Thursday, January 31, 2008

The West Suburban Journal Exposes Yarbrough and Smith!!!

An article exposing Karen Yarbrough and Ed Smith using governmental property for state purposes was recently published in the West Suburban Journal. Here's the article written by L. Nicole Trottie and Kevin Williams:

Broadview residents demanded answers to the cozy arrangement
between the village and two elected officials at the Tuesday, January
22, village board meeting.

The Journal-News first reported January 17, on office space
accommodations provided to Congressman Danny K. Davis (7th
District) and State Rep. Karen Yarbrough (7th District) by the Village
of Broadview located at 2301-2305 Roosevelt Road.

The large vacant building, once owned by a print manufacturer, was
offered to Davis and Yarbrough about three years ago, rent free
minus utilities, by Broadview mayor Henry Vicenik and the village
board, according to Vicenik.

Sue Henry, of Broadview, spoke Tuesday at the village board
meeting about the “corruption” and fleecing of taxpayers.

“You and the board agreed to give office space to Congressman
Davis and Karen Yarbrough at no charge?” Henry said to Vicenik.

“As a Broadview taxpayer, I don’t agree to that.”

Documentation received by the Journal-News under the Freedom of
Information Act confirms that no lease or lease payments by Davis
and Yarbrough are on record with the village. Vicenik said the board’
s decision to offer the space rent free was never a board agenda

The agreement between the village and state officials, solidified by a
gentlemen’s handshake, is in violation of the Open Meetings Act,
according to Henry who is also a District 209 School Board member.

Vicenik counters, the decision by the board is justified as providing a
service to Broadview residents.

“I thought it would be good for the village and residents to have a
state representative and congressman here as a resource for the
people of Broadview,” Vicenik said Tuesday.

Henry, fired back, “who gave you the right to do that? Who gave you
the right to use our tax dollars to do that?”

Vicenik refused comment.

Campaign controversy

Vicenik and the board were also taken to task by residents about a
political campaign office run out of the same building occupied by
Davis and Yarbrough.

Vicenik plead temporary memory loss when it came time for
explanation. “I was not aware of a political office,” he said. But
residents and Henry didn’t buy it.

“Come on mayor, how could you not know a political office was
running out of there when campaign workers from the West side are
coming in and out of Broadview, day and night, parking illegally on
the sidewalk to load up Ed Smith political signs into trucks,” Henry

Yarbrough, also the Proviso Township Democratic committeeman,
operates the Democratic Party Organization from the rent free space
at 2301 Roosevelt Road in Broadview, according to Yarbrough ally
and Maywood trustee Gary Woll. A “separate office”, once used to
house Ceasefire, a state funded program disband last year, is
allegedly used for the committeeman office. However, the separate
office does not have a separate address, or separate outside
entrance or exit.

Ed Smith, a 28th Ward Alderman from Chicago’s West side, is
challenging incumbent and Democratic Party candidate Eugene
“Gene” Moore of Maywood for the Cook County Recorder of Deeds

Yarbrough, a long-time political nemesis of Moore, is campaign co-
chairman for Ed Smith. Larry Shapiro, administrative assistant to
Congressman Davis, also works for Smith as the campaign
communication spokesperson, according to Smith’s website.

Shapiro is under investigation for allegedly living in subsidized
housing in the Village of Bellwood.

Requests by the Journal-News under the Freedom of Information Act
for a list of village owned real estate and tenants was denied by
village attorney’s Ancel and Glink on condition of ‘civilian privacy

About two weeks ago, campaign workers were photographed, by
Maywood residents Dorothy Lane Thomas and Lula Greenhow,
carrying out yard signs for Smith, from the front door entrance of
2301 Roosevelt Rd. The address is listed on several Illinois
government websites as one of Davis’ local offices.

Most candidates running for elected office publicize their campaign
headquarters address and phone number, said former Proviso
Township Democratic Committeeman, Moore.

“When I was committeeman we rented a visible office space on 5th
Avenue (in Maywood)…everyone knew where we were. We paid
rent,” Moore said. “We operated our organization up front and by
the book. I can’t say the same for this new organization... they are
giving the Democratic Party a bad name at a critical point in election

Smith’s political headquarters location is not listed on campaign
literature, including his website. Also, the campaign phone number is

Henry said the whole setup reeks of corruption. “Who would run a
legitimate campaign and not publish the address and phone
number?” she said.

“You want people to know where you are, unless you’re doing
something suspect.”

Smith, in December 2007, reported $84,658 in campaign
expenditures, according to Illinois State Board of Election semi-
annual disclosure statements. The report also lists Smith’s campaign
office address at 2301 Roosevelt Rd in Broadview, but shows no
itemization for rent paid by Smith’s campaign to the Village of
Broadview or another party.

