Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Update on "Rough Roads, Slow and Shoddy Repaving, and Excuses"

By Tim Hadac
Managing Editor
Southwest Chicago Post


Update: Still no response from the Emanuel Administration---specifically, the Chicago Department of Water Management and the Chicago Department of Transportation---regarding why our local streets (specifically, 63rd Street and Archer Avenue) have been torn up and gone so long with no prompt repaving.

Looks like what Emanuel said at his inaugural: "...taxpayers deserve a more effective and efficient government than the one we have today," is still true, 14 months into his tenure as mayor. What about that, Mr. Mayor?

The sloth of the Emanuel Administration aside, it was a genuine "At last!" moment to see a crew of contractors repaving a four-block stretch of 63rd Street today---from Austin to Narragansett.

Photo below---while the repaving crew itself was definitely working at a respectable pace on a hot summer day, the "Slow" sign kind of sums up the pace of the suits in the corner offices at Peoples Gas and City Hall. 

A repaving crew taking a break with a passing paletero near 63rd and Meade.



Text of original Southwest Chicago Post commentary from July 25:

We Deserve Better Than Rough Roads, Slow and Shoddy Repaving, and Excuses


The spring and summer of 2012 have not been good times for motorists in Clearing and Garfield Ridge.

In Clearing, most of 63rd Street has been torn up; and then either left that way or torn up and then filled in with rough-surface concrete---the largest stretch from Central to Narragansett, and a smaller stretch roughly between Sayre and Nottingham.

In Garfield Ridge, the westbound lanes of Archer (between Newland and Neva) have long been scarred with a vein of rough-surface concrete.

These rough surfaces are equally rough on cars and other vehicles. Tires blow out, shocks get more wear and tear, and alignments get thrown out of whack.


Great. Just what we need in the middle of this current economic depression, when money is so tight and people struggle just to put gasoline in the tank.

And it's no picnic for pedestrians, either. In May, when 63rd Street was closed entirely at the railroad tracks just east of Harlem, so many motorists drove south through the side streets to get to 65th Street---and so many of them were driving recklessly---that St. Rene School took the drastic step of temporarily disbanding its safety patrol because it could no longer reasonably ensure the safety of patrol members or any other boys and girls walking to school.


Much of the tearing up of streets has been caused by Peoples Gas' Accelerated Main Replacement Program, in which Peoples Gas is replacing the outdated cast-iron gas pipes in its natural gas delivery system with modern polyethylene pipes.

Peoples Gas says that the Accelerated Main Replacement Program will make it easier for customers to install today's high-efficiency appliances without the extra cost of pressure boosters. By moving the Peoples Gas system from operating on low pressure to the medium pressure, reliability will increase for both current appliances and newer high efficiency equipment, they say.

(You may have read about the Accelerated Main Replacement Program last month, when the Illinois Commerce Commission ordered Peoples Gas to refund about $2.3 million to customers---when it ruled that Peoples Gas may not pay for the replacement program with an unauthorized surcharge on gas bills.)

That aside, a gas main replacement/modernization sounds like a very good idea, right?

But must their road work be so disruptive and slow?

We asked Peoples Gas to explain themselves. They sent this statement to the Southwest Chicago Post:

~ ~ ~

Peoples Gas is spending more than $2.5 billion over the next 20 years in Chicago to modernize and replace more than 2,000 miles of aging pipes and install more than 315,000 meters in order to continue providing a safe and reliable supply of natural gas in Chicago. We realize that construction is not always a welcome sight, and we are sorry for any inconvenience our main replacement work may cause businesses or residents.

Where gas mains are being replaced.
We can confirm that with regards to the work we’ve undertaken around 63rd Street and Archer Avenue:

** on 63rd Street (eastbound from Central to Melvina), restoration is completed;

** on 63rd Street (westbound from Central to Narragansett), temporary restorations have taken place---as we understand the City of Chicago Water/ Sewer departments are due to start work soon; therefore, final restorations will not take place until their work is completed.

** on Archer Avenue (between Neva and Newland), Peoples Gas main replacement work is completed and temporary restorations have now been put in place with final restoration of the road taking place soon.

~ ~ ~

Some of the street disruption is due to the Chicago Department of Water Management installing 1,349 feet of eight-inch water main on 63rd Street, between Austin and Melvina---replacing a six-inch water main that dates back to 1924.

But here's where it gets worse: the Department of Water Management says they won't be finished until late September---and possibly even later than that if the weather does not cooperate. So we may be looking at October.

And while Water finished work on the Sayre-Nottingham stretch that it began in March, it has not yet been repaved appropriately. Why not?

We put questions to the Emanuel Administration---specifically, the Departments of Water Management and Transportation. We await their answers.

~ ~ ~

And the local reaction to all this? Well, as you might imagine, hundreds (if not thousands) of Clearing and Garfield Ridge residents---as well as people who drive through the area---have been complaining among ourselves and at public meetings.

These same complaints and questions have been put to local aldermen, who don't seem to be willing and/or able to get the work accelerated from its maddening snail's pace to something reasonable.

Example: At the recent meeting of the Garfield Ridge Neighborhood Watch, 23rd Ward Alderman Michael R. Zalewski spent a total of just nine seconds addressing the issue (granted, he was invited there to talk about graffiti), doing nothing more than acknowledging that people are "a little nuts" over the situation and saying "We're working on it."

