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,, 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

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.


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

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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

It's "Play Ball!" Time, But There's Trouble on the Horizon

Opinion by John T. "Red" Ryan

SO NOW, TIME really does move along when you're having a good time here on Planet Earth! We find ourselves in the backwash of St. Patrick's Day, the arrival of Robin Red-Breast and (of course) BASEBALL !!

IT SEEMS NOT so long ago that we were greeting the 2016 Season; a year's pennant chase that started out strong on both sides of town. As we all found out after about two months, the White Sox fell off; but it was definitely "next Year" for the Cubs, who handily went the distance. They skillfully and without any hesitation took all; convincingly putting to rest all of the "Lovable Loosers" jokes and references to the 1908 Baseball Season.

SO, LET'S ONCE again, get out and pull for not only our team, but for both in their respective Leagues. The ideal and ultimately desired result would be an All Chicago, "Subway" Series ! We can hope, can't we ?

BUT THERE NOW appears on the Baseball horizon an ominous and threatening menace that threatens to change our National Pastime in both in a fundamental sense and remove some of the tension that is what makes our game such a great and serious alternate life that it is. W e're talking about a proposal that we'll call, just for sake of identification, "the Automatic Intentional Walk." 

THIS WAS RUDELY brought to our immediate attention this past week when we heard a news item as part of our car radio's news on the hour. It was then that, while the announcer was doing some sports items, that it hit us. The announcement said something like: "The Major League Baseball Players Association (union) had agreed to the implementing a rule that would reduce the Intentional Walk from an actual physical act of purposely throwing 4 wide ones up to the Plate; to the mere saying that the batter was walked. It would require no pitches, no control, nothing but a say so by the team which was out on the field. The purpose of such an implementation of such a rule is supposedly to speed up the game.

THE IDEA HAS been kicked around before; but has never been taken seriously. We recall that when the White Sox were bought from Bill Veeck by Jerry Reinsdorf's group in 1981, his partner, the Late Eddie Einhorn (1936-2016), made such a proposal in an interview. When I asked our two Grade School, Jenn (9 years) and Michelle (then 6), about what they thought about the idea, they quickly came up with some very astute observations. "Why the pitcher could throw a wild pitch.", ""He could balk in his delivery.", "The batter could still hit a pitch that wasn't too far outside." (We do recall seeing NY Yankee catcher, Yogi Berra do that very thing!) 

BASEBALL HAS GONE through many changes over the years. We've seen the adoption of the Infield Fly Rule (1895),  Radio (and later Television) broadcasting, Night Games ("under the lights") in the 1930's, implementation of Divisional Play (1969), the creation of the Designated Hitter  (1973) and the use of Video Instant Replay in tough calls more recently. The game was little affected by these developments; and even benefited in most cases.

BUT WE MUST object to the removal of an actual, integral part of the game (pitching to the batter), even if the object is to put him on. It is said that the idea is to save time and speed things up. Well, it wouldn't save enough to justify this diluting of the intentional walk to a "say so!" Let's hope that good judgement prevails and they find some other way to save time.

FOR EVEN WITH with an intentional walk, the hitter is still earning his way on base.

~ ~ ~

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

Friday, March 17, 2017

Garfield Ridge Dad Fighting Back From West Nile; Seeks Help From Community

By Joan Hadac
Southwest Chicago Post
Editor and Publisher

For nearly 30 years, Jeff Walls was known as a union
Jeff and Marisa Walls
carpenter who never turned down an extra shift.

For the last seven months, the tradesman has been flat on his back, felled by a mosquito bite that gave him West Nile encephalitis and left him completely paralyzed in a hospital bed set up in his Garfield Ridge home.

“My dad has always been an active man,” said his daughter, Ariana, 25, who along with her sister, Lindsey, 22, brother, Nick, 28, and mother, Marisa, provide care and hope for Jeff Walls. “Even after work, he’d use his skills to build things for himself and for others.”

Back in August, he came home from work more tired than usual and chalked it up to the summer heat. The next day, he went to work but came home early. In the days after that, his energy level continued to fall. He started experiencing double vision, was feverish and sweating and seemed to take a long time to formulate answers to questions.

Trips to the emergency room, as well as multiple blood tests, did not yield a diagnosis of West Nile Virus infection, Ariana said.

Doctors put him into a coma for his own protection. He lay
there for three months, coming out “super slow” in the fall, his daughter recalled, saying that her dad’s case is one of the worst cases of West Nile-related disease ever documented in Illinois.

Encephalitis is a dangerous inflammation of the brain. It is a rare complication of West Nile Virus infection.

While there is no way to prove exactly where Jeff was bitten by a West Nile-infected mosquito—it could have been as close as his back yard or as far away a carpentry job on the other side of the city—his family took action that may have saved other people’s health or even lives. They called their local alderman and demanded that the City of Chicago spray insecticide in the neighborhood, which it had not yet done in 2016.

A limited amount of spraying was done in some sections of Garfield Ridge and Clearing in September.

Home at last about three weeks ago, Jeff is currently unable to perform even the simplest tasks that most people take for granted, including eating. He breathes with the assistance of a ventilator.

“He hates this,” Ariana said of her dad’s predicament. “It’s killing him that he is so inactive.”

Hired attendants typically work in the home 12 hours a day, with family members taking over the other half.

Medical bills have piled up and continue to do so, Ariana noted, with insurance covering only a portion.

In response, the family has launched a GoFundMe page that has raised about $22,000—with a goal of $100,000.

The family is hoping that publicity in and around Garfield Ridge—a part of Chicago known for its neighbor-to-neighbor generosity—will bring in more monetary donations online.

In addition to the immediate online appeal, the family is planning a face-to-face fundraiser for July at a restaurant or banquet hall. Details will be announced in the weeks ahead.

