Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Protection Against Abusive Cabbies

Opinion by John T. "Red" Ryan


ADMITTEDLY, MOST OF our neighbors do not find themselves availing the service of a taxicab very often. On those very rare occasions when we do, it is as a mode of transportation to or from the venue of one's catching an airliner. This may be a very short taxi ride to our local airport, Midway or a somewhat longer journey up to O'Hare Field. Recently it has come to our attention of how our citizens can be subjected to rude, dangerous and even criminal behavior by a small minority of unscrupulous and unruly cabbies. Southwest side neighbors in Clearing and Garfield Ridge have related their horror stories to us, all concerning Taxicab abuses and trips to or from the airports.

ONE CLEARING FAMILY was subjected to verbal abuse and physical threats because the cab driver did not want to take a short run from Midway to the nearby destination, near 63rd & Narragansett. When the cabbie finally did render his service very reluctantly, he sped off (peeling rubber) when he dropped the family at their home. In our own personal story, a taxi driver attempted to collect a double fare from this writer by insisting our home (52nd and Natoma) was in another municipality other than the City; insisting that Chicago's western boundary was Austin Avenue at that point. 

REPORTS FROM SOME contacts we have in the Police Department's Traffic Division/Public Vehicle Enforcement unit told us of incidents where taxi operators left O'Hare Field with passengers, stopped on the Kennedy Expressway, threw their baggage on the shoulder and left the people on the roadside. This is said to have occurred several times in an effort to avoid the "dreaded" short haul run.

JUST A LITTLE education in the subject of the Public Vehicle laws and operational rules  can and would eliminate the further occurrence of such incidents. First of all, let's debunk a couple of bits of bogus info that continue to circulate. First, as a prospective taxicab paying rider, one is entitled to any cab that is sitting in a line; not as you may hear only the first one. Secondly. a cabbie must accept a fare regardless of one's destination. 

THE BEST PROTECTION against abuse by the criminal element who masquerade as legitimate drivers is by being observant and knowing your rights as well as the procedures that the Public Vehicle commission uses to police the behavior of drivers. The cabbies may be called in for a hearing concerning any procedural rule misconduct and (of course) are subject to criminal prosecution for any acts in violation of the law. As a citizen, protect yourself by always making note of the taxicab's number and, if possible, the cabbie's name and chauffeurs' license number; which should be prominently displayed. The Public Vehicle Operations even has a downloadable complaint form available.


FOR MORE COMPLETE Information on this topic, we refer you to:
          City of Chicago, Department of Business Affairs & Consumer Protection
                      Public Vehicle Operations Facility
                      2350 W. Ogden Avenue, First Floor
                           Chicago, IL 60606
                           (312) 746-4600
                       cityofchicago.org/bacp
              
~ ~ ~

John T. “Red” Ryan is a retired Chicago police officer and Garfield Ridge resident. 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

‘Yarn Bomb’ Dropped on Archer Avenue

Afghans on trees bring color, whimsy, art to Garfield Ridge

By Joan Hadac
Editor and Publisher
Southwest Chicago Post

Public art has made a rare appearance in Garfield Ridge, as four volunteers last Sunday
quietly wrapped about a dozen trees in colorful afghans at the Lech Walesa Triangle at the “five corners” intersection of Archer, 55th Street and Narragansett.

The “yarn bomb” effort is the brainchild of Garfield Ridge Chamber of Commerce President Mary Ellen Brown.

A Clearing resident, Brown—owner of Midway Storage, 5660 W. 55th St.—was assisted in her Mother’s Day task by her husband, Sam Carreon, and two daughters, Tala Morales and Jaqui Pilamunga.

Brown said the idea began taking shape almost a year ago.

"It really began last summer when I was visiting Eureka Springs, Arkansas,” she said. “The chamber of commerce there had done the same thing, and I figured we should try it up here to see how it looks."

Later, Brown got on the Internet and started visiting Pinterest. "I learned it was called 'yarn bombing,'" she said.

Brown decided to make it a family project. "I reached out to all the senior organizations I knew, but they all told me they didn't knit or crochet and didn't know of any groups that did. One senior finally agreed to put up a notice at the Senior Center near the 5400 block of Archer Avenue. That did the trick.”

Garfield Ridge resident Cherie Neville, who Brown said "crochets for fun," said she would donate some afghans to the cause. Neville gave Brown 15 blankets she had made.

"I don't think she quite understood we were using her blankets as art. I don't think she understood the concept, but she still donated her crocheted blankets. She usually donates the afghans to the VFW or gives them to the homeless in winter. She really enjoys crocheting and does it for fun," Brown said.

She added, "I started with a red, white and blue theme, but since we only had two
crocheters, we went with whatever colors they gave us."

The other person who donated afghans was Brown's mother-in-law, West Lawn resident Clara Carreon, who also crochets for fun, Brown said.

