Saturday, December 12, 2009

Proviso East Security Official Struck and Killed By Car...

The death of the 57-year-old man who was killed Friday night when he was struck by a vehicle in Maywood has been ruled an accident.

A Saturday autopsy by the Cook County Medical Examiner's office said George Smith, 57, of 929 W. 19th Ave. in Bellwood, died of multiple injuries in an auto vs. pedestrian accident. The accident happened at 1st Avenue and School Street in Maywood, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's office.

The victim, George Smith, 57, of 929 W. 19th Ave. in Bellwood, was taken to Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, where he was pronounced dead at 8:47 p.m. Smith was employeed at Proviso East High School as a school security official.

Maywood police were not immediately available Saturday night. School officials are preparing to have grief counselors available for students on Monday.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Is Charles Flowers' Office Closed For Good?

According to the Daily Southtown, Charles Flowers might just be the last regional superintendent in suburban Cook County.

Legislation in the works calls for abolishing the Suburban Cook County Regional Office of Education, as members of a committee backing the measure continue to toil away at a plan to efficiently distribute the responsibilities if the office disappears.

"We need to redesign the system," said Rep. Elaine Nekritz (D-Des Plaines), who introduced the bill to dissolve the office. "The real problem is the schools are not getting the services they need. I think eliminating that office is the best way to get those services."

Forest Ridge School District 142 Supt. Margaret Longo is leading a committee of academic, legal and financial minds proposing to disperse the regional office's current responsibilities to the three Intermediate Service Centers.

Suburban Cook's regional office - plagued by a lack of funding and being the largest in the state, with more than 140 school districts and 25,000 educators - is the only county in Illinois with the intermediate centers, which are charged with a number of duties other regional offices complete on their own.

The plan would be to work within the regional office's $1.5 million budget, increase assistance and bring the services closer to the teachers, Longo said.

"We understand the fiscal climate of our state," Longo said. "We just want a more effective use of our monies and time."

In effect, a number of districts that have run into roadblock after roadblock with Flowers' office have been operating without the regional office.

"It's been close to a year that I've even had to call them," said Atwood Heights School District 125 Supt. Tom Livingston, who, like many area superintendents, has directed his staff to neighboring regional offices and intermediate offices. "The call-back time, especially when I'd have an emergency like a student who may be considered homeless, was a problem."

It wouldn't be the first time the Legislature voted to do away with a regional office with a reputation of nepotism, bureaucracy and reckless spending. In 1991, lawmakers abolished the Cook County regional office of education, only to establish the suburban Cook County office, thanks in part to some heavy politicking.

With growing concerns regarding current Regional Supt. Flowers - who is the target of a criminal probe by the Cook County state's attorney's office for alleged financial and ethical misconduct - the calls to do away with the office once and for all are now louder than ever.

Flowers did not return calls for comment.

"It's just a shame that someone's lack of leadership and ineptness can cause a whole office to collapse, but if it will better serve the teachers, it has to be done," said Cook County Commissioner Elizabeth Doody Gorman (R-Orland Park).

Both Nekritz and Longo emphasize the legislation, which is expected to come up for a vote in the spring session, targets only suburban Cook's regional office, not any of the other 44 statewide. No one even filed for the 2010 race for Flowers' spot, a spokeswoman for Cook County Clerk David Orr said.

A number of Southland districts rely on the intermediate center in Chicago Heights, and they can lean even harder if the legislation goes through, executive director Vanessa Kinder said.

"I think it's a very good, sound plan," said Kinder, who serves on the committee. "We already have a great reputation in our districts, and we're in their back yards."


In a rush to avoid almost certain eviction for failure to pay more than $10,000 in back rent, regional schools chief Charles Flowers packed up the regional office of education and moved into a Broadview office building.

Seven working days later, Broadview officials closed it for not having the proper paperwork - namely an occupancy permit.

That was Nov. 10. As of Thursday afternoon, almost a month later, the office remained closed.

Not that anyone calling the regional office's general number would know. The voicemail message makes no mention of it. Only a message on the Web site reads "closed until further notice."

Numerous calls to the village of Broadview's building department were not returned.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Congressman Danny K. Davis to run for Re-Election for Congress, Drop Out of Race Against Todd Stroger

According to published reports in the Chicago Tribune, veteran U.S. Rep. Danny Davis today dropped his bid to challenge Cook County Board President Todd Stroger and said he will seek re-election to Congress.

Davis had hedged his bets by filing petitions for the Feb. 2 Democratic primary for county president as well as for the seat in Congress he has held for 13 years. A run for board president would end his career in the House.

"I am announcing today that I will not be a candidate for Cook County Board president and instead will run for reelection," Davis said at a morning news conference. He said he likes being a congressman and "I'm good at it."

Davis said he realized that it would be "politically dangerous" for candidates from the same political and community base to run at the same time.
Stroger still faces a crowded field of challengers that includes Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown, Ald. Toni Preckwinkle, 4th, and Metropolitan Water Reclamation District President Terrence O'Brien, the only white candidate for the Democratic nomination.

Black ministers earlier this fall had said they were worried the number of black challengers to Stroger could result in blacks losing the post, which an African American has held for more than a decade.

Davis said he met with Stroger Sunday as part of his decision process. "I talked with (Stroger) about the information I had and I talked with him about about the challenges of the race," Davis said.

Davis said it was a difficult decision but unity was the prime consideration. He said he will make an endorsement in the race but hasn't decided yet who it will be.

Several Democrats have filed to run for Davis' 7th District seat, but could opt to drop out now that he's staying in the federal race.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Todd Stroger Files to Run for Re-Election for Cook County Board President...

According to the Chicago Tribune, Cook County Board President Todd Stroger late Monday afternoon filed his paperwork to run for for re-election.

By waiting until just before the filing deadline, Stroger secured the last position on the ballot, which is considered second best to the first spot.

"I feel great," Stroger said after filing. "I feel like 150 pounds of dynamite."

Stroger joins a crowded Democratic field for county board president. It includes Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown; Ald. Toni Preckwinkle, 4th; and Water Reclamation District President Terrence O'Brien. U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, D-Chicago, has filed for both county board president and Congress. Davis will need to choose between the two by next Monday.

Stroger filed petitions with about 22,000 signatures. Nearly 8,150 valid signatures are needed to withstand a challenge. He has been considered politically vulnerable in the wake of a penny-on-the-dollar sales tax increase he pushed through the county board in February 2008.

Theresa L. Kelly Advised and Supported By Charles A. Flowers...

Where would Proviso Township High School District 209 be if Theresa L. Kelly and her cronies had won majority control of the school board following the 2007 School Board elections? According to state election records, Theresa L. Kelly received her financial and political support from disgraced Regional Superintendent Charles A. Flowers and his former staffers like Willie Mack. Flowers made numerous donations to her campaign and also sent recorded telephone messages to residents on her behalf. With Flowers as her advisor, would Proviso look like the Regional Superintendent's office? Most observers think so. After a scandal plagued year, Flowers has decided not to seek re-election in 2010, and he is desperately hoping to avoid legal trouble from the State's Attorney's office after his office was raided in July 2009. Voters will have a turn to oust Kelly in 2011. Stay Tuned.