Example: Thirteenth Ward Alderman Marty Quinn wasn't tight-lipped about the situation at last month's meeting of the Clearing Civic League. In response to several pointed questions from dissatisfied Clearing residents, Quinn said that he has met with Peoples Gas officials several times and that "...the meetings weren't pleasant." "I read them the riot act," he boasted; and regarding the slow pace of gas main replacement and street repair, Quinn said, "I told them 'You wouldn't pull this same stunt in Naperville.'"

Interesting assertion. Of course, if it's true, perhaps it's because elected officials in Naperville are more effective than Chicago aldermen who represent 63rd Street.

~ ~ ~

So anyway, what do the rest of us do about it?

Well, if you're OK with the rough roads and snail's pace repaving, do nothing.

If you're tired of the baloney and think you deserve better, speak up loud and clear.

Say or write something like this:

"My name is ( ). I live on the Southwest Side of Chicago. I pay my taxes on time, and I vote. As a good and responsible neighbor, I keep my home and yard in good shape. And I expect the streets in my neighborhood to be kept in good shape, too. Anyone who digs them up needs to put them back into good shape as quickly as possible---not next week, next month or next fall. So with all due respect, I want to know exactly what you plan to do to ensure that 63rd Street, Archer Avenue and any other local streets torn up in 2012 get repaved promptly and completely. I await your response. Thank you."

Or customize it and put it in your own words, respectful yet demanding and firm.


Put your questions publicly to Mayor Rahm Emanuel:

www.facebook.com/ChicagoMayorsOffice

and

www.facebook.com/rahmemanuel

Willard S. Evans, Jr.
...and reach out to Willard S. Evans Jr., president of Peoples Gas. Living up in Skokie, Mr. Evans is miles away from the Southwest Side. But he's a regular joe who grew up on the West Side and is an engineer by training. And he's married to an engineer. So perhaps he hasn't forgotten his roots--and certainly he understands the importance of good roads and being a good neighbor, right?

WSEvans@integrysgroup.com


Remember, folks, we get what we put up with.

# # #

Friday, July 27, 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.


* * *

Want to join your neighbors in a public show of strength against crime? Take part in the National Night Out Against Crime, which is set for Tuesday, August 7. 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.)







* * *

Burglars entered a house near 82nd and Tripp and stole valuables worth at least $10,000, according to the victim, a 64-year-old man.


The man came home at 10:00 a.m. Wednesday, July 25 and noticed his back door open. Stolen were two TVs, a CD player, assorted jewelry, a valuable fossil and the victim's extensive coin collection. Also stolen were the man's birth certificate, Social Security information, bank book and ownership titles to his motorcycle and SUV.

There was no sign of forced entry, and the man told police that he thinks he may have left his back door unlocked.

* * * 

Four Southwest Side boys---three from Garfield Ridge and one from Clearing---were arrested for allegedly attempting to break into a garage near 53rd and Melvina at about 4:00 p.m. Wednesday, July 25.

An off-duty police officer said he was driving by and saw the boys pushing hard on the overhead door, in an apparent attempt to gain entry. They damaged the door but failed to get in.

They then left and were followed by the witness, who called 911.

The four were quickly apprehended. The 60-year-old man who owns the garage was away on vacation; police contacted his son, who lives nearby. The son called his father to alert him.

Three of the boys are 14 years old. The fourth is age 15. Two of the four live within a block of the garage that was damaged.

They were all taken to the CPD Eighth District Station for processing and then transported to the Juvenile Intervention and Support Center at 3900 South California. Police attempted to contact their parents. Two boys were later picked up by their mothers; one by his father, and one by his 20-year-old brother.

* * *

A 16-year-old West Elsdon boy suffered a broken leg when a man who accused him of stealing a bike rammed him with his car in a parking lot at 5160 South Pulaski.

The boy and a friend were riding bikes at that address at 12:40 p.m. Monday, July 23 when the car pulled up swiftly and pinned the victim against another car.

The man jumped out hollered, "Why you steal my bike, bitch?"

He took the bike, put it in his car and drove away.

The victim was taken by Chicago Fire Department ambulance to Mt. Sinai Hospital. His mother was notified by police.

The boys described the offender as a white Hispanic man, 19 years old, 5'8 and 170 pounds, short black hair and medium complexion. Descriptions of the car differed.

* * *
5147 South Archer

A 34-year-old West Lawn woman, described by the police as intoxicated, got into an argument with another woman and was struck in the face by a beer bottle on the sidewalk in front of the Studio 31 lounge, 5147 South Archer.

The incident occurred at 7:45 p.m. Wednesday, July 25. She described her attacker as a white Hispanic woman, 25 years old, 5'5 to 5'7 and 150-160 pounds.
* * *

A 14-year-old boy from Brighton Park told police he was robbed on the sidewalk in front of 5032 South Kostner at 2:00 p.m. Wednesday, July 25.

The boy claimed that an unknown offender walked up to him and asked, "Are you a gangsta? If not, gimme your stuff or I'm gonna punch you."

The boy said he surrendered his wallet, cell phone, iPod, gold chain and eye glasses.

He then went home and told his 42-year-old mother, who called police.

The CPD incident report gave no description of the offender.

* * *
Burglars broke through the rear basement door of a home near 63rd and Kildare and stole a TV, a Sony PlayStation 3 video game console, a desktop computer, two watches, a purse and two bicycles.

The crime was discovered by the victim, a 43-year-old woman, when she came home from work at 9:00 p.m. Wednesday, July 25.

* * *






A 26-year-old West Lawn man claimed that for the second night in a row, he was accosted by three people in a maroon, four-door Chevy Blazer who tried to run him down.