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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Developer hoping for 2019 opening for two biz traveler hotels at 53rd and Cicero

By Joan Hadac
Editor and Publisher
Southwest Chicago Post

After a year of hearing rumors about how a Florida-based developer may bring the long-vacant property at 5301 S. Cicero back to life, Archer Heights neighbors finally heard from the developer himself.

Charles Everhardt, principal of Lockwood Development
An Archer Heights neighbor (left) chats with Charles Everhardt.
Partners, spoke to about two dozen men and women at a recent meeting at St. Richard Church. The public gathering was organized by the Archer Heights Civic Association, which has long advocated for the improvement of the site.

Plans call for construction of two high-end, limited-service hotels geared to business travelers using nearby Midway Airport. One is a four-story, SpringHill Suites by Marriott that would front Cicero Avenue. The other, immediately east, is set to be a six-story Cambria Hotels & Suites.

With a price tag of about $80 million, the hotels should have a total of about 285 rooms, as well as a multi-story parking structure, on the nearly three-acre parcel.

Everhardt said that if all goes according to plan, ground will be broken in late summer, with the hotels opening for business 18 months later, in early 2019.

A view of the proposed complex, looking southeast from 53rd and Cicero.

“This can’t happen soon enough,” said AHCA President Thomas S. Baliga, who likened Everhardt to a “white knight” riding in to save the property. He expressed a hope that the new hotel complex will “serve as an anchor for the re-development of Cicero Avenue all the way north to the Stevenson Expressway.”

A handful of men and women who live immediately east of the planned development peppered Everhardt with questions, mostly seeking and receiving assurances that hotel traffic—both autos and shuttle buses—will be carefully channeled in and out of Cicero Avenue and not disrupt traffic on 53rd Street, Keating or Kilpatrick.

For months before this week’s meeting, both the AHCA and 23rd Ward Ald. Michael R. Zalewski have worked with Everhardt to address traffic-flow and other concerns—resulting in, among other things, a separate lane on hotel property, specifically for shuttle buses.

Another key to the development is a first-ever traffic light to be installed at 53rd and Cicero. The Chicago Department of Transportation has approved the idea. The next step is getting the green light from the Illinois Department of Transportation, since Cicero Avenue is a state road.
A light at 53rd and Cicero “would be welcome for us all,” said AHCA member Juanita Beltran, who has lived in the immediate area for nearly 17 years. “Right now, it’s just about impossible to drive west on 53rd Street and then make a left to go south on Cicero. It’s too dangerous. A stop light would change all that.” 

If the hotels are built and prosper, it will end years of ups and downs for the property. Two decades ago, the site was home to a new American National Bank building. When the bank folded, the space was taken over by then-City Clerk James J. Laski Jr. and turned into a service center that dispensed city vehicle stickers and more.

When those operations moved out after Laski left office, just a few medical offices remained. From about 2008-11 the building was vacant and the subject of a fair amount of back-and-forth in court before it was demolished.

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Monday, March 13, 2017

St. Laurence Hosts NCAA Final Four Fun

St. Laurence High School hosts its 17th annual Final Four
Extravaganza, the place for action and entertainment on Saturday, April 1.

This year’s event--held at the school, 5556 W. 77th St., Burbank--features a big Super Raffle with many cash prizes, including a $5,000 grand prize* to one lucky winner. Tickets are $60 in advance, $70 at the door the night of the event, and include free food and drink throughout the evening.

The “Evening of Baskets and Bucks” offers Las Vegas-style gaming amidst the excitement of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

The event will also feature a large craft-beer tasting area. 

Supporters of the school are invited to attend and renew acquaintances with friends, faculty, and alumni. Proceeds will directly benefit the students at the Catholic, college-preparatory school.

“As always, we truly look forward to welcoming all of those who share the spirit and the enthusiasm of our St. Laurence community,” said Joe Martinez, school president.

The Final Four Extravaganza includes areas dedicated to casino games, food and beverage service, a big raffle, craft-beer tasting, and basketball viewing on large television screens. These activities are open from 4 p.m. until midnight.

The event is sponsored by St. Laurence High School, in cooperation with the Fathers’ Club and Mothers’ Club. 

To purchase tickets, or for additional information about St. Laurence’s Final Four Extravaganza, call (708) 458-6900, ext. 237, or visit, and click on the Alumni page. Link:

*Exact grand prize determined by number of tickets sold; grand prize may be prorated.

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GRNW Sell-A-Bration Coming; Like a Big, Fun Garage Sale at Kennedy HS

Those wishing to sell rummage items are invited to reserve
space at the upcoming Sell-A-Bration hosted by the Garfield Ridge Neighborhood Watch, set for 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 29 in the west parking lot of Kennedy High School, 56th and Narragansett.

The Sell-A-Bration will include a basket raffle. Proceeds from the raffle and space rentals at the event will help fund the GRNW’s various neighborhood initiatives.

Information on space reservations may be obtained by calling Arlene at  (773) 229-1993 or sending an email to

Additionally, donations of empty baskets, as well as gift items to fill them, are needed.

Rain date for the event is Sunday, April 30.

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Sunday, March 5, 2017

Two Men Charged in Clearing Drug Raid

Two men were charged with felony possession of a
Miguel Diaz
controlled substance and misdemeanor possession of cannabis after police raided their home in the 5900 block of South Massasoit at 5:50 p.m. Friday, March 3.

Ricardo Serrano and Miguel Diaz, both age 21, were arrested at the residence.

They were due in bond court on Saturday.
Ricardo Serrano

Police executing a search warrant at the home said they found 100 grams of cannabis and two ounces of cocaine, among other items.

Items seized/Chicago Police Department photo

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