Saturday, March 8, 2014

Fed Up With Airport Noise: Appeal Your Real Estate Taxes

This is worth the effort:

Appeal your real estate taxes based on the amount of noise pollution you have to endure since the O'Hare expansion.

Chicago residents fed-up with new plane noise from O’Hare Airport said Friday they are appealing their property taxes based on it — and hope to encourage others to do the same.

Members of the Fair Allocation in Runways coalition revealed the latest anti-noise-pollution strategy during a meeting of the O’Hare Noise Compatibility Commission.
FAIR member and Sauganash resident Diane Yost said the planes that now stream over her house like a “string of pearls” have lowered her property’s value, perhaps as much as 10 to 15 percent, so her property taxes should go down, too.
“It’s prima facie evidence that your house values go down [based on airplane noise],” said Yost, a 39th Ward resident. A “very desirable swath of homes” on the city’s Northwest Side have been impacted by a new flight runway pattern launched in October yet are not eligible for O’Hare sound insulation, she said.
Yost said she filed an appeal of her property taxes by arguing that the new east-to-west flight flow has lowered her home’s property value by creating plane noise that didn’t exist when she purchased her house. She has yet to receive a ruling from the Cook County Assessor’s Office, she said.
FAIR member Judie Simpson, a North Park resident, asked the O’Hare Noise Compatibility Commission to resume publishing a list of each high-noise incident picked up by O’Hare noise monitors so residents can use the data to bolster their appeals.
Members said FAIR is considering briefing community groups on how to file property tax appeals based on new O’Hare noise -- a move that could hit the city in its pocketbook. FAIR also has sent Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel two sets of letters asking for a meeting about the “virtual highway of airplanes” over the Northwest Side, but has yet to hear back from him, members said.
The switch to mostly parallel runways should reduce delays in all kinds of weather and increase flight capacity, city officials have said. However, FAIR contends it has resulted in lopsided runway use, with 100 percent of night arrivals expected to be absorbed by one runway 70 percent of the year.
During Friday’s Noise Commission meeting, city officials revealed that O’Hare noise complaints continue to rise since the most recent phase of the O’Hare Modernization Program was completed in October. January 2014 complaints hit 6,321 – a new monthly record. The January 2014 total is up more than fourfold from January 2013.
Chicago Department of Aviation officials noted that the number of people complaining in January -- 462 -- is down from the 642 who beefed in December. About two-thirds of all complaints came from just eight homes, they said.
However, Aviation officials did not mention that the number of complainants in Chicago increased by 18 percent between December and January, with the bulk concentrated in the 41st, 39th, 45th wards. It’s beefs from suburban homes that are dropping.
Read the entire article in today's Sun-times.  Article written by Rosalind Rossi

Thursday, March 6, 2014

We Need a City Council with Guts as the City's Credit Rating takes another Dive

So, at yesterday's city council meeting the aldermen duked it out over how to admonish Russia via our airports (who don't fly planes to/from Russia) and voted on a no brainer puppy mill ordinance.

Meanwhile, no mention of the City of Chicago Credit Rating taking another nose dive...this is bad, folks. This is real bad... And the mayor and city council have buried their heads in regards to finding solutions (namely, lets start taxing corporations who exploit our city and pay nothing)...

CHICAGO (CBS/AP)Moody’s Investors Service has downgraded Chicago’s credit rating, citing the city’s unfunded pension liabilities.
The agency announced Tuesday it’s lowering the rating on $8.3 billion in debt from A3 to Baa1, putting it only three notches above junk-bond status.
Moody’s gave Chicago a negative outlook indicating another downgrade could occur if there’s no pension fix. Moody’s says the rating “reflects the city’s massive and growing unfunded pension liabilities.”
Moody’s says those liabilities “threaten the city’s fiscal solvency” unless major revenue and other budgetary adjustments are adopted soon and are sustained for years to come.
The lower rating means the city will have to pay high interest rates.
Moody’s says a commitment to increasing tax revenue is one thing that could raise the rating. Chicago now has the worst credit rating of any major city except Detroit.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Where is Our Promised Airport Noise Meeting?

Have received a few requests to address:   "when the airport noise meeting promised by the alderman will be"...  I don't know.  But it doesn't hurt to call and ask the alderman "when the meeting will take place".  A couple people have sent me facebook messages stating they prefer an anonymous blog over a face book discussion about controversial topics, just so they can remain anonymous.  I agree.  Most people will actually tell you what they think knowing it won't be used against them in some way.  So here is the latest article about the airport noise debacle...  to little, to late, but let's see what the feds can offer us (or what we can demand) in terms of noise mitigation for our homes.