The incident occurred at about 2:30 a.m. Thursday, July 26. The victim claimed that he had gotten off a bus and was walking home, when the vehicle jumped the curb near 62nd Place and Hamlin and chased him down the sidewalk.

He described the three people in the vehicle as two white Hispanic men and a white Hispanic woman with strawberry blonde hair. All are in their mid-20s, and all three are members of the same street gang, according to the victim.

* * *
Burglars kicked in the front door of a house near 50th and Keating and stole two TVs, a camera, an iPad, a laptop computer, two Sony PlayStation video game consoles, and assorted jewelry.

The crime was discovered by the victim, a 32-year-old woman, when she came home from work at 4:00 p.m. Monday, July 23. A neighbor interviewed by police said she heard a loud banging noise at about 11:00 a.m., and then later saw a black SUV drop off a white Hispanic man at the address---but she did not call police.

* * *
  
A 42-year-old man from downstate Hoopeston was arrested for allegedly panhandling and then threatening a Chicago Police officer.

Police report that at 8:44 p.m. Wednesday, July 25, they saw Anthony Schneider walking in traffic near 56th and Harlem---making the sign of the cross and holding out his hand to motorists.

After his arrest and while he was at the CPD Eighth District Station for processing, Schneider allegedly became belligerent and hollered "Touch me and I'll kick you in the head!" and "I'll kill you!" to an officer.


* * * 

In what police described as an ongoing feud between neighbors, a 59-year-old woman told police that one of her neighbors (a white man in his 20s) threw a dart at her, from his back yard to hers, near 62nd and Parkside. The incident reportedly occurred at about 2:45 p.m. Wednesday, July 25.

* * *

 Want to learn how to reduce your risk of being a burglary victim---and hear useful advice directly from ex-burglars themselves? Attend a free, two-part crime prevention seminar set for 7:00 p.m. Monday, August 20 in the Kennedy High School auditorium, 56th and Narragansett. One part will feature ex-burglars offering tips on burglary prevention; the other will focus on drug and alcohol abuse prevention for teenagers. High school students in need of "community service" hours for school may receive up to four hours' credit for attending the event. The event is hosted by the Garfield Ridge Neighborhood Watch group, and all Southwest Siders---not just Garfield Ridge residents---are welcome to attend.


# # #




Wednesday, July 25, 2012

We Deserve Better Than Rough Roads, Slow and Shoddy Repaving, and Excuses

By Tim Hadac
Managing Editor
Southwest Chicago Post


The spring and summer of 2012 have not been good times for motorists in Clearing and Garfield Ridge.

In Clearing, most of 63rd Street has been torn up; and then either left that way or torn up and then filled in with rough-surface concrete---the largest stretch from Central to Narragansett, and a smaller stretch roughly between Sayre and Nottingham.

In Garfield Ridge, the westbound lanes of Archer (between Newland and Neva) have long been scarred with a vein of rough-surface concrete.

These rough surfaces are equally rough on cars and other vehicles. Tires blow out, shocks get more wear and tear, and alignments get thrown out of whack.


Great. Just what we need in the middle of this current economic depression, when money is so tight and people struggle just to put gasoline in the tank.

And it's no picnic for pedestrians, either. In May, when 63rd Street was closed entirely at the railroad tracks just east of Harlem, so many motorists drove south through the side streets to get to 65th Street---and so many of them were driving recklessly---that St. Rene School took the drastic step of temporarily disbanding its safety patrol because it could no longer reasonably ensure the safety of patrol members or any other boys and girls walking to school.


Much of the tearing up of streets has been caused by Peoples Gas' Accelerated Main Replacement Program, in which Peoples Gas is replacing the outdated cast-iron gas pipes in its natural gas delivery system with modern polyethylene pipes.

Peoples Gas says that the Accelerated Main Replacement Program will make it easier for customers to install today's high-efficiency appliances without the extra cost of pressure boosters. By moving the Peoples Gas system from operating on low pressure to the medium pressure, reliability will increase for both current appliances and newer high efficiency equipment, they say.

(You may have read about the Accelerated Main Replacement Program last month, when the Illinois Commerce Commission ordered Peoples Gas to refund about $2.3 million to customers---when it ruled that Peoples Gas may not pay for the replacement program with an unauthorized surcharge on gas bills.)

That aside, a gas main replacement/modernization sounds like a very good idea, right?

But must their road work be so disruptive and slow?

We asked Peoples Gas to explain themselves. They sent this statement to the Southwest Chicago Post:

~ ~ ~

Peoples Gas is spending more than $2.5 billion over the next 20 years in Chicago to modernize and replace more than 2,000 miles of aging pipes and install more than 315,000 meters in order to continue providing a safe and reliable supply of natural gas in Chicago. We realize that construction is not always a welcome sight, and we are sorry for any inconvenience our main replacement work may cause businesses or residents.

Where gas mains are being replaced.
We can confirm that with regards to the work we’ve undertaken around 63rd Street and Archer Avenue:

** on 63rd Street (eastbound from Central to Melvina), restoration is completed;

** on 63rd Street (westbound from Central to Narragansett), temporary restorations have taken place---as we understand the City of Chicago Water/ Sewer departments are due to start work soon; therefore, final restorations will not take place until their work is completed.

**  on Archer Avenue (between Neva and Newland), Peoples Gas main replacement work is completed and temporary restorations have now been put in place with final restoration of the road taking place soon.

