Saturday, June 30, 2012

Firefighters, Doctors, Nurses Warn About Fireworks in the Hands of Amateurs

By Joan Hadac
Editor and Publisher
Southwest Chicago Post

As adults, all of us are aware of the dangers of fireworks---legal and illegal---both for the fires they start and the injuries (and even deaths) they cause.

But the Alliance to Stop Consumer Fireworks wants to remind us---and to think of children, as well.

In my opinion, the Alliance to Stop Consumer Fireworks is poorly named---if only because to some, it may sound like a bunch of finger-wagging crabs trying to outlaw fun.

But in reality, the group was founded by the nation's leading health and safety organizations, like the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Fire Protection Association---as well as other organizations of physicians, surgeons, nurses, fire marshals and more.

Here are some sobering statistics.

According to a National Fire Protection Association report, in 2010 alone, an estimated 15,500 reported fires were started by fireworks and 8,600 fireworks-related injuries were treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms.

The report also shows that there are more fires on a typical Fourth of July than any other day of the year. Fireworks account for two out of five of those fires, more than any other cause of fires.

The Fireworks report outlines specific statistics regarding how the use of consumer fireworks relates to fire danger including:
  • In 2010, fireworks caused an estimated 15,500 reported fires, including 1,100 structure fires, 300 vehicle fires, and 14,100 outside and other fires.
  • These fires resulted in an estimated eight reported deaths, 60 civilian injuries and $36 million in direct property damage.
The report demonstrates using consumer fireworks heightens the risk of injury and even death. The study showed:
  • The risk of fireworks injury was highest for children ages 5-14 with more than twice the risk for the general population.
  • Sparklers and novelties alone accounted for 38 percent of the 8,600 emergency room fireworks injuries in 2010.
All of us should remember that behind the statistics there are people---real flesh-and-blood victims of fireworks gone wrong.

Why should we remember? Because it's human nature to see the statistics and think,"Yeah but that won't happen to me or my kids, especially if I'm right there to protect them."

Jack and Robin Shannon probably thought the same thing.

Their story is heartbreaking, and can be found on the NFPA YouTube channel.

May your Independence Day holiday be joyful, meaningful and safe.

# # #

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 Sector 1. 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.

* * *

Police responding to a "burglary in progress" call at a three-flat near 47th and Springfield looked through a basement window and saw the alleged burglar, a 37-year-old Little Village man, tied up and subdued by a man old enough to be his father.

Cesar Rodriguez
Cesar Rodriguez was arrested and charged with one count of felony residential burglary and one misdemeanor count of criminal damage to property.

The incident began at about 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 27, when a 63-year-old tenant told the 72-year-old landlord he had just heard a brick smash through a rear window of the basement apartment. The tenant went to investigate and allegedly saw Rodriguez in the basement unit, attempting to steal a drill.

The 63-year-old confronted Rodriguez and smacked him in the head a few times, causing him to fall to the floor. The tenant then used a belt to tie Rodriguez' arms behind his back and held him down on the floor until police arrived.

Police said that Rodriguez claimed that he was in the apartment only because his brother had called and said he was at the address.

* * *

Burglars entered a garage near 61st and Karlov and stole a toolbox and with tools, a power drill, a power washer, a lawnmower, a stereo and a grill.

The crime was discovered by the victim, a 35-year-old man, at 1:00 p.m. Thursday, June 28 after he returned home from a medical appointment to find his garage door open.

* * *

A burglar broke into the basement apartment of a building near 49th and Kolin and stole a laptop computer at 8:00 a.m. Thursday, June 28.

He may have stolen more, had he not been seen on the back porch by the 16-year-old daughter of the victim. The girl confronted the burglar and asked him why he was there. He claimed that he was there to visit someone on the second floor

She then locked her door and went upstairs to check with her upstairs neighbors, who said they had no idea who the man was. While she was doing that, the burglar fled.

The offender was described as a black man, 5'7 to 5'8 and 140-160 pounds, 19-20 years old, brown eyes and a medium complexion.

* * *

A 24-year-old Clearing woman told police she was the victim of an aggravated assault outside her home near 61st and Parkside.

The woman said that at about 5:40 p.m. Tuesday, June 26, she was standing in front of her home when two women in a silver car shouted at her, "That's right, white b~tch. You better get in your house."

The woman told police she then got into an argument with the pair, and they then jumped out of the car---one brandishing a wrench and the other a baseball bat. They allegedly swung the weapons, but did not make contact.

The victim ran inside her house, and the pair drove away. The victim shared their license plate number with police.

The offenders were described as white Hispanic women. One was about 23 years old, 5'5 and 130 pounds with long black hair. The other was described as about 20 years old, 5'5 and 200 pounds, with long black hair and wearing a pink top.

* * *

A 17-year-old Scottsdale boy was robbed at gunpoint at 8:40 p.m. Tuesday, June 26 near 87th and Tripp.

The boy was walking on the sidewalk, a few blocks away from his home near 85th and Kildare. The thug walked up, pointed a blue steel pistol at him and demanded money. The boy surrendered his cell phone, house key and wallet---which contained $40 cash. The offender then fled on foot, south towards 87th Street.

