Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Maywood Hit Hard By Foreclosures!!!

Chuck Feldman of the Proviso Herald reports on foreclosures in Proviso Township. According to Feldman, a few communities in Proviso Township had some of the highest rates of new foreclosure cases in the Chicago area in 2007, according to the National Training and Information Center.

NTIC, a Chicago non-profit group that has been working to reduce foreclosures since 1998, released a list in March of the foreclosure rates of 263 Chicagoland communities. The rankings are based on the number of new foreclosure cases per square mile in each community for 2007.

Although its increase in new foreclosure cases between 2006 and 2007 was 7.7 percent, compared to 251 percent in 2007 from 233 percent in 2006, Maywood ranked first for 2007 with 93 new foreclosure cases per square mile.

Maywood Mayor Henderson Yarbrough said he is unsure why the village heads the list.

"I don't know -- unless our community has been targeted because we're a majority minority community," he said. "Maywood is not really a really poor community; our median income is around $38,000. We've tried to educate our residents (about foreclosures) where we can with forums, but often that's after the horses have gotten out of the barn."

High rates of new foreclosures are common throughout the region, and Yarbrough said he believes that's often because those seeking a first-time mortgage or refinancing a home are misled by financial lenders.

"A lot of people get into these deals based on whatever the lender tells them," he said. "Once you get to the closing table, it's hard to get up and walk away. People can be very vulnerable in these situations, and they often are taken advantage of."

Few concerns
In Hillside, foreclosure cases have not been a big problem, Village Administrator Russ Wajda said. Hillside had 38 new foreclosure cases in 2006 and 52 new cases in 2007, according to NTIC.

One reason Hillside has not been hit as hard as other communities is its older population, Wajda said.

"Perhaps most of the homes are paid off," he said. "If there's no mortgage, there's no foreclosure."

In Melrose Park, Mayor Ron Serpico isn't overly concerned that foreclosures in the village increased from 75 in 2006 to 136 in 2007.

"It's a trying time, but we haven't found it to be a tremendous problem for us," Serpico said, adding that Melrose Park may be faring better than some communities because of a low number of home sales.

"There is little the village can do to address foreclosures, he said. "It's up to the state and federal government. That's not part of what we do. Can you imagine if we had any funds, how many people could we save? It's a virtual impossibility."

While the federal government has been concerned with foreclosures, its focus has not been on homeowners, Andrea Frye, NTIC spokeswoman, said.

"Up 'til now, it has to do with how we fix the financial markets and help Wall Street," she said. "We've been screaming for a long time that homeowners need relief."

Foreclosure causes
One of the reasons foreclosures have increased is structural. Mortgage brokers work on commission and get paid up front. The mortgages are then sold to investment companies, and the brokers have no more responsibility.

"Because the commitment to that loan was very short term, what we found was that people were placed into loans that were not going to be permanently affordable," Frye said.

An example is adjustable rate loans. A mortgage with a 30-year payback, for example, would start off with a lower or "teaser" interest rate for the first two years. The loan then increases to the full interest rate. For homeowners who are barely making their loan payments at the lower rate, an increase can be deadly.

Jim Shilling, a professor of finance at DePaul University's Center for Real Estate Research, said a number of economic factors have exacerbated the problem.

First, housing prices are down. If housing prices were rising, a homeowner at risk of foreclosure could merely sell their property. In a sinking market, selling would leave the homeowner still owing money.

Second, employment is down, especially higher-paid manufacturing jobs. At the same time, the cost of gasoline is at a record high, leaving homeowners with less money to pay their mortgage.

No one wins when a property is foreclosed upon, Shilling said. The homeowner loses their home and has their credit rating damaged. The neighborhood or community is disrupted.

Also, while foreclosures have been occurring more with lower end homes, the overall real estate market is negatively impacted. It's a bit like climbing a ladder, Shilling said.

"Purchasers of starter homes hope for significant property value gains," he said. "They then trade up to the next rung on the ladder. That increases housing prices. The middle (of the market) trades up, too. If the lower end experiences capital losses, it means less demand for the middle and the high."

District 209 Looking For Input On Superintendent Search...

Chuck Feldman of the Proviso Herald reported recently on the search for a new Superintendent. According to Feldman, seeking public input online and through a series of community meetings are part of the planned process as Proviso High School District 209 seaches for a new superintendent.