~ ~ ~

Some of the street disruption is due to the Chicago Department of Water Management installing 1,349 feet of eight-inch water main on 63rd Street, between Austin and Melvina---replacing a six-inch water main that dates back to 1924.

But here's where it gets worse: the Department of Water Management says they won't be finished until late September---and possibly even later than that if the weather does not cooperate. So we may be looking at October.

And while Water finished work on the Sayre-Nottingham stretch that it began in March, it has not yet been repaved appropriately. Why not?

We put questions to the Emanuel Administration---specifically, the Departments of Water Management and Transportation. We await their answers.

~ ~ ~

And the local reaction to all this? Well, as you might imagine, hundreds (if not thousands) of Clearing and Garfield Ridge residents---as well as people who drive through the area---have been complaining among ourselves and at public meetings.

These same complaints and questions have been put to local aldermen, who don't seem to be willing and/or able to get the work accelerated from its maddening snail's pace to something reasonable.

Example: At the recent meeting of the Garfield Ridge Neighborhood Watch, 23rd Ward Alderman Michael R. Zalewski spent a total of just nine seconds addressing the issue (granted, he was invited there to talk about graffiti), doing nothing more than acknowledging that people are "a little nuts" over the situation and saying "We're working on it."

Example: Thirteenth Ward Alderman Marty Quinn wasn't tight-lipped about the situation at last month's meeting of the Clearing Civic League. In response to several pointed questions from dissatisfied Clearing residents, Quinn said that he has met with Peoples Gas officials several times and that "...the meetings weren't pleasant."  "I read them the riot act," he boasted; and regarding the slow pace of gas main replacement and street repair, Quinn said, "I told them 'You wouldn't pull this same stunt in Naperville.'"

Interesting assertion. Of course, if it's true, perhaps it's because elected officials in Naperville are more effective than Chicago aldermen who represent 63rd Street.

~ ~ ~

So anyway, what do the rest of us do about it?

Well, if you're OK with the rough roads and snail's pace repaving, do nothing.

If you're tired of the baloney and think you deserve better, speak up loud and clear.

Say or write something like this:

"My name is (               ). I live on the Southwest Side of Chicago. I pay my taxes on time, and I vote. As a good and responsible neighbor, I keep my home and yard in good shape. And I expect the streets in my neighborhood to be kept in good shape, too. Anyone who digs them up needs to put them back into good shape as quickly as possible---not next week, next month or next fall. So with all due respect, I want to know exactly what you plan to do to ensure that 63rd Street, Archer Avenue and any other local streets torn up in 2012 get repaved promptly and completely. I await your response. Thank you."

Or customize it and put it in your own words, respectful yet demanding and firm.


Put your questions publicly to Mayor Rahm Emanuel:

www.facebook.com/ChicagoMayorsOffice

and

www.facebook.com/rahmemanuel

Willard S. Evans, Jr.
...and reach out to Willard S. Evans Jr., president of Peoples Gas. Living up in Skokie, Mr. Evans is miles away from the Southwest Side. But he's a regular joe who grew up on the West Side and is an engineer by training. And he's married to an engineer. So perhaps he hasn't forgotten his roots--and certainly he understands the importance of good roads and being a good neighbor, right?

WSEvans@integrysgroup.com


Remember, folks, we get what we put up with.

# # #
 

Tuesday, July 24, 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.

* * *

A 30-year-old Chicago Lawn man was arrested early Sunday morning for allegedly burglarizing a garage near 61st and Keeler.

Roberto Aguero was charged with burglary and possession of burglary tools.

Roberto Aguero
Police responding to a "burglary in progress" call at 3:31 a.m. Sunday, July 22 spotted Aguero exiting a back yard and walking into the alley between Keeler and Tripp. He matched the description given by a citizen who had called 911.

Upon seeing police, Aguero reportedly fled on foot, but was apprehended by police near 62nd and Tripp after a brief chase.

Police say they checked a book bag Aguero was carrying and found a car battery charger and a flashlight inside. In response to their questions, Aguero allegedly claimed that the battery charger was his and that his car had broken down on 59th Street.

They brought him back to the home where they had first seen him. The garage's service door was open. Police questioned the homeowner, who identified the charger and flashlight as his.

Further, police said that Aguero was using his cell phone and head phones to monitor the Chicago Police Department's Zone 6 radio channel, in an apparent attempt to stay a step ahead of the police. What Aguero may not have known is that police channels that stream on the Internet often do so not in real time, but on a delayed basis. For example, Zone 6 radio is streamed on a delay of at least 90 seconds.

* * *

Burglars entered a first-floor apartment near 63rd and Kostner and stole a TV set.

The crime was discovered by the victim, a 33-year-old woman, when she came home at 11:00 p.m. Saturday, July 21. There was no sign of forced entry, and the woman told police she thinks the burglars removed her window-unit air conditioner and crawled in through the rear window.

* * *

Two criminals used an elderly woman's kindness against her---stealing $210 cash, a pearl ring, and a gold necklace with a heart-shaped "Mom" pendant from her home near 58th Place and Karlov.

At about 7:00 p.m.Saturday, July 21, a man rang her front door bell. When the 75-year-old woman answered, the man claimed to be a prospective home buyer and asked if the house next door was for sale. He then asked if she would let him into her back yard so he could get a better look at the house next door. Another man with him remained behind.

When she led him to her back yard, she left her front door unlocked. Later, she noticed the cash and jewelry missing.

She described the thieves as possibly Gypsies. The man she spoke with was about 36-43 years old, 5'7 to 5'8 and 130-150 pounds, light complexion with brown eyes and short brown hair. The men were driving a black flatbed-style truck.