"At first she was like, 'We're going to be putting these on trees?' but when she drove by she just loved it," Brown said.

According to Brown, Carreon wasn't the only one. "A lot of people drove by and told us it looked nice."

"We hope to leave the afghans up all summer. We'll take them down before then if they start to look raggedy," Brown said.

Brown hopes she can repeat the process around Christmas and will be looking for Christmas-themed donations.

"I think this adds something to the area. I hope it puts a smile on peoples faces as they drive by," she said.


# # #

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Garfield Ridge Run is More Than Fun

About building a stronger and safer community

By Tim Hadac
Managing Editor
Southwest Chicago Post

A typical 5K run is held for fitness, fun and often to raise funds for a charity.



The inaugural Garfield Ridge Stars & Stripes 5K Run, set for
Saturday, July 1, is all that and something more.

“This is more than a race—it’s basically a community challenge,” said Garfield Ridge Neighborhood Watch President Al Cacciottolo, whose crime-fighting organization is a supporter of the effort. “We want as many people as possible to run in the race—but for those of us who are not in shape to run a race like that, we want everyone to step away from the TV, the computer, whatever, and go out to the curbs of the course and cheer on the runners, and get outside and meet each other. A secure neighborhood starts with good people making connections, of getting to know each other and look out for each other.”

A number of the runners will be police officers, firefighters and active-duty military, he added.

“That’s one reason this is being held on July 1,” Cacciottolo added. “It’s just before the Fourth of July, and it follows the annual Patriot’s Day Parade (set for Friday, June 30 this year). In a way, it’s an opportunity for our community to step outside and thank those men and women who protect us.”

He said the hope is to “make this into a big event as years go by. There are runs like this in other Chicago neighborhoods, like Beverly and Lakeview—as well as a number of suburbs. Why not here in Garfield Ridge? We’re every bit as good as they are.”

The race will start and end at Wentworth Park, 57th and Narragansett. The course stretches as far west as Nordica Avenue, as far east as Merrimac, and between 56th and 59th Streets.

Opening horn sounds at 8 a.m., and an awards ceremony in the park at 9:30 will end the morning’s action.

The entire event is a product of Tri-Builders, a non-profit youth triathlon team that since its founding in 2013 has worked to encourage boys and girls to embrace physical fitness, said West Lawn resident Juan Ortega, a founder of the group, whose daughters—age 15 and 13—are members in the group.

A catcher and outfielder for Kelly High School back in the 1990s, Ortega today participates in distance running and related events.

“Tri-Builders is unique in this part of Chicago,” he said Tuesday at a meeting of the Garfield Ridge Chamber of Commerce, where he introduced the event to local business leaders. “We encourage all parents to check us out, and we look forward to a successful event on July 1.”

Participants must be capable of maintaining a 16:00/mile pace for the 5K run. There are six categories for adult runners and six for youths.

Entry fee is $25 for adults, $15 for children age 12 and younger. Registration and more information can be found at tri-builders.org.

# # #


Monday, April 24, 2017

Crime News Update

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

* * *

CPD sergeant saves life of shooting victim
An 18-year-old West Lawn man was shot in the left thigh as he walked down the street in front of 6141 S. Hamlin at 10:01 p.m. Tuesday, April 18. The victim told police that two thugs shouted a gang slogan and fired four shots at him before fleeing.

The victim was found bleeding excessively, police said, adding in a statement that “a friend of the victim was desperately attempting to slow the bleeding by use of a sweatshirt” when a CPD sergeant “intervened and applied a tourniquet. The sergeant's quick action effectively inhibited blood loss until Chicago Fire Department personnel arrived.”

The victim was transported to Advocate Christ Medical Center, where he was listed in stable condition. CPD declined to name the sergeant, but noted that she is a 25-year veteran of the force and currently works the third watch in the Chicago Lawn (8th) District and has Law Enforcement Medical and Rescue Training (LEMART).

Bridgeport men beaten after Archer bar argument
An argument that reportedly started at a Garfield Ridge bar turned into a fight that ended several blocks away at 4:09 a.m. Wednesday, April 19.

Police responding to a “person down” call to a parking lot at 5301 S. Harlem said they found two Bridgeport men—ages 24 and 28—lying on the pavement. The 28-year-old had been beaten and the other man had broken bones after being hit by a vehicle on Harlem Avenue as he tried to run away from the attackers.

A 23-year-old Bridgeport woman with the two men told police that the bar’s manager knows the offenders—who sped away in a white Cadillac--and could provide their names. A witness—a 28-year-old Cicero man who was driving by on his way to work—described the attackers as four or five Hispanic men armed with bottles or baseball bats. Both victims were transported by CFD ambulance to Loyola University Medical Center.

* * *

Want to work directly with Chicago Police to prevent crime in your neighborhood? If you live in Beat 813 or 833 (see map), come to West Lawn Park at 7:00 p.m. Tuesday, April 25 and attend your monthly CAPS meeting. Hear updates on crime in your neighborhood and learn how you can work with neighbors and police to make the community safer and better for all.