The Board of District 209 has hired School Exec Connect, a Highland Park firm with a history of conducting searches for school superintendents and other academic administrators, to coordinate its search. The decision for a superintendent's search was made by the Board in March, after members decided not to extend the one-year contract of Bob Libka.

"We want input from the community on this (search)," said Board President Chris Welch, who added he hopes to have a new superintendent selected by the end of June.

Starting this week, District 209 residents should be able to use the district's Web site,, to provide feedback to be used in the search for a new superintendent.

Representatives of School Exec Connect are planning some community meetings, but have not yet set dates for those gatherings.

The plan, Welch said, is for School Exec Connect to choose four to six candidates from those who apply for the superintendent's position. After conducting interviews, the Board then will narrow the field to two or three and visit the current home districts of the final candidates before making a choice.

District 209's new superintendent will be the district's fourth since the 2005-06 school year and seventh since the 1998-99 year.

Some believe the high turnover in the job could hinder potential candidates from applying; other don't believe it will be a problem.

"Our job is to go out and find someone," said Ed Olds, one of the two School Exec Connect principals working on the District 209 superintendent search. "Everything has its challenges, but this definitely can be done."

Tom Madden, the other principal from the search firm involved with District 209, said the high turnover of superintendents "will be a flag" to those looking into the position. However, he also said he believes there are good candidates who will be attracted by the challenge of working, and staying, in District 209.

Welch said he doesn't expect the high turnover of past superintendents to be a problem in finding a strong replacement for Libka.

"(School Exec Connect) already has had a lot of interest in the position just from posting it on their Web site," he said. "Proviso is a very attractive place to work. After some short-term (superintendents) who followed Greg Jackson, who was here for a long time (2000 to 2005), I'd say we're now ripe to have someone in here again for a long time. I know if I was looking for a job as a superintendent I'd love to work here in Proviso."

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Cook County Fire Suit Costs Taxpayers One Hundred Million!!!

Victims of the fatal 2003 fire at the Cook County Administration Building have settled lawsuits for a combined $100 million, their attorneys announced Monday afternoon.

The final three defendants, including the City of Chicago, averted a trial by agreeing to settle for about $75 million. Last week, Cook County and six other defendants settled for about an additional $25 million.

Jury selection was to begin Monday in the courtroom of Cook County Circuit Judge William Maddux. But lawyers instead spent much of the day meeting with Maddux behind closed doors.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Former Maywood Police Officer Wade Cleared!!!

According to Chuck Feldman of the Proviso Herald, a former Maywood police officer was acquitted April 14 by a jury in Cook County Circuit Court on charges of criminal drug conspiracy.

Arian Wade, 36, was charged in January 2005 in connection with a narcotics investigation aimed at individuals who sought to bribe police officers to not interfere with drug trafficking in Maywood. Wade worked for the Maywood police department for eight years.

Operation Pocket Change was initiated in August 2004 and conducted by investigators from the Cook County State's Attorney's Office, Maywood Police and the Cook County Sheriff's Police. The operation was prompted by a man approaching a Maywood police officer about taking a weekly bribe to protect various street corners on which transactions were taking place, prosecutors said. That exchange led to three officers posing as crooked cops who accepted approximately $1,200 a week to ignore drug operations in the area, according to the Cook County State's Attorney's Office.

Wade was charged after phone taps used in the operation allegedly caught him tipping off an individual who was under investigation.

Wade's attorney, James Kogut, said the person allegedly tipped off by his client -- Hosie Thurman, a leader of the Gangster Disciples -- was used by Wade as "a street contact."

"Police officers are trained to use street contacts to get information," Kogut said. "(Wade) used (Thurman) to get information, but they turned that against him."

Kogut said there was no real evidence against Wade.

"(Less than four hours) is a short time for a jury to deliberate on a case like this one," Kogut said. "The fact that the jury was able to (acquit Wade) in that short of a time shows the failure of the state's case to support the allegations." The trial started March 31.

Wade was placed on paid administrative leave after the January 2005 criminal charges were filed against him, but was fired Aug. 1, 2005 for theft, official misconduct and lying to superior officers, among other charges brought forth by then-Police Chief James Collier to the five-member Maywood Fire and Police Commission.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Threatening Message Closes Schools In SD88!!!

According to a report in the Proviso Herald, a Bellwood elementary school and middle school will be closed Tuesday after a threatening message was found Monday afternoon on a bathroom stall.

Bellwood police received a call from school officials at 2 p.m. Monday who reported a message was found written in the bathroom at Thurgood Marshall Elementary School, 2501 Oak St. The message, written in marker, read "Prepare to die 4/22/08," according to police.