Regional Superintendent Charles A. Flowers Moves Office...

According to the Daily Southtown, a quiet Charles Flowers sat sandwiched Monday between landlords accused of keeping derelict buildings and tenants with stories of rent checks lost in the mail.

The regional schools chief appeared in eviction court Monday - the deadline to move out of the Westchester space his office leased and pay more than $10,000 in back rent. But before standing in front of the judge, Flowers and the folks of Westchester School District 92 1 / 2 had reached an agreement the judge signed off on.

Flowers, who voluntarily moved out of the school's building Friday, gets 120 days to pay the $10,762 in back rent he owes the district.

School district attorney Jeff Goelitz said Flowers blamed his inability to pay the rent on late payments from the state.

"If they receive the money from the state, they have to pay up within 24 hours of receipt of it," Goelitz said.

Flowers' office is nearly $1 million in debt, according to a state audit. The Cook County state's attorney's office is investigating Flowers for alleged financial and ethical misdeeds and suing him for defaulting on a $190,000 taxpayer-backed loan.

The new location for the Suburban Cook County Regional Office of Education is at 2600 S. 25th Ave. in Broadview. The regional office's corner space in the two-story office building - which backs up to a warehouse and is flanked by a nearby trucking company's semi trucks - was open to the public Monday.

Flowers' office has been paying back rent in installments, according to documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. In July, he was about $20,000 behind on rent for February through July.

State law requires the county board in every county except Cook to provide a suitable space for the regional office. The state hasn't paid out the Suburban Cook County Regional Office of Education or any other regional office of education since July 1, Illinois State Board of Education spokeswoman Mary Fergus said.

The state has set aside more than $70,000 in state grant money for Flowers' office, but the comptroller has yet to cut the checks, Fergus said.

"We're backlogged over $3 billion in bills going back to the first of August because the revenues just aren't there," Illinois Comptroller Dan Hynes' spokesman Alan Henry said. "I'm sure (Flowers' office is) in the queue somewhere. I'm not sure when they'll get the money."

Flowers, who did not answer a reporter's questions Monday, is due back in court Feb. 8. If he hasn't paid up in 120 days, it's up to the school district to take the next step.

"The board's option would be to go to court to ask the (regional office of education) to make good on the order, to pay up," Goelitz said. "We haven't had that discussion yet."

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Costco Looking to Buy Kiddieland Property...

According to the Proviso Herald, an executive of Costco says the discount membership club wants to buy the former Kiddieland site in Melrose Park and open a store there. Dick DiCerchio, senior executive vice president and chief operating officer of Costco, says "the plans are to go forward" to purchase the property at North and First avenues. "We are interested and have filed a letter of intent with the current property owners," he said. Kiddieland closed on Oct. 4 after operating for 81 years.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Proviso West Football Earns Playoff Birth!!!

The Proviso West football team has earned a playoff spot for the first time since 1974. The Panthers, 5-4, will play Taft, 8-1, on Friday or Saturday of this week. Stay tuned for further details.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

ROE Flowers About to be Evicted...

According to the Daily Southtown, Charles Flowers has two weeks before a judge will boot him and his staff out of his rented office space - making it possibly the first time a regional schools office has been evicted.
Nearly $10,000 behind on rent for the offices he leases from Westchester School District 92 1/2 , Regional Supt. Flowers has until Nov. 2 to pay up and pack up, attorneys said Monday.

"The board of education [wants to] recoup the unpaid rent, and they want to gain possession of the office space," district attorney Jeff Goelitz said.
Flowers is the target of a criminal investigation by the Cook County state's attorney's office. The SouthtownStar first reported on the alleged financial and ethical misdeeds of Flowers and the Suburban Cook County Regional Office of Education - which is nearly $1 million in debt.
The Westchester school board filed eviction papers on Sept. 29, and Cook County sheriff's officials served the office Oct. 7. Flowers' office owed $9,933.36 at the time of the filing. That did not include rent for October and November - $3,429 per month - which is about $7,000.
The case was continued Monday after both parties agreed to hold off until Nov. 2, Goelitz said.
"The ROE believes that some of their financial difficulties are due to the state not sending their payments on," district attorney Terry Hodges said.
Even if he makes good on the nearly $17,000, the district wants him out.
This should come as no surprise for Flowers. Documents obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests reveal Flowers' office has a sporadic track record when it comes to making rent.
In July, the board sent a letter to Flowers telling him he had five days to make good on the $20,000 in back rent for February through July.
Business manager Julie Stearns proposed a payment plan that entailed almost weekly payments of $5,000, including the initial $5,000 charged to a credit card, documents show.
When the office failed to make good on the entire back rent by the agreed upon deadline of Aug. 21, the board moved for the eviction.
"We did try to work with him," board president Barbara Stanger said at the time.


Charles Flowers has consistently refused to answer questions about the charges of financial mismanagement, but in the past he and his staffers have blamed the regional office of education's money problems on a lack of funding from the state.
State law does require the county board in every county except Cook to provide a suitable space for the regional office.
Cook County's unusual situation dates back to money problems with some of Flowers' predecessors. The state Legislature abolished the Cook County regional schools office in 1994 and resurrected it in 1995 - minus responsibility for Chicago city schools and minus any county funding for an office.
If Flowers is evicted, he still is legally responsible for providing services to the 143 school districts in his area, said Illinois State Board of Education spokeswoman Mary Fergus, who added she was not aware of any other regional office losing its office space in an eviction.
As for the public records, they are covered by the State or Local Records Act, which bans records from being destroyed or abandoned unless scheduled for destruction, said Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office spokeswoman Robyn Ziegler.
"In short, they will have to ensure the integrity of the records by storing them somewhere or otherwise providing for their safekeeping until the matter is ultimately resolved," she said.



Since accusations of financial improprieties at the regional school office surfaced, Supt. Charles Flowers has faced a growing list of problems:
• He's the target of a criminal probe by the Cook County state's attorney's office.
• He's being sued for fraud over an unpaid $190,000 loan from the Cook County Board.
• The Illinois State Board of Education has moved to revoke his professional certificates, which could force him from office.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

ROE Charles Flowers Appoints Johnny Diggs To Maywood SD89 Board of Education...

According to reports, Regional Superintendent of Schools Charles A. Flowers has appointed his former press secretary Johnny Diggs to the Maywood SD89 Board of Education to replace G. Ric Cervone who resigned in August. Diggs was appointed by Flowers after the Board could not agree on a replacement. The Board was reportedly split down the middle for Diggs and another candidate.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Teacher Mourned At Proviso Math and Science Academy...

In twos and threes, some crying, some talking, students at the Proviso Mathematics and Science Academy spent their lunch hours Friday remembering their teacher, coach, mentor and friend, Tom Dix.

After a long, hard battle with cancer, Dix, 39, founder of the Proviso Mathematics and Science Academy robotics club, died early morning Sept. 17.

"This is an unfortunate loss for the Proviso family. Our hearts go out to him and his family. He will be sorely missed," School Board President Chris Welch said. "He left an impression on PMSA that will live on for a long time. Our robotics program was extremely successful and the kids loved him."