Beggar threatens cabbie at Dunkin’ Donuts
A cab driver was threatened by a beggar as he parked his cab and walked toward the Dunkin’ Donuts at 4657 S. Cicero at 6:30 p.m. Friday, April 21.

The victim, a 33-year-old Oak Forest man, told police that after he turned down the beggar’s request for money, he pulled out two knives—one in each hand—and said, “B~tch, I’ll kill you.” The offender also claimed to have a gun, which the victim did not see. The victim threatened to call police and took a cell-phone photo of the offender before leaving.

Later in the day, the victim returned to Dunkin’ Donuts. While inside, a witness told the cab driver that a man had just used a knife to puncture a tire on his SUV. The victim shared his cell-phone photo with police, who said the suspect is a 31-year-old Hearst area man, from the 4600 block of South Leamington. The suspect remains at large.

Robbery victims end foot chase after shots fired
A 21-year-old Clearing man and an 18-year-old Justice man were robbed at gunpoint as they sat in a car parked in the alley behind 6104 West 63rd Place at 10 p.m. Thursday, April 20.

The victims told police that two teenage boys walked up, one pulled a handgun and demanded their belongings. The victims surrendered two cell phones and a wallet containing a bank card and $500 cash, they told police.

After they were robbed, the victims chased the offenders on foot to 63rd Place and Melvina, where one of the robbers fired two warning shots in the air, causing the victims to break off the chase. The robbers were described as Hispanic boys age 14-17, about 5-foot-4. One wore a gray hoody and tan pants, and had either braces or a retainer on his teeth.

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Visiting friend, robbed and carjacked
A 24-year-old Scottsdale man was robbed at gunpoint just after he got out of his SUV to visit a friend in the 4100 block of West 80th Place at 10:15 p.m. Wednesday, April 19.

The victim told police that as many as six men converged on him. One pulled a gun and said, “Give me everything.” The victim handed over a cell phone. The others searched his pockets and took his vehicle’s keys. They piled in and sped away east on 80th Place. They were described only as black boys or men age 16-20, wearing dark clothing.

Garage on Kilpatrick burglarized
Burglars smashed the side window of a garage in the 5000 block of South Kilpatrick and stole a power saw, an air compressor, a snow blower, an aluminum-bending machine and assorted other tools. The crime was discovered by the victim, a 28-year-old woman, at 10 a.m. Friday, April 21.

Tools, tents taken from storage unit
Burglars entered a storage unit at 4222 S. Pulaski and stole assorted power tools and two sleeping tents. The crime was discovered by the victim, a 29-year-old Chicago Lawn woman, at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 19. She told police there was no sign of forced entry at the unit, which she had not checked since April 1.

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Babysitter’s away, burglars kick in back door
Burglars kicked in the back door of a home in the 4400 block of South Karlov and stole a TV, a cell phone, $150 cash and assorted jewelry. The crime was discovered by a babysitter, a 56-year-old Lemont woman, when she returned to the dwelling at about 5 p.m.—four hours after she had left with the victim’s two children to run errands. The victim, a 37-year-old woman, said her home does have a security system, but it was not armed on the day of the crime.

Bikes, speakers, tools swiped from garage
Burglars forced open the overhead door of a garage in the 5400 block of South Kostner and stole two bicycles, a snow blower, a lawn mower, a lawn edger, two car speakers, a generator and assorted power tools. The crime was discovered by the victim, a 41-year-old woman, at 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 19.

(Editor's note: 64th and Rockwell is considerably east of the Southwest Chicago Post's coverage area, but we include the incident report below, if only to illustrate the abuse that police on the front lines get from citizens, all too often.) 

Charge teen with weapons violation after foot chase
A 17-year-old Chicago Lawn boy was taken into custody on a gun charge after police chased him into an apartment building at 6352 S. Rockwell at 2 p.m. Thursday, April 20. Police on patrol said they spotted the teen walking down the street, adjusting his waistband as if to conceal something. He ran into the apartment building and ignored numerous commands to stop, police said, who added that they saw a handgun sticking out of his waistband. During the pursuit in the building, a number of residents emerged to scream and curse at police, officers said. The suspect them emerged from a basement bedroom, reportedly hollering, “What the f~ck you stopping me for?” Police took the teen into custody and recovered a loaded pistol that they said had been ditched out a bedroom window. The teen was taken to the Chicago Lawn (8th) District station for processing.



# # #

Thursday, April 13, 2017

St. Mary Star of the Sea Parish Again Hosting Popular Plant Sale; Order Now!

spring plant sale, sponsored by St. Mary Star of the Sea Parish, is underway.

Fancy geraniums in four-inch pots are $1.75 each.
Geraniums (stock photo)

Begonias, impatiens, marigolds, pansies and periwinkles are $1.00 each.