Smith gets booted out of Broadview

Mayor Vicenik announced Tuesday that he and the board will meet
with the village attorney to draft a formal paid lease agreement for
Davis and Yarbrough.

Vicenik added the village will shut down the political office and all
political activity.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Secretary of State Jesse White Endorses Eugene "Gene" Moore

Secretary of State Jesse White, the former Cook County Recorder of Deeds, has endorsed Eugene "Gene" Moore for re-election. White says Gene has done an excellent job as his successor and deserves another term. We agree. Vote for Eugene "Gene" Moore on February 5, 2008.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Barack Obama Wins South Carolina Primary!!!

According to the Associated Press news wire, Barack Obama routed Hillary Rodham Clinton in a racially-charged South Carolina primary, regaining much-needed campaign momentum with the help of black voters in the prelude to next month's coast-to-coast presidential nomination competition in which nearly half the U.S. states will vote.

Former Sen. John Edwards, who has yet to win any of the early state contests, was running third, a sharp setback in his native state where he triumphed in his 2004 vice presidential campaign.

Landslide margins among black voters fueled Obama to his win, allowing him to overcome the edge that Clinton and Edwards had among whites in the first Southern state where the Democrats competed.

South Carolina's Democratic race was particularly significant for Obama, who is aiming to become the U.S.'s first black president, because it was the first contest in which blacks were expected to factor large in the outcome.

Blacks accounted for about half of the voters, according to polling place interviews, and four out of five supported Obama. Black women turned out in particularly large numbers. Obama, the first-term Illinois senator, got a quarter of the white vote while Clinton and Edwards split the rest.

"The choice in this election is not about regions or religions or genders," Obama said at a boisterous victory rally. "It's not about rich versus poor, young versus old and it's not about black versus white. It's about the past versus the future."

An exultant Obama said his overwhelming win in South Carolina disproved notions that Democratic voters are deeply divided along racial lines.

"We have the most votes, the most delegates, and the most diverse coalition of Americans we've seen in a long, long time," Obama said. "You can see it in the faces here tonight. They are young and old; rich and poor. They are black and white; Latino, Asian and Native American."

The audience chanted "Yes we can" as Obama continued on with his victory speech in a primary that shattered turnout records.

The victory was Obama's first since he won the kickoff Iowa caucuses on Jan. 3. Clinton, a New York senator and former first lady, scored an upset in the New Hampshire primary a few days later. They split the Nevada caucuses, she winning the turnout race, he gaining a one-delegate margin. In an historic race, she hopes to become the first woman to occupy the White House, and Obama is the strongest black contender in history.

'They wanted something different'
The South Carolina primary marked the end of the first phase of the campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, a series of single-state contests that winnowed the field, conferred co-front-runner status on Clinton and Obama but had relatively few delegates at stake.

That all changes in 10 days' time, when New York, Illinois and California are among the 15 states holding primaries in a virtual nationwide primary. Another seven states and American Samoa will hold Democratic caucuses on the same day.

"South Carolina voters rejected the politics of the past and they wanted something different," said Robert Gibbs, a spokesman for Obama.

Clinton issued a statement saying she had called Obama to congratulate him on his victory. She quickly turned her focus to the primaries ahead. "For those who have lost their job or their home or their health care, I will focus on the solutions needed to move this country forward," she said.

Democrats clash in South Carolina
All three contenders campaigned in South Carolina on primary day, but only Obama and Edwards arranged to speak to supporters after the polls closed. Clinton decided to fly to Tennessee, one of the Feb. 5 states, leaving as the polls were closing.

After playing a muted role in the earlier contests, the issue of race dominated an incendiary week that included a shift in strategy for Obama, a remarkably bitter debate and fresh scrutiny of the former president's role in his wife's campaign.

Each side accused the other of playing the race card, sparking a controversy that frequently involved Bill Clinton.

"They are getting votes, to be sure, because of their race or gender. That's why people tell me Hillary doesn't have a chance of winning here," former President Clinton said at one stop as he campaigned for his wife, strongly suggesting that blacks would not support a white alternative to Obama.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Bellwood Loses A Good Man!!!

The Proviso Herald's Catherine Gran reports that many are mourning the death of Bellwood Dep. Police Chief Randolph Leslie.

The 46-year-old Elmhurst resident, formerly of Bellwood, died Jan. 11 from multiple myeloma, a plasma cell cancer.

Dozens of police vehicles from surrounding communities led a funeral procession Jan. 16 for Bellwood Dep. Chief Randolph Leslie, 46, a 24-year veteran of the department.