School District 88 Superintendent Rosemary Hendricks took the advice of the police department and closed the school until further notice. Roosevelt Middle School, 2500 Oak St., will also be closed Tuesday as a precaution.

Bellwood Deputy Police Chief Richard Blass said bomb dogs from the Cook County Sheriff's Emergency Service Unit did a sweep of the building and found nothing. He said he hopes to have school back in session Wednesday.

Bellwood Police Commander Kevin Davis said the closing of the schools was a precautionary measure.

"In this day and age you have to be safe than sorry, especially after this incident at Northern Illinois University," he said. "You have to take precautions in this day and age."

As of Monday afternoon, Davis said there had been no arrests and police had no leads.

Anyone with information regarding the threatening message is asked to contact the Bellwood Police Department at (708) 547-3528.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Foul Play Alleged Over Melrose Park Little League Money...

The Chicago Tribunte reports in great detail on allegations of mis-spent Melrose Park Little League money:

A former treasurer of the Melrose Park Little League is accused of stealing more than $24,000 from two bank accounts held by the non-profit group, according to a lawsuit filed by the state attorney general's office.

Over a 10-month period starting in May 2003, Lisa A. Zito wrote two checks worth $1,160 to her mother, made $7,374 in payments on her husband's American Express card and withdrew $3,756 at ATMs, according to the lawsuit filed Thursday. She also wrote 11 checks worth $10,200 to cash and another, worth $350, to herself.
Zito has told the Tribune that others in the association were responsible for the missing funds. She said her tires were slashed and a sex toy was put on her front porch after she raised questions about the league's finances in 2005.

Five members of the league's board of directors have signed affidavits stating that the board did not authorize Zito to withdraw those funds and the payments were not made for legitimate business purposes. Messages left for two board members were not returned Saturday.

Without the board's knowledge, Zito opened a second account in the league's name at TCF National Bank, where she already had a personal account, according to an affidavit signed by league treasurer Sam Scardino.

Zito, the only person authorized to make payments from the new account, used it to siphon away more than $11,000 from the league, according to the lawsuit. She is also accused of taking more than $13,000 from the association's account at Banco Popular.

The lawsuit asks a court to award civil penalties and require Zito to pay restitution and fully account for how the money was spent. The attorney general's charitable trusts office has been investigating the case for roughly the past year, a spokeswoman said.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Former Forest Park Cop Pleads Guilty???

The Insider is receiving tips that former Forest Park copper Mike Murphy has plead guilty to the indictment against him. Does anyone have the details?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Did You Feel The Earthquake?

Residents in the Chicago area felt at least one aftershock Friday, hours after a 5.2 magnitude earthquake rattled skyscrapers in Chicago's Loop and homes in Cincinnati. No major injuries or damage were reported.

The follow-up tremor registered at 4.5 on the Richter Scale, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. At last three other aftershocks were measured at 2.5, 2.5, and 2.6, the National Earthquake Center reported.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

What's going on in SD88?

David Pollard of the Proviso Herald wrote an interesting story on SD88. Read the story below and comment on what you think is going on in SD88:

While some District 88 School Board members say dissension among officials is harming students' education, at least one maintains the board is making progress.

Bellwood School District 88 board member Althea Busby compared the board to passengers on a sinking boat.

"We're all in a boat with a hole in it," she said. "Instead of working together to plug the hole, there are some who are putting more water in the boat."

Busby said a change is needed soon.

"When are we as a Board of Education going to take education seriously?" she said. "I grieve because our children aren't being educated properly."

She said action taken at March 31 board meeting, when District 88 Board Member Marilyn Thurman proposed a motion to remove the school district's research evaluation and assessment position, was an example of the school board not focusing on education. Bellwood School Board President Tommy Miller seconded Thurman's motion and it was put to a vote.

The motion failed with three board members voting against it, two in favor and two abstaining.

Busby said she was speaking out of frustration because some members of the board wanted to get rid of the position, which she believes is needed.

"Every time we seem to get ahead in some areas there are factions that seem to pull us back," she said. "The director of evaluation and assessment knows where we were (in terms of academic test scores), where we are and how far we can get."

She said the position is essential to charting the students' academic performance in the district.

"How else can you do that?" she said. "Can you ask a teacher? This is the accountability factor for us to chart our students' academic performance."

Miller said he looked at eliminating the position as way to save $90,000 per year.