O'Hare jet-noise fight gets 'symbolic' nudge from county official

February 18, 2014|By Jon Hilkevitch | Tribune reporter
(Tribune illustration)
A Cook County commissioner plans to propose a resolution Wednesday calling for a mandatory “fly-quiet” program during overnight hours at O’Hare International Airport to address increasing jet noise from a new runway layout.
O’Hare’s 17-year-old fly-quiet guidelines are voluntary and run from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. daily. They often are the last consideration of pilots, air-traffic controllers and airlines, whose primary focus is on safety, efficiency and passenger comfort, officials said.
Any move to make fly-quiet procedures mandatory would start with the city of Chicago, by conducting a study, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Tony Molinaro said.
The Chicago Department of Aviation declined to comment Tuesday on the matter. City aviation officials have previously dismissed calls for changes that would restrict O’Hare’s flight capacity.
Cook County Commissioner Peter Silvestri, R-Elmwood Park, proposed the mandatory flight restrictions and said he realizes the county doesn’t have jurisdiction over O’Hare. His effort is aimed at facilitating “an effective dialogue’’ between Chicago officials and noise-weary residents of the city’s Northwest Side and nearby suburbs, he said.
“This is not legislation I am proposing. It is mostly symbolic,’’ Silvestri said. “But many elected officials on the Northwest Side support the resolution as a way to say let’s be fair in allocating O’Hare noise so that everybody is on the same footing.”
Silvestri’s move comes as City Council hearings on O’Hare noise requested last month by two Chicago aldermen, Mary O'Connor, 41st, and Margaret Laurino, 39th, haven’t been scheduled yet.
Ald. Michael Zalewski, 23rd, who is chairman of the council’s aviation committee, said Tuesday that he expects to hold the first hearing within the next two weeks. He said it has taken awhile to coordinate the schedules of officials who will testify, including members of the Illinois congressional delegation, experts from the Federal Aviation Administration and the Chicago Department of Aviation, major airlines as well as the public.
Zalewski was careful not to raise expectations of any quick solutions among residents who have suffered more noise, including in the overnight hours, since O’Hare flight patterns were changed last fall.
In reference to Silvestri’s proposal, Zalewski said: “I’m not sure if making fly-quiet absolutely mandatory is doable at this point. The new runways that have opened are designed to bring in planes in certain ways, based on safety and capacity issues. Making fly-quiet mandatory is not something that I think the FAA is willing to do at this point.”
O’Connor, vice chairman of the aviation committee, said Tuesday it’s important for the hearing to be “meaningful and productive.’’
“You want people there to answer the questions and direct us along an avenue of what we have to do next. And not delay it any more,’’ she said.
O’Connor said the issues are complicated by the fact that they require action by the federal government to revise the current noise contour standards to make more homeowners eligible for federal funding to receive noise-abatement insulation, or to require the airlines to retire noisier, older planes on an expedited timetable.
For the time being, residents of the 41st Ward “are just asking for a fair distribution’’ of flights to end the noise saturation over some areas, she said, adding, “I hope we are going in the right direction with these hearings.’’
The opening of a fourth east-west parallel runway at O’Hare last October marked a change in takeoff and landing patterns. The new air-traffic flow is generating more jet noise east and west of the airport and a noise reduction to the north and south of O’Hare.
The Chicago Department of Aviation’s voluntary fly-quiet guidelines for O’Hare’s airline pilots are in effect from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. daily. The guidelines provide operating procedures for using preferred runways and nighttime flight tracks to route planes over the least-populated areas.
Chicago Aviation Commissioner Rosemarie Andolino has rejected proposals to expand those guidelines to start at 9 p.m.
Andolino also denied requests from community groups and members of the Illinois congressional delegation to work with the FAA to use more runways late at night as a way to spread jet noise over a wider area but subject individual areas to a net reduction in planes overhead.
Numerous efforts to restrict jet noise by communities near airports have been proposed over the years, but few mandatory programs have been enacted, according to the FAA.

Click on the link above to see the entire story!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Norwood Park Presbyterian Church --- Then and Now

An Early Post Card, 1910,  Norwood Park Presbyterian Church 5849 N. Nina. The words written across the post card, " voice la maison de montante"  means "voice rising house" in French...

Norwood Park Presbyterian Church today...

1975 Norwood Park Home 5930 N. East Circle

Norwood Park  5930-5938 N. East Circle      August 5, 1975  The Daily News 

Norwood Park Train Station 1914

A postcard dated July 24, 1914  Chicago & Northwestern Railroad Train Station

Recycling Pick Up Problems and Aggressive Parking Ticket Writing in Edison Park

Two sets of problems coming through email, recently:

1. Reports of an array of problems with recycling pick up in the ward.  Some people are reporting no pick up for three weeks and more...

2.  Parking meters are being monitored constantly by LAZ, the parking enforcement company who bought public parking meters from the City of Chicago a few years ago.  Apparently LAZ ticket writers are parasitic and aggressive, especially in and around Edison Park hurting Edison Park small businesses. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

This is Why There is No Money for Neighborhood Schools: The Chicago School Board Votes on Charter School Expansion Today

So,  the mayor has money for 17 new charter schools while we wait for more additions for overcrowded 41st Ward Schools

Start asking questions about charter schools, and today's charter school expansion vote by the Chicago School Board.   Why do new schools have to be charter schools? How do charter schools impact neighborhood schools?  Where is the investment in local neighborhood schools?  Why is it taking so long to add additions to overcrowded northwest side schools?  Why does the appointed school board have all the decision making power?

Even the Untouchables would have a hard time slowing the mayor's charter push. The Chicago Board of Education is set to approve up to 21 new charter schools this week.

Yet I can think of a million reasons the expansion should be put on hold. For starters, the more money the mayor spends building new charters, the less money he has for existing schools that are already so broke they're worried about paying for toilet paper.

As a city, we've never had a debate on this wider issue: Should we be building new schools of any kind when we can't afford to adequately fund the ones we have?

Moreover, if Mayor Emanuel's so determined to build new schools, why do they have to be charters?
The mayor says we need to bring in private operators to give parents more choices.

Sounds great! But in reality, charters do no better than other local schools on standardized tests—which is how we judge schools these days. In many cases, they do worse.
Plus, they're privately run operations. That means they don't abide by the same standards of transparency as regular public schools.

If you don't believe me, ask Dan Mihalopoulos. He's the ace investigative reporter for the Sun-Times who went to court to try to force UNO—one of the biggest charter operators in the state—to turn over records of how they spent millions of public dollars.
Another charter operator—the Chicago Math and Science Academy—has argued in court that it's not even a public school, though it's largely funded with public money. That's part of the school's legal fight against an effort by its teachers to unionize.
Yes, that's right: teachers who want to unionize. And now we've run into the elephant in the room.
Charter operators tend to be militantly nonunion, which is why I suspect power-hungry politicians like Mayor Emanuel love them so much.
The more charters he creates, the less power the Chicago Teachers Union has—and the more power Mayor Emanuel can amass, as if he needs more.