Tomato plants (cherry, beefsteak and early girl) are $1.50 each.

Pepper plants (green and jalapeƱo) are $1.00 each.


Cherry tomatoes (stock photo)
Cucumber plants are $1.00 each.

This is a very popular annual sale, so pre-orders are strongly recommended.

To pre-order, call Barbara at (773) 735-7222.

Pick-up of plants will be 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Friday, May 12 and 8:00 a.m. to noon Saturday, May 13 at the St. Mary Star of the Sea rectory garage, 6435 South Kilbourn.




# # #

Monday, April 10, 2017

Crime News Update

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

* * *

Woman in car shot near 51st Street
A 24-year-old woman was shot in the left shoulder while she was a passenger in a northbound vehicle near 51st and Kostner at about 11:25 p.m. Saturday, April 8. The victim was transported by friends to Holy Cross Hospital, where she was treated for a graze wound. There was no description on the shooter and no indication that the victim was the target.

Man shot on Gage Park sidewalk
A 32-year-old Garfield Ridge man was shot in the left arm as he walked down a sidewalk in front of 3530 W. 51st St. at about 4 p.m. Wednesday, April 5. Interviewed by police in the emergency room at Mount Sinai Hospital, the victim said the shooter shouted a gang slogan and fired as many as five shots from a gold-colored SUV. He added that a Good Samaritan drove him to the hospital. Police said they later found no evidence of a crime scene in the 3500 block of West 51st Street.


* * *

Want to work directly with Chicago Police to prevent crime in your neighborhood? If you live in Beat 812 (see map), come to Clearing Branch Library at 7:00 p.m. Wednesday, April 12 and attend your monthly CAPS meeting. Hear updates on crime in your neighborhood and learn how you can work with neighbors and police to make the community safer and better for all.



Gangbangers fire at Oak Lawn man
A 19-year-old Oak Lawn man reported that three gangbangers in a car fired shots at him as he drove south on Pulaski, near 76th Street, just after 10 p.m. Thursday, April 6. The victim told police that a black four-door Mitsubishi sedan pulled alongside his car and the occupants shouted gang slogans at him. One reportedly pulled a machine gun and started firing in his direction. To elude the attackers, the victim made a u-turn and headed north, striking another vehicle. He then turned east onto 76th Street, parked and started running to a relative’s house for safety. Police said neither the victim nor his vehicle was hit by gunfire. The victim reported the crime two hours later. The three offenders were described as Hispanics age 20-29. The shooter was described as a man with black hair and a medium complexion. The driver was described as a man with long black hair and a medium complexion. The front-seat passenger was described as a woman with brown hair in a bun.

Thug robs woman outside hot dog restaurant
A 59-year-old woman was robbed at gunpoint as she prepared to unlock the door at Nicky’s Hot Dogs, 4601 S. Pulaski, at 5:20 a.m. Thursday, April 6. The victim told police that she was accosted by a thug who pointed a handgun at her and said, “Give me money.” He then pushed her, entered her vehicle and snatched her purse before running away east on 46th Street. The purse contained cash, credit cards, a cell phone and other items. The criminal was described as a white man age 20-25, wearing a black hoody and black jeans.

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Comcast worker robbed at knifepoint
A 21-year-old Comcast technician was robbed at knifepoint as he worked in an alley behind 5139 S. Leclaire at 12:05 p.m. Tuesday, April 4. The victim told police that two thugs waving knives walked up, with one saying, “Don’t move, or I’ll slit your throat” while he held a knife to his back. The other offender rummaged through the Comcast truck, stealing wire, wire cutters, crimpers and other tools. The criminals then got into a light green truck and sped away east on 51st Street. The victim suffered no injuries. The thugs were described as Hispanic men age 25-30 about 5-foot-7 and 150 pounds, wearing red bandannas, black t-shirts and black pants. 

Knife-wielding robber takes book bag
A 24-year-old Alsip man reported that he was robbed at knifepoint as he stood in a parking lot at 4343 S. Pulaski at about 6 p.m. Thursday, April 6. The victim told police that a thug pointed a knife at him and asked for his book bag, which he surrendered. The bag contained an iPad and other items. The offender was described only as a black man about 30 years old.


* * *

Want to work directly with Chicago Police to prevent crime in your neighborhood? If you live in Beat 814 (see map), come to the Vittum Park Field House at 7:00 p.m. Thursday, April 13 and attend your monthly CAPS meeting. Hear updates on crime in your neighborhood and learn how you can work with neighbors and police to make the community safer and better for all.


* * *

Thug with Sox cap robs Game Stop
A thug robbed Game Stop, 7945 S. Cicero, making off with $45 cash, at 8:55 p.m. Monday, April 3. Two clerks told police that the criminal walked in and said, “Don’t mess with me or f~ck with me, or I’ll kill you.” He did not show a gun or any weapon, but herded the employees to a back room before he took the cash and another item, which was later found on the front lawn of a home in the 7800 block of South Keating. The robber was described as a black man age 20-25, about 5-foot-8 and 160 pounds, with brown eyes and a medium complexion. He wore a White Sox cap with a red brim and a black hoody.

