Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Elected Officials Put More Pressure on Chicago Department of Aviation

Madigan, Quinn launch online petition

By Tim Hadac
Managing Editor
Southwest Chicago Post

The Midway area’s elected officials this week continued to apply pressure to the Chicago Department of Aviation to provide relief for  homeowners whose government-supplied windows and doors are emitting foul—and possibly toxic—fumes.

Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan (D-22nd) and 13th Ward Ald. Marty Quinn launched an online petition “demanding that the city replace residents’ windows and storm doors at any time, even if the 10-year warranty has expired.”

Quinn said he hopes resident will sign the online petition in advance of another joint meeting of the City Council Committees on Finance and Aviation, expected to occur downtown next month.

Here is a link to the petition:

The petition directly addresses what appears to be the Chicago Department of Aviation’s ongoing refusal to provide replacement doors and windows for Residential Sound Insulation Program homeowners whose doors and windows were installed more than 10 years ago—and are therefore out of warranty.

Several aldermen, including Quinn, have publicly requested that CDA ensure replacement of all faulty doors and windows, regardless of warranty.

Other requests from aldermen, including one that CDA conduct a mass-mailing to all 10,000-plus RSIP households to alert them to the ongoing situation, have not been responded to.

A CDA promise to respond to a request for an update on the number of RSIP households with confirmed foul odors has gone unfulfilled.

In addition to the online petition, Quinn joined three aldermanic colleagues—Edward M. Burke (14th), Michael R. Zalewski (23rd) and Raymond Lopez (15th)—in amending the City Code to enable the Department of Aviation to conduct testing on all RSIP windows and doors that have been found to be emitting odors. Further, the new language mandates that CDA test a minimum of 10 percent of all RSIP households where windows and doors are found to emit odors.

Currently, CDA is testing the indoor air quality of nine Midway area homes. The new ordinance, if passed, would require that number to rise as the number of confirmed cases rises.

“The language of this ordinance memorializes what we have asked the Aviation Department to do,” Quinn said.

The move was praised by Chrysler Village homeowner Pam Zidarich, who said she welcomes “any significant move designed to make the Chicago Department of Aviation stop turning a deaf ear to us and get serious about its promise of transparency. We should have to hold their feet to the fire, but they’re making us do it, so we will.”

Zidarich is the founder of the non-profit Midway Defective Window Recipients, a group of Southwest Sides homeowners who are concerned about the RSIP windows and doors they have received.

MDWR recently held its first public meeting, and plans a second for 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 11 at West Lawn Park, 4233 W. 65th St. The public is invited.

The defective windows and doors have been provided to homeowners near Midway and O’Hare in recent years through the Chicago Department of Aviation’s Residential Sound Insulation Program, an initiative designed to improve the quality of life for people living near the airports by reducing jet-engine noise in their homes.

Homeowner concern over RSIP windows and doors was first reported exclusively by the Southwest News-Herald in early June, with a number of front-page follow-ups as the story developed over the summer and fall.

While the large majority of RSIP homeowners have not voiced complaints, a small minority—about 250 households--report that their windows and doors are emitting foul-smelling fumes. Homeowners, some of whom have been diagnosed with cancer in recent years, are highly concerned that the fumes may be toxic—causing or at least exacerbating their serious illness, and possibly having long-term, negative effects on the health of their children.

It appears that years of exposure to heat and sunlight may be breaking down the materials used in the manufacture of the windows and frames. One of those materials is polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a known carcinogen banned in some countries outside the U.S.

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Thursday, November 9, 2017

Zalewski to Speak at Civic Meeting

Twenty-third Ward Alderman Michael R. Zalewski is scheduled to be the featured speaker at the next public meeting of the Garfield Ridge Civic League, set for 6 p.m. Wednesday, November 15 in the auditorium at Kennedy High School, 56th and Narragansett.
Alderman Zalewski

Zalewski will offer remarks about the ward and then field questions from the audience.

For details, send a text message to GRCL President Henry Pukala at (773) 562-0071.

Also, the GRCL and Clearing Civic League will host a Christmas party fundraiser at New Warsaw Restaurant, 6250 W. 63rd St., at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, November 18.