* * *

Burglars broke through the service door of a garage near 51st and Lockwood and stole assorted tools.

The crime was discovered by the victim, a 46-year-old woman, at 7:00 a.m. Friday, July 20.

* * *

A 50-year-old Garfield Ridge man checking on his mother's house near 52nd and Luna on Friday, July 20 told police that burglars had stolen $10,000 in jewelry and $10,000 in prescription medication, along with a DVD player.

The man's 74-year-old mother had recently gone to live with her daughter, and the son was checking the home and taking in the mail. The burglars apparently entered via the home's back door.

* * *

Burglars damaged the overhead door of a garage near 51st and Sayre, but failed to gain entry. They apparently used a crowbar to pry down the top panel of the door, in an unsuccessful attempt to open the door via the emergency-release cord. (This method was discussed at the CAPS Beat 811 meeting in June by CPD Sergeant Allen Cain, who recommended that everyone cut or at least tie back their emergency-release cords.)

The crime was discovered by the victim, a 55-year-old woman, 12:30 a.m. Monday, July 16. She reported it to police on Friday, July 20.

* * *

Burglars entered the basement window of a home near 58th and Kilbourn and stole a laptop computer.

The crime was discovered at 6:10 p.m. Friday, July 20 by a 46-year-old Chicago Lawn man who is a friend of the victim, a 37-year-old man. The friend called the victim, who came home from work and notified police,

* * *

Burglars entered the back window of a home near 67th and Kedvale and stole three TVs, a digital camera and a gold necklace.

The crime was discovered by the victim, a 31-year-old woman, when she came home at 6:15 p.m. Friday, July 20 and saw her back door open..

* * *

Want to learn how to reduce your risk of being a burglary victim---and hear useful advice directly from ex-burglars themselves? Attend a free, two-part crime prevention seminar set for 7:00 p.m. Monday, August 20 in the Kennedy High School auditorium, 56th and Narragansett. One part will feature ex-burglars offering tips on burglary prevention; the other will focus on drug and alcohol abuse prevention for teenagers. High school students in need of "community service" hours for school may receive up to four hours' credit for attending the event. The event is hosted by the Garfield Ridge Neighborhood Watch group, and all Southwest Siders---not just Garfield Ridge residents---are welcome to attend.

# # #

GRNW Volunteers Put "Good Neighbor" Words Into Action, Help Homeowner


By Joan Hadac
Editor and Publisher
Southwest Chicago Post

As you may recall from the story we posted back on May 9, the Garfield Ridge Neighborhood Watch (GRNW) organization has expanded beyond its original crime prevention work to include assisting neighbors in need.

http://www.swchicagopost.com/2012/05/garfield-ridge-neighborhood-watch.html

In the video that accompanied the story, GRNW members were attempting to contact a local homeowner whose severely dilapidated back fence was in need of demolition and rebuilding. Several neighbors had complained to the alderman's office about the situation; but rather than see the elderly homeowner slapped with citations and fines, GRNW members stepped in with a positive approach---an offer to assist her with donated materials and labor.

Weeks later, the GRNW succeeded in reaching the homeowner. After introductions and an explanation, GRNW members overcame her initial wariness---and that's certainly understandable, because it's not every day in Chicago when nice neighbors show up at your door and in good faith offer to repair your home for free. Really folks, that kind of thing occasionally happens in Amish country; but in Chicago, a big gritty city on the make?

Well, believe it, because that's exactly what's happening in Garfield Ridge these days, where the GRNW has just launched its "Good Neighbor Program"---an effort to fight crime indirectly by helping neighbors in need and promoting a sense of caring, cohesiveness and common good.

And Sunday evening, the GRNW put its words into action. A half dozen unpaid volunteers---six of the very best people you'll find in Garfield Ridge or anywhere in Chicago---showed up to remove the fence and other rotted materials attached to the carport, trim overgrown weeds and ready the debris for hauling away by Streets and San.

They'll be back in the days ahead to rebuild the fence. We plan to be there to capture it on photo and video, and report it back to you.

In the meantime, if you live in Garfield Ridge, please consider joining the GRNW and doing your part to make the neighborhood a safer and better place for all. Contact them their via their website: www.garfieldridgenw.com  and attend their next public event, a two-part crime prevention seminar set for 7:00 p.m. Monday, August 20 at the Kennedy High School auditorium. One part will feature ex-burglars offering tips on burglary prevention; the other will focus on drug and alcohol abuse prevention for teenagers. High school students in need of "community service" hours for school may receive up to four hours' credit for attending the event.

If you live elsewhere on the Southwest Side, join your local civic or crime prevention group and help start a similar "good neighbor" initiative. Let's make all our neighborhoods places where we not only watch out for each other, but reach out to help each other.

video


# # #

Saturday, July 21, 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.

* * *

A local cell phone store was burglarized twice within seven hours earlier this week.

5101 South Cicero
The Boost Mobile store at 5101 South Cicero was first burglarized at about 11:45 p.m. Wednesday, July 18. Police responding to a burglar alarm saw the front door window smashed and the door itself ajar.

A store manager who met police at the scene claimed that the burglars had stolen 70 cell phones worth a total of $12,000.

The window was boarded up, and the store was secured.

The alarm was triggered again at 6:40 a.m. Thursday, July 19. Police responding discovered that the boarded-up door had been pried open. The Boost Mobile manager who met police said that $300 cash was missing, as well as an unknown number of cell phones.