Gun-wielding teens threaten motorist
A 17-year-old West Lawn girl reported that two teen boys threatened her and her brother—a 28-year-old Alsip man—with guns at 65th and Karlov at 8:42 p.m. Friday, April 7. The victim told police that she was a passenger in a car driven by her brother, when they saw two boys on opposite sidewalks pointing pistols at them. In an attempt to dissuade the teens, the male victim rolled down his window and said, “I have my kids and family in here.” One of the teens on the sidewalk replied, “Then you wanna leave, because you don’t wanna hear the sound I’m about to make.” At that point, the victims sped away and the offenders ran into a nearby house. The 17-year-old victim said she knows the boys with guns and gave their names to police.

Back of the Yards man hit with trespass charge
A 53-year-old Back of the Yards was charged with criminal trespass to a residence after he
Daniel Mejias
was apprehended by police in the 5400 block of South Oak Park at 9:53 a.m. Tuesday, April 4. Daniel Mejias, of the 4900 block of South Honore, was arrested by police responding to a “burglary in progress” call in the 5300 block of South Oak Park. Mejias was positively identified by the victim, police said.


U-Haul store on 47th Street burglarized
A burglar smashed the front glass door of the U-Haul store at 4705 W. 47th St., entered, found a hidden key and used it to open a safe and steal $400 cash. The crime was discovered by a manager when she came to open up for the day at about 6:30 a.m. Thursday, April 6. Surveillance video showed that the crime occurred about six hours earlier. The burglar was described as a man about 21-30 years old, wearing a red hoody, dark blue jeans and white gym shoes.

Jewelry, cash taken from home
Burglars broke into a home in the 4100 block of West 78th Street and stole assorted jewelry and $1,600 cash. The crime was discovered by the victim, a 40-year-old man, at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 5.

Tools, clothes swiped from garage
Burglars broke into a garage in the 6100 block of South Keeler and stole assorted clothes and hand tools. The crime was discovered by the victim, a 27-year-old woman, at 12:05 a.m. Friday, April 7.


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Bike rack taken in garage burglary
Burglars broke into a garage in the 6700 block of South Kostner and stole a bike rack. The crime was discovered by the victim, a 20-year-old man, at 7 a.m. Tuesday, April 4.

Tool chest, vacuum stolen from garage
Burglars kicked in the service door of a garage in the 5200 block of South Ridgeway and stole a mobile tool chest and tools, as well as a shop vacuum. The crime was discovered by the victim, a 36-year-old man, at 7 a.m. Tuesday, April 4.

Bottled water, toilet paper swiped from garage
Burglars forced open the service door of a garage in the 4900 block of South Kedvale and stole a case of bottled water, a case of toilet paper and a garage-door remote control. The crime was discovered by the victim, a 45-year-old man, at 5 a.m. Tuesday, April 4.




# # #

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Pick Up the Torch, People of Clearing

Opinion
By Tim Hadac
Manging Editor
Southwest Chicago Post

More than a year ago—14 months, specifically—I waved a red flag about the dilapidated state of the Clearing Civic League and urged men and women of good will to step forward and pick up the torch, so to speak.

Sad to say, the torch is still lying on the ground, its flame growing weaker.

I say that after seeing the latest edition of the CCL’s monthly newsletter, in which editor Marie Zilka—an exceptional woman who has served the league and the larger community so faithfully for so many years—noted that the CCL is now “in dire need” of leadership.

Nominations for the year’s officers will be accepted at the group’s May meeting.

If no one steps forward, the group will be without a president, vice president, recording secretary and sergeant-at-arms.

“In the past year, four officers have passed away, and the remaining officers are over 70 years of age, Marie Zilka added in the newsletter.

It’s almost a “last one out, turn off the lights” situation.

That’s sad because the Clearing Civic League, founded in 1960, has a long history of effective neighborhood advocacy—most notably several decades ago under the leadership of its longtime president, the late Richard Zilka. The CCL was an important voice in fighting blight and promoting prosperity in the neighborhood.

Neighborhood groups like the Clearing Civic League have a proud history in Chicago and across the nation--fostering the good and fighting the bad, speaking truth to power, rallying people around important causes, and reminding us all that the common men and women are the real owners of a community--not politicians or big business or street gangs. 

Reminding us, too, that there is strength in numbers and that when smart men and women stand up and stand together, they can work wonders they could not work alone.

So who will pick up the torch in Clearing?

I’m not asking that rhetorically. This is a real challenge to the 20,000 or so people who live in Clearing.

There are thousands of smart, able-bodied men and women in Clearing, yet the Clearing Civic League’s meetings typically attract just a couple dozen—typically good people who have been coming for years, but are generally tired at this point.