Cost is $20 per person and includes a cash bar and a hot Polish-style buffet. Call (708) 269-9094 for reservations by November 15. Payments will be accepted at the door.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Stan Podlasek Retires; Barber Shop Was an Archer Avenue Favorite for Decades

Cutting Hair at Archer and Normandy since 1965

By Tim Hadac
Managing Editor
Southwest Chicago Post

After nearly 52 years at Archer and Normandy, Stan
Stan Podlasek
Podlasek has put down his barber shears.

“Life has been good to me. I can’t complain,” Podlasek said as he sat in his iconic shop, closed since April, when health concerns—both Stan’s and his wife of 67 years—forced his retirement at age 89. He turned 90 in September.

“I don’t miss the business, but I miss the people. I really do,” he added. “Some customers become your friends. Some still call me at the house.”

A native of the Archer Heights community, Podlasek grew up above his family’s business, Podlasek’s Tavern, at 47th and Kedvale, opened immediately after Prohibition ended in the early 1930s. (Today, the site is home to Illinois Bar and Grill.)

He attended St. Bruno School and Tilden Tech. He has one brother, a Garfield Ridge resident still going strong at age 93.

After his father died, Podlasek took over the tavern in 1951 and ran it for nine years. An uncle ran Podlasek’s grocery store nearby.

That same year, he and his wife moved into a house near 54th and Oak Park, when new homes were sprouting up quickly in what had been a vast Garfield Ridge prairie.

Over the years, they were blessed with four daughters and a son; and later, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

He attended barber college and worked in Hinsdale for several years before building his own shop on Archer—a twin storefront: half for his shop and half an income property.

The unmistakable glow of Stan's blue neon sign, in a SWCP photo from 2011.
Stan’s Barber Shop opened just after Christmas 1965—not the best time for barbers, especially new ones trying to get a toehold in business.

With the Beatles, Rolling Stones and other British Invasion rock stars sporting longer hairstyles, millions of boys across the U.S. starting growing their hair over the ears—and then to their shoulders as the hippie styles reached their peak during the Summer of Love in 1967.

“Yeah, it was something,” Podlasek recalled with a chuckle.

He tells the tale of a time when one of his daughters’ young suitors stopped by the house for the first time.

“So my wife meets him at the door. She looks at him. He’s got hair down to his shoulders,” Podlasek recalled.

“My wife says, ‘You know what my husband does for a living? He’s a barber. Why don’t you go see him?’ My wife was always a character,” he adds with a chuckle.

Today, the young man—now sporting a short and stylish cut—is his longtime son-in-law.

Just about the longest-running business in Garfield Ridge, Podlasek can look out his window and tell visitors what used to be at any given location. MacNeal Hospital’s clinic used to be Jewel Foods. Dr. Coler’s chiropractic office used to be Normandy Deli and Widen’s Bakery. The day care center across the street used to be a shop that made prosthetic eyes; and before that, it was a tailor/dry cleaner’s. Before 1976, Obbie’s Pizza was Geno’s Pizza. And on he goes, a living history book of Garfield Ridge commerce.

While Podlasek has retired, the barber pole has started spinning again at his shop. A younger barber is renting the space and has decided to keep the “Stan’s Barber Shop” name and sky-blue neon sign.

“I’ve had a very good life,” he concluded. “I’m surrounded by family and friends. My daughters still call every day. It’s a blessing.”

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

CPD Warns of Man Trying to Lure Boy

The Chicago Police Department has issued a community
alert after a man tried to lure an 11-year-old boy into his vehicle near 67th and Kilpatrick at about 3:15 p.m. Monday, October 30.

The boy told police he was walking down a sidewalk in the 4700 block of West Marquette Road (near Azuela Elementary School) 
when a dirty, older-model gray van or SUV pulled alongside.

The driver stated that he was told by the victim's mother to pick the victim up from school. The driver repeated the statement several times. The victim refused to get in the vehicle and walked away. The driver then sped away.

The offender was described as a white man about 50-60 years of age, balding with blonde/brown hair.

Those with useful information to share about the incident are asked to call CPD Area Central Detectives at (312) 747-8380
and refer to case number JA-492179.