"Every year about this time there has been some complaint about a superintendent," Busby said. "This (is the time) when the (board's) concentration should be on the upcoming year."

"There are going to be some disagreements, but we are striving for the wrong things," she added.

Board Member Ronald Anderson said board members' hidden agendas have caused tension.

"The board president thinks he is the board," he said. "He wants to be the board and the superintendent. It's difficult when (superintendents) have that kind of pressure on them and are tiptoeing around."

The district has had a revolving door of superintendents, with four leaving the position since 2005. The current superintendent, Rosemary Hendricks, will start her second year of a three-year contract at the end of May.

Miller didn't respond to Anderson's accusations, but said on every board there are always varying opinions.

"I see a board working," he said. "When you are trying to make decisions, not everyone is going to agree. "On the board people have other opinions and you're not going to come up with the same ideas."

Board member Maria Castrejon agreed with Miller.

"It's never perfect," she said. "Everyone has their own ideas and has a voice. I think we'll be okay."

Miller said the main focus of the board should be doing what is best for the school district.

"The bottom line is you keep working for the kids," he said.

Proviso Says Goodbye to Arnie F. Bryant...

Our friends at the West Suburban Journal wrote this story about Arnie F. Bryant's Funeral:

“The hardest thing I’ve had to do in my life is to say good bye to him,” said John Taylor.

Arnie Bryant’s funeral was a testament to a remarkable life. His death triggered the sort of attention usually
reserved for revered politicians. His funeral included a motorcade comprised of area police departments to
proclamations from village presidents, judges, state representatives and churches.

Frankie, as friends and family called him, Proviso Township’s most popular social and political activist, died on
Apr. 8, from a brain hemorrhage. He was 49.

“He was more than a friend he was like a brother,” said best friend Taylor. He and Bryant met 22-years ago
while working at a university. “He founded a jobs for youth project that was a real hit for the city, but he took
little credit for the programs success. He was the guy behind the scenes who did all the work.”

Others would also describe Bryant as humble and compassionate.

“He was a Lunch Bucket Joe who fought for the little guy. He made life matter. He got involved in the affairs of
others to make a difference in their lives,” said Rev. Reginald Saffo, vice president of the NAACP.

Bryant helped define the social and political landscape of Proviso. He graduated from Proviso East High
School and became involved in community activism where he remained committed throughout his life. He
served as president of the Proviso NAACP for many years, Proviso Township trustee and in 2000 he incorporated the Leyden NAACP.

At the time of his death Bryant was the president of the Bellwood Library Board and hosted a local political talk radio show “View Points from the Other Side” on WJJG with co-host and Pioneer Press news editor Kevin

Bryant’s no nonsense on-air personality was the same as it was off the air. He seemed to embody Proviso with all of its excitement, controversy and optimism.

“I first met Arnie when he was a young man in his 20s. We worked together at the public works department for the Village of Maywood. Even in his 20s you knew then he was going to be leader,” said Maywood Mayor Henderson Yarbrough Sr. “There was something special about, Arnie.”

Bryant knew and worked with people from all walks of life. The variety of attendants at his funeral spoke to his diverse circle of friends and associates.

From day one he called me Uncle Frank, said Frank Pope of his first introduction to Bryant. “He was loving and kind, upright and just in all is ways.” “He would tell me, everyone should have an (Italian) Uncle Frank, but the truth is everyone should have a nephew like Arnie Bryant,” said Pope as he swallowed back tears.

Above all else, Bryant was best known for his commitment to family. His family was his bloodline.

“The passion he embodied was remarkable. My daddy was a great man. No one word can describe him… library, Proviso, NAACP… all pale in comparison to the great family man he was,” said Bryant’s daughter

Bryant was a devout Christian. He was baptized at Proviso Baptist Church and at the time of his death served as a member of New Horizon Missionary Baptist Church in Broadview led by Rev. Carl Hopson. Rev. Hopson described Bryant as a champion for all causes.

“My daughter Crystal went to college in Atlanta, said Hopson. She passed her exams but the college wouldn’t let her graduate. I called Arnie. He picked up the phone and called the university and Crystal walked across the stage,” eulogized Hopson followed by an enthusiastic, “Amen”.

Gladis was the love of his life. At Bryant’s funeral, Taylor spoke to Gladis’ from the pulpit, “in the twenty-two years that he and I were friends, he did not once fail to mention you in a conversation. You were the love of his life, Taylor said to Arnie’s widow Gladis.’

The couple had two children, Brittany and Frank (Alex), both of whom Bryant would gladly pass up an evening with the president to spend time with.

Brittany, a leader and activist like her father, heads the NAACP chapter in Las Vegas and will graduate from the University of Las Vegas Nevada in one month.

Frank, a football player and recent graduate from Walther Lutheran High School will head off to college this year. “Your father knew your heart, Frank… he knew your passion was in the theater,” said Taylor to the young Frank. “He would want you to follow your passion.

What do we tell future journalists, activists and educators about the legacy named Arnie Bryant?

We should tell them that there once was a guy here who lived larger than life, with a firm handshake, a bold commentary, a long stride, a penetrating eye, a giving spirit and a big-big heart.

At the funeral, Bryant’s family remembered the following words that he had once written down:

“I am the thought that slipped your mind; I am that homeless family you passed on the street. I am that feeling of regret you have for not giving to those who are less fortunate. I am the old winter coat you no longer wear, but refuse to give it to the needy. Who am I, I am your better part, I am your soul.”

Survivors include his wife, Gladis, daughter Brittany, son Frank, father Frank Anderson, a brother Raymond Bryant and sister Crystal King and a number of nieces and nephews.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Arrangements for Arnie F. Bryant!!!

Arrangements have been made for Arnie F. Bryant:

Visitation will be held Friday, April 11, 2008 from 3pm to 7pm at Corbin Funeral Home located on the corner of 10th and Madison Avenue in Maywood, Illinois.

Wake will be held Saturday, April 12, 2008 from 9am to 10am at New Horizon Baptist Church located at 2000 Roosevelt Road, Broadview, Illinois.

Funeral serivces will immediately follow in the Wake from 10am-11:30am at New Horizon Baptist Church at 2000 Roosevelt Road, Broadview, Illinois.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Breaking News: Arnie Bryant Dies From Massive Stroke!!!

The Insider has received word from numerous sources across Proviso Township that Bellwood Library Board President and former Proviso Township Trustee Arnie Bryant suffered a massive stroke on Monday evening and was rushed to Loyola Medical Center in Maywood where he died at 4pm on Tuesday. According to sources, Bryant did not feel well on Monday and eventually suffered a stroke around 5:30pm. Sources tell the Insider that Bryant was in critical condition until about 3pm on Tuesday. Shortly after being taken off life support, Bryant passed away with family by his side. Our hearts and prayers go out to the Bryant family at this time.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

District 209 Looking To Improve Transportation!!!

Chuck Feldman of the Proviso Herald reports that Proviso High Schools is looking to improve its transportation for students to and from High School. According to Feldman, with hopes of eventually providing free transportation to all of its students, the Board of Proviso High School District 209 has requested a hazard waiver from the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Attaining the waiver would be a big step toward improving transportation to and from school for students attending Proviso East in Maywood, Proviso West in Hillside and Proviso Mathematics and Science Academy in Forest Park, said TaQuoya Kennedy, spokeswoman for District 209.

In most cases the state allows free school transportation only to students living at least 1 1/2 miles from the school they attend. Children who live less than 1 1/2 miles from school but have to cross a busy street, railroad tracks, or walk by a street without sidewalks may be eligible for a refund of some of their parents' transportation costs, according to the Suburban Cook County Regional Office of Education.

"We have so many kids that have to walk to school," said Nikita Johnson, District 209's assistant superintendent of finance and operations. "Some of them have to walk through bad neighborhoods past gangs, and sometimes when there is inclement weather, they don't show up at all. So, requesting reimbursement is the first step in our plan to acquire transportation for all of our students."

Improving transportation, Johnson added, likely would help to "improve our attendance rate and improve student achievement."

"It is a struggle to give the students all that we have to offer if we can't even get them into the building," said Daniel Johnson, Proviso East assistant principal, "so, there is going to be a big push to get transportation."

Friday, April 04, 2008

Martin Luther King Assassinated 40 Years Ago Today!!!

Today marks the 40th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination. How have things changed? Is Proviso Township better today than it was 40 years ago or worse?

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

COMING SOON...Hillside Town Center!!!

The Proviso Herald reports significant development with the new Hillside Town Center. According to David Pollard of the Herald, four more stores have signed on to be a part of the project at Mannheim and Harrison joining Super Target, Staples and Holiday Inn Express. The development will be up and running by March 2009. Click this link to read more:,ma-newstores-040208-s1.article