heights woman’s purse and bag of groceries.




Charge man with unwanted entrance into relative’s house
Dario Rodriguez


A 25-year-old West Lawn man was charged with criminal trespass to a residence after he allegedly entered a relative’s home in the 5900 block of South Kildare at about 1:30 p.m. Thursday, June 28.

Dario Rodriguez, of the 5900 block of South Tripp, was due in court at 555 W. Harrison the following day.

According to public records, Rodriguez has been arrested 14 times by CPD since 2014, on such charges as aggravated assault, battery, reckless conduct, retail theft, criminal trespass to land, criminal trespass to vehicles and criminal damage to property.





More women busted in sweep of Cicero Ave.

Two more women have been arrested in what appears to be a police sweep of streetwalking
Theresa Simadis
sex workers and others on Cicero Avenue, north of Archer—since CPD Supt. Eddie Johnson publicly vowed to the Archer Heights Civic Association that he would lead the way to eliminate prostitution for good in that area.


• Charged with soliciting a ride on a public roadway was 46-year-old Theresa M. Simadis, of the 6300 block of West 93rd Street, Oak Lawn.

According to police, at 9:48 p.m. Friday, June 29, she was arrested in front of 4714 S. Kilpatrick after she was “observed by police flagging down cars with male occupants in an attempt to solicit a ride.”

• Charged with soliciting a ride on a public roadway was 44-year-old Maricela Gonzalez, of the 5000 block of South Kolmar.
Maricela Gonzalez


According to police, at 9:48 p.m. Friday, June 29, she was arrested in front of 4714 S. Kilpatrick after she was “observed by police flagging down cars with male occupants in an attempt to solicit a ride.”

According to public records, Gonzalez has been arrested five times by CPD since 2016, on such charges as retail theft, criminal trespass to vehicles and possession of a controlled substance.








Charge man with drinking in public

A 53-year-old Central Stickney man was charged with drinking alcohol on the public way
Laurencio Primera
after he was reportedly found drinking a can of beer in front of 5528 S. Nashville at 3:54 p.m. Saturday, June. 30.


Laurencio Primera, of the 5000 block of South Central, was arrested by officers responding to a “man down” call. He is due in court at 51st and Wentworth on Aug. 14.

According to public records, Primera has been arrested by CPD five times since 2014, on such charges as disorderly conduct and urinating in public.







# # #

Tabares Begins Her Duties as Alderman

Focusing on service, public safety, economic development

By Joan Hadac
Editor and Publisher
Southwest Chicago Post

The Southwest Side is home to Chicago’s newest alderman, and she is pledging to be a bridge builder who gets things done.

Silvana Tabares says that she plans to focus on economic development in the 23rd Ward, as well as public safety—but first on direct constituent services.

Appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and sworn in late last month, the 38-year-old Tabares said that “first and foremost” she wants to ensure a ward office that is “responsive and efficient” to requests large and small.

That matters to most Southwest Siders, especially in a city where there is no shortage of tales—accurate or not--of indifferent or even rude bureaucrats answering phones and staffing front counters at ward offices.

As a state representative serving the 21st District—which includes the westernmost section of Garfield Ridge—Tabares has led a constituent service operation since she took office in 2013. But there are differences.

“Nobody calls a state rep to get a pothole filled or a tree trimmed,” she noted. “An aldermanic office serves the same legislative issues function as a state rep, but it’s much more. There is a lot more direct contact with constituents, a lot more basic needs to be met. That’s our challenge [at the ward office].”


Silvana Tabares smiles at her husband, Sean, and infant son, Michael, as she is sworn in.

Tabares was born in Little Village and raised by her mother, Raquel—a single mom--in Brighton Park. She attended St. Pancratius School and later graduated from Immaculate Conception School.


She is a 1997 graduate of Lourdes High School and later earned an associate’s degree from Daley College before studying journalism at Columbia College.

“My mom worked very hard and sacrificed so much—just so I could get ahead,” she said. “I am very proud of her.”

Like many across the Southwest Side, Tabares is the first in her family to graduate college. She also is the first woman ever--and the first Hispanic person ever--to serve as alderman of a ward west of Midway Airport.

After college, Tabares worked several media-related internships before landing a job at the Extra bilingual newspaper. She served as editor of the paper.

“As a newspaper editor, I reported on a wide variety of issues—and the issues were what drew me to running for state rep, because I got tired of staying on the sidelines as a reporter,” Tabares said. “I wanted to go down to Springfield and vote on issues that affected the communities that I represented—especially public safety and education.”

As a journalist Tabares was familiar with introducing herself to people and hearing what they had to say. It was a skill that served her well as a public servant. 

“I continue to do that,” she said. “I’ve knocked on a lot of doors and met a lot of people. I enjoy it.”