Dix started teaching at PMSA in the 2006-2007 school year. School officials said the innovation lab where the robotics club worked will be dedicated to Dix.

"He took an empty shell and made it into a vibrant lab and used it in the way it was intended," PMSA Principal Ed Moyer said.

For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology program participant Jackie Moore, team manager for the Chicago Knights robotics team, said Dix was an honored FIRST knight.

"We met in May of 2006 when he was looking to start a (FIRST Lego League)," Moore said. "His passion for teaching and the value of FIRST was so great that he changed schools twice before he started the team."

Moore said of the many people she had helped form robotics teams, Dix was the most persistent and consistently committed.

"Shortly after aggressive (cancer) treatment, he managed to sit in the stands and cheer his team on last year," she said. "That is a memory of him that I will hold dear."

Parent and robotics club volunteer Jocelyn Gougisha said Dix was more like one of the students in the club than a teacher.

"His enthusiasm was like that of the teenagers," she said. "He put his heart and soul into it when he brought the robotics team to PMSA."

Gougisha said Moyer saw that enthusiasm and gave him support.

"You have no idea what it means to this area to introduce the kids to the world of robotics and engineering," she said. "He's inspired friends, parents and other teachers to come in and help. That's his legacy."

Moyer said Dix helped rebuild the physics program and spent countless hours working on the robotics program.

"The first year was entirely his own," Moyer said. "He was incredibly committed to kids and I deeply value that in a teacher. He was an amazing person."

The news of Dix's death spread through the building like wildfire, Moyer said, and many students knew about it before the staff.

"It impacted the robotics students the hardest, but he had made an impact on so many kids," he said. "Kids organized a gathering in his classroom during the lunch periods. It was the opportunity for students to say anything they wanted to. Or to not say anything. Some were crying. Some were drawing. They started signing the first robot they had made."

Moyer said staff wanted to make sure they were there to support students.

"This is our first loss as a community," he said. "It was hard. Today was better. Monday will get a little better still. He would have wanted the kids to go on."

The challenge now is to keep the work alive. The team is solid with students and parents and community volunteers, but Moyer said he has to find someone with the background in science and engineering.

"We will miss (Dix's) leadership. All the things he took care of, we have to make sure those don't fall through the cracks," Moyer said. "We will see who we can recruit. But the kids have put in too much time and effort - this season is going to be for Mr. Dix."

There will be a memorial service honoring Dix at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 27, at the 19th Century Club, 178 Forest Ave. in Oak Park. RSVP to Judy Erickson, or call (708) 386-4330. Donations are welcome to PMSA's robotics club and can be sent to Janet Redmond at PMSA.

(This story was written by Mario Bartoletti of the Proviso Herald Newspaper.)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Chicago Sun-Times Ranks Proviso West Football In Top 25!!!

The Proviso West Panther Football team has been ranked in the Chicago Sun-Times Top 25 for the first time ever. The Panthers, behind the strength of top national prospect Kyle Prater, have started the season 4-0 for the first time in the school's 51 year history. Prater has already been signed the USC Trojans.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Grocery Store Opening In Maywood Soon!!!

According to the Proviso Herald, the Village of Maywood took a giant step forward in finalizing a full-service grocery store by officially closing with Maywood Market LLC and Plaza Bank on Aug. 20.

The title to the 601 S. Fifth Ave. property was conveyed to the store owners and the financing was put in place.

"We are pleased that another major step has been taken so our community can have a full-service grocery store," stated Mayor Henderson Yarbrough Sr. "We eagerly anticipate that by Thanksgiving, Maywood Market will officially open its doors to our village," he added.

Since the closing, the developer has been actively rehabilitating the existing building and planning for improved parking on the site.

Maywood Market will contain a bakery, meat and seafood departments, a deli, frozen food section, fresh fruits and vegetables and dairy perishables. The grocery store will carry a full line of products found in major grocery stores, with a mixture of private label and national brands.

School DIstrict 89 Deadlocked Over Board Vacancy...

According to the Proviso Herald, although seven candidates showed up Friday with hopes of filling a vacant Elementary School District 89 School Board seat, no one was selected.

School Board members interviewed the potential candidates to fill former board member Guy Ric Cervone's seat until April 2011. Cervone resigned from the board seat after pleading guilty to federal corruption charges in July.

Those who were being considered for the board seat were: Johnny Diggs, Hugues Zoffoun, Corey Cooper, Gladys Culbreth, Antonio Favela, Veronica Lopez and Marsha Ballenger.

The board went into executive session to interview all of the candidates. But when the board reconvened in the open meeting, the six members were split down the middle on their selections.

A motion was made to appoint Diggs to the seat, but failed 3-3 due to lack of a majority vote. Board members Maria Urso, Jaime Anguiano and Loretta Gustello voted against his appointment and Lequita Neely, Regina Rivers and Grady Rivers Jr. voted in favor of it.

Another motion was made to appoint Veronica Lopez to the seat, but it also failed 3-3 with the three trustees who voted against Diggs voting in favor of Lopez and the other three board members voting against Lopez.

"I supported Johnny Diggs and we had to narrow it (the field) down and we could not come to an agreement," Neely said.

"Other names could have been called and that's what it boils down to. I wish we could come to an agreement. I had no idea it would be a stalemate. I thought we were going to be able to decide on a board member."

"If you are indecisive, you should abstain," she said. "So that (the vote deadlock) took me by surprise. Are you truly voting your conscience or are you voting to block something?"

The School Board has 45 days to choose a replacement. Rivers said the deadline for the board to choose a replacement is Sept. 28 and believes the board will not be meeting until next month, which is when their next scheduled board meeting will take place.

Illinois School code states that if a school board does not fill the vacancy within that time frame, the regional superintendent of schools has the authority to fill the seat within 30 days.

This isn't the first time the District 89 board has been evenly split in voting on issues. At their Aug. 13 meeting the board was split on whether or not to keep the district's health insurance broker.

Elementary School District 89 serves parts of Maywood, Bellwood, Melrose Park and Broadview.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Cook County Property Tax Bills Delayed!!!

A due date of no earlier than Nov. 16 is anticipated for the second installment of Cook County property tax bills for tax year 2008, according to information from the Cook County Treasurer's Office.

Final figures to print the bills have not yet been received by the Treasurer's Office. Bills will be finalized, printed and mailed out after other agencies complete their calculations and testing, according to the Treasurer's Office

Friday, September 11, 2009

Bellwood Commemorates 9/11!!!

The Village of Bellwood commemorated the tragic events of 9/11/01 today with a ceremony at the Bellwood Village Hall. The ceremony was hosted by Bellwood Mayor Frank Pasquale who was back from surgical procedure, and numerous dignitaries from across Proviso Township attended. The Proviso West High School Band and the Bagpipes of Drums of the Emerald Society were the featured attractions and neither group disappointed the large crowd in attendance. Keynote Speaker Rev. Charles Ingram, Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Bellwood, that the lessons of 9/11/01 should have taught all of us to "Stand Together."