In the wake of the crime, police offered this advice:

• Be aware of this situation and alert your neighbors.
• Call 911 to report any suspicious persons, vehicles or activity in your neighborhood.
• Do not let children walk or play alone. Identify safe havens along your child's route to school and home, such as businesses or trusted neighbors.
• Always be aware of your surroundings. 

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Saturday, October 28, 2017

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.

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Gang member punches, robs boy as he plays basketball
In what police are describing as a gang-related incident, a 16-year-old Brighton Park boy was punched in the face and robbed of his cellphone as he played basketball with friends in the alley behind 5600 S. Mayfield at 4:45 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 17. The victim, a student at Kennedy High School, told police that three teens walked up and one asked, “What you be about?” (a common question used to determine gang affiliation). The victim said he replied that he does not belong to a gang. One of three then demanded his cellphone. When he refused, a struggle ensued. The three then ran away. The victim told police he knew the name of the teen who hit him and snatched his cellphone. No one is in custody, and police continue to investigate.

Garfield Ridge man charged with domestic battery
A 39-year-old man was charged with domestic battery after he allegedly struck an ex-
Sean Brown
girlfriend during an Oct. 4 argument near 107th and Calumet. Sean Brown was arrested outside his home in the 5200 block of South Moody at about 1 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 17, nearly two weeks after the incident. Bond was set at $7,000, and Brown is due in court at 555 W. Harrison on Nov. 7.

Robbed while walking to work
A 44-year-old Archer Heights man was robbed at gunpoint as he walked down a sidewalk in front of 4800 S. Cicero at 5:25 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 12. The victim told police that two men approached, and one pulled a pistol and demanded cash and valuables. The victim handed over his cellphone, wallet and black coat. The offenders ran away east on 48th Street. They were described only as Hispanic men age 18-22.

Bust Cal City man on freight train burglary rap
A 24-year-old Calumet City man was arrested and charged with burglary after he and three other men allegedly were spotted breaking the seals on freight train boxcars in the Norfolk
Jacoby Williams
Southern yard just west of Southwest Highway and Western Avenue, at 7:45 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 19. Jacoby Williams was apprehended by police as he walked near 3111 W. Columbus and was positively identified by railroad security agents, according to the police report. Bond was set at $50,000, and Williams was due in court yesterday at 51st and Wentworth.

Man screams, burglar flees
A 41-year-old West Lawn man’s scream frightened off a burglar at his home in the 6300 block of South Kilpatrick at noon Wednesday, Oct. 18. The victim told police that he was in the bathroom when he heard his doorbell ring; and then minutes later, heard someone kick in his back door. When the victim screamed, the offender ran out of the house. There was no description of the offender.

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Want to work directly with Chicago Police to prevent crime in your neighborhood? If you live in Beats 815 or 821 (see map), come to St. Bruno School (south entrance), 4839 S. Harding, at 7:00 p.m. Wednesday, November 1 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.

* * *

Spurious utility worker may be home burglar
Burglars pried open the side door of a home in the 4500 block of South Harding and stole assorted jewelry and a collection of silver coins. The crime was discovered by the victim, a 64-year-old man, at 1:45 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 18. A man working on a home nearby told police he had earlier seen a man dressed as a utility company employee, walking around and carrying a yellow crowbar. He described the person as a Hispanic man age 20-30, about 5-foot-11 and 160 pound, wearing a safety vest over a light gray hoody, blue jeans and mechanic’s gloves.

Cubs World Series watch swiped in burglary
Burglars forced open the window of a home in the 3700 block of West 64th Street and stole a Chicago Cubs World Series watch, assorted jewelry and collectible coins, five purses and other items. The crime was discovered by the victim, a 67-year-old woman, at 7:45 p.m. Monday, Oct. 16.

Nothing missing in Pizza Hut heist
Burglars pried open the back door of Pizza Hut, 5109 S. Pulaski, and opened a safe—although nothing initially appeared to be stolen. The crime was reported by a manager on Monday, Oct. 16, five days after it occurred.

Burglar in white hits La Victoria
A burglar smashed a front window of La Victoria grocery store, 3927 W. 63rd St., and stole a cash register, as well as an undisclosed amount of money from other cash registers. The crime was discovered by a man who called 911 at about 2 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 17. He told police that a man dressed in white was the offender. No one is in custody.