Meeting people, she said, has given her more empathy with their struggles. She tells the tale of two constituents in Stickney--a man and his wife who worked for a social service agency that helped people with disabilities but had been thrown into hard times because of the years-long state budget stalemate.

“I went down to Springfield to help people, especially people with disabilities, seniors and veterans—and for the governor to kind of ignore all that…it just made me want to keep on fighting,” she said.

As a legislator, Tabares has been a close ally of House Speaker Michael J. Madigan (D-22nd)—a political relationship that has brought some criticism from a few who claim that Madigan’s muscle essentially engineered her installation as alderman. Tabares brushed off the claims.

“My style as an elected official is to work with everyone,” she said.  “I won’t get anything done by attacking elected officials in nearby districts…by making enemies. My focus is always on what we can accomplish for the people we serve. I think that’s what people want.”

Beyond the struggles of partisan politics, Tabares said one of the rewarding aspects of her time at the state capital was “meeting with constituents who make time to go down to Springfield and advocate for what’s important to them, like their schools. You have mothers who take the time to go down to advocate for their schools. I found that encouraging."

Tabares and her husband, Sean, have lived in Garfield Ridge for the last seven years—first in a home near Archer and Nottingham and then since 2015 in a house in St. Daniel the Prophet Parish. Today, she’s in a happy “baby makes three” situation—as she and her husband raise their infant son, Michael.

“Garfield Ridge is a great place to live, work and raise a family,” she noted, saying she wants to bring that kind of feeling to the rest of the ward.

She has already met with Chicago Lawn (8th) District Commander Ronald Pontecore to discuss public safety issues, and she has met or will meet with the Garfield Ridge Chamber of Commerce, the United Business Association of Midway, the Gateway to Midway Committee, the Archer Heights Civic Association and other neighborhood groups—to hear their concerns and outline her vision for the ward.

Economic development is at the top of her agenda.

“I want Archer Avenue—and the rest of the ward—to be a place where people turn first when they want to shop or have dinner,” she said. “Too many of us look to La Grange or other suburbs when we go out and spend money. We need to attract businesses here, especially the type of businesses that will attract other businesses.”

An appointed alderman for now, Tabares will run for election in 2019.


# # #




Fed Up With Hookers on Cicero Ave.

Archer Heights residents step up fight against sex workers

By Tim Hadac
Managing Editor
Southwest Chicago Post

Apparently fed up with what they see as the inability—or perhaps unwillingness—of the criminal justice system to rid their neighborhood of street-walking sex workers, a handful of Archer Heights residents are taking matters into their own hands.

“I have been crying all day and really don't know where else to turn for help,” said Lori Vrablic, a resident of the 4800 block of South Keating. “When I walk out my back door, I see 49th and Cicero. About 80 percent of the time I go out, there is a hooker working on the corner.



“I have confronted many of them, videotaped them, taken pictures, called 911, yelled at them, made them lose business by screaming at the johns, and just about anything else you can imagine,” she continued. “The illegal activity on this corner is rampant. I won't even go into the drug deals. I'm really physically ill over this and was almost viciously attacked twice now while I'm out there videotaping them.”

Vrablic said she sees much of the crime because she is home a lot as she recovers from a motorcycle crash nearly a year ago, in which she says she broke 41 bones in her body.

“Today I had to run [away from sex workers and pimps] with pins and rods that hold my spine together,” she added. “I'm never supposed to run again, but I was in fear of my life.”

Vrablic has organized a number of her neighbors into a South Keating Awareness Group to share information and organize action.



For her part, Vrablic has—among other things--made a banner warning sex workers that they are not welcome in the area, and has affixed it to a fence near 49th and Cicero. She also has purchased an electronic megaphone with a loud siren sound to disrupt sex workers and their customers.


Lori Vrablic with the sign she made and posted.

Streetwalkers have worked the corners on Cicero Avenue for at least the last 50 years. Back in the 1980s, they seemed to gravitate to the area across from the old Leclaire Courts low-rise public housing project near 44th Street. But after that was bulldozed in 2011, the workers drifted south of 47th Street to ply their trade.

The Archer Heights Civic Association has for decades made elimination of prostitution in the area—especially along Cicero Avenue—a top priority.



Back in April, AHCA members and representatives of the neighboring Vittum Park Civic League quizzed CPD Supt. Eddie Johnson at a public meeting about their concerns. At the meeting, Chicago’s top cop vowed to work with Chicago Lawn (8th) District Commander Ronald Pontecore and his senior staff to “put together a plan to try to [eradicate prostitution on Cicero Avenue] once and for all…so that the next time I come back here, I want to hear you clapping for the job that we have done.”




Three months later, neighbors say they are still waiting to see Johnson’s plan.

“The leadership we routinely receive from Commander Pontecore is exemplary, and the dedication of our Eighth District police officers on the frontlines is second to none,” said AHCA President Thomas S. Baliga. “But this is clearly a problem that simply can’t be solved by the limited amount of resources a single district has.”