The store manager told police that images of the crime were captured by the store's security camera. 

* * *

Across the parking lot from the Boost Mobile store, a Cricket cell phone store at 5133 South Cicero was robbed at 11:55 a.m. Tuesday, July 17.

5133 South Cicero
A thug walked in the store's east entrance (facing the parking lot and the alley between Cicero and Keating), flashed a handgun, stole $200 from the cash register, and ordered the sales clerk into the manager's office before fleeing.

The clerk described the criminal as a black man, 30 years old, 6'1 and 220 pounds, medium complexion, wearing a black baseball cap, white gym shoes, and a blue plaid short sleeve shirt.

* * *

Burglars forced open the service door and overhead door of a garage near 45th and Keeler and stole a lawn mower and four vehicle jack stands.

The crime was discovered by the victim, a 60-year-old man, at 4:00 a.m. Thursday, July 19.

* * *

Burglars broke into the back door of a house near 50th and Kostner and stole a laptop computer and a TV.

The crime was discovered by the victim, a 39-year-old woman, when she returned home at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, July 19 and found the back door ajar several rooms in disarray with cabinets knocked down and clothes strewn about.

* * *

Burglars broke through the service door of a garage near 44th and Kedvale; but only stole a radio/CD player because they were scared off by a burglar alarm that deployed.

The crime was discovered by the victim, a 36-year-old woman, at 4:00 a.m. Thursday,July 18.

* * *

Burglars kicked in the back door of a house near 68th and Karlov and stole two TVs, a digital camera, two Nintendo D Si handheld game consoles, and one Sony PlayStation 3 video game console.

The crime was discovered by the victim, a 24-year-old woman, when she returned home at 9:00 p.m. Thursday, July 19.

* * *

Burglars pried open the service door of a garage near 62nd and Parkside and stole a tool set and a power drill.

The crime was discovered by the victim, a 27-year-old man, when he returned home from work at 5:30 a.m. Friday, July 20.

* * *

An 18-year-old Little Village man told police that an unknown assailant knocked him down and forced him to hand over his wallet on the sidewalk in front of 5020 South Kedvale.

The victim said he was leaving a friend's house at about 10:30 p.m. Monday, July 16 when a man approached and asked if he had any change. When the victim said he did not, the attack began, and the attacker fled on foot, west on 51st Street.

He described the attacker as a white Hispanic man, 25-35 years old, 5'6 and 180 pounds, brown eyes and short black hair, light complexion, wearing a white t-shirt and beige pants.

The police incident report did not indicate what, if anything, was in the wallet.

* * *

A 35-year-old Uptown woman was shot by an assailant with a BB gun near 47th and Kilpatrick at 1:30 a.m. Tuesday, July 17.

The woman said she walking to her car after leaving a friend's home when she heard three shots. She told police she immediately felt a sharp pain in her lower back. She got in her car and planned to drive home; but the pain made her detour to the emergency room at St. Elizabeth Hospital, where she was treated and released.

* * *

Burglars forced open the rear door of a home near 52nd and Hamlin and stole a laptop computer and assorted gold jewelry.

The crime was discovered by the victim, a 46-year-old man, when he and his family returned home from lunch at 2:00 p.m. Monday, July 16.

* * *

Burglars forced open the side door of a home near 61st and Pulaski and stole a TV, a stereo, a laptop computer, a Sony PlayStation 3 video game console, a DVD player, assorted gold and diamond jewelry, and $800 cash.

The crime was discovered by the victim, a 63-year-old woman, at 9:00 a.m.Monday, July 16.

She or someone else apparently frightened off the burglars before they could finish the job, since more valuables were found stacked near the side door. 

* * *

Burglars forced open the side door of a garage near 48th and Kedvale, smashed the driver's side window of a 2004 Chevy Malibu parked inside and stole the car's stereo before fleeing in a dark-colored SUV.

The crime was discovered by the victims, a 45-year-old woman and a 49-year-old man, when their garage's silent alarm was tripped at 12:55 a.m. Wednesday, July 18.

They caught a glimpse of the criminals and described them to police as two white men, both about 5'10; one with sandy-colored hair and the other with black hair.

* * *

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, July 24. Learn how you can work with neighbors and police to make the community safer and better for all.


# # #












Friday, July 20, 2012

Zalewski Talks About Proposed Ordinance to "Get Tough" on Taggers, Gang Graffiti

Alderman Michael R. Zalewski
While the fate of his proposed "get tough on graffiti" ordinance is uncertain, 23rd Ward Alderman Michael R. Zalewski said earlier this week that he is counting on Southwest Siders to help make the case for stronger punishments for those who deface property,

Zalewski's remarks were made at the July meeting of the Garfield Ridge Neighborhood Watch (GRNW) organization, held at Valley Forge Park. About three dozen people were in attendance.

Video of Zalewski's comments is posted on the Southwest Chicago Post channel on YouTube.

www.youtube.com/SouthwestChicagoPost

Zalewski's proposed ordinance would increase fines attached to graffiti-related crimes, and it would move such cases away from the Chicago Department of Administrative Hearings and to the Cook County Circuit Court system---which Zalewski said would mean that some found guilty of graffiti offenses would serve jail time in the "Hotel California" (County Jail at 26th and California), as opposed to merely paying fines.

Garfield Ridge Neighborhood Watch officers
The Chicago Department of Administrative Hearings was created in 1996 to speed up the prosecution of certain violations of city ordinances, including those related to graffiti. Prior to that, many cases went unresolved for months or more because of a severe backlog of cases in court. Zalewski did not speculate on whether moving graffiti cases back to court would slow down prosecution. 