Both doors damaged in Vittum Park burglary
Burglars broke into a garage in the 5000 block of South Laramie and stole a lawnmower, a snow blower, an air compressor, a bicycle and assorted tools. The crime was discovered by the victim, a 58-year-old man, at 8 a.m. Friday, Oct. 20. Both the overhead door and service door were damaged, the victim told police.

Back from restaurant, finds apartment burglarized
Burglars pried open the door of an apartment in the 6000 block of West 63rd Street and stole four ladies’ silver rings. The crime was discovered by the victim, a 54-year-old man, after he came home from a restaurant at noon Friday, Oct. 20.

Tools, kiddie clothing taken from garage
Burglars broke into a garage in the 5700 block of South Kenneth and stole a lawnmower, a weed trimmer, three hand drills and assorted children’s clothing. The crime was discovered by the victim, a 24-year-old man, at 3 p.m. Friday, Oct. 20.

No sign of forced entry in Keeler burglary
Burglars entered a basement apartment in the 6500 block of South Keeler and stole an Xbox video game console. The crime was discovered by the victim, a 21-year-old man, at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 19. There was no sign of forced entry, police said.


Garage on Laramie burglarized
Burglars forced open the service door of a garage in the 5300 block of South Laramie and stole a snow blower, a weed trimmer, an air compressor, a pair of electric clippers, a grill, a five-gallon gas container and other items. The crime was discovered by the victim, a 50-year-old man, at 6 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 17. 

Elderly woman thinks relative stole her stuff
A 74-year-old Scottsdale woman reported that someone broke into her house in the 8500 block of South Karlov and stole a TV and a video game console. She discovered the crime at 1 p.m. Monday, Oct. 16. She told police she believes a relative committed the crime.

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Friday, October 27, 2017

Police hunt killer of Gage Park dad

Rear-ended, pushed two blocks by pickup truck

By Tim Hadac
Managing Editor
Southwest Chicago Post

Police have opened a homicide investigation into the traffic-related death of a Gage Park man early Sunday morning, but they are not yet saying if they think the killer knew the victim—or if the crime was a road-rage incident between strangers.

Eduardo A. Pena, 21, died at 4:44 a.m. at Stroger Hospital, about 2½ hours after his 1998 Ford Ranger was rammed behind by a black pickup truck near 55th and Kedzie and pushed two blocks south—where it hit a tree near 57th and Kedzie.

The driver of the pickup truck sped away and is not in custody. On Friday, October 27, CPD released video of the start of the incident. It shows both vehicles at the stoplight at 55th and Kedzie, facing south. The video clip ends with the pickup truck ramming Pena's vehicle.

Pena was extricated from his mangled vehicle by paramedics.

He leaves behind a wife and year-old child, according to relatives who have organized an online GoFundMe campaign to pay for his funeral expenses. As of Tuesday afternoon, seven people donated a total of $1,340 toward the $7,000 goal.

Pena’s cousin, Klarissa Lopez, said the homicide “breaks my heart into millions of pieces,” and she has publicly appealed for witnesses to share information.

“Please, if anyone knows anything, come forward!” she wrote in a Facebook post. “To drag a man two whole blocks and then to leave him to're a special kind of sick and u deserve to rot in prison. I pray every minute they live, their conscience hunts their minds

The fatal clash began steps away from the entrance to St. Gall Church, where parishioners outside Mass last Sunday expressed shock and sadness.

“There is already so much evil in the world. Do we need more?" asked Josefina Parada, mentioning the funeral service held for a Gage Park family in the church in 2015, after they were slain in a home near 57th and California. “There’s so much to live for. Why are people killing each other?”

Maria Rodrigues-Campos said the killing illustrates “why I don’t drive at night. There are too many young drivers—hotheads—out on the road at night. You look at them the wrong way and who knows? Maybe you’re the one they’re running off the road.”

Pedro Ortiz said he is confident that police will be able to find the killer.

“With so many video cameras around these days, you know some camera somewhere has footage of that pickup truck making a getaway, he said. “Plus you know police will be looking for that truck, which has damage no other truck in the city has. Just a matter of time.”

Those with useful information to share are encouraged to call CPD Area Central detectives at (312) 747-8380.

Pena with his infant son, from a photo posted publicly by his relatives.
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