"I knew him as a kid," said Bellwood Village President Frank Pasquale. "He and my son played together at the Boys Club."

"He was more than a mentor, said Dep. Chief Rich Blass. "He was a friend."

Leslie was a 24-year veteran of the Bellwood Police Department. After graduating from Proviso West High School in Hillside, he went on to receive a bachelor of arts degree in criminal justice and a master's degree in safety administration from Lewis University at Romeoville.

A member of the Bellwood-based Boys and Girls Club of West Cook County in his youth, Leslie continued his affiliation with the organization, serving as a board member and as president of the board.

"He wanted to stay with the organization and give back to the community he grew up in," Blass said.

Leslie's commitment to Bellwood continued through his work with the police department. After starting as a part-time officer, he soon became a full-time patrol officer.

"He was promoted to detective, and that was the job he liked best," Blass said. "He had the rare distinction of solving every homicide he was assigned.

"As a division commander, I reported to him," Blass said. "I have to say, I got much more out of that deal than he did. He showed me all the operations.

"He also received numerous awards of distinction, and a lot of those awards were ones where his peers selected him. It was great to work with him, and for him."

"Eight years ago when I came in as mayor, he was a patrol officer," Pasquale said. "He kept moving up the ranks.

"And his word was his bond. If he said something, you could take it to bank.

"He had a great rapport with his men," Pasquale continued. "When he was nominated as deputy chief, nobody had any doubts about his capability, loyalty and leadership.

"He was one of a kind, a great worker. He followed up. If I gave him something to do, I knew I didn't have ask if it got done.

"He was rare commodity," Pasquale added. "First and foremost, he was a family man. We all wear many hats. He was proudest of being a family man."

Blass agreed.

"When he wasn't not in office taking care of us, he was at home taking care of his family," Blass said. "He stayed in the office for as long as it took to get the job done, but he was always raring to get back to his family."

Blass called Leslie a "policeman's policeman."

"I continued to consult his expertise, even when he was out sick," Blass said. "We'd conference at his home, or I would call him to ask his advice. Now I just hope he still hears me."

Survivors include his wife, Christine; children Andrew, Randy, Nicky and Isabella; mother, Nancy; brothers Bradley and Todd; grandparents Edward Leslie and Mary Groh; one uncle and eight nieces and nephews.

Services were held Jan. 16. Arrangements were made by Hursen's Funeral Home in Hillside.

Memorials may be made to the Leslie Children's Education Fund c/o Community Bank of Elmhurst, 330 W. Butterfield Road in Elmhurst, 60126.

Education Summit "A Good Start!!!"

The Proviso Herald reports that Superintendent Bob Libka of Proviso High School District 209 called Tuesday night's Education Summit "a good start" in what he hopes will be ongoing improved interaction and communication between the district and its residents.

About 50 people showed up at the Proviso Mathematics and Science Academy in Forest Park for the opportunity to have discussions, make suggestions, voice concerns and ask questions.

Participants from the community divided themselves into groups of five to eight people to discuss the following questions that were provided by the district:

• What are the challenges we face with educating young people today?

• How can our schools better meet the needs of our communities?

• What are the weaknesses or concerns you have about the district in educating our young people today?

• What should the district focus its efforts on in the future, and what suggestions do you have?

• How can the community collaborate with our district to better serve the needs of our young people?

• How can we make education important to our communities?

• What about Proviso Township High Schools makes you proud today, and what should we do that will increase that pride?

• Had you expected a necessary question that wasn't asked? If so, what?

Libka said feedback from theses questions will be reviewed by district officials, who will compile a report based on the feedback. In addition, these questions are to be posted on the district's Web site, so that other interested community members may respond.

Some of the concerns and suggestions made by community residents after group discussions included a need for better communication between the district and the residents it serves, a lack of parental involvement, budget cuts, transportation for students, after-school activities for students and teaching parents how to make education important in their homes.

"I wish we would have had more people here, but I'm excited to see some new faces," Libka said. "This is a start, and we plan to do more things like this in the future."

One of the participants in the Education Summit was Al Molby, superintendent of Hillside School District 93, which feeds into Proviso West.

"I came to this (Education Summit) because it's an important step for (District 209) to develop as many avenues of communication as (it) can," he said. "What goes on (in District 209) affects us as a feeder school. What serves the high schools best serves my district best, too."

Veronica Morales, a Hillside resident whose daughter is a freshman at Proviso West, said the Education Summit was a good idea.

"It gives parents a chance to ask some questions and give some feedback," she said.

Proviso Administrators Suspend Students!!!