District police have clearly increased arrests of sex workers and others along the strip—and there has been the occasional small-scale sting operation from units outside the district, but some residents say it’s not nearly enough.

“I’m tired of driving around in the neighborhood, seeing these prostitutes and calling 911 on them again and again,” Baliga said. “I’m also concerned about law-abiding neighbors who are so fed up they take matters into their own hands. 

Someone is going to get hurt—or worse—and then it will be
on the hands of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, ultimately.
“We need Supt. Johnson to step up and deliver on his promise,” he concluded. “At this point, I can’t even imagine clapping for the job he has done. We need his help—the ‘once and for all’ plan he talked about--and we need it now.”


# # #




Monday, July 9, 2018

West Nile Virus Detected in Ashburn

 No plans to spray insecticide yet, health dept. says

By Tim Hadac
Managing Editor
Southwest Chicago Post

The West Nile Virus has been detected in Ashburn—but a Chicago Department of Public Health spokesman says the city has no plans to spray insecticide yet.

The news was revealed Monday, July 9--about two weeks after CDPH announced that it had detected the virus in West Lawn, just north of Ashburn.

What the City of Chicago considers "Ashburn" is a wide swath that actually includes the Scottsdale, Ashburn, Parkview and Wrightwood neighborhoods. CDPH would not disclose where in "Ashburn" the detection was made because it prefers to keep secret the location of its mosquito traps--which sometimes over the years have been vandalized or even stolen.

According to CDPH’s most recent disease surveillance report, "Ashburn" is one of six of the city’s 77 community areas where the virus has been detected in 2018—joining O’Hare on the far Northwest Side, Lincoln Square on the North Side, Riverdale and West Pullman on the South Side, and West Lawn.

Despite the finding, CDPH officials have said that the public health risk is low at this point.



While most people bitten by a WNV-infected mosquito will have only a mild illness or no symptoms at all, the disease was an occasional hot topic of discussion at Southwest Side community meetings and in local Facebook groups last year.

The concern is due in part to several severe cases, including that of Jeff Walls, a union carpenter from Garfield Ridge who was laid low by the disease in 2016 and is still struggling to recover—paralyzed and unable to eat or even breathe without assistance.

His story was told publicly in March 2017 by the Southwest Chicago Post. It is unknown whether Walls was bitten by an infected mosquito in Garfield Ridge or elsewhere in the city or suburbs.

In 2015 in Illinois, there were 152 known human cases of disease caused by WNV, with 90 of those scattered throughout Cook County. Statewide, five cases were fatal. The City of Chicago has not released information on its cases.

CDPH’s annual effort rolls out in phases. The first is treating city catch basins—notorious stagnant-water breeding grounds for the Northern House Mosquito, the type of mosquito most closely associated with transmission of West Nile Virus.

This year, CDPH’s contractor, Arkansas-based Vector Disease Control International, is dropping larvicide into 80,000 catch basins on the public way—a task that should wrap up this week.

The larvicide is basically a gut toxin. The [mosquito] larvae ingest the product, it ruptures their gut walls and they die.

Under perfect conditions, the larvicide is long-lasting and will kill larvae in a catch basin for up to six months—more than is needed in Chicago, where the arrival of cold weather essentially ends the West Nile threat each year. A heavy rain, however, can flush away larvicide from catch basins.

The city used to treat all 210,000 catch basins on the public way, but it has been scaled back because some areas of the city—most notably the Loop—have not seen West Nile Virus since it first appeared in Chicago 16 years ago.

On the Southwest Side, catch basins are being treated in an area bounded by 51st Street on the north, 87th Street on the south, Western Avenue on the east and Cicero Avenue on the west. Others are not.



Surveillance is key

CDPH also maintains an active WNV surveillance network. Its backbone is its 83 mosquito traps scattered throughout the city, which are monitored twice weekly for presence of Northern House Mosquitoes—including how many mosquitoes and what percentage are infected with WNV.

When traps indicate a significant amount of infected mosquitoes over two weeks, CDPH rolls out its final weapon: spraying insecticide to kill adult mosquitoes before they can bite and infect people.

Spraying occurs at dusk, when infected mosquitoes are most commonly in the air in search of a blood meal from a person or animal.

Last year, CDPH initially declined to spray insecticide in Clearing and Garfield Ridge, saying the threat to human health was not great enough. Under pressure from 13th Ward Ald. Marty Quinn, CDPH reversed course and sprayed.

CDPH attempts to educate the public each year on what individuals can do to reduce the risk of WNV infection.

First is a campaign to get people to look around their property and eliminate sources of standing water, such as clogged rain gutters, stagnant birdbaths and more.

Second is an effort to encourage people to avoid contact with mosquitoes, such as using insect repellent, wearing certain types of clothing and avoiding going outside at night, when the Northern House Mosquito feeds.