What did you do to commemorate 9/11? What did you learn from that tragic day?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Cook County Board President Todd Stroger Has 10% Voter Approval According To Chicago Tribune...

According to a Chicago Tribune news poll, battered for championing Cook County's sales tax increase and for hiring friends and relatives, Board President Todd Stroger heads into the election season with a strikingly low job-approval rating and thin support from voters, a Tribune/WGN poll has found.

Only 1 in 10 Cook County voters approve of the job he is doing, and just as few want to see him re-elected following a first term marked by tax and hiring controversies, the poll found.

The numbers are lower than the 13 percent Gov. Rod Blagojevich had just months before his December arrest on federal corruption charges.

Even more unpopular than Stroger is the 1 percentage point sales tax increase that he pushed through the County Board and has repeatedly protected by vetoing repeal measures. More than three-quarters of Cook County voters polled said the tax hike should be repealed.

Stroger's poor poll results come as he prepares to pitch his re-election to Cook County Democratic slatemakers at their endorsement session Thursday. Democratic committeemen are expected to hear from up to four potential challengers looking to unseat Stroger in the February primary: Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown; U.S. Rep. Danny Davis of Chicago; Metropolitan Water Reclamation District President Terrence O'Brien; and Chicago Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th).

Joseph Berrios, the Cook County Democratic chairman, said the large field of candidates makes an endorsement less likely. "It's going to be tough," he said.

Some Democrats have privately questioned whether Stroger would be a liability on the Democratic ticket for the 2010 general election. The poll found Stroger's support was not much better among Democrats than voters overall.

Fully 70 percent disapprove of the job Stroger is doing, according to the poll of 300 Cook County registered voters. Asked whether they would like to see Stroger re-elected, 72 percent say no.

The telephone poll was conducted Aug. 27-31 by Market Shares Corp. and has an error margin of 6 percentage points. It did not measure support for other potential candidates.

Stroger released a statement criticizing the Tribune poll, saying the sample size was too small and it did not accurately reflect the support he has around the county. Stroger also accused the Tribune of being biased, citing critical editorials in the paper's opinion section.

In a county dominated by Democrats, the survey raises questions about Stroger's ability to muster support for a second term.

Stroger has long counted on African-American support but now faces as many as three other black elected officials in the primary. Only about 1 in 5 African-American voters polled approve of the job Stroger is doing or want to see him re-elected, while more than half oppose him.

In a controversial move, Democratic Party leaders in 2006 chose Stroger, a low-profile alderman and former state legislator, to replace his ailing father on the general ballot. Stroger nevertheless defeated Commissioner Tony Peraica, the Republican candidate.

Stroger persuaded a majority of county commissioners to support a penny-on-the-dollar increase in the county sales tax last year, arguing it was necessary to prevent decimating cuts to the county's vast public-health and criminal-justice systems. He has vetoed three attempts by the board to repeal all or part of the increase.

Critics of Stroger also have frequently blasted him for political hiring in his administration. The highest-profile example was former steakhouse busboy Tony Cole, a former college basketball star whom Stroger personally hired for an administrative post.

Cole, who was making $61,000 a year, was fired in April after less than six months on the job for allegedly lying about his criminal history on his job application. A week later, Stroger forced the resignation of Chief Financial Officer Donna Dunnings, his first cousin and a powerful presence in his administration who had twice bailed Cole out of jail.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Cook County Commissioner Tony Peraica Loses Office Lease!!!

According to the Chicago Tribune, it looks like Cook County Board Commissioner Tony Peraica might have to find a new district office.

His County Board colleagues have voted to terminate the lease for Peraica's district office after the county Ethics Board alleged that Peraica's landlord donated more to his campaigns than allowed under an ethics ordinance.

In what he described as an effort to avoid a more costly legal battle, Peraica said he already has paid $4,500 to his landlord, Oak Brook businessman and Republican politician Asif Yusuf, to return in-kind contributions of office space to Peraica’s campaigns. Peraica did that after the ethics board concluded Yusuf’s contributions exceeded county limits.

But the Tribune and Commissioner William Beavers (D-Chicago), who is often at political odds with Peraica, later posed questions to the Ethics Board about further in-kind office-space donations from Yusuf to Peraica’s campaigns for higher office, and the panel took another look at the issue.

The Ethics Board now contends that Yusuf contributed an additional $28,000 to Peraica’s campaigns that exceeded the limits on how much county vendors can give to commissioners.
Peraica called the amount “just plain ridiculous” and said it’s the result of his political opposition to Cook County Board President Todd Stroger, who is Beavers’ ally.

“I don’t owe a single penny,” said Peraica (R-Riverside). “This is nothing but political nonsense

Friday, August 28, 2009

Life Without Limits

West Suburban Journal Publisher L. Nicole Trotte wrote an editorial this week called Life Without Limits. Take a read:

Did you know that you were placed on this earth for a purpose? Each and every person is
created in a unique image with a measure of faith to achieve their purpose.

So often we limit ourselves or allow others to put limits on us that keep us from fulfilling
our destiny. I call that leveling. Many times we don’t even realize when it happens to us.

I played the clarinet during my elementary and high school years. I was, in the beginning,
a second-string woodwind. My friend, a first-string woodwind, and I would rehearse
together after school. She would delight in giving me tips to improve my technique. I
applied those pointers in post rehearsal practice for hours and hours. Eventually I would
come to master the lessons.

My hard work and perseverance paid off. I was promoted by the maestro to first-string
woods replacing my friend. Suddenly her enthusiasm to rehearse after school waned.
And she grew distant as did our friendship.

That was my first experience with Leveling: Succeeding beyond a person’s expectations
of what they think you should strive for and achieve. I can remember initially feeling sad
about our friendships demise. However, I grew to realize that that relationship was
conditional and not a true friendship at all.

If we hold tightly to things that limit us, due to fear, intimidation, familiarity or dependency,
they will keep us from the incredible gifts awaiting us.

If you want to go beyond where you are today, don’t be afraid to break loose the chains and
live life without limits. Living without limits has great rewards, keep your eye on the prize.

What does this mean to you? Have you had a leveling experience? For more L. Nicole Trottie articles visit

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Forest Park Hires New Administrator...

According to Josh Adams of the Forest Park Review, Forest Park has a new administrator. Here's what Adams wrote in the Forest Park Review:

Amid accusations from one council member that the decision is an abuse of the public's trust, elected officials in Forest Park voted 3-2 Monday night to hire Tim Gillian as the next village administrator.

The decision was made after a final closed-door discussion that lasted about 40 minutes. It ends what has been an almost nine-month search. Gillian, a lifelong resident of Forest Park and a former council member himself, outlasted more than 30 applicants for the job.

Aside from service as an elected official, Gillian has no experience with municipal administration. For many years, he ran a large and successful paving company. In casting their votes, each of the four council members offered some remarks. Mayor Anthony Calderone was mum.

Calderone and Gillian are childhood friends. They served together on the council for 12 years, until 2006 when Gillian didn't seek re-election. Over the course of three election cycles, Calderone and Gillian supported each other's candidacy.