The victim described the robber as a black man, 18-22 years old, 6'0 and 170 pounds, brown eyes, short black hair, dark complexion, wearing a black t-shirt with gray graphics and a black baseball cap with a red brim.

* * *

A 61-year-old Garfield Ridge woman told police that a burglar entered her unlocked garage near 54th and Luna, and then entered her unlocked 2005 Toyota Camry and stole her purse---which she said contained three credit cards, a driver's license, $325 cash and 30 gift cards worth a total of $1,000. She said she discovered the crime at 6:15 p.m. Tuesday, June 26.

* * *

A 44-year-old Archer Heights man suffered a minor injury when he was stabbed in the neck while standing in the alley behind his home near 48th and Ridgeway.

The victim was taking out his garbage at 1:19 p.m. Wednesday, June 27 when a man walked up and asked him directions to an unfamiliar address. As they were talking, the victim said the two drew near and suddenly he felt a sharp pain in the right side of his neck.

The victim then fled the scene to escape his assailant, running north through the alley. A short time later, he was treated for his injuries and transported by Chicago Fire Department ambulance to Holy Cross Hospital.

The victim described the offender as a black man, 30 years old, with a "bald" hair style.

* * *

A 43-year-old West Lawn man told police that burglars entered his garage near 72nd and Hamlin and ransacked the interior of his Volvo---stealing a set of golf clubs, a Big Bertha driver, and $1,504 cash from a safe in the trunk of the car.

The victim said he discovered the crime at 11:00 a.m.Wednesday, June 27 as he was about to leave for work. There was no sign of forced entry.

* * *

Want to work directly with Chicago Police to prevent crime in your neighborhood? If you live in Beat 812 (see map above), come to the Clearing Branch Library at 7:00 p.m. Wednesday, July 11. If you live in Beat 814, come to the Vittum Park Fieldhouse at 7:00 Thursday, July 12. 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.

# # #

Thursday, June 28, 2012

So, Where's Our Million Dollars?

By Tim Hadac
Managing Editor
Southwest Chicago Post

Imagine if the leaders of three Southwest Side crime-fighting groups: the Garfield Ridge Neighborhood Watch, Clearing Night Force and Archer Heights Neighborhood Watch, got together and held a press conference.

At the press conference, they announce that "...crime on the Southwest Side is no longer a criminal justice matter. Rather, it's a public health issue; like, say, the measles or salmonella or norovirus."

"You see," they say, "criminals aren't criminals. Gangbangers aren't gangbangers. Punks aren't punks. They're just misunderstood fellows with an illness. And we have a cure."

Their "cure" is a demand that the City of Chicago fork over a million dollars---taxpayer dollars---for a year, so they could conduct crime prevention work on the Southwest Side. They say they'll be back next year to demand another million-dollar slice of the taxpayer pie---and probably a lot more.

If they don't get their million dollars, they warn, all hell may break loose on our local streets.

~ ~ ~

Of course, such a press conference would never happen.

The leaders of our local crime fighting organizations are good and honorable men and women---among the very best people on the Southwest Side. They work as unpaid volunteers---quietly, effectively, without complaint or boastfulness---simply because they believe in building safer and better neighborhoods for all.

And of course, in this part of Chicago, anyone who claimed that crime is an "illness" and then demanded a million dollars from the city would be branded a fraud at best, an extortionist at worst---and then run out of the neighborhood.

~ ~ ~

So why is it, then, that the City of Chicago is now forking over a million dollars---our tax dollars---to the CeaseFire group to fight crime in two police districts---one on the South Side and one on the West Side?

There are any number of theories. The most popular on the Southwest Side seems to be this: the Emanuel Administration, entirely frustrated by ongoing violence in the city and increasingly embarassed by mounting national "What's Wrong With Chicago?" headlines, is so desperate for solutions, it's willing to try just about anything, even the so-called public health approach to violence prevention---despite its own past skepticism about such methods and about the CeaseFire organization---which, among other things, hires ex-felons and ex-gangbangers to mediate conflicts between gangs. (Cops on the street---not the CPD brass at scripted press conferences---sometimes claim that CeaseFire's ex-gangbangers aren't exactly "ex"---and that the million dollar grant is nothing more than the Emanuel Administration indirectly but essentially paying criminals not to commit crime---which, if true, would be an extreme and disgraceful example of cowardice.)

Chicago's CeaseFire organization, long the darling of liberals who say that the conservative "get tough on crime" approach has not only not reduced crime but created a massive, expensive, oppressive, racist prison industry, was founded in 2000 by Dr. Gary Slutkin, an infectious disease physician who insists that society should treat violence the same way it treats AIDS or tuberculosis or syphilis.

Ameena Matthews of CeaseFire.
CeaseFire got a lot of national and even international attention last year via "The Interrupters" documentary film. 

CeaseFire used to be funded by more than $6 million in state tax dollars; but in 2007 those resources were eliminated by the Blagojevich Administration. Shamefully, in my opinion, CeaseFire's reps and community supporters back then made their share of public predictions (or were they threats?) that if their government millions were eliminated, crime would increase and people would die.