In fairness to the Chicago Public Schools—an operation that needs all the defending it can get—the district did create local advisory councils to review the latest charter school proposals, which are supposed to alleviate overcrowding on the northwest and southwest sides.

But CPS officials told the members of these councils that discussions should be limited to the specifics of the new charter proposals. They were not—let me repeat, not—permitted to talk about the larger issue of whether we should create any charters at all.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

For the Sake of "The Children"

 Stop the Political Exploitation of Children

Why are politicians allowed to exploit children for their own political purposes, and when will the media listen to readers and listeners who are sick to death of the self grandiosity of politicians?  Aren't we all tired of Rahm using "the children" at his press conferences, to strong arm city ordinances, contracts and back room deals?

In the photo below we have the mayor and alderman cutting a ribbon to a new annex for a school that has been over crowded for years.  The annex was rallied for by the parents, children & teachers, and paid for by TAXPAYERS. 

These pols mugging for the politically motivated moment in front of a camera with children had nothing to do with this school annex. 
The politicians in this photo should be ashamed it took so long, as constructing this annex came well after the mayor closed 50 functioning schools and created plans for charter schools to replace them all over the city.  Upgrading neighborhood schools is the last thing on the mayor's list of things to do, as evidenced by the remaining schools in the 41st ward overdue for upgrades and the continuous need for MORE teachers in 41st Ward Schools.

The picture that should have been taken, is a picture of the children, their parents and their teachers who endured years of the hardships of overcrowding. 

Photo from DNAinfo 

When will the Department of Children & Family Services (DCFS) demand these politicians stop the political exploitation of children?

Friday, January 17, 2014

Alderman "Listening Tour" O'Connor Finally Calls for Airport Noise Meeting Now That Nothing Can Be Done.

Finally,  after years of citizen protests over the O'Hare Expansion Plan, Alderman O'Connor is calling for a "meeting"?  The new runway opened in October, and as predicted, the noise levels are not compatible with human beings who expect a basic quality of life.

Alderman "Listening Tour" O'Connor is famous for her listening meetings. Usually though, none of us are invited,  except for a few loyal patronage workers,  a sprinkling of chamber of commerce pals and the press, of course. 

Election time is coming up, everyone.  Start attending Alderman O'Connor's meetings to get the skinny on how her hands are tied.

A few runways have been built and more are scheduled to be built in the near future.  The result:  41st Ward residents are being deafened by the noise levels.

The solution:  invite a few airline CEOs and federal officials to a meeting to explain why we are being subjected to life shortening levels of noise, and ask about a "mitigation" plan.

Stop expanding the airport and close the new troubling runway - now that sounds like the noise mitigation plan residents have been screaming to Alderman "Listening Tour" since she took office.  Now, with over the top noise complaints being the top story in last Sunday's Tribune, and the aldermanic election exactly one year away, we get a meeting...

2 aldermen seek hearing on O'Hare jet noise

By Jon Hilkevitch
Tribune reporter
9:55 PM CST, January 16, 2014
Two Chicago aldermen whose wards are awash in jet noise are calling for hearings on the new air-traffic patterns at O'Hare International Airport. Alds. Mary O’Connor, 41st, and Margaret Laurino, 39th Ward, introduced a resolution at Wednesday's City Council meeting seeking hearings with Chicago Aviation Commissioner Rosemarie Andolino and other officials at the Chicago Department of Aviation, officials from the Federal Aviation Administration and the major airlines serving O'Hare, O'Connor told her constituents Thursday.
The hearings would focus on the changing noise contours that are the result of new runways, O'Connor said in a email sent to residents of her ward Thursday night.
The call for hearings followed a Tribune report Monday detailing an all-time record for noise complaints involving jets at O'Hare in 2013. Almost 25,000 complaints were filed between January and November — more than for any full year on record since Chicago installed noise-monitoring devices in 1996, officials said. Complaints also sharply increased in November, a month after O'Hare's fourth parallel east-west runway opened. The runway opening triggered an increase in takeoffs and landings east and west of the airport.
O'Connor told residents that she and Laurino want to “gather information about the airline industry's efforts to mitigate the impact of aircraft noise on the surrounding population.'”
“I co-sponsored this resolution because I feel it's important to keep the conversation going about these changes that have taken place at O'Hare Airport,'' said O'Connor, who is a supporter of O'Hare expansion.
She said she wants to strike “a balance that fosters economic growth for the region while still respecting the concerns of residents on the Far Northwest Side of the city.'”
Dates for the hearings were not immediately set.
The latest noise complaint report issued by the city, which covers November, includes 2,300 from Chicago. Almost half, or 1,032, came from the 41st Ward. Next was the 45th Ward, with 923 complaints; and the 39th Ward, 247 complaints.
Twitter @jhilkevitch

Thursday, January 9, 2014

41st Ward Senior Citizen Treated Unjustly by the City: Where are the elected officials?

So, a 41st Ward Tax-Paying 75 year old Senior Citizen is told she must prove the city sticker she bought and paid, for on time, was on her windshield.  Ms. Tamayo received a ticket for no city sticker in error.  She appealed at a hearing, and brought proof, she bought her city sticker on time.  But, somehow that isn't enough these days, as Ms. Tomayo was told the onus is on her to prove the sticker was on her car at the time the ticket was issued.  She had to pay $200! On a Senior Citizen fixed income! What nonsense this is.  The article makes reference to a trip to the alderman's office.  I have to assume that was useless, as the story ended up in the Sun-times today.

Hard to fight City Hall when fight isn’t fair


Updated: January 9, 2014 2:22AM

So you walk outside of your home and see a ticket on your car for failing to display a city vehicle sticker, only the sticker is clearly visible.
Most young people would likely grab a cellphone and photograph the sticker along with the ticket.
But senior citizens like Gladys Tamayo, 75, still think they can tell their stories and someone will listen and hear the truth.
Tamayo has lived in Chicago since 1966 — first in the Wrigley area and now in the Norwood Park community. Her voice mail message greets callers in both Spanish and English.
“My car was in front of the house and had a valid city sticker,” Tamayo told me. “When the ticket was issued by the city, I said this is wrong.”
Tamayo followed the procedure for appealing the ticket, first requesting a hearing and then showing up at 2550 W. Addison, one of the locations where these revenue cases are heard.
She accepts that she probably got off on the wrong foot with the administrative law officer, Lonathan D. Hurse, when she mistakenly walked behind the podium instead of standing in front of it.
Attempts to reach Hurse about Tamayo’s hearing were unsuccessful.
“I was a little nervous,” she admits.
“He read something about the law and said I didn’t have a city sticker on the car. But that is a lie,” she said.
Tamayo said she brought along a copy of the check she wrote for the sticker, but the judge said she had to prove directly that she had the sticker on the windshield before she got the ticket.
“I thought, you’ve got to be kidding. How can I prove that?” she asked.
According to the Municipal Code of Chicago, violations involving the display of the city sticker are excluded from defenses covering other parking violations.
In the end, Tamayo was ordered to pay $200 in fines.
“I was really upset. You are robbing me if you order me to pay for something I didn’t do because a lazy employee didn’t do the job,” Tamayo said.
“They should have seen the sticker. Maybe they drove by and didn’t see it. I don’t know,” she said.
In a city plagued by potholes and senseless crime, a 75-year-old woman’s complaint about a wrongful ticket might seem like a trivial thing.
And as a spokesman for the city of Chicago told me, Chicago police officers and city workers have “bigger fish to fry.”
But no one has $200 to throw away.
Given that this senior citizen made the effort to show up and defend herself by presenting her receipts for the sticker, the administrative officer was a bit harsh.
Moreover, we all make mistakes.
But under these circumstances, Tamayo had no way to prove the sticker was on the windshield at the time the officer or city employee wrote the ticket.
That doesn’t sit well with her, and frankly, wouldn’t sit well with anyone who lands in this situation.
Last week, she trekked up to her alderman’s office with her documents hoping to raise awareness about what she considers an unfair situation.
“That is what really gets me. I have to prove something I cannot prove,” she said.
Now Tamayo is on a crusade.
“I am not really upset about the $200. It is the principle involved. I need to let people know from now on they should take photographs of the sticker the moment they put it on their windshield,” she said.
You’ve got to like Tamayo’s spunk.
In fact, she may have just the right message to convince seniors they need to get one of those new-fangled phones.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

41st Ward Illinois Legislative Office Holders Both Vote "Yes" to Cliff Hanging Pension "Reform" Bill Vote - Weigh In,0,5070497

Illinois lawmakers approve major pension overhaul
Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) speaks on the floor of the Illinois Senate as both the House and Senate consider a pension reform bill at the State Capitol in Springfield.

SPRINGFIELD --- The Illinois General Assembly today narrowly approved a major overhaul of the state government worker pension system following hours of debate on the controversial plan strongly opposed by employee unions.
The House voted 62-53 to approve a measure that aims to wipe out a worst-in-the-nation $100 billion pension debt by reducing and skipping cost-of-living increases, requiring workers to retire later and creating a 401(k) option for a limited number of employees. The measure needed a minimum of 60 votes to pass the House. (See how House members voted HERE.)
Moments earlier, the Senate voted for the measure 30-24. The bill needed at least 30 votes. (See how the Senate voted HERE.) The measure now goes to Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, who has said he'll sign it.
The vote is a major victory for Quinn as he heads into a re-election bid next year.
“Today, we have won. The people of Illinois have won. This landmark legislation is a bipartisan solution that squarely addresses the most difficult fiscal issue Illinois has ever confronted," Quinn said in a statement. “This bill will ensure retirement security for those who have faithfully contributed to the pension systems, end the squeeze on critical education and healthcare services, and support economic growth."
A coalition of union groups blasted the vote and threatened legal action if Quinn signs it.
"This is no victory for Illinois, but a dark day for its citizens and public servants," the statement read. “Teachers, caregivers, police, and others stand to lose huge portions of their life savings because politicians chose to threaten their retirement security."
Mayor Rahm Emanuel issued a statement reminding lawmakers the city of Chicago's pension problems have yet to be fixed.
"The work is far from finished. The pension crisis is not truly solved until relief is brought to Chicago and all of the other local governments across our state that are standing on the brink of a fiscal cliff because of our pension liabilities. Without providing the same relief to local governments, we know that taxpayers, employees, and the future of our state and local economies will remain at risk," Emanuel said in a statement.
During debate, sponsoring Sen. Kwame Raoul urged colleagues to vote in favor. "We cannot continue to be the embarrassment of the nation," said Raoul, D-Chicago.  Sen. Kyle McCarter, R-Lebanon, questioned the promised savings. "I would be much more inclined to support this bill if this bucket didn't have so many holes in it," he said.
Democratic Sen. Linda Holmes of Aurora dismissed House Speaker Michael Madigan’s assertion earlier in the day that pension benefits are “too rich.”
“I believe this was actually more caused by the fact that we as a state did not make our pension payments as we should have even though the employees worked and their full payments were made,” said Holmes, the only member of the special two-chamber special committee that did not sign the legislation that emerged. “So I think a lot of this problem stems from the fact that we actually didn’t do what we were obligated and should have done.”
Despite the opposition, the Senate approved the bill.
In the House, a vote was expected to soon follow. Madigan presented the measure and found himself in the rare position of answering question after question from numerous rank-and-file lawmakers. The key, the long-serving speaker said, is to fix a retirement system for government workers that is broken.
“Something’s got to be done. Something’s got to be done,” said Madigan, D-Chicago.
Rep. Jeanne Ives, R-Wheaton, said the plan falls short and is “short-sighted.”
Citing the bankruptcy crisis unfolding in Detroit, Ives maintained the Illinois needs pension reform immediately but “not just any pension reform.”
Lawmakers on both sides of the issue agreed the issue almost surely will end up in the courts. Unions have threatened to sue, saying the state constitution prohibits reducing pension benefits once they’ve been granted.
Rep. Mike Zalewski, D-Riverside, called the legislation “the meaningful middle” between protecting retiree benefits and the state’s finances. “It’s one of the most important votes we’ll take in this body,” said Zalewski, who sat on a bipartisan House-Senate panel that built a framework for the final deal.
Earlier, a special legislative conference committee advanced the bill. Lawmakers came back into session and quickly headed into closed-door party meetings in each chamber to discuss the controversial cost-cutting pension legislation. The House and Senate are now debating the measure at the same time.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

State Representative Race Has Begun: A Comment Calling for Change.

The State Representative race has begun in the 20th  District which includes parts of the 41st Ward.  See a previous post to get a glimpse of incumbent Michael McAuliffe's challenger, Mohammad, "Mo" Khan,

This comment came in today.... 

"Its time for a change, this guy hasn't been opposed in ten years? Thats why term limits would be great, complacency in office is the worst thing that can transpire. If he feels no threat to his job what is pushing him to keep it and do better for the community. New Blood is in order, Khan will defiantly get my ear and hopefully a fair chance. I agree that his chance will be better if Madigan does not support him, no one wants another puppet part of the machine. From what i have read and heard from Khan is, he is a Democrat with Independent Ideas, mostly focusing on education and job growth in the area. The particulars to these points centralize around more money going to community colleges for specialty courses in IT and other areas where young or old people can go get a crash course or certified education for a cost efficient price. So far I like what I hear coming from the Khan Camp and have heard that the number raised is more around 40k. I hope people can keep an open mind and are not bigoted towards someone with a middle eastern background, he was born and raised in Park Ridge and is as American as baseball. The District lines make me believe that it is set up for McAullife to thrive, and proves gerrymandering is still present in today's politics".

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

No Ice Rink in the 41st Ward: Chicago Park District Website

Ice Rinks
Midway Plaisance Park Ice Rink
Featured photo: Midway Plaisance Park                                                               Outdoor Ice Rinks 
Ice Rinks                                      

Get ready for a fun winter of skating in the parks.  
Outdoor ice skating rinks open for the season Friday, Nov. 29, weather permitting.  The skating season runs through Sunday, Feb. 23 at most outdoor rinks, weather permitting.  A new rink has been added this year at Wentworth Park, 5625 S. Mobile Ave., which will open in December 2013. 

All ice rinks will be closed on Christmas, Wednesday, December 25.
Open Skate
Offered all open days (see rink schedules below).
Skate rental for all ages: $6
Admission: adults $3; children and students with valid ID free
Adult admission with skate rental: $7
Friday evening family skate, 6:30 – 9 p.m., special price: $10 per family (includes skate rental)

New this year, most ice rinks will offer programs including learn to skate and pick up hockey games.
Learn more about ice rink programming.

Sled Assisted Skating
Sled assisted skating allows people of all abilities to skate together.  These specialty sleds for both children and adults are designed with a foot guard, ABS bucket seat, foot rest and pusher handle. No usage charge; reservations required by calling individual rinks.


SEARCH Ice Rinks


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

More Concerns about the 41st Ward: A Post from a 41st Ward Resident

A Post from a 41st Ward Resident...

After O'Connor stood by and did nothing as the ward lost the 90N, 64 and 56A CTA buses, I went ahead and sent FOIA requests about communications between the CTA officials and her office, which were flatly denied.

This happened after O'Connor assured 41st Ward residents would have alternatives to reductions in CTA service and that she was in communication with CTA officials. I sent the same request to Alderman Arena, he actually had the decency to reply and search through his office's records regarding conversations between CTA officials and his office. Despite O'Connor saying there would be transit "alternatives", I did not receive any information from her office. I learned Pace would be operating along the 90N route and be accepting CTA transit passes before the Ventra debacle because I contacted our Congresswoman, Jan Schakowsky, about the transit cuts. Her office had the decency to communicate with me regarding reductions in transit service. I requested FOIA documents from the CTA and obtained them through actions of the office of Lisa Madigan which outlined how the service cuts to the 41st Ward were planned far in advance and based on the CTA projecting declines in ridership as the means to eliminate routes.

I am not sure how a world class transit agency could plan for the 21st century on the basis of decreasing ridership, but that's what the CTA and O'Connor agreed on. O'Connor and the CTA said the 41st Ward would have increased train service, service on the O'Hare Blue Line has not increased and in fact slow zones have reduced service. The CTA blamed 41st Ward residents for not defending CTA service at budget hearings, but they were held in the evening in Garfield Park, miles from the 41st Ward.

I am sharing all of this because I attended a forum on TIFs in the City of Chicago. There are not TIFs in the 41st Ward, yet all taxpayers in the ward get TIF dollars siphoned to pay for improvements in other neighborhoods, namely the Loop. Why are the buses being cut in the 41st Ward? Why are police patrolling less frequently? Why is the infrastructure rusting, property values declining and taxes increasing? The money is going places, just not to the overcrowded schools, public transit or public safety. The time for new representation for the 41st Ward is now.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

16th District Beat Meeting Cancelled for the Third Time Due to Technical Difficulties? Come On!

So, for the third month in a row, the 16th District Webinar Beat meeting has been cancelled due to "technical difficulties"?  Is this real?  Or more of the cutbacks to the 16th District?  What do we have to do in the 16th District to have ANY attention brought to public safety?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Alderman's Response to a Constituent Letter... What do you think?

An email comment arrived today, from a 41st Ward resident unhappy with airport noise and other reflections regarding the disrepair of the neighborhood.  The writer asks valid questions:  Where are my tax dollars going?  Where is the reinvestment of my tax dollars into THIS community, the 41st ward? 

I wonder where our tax dollars are going too...  Downtown, the Gold Coast, Lincoln Park and other tourist locations?  Why aren't tax dollars going into NEIGHBORHOOD infrastructure, public safety and basic amenities?  True we have had couple of 120+ year old sewers replaced, a few 19th century arterial streets repaved, watched a few family movies in the park and the Seniors have had a grand time at their holiday parties. 

Where is the new high school?  Major upgrades to the parks, including a hockey rink, repaved sidestreets, etc, etc, etc... 

Here is the letter and the RESPONSE from the alderman's office:

Bellow is a letter I wrote to the 41'st wards office. Bellow is the letter is their arrogant response.


I am writing in regards to the constant airplane noise flying overhead my house at....Newcastle Ave. Ever since the flight patterns were changed we hear loud noise day and night. This has really become a quality of life issue and something needs to be done about this.

I very much agree that the airport is vital to our economy in the 41st ward, however I've seen little in terms of return. Our street, and surrounding ones, are crater like roadblocks that needed to be resurfaced many years ago. Additionally, our light posts and fire hydrants are rusted/totally faded, and needed to be painted years ago. In essence our streets have been forgotten, almost left in a time warp.

Under your leadership, virtually nothing has been accomplished. Property values continue to plunge and the once great neighborhood is definitely changing for the worse.

As I expect nothing to be done about the airplane noise, streets, and dilapidated look of our light posts and hydrants, it will be my pleasure to quickly vacate the city and start a new life in the suburbs where the tax dollars work for the community.

Kind regards,

The office's response:
I'm sorry you feel that way. Best of luck in the suburbs.


41st Ward Service Office
6107 N Northwest Highway
Office: (773) 594-8341
Fax: (773) 594-8345
Click here to sign up for our 41st Ward Newsletter


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Alderman O'Connor Introduces A Resolution Asking Rahm to "Bargain in Good Faith" Which is His Legal Obligation

'Alderman urges mayor not to use FOP president’s mistake to deny police officers a retro pay hike BY Fran Spielman, Chicago Sun-times


A Northwest Side alderman whose ward is home to scores of Chicago Police officers urged Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday not to use a paperwork mistake made by the police union president to deny rank-and-file police officers their automatic right to a retroactive pay raise in 2012.
Ald. Mary O’Connor (41st) said she introduced the resolution at a City Council meeting in response to concerns voiced by police officers who have called her office and stopped her on the street.
“People feel there’s a rift between the mayor and the FOP president and they’re caught in the crossfire,” O’Connor said Wednesday.
“The perception out there is that they are going to lose income because of a deadline that was missed. That should not be the case. It’s a clerical error made by their representative, but it impacts 10,000 police officers. It has an impact on their livelihood and their families. That would not be fair to the police.”
O’Connor said she talked to Emanuel about stalled negotiations with the Fraternal Order of Police and, “The mayor has not implied to me that he wasn’t going to bargain in good faith.” But, that hasn’t stopped police officers in her ward from feeling “a little lost” and a lot concerned.
“The city is strapped. Concessions have to be made both ways. I’m just asking that it be fair. Be respectful of work the officers have done. It’s unfortunate President [Mike] Shields did not abide by the deadline. But, I don’t want that mistake to impact their ability to get their retroactive paycheck.”
Shields, who recently apologized to his membership for his mistake, was uncharacteristically tight-lipped about the resolution.
He would only say, “Chicago Police officers, whom the FOP negotiates for, are very grateful to those aldermen who signed on to this resolution.”
Last year, Shields failed to notify the city between Feb. 1 and March 1 that he intended to terminate the police contract and commence negotiations on a new agreement. If that notice is not given within the one-month window, the contract automatically rolls over for another year.
When the same one-month window rolled around this year, Shields acknowledged his earlier mistake by sending the city the required notice to avoid having the old contract roll over for a second straight year.
That gave Emanuel an opening to declare that, if the FOP wants a pay raise retroactive to June 30, 2012, they’ll have to give up something to get it. It will no longer be automatic.
The move was widely viewed as the mayor’s attempt to get even with Shields for working to torpedo a four-year contract with police sergeants — tied to pension and retiree health-care reform — that Emanuel had hoped to use a road map to solve the city’s pension crisis.
Last month, Shields suffered a major blow in his effort to recoup from the paperwork mistake that threatens to cost the average police officer anywhere from $1,400 for a back pay raise of two percent to $2,100 if it’s three percent.
The executive director of the Il. Labor Relations Board dismissed Shields’ unfair labor practices complaint against the city.
Unfair labor practices complaints must be filed within six months of the alleged unlawful conduct. Like the contract termination letter, the complaint was filed too late. Shields has appealed the ruling.
Shields angrily accused Emanuel of unfairly punishing rank-and-file police officers in an effort to silence their feisty union president.
“It’s personal against me because I’m one of two people in the city of Chicago who has spoken out against Mayor Emanuel and his administration,” Shields said then, identifying Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis as the other mayoral critic.
Shields said the same oversight was made by CTA ironworkers, but Emanuel “did not stick it to them.”
He added, “This is a very vicious and vindictive move by the mayor and it comes at a time when police officers are being faced with greater challenges on the streets of Chicago and they think the mayor is gonna screw them.”


Our Lady of Resurrection, Alleged "Not for Profit" Hosptal, Threatens to Close Units Even Though Their System Operates at a Profit.

Can you believe this?  Increased dollars coming their way as early as January through ACA, and they are pulling this stunt? 

Print StoryPrinted from

Memo: Our Lady of the Resurrection losses 'unsustainable'
The board of Presence Health is expected to make a decision in October on whether to close Our Lady of the Resurrection Medical Center, according to a memo sent yesterday to employees at the Northwest Side community hospital.

The memo by John Baird, who is CEO of the hospital and nearby Resurrection Medical Center, paints a grim financial picture.

(More: Presence Health mulls shuttering Northwest Side hospital)

“The losses experienced at (Our Lady of the Resurrection) in particular are unsustainable and the projections for continued losses are greater,” according to the memo, which was obtained by Crain's. “In fact, declining volumes, unfavorable payer mix, and case mix are all contributing negatively to the current situation.”

Mr. Baird warned of possible layoffs, saying, “There are not long-term guarantees for employment opportunities.”

How many people work at the 269-bed hospital could not immediately be determined. Presence, a Chicago-based 12-hospital system, has about 22,000 employees and is cutting 700 full-time employees, either through layoffs, reducing hours or not filling vacant positions, to create efficiency and reduce costs as part of the 2011 merger that created the system.

Dr. David Fishman, director of the cardiology department at Our Lady of the Resurrection, said Presence Health seems to be abandoning the working-class Portage Park neighborhood.

“We all sort of feel a kinship and a loyalty to this place,” said Dr. Fishman, a former medical staff president at the hospital who has worked there for 35 years. “It's not beautiful, but it's really essential to the neighborhood.”

The hospital, 5645 W. Addison St., is projected to finish the year with a $20.7 million loss, the memo says. Because of a continued decline in patient volume and revenue, the hospital is projecting an additional $5.7 million loss in 2014, the memo says.

“There is an imperative for change and (Our Lady of the Resurrection) cannot maintain the status quo,” Mr. Baird's memo says.

In an interview with Crain's earlier today, Presence Health CEO Sandra Bruce confirmed that the hospital network was considering closing inpatient care at Our Lady of the Resurrection but keeping open the emergency department. Patients who would need to be admitted overnight would be sent to Resurrection Medical Center, 7435 W. Talcott Ave.

But one obstacle to that plan is an Illinois requirement that an emergency department must be accompanied by a 100-bed hospital, Mr. Baird's memo notes.

The Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board, which regulates the health care industry, would have to approve any change to Our Lady of the Resurrection.

Only about 20 percent of the hospital's patients were privately insured in 2011, according to the most recent hospital report to the Illinois Department of Public Health. The remaining patients were insured by the government through Medicare or Medicaid, or paid out of pocket.

Presence lost $28.9 million during the first half of the year. In 2012, the system posted an operating profit of $47.6 million on $2.74 billion in revenue.

The system will help employees who lose jobs transition into new ones or find them employment within Presence, the memo said.


Sunday, October 13, 2013

New O'Hare Routes: More Noise for the 41st Ward

Sound off here:  How did this happen? How do you think this will work?  Starts Thursday.

New runway, new noise worries at O’Hare

Last Modified: Oct 13, 2013 02:33AM
From his screened-in porch on the city’s Northwest Side, 7.5 miles east of O’Hare International Airport, Don Walsh can’t help but comment on the eight planes that rumble overhead within a mere eight minutes.
“This one is huge. It’s an Airbus,’’ says Walsh, 58, a retired city deputy fire commissioner.
“Here comes the next one — imagine having a barbecue with this.” And again. “This is one where you have to stop talking.’’
With plane noise and frequency already reaching what Walsh calls “obnoxious” levels, like many city residents east of O’Hare, he is bracing for Thursday.
That’s when a new runway opens at O’Hare, creating more arrivals on another runway whose traffic already irritates some residents of the 39th, 41st and 45th wards on the Northwest Side. Average annual arrivals on that runway, 27L, will jump more than 50 percent by day and nearly fourfold at night, an analysis of city data predictions indicate.
Worse yet to Walsh, during about 70 percent of the year all night arrivals will roll into O’Hare on 27L, city officials recently conceded. Meanwhile, the new runway will largely sit unused at night, city data predictions indicate.
“That’s insane. That’s absolutely insane,’’ said Walsh, of the Indian Woods community in the 39th Ward. “Why aren’t they equally breaking up the runways?”
On Thursday, runway 10C/28C debuts as part of the massive O’Hare Modernization Program, which is an effort to wind down use of crisscrossing runways in favor of new, parallel ones. The move should decrease O’Hare delays and increase capacity because planes will no longer face interference from intersecting runway traffic, city officials say.
In this dramatic shift, 70 percent of O’Hare planes will fly from east to west on those parallel runways.
Environmental impact maps predict 15,991 people will be newly exposed to a “significant” level of plane noise, normally disruptive enough to qualify for sound insulation. That includes new portions of the 41st Ward’s Norwood Park; slivers of the 36th and 45th wards; and parts of Park Ridge, Des Plaines, Wood Dale, Itasca and Bensenville.
Getting relief from the same noise level should be 12,254 others, including sections of Des Plaines, Elk Grove Village, Bensenville, North Lake, Franklin Park, Rosemont, Norridge and Harwood Heights.
After the winners and losers shake out, 3,737 additional city and suburban dwellers will be hit with “significant” plane noise, although the affected land area will shrink with the runway switch, environmental impact maps indicate.
City officials note that almost all recent city O’Hare noise complaints have come from the 41st Ward, where some homes have received subsidized soundproofing. Only a handful hail from the further east 39th and 45th wards, which don’t qualify, they say.
Walsh, a member of the Fair Allocation in Runways coalition, lives outside the area predicted for significant noise. He says the level he lives with now is annoying to him and many other Northwest Siders. By Thursday, he’s predicting it will be worse.
“They [officials] can talk all the numbers they want,” Walsh said. “We are here. We live it.’’
For years, suburbanites who don’t vote in the city have tackled airport noise from O’Hare, but the issue threatens to spread to more city residents who do vote in Chicago.
The new, $1.28 billion 10C/28C runway will be used largely for day arrivals. It is one of three parallel runways absorbing just under a quarter of all daytime landings averaged annually, city predictions indicate. That move alone will increase day arrivals on 27L to 327 from 213, or by 53.5 percent on average annually, a Sun-Times analysis of city predictions shows.
At night, when O’Hare usually consolidates arrivals and departures onto one runway each, all planes will land on 27L about 70 percent of the year, city officials told the Chicago Sun-Times.
During that time, 27L — the closest runway to airport terminals — will absorb, on average, slightly more than 100 flights over nine hours, city data predictions indicate. The bulk will land from 10 p.m. to midnight and from 5 to 7 a.m., city aviation department documents indicate.
“In west flow, which is expected to occur about 70 percent of the time during the year, Runway 27L would most likely be getting all nighttime arrivals,’’ Greg Cunningham, a city Department of Aviation spokesman, told the Chicago Sun-Times in an email.
“I’m stunned. It’s the worst nightmare I could ever think of,’’ said Walsh. Cargo planes between 5:20 and 6 a.m. already wake him regularly.
“Our houses are rumbling, they are literally shaking now at night,’’ Walsh said. “They need to equally distribute traffic when a runway goes in.’’
Cunningham noted that the Kennedy Expy. and I-294 interchange are “directly under the flight path” of 27L, so using it is in line with the “Fly Quiet” program that encourages flights over less-populated areas, including highways.
“Spreading air traffic around the airport by utilizing multiple runways would impact more residents,’’ Cunningham said.
Jac Charlier, a leader of the Fair Allocation in Runways coalition, said he has been expecting increased air traffic during the day and especially at night in at least three Northwest Side wards, but no public data so far has explicitly stated that runway 27L would absorb all night arrivals 70 percent of the year.
In the last month, the coalition has left door hangers at 8,000 homes, mostly in the three Northwest Side wards, saying “kiss your property values goodbye” and that “you can hear the planes, but you were not heard’’ before decisions were made on O’Hare runway use.
The new information is “gonna fire people up,’’ Charlier said. “This is a game changer.’’
U.S. Reps. Mike Quigley and Jan Schakowsky (both D-Ill.) last week wrote city aviation officials, saying “changes must be explored” to planned flight patterns.
Quigley told the Sun-Times he recognizes O’Hare as an economic engine whose east-to-west routes will “dramatically improve the flow of air traffic across the country’’ and save millions in reduced delays and cancellations.
However, Quigley said, he has asked the City Aviation Department to “re-evaluate” and “try to use as many runways as possible at all times, including nights. I’m trying to spread the burden out as much as possible.’’
In addition, the lawmakers have asked the Federal Aviation Administration to re-evaluate the level of noise that qualifies homes for sound insulation.
“I think they should reduce it significantly,’’ Quigley said. “It was an arbitrary figure.’’

“We appreciate the role the new runway plays in safe and efficient flight operations,’’ Quigley and Schakowsky wrote. But “we don’t believe that vibrant neighborhoods and stable property values should be sacrificed solely in the name of airport efficiency and economic growth.’’
Charlier and others say they can’t understand why some city neighborhoods will be forced to shoulder the bulk of night-time O’Hare traffic and why daytime traffic can’t be split equally among all four existing parallel runways instead of mostly three.
Lisa Ziems, who helped the Fair Allocation in Runways coalition distribute door hangers, said she and her husband bought their home in the Hollywood-North Park area seven years ago to enjoy the quiet of the North Park Village Nature Center across the street. Now she can’t walk through it without planes overhead.
Currently, she said, her family sleeps with the windows closed, the air conditioning on and a sound machine running to keep out flight noise. But other neighbors sleep with windows open and hear flight noise, she said.
“It’s not fair that one community bears the biggest brunt,’’ Ziems said.
Ald. Mary O’Connor (41st) said she inherited the O’Hare Modernization deal, and “stopping a multi-billion dollar plan at the zero hour is not realistic.’’ However, she said she will continue to seek noise monitors and sound insulation “and any other resource that will help limit the impact.’’
With O’Hare located in the 41st Ward, residents “are used to having planes fly over their heads” and “our property values continue to be some of the strongest in the city ,’’ O’Connor said.
The good news on the Northwest Side, said Ald. John Arena (45th), is that by the time the Modernization Program fully expands to include a total of four parallel runways and two runway extensions, day arrivals on 27L should shrink to near nothing, so residents in his ward can eventually enjoy a peaceful outdoor barbecue or a glass of wine on their patios.
As a result, Arena said, FAiR’s door hangers warning of plummeting property values amount to “screaming fire in a theater.’’ However, Arena conceded, he had not been told that all night arrivals would enter through 27L roughly 70 percent of the year.
Arena, a member of the city aviation committee and the O’Hare Noise Compatibility Commission, said city aviation officials told him using 27L allowed them to shut down a control tower at night and efficiently concentrate arrivals on the closest runway to terminals.
“Let’s see what the real numbers are,’’ Arena said. “What are the costs of having two [arrival] runways at night and splitting it up a bit?’
However, Walsh noted that completion isn’t due until 2020, and funding for the next runway is still uncertain. “Why would you spend millions on O’Hare and build a runway that you can’t open [at night] because the tower is not open?’’ Walsh said.
He hears “double the noise’’ he encountered when he bought his home 22 years ago and expects things to only get worse. “If I wanted to buy a home by the airport for half of my property value, I would have done that,’’ Walsh said. “But I bought a house 7.5 miles from the airport, and now I might as well live next door to the airport.”
Twitter: @rosalindrossi

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