Commissioners Mark Hosty and Mike Curry voted with the mayor to give Gillian the nod. Commissioners Marty Tellalian and Rory Hoskins voted not to hire Gillian.

"It was a great experience," Curry said of the hiring process. "I look forward to Mr. Gillian leading our village."

Hosty, too, served alongside Gillian for eight years and the two campaigned together in local elections.

After the meeting, Calderone said he wasn't prepared to comment on the decision other than to say he would prefer such important hires be made with greater agreement. As for voting to hire a political ally, the mayor said he's not concerned residents might view the decision as self-serving.

"I'm not. The newspaper is going to take that position and a handful of people are going to take that position," Calderone said. "I think Tim Gillian needs to be given the opportunity to show what he can do for the Village of Forest Park."

Commissioner Marty Tellalian scolded his colleagues for turning village hall into a private club, and said it would be difficult for taxpayers to measure what's been lost by hiring Gillian over better-qualified applicants. Tellalian ripped Gillian's tenure on the council, pointing to a budget shortfall during his watch over the finance department that resulted in the dismissal of 12 municipal employees.

"He would not get a job with any other village in the state," Tellalian said. "He simply is not qualified."

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Anthony Bruno to be sentenced...

According to the Proviso Herald, a sentencing date has been set in federal court for an economic development consultant who pleaded guilty to tax fraud.

Anthony Bruno, 56, and president of Illinois Development Services Corporation, Inc. of Elmhurst, formerly of Melrose Park, is scheduled to appear in federal court Aug. 25 to receive his sentence as part of his plea agreement with federal prosecutors.

He pleaded guilty to one count of filing a false corporate federal tax return. His plea also encompasses additional conduct relating to corporate and individual tax returns for multiple years.

The charge carries a maximum of three years in prison and $500,000 fine.

Bruno's attorney, Jeff Steinback, said he believes the plea agreement is a fair one and believes the judge's decision will follow suit.

"The judge we're coming before is outstanding and will make a reasonable decision," he said.

Bruno improperly deducted $186,485 on a corporate tax return filed on July 31, 2006, for calendar year 2001. His company, which was called Gray and Associates until 2003, was ordered in 2000 to pay $186,485 in unpaid federal taxes from the 1980s.

According to the indictment, Bruno "was not entitled to deduct the claimed judgment from (the company's) total income."

Bruno claimed a negative income of more than $100,000.

Bruno was involved with Bellwood on a new Metra station that would serve the Bellwood and Melrose Park and has worked on various tax-increment financing projects.

Bruno, who is also a disbarred attorney, attends regular Bellwood Village Board meetings to give reports to the board on economic development projects going on or being researched in the village by his company.

His company was hired by Melrose Park between 1997 and 2005, most notably on the $41 million project to replace the outdated water system, which has been under investigation by federal authorities and the $50 million River Woods senior housing development.

Bruno's consulting work has earned him more than $1.25 million in fees between 1998 and 2005 from Melrose Park, Bellwood, Cicero and Forest Park. School District 209 has also contracted with Bruno's company.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Proviso Bus Service Resumes August 20th...

The start of the new school year is almost here! And PTHS 209 will continue to offer transportation to students at Proviso East and Proviso West High Schools.

The bus program begins at Proviso East and Proviso West on August 20th, (the first day of Freshmen Orientation). For ALL students transportation will begin August 24th (the first day of school).

PTHS 209 parents will receive their students’ designated bus stops during textbook pick up (Monday, Aug 10-Friday, August 15th).

All students are asked to arrive at their designated bus stop locations at least five (5) minutes before the scheduled pick-up time in the morning. At the end of the school day (after dismissal) the bus will leave at 3:25 p.m. There are also after school activity buses which leave at various times.

If you have any questions about PTHS 209 transportation program, bus stops, or locations please contact Proviso East’s Transportation Hotline at 708.202.1825 or Proviso West’s Transportation Hotline at 708.202.6299.

Proviso Plays Host To Community Leaders...

Josh Adams of the Forest Park Review recently wrote about a Community Leaders Banquet hosted by the high school. According to the Forest Park Review, in an effort to bolster community involvement, officials from Proviso Township's high school district invited public figures from across the area to the schools' first ever state of the district address, and hammered home the importance of preparing children for future success.

The dinner event was held Thursday, July 30 at the Proviso Math and Science Academy in Forest Park, one of three high schools run by the district. Superintendent Nettie Collins-Hart delivered a data-packed presentation on both the successes and struggles that are her top priorities, and used a series of charts and graphs to reinforce her plea for widespread support in the classroom.

"This is where we are," Collins-Hart said, pointing to a bar graph of student scores in science. At Proviso East and West, the district's other campuses, fewer than 10 percent of incoming freshman in 2007 were on track for a college education.

On the far right of the chart were scores representing the state average of roughly 78 percent.

"This is where we need to go," Collins-Hart said.

The superintendent displayed several graphs demonstrating that students entering the township's public high schools are ill prepared for the challenges they're about to face. Once those students are in high school, said Collins-Hart, they do show signs of improvement. Compared to previous years, she said, more students are earning college scholarships, more students are qualifying for National Honor Society and more students are enrolling in advanced placement classes.

Yet, according to the most high profile measurements in scholastics today - tests administered under No Child Left Behind - Proviso students are woefully behind. Collins-Hart reminded her audience, as many educators have when talking about the federal benchmarks, that a single standardized test of this nature represents a snapshot, and cannot account for everything that a student might have learned.

"It does tell us something," Collins-Hart said.

To bring more students up to speed, the superintendent laid out a plan that calls for intensive tutoring, efforts to boost attendance while shrinking truancy, and better collaboration between teachers and administrators. All of those improvements will be an uphill battle, however, as the district continues to cut spending and work within a hiring freeze for teachers.

All of which, said the superintendent, is all the more reason for community members to get involved.

"The school cannot do it all," Collins-Hart said.

Listening to the superintendent's remarks were many elected officials within Proviso Township, including Rep. Karen Yarbrough (7th Dist.), Cook County Recorder of Deeds Eugene Moore, school board members from feeder districts and municipal trustees from Hillside and Stone Park. Patricia Granados, president of Triton College, also addressed the crowd.

Foreclosure Help On The Way...

Maywood is at the core of six west Cook County villages that have formed the West Suburban Housing Collaborative to fight foreclosures.

"If our communities were a wheel," Oak Park Village President David Pope said. "Maywood would be the hub."

Bellwood, Berwyn, Broadview and Forest Park make up the rest of the communities involved with Oak Park and Maywood in the effort to access funding from the Neighborhood Stabilization Program to acquire and redevelop foreclosed properties.

Maywood was chosen as the leader, under the direction of Community Development Director Lori Summers.

Mayor Henderson Yarbrough said there were no boundaries in fighting crime or foreclosures and the collective strategy was necessary to stabilize housing throughout the six communities.

"The first problem with foreclosures is safety," he said. "Once a house is vacant some people, if they can get in, will go in and camp out.

"Neighbors don't like to see boards on windows; it affects property values throughout the neighborhood," Yarbrough said.

Also the houses often fall into disrepair and the grass grows wild, he said.