The alderman said that the City Council will hold hearings on the proposed ordinance in August or early September. He implied that passage of the measure is not certain and acknowledged that a number of other alderman may not agree with his idea to stiffen punishments.

* * *

Also at the GRNW meeting,

► Garfield Ridge resident Elizabeth Hayes, a Democratic nominee for Circuit Court judge, gave a brief presentation explaining how the court system handles criminal felony cases.

► All GRNW members and Southwest Siders are encouraged to make plans to attend a two-part crime prevention seminar set for 7:00 p.m. Monday, August 20 at the Kennedy High School auditorium. One part will feature ex-burglars offering tips on burglary prevention; the other will focus on drug and alcohol abuse prevention for teenagers. High school students in need of "community service" hours for school may receive up to four hours' credit for attending the event.

► Ron Koperniak provided an update on the GRNW's Adopt-A-Block program, stating that 20 blocks in Garfield Ridge are now linked to the GRNW with block leaders who share important crime prevention information on a neighbor-to-neighbor basis and who promote a sense of unity and camaraderie on the blocks.

► An update was provided on GRNW efforts to help a local homeowner of limited means near 58th and Neva. The GRNW has secured donated lumber and volunteer carpenters to mend a 15-foot section of dilapidated fence in the back yard. After months of difficulty contacting the woman to gain her consent to perform the free work, GRNW President Al Cacciottolo said the group has made contact with the homeowner, "a very nice woman, a sweet old lady." The work is expected to be done soon.

► An audience member who lives near 55th and Austin said her home had recently been burglarized. She expressed frustration that the criminals responsible were caught on video but not prosecuted because their faces were not visible. She said the thugs are local young men who hang around Wentworth Park. Others in the audience showed signs of recognition; Cacciottolo asked a GRNW board member to confer with the woman after the meeting and work on a solution. 

► Cacciottolo noted that several thefts of potted plants and yard ornaments have occurred recently in the neighborhood, and he expressed puzzlement. "Why anyone would steal potted plants, I don't know. That's crazy. Let's hope they (the plants) die soon," he said, to audience chuckles.

► The crime prevention event at Kennedy High School will serve as the GRNW's August meeting. After that, the next GRNW meeting is scheduled for 7:30p.m. Monday, September 17 at a location to be announced. For more details, visit www.garfieldridgenw.com.

# # #

Monday, July 16, 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.


* * *

(Editor's note: Kedzie Avenue is a little east of the area the Southwest Chicago Post covers; but we thought you'd find this incident to be interesting reading.)

A 38-year-old man who reportedly threw a beer bottle into the face of a waitress at the Just One More sports bar, 5332 South Kedzie, was chased out of the bar by angry patrons and beaten up---suffering injuries that led to a Chicago Fire Department ambulance ride to the emergency room at Holy Cross Hospital.

Jose Lopez of the Little Village neighborhood was arrested by police and charged with one misdemeanor count of battery for allegedly throwing the bottle.

The incident occurred at about 12:40 a.m. Thursday, July 12. The bottle hit the waitress, a 35-year-old woman from Brighton Park, in the face and caused bleeding above her upper lip. She later refused CFD medical treatment.

The bar patrons caught up with Lopez across the street from the bar---near a shuttered Tastee Freeze at 53rd Place and Kedzie. While on the ground, Lopez received multiple punches and kicks. By the time police arrived, the patrons had scattered; no one on the scene admitted to knowing anyone who took part in the beating.




* * *

Burglars broke into a home near 57th and Kostner and ripped out copper tubing in the basement.

The crime was discovered by a 26-year-old woman who told police that she had lived there, but was in the process of leaving. She came to the home at 4:00 p.m. Thursday, July 12 and saw the front door ajar, and a broken window in the front door.

She walked inside and said she smelled the odor of a gas leak and heard the sound of running water. In the basement, she and police discovered water gushing from a pipe and the basement flooded with about 14 inches of water.

* * *

Burglars broke through the rear door of a home near 58th and Hamlin and stole a Sony PlayStation 3 video game console, a cell phone, assorted gold jewelry and four bottles of liquor.

The crime was discovered by the victim, a 36-year-old woman, when she came home from work at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 12.

* * *

Burglars broke through the front door of an apartment near 76th and Kostner and stole a desktop computer, a laptop computer, a printer, a TV, a DVD player, a stereo, a floor safe, assorted jewelry and watches, a knife/fork/spoon set and $2,000 cash.

The crime was discovered by the victim, a 57-year-old man who uses the apartment as a secondary residence, at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, July 11.

* * *

A 52-year-old woman came home from shopping at a store to find the bedroom of her house near 53rd and Harding ransacked, at 12:55 p.m. Wednesday, July 11.

She told police that several items were missing, including a laptop computer, two Nintendo Wii controllers, and assorted jewelry.

According to police, there was no sign of forced entry. The victim said that when she came home, the doors were closed and locked.

* * *

Police responding to a call at 3:20 a.m. Sunday, July 15 found a 21-year-old West Lawn man lying on a lawn in front of 6558 South Kolin, about a half-block away from his home, bleeding from multiple stab wounds.

The victim was transported to Christ Hospital and Medical Center.

A witness told police he had heard a loud argument shortly before he saw the victim lying in the grass. The offender was described as a white Hispanic man, 5'10 to 6'0 and 250 pounds, with long black hair and wearing a black t-shirt.

* * *

Burglars broke into a garage near 50th and Kilpatrick and stole a number of auto parts and accessories, including 8 wheels with tires, two condensers, an air blower, a radiator, two seats and seven Camaro mouldings.

The criminals also damaged the victim's 1995 Honda Accord in an unsuccessful attempt to break into the vehicle.

The crime was discovered by the victim, a 28-year-old man, at 10:00 p.m. Thursday, July 12.

* * *

A 41-year-old West Lawn man walking home from a bar was robbed at 56th and Kostner by two thugs at 4:00 a.m. Thursday, July 12.

Speaking through an interpreter, the man told police that a man sitting on a front porch called out to him and asked if he had a cigarette. As the victim walked towards him, a second man walked out of a gangway and approached.

The victim said the two men began punching him and stole his wallet---which contained his matricula card. He was later treated for his injuries at Mt. Sinai Hospital. 

He described the attackers as 25-35 years old and of Arab or other Middle Eastern origin.

* * *

Burglars pried open the back door of a home near 65th Place and Springfield and stole two TVs, a portable air conditioner, a glass TV stand and a lawn mower.

The crime was discovered by the victim, a 63-year-old man, 4:30 p.m. Thursday, July 12.

* * *

If you live in Garfield Ridge and want to prevent crime and build a better neighborhood, please attend the next meeting of the Garfield Ridge Neighborhood Watch, set for 7:30 p.m. Monday, July 16 at Valley Forge Park, 7001 West 59th Street. Scheduled guest speaker is 23rd Ward Alderman Michael R. Zalewski and judicial candidate Elizabeth Hayes. For more information, visit www.garfieldridgenw.com.


# # #


Friday, July 13, 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.

* * *

A 40-year-old Garfield Ridge man was arrested on Monday, July 9 after he allegedly beat his 65-year-old neighbor.

Martin Dooley was charged with a count of misdemeanor battery. Police had sought charges on a felony count of aggravated battery, because the victim is a senior citizen. However, according to CPD News Affairs, the office of Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez declined.

(Editor's note: The Southwest Chicago Post contacted Alvarez's office on Thursday afternoon for an explanation. Our request was acknowledged quickly; but 24 hours later, we still have not received an explanation.)

The victim, a retiree, was reportedly cleaning up broken glass in and around his daughter's car, parked in front of his home near 57th and Mayfield at 10:28 a.m. According to the victim, Dooley walked over from his home across the street and became aggressive and verbally abusive. He demanded a cigarette and began tugging on the victim's shorts.

He then allegedly threw the victim to the ground, jumped on top of him and began punching him in the mouth. He also reportedly hit the victim in the head with the bucket before getting up and walking back to his house.

Police responding to a "battery in progress" call found Dooley at his home and arrested him without incident.

The victim was bleeding and given first aid by the Chicago Fire Department. His head wound required stitches, according to police, but he refused to be transported to a hospital.

Police said that the day before the attack---Sunday, July 8---Dooley was arrested for criminal damage to property. A neighbor told police that at about 11:30 p.m. she saw Dooley trespassing in the 65-year-old victim's back yard, using a pry tool to force open a basement window, and kicking in the basement window.

He then allegedly walked through the gangway to the front of the victim's home and used the tool to smash the driver's side window of a 2002 Dodge Neon belonging to the victim's 30-year-old daughter.

He was arrested by police shortly afterwards at his home across the street.

(Editor's note: Because Dooley was charged with a misdemeanor offense, no Chicago Police Department mug shot is available.)

* * *

Burglars kicked in the rear door of a residence near 54th and Springfield, ransacked the first-floor and basement apartments, and stole a total of two TVs, a digital camera, a Sony PlayStation 3 video game console, a laptop computer, three gold necklaces, a pair of diamond earrings, a gold watch, 20 Chicago White Sox baseball caps, and $1,000 cash.

The crime was discovered by one of the victims, a 19-year-old woman, when she came home from a dental appointment at 2:00 p.m. Tuesday, July 10.

* * *

A 33-year-old West Lawn man told police that five burglars stole a lawnmower and a tool set from his garage near 59th and Karlov.

At about 3:15 p.m. Monday, July 9, the man ran into 59th Street and flagged down police to report the crime. He described the offenders only as three white Hispanic men and two white women riding in a brown Chevy Blazer.

* * *

Burglars broke through the overhead door of a garage near 54th and Neenah and stole a 25-foot aluminum ladder belonging to a local real estate firm.

The crime was discovered at 5:00 p.m. Saturday, July 7 by a 60-year-old Garfield Ridge man who manages the property.

* * *

A 46-year-old woman walking outside to check her garage near 50th and Kedvale at 2:15 a.m. Monday, July 9 said she saw a burglar walking out the service door---and fleeing on foot when he saw her.
She told police that the offender had stolen her wallet out of her car, which was parked in the garage. She had left the driver's side window down. In her wallet, she said, were several credit cards, as well as her matricula card.

She described the burglar as a black man, 5'11 and 160 pounds, with black hair.

* * *

If you live in Garfield Ridge and want to prevent crime and build a better neighborhood, please attend the next meeting of the Garfield Ridge Neighborhood Watch, set for 7:30 p.m. Monday, July 16 at Valley Forge Park, 7001 West 59th Street. Scheduled guest speaker is 23rd Ward Alderman Michael R. Zalewski and judicial candidate Elizabeth Hayes. For more information, visit www.garfieldridgenw.com.


# # #