So I challenge those who have not yet stepped forward—men and women in their 20s, 30s, 40s. If you’re waiting for the other guy to do it, he won’t. It’s up to you.

Please don’t be intimidated by the fact that you may be relatively new to the neighborhood—and CCL members are typically old-timers who have been around for decades. All of them were once “the new guy” in the group.

Here’s my challenge to current CCL members: do everything you can to make newcomers feel welcome. Offer a handshake, introduce yourself—and for heaven’s sake, smile. I’ve lost count of how many silent sourpusses I’ve seen at civic meetings across the Southwest Side over the years.

Clearing Civic League meetings are typically held on the second Tuesday of the month at Hale Park, 6258 W. 62nd St. The next one is set for 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 11. See you there?

# # #




Monday, April 3, 2017

Ignore federal law at your own peril

Opinion by John T. "Red" Ryan

SO NOW, THIS situation concerning so-called "Sanctuary Cities," the federal government and long existing laws never fails to amaze. Being that the actions taken by certain cities (including one that is right here on Lake Michigan) and their chief executive officers (aka "mayors") are by their very nature in violation of long standing U.S. law concerning immigration, legal visitation and integrity of our borders. All together, the laws mentioned are the heart of what makes the USA a sovereign nation.This latest development to which we refer is the latest pronouncement from the office of our own Chicago mayor.

THE INNOVATION THAT Rahm Emmanuel has thrown out for our citizenry's consideration calls for an official City of Chicago photo I.D. card for those here illegally. By its very nature, it would appear to have little or no value. It also seems that it would inherent qualities of the sort of word commonly called an oxymoron. That is defined in the dictionary as: ".........a figure of speech by which a locution produces an incongruous, seemingly self-contradictory effect." It certainly begs the question as to why would someone here in the United States in violation of the law would wish to have documentation that would appear to confirm and substantiate the fact.

AND THIS IRONICALLY comes at a time when those on the political Left are vigorously advocating the outlawing of any sort of picture identification card used as a condition of casting one's ballot at election time. This sort of faulty thinking makes for a fine addition to a similarly flawed suggestion that was floated around a year or two back. It was suggested by the Governor of some state that those illegals should be issued drivers licenses. This presumes that persons without valid licensing (or were suspended or revoked) wouldn't drive a car. (Well, we invite that governor and anyone else to consult their local police; who would tell that the only thing tat keeps these guys from driving is when they are arrested and only for that short period of time.)

BUT ALL OF this brings us back to our Mayor's suggestion for an Illegal Resident card. Other than this being a sort of publicity maneuver, we wonder just what was the motivation behind such a pronouncement?

FIRST OF ALL, we know that as a politician, he wants to retain his office. The conventional, true or not,  wisdom seems to be that sympathetic attitude toward the plight of the Spanish speaking community. This theory (and it's only that) would seem to be bolstered by the weak showing that Emmanuel had in his Mayoral Election against challenger, Jesus "Chuy" Garcia in 2015; which led to a runoff as neither had a majority in the first round.

OR MAYBE THIS is a ploy to create yet another layer of the Municipal Bureaucracy. The founding of a City of Chicago, Department of Undocumented Immigrants could  prove to be a great shot in the arm for expanding the patronage army.  The hiring of those new employees by way of the old "Spoils System" would surely expand the ranks of "Ward Heelers" and bolster the number of political operatives around the polls at election time.

PERHAPS WE'RE BEING just a tad too tough on Mr. Emmanuel. He could well be on to something with this highly specialized identification card. It could be expanded and include other classes of those who are live in violation of various areas of that which is illegal. Hence, we could see various classes of ID's, such as (but not limited to): Gangbangers, Stick-up Men, Burglars, Car Thieves, Drug Pushers, etc.

BUT THEN, OF course, we'd be inviting the civil liberties types would take up arms against such regulations on the grounds that those being identified would be unfairly exposed to the general public in a highly negative manner. With this we would agree and are reminded that whereas any who are here without benefit of a legal status are breaking the law; even if in only a minor technical sense.

BUT OUR MAYOR must also remember that any public official who violates Federal Law is subject to prosecution. And if the Mayor of Chicago doesn't think that this can happen, we offer in evidence the following local names; all were prosecuted by the G Men for various violations of Federal Law. They are: Governors Otto Kerner, George Ryan &  Rod Blagevich; Congressmen Dan Rostenkowski & Jesse Jackson, Jr.; also more aldermen than we can remember.

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John T. “Red” Ryan is a retired Chicago police officer and Garfield Ridge resident. 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Say "No" to Short-Term Home Rentals, 13th Ward Alderman Marty Quinn Says

By Tim Hadac
Managing Editor
Southwest Chicago Post

Sounding an alarm about what he calls “a new threat to the
Alderman Marty Quinn
safety of our neighborhoods,” 13th Ward Ald. Marty Quinn is rallying thousands of homeowners to sign petitions to block short-term rentals of homes or rooms in homes in his ward.