"We do have ordinances that will allow us to contact homeowners and if they refuse to do the lawn we can do it ourselves and charge the property," he said. "We'll do whatever we need to do because it's unfair for other people on the street."

With grants from county, state and federal sources, such as Neighborhood Stabilization Program funds from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, villages can acquire abandoned or foreclosed properties, rehabilitate them and put them back on the market.

"Acquiring a home and making the necessary improvements will accelerate the process of getting it back into the hands of private owners who can afford to pay the mortgage for a long time," Pope said. "That will help strengthen the condition of the neighborhood and all our communities."

Yarbrough said Maywood is fortunate in that regard "because the homes are affordable and there are a lot of private investors who can buy them and put them back on the market."

For more information on the Neighborhood Stabilization Program visit HUD online at:

Monday, July 13, 2009

Proviso East Graduate Shannon Brown Honored for NBA Championship...

Proviso East Graduate Shannon Brown of Maywood will be honored on Saturday, July 18, 2009 with a parade in his honor. The parade will kick off at 9am at Lexington School in Maywood. Brown, a 2001 graduate of Proviso East High School and 2005 graduate from Michigan State University, was a part of the Los Angeles Lakers this past season. Brown and the Lakers defeated the Orlando Magic to win the NBA World Championship. Brown is the third Proviso East graduate in a row to win an NBA ring. Michael Finley of the San Antonio Spurs won in 2007. Glen "Doc" Rivers, head coach of the Boston Celtics won last year, and Brown this year. Kudos to these student-athletes aka champs!

State Senator Kimberly Lightford Honored...

Loretto Hospital, on the Westside of Chicago, will be honoring State Senator Kimberly Lightford (of Maywood) by naming its new Emergency Room after her on Saturday, July 18, 2009. The event begins at 10am at Loretto Hospital. Kudos to Senator Lightford!!!

Cook County Suing ROE Charles Flowers For Unpaid Loan...

According to reports in the Daily Southtown, the Cook County state's attorney's office is expected to file a civil lawsuit today against the Suburban Cook County Regional Office of Education and its superintendent Charles Flowers.

The suit alleges Flowers "engaged in a scheme to defraud Cook County" when his office took out a $190,000 loan last year, state's attorney spokeswoman Sally Daly said.

The loan was due June 30. The suit will be seeking full repayment of the loan, as well as interest and punitive damages, she added.

The SouthtownStar first reported the alleged financial and ethical misconduct at the office. Flowers is currently the target of a state's attorney's office criminal investigation, which Daly said was "moving forward." Sources also told the SouthtownStar that subpoenas have been sent out and a Cook County grand jury has convened in connection with the case.

Everything from plane tickets for family members to a trip to a hair salon showed up on Flowers' regional office credit card. He approved a salary advance for his sister, who is employed as his executive assistant, and a friend, who also works in the office, according to documents obtained by the SouthtownStar. A damaging state audit shows deputies were paid thousands of dollars for consulting work they did during working hours while collecting their taxpayer-funded paycheck.

After he defaulted on a June 2008 $190,000 loan from Cook County that he said he needed for operations, the board unanimously supported a resolution calling to abolish the office. Commissioners also issued a no-confidence vote against Flowers and called for his immediate resignation.

Flowers refuses to return calls for comment.

Duaa Eldeib can be reached at or (708) 633-5960.

Friday, July 03, 2009

State Budget Stalemate Causing Problems in Proviso!!!

The State Budget crisis in Springfield has already caused some major problems in Proviso Township. The Proviso Insider has learned that the Proviso Leyden Council for Community Action, Inc. (PLCCA), a non for profit organization that serves low income families in the Proviso area, recently laid off at least 20 employees due to funding sources drying up. Specifically, the Teen Reach program, a very successful program run out of Proviso High Schools, was forced to shut down because funding from the Illinois Department of Human Services was recently cut. If State officials don't get their acts together, further social service organizations will suffer.

Proviso School Board President Being Courted for U.S. Congress

With 7th District U.S. Congressman Danny K. Davis exploring a run for Cook County Board President, party leaders are looking for a possible placement of Davis in Congress. One name being bantered about is Proviso School Board President Emanuel "Chris" Welch. Other names being strongly considered are State Representative Karen A. Yarbrough and Broadview Mayor Sherman A. Jones. Party officials like Welch because he's young, and his future is bright in the Democratic Party.

Danny K. Davis Exploring Run For Cook County Board President...

U.S. Rep. Danny Davis is looking into a run for Cook County Board president.

The congressman has conducted a poll regarding his chances and will announce the formation of an exploratory committee "within a few weeks," according to spokeswoman Tumia Romero.

The poll results, which will also be announced within a few weeks, were called "very favorable," according to a release this afternoon.

Davis will seek the input of Cook County residents for the purposes of considering a run for board president, the release said. To that end, he has set up a Web site,

The 67-year-old Davis has been in Congress since 1997. Prior to his election to Congress, he served on the Cook County Board, having been elected in 1990 and 1994. He also served for 11 years as a member of the Chicago City Council representing the 29th Ward.

Subpoenas Issued In Charles Flowers Investigation!!!

According to the Daily Southtown, a Cook County grand jury convened Thursday in connection with allegations that a top schools chief misused public money, a source close to the investigation told the SouthtownStar.

Because grand juries - empowered to indict people for crimes - meet in secret, it was unclear Thursday who had been subpoenaed to give evidence in the Flowers investigation. But numerous people in the Proviso political arena are likely on the list.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Charles Flowers' Home and Office Raided by Authorities!!!

According to published reports in the Chicago Tribune and Daily Southtown, the home and office of Charles Flowers has been raided by the authorities. Cook County state's attorney's investigators raided the home and office of the Cook County regional schools superintendent, a spokesman for the prosecutors' office said.

Investigators executed search warrants on the home of county Regional Supt. Charles Flowers, as well as the Westchester offices of the county superintendent, said state's attorney's office spokesman Andy Conklin.

There is an active criminal investigation into Flowers' office, Conklin said.

The raids came in the wake of a "no-confidence" vote by the County Board last month that called for criminal investigations in the wake of a highly critical audit that alleges misuse of public funds by Flowers' office.

The no-confidence vote itself came after the state auditor general forwarded to prosecutors an audit showing debt in Flowers' office last year soared to nearly $1 million as he made personal charges on his office credit card and gave a $6,000 cash advance to a relative who worked for him.

In a reply to the auditor general, Flowers said he personally covered more than $9,000 in credit-card charges unrelated to his job.

In addition to asking the Illinois attorney general and the state's attorney to launch criminal investigations, the no-confidence resolution also asked the state's attorney to seek recovery of $190,000 in county funds the board lent to the superintendent's office last year. The loan is due June 30.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Flowers Has Not Paid His Rent!!!

The Daily Southtown has uncovered the fact that Flowers has not paid his office space rent. The regional schools boss currently under criminal investigation for misusing school money owes nearly $20,000 in back rent for educational office space, documents show.

Only once this year has Suburban Cook County Regional Office of Education - headed by Supt. Charles Flowers - paid rent to Westchester Public School District 92 1 / 2 , according to documents received from the district through a Freedom of Information Act request.