So here we go again, this time in 2012.

Rest assured, Mayor Emanuel knows all this. He is as smart and swift a politician as ever you'll see in your lifetime. And like most Chicagoans, he certainly has his doubts about the "crime as measles" concept in general; and about the reliability of the CeaseFire organization in particular.

Emanuel's doubt was there for all to see at the city press conference to announce the million-dollar giveaway---insofar as neither he nor CPD Superintendent Garry McCarthy was there. These absences don't happen by accident, folks.

His doubt is also evident in the watered-down, sugar-coated Health Department press release, which does not mention the million dollars at all. Rest assured, that omission was no accident.

All that aside, here's my beef---and it's the same complaint that thousands of other Southwest Siders have voiced in recent days:

In 2012, a year when Mayor Emanuel and his political surrogates basically say there's not enough money to pay "greedy" cops, firefighters, 911 dispatchers, teachers, mental health clinical therapists, Streets and San laborers and other city workers----a million dollars is magically found to toss at CeaseFire.


Perhaps what we on the Southwest Side should be asking the Mayor is, where's our million dollars?

# # #

Garden Society Walk Showcases Eight Lush, Beautiful Gardens in Midway Area

The Southwest Chicago Post was pleased and privileged to tag along on the Midway Garden Society's annual Urban Garden Walk, held on Sunday, June 24.

The Walk was a showcase of eight of the best gardens on Chicago's Southwest Side. All eight are located in Garfield Ridge or Clearing.

The gardens are lush and beautiful, unique and even quirky---and the gardeners are interesting, well spoken and passionate about what they do.

We found their enthusiasm infectious---resulting in a video that, at 40 minutes, is at least twice as long as we had anticipated.

Video highlights are posted on the Southwest Chicago Post's channel on YouTube:

Interested in becoming a member or at least learning more about the group? Details are in the video.

Or simply attend a Midway Garden Society meeting, held on the final Wednesday of the month at the Clearing Branch Library, 6423 West 63rd Place. Meetings typically feature an interesting guest speaker, and group members participate in plant exchanges and other activities. The Society also publishes a monthly newsletter.

Next meeting is set for 6:00 p.m. Wednesday, July 25. Visitors are always welcome, and the Society actively seeks new members.

Congratulations and thanks to the Midway Garden Society for making the Southwest Side a more beautiful and interesting place.

# # #

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Chicago Cares' Serve-a-thon Volunteers Paint, Plant, Spruce Up Kinzie School

Many thanks to the more than 180 "Chicago Cares" volunteers who helped plant, paint and generally spruce up Kinzie School earlier this month.

Brief video highlights are posted on the Southwest Chicago Post channel on YouTube:

And thanks to our friends at the Garfield Ridge Neighborhood Watch organization for alerting us and many others in the community to the event.

More information on Chicago Cares at

If you missed the event but still want to help the boys and girls of Kinzie School, please call Assistant Principal Jonathan Keith at (773) 535-2422. You don't have to swing a hammer, a paint brush or a shovel to help. Throughout the year, there are many opportunities to serve, for people of all ages and abilities.

# # #

Monday, June 25, 2012

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 Sector 1. 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.

* * *

An 18-year-old Brighton Park man was arrested in the early morning hours of Saturday, June 23 in connection with an aggravated battery that occurred at 45th and Cicero.

Andy Jardinas

At 1:34 a.m., Andy Jardinas allegedly walked up to two other Brighton Park men (18 and 21 years old) at a CTA bus stop at 4500 South Cicero and asked, "What you be about?" (a common question used to determine gang affiliation).

Jardinas then allegedly used a broken glass bottle to stab and slash the 21-year-old man in the left side of his stomach and left upper arm.

The victim was transported by Chicago Fire Department ambulance to Christ Hospital and Medical Center.

* * *

Possibly connected to the incident above, according to police, is an aggravated battery that occurred at 1:15 a.m. Saturday, June 23 on the street in front of 4330 South Keating.

A 21-year-old Brighton Park man, walking with his 18-year-old girlfriend (also from Brighton Park) was approached and beaten with a baseball bat or a golf club by a thug described as a white Hispanic man, 18 years old, 5'10 and 150 pounds, brown eyes, black hair, medium complexion.

Police searching the area report that they did find several baseball bats and a broken golf club nearby.

* * *

Burglars broke through the side door of a garage near 62nd and Menard and stole a framed Chicago White Sox jersey.

The crime was discovered by the victim, a 29-year-old man, when he returned home from work at 4:20 p.m. Friday, June 22.

The victim told police he believes that the burglars did not steal anything else because he thinks they were scared off when they placed a box atop his car in the garage and triggered the car alarm.

* * *

Burglars entered a home near 63rd and Austin and stole a men's watch, a burglar alarm key and $100 cash.

The crime was discovered by the victim, a 39-year-old man, when he came home from work at 6:30 p.m. Friday, June 22.

There was no sign of forced entry, and the victim told police that the burglars managed to circumvent his home alarm system.

* * *

Burglars ransacked and vandalized an apartment near 62nd Place and Lawndale and stole a TV and assorted jewelry.

The crime was discovered by the victim, a 33-year-old woman, who came home at 3:00 p.m. Friday, June 22 to find her apartment in disarray---and the toilet smashed and water all over the floor.

* * *

A good samaritan scared off three thugs attempting to rob a 32-year-old Vittum Park woman and even gave her a ride home to ensure her safety.

The woman was waiting for a bus at 5100 South Pulaski at 12:30 a.m. Thursday, June 21 when the trio of criminals approached. One was carrying a baseball bat and demanded that the victim give up her money. In response, she screamed----prompting the good samaritan, standing nearby, to approach and frighten away the three.

The victim described her would-be robbers as white Hispanics ages 19-23---one woman and two men. The good samaritan was described only as a white Hispanic man.

* * *

A 27-year-old man was robbed of $30 cash on the street in front of his home near 54th and Kildare. At 8:25 p.m. Wednesday, June 20, the man was cleaning out his vehicle when two crooks approached and asked "Who do you ride with?" (a common question relating to gang affiliation). When the man replied that he is not in a gang, one of the thugs ordered him to "give it up" and went through his pockets while the other held his hand behind his back, implying he had a weapon.

The offenders were described as white Hispanic men, 24-27 years old, 5'8 and 240 pounds, one with short black hair and the other with a black mohawk hairstyle.

* * *

A burglar pried open a front window of a basement apartment near 59th and Springfield and stole a desktop computer, a TV and a cell phone.

The crime was discovered by the victim, a 35-year-old woman, who was asleep in a bedroom with her two children when the break-in occurred at 3:00 a.m. Wednesday, June 20.

She told police she was awakened by a noise, but did not investigate. Minutes later, she saw her bedroom door open and the figure of a person appeared in the doorway. She yelled, and the burglar fled out the front door.

* * *

The yells of a 10-year-old boy apparently scared off a man attempting to burglarize a home near 82nd and Scottsdale at 9:00 a.m. Tuesday, June 19.

The boy was inside his family's home when he said he heard a noise at the side door by the driveway. He went to investigate and said he saw a "black hand" moving up the window of the door. At that point he yelled, and the offender fled.

The boy's father was alerted and came home. He told police he suspects that the would-be burglar is a neighbor with whom he is feuding.

* * *

 A burglar who broke into an apartment near 63rd and Kedvale failed to steal anything when his crime was interrupted by a 35-year-old man living there.

The criminal broke in via a front window at 1:45 a.m. Wednesday, June 20. The victim told police he heard a loud noise coming from his son's bedroom. When he went to investigate, he saw the offender walking out of the bedroom and then fleeing out the back door.

The burglar had disconnected an Xbox video game console from a TV, but failed to steal it. Additionally, the burglar had taken off his shoes (a pair of white sneakers) and left them behind in the living room. They were inventoried by police.

The victim described the burglar as a black man, 18-22 years old, 6'2 and 150 pounds, black hair, dark complexion, wearing a bandanna, a white shirt, black pants and a diamond earring on his right ear.

* * *

Police investigating an "open door" call at 2:16 a.m. Wednesday, June 20 discovered a wide-open overhead door of a garage near 64th Place and Major.

They went to the home at the site and woke up the 40-year-old man living there. He came out to the garage and discovered that his blue 2010 Harley-Davidson motorcycle had been stolen, along with a riding vest, pants, gloves, soles of a pair of shoes, and three pairs of riding sunglasses.

* * *

Burglars pried open the small overhead door of a garage near 55th and Kolin and stole an air compressor and two drills.

The crime was discovered by the victim, a 55-year-old man, who told police he suspects relatives committed the crime, and that the burglary was the third such incident in recent months.

* * *

Burglars broke through a side basement window of a home near 51st and Millard and stole a desktop computer, a laptop computer, a camera and a cell phone.

The crime was discovered by the victim, a 58-year-old man, when he came home from work at 3:00 p.m. Monday, June 18.

* * *

A burglar kicked in the rear door of an apartment near 63rd and Kenneth and stole a TV, a Nintendo Wii video game console and an iPod.

The victim, a 24-year-old woman, was at school at the time. She told police she suspects her 37-year-old ex-boyfriend, who she claimed phoned her and threatened to go to her apartment and take all his "electrical sh~t."

* * *

Want to work directly with Chicago Police to prevent crime in your neighborhood? If you live in Beat 813 or 833 (see map above), come to West Lawn Park at 7:00 p.m. Tuesday, June 26. 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.

# # #

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Our Continued Thanks to You...

By Joan Hadac
Editor and Publisher

and Tim Hadac
Managing Editor

Southwest Chicago Post

At 7:02 p.m. this evening (Sunday, June 24), we signed on to our newspaper,, and saw this:

That's right, 20,000 hits in our first 97 days of operation---with no advertising, no promotion, no gimmicks. Just straightforward, honest news reporting. 

As we stated in our "Readers Who Count" editorial of May 1, the growth of the Southwest Chicago Post has greatly exceeded our expectations. Truly, a pleasant surprise for us.

Everything we wrote in that editorial still holds. We respectfully ask that you read it again.

We are pleased and grateful for the feedback we continue to hear from you, the tax-paying, law-abiding, civic-minded, ballot-casting men and women of the Southwest Side of Chicago. Your common sense and constructive suggestions continue to be of great value in guiding us. Thank you!

The Southwest Chicago Post has come a long way in a short time. It seems like only an eyeblink ago when we looked at the embryonic and saw this:

And despite our unexpected, rabbit-like pace in these early days, we still like to think of ourself as a tortoise.

Our plan was---and still is---to proceed deliberately. Step by step. Just simple, straightforward, neighborhood news reporting with no shortcuts to success.

We know this is not a sprint. It's a marathon.

We're having fun doing what we do, and we are grateful to have met all the good men and women we might not have otherwise met. It's a reminder that the Southwest Side truly is a great part of Chicago, by so many measures---especially the strength and character of its men, women and children.

And like every other part of this great city, we Southwest Siders have our share of challenges, just as we always have. But when the good men and women of our neighborhoods stand shoulder to shoulder, united against crime and blight, united for improvement and prosperity---well, folks, we can do just about anything we put our minds to.

So let's do it.


# # #

Friday, June 22, 2012

Eighth District Court Advocates Playing Key Role in Demanding, Getting Justice

Several days ago, the Southwest Chicago Post was fortunate enough to attend the June meeting of the Chicago Police Department's Eighth District Court Advocacy Subcommittee, held as always at West Lawn Park.

Working as unpaid volunteers, court advocates attend select judicial proceedings to show support for crime victims and witnesses, as well as use their presence to make a positive impact upon judges and everyone else in the courtroom---a silent yet powerful reminder that the community stands united against crime and has an uncompromising insistence that justice be served.

While the men and women who serve as court advocates are modest and quick to say they are just ordinary folks---and they are---they are also, without a doubt, some of the best people on the Southwest Side. Smart and civic-minded, they comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. They make judges sit up and take notice, and they often help wipe the smirk off the faces of criminals and their defense attorneys.

They are truly the few doing the work of the many, and we were grateful to attend their meeting and ask a few questions of the committee leader, West Lawn resident Barbara Ziegler.

Our video about the court advocates is posted on the Southwest Chicago Post channel on YouTube:

Interested in joining their ranks or at least learning more information? Call the CPD Eighth District CAPS Office at (312) 747-8724 and ask to be put in touch with the Court Advocates.

# # #

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Clear-Ridge Historical Society Plans Bus Tour of Clearing and its Industrial District

The Clear-Ridge Historical Society will host a bus tour of the Clearing area at 1:00 p.m. Sunday, July 29.

Fasano Pie plant was at 65th and Melvina.
Tour stops will include the original Village of Clearing, the so-called "lost village" section, and remains of the Clearing Industrial District.

Tickets are $15 each ($10 for CRHS members). Payments can be dropped off at Midway Jewelers, 5635 West 63rd Street, or arrangements can be made by contacting the Society at

The Society's first bus tour, of historical sites in Garfield Ridge was sold out well in advance.

Video of the first part of that tour was shot and posted by the Southwest Chicago Post.

Continental Can factory before demolition
The Clear-Ridge Historical Society is a non-profit organization that formed in September of 2011 by the efforts of a small group of history-minded men and women for the purpose of preserving the history of the Garfield Ridge and Clearing neighborhoods and surrounding communities.

The Society holds programs every other month at the Clearing Branch Library, 6423 West 63rd Place, and maintains historical files at the library as well. Everyone is welcome to attend the Society's programs and view the files.

# # #

Garfield Ridge CAPS Meeting Recap

A recent Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS) meeting in Garfield Ridge yielded common concerns and calls for renewed citizen vigilance and cooperation with police in thwarting crime.

The June CAPS meeting for the Eighth Police District’s Beat 811 (see clickable beat map below) was held at Good Shepherd Church. About three dozen people attended.

Highlights included:

** Chicago Police Sergeant Allen Cain cautioned everyone about confidence artists who attempt to gain entry to people's homes by impersonating utility company employees. "If someone's at your front door and says they're from ComEd or People's Gas---and you didn't call them to come---chances are, they don't belong there. Don't hesitate to call 911 in a situation like that."

ComEd states that people can verify if a ComEd worker is in the area by calling 1-800-EDISON-1. ComEd also recommends that customers always ask to see a company photo ID before allowing any utility worker into your home or business; be skeptical of individuals wearing clothing with old or defaced company logos; and never pay on-site for services. ComEd employees never ask for cash payments, and ComEd employees do not engage in door-to-door sales or telemarketing.

** In general terms, Cain described the recent arrest of an 18-year-old Garfield Ridge man on strong-arm robbery charges as his "success story" of the month---prompting applause from the group and one person exclaiming, "We love our beat officers!" Cain did not name the man arrested or the specific location of the robbery, but details can be found in the Southwest Chicago Post's "Crime News Update" of June 17:

** As part of a larger discussion of burglary, Cain recommended that, to thwart garage burglars, people cut (or tie back) the emergency-release cord on their overhead doors. "A burglar can get into your garage in literally seconds," Cain said. "They use a crowbar to push down the top panel of your overhead door. Then they take a long piece of wire with a hook, like a coat hanger, and they use it to reach your quick-release cord and pop the door open. And they can do it so quickly and quietly, you'll never know it happened. I know this because it happened to me."

Emergency-release cords are designed to allow manual operation of a garage door, in situations where the automatic garage door opener does not work (because it is broken or during an electrical power outage, for example).

To see how a burglar can break into a garage via this method, click this link:

(Editor's note: In the video example, cutting the cord would not have deterred the burglar; yet cutting the cord or tying it back can definitely reduce the risk of burglary. Another way to thwart this burglary method is to purchase and install a product like Gaplock 009, which can be purchased online or through local garage door retailers.)

** Responding to audience complaints about the City of Chicago's slow response to graffiti removal requests, Cain said that "the best way to stop graffiti is to get rid of it as quickly as possible" and noted that graffiti in the west end of the district is much less of a concern than in the east end; and that graffiti in the west end is mostly "tagger" graffiti unrelated to gangs---prompting one audience member to say to another, "So we're in better shape than the east end. So what? That's no comfort to me. I don't give a damn what's happening at 63rd and Rockwell. I care about my neighborhood, and I want to know why the city all of a sudden is not getting graffiti removed." 

One audience member who said she is a member of the Eighth District's court advocacy program, reminded everyone of the importance of victims showing up in court on graffiti cases. "Look, police can catch a kid red-handed, with the can of spray paint in his hand. But if the victim doesn't show up in court, the kid walks. If it's your house or your garage or business that got hit, show up." As an example of victims failing to show up, she said that only two victims of the infamous SOAR tagger (said to have caused a total of $200,000 in damage to windows he etched across the city in recent years) actually showed up in court.

Editor's note: a little background on SOAR etcher and Southwest Side resident Eddie Garcia can be found here:

Cain added to the court advocate's observations by saying that graffiti victims may also send people to represent them, in cases where they are not able to attend court proceedings.

He also praised the court advocacy program as "unbelievable" and added, "As a police officer, I can't tell you how frustrating it is when you show up in court and there's no victim---nobody---there with you; yet on the other side, there's the offender with his entire family saying he didn't commit the crime. He was on his way to church, or he just got out of a Boy Scout meeting. But I'll tell you, when police turn around (in a courtroom) and see a row of those blue shirts (worn by Eighth District court advocates), it's a good feeling; and it lets the judge and everyone know the community is watching and the community cares."

Adding to the discussion, another audience member noted that victims who are afraid to go to court alone should know that court advocates will accompany them every step of the way, so that no victim is ever alone.

To learn more about the Eighth District court advocates, call program director and West Lawn resident Barbara Ziegler at 708-269-8833.

** Cain noted that recent crime statistics from Beat 811 may appear on the high side, if only because there was a recent fight at Kennedy High School in which 17 students were apprehended. Following up on that, a teacher at Kennedy asked Cain what the difference is between a gang and a crew. Cain responded by talking about the proliferation of gang factions, which he said make it more of a challenge for police to address gang crime.

** An audience member asked the Kennedy teacher about whether or not Kennedy students will be required to wear uniforms in the fall. The teacher noted that, on a trial basis this school year, students were not required to wear uniforms; and that she has not heard of uniforms being required for the 2012-13 school year. When asked her opinion on the matter, she expressed mixed feelings. "I prefer that they wear uniforms, but I am worn out from arguing with students over the rules. I became a teacher to teach. Not for this. And I'm tired of telling boys to pull up their pants because their boxers are showing," she said, to audience members' nods of agreement.

** Responding to complaints about youth-related crime at local parks, Cain said that police are paying special attention to parks. He said that in the previous month, a total of nine arrests and/or citations were made at Wentworth, Valley Forge and Stars and Stripes Park. In response, an audience member encouraged everyone to think before calling 911 about teenagers in local parks. "Most kids---our neighborhood kids---belong in the parks. We want them to use the park to play ball and other activities. We don't want you shagging kids who belong there. But if you see a very large group of kids just standing around and may be up to no good, then call 911," she said.

** An audience member reported that on her block, thieves had recently broken into three cars (one of which was locked; the other two may have been unlocked); and none of which was reported to police, because the owners said nothing appeared to be stolen. Cain expressed frustration upon hearing that. "OK, so nothing was stolen from those vehicles. But what about the next ones? Look, these crimes must be reported. We can't focus our resources where they need to be if we're not getting all the information we need."

Cain added, "I say this at just about every meeting. Lock your car doors---always. And don't leave anything inside that appears to have any value. Don't even leave your change where it's visible. They will smash your window for fifty cents. That's how bad it is. And don't leave your garage door opener in your car where it can be seen. That's an invitation for them to steal it. You do that, and you might as well hang your garage door key on your car antenna."

** An audience member complained about the annual detonation of illegal fireworks throughout the neighborhood, especially at Wentworth Park. Cain essentially acknowledged that most fireworks violations go unaddressed by police. He implied that such matters are relatively low priority compared to more serious matters. "It's tough enough to handle the crime we have, without going after every kid with a bottle rocket," he said and added that police will respond to calls of people with large caches of illegal fireworks. The audience member responded that police need to take illegal fireworks seriously---noting that every year, fireworks cause injuries and fires, "...and all the sulfur in the air is a public health hazard." Cain responded by stating, "Look at it this way: people shooting off fireworks at a park is less of a problem than if they were doing it on your block, by your house or garage."

** The National Night Out Against Crime is set for Tuesday, August 7, and there will be two observances in the Eighth District: one from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. at West Lawn Park and another (hosted by the Clearing Night Force) at Hale School and Park (with a prayer vigil starting at 6:30 p.m. and a neighborhood motorcade starting at 7:00 p.m.)

** It was noted that the City of Chicago and faith- and community-based organizations will host a citywide Gun Turn–In event on Saturday, June 23, as part of ongoing efforts to get guns off the streets of Chicago. The citywide Gun Turn-In will be held at 23 churches throughout Chicago. Between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., anyone can exchange a firearm, no questions asked, for a $100 MasterCard gift card. In addition, replica and BB-guns may be turned in for a $10 MasterCard gift card. In the Eighth District, the event will be held at the Chicago Islamic Center, 3357 West 63rd Street. Video ad about the event at:

The next CAPS meeting for Beat 811 is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. Tuesday, July 17 at the Good Shepherd Church, 5556 South Merrimac. All local residents are encouraged to attend. For more details, phone the Eighth District CAPS Office at 312-747-8724.
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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Clearing CAPS Meeting Roundup

A recent Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS) meeting in Clearing yielded common concerns and calls for renewed citizen vigilance and cooperation with police in thwarting crime.

The June CAPS meeting for the Eighth Police District’s Beat 812 (see clickable beat map below) was held at the Clearing Branch Library.

Highlights included:

** Responding to concerns about predatory pedophiles possibly in the area, police recapped the recent arrest on a "public indecency" charge of a Summit man who was allegedly masturbating in his car near 63rd and Austin, and who was alleged by some to have been watching teenage girls in the area. Police also discussed a claim by a 12-year-old Clearing boy that an unidentified man was staring at him he was standing at a urinal in the bathroom at Hale Park. CPD Sergeant Allen Cain noted that police are giving Hale Park more attention and that the situations are still being investigated. “Is there a sexual predator at Hale Park? No," Cain said. "But keep alert. If anyone acts suspicious, call 911.”  He added, "Please give detectives time to do their work.”

** There was discussion of a confidence game being played against senior citizens living near and 59th and Parkside. Men pretending to be ComEd employees were attempting to gain access to homes and would then rob people.

** Regarding alleged illegal drug activity at a residence near 63rd and Austin, Cain said that police tactical teams have not seen evidence of the activity reported by some neighbors.

** It was noted that the City of Chicago and faith- and community-based organizations will host a citywide Gun Turn–In event on Saturday, June 23, as part of ongoing efforts to get guns off the streets of Chicago. The citywide Gun Turn-In will be held at 23 churches throughout Chicago. Between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., anyone can exchange a firearm, no questions asked, for a $100 MasterCard gift card. In addition, replica and BB-guns may be turned in for a $10 MasterCard gift card. In the Eighth District, the event will be held at the Chicago Islamic Center, 3357 West 63rd Street. Video ad about the event at:

** There was discussion of the Emanuel Administration's handling of graffiti removal. CAPS facilitator and court advocate Barbara Ziegler mentioned the city's switch from delivering graffiti removal and other Streets and Sanitation services from a ward-based system to a "grid" system. She said the new plan is designed to allow Streets and Sanitation to saturate an area with graffiti removal services before moving on. She said that she had spoken with 13th Ward Alderman Marty Quinn, who reportedly said he was skeptical that the new system will work effectively in the 13th, 14th and 23rd Wards. She added that Quinn said he is in contact with Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Thomas G. Byrne to see what can be done.

** It was noted that with graduation house parties and other summer celebrations approaching, loud noises are prohibited by city ordinance after 10:00 p.m. and that loud, late-night parties should be reported to police.

** It was also noted that warmer weather means neighborhood carnivals. People at the meeting were advised to be cautious with workers employed by traveling carnivals.

** The National Night Out Against Crime is set for Tuesday, August 7, and there will be two observances in the Eighth District: one from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. at West Lawn Park and another (hosted by the Clearing Night Force) at Hale School and Park (with a prayer vigil starting at 6:30 p.m. and a neighborhood motorcade starting at 7:00 p.m.)

The next CAPS meeting for Beat 812 is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. Wednesday, July 11 at the Clearing Branch Library, 6423 West 63rd Place. All local residents are encouraged to attend. For more details, phone the Eighth District CAPS Office at 312-747-8724.

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The Writing's on the Wall, Mayor Emanuel.

By Tim Hadac
Managing Editor
Southwest Chicago Post

If Mayor Rahm Emanuel looked out his limousine's window and saw this scrawled on a wall across from City Hall... long do you think it would take the Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation to dispatch a graffiti blaster team to remove it?

Ten minutes? Perhaps 30? An hour at most?

But when gangbangers and other taggers spray their slop on buildings on the Southwest Side, City Hall flips us the bird---and the graffiti stays up longer than ever these days.

Everyone who lives on the Southwest Side knows it. The city used to remove graffiti in just a few days. Now it is taking literally weeks.

Gangbangers and taggers know this, too, of course; and they have unleashed an orgy of scrawlings on buildings, street signs, mail boxes, sidewalks, everywhere. Rest assured, gangbangers must love Rahm on this one.

The Emanuel Administration denies all this, of course. Streets and San, under orders from Emanuel to abolish the traditional ward-based service delivery system and switch to a citywide "grid" system, insists that things are improving. Check out this press release:

When asked for an on-record response from the Southwest Chicago Post, Streets and San Commissioner Thomas G. Byrne offered this:

"By working in a grid, we are able to respond to more 311 requests in a day because we are making the best use of our time. Since implementing this program, our daily crew productivity is up on average of 16 percent each day."

And just yesterday, mayoral spokesman Tom Alexander made this preposterous claim to a Sun-Times reporter:

“The new ‘blitz’ system for combating graffiti is doing a great job of getting rid of graffiti from our streets, saving taxpayer resources and keeping our communities clean and safe. We believe that the system is working well and has resulted in graffiti requests being handled promptly and efficiently."

I feel bad for everyone at Streets and San, from the Commissioner on down to the laborers on the front lines----because generally speaking, Streets and San is staffed with good people who know how to get the job done, quickly and effectively. And all of them know what the rest of us know; yet they are chronically understaffed, programmatically handcuffed and prohibited from speaking candidly by the Mayor's people on the fifth floor of City Hall.

So let's take them out of this and instead direct our criticism where it belongs---squarely at Mayor Rahm Emanuel---who has the power and resources to add enough graffiti removal teams to eradicate graffiti so quickly that gangbangers and other taggers will be frustrated to the point of just about giving up.

But Emanuel won't do it, and instead hides behind paid spokesmen trotted out to deliver cooked statistics, twisted rationalizations and even outright lies.


And why do our aldermen---for the most part---look the other way while our neighborhoods deteriorate?

Twenty-third Ward Alderman Michael R. Zalewski, quoted today in a Sun-Times article on the subject, just announced some sort of "get-tough" legislative package that proposes to increase penalties on those convicted of graffiti-related crimes and boost fines for parents/guardians of juveniles who commit such crimes.

I have a number of criticisms of plans like that. Here are just a few:

** How many gangs in Chicago would stop marking turf because city fines were increased? Answer: zero or near zero.

** How many parents/guardians of gangbangers and taggers, who currently have no control over their teenagers, would magically grow backbones and take control because city fines were increased? Answer: zero or near zero.

** Even if Alderman Zalewski's proposal sails through City Council (which it probably won't) and passes quickly, when would it take effect---and how would that help us right now, in the summer of 2012, with gang graffiti escalating each and every day? Answer: it most likely won't.

Don't get me wrong. I'll all for the criminal justice system giving a good, hard whack to those who mar our great city with graffiti--especially gangbangers. And let's credit Zalewski for at least attempting to do something about it, when our other aldermen...well, you be the judge.

But really, folks, what needs to be done now---this week---is for Mayor Rahm Emanuel to knock off the nonsense and do what he was elected to do.


If you agree that Mayor Emanuel should lead, do three things now, today:

** Call his office at 312-744-3300 and---politely, please (the exec secretaries who answer that line work very hard and earn every penny of their salaries)---say that you as a voting, tax-paying Chicagoan want the Mayor to know that you want him to immediately increase---even double---the number of Streets and San graffiti removal crews on active duty. (And rest assured that, despite what the secretary may tell you, she is noting what you say. Emanuel's mayoral staff, like that of Mayor Daley before, keeps close tabs every day on how many calls are coming in, and in relation to what issues. And the numbers can definitely influence mayoral decisions.)

** Go to Mayor Emanuel's Facebook page: and politely but firmly insist that the Mayor get serious about graffiti removal.

** Call your alderman's ward office and demand that he/she pressure the Mayor to get serious about graffiti removal.

If you don't speak up now, don't complain later when you see graffiti everywhere in the neighborhood. Remember, folks, we get what we put up with. If we put up with a mayor who can stop graffiti but won't, well...

Rahm Emanuel is a smart, capable man with a will of iron, nerves of steel and friends in high places---to say the least. There is absolutely no doubt he can get this graffiti problem fixed within days.

And if the Mayor gets on this and at long last gives Streets and San the tools they need to frustrate gangbangers and taggers, he will look like a hero---especially to the law-abiding, tax-paying, registered-to-vote majority in Chicago. And he'll be hated by the gangbangers.

So what about it, Mr. Mayor?

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