“Short-term rental of housing may work in other parts of the city, but the Southwest Side was laid out as a community of single-family homes,” Quinn said earlier this week. “When you tamper with that, when every one of those homes can suddenly and without warning become what amounts to a hotel, you tamper with the character of our neighborhoods, with our quality of life.”

Changes to Chicago’s Municipal Code made last year allow most Chicagoans to rent their homes—or spaces within their homes. Proposed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the changes “ensure that the city has the tools it needs to protect consumers and quality of life in our neighborhoods while allowing the emerging house-sharing industry to grow,” the mayor said in a statement last year.

After months of legislative wrangling, the City Council approved the changes last August in a 43-7 vote. Quinn and 18th Ward Ald. Derrick Curtis were the only Southwest Side aldermen to vote against the changes.

Months after the changes, a check of the house-sharing industry’s leading website, airbnb.com, shows that a number of dwellings across the Southwest Side—and citywide—are currently available for short-term rentals.

Founded in 2008 and based in San Francisco, Airbnb describes itself as “a trusted community marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodations around the world…in more than 65,000 cities and 191 countries.”

Southwest Siders looking to rent their homes or rooms within their homes can now “showcase it to an audience of millions,” according to Airbnb.

Too many question marks are associated with those millions, Quinn said, citing two examples of short-term home rentals gone wrong.

“These are extreme examples, but there was a situation near 112th and Longwood Drive where a house was rented by a gang members for a New Year’s Eve party—and once they were in, they live-streamed their party on Facebook, taunting a rival gang,” Quinn noted. The rival gang members headed over to the dwelling, and by about 3:45 a.m. New Year’s Day, three people had been shot.

Quinn also recalled a situation where a man renting a room in a residence on the West Side was found to be making a bomb.

The alderman added that several Southwest Siders have told him of their discomfort with such rentals. One complained about renters drinking and coming and going “at all hours” from a rented house next door.

Currently, Quinn is seeking citizen signatures in 23 precincts in his ward, with a possibility of future expansion. If 25 percent of people in a given precinct sign the petition, short-term home rentals would essentially be banned in that precinct for four years.

Quinn is joined in the effort by Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan, as well as the Garfield Ridge Neighborhood Watch, which has for years fought unregulated rentals of single-family homes, especially by absentee landlords.

Thirteenth Ward residents interested in more information or signing a petition are advised to call the Madigan-Quinn Service Office at (773) 581-8000, according to a letter sent to residents of the targeted precincts.

Click here to read a Southwest Sider's opinion on this issue.


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Single-Family Homes Are Not Hotels


Opinion
By Joan Hadac
Editor and Publisher
Southwest Chicago Post

The single-family home I own is not in the 13th Ward, so I did not receive Alderman Marty Quinn’s recent letter about these new short-term home rental regulations. Click here for details.

But I’ve seen the buzz in local Facebook groups about his letter, and I’ve seen person after person in his ward respond with an enthusiastic “Yes!” to his call for 13th Ward residents to step forward to sign a petition to block short-term rentals in the ward.

If I had one word to say to Alderman Quinn, it’s “Amen!”

Make it two words, and I’d say, “Thank you!”

This is exactly the kind of leadership we need here on the Southwest Side, and fortunately, we have it—well, at least in one ward.

Why our mayor—and most other aldermen—would decide to blow open the gates and allow short-term, temporary rentals of single-family homes is beyond me.

Really, why have zoning laws if we’re going to ignore them?

Sure, I’ve read the mayor’s statement on the changes made last year, couched in layers or reassurances that City Hall will maintain a watchful eye on short-term rentals and crack down where necessary. It sounds good on the surface.

But in a part of the city loaded with city workers and retired city workers, we know better. In situations like this, we know such City Hall assurances are empty, if only because the city workforce has shrunk so much in recent decades, there basically are no more inspectors. They retired and weren’t replaced.

Advocates for the changes will characterize short-term housing rental as a harmless process, like offering a spare bedroom to an out-of-town cousin or a clean-cut college student coming here to attend a conference.

If that’s all it is, I might support it.

But it’s not.

Among other things, this gives the opportunity for absentee landlords to make money at the expense of those of us living here.

Reminds me of a situation we had a short walk away from Normandy Park, about five years ago. An elderly woman—an empty nester--who owned a single-family home downsized to a condo in the suburbs.

But with the real estate market being slow, she could not sell her Garfield Ridge home for what she wanted. So as a temporary measure, she rented it out to a nice young man.

Only he wasn’t so nice. What the elderly woman did not know was that this young man’s nickname was Baby Face, and he was a gangbanger working to establish his gang in Garfield Ridge. Night after night, Baby Face and his gangbanger pals sat on the home’s front porch, flashed gang signs and made verbal threats and other attempts to intimidate the neighbors—men, women and children alike.

Standard stuff for a gang, I know, but it caused shock and outrage in peaceful, law-abiding Garfield Ridge.

Fortunately, our neighborhood watch caught wind of the situation promptly and took action, working with our local police commander to pay a visit to the suburban landlady and—well, let’s just say convince her—to evict Baby Face and his buddies promptly. And that’s what happened.

Granted, most people who’d rent a residence on a short-term basis are not here to cause trouble, and certainly won’t.

But some are, and will.

My concern with this new situation is that it opens the door for a hundred Baby Faces—and my neighbors and I have no interest in fighting battle after battle every time bad guys appear out of nowhere.

Besides, I see no need for homes across the Southwest Side to suddenly turn into motels. There is short-term rental lodging available all around—most notably the Bedford Park hotel cluster at 65th and Cicero, with more to come along the Chicago side of Cicero Avenue. There are always vacancies.

So my advice to those who visit Chicago and want lodging? Welcome--we hope you enjoy your stay.

And "get a room," as we used to say.

Just not on my block.

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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Crime-Fighting Patrols May Start This Year in the Vittum Park Neighborhood

By Tim Hadac
Managing Editor
Southwest Chicago Post

The Garfield Ridge Neighborhood Watch’s crime fighting efforts—limited to the central and western sections of the neighborhood since its founding in 2011—may soon expand east to include the rest of the community, GRNW officials announced this week.

“What happens east of Central Avenue affects those of us

living west of Central,” said GRNW President Al Cacciottolo. “Whatever we can do to help our neighbors to the east, we definitely will.”

The announcement was made at the GRNW’s March meeting, held Monday night in Brennan Hall at St. Daniel the Prophet Parish. About 75 people attended.

Cacciottolo said he was asked at a recent Vittum Park Civic League meeting if the GRNW would help the VPCL establish a crime-fighting presence.

“The civic league members said, ‘We’re Garfield Ridge, too,’ so I said yes, of course, we’ll help,” the GRNW president said. “But our role will mostly be limited to sharing our organizational abilities to help getting their effort up and running. They themselves will have to take the lead and do the day-in, day-out work of street patrols and other neighborhood watch activities—and that’s as it should be.”

The Vittum Park area had a neighborhood watch program
GRNW members talk with top local CPD officials.
decades ago, according to longtime VPCL President Phil LoPresti, anchored by local men who patrolled in their own cars at night, typically in touch with each other via two-way radios.


The existence of a neighborhood watch made Vittum Park a more attractive community and helped convince LoPresti to buy a home there in 1972, he said.

VPCL’s neighborhood watch efforts have not yet taken shape, and it is unclear at this point if patrols will include all of eastern Garfield Ridge or simply the blocks around Vittum Park.

“I like the way the Garfield Ridge Neighborhood Watch operates,” LoPresti said the day after the GRNW meeting. “They patrol at all different times of day and night, and not just from their cars. They have people walking, on bikes and so forth. It’s good to have good people with their eyes and ears open.”

LoPresti said he hopes that whatever effort takes shape east of Central Avenue will also include neighboring communities like unincorporated Central Stickney (an area from 47th to 51st Street, Laramie to Central).

He added that if such a crime-fighting effort is to be successful, “we must have younger people step forward and volunteer. Our civic league is a good group, but we’re not that big and our membership is older than it was.”

The issue is expected to move forward at the next VPCL meeting, set for 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 4 at the park fieldhouse, 5010 W. 50th St. All local residents are invited to attend.

Still one of the safest and most desirable residential areas in the city, the eastern section of Garfield Ridge has seen its share of high-profile crime in the last year—including the fatal shooting of a pizza delivery driver last December and the robbery and beating of a 94-year-old woman in her own home near 51st and Lorel.

Background

Founded in 2011 by three people fed up with crime in the area, the GRNW has grown in size and strength and has been credited with helping reduce crime in Garfield Ridge, long one of Chicago’s safest and best neighborhoods.

The GRNW is widely viewed as one of the most effective citizen-led crime prevention organizations in the city or suburbs.

Born with assistance from the Clearing Night Force, the GRNW has helped start neighborhood watches in city neighborhoods as far away as Hegewisch and as close as West Elsdon, as well as in suburban areas like Central Stickney, Summit and Oak Lawn.

GRNW members on patrol do not pursue criminals or get directly involved with crimes in progress, but they do serve as extra sets of eyes and ears for police, providing direction that has helped police solve crimes in some cases and prevent others. Their toll-free tip line played a role in the capture several years ago of a man who attempted to rob a local Walgreens at knifepoint.

The next GRNW public meeting is set for 7 p.m. Monday, April 17 at the Bridgeview Bank branch at Archer and Mulligan. Those interested in joining the group now are encouraged to send a message to email@garfieldridgenw.com.

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