From July 2008 to June 2009, Flowers' office should have paid $41,150 for the space at 10110 Gladstone Street in Westchester, which is leased from the school district. It has only made good on $24,004. The regional office shares the building with MacNeal School, a private school affiliated with MacNeal Hospital that services special education students, which also rents from the district.

The more than $17,000 lapse in payment has former Regional Supt. Bob Ingraffia wondering if District 92 1 / 2 's school board will initiate eviction proceedings.

"Taxpayers don't like to see the district losing money," said Ingraffia, who lost his re-election bid to Flowers in 2006.

Board president Barbara Stanger declined to comment on whether the board was taking action to recoup the cash.

"I really don't want to comment on anything at this time that, I believe, is being investigated," Stanger said.

District 92 1 / 2 Supt. Jean Sophie was not in the office Thursday, but has previously refused to comment on anything relating to Flowers' office.

Flowers did not return multiple messages left for him.

During Ingraffia's tenure, the office typically paid rent in advance, which was usually one lump sump annually, he said.

"That was so we made sure we would have a roof over our head," Ingraffia said.

Flowers' rent schedule was more sporadic. Often, he would pay on a monthly basis. There were times, however, he would miss a payment ---like September and October 2007 - and would supplement with two payments the next month, documents reveal. Monthly rent for 2008 was $3,300 and $3,429 in 2009.

The SouthtownStar first reported last week that Flowers was the target of a Cook County state's attorney investigation. A two-month SouthtownStar investigation revealed Flowers padded the office payroll with friends and family, charged thousands of dollars in personal expenses and cash advances to his work credit card and more than doubled the office's debt to nearly $1 million dollars. A troubling state audit officially released earlier this month confirmed those findings.

Last year, the Cook County Board approved a $190,000 for Flowers' office. Commissioners have questioned his ability to repay the loan, which is due Tuesday.

Duaa Eldeib can be reached at or (708) 633-5960.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Daily Southtown Says: "Time to Send Flowers Packing"

The Daily Southtown published an editorial today saying it's "Time to Send Flowers Packing." Here's the editorial:

R eform of state government is an issue to which we are dedicated; some might even say we're obsessed. The list of things to be fixed in Illinois governance is long, depressing, and growing. Add this: We need ways to remove tainted public officials from office.

It's a miracle we're not still stuck with Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Thankfully the state Senate was able to drive him from office after corruption charges. But, there are more poisoned flowers among Illinois' vast fields of elected offices - or, in the latest case, Charles Flowers.

Flowers holds the elected position of Suburban Cook County Regional Office of Education Superintendent. He has a record of financial abuse and misconduct dating to his days as board president at west suburban Maywood-Melrose Park District 89.

On Tuesday, the Cook County Board voted non-confidence in Flowers, in the face of months of reporting by this newspaper, and a state audit documenting his arrogant and profligate use of public funds. A criminal investigation is under way.

This should be enough to at least suspend an official, if not boot him entirely. But Illinois and Cook County have almost no way to remove suspect office holders; we'd not be surprised to see some insisting on being paid while behind bars.

Inevitably when the notion is raised of ousting people such as Flowers, responses include "innocent until proven guilty." Let's put that nonsense aside.

Innocence until guilt is proven is a vitally important premise in America. But it has nothing to do with employment, elected or otherwise. It solely means that before we take away a person's freedom, their guilt must be proved in court, to the very high standard of "beyond a reasonable doubt."

In the court of public opinion, or the determination of suitability for employment, this standard does not hold. Nor should it.

Anyone in a non-elected job facing the findings in the Flowers audit would have been fired by now. One questionable expense account is all it takes for most employees to lose their job. Elected officials who love to compare themselves to employees when seeking raises or benefits or perks barely acknowledge this when fighting to stay long after their competence or honesty are shown wanting.

Flowers should go. And there should be means to make his going less torturous and time-consuming.

Situations such as this show why Illinois should re-think the number of offices to which we elect people. As a starting point, electing people to do public service is unassailable, and this element of democracy has largely been brought to the world by America. It goes to the roots of the revolution that gave birth to our great country. And perhaps a return to those roots is in order.

"No taxation without representation" made sense 250 years ago, and does still. No processing of teaching certificates without representation? Maybe not. But that's the primary role of the office Flowers abuses.

That so many such arcane and narrow roles are elected offices is one reason voter turnout for them is minimal. Who among us can truly determine who is suited to such work? (We can determine it after audits and investigations and solid journalism have exposed the lack of it, but beforehand, no.)

Exploitive and abusive people such as Flowers move from one office to another. After his record at the park district (another that shouldn't require election) he was able to become education superintendent.

And while we decry low turnouts for offices such as county board, it's understandable why few vote for lesser offices. But that allows the likes of Flowers to hold such offices through influence within a political machine or among a few who want to enjoy the fruits of his abuse (as Flowers has rained public money on friends and relatives, for example.)

Illinois needs to set legislated standards below which elected office holders can be ousted by higher levels of government, or are automatically required to resign or at least be suspended. Or, despite its own limitations and potential for abuse due to the same low turnouts that bring us cads like Flowers, voters need to be able to recall office holders, using petition to force votes that could expel them from office.

Illinois became a national embarrassment in the months it took to force Blagojevich out. But that happened at the speed of light compared with what it usually takes to purge our governance of such people.

Maybe we need to have David Letterman mock Flowers until he just quits.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Proviso Township Newspapers Ignore Major Scandal at Regional Superintendent's Office!!!

Local newspaper outlets, the Forest Park Review and Proviso Herald, have completely ignored a major scandal that has been developing for months at the Regional Superintendent's office headed by Charles A. Flowers. The only local source for news on this major story has been the West Suburban Journal. Flowers, who has abused the public's trust and misspent thousands of taxpayer monies, has been the subject of weekly and daily news coverage in major media outlets such as the Daily Southtown, Daily Herald, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune and television stations Channels 5, 7, 9, 32 and CLTV. However, the Forest Park Review and Proviso Herald have completely ignored this story. Insider sources say the owners and editors of those two people are nothing more than political hacks aligned with Flowers, and they have as much egg on their faces as Flowers and his backers do. Why do you think these two local rags have failed to cover this major news scandal at the Regional Superintendent's office?

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Chicago Tribune Is Buffaloed By Charles Flowers!!!

The Chicago Tribune said in a recent editorial that they are buffaloed by Regional Superintendent Charles Flowers. Read it for yourself:

If there's anything worse than a do-nothing local government bureaucracy, it's a do-nothing local government bureaucracy that runs up a $1 million deficit. The Cook County Regional Education Office is all of that and more.

A state audit released last week found so many accounting "irregularities" in the office that Auditor General William Holland passed the report to Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan and Cook County State's Atty. Anita Alvarez for their scrutiny.And now the Cook County Board is pleading for Madigan and Alvarez to intervene. Turns out the County Board loaned the office $190,000 last year.

The jaw-dropping findings include:

* Regional Supt. Charles Flowers, a Democrat on whose watch the deficit ballooned, charged thousands of dollars worth of personal expenses -- including plane tickets to Mississippi for family members -- to his government credit card. He also withdrew more than $6,000 in cash advances for which he couldn't properly account.