According to a release from District 209, Proviso Township High School District Superintendent Bob Libka issued the following statement in response to an altercation involving Proviso students in the parking lot of Proviso West following the Proviso East versus Proviso West basketball game last evening:

We have zero tolerance for violence of any sort on school grounds. Period. Per the direction of the school board, this administration will act swiftly and severely to ensure the safety of our students, teachers, and staff, as we have done here. The only good news from this unfortunate incident is that no one was seriously injured.

The 13 PTHS 209 students arrested by Hillside Police have been suspended for ten (10) days. Pending the outcome of the district's internal investigation, some or all of the students involved in the altercation may face additional disciplinary action, including expulsion. We are following the process as provided in the district's handbook.

Further, we are reviewing the events that gave rise to this incident as well as examining our present level of security at school functions such as basketball games to determine if improvements can be made that would enhance our ability to prevent an incident like this from happening again.

Those seeking more information about this matter are encouraged to contact PTHS 209 Communications Coordinator, TaQuoya Kennedy, at (205) 420-8896 or via e-mail at

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Remembered!!!

The United States observed the birthday of slain civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for the first time on this day in 1986. It was signed into law as a federal holiday in 1983. Born on January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, King attended Morehouse College where the college president, Dr. Benjamin Mays, had such an impact on his life he influenced him to study for the ministry after graduation. King later graduated from Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, PA, and earned a doctorate of philosophy degree from Boston University in 1955. Through his advocacy of nonviolence, beginning with the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955 and countless marches and speeches, the Baptist minister and world renowned civil rights leader led a group of Atlanta ministers to form the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). His life's work made an indelible mark in world history. In 1964, Dr. King became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. He was assassinated on April 4, 1968. Let's all pause and remember and great man and his legacy.

Friday, January 18, 2008

John Stroger Dies!!!

Former Cook County Board President John Stroger died today at 8 a.m., nearly two years after suffering a stroke that ended a political career spanning four decades.

"He dedicated his life to his family and gave generously of himself as an elected official. His love for this county knew no bounds and he will be deeply missed,'' said his son Todd, who succeeded his father as board president.

John Stroger suffered a stroke on March 14, 2006, and he had been in hospice care at Warren Barr Pavilion in the city during the days leading up to his death. His condition started worsening last night, close associates said.

His family was by his side Thursday night, said Donna Dunnings, John Stroger's niece.

"My family appreciates all the prayers and support that we've had during this long struggle," said Dunnings, referring to the period since John Stroger's stroke as "a long, tiring process with peaks and valleys throughout."

Dunnings described her uncle as "a caring, giving, loving man," who always put people first.

Dunnings said the family was not with him when he died. Todd Stroger was dropping his children off at daycare at the time, Dunnings said.

Late this morning, workers were putting up purple and black bunting at the County Building in remembrance of John Stroger.

The elder Stroger moved to Chicago in 1953, joining the 3rd Ward organization of Ralph Metcalfe, the Democratic committeeman and future congressman. John Stroger was named Democratic committeeman of the 8th Ward in 1968 and elected to the County Board two years later with the support of then-Mayor Richard J. Daley. He became board president in 1994.

What would be John Stroger's final campaign took a tragic turn just one week before the March 2006 primary when he was hospitalized after suffering a stroke that physicians ultimately concluded was "serious" and would prevent him from returning to "a baseline normal state."

Last month, Todd Stroger talked about his father.

"Life is what it is. You've got to deal with it. Hell, Job didn't complain," Todd Stroger told the Sun-Times. Seizures stunted his father's progress, he said.

"There comes a point where the biggest thing is just trying to make sure he's comfortable," his son said. "Make sure he's comfortable. Make sure he doesn't get sick. That's about all you can do."

Services will be held at St. Felicitas Catholic Church on the South Side. A time has not yet been announced.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Reward for Officer Thomas Wood Raised to $100,000

The FBI and the village of Maywood are offering a reward of up to $100,000 for information in the 2006 murder of Maywood Police Officer Thomas Wood.

The reward is offered for information that leads to the identification and arrest of the person or persons responsible for the officer's murder in the near west suburb.

A nine-year veteran of the Maywood police, Wood was found shot to death in his marked patrol car near 6th Avenue and Erie Street at the end of his scheduled afternoon shift on Oct. 23, 2006, according to a release Tuesday from the Chicago office of the FBI.

Wood, 37, a canine officer for Maywood, was in the driver's seat and had been shot multiple times. The engine was running when found. Robbery did not appear to be a motive, according to the release, since Wood's weapon and wallet were still on him when he was found.

Wood was active in the Maywood Police Department's effort to investigate and eliminate gang activity in the village, the FBI said, and it is believed his murder was related to these efforts.

In addition to publicizing this reward offer, the FBI's Chicago office will be assisting Maywood police in the murder investigation and will begin investigating gang activity and drug trafficking in the suburb.

Anyone with information about the murder should call the FBI at (312) 421-6700.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Eugene "Gene" Moore for Cook County Recorder of Deeds!!!

The Insider believes that Eugene Moore deserves four more years as Cook County Recorder of Deeds. Under Eugene Moore's leadership that office has been brought into the new century, documents can be viewed online as far back as 1985, and the office generates millions every year for the County's coffers. Moore's opponent is a longtime political hack connected to Proviso Township Democratic Committeeman Karen Yarbrough and Regional Superintendent of Schools Charles Flowers. The mismanagement being revealed in the Regional Superintendent's office is exactly what would happen to the Recorder's office if Moore's opponent is elected. We believe Moore should get four more years.

Howard Brookins For Cook County State's Attorney

The Insider believes that people in Proviso Township would be best served by electing attorney Howard B. Brookins, Jr. as the next Cook County State's Attorney. Brookins, a civil rights attorney in private practice and a Chicago Alderman, has pledged to crack down on prosecuting bad cops. He also wants to diversify the office of 850 prosecutors. We believe Brookins has a vision and is the candidate best fitted to serve as this county's top prosecutor.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Charles Flowers Has Personal Assets Frozen!!!

The Daily Southtown recently reported that former Proviso SD209 board member and current Regional Superintendent of Schools Charles A. Flowers has had his personal assets frozen for failure to pay taxes. Flowers has always run campaigns holding himself out as a reformer. Yet, he doesn't pay his taxes. How is his office funded? Taxes. How are schools funded? Taxes. Should a person who does not pay his taxes be allowed to hold public office?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Daily Southtown Exposes Charles Flowers!!!

The Daily Southtown's Sunday edition carried a story exposing new Regional Superintendent Charles A. Flowers. The headline read: Does the Watchdog need to be watched? Here's the article by Angela Caputo, Staff writer:

In his first six months on the job, the office of suburban Cook County's top school official - whose assets are frozen for failure to pay taxes - has grown to include senior staffers with track records of misusing school money and even steering a local district toward financial ruin.

Their mission, they say: to root out corruption in the 143 school districts they oversee.

Suburban Cook County Regional Supt. Charles Flowers has put school officials on notice: Get on board with his reform agenda or face the legal consequences.

"If it doesn't apply to you, don't listen to it," is Flowers' message to any superintendent who's operating aboveboard.

But the warning has struck a nerve with some Southland administrators already angered by a sharp decline in service at the office - which acts as a liaison between school districts and the state board of education - since Flowers took the post this past summer.

"Where's the corruption?" said Orland School District 135 Supt. Dennis Soustek. "The regional office of education is saying they're targeting corruption. Are they on a witch hunt for it?"

Rolling out reform

When south suburban school administrators gathered for a breakfast meeting at the Doubletree Hotel in Alsip this fall, Charles Flowers launched his reform campaign by introducing himself and his new director of ethics and fiscal compliance, Willie Mack.

That's when school officials realized the event was anything but routine.

Mack, who earns $87,900 a year, put the school officials on notice that it's his job to crack down on the region's corrupt administrators.

What type of corruption the regional superintendent's office is trying to root out is vague. Flowers said he's fielded calls about residency and homeless enrollment disputes but declined to specify what complaints he's forwarded to the Cook County state's attorney's office for investigation. A state's attorney's office spokesman declined to elaborate on any information received from the superintendent.

Mack is a familiar face among the region's administrators. He worked as the superintendent of Calumet School District 132 in the late 1990s but was forced from the job. He also briefly held the top administrative job in west suburban Bellwood District 88 in 2005 but was fired just months into his contract for suspected misuse of money, according to the Maywood Herald, a Sun-Times News Group publication.

Evergreen Park High Supt. Jim Gallagher, known for aggressively guarding District 231 from non-resident enrollment, said he thought Flowers' warning went too far.

"Nowhere in the school code does it say that the regional superintendent can get involved (in residency issues)," Gallagher said. "It's a local decision."

Reform roots

Flowers won a seat on a west suburban Maywood-Melrose Park District 89 school board for his reputation as a reformer nearly a decade ago. Initially, he led the charge to scrutinize spending. He railed against a lax attitude toward academic accountability among the administrators. And he heeded the public's advice on how to turn the situation around.

After being named the board's president two years later, however, Flowers' reputation began to spoil because he authorized frivolous spending and hired friends at salaries higher than their previous jobs, according to an analysis by the Maywood Herald.

He came under fire in 2002 for hiring eight administrators - including a new Supt. Elizabeth Reynolds - from Park Forest School District 163, where he had worked the year before as director of special education.

While the district was grappling with a $3 million budget shortfall that school year, the board approved a new laptop computer and cell phones for themselves.

Other questionable expenses revealed by an audit include $16,764 on food and snacks, $26,200 on cellular telephone bills and $30,000 for out-of-town conventions where alcohol and room service were purchased through the school district's credit card during the 2002- 03 school year while Flowers was the school board president and Elizabeth Reynolds was the superintendent.

And after buying 200 new laptop computers during that school year, 194 sat in unopened boxes in a storage room. They were found by the Oak Brook-based auditing firm PTW & Co. The district spent $277,000 on the unused equipment.

'They don't even answer the phone'

The reputation of the regional superintendent's office has suffered under Flowers' leadership, according to some Southland school administrators.

Decisions such as assigning Deputy Supt. Harry Reynolds to conduct an inspection at Calumet School District 132 - where his wife, Elizabeth, presides as superintendent - have generated criticism.

But the real frustration lies in the office's inability to answer phone calls and return messages, school officials say.

"The general feeling is that we don't know where they're at or what they're doing," District 218 Supt. John Byrne said. "They don't even answer the phone."

In District 218, for example, 60 sophomores are waiting to enroll in a geometry class, but that can't happen until certification for a new teacher is complete. Under the former regional superintendent, certification would have been done by now, Byrne said.

Flowers attributes the holdups to staffing shortages at the state board of education.

In a spartan office tucked in the corner of an aging Westchester school building, Flowers' office buzzes with activity. Teachers line up at a reception desk with questions about their certification status. Staffers dig through battered filing cabinets for answers while juggling a steady stream of phone calls.

Most of the current staff is new under Flowers, who said the office and its employees are just hitting stride.

Six months into the fiscal year, however, a budget has yet to be drawn, meaning administrators don't have a clear plan for how they'll spend the roughly $1.2 million, mostly in tax revenue, they'll receive this year.

"It continues to be a work in progress," Flowers said via e-mail in response to a Freedom of Information Act request seeking the financial information. "I can't provide information that does not exist."

Nonetheless, the office has managed to bulk up staff to include two new administrative assistants, both of whom are Flowers' relatives. Top-tier administrators, all of whom hold doctorate degrees, also have received pay raises - with salaries ranging between $75,244 and $100,325 - more than doubling in some cases when compared to the same positions under former Regional Supt. Bob Ingraffia. In Ingraffia's administration, for example, the office's third in command earned $55,822 per year compared with $87,901 this year.

Flower's assets were frozen for failing to pay his income tax - totaling $51,188 - in recent years, a fact that brings into question his ability to provide financial oversight, according to the Better Government Association, a watchdog group.

"If he can't manage his own finances how can he manage his office's finances?" said BGA director Jay Stewart.

Flowers told the SouthtownStar he's contesting the taxes, which accrued during his employment as a special education director in Tinley Park-based Kirby School District 146 and Park Forest District 163. He declined to elaborate on why he has such an overdue tax bill.

Whatever the reason may be, his chance for contesting a lien is likely over, according to Dan Pavlik, director of Loyola University's federal tax clinic. "The government only resorts to freezing assets like property after it's unable to collect a voluntary payment," he added.

Professional baggage

Like Flowers, most of his top staffers come to the office with professional baggage for having been fired from local superintendent posts.

Assistant superintendents Nichelle Rivers and Predonna Roberts were removed from administrative positions in recent years for the way they handled staff conflicts.

But Flowers' second in command, Harry Reynolds, who earns $90,293 a year, is perhaps best known for decisions that ultimately steered Hazel Crest District 152 1/2 to the verge of bankruptcy four years ago.

For the first time in Illinois history, the state bailed out a district and imposed its own oversight. Annual spending under Reynolds ballooned from $9 million to $15 million in just two years. A decision to rent mobile classrooms for $1,000 a day in an effort to reduce class sizes and improve instruction was among Reynolds' most expensive missteps.

But test scores declined. And some of the trailers sat empty because the schools where they were parked were closed to help balance the budget. Despite lagging scores and increased spending deficits, the board of education awarded Reynolds a $30,000 pay raise in 2003, his final year in the district. A spokeswoman with the state's teachers' retirement system couldn't confirm if Reynolds is currently collecting a pension.

The district continued to pay for the portable classrooms until this fall when the lease finally expired, according to the district's current superintendent, Sheila Harrison-Williams, who was hired by the state-imposed school finance authority. Under Harrison-Williams, the district has become financially solvent. Students in all of the district's schools have posted double-digit gains on standardized tests since she was hired.

Flowers attributes the previous firings and failings of his staff to "politics" and doesn't put much stock in them, including the cause for Reynolds' departure.

"I don't hire people based on rumors," he said. "I hire people who could get the job done."

Angela Caputo may be reached at or (708) 633-5993.

The Flowers Staff

Following Charles Flowers' election to oversee the Suburban Cook County Regional Office of Education as superintendent, he's tapped a handful of top-tier administrators with controversial tenures as local school administrators.

They include:

Willie Mack

director of ethics and fiscal compliance

Mack's most recently was employed in Illinois as the interim superintendent of Bellwood District 88 in 2005. His year-long, $150,000 contract began in July of that year but he received $750 per day in the three months before his contract took effect, according to the Melrose Park Herald, a Sun-Times News Group publication.

He only held the job for six months but came under fire first for signing off on a portion of $310,000 worth of legal bills, most of which were accrued before he took the job.

Mack was put on administrative leave shortly thereafter. The school board didn't publicly disclose the reason why it was suspending him, but one board member said it was because of a suspected misuse of money.

Nichelle Rivers

assistant superintendent

Rivers followed Mack into the superintendency in Bellwood District 88 in 2006. She was suspended from the job 11 months later for the way she handled an administrative matter that involved a principal storing pornography on a school computer.

Predonna Roberts

assistant superintendent

She was fired from her job as a junior high principal in Naperville District 203 over staffing conflicts.

In 2001, Roberts moved to the Southland. She landed an administrative job in Hazel Crest District 152 1/2 in 2002 under Harry Reynolds' administration.

In 2006 she went to Bellwood District 88 to fill another administrative job.

Harry Reynolds

deputy superintendent

Reynolds retired from Hazel Crest District 152 1/2 in 2003 after working in the district for three years, two of which he served as superintendent.

Under his leadership, the district's spending grew to exceed revenue by $6 million. The district was left in such bad financial shape when Reynolds departed that the state legislature formed a school finance authority to step in and save the district from collapse and dissolution.

Reynolds' wife Elizabeth, who is now the superintendent of Calumet School District 132, was working in Maywood-Melrose Park District 89 at the time, where Flowers was the school board president. The two are former colleagues in Park Forest District 163.

When Flowers was elected as the regional superintendent last year, Elizabeth Reynolds threw a semi-formal victory party for him, which, at the time, was frowned upon by some school officials and parents because of her own district's financial woes.

Flowers hired Reynolds' husband soon after.

The Reynolds are no stranger to conflict. The couple relocated to Illinois after a scandal-ridden stint in the Chattanooga Public School System, according to press accounts there. Reynolds, who then went by her maiden name, Gaines, resigned from her position as assistant superintendent there after it was revealed she had secretly married the superintendent.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Bachall Hardware Store Owner Murder Solved???

The Insider has learned from The Chicago Tribune that an 18-year-old man has been arrested and charged with the February 2007 slaying of the manager of a Maywood hardware store that had been a mainstay in the western suburb for decades.

Laurence Robinson was arrested this week by Maywood police and is charged with three counts of murder, attempted murder and aggravated discharge of a firearm for allegedly shooting Jeffrey Lowenthal, 53, of Maywood on Feb. 12. Lowenthal was shot three times at about 5:30 p.m. at Bahcall Hardware in what authorities believe was an armed robbery, according to the Cook County state's attorney's office.

Robinson was offered no bail after appearing before Cook County Circuit Judge James Zafiratos in the Maybrook Courthouse in Maywood Friday. Robinson's next court date is Wednesday.

Lowenthal was the manager of the family-owned store, which was founded in 1917 but has since closed. Its last day in business was Dec. 22.

Witnesses said Lowenthal was shot when he ran to the front of the store after hearing his 80-year-old mother, June, cry out when the gunman confronted her at the register.

The store at 1110 St. Charles Rd. was operated by a succession of family members.

Jeffrey Lowenthal, the youngest of three children, including two sisters, grew up in Maywood and moved to Buffalo Grove. He moved back to Maywood about 11 years ago, family members said. He was appointed to the Maywood Fire and Police Commission in 2002 by former Mayor Ralph Conner and was reappointed in 2006 by Mayor Henderson Yarbrough.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

High School To Host Education Summit!!!

Superintendent Bob Libka of Proviso High School District 209 is hoping for a large turnout of area residents for an Education Summit scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Jan. 22 at the Proviso Mathematics and Science Academy, 8601 W. Roosevelt Road, Forest Park.

The Education Summit offers residents the opportunity to express concerns and ideas and ask questions about District 209. Libka will be in attendance along with other administrators from the district.

"A lot of people have expressed concerns about education in the township," Libka said. "This (Education Summit) gives people the opportunity to speak directly to (district administrators) about their concerns and ideas. I think people who are interested in the district would be remiss if they didn't attend."

For more information about the Education Summit, call the District 209 offices, (708) 338-5959.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Hillary Clinton Wins New Hampshire Presidential Primary!!!

Hillary Clinton has apparently won the New Hampshire Presidential primary. The race between her and Illinois Senator Barack Obama was close all night, but it looks like Clinton pulled it out. Is this a set back for Barack? Can he win the nomination?

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Proviso E-Newsletter: Volume 9

You can help shape the future of PTHS 209!

Click here to view the above as a PDF document

For more information on the PTHS 209 Education Summit, please contact the PTHS 209 offices at 708.338.5959.

How else can I help ensure a bright future for PTHS 209?

The Proviso Township High School Foundation For Educational Excellence was established to provide additional resources to Proviso Township High Schools and District 209. The District 209 Board of Education saw a need to form a distinct foundation focused on raising funds for the purpose of purchasing much needed supplies. The Foundation will also supply funds to aide in facilitating the implementation of new educational programs within the Proviso Township High Schools which will enable the District to keep Proviso Rising.

The Foundation will work to promote student development, provide resources for enrichment, after school programs, youth mentoring and provide resources to motivate and encourage teachers to be innovative and creative in teaching and learning methods.

District 209 is looking for motivated individuals ready to assist in the enlistment of the volunteer leadership necessary to provide educational unity, understanding and cooperation throughout the District and the Proviso community.

The Proviso Township High School Foundation for Educational Excellence has provided an application for individuals interested in assisting in unique initiatives for the enhancement of academic excellence within PTHS 209.

If you are interested in applying, click here to download the application as a PDF document, complete it and email to or, print a copy and send it postal mail to:

Carla Johnson
Foundation Coordinator
8601 W. Roosevelt Road
Forest Park, IL 60130

Classes resume on Monday, January 7th
The first day of classes for the 2nd semester begin on Monday, January 7th for Proviso West, Proviso East and the Proviso Mathematics & Science Academy.

To view the full 2007-2008 school year calendar, please click here.

Whitney Young captures Proviso West Holiday Tournament title in overtime thriller
Chris Colvin scored with four seconds left in overtime to lift Whitney Young (pictured, right) to their third Proviso West Holiday Tournament championship as the Dolphins (9-1) avenged an earlier season loss to Homewood-Flossmoor 55-53. Young won previous Proviso West Tournament titles in 2001 and 2002. A J Rompza led the victors with 17 points. Tournament MVP Kevin Dillard -- who fouled out with 5:05 remaining in the fourth quarter -- led all scorers with 21 points for Homewood-Flossmoor. The Vikings (11-1) were dealt their first loss of the season. Click here to view the boxscore.

Proviso West All-Tournament Team named

Kevin Dillard, Homewood-Flossmoor (Tournament MVP)

AJ Rompza, Whitney Young

Supo Sanni, Homewood-Flossmoor

Mike DiNunno, Von Steuben

Ryan Hare, Marshall


Marcus Jordan, Whitney Young

Darius Smith, Marshall

Alex Dragievich, Glenbrook North

Oscar Macias, Morton

Peter Boehm, New Trier

For the full results of the Proviso West Holiday Tournament, please visit

Proviso East alum & Penn State volleyball superstar Arielle Wilson to visit Proviso East campus Jan. 9th

Penn State's volleyball superstar Arielle Wilson, who recently helped lead her Nittany Lions to the 2007 NCAA Volleyball national championship, will visit the Proviso East campus on Wednesday, January 9th at 9:00am. Wilson will speak to Proviso East seniors about her experiences winning the NCAA tournament and the importance of a college education. Wilson is a 2007 alum of Proviso East.

Click here to watch a one-on-one interview with Arielle Wilson from the Big Ten Network
Quote of the Week
"Education is that which liberates."

-Mohandas Gandhi, educator, political leader & activist

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Barack Obama Wins Iowa!!!

Barack Obama wins big in Iowa Presidential Caucus. He beat Senator John Edwards and Senator Hilary Clinton who came in second and third respectively. New Hampshire is next. Go Barack!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Illinois Bowled Over By USC In Rose Bowl!!!

This would have been a perfect Rose Bowl for the USC Trojans, except for the one thing they couldn't control. They couldn't pick their opponent. The sixth-ranked Trojans routed Illinois 49-17 on Tuesday and showed the rest of the country that, yes, maybe they are the best team in college football right now. Certainly, a better test might have come against Georgia or Virginia Tech, or maybe next week against Ohio State in the national title game.

Did Illinois even belong in the Rose Bowl?