* Flowers didn't have receipts to support 70 percent of the purchases made on his card.

* At least 46 times, Flowers charged personal and staff meals on his card without properly documenting the expenses. The meals totaled $3,198, including $736 for a staff luncheon.

* The office paid $1,798 in late fees, finance charges and other service charges, mostly on Flowers' credit card.

* Flowers approved $15,000 worth of cash advances to two employees, including $6,000 to his administrative assistant, who happens to be his sister.

* State grant money was used to pay consulting fees of $12,000 and $9,400 to two assistant superintendents who did the "extra" work during their regular hours.

* Flowers' nephew worked eight hours a day and was paid for nine.

* The office didn't record payroll transactions or reconcile its books regularly, spent state money on ineligible items and had inadequate controls on accounting procedures, property and equipment.

* Despite warnings in previous audits that it had to cut expenses or find new funding sources to stay afloat, the office bought 20 computers ($21,000) and a new phone system ($9,300) to replace the one it bought three years earlier. Payroll expenses grew by $146,000.

That $190,000 loan from Cook County-- The loan is due June 30. The office has no way to pay. "We took this man on his word, and unfortunately, we were sidetracked and buffaloed," Commissioner John Daley said Tuesday.

Oh, priceless.

* * *

Here's the most infuriating thing: This office should be dead, gone, kaput. Out of business. And for one brief moment, it was.

In 1991, when the office was blowing money under another regime, then-Cook County Board President Richard Phelan pushed the legislature to kill it. The office exists to process teacher certifications, train school-bus drivers and do other things that could easily be handled by others.

The legislature did vote to kill it. We know. Amazing. That never happens.

We almost killed a useless Democratic patronage haven, until Republicans sniffed out an opportunity to create a useless Republican patronage haven.

They revived it in the legislature and made it a suburban-only office, thinking they could elect one of their own to run it if Chicago voters were cut out of the mix.

The office actually did die for 13 months. Nobody missed it. But it rose from the ashes in 1995 and went on its merry way.

The hapless Cook County Republicans, they couldn't even hold an office that exists only in the suburbs. Democrat Flowers unseated Republican Robert Ingraffia in the 2006 election.

Flowers didn't return our calls asking for an explanation of the state audit's findings. He told the auditor the big problem is that Cook County doesn't give him funding.

The state pays more than $400,000 in salaries and benefits for Flowers and his deputies. And now it's worse than useless. It's embroiled in a spending scandal.

Yes, taxpayers, you were buffaloed. Again.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Criminal Investigation Officially Launched Against Charles Flowers!!!

According to the Daily Southtown, on the same day the Cook County board issued a no-confidence vote against a top regional school administrator dogged by allegations of financial and ethical misconduct, prosecutors said a criminal investigation is in motion.

A spokeswoman for Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office confirmed late Tuesday the Cook County state's attorney's office is moving forward on the findings of an official state audit released last week highlighting the financial indiscretions of Suburban Cook County Regional Office of Education Supt. Charles Flowers.

After reviewing the audit that outlined Flowers spent thousands of dollars on personal expenses - including more than $3,000 solely on food and untold amounts for a car and furniture auditors could not locate - and approved cash advances for a family member on the payroll, Madigan spokeswoman Robyn Ziegler said the office reached out to Anita Alvarez's office to offer assistance with a criminal investigation.

"These are very serious findings in the audit," Ziegler said. "We are pleased the state's attorney will be conducting the criminal investigation."

At this time, however, state's attorney's office spokesman Andy Conklin said, he cannot confirm or deny the existence of an investigation into Flowers.

"We've been actively reviewing information regarding that office," he added.

The actions come on the heels of a two-month SouthtownStar investigation into the office, which acts as an arm for the Illinois State Board of Education in processing teacher certifications.

The only recourse ISBE can take is to revoke Flowers' license, which would render him unfit for the position.

"We're reviewing the audit to determine if there's enough evidence that would warrant revoking it," state board spokesman Matt Vanover said. "He's an elected official."

Commissioners are also wary they will recoup a $190,000 taxpayer-backed loan they approved in June 2008 for the office that is nearly $1 million in the red. The deadline to repay the loan is in two weeks.

The Southtown story was writte by Duaa Eldeib. She can be reached at or (708) 633-5960.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

County Board Wants Probe Of Charles Flowers Too!!!

According to published reports, the Cook County Board today expressed “no confidence” in the county's suburban school administrator and called for criminal investigations following a highly critical audit that alleged misuse of public funds.

The state auditor general has already forwarded to prosectors the audit of the relatively small office run by Regional Cook County Schools Superintendent Charles Flowers. The state audit found the debt in Flowers' office had soared to nearly $1 million as he made personal charges on his office credit card and a $6,000 cash advance to a relative who worked for him.

Flowers, who was elected in 2006, could not immediately be reached for comment.

A county resolution, approved unanimously, called on the state attorney general and county state’s attorney to launch criminal probes and for the state’s attorney to recover $190,000 in county funds that the board loaned to the superintendent's office last year.
“We took this man on his word, and unfortunately, we were sidetracked and buffaloed,” said Commissioner John Daley (D-Chicago), chairman of the county Finance Committee. The loan is due on June 30.

The resolution was introduced by Commissioner Elizabeth Gorman (R-Orland Park), who was the only commissioner to vote against the loan last year. She said the audit released last week by state Auditor General William Holland indicated “flagrant corruption” in the office.

The audit noted the office deficit more than doubled to $942,000 from 2007 to last year and questioned whether the office had the “ability to continue as a going concern.” The office did not have receipts to back 70 percent of the charges on Flowers’ credit card and paid more than $21,000 to two assistant regional superintendents for consulting work they did during regular working hours,, the audit stated.

Friday, June 12, 2009

State Auditor Seeks Criminal Probe of Charles Flowers!!!!

The state's top auditor called for a criminal probe of the Cook County regional education office after an audit found the director, Charles Flowers, repeatedly used a government credit card for personal expenses and approved questionable payments to relatives on his payroll. Click this link to read the full story:,flowers-audit--0612.article

Here's a summary of the audit's major findings:

The audit concluded that Regional Office of Education #14:

· had inadequate internal control over disbursements. Because of the overall lack of internal controls, questions as to the accuracy and completeness of the general ledger, and problems noted in other findings throughout this report, auditors terminated work before testing was completed and issued a disclaimer of opinion on the financial statements for the year ended June 30, 2008.

· did not have sufficient internal controls over the financial reporting process.

· had liabilities which exceeded its total net assets by $941,844. If the Regional Office continues to operate at the current level without obtaining additional funding or decreasing expenditures, ROE 14’s ability to continue as a going concern is questionable.

· utilized an accounting software package which was not designed for governmental entities and did not provide the internal controls and reporting features required for proper fund accounting.

· did not complete 9 of 12 monthly reconciliations of its bank statements and pooled cash accounts for fiscal year 2008.

· had inadequate controls over property and equipment.

· did not record payroll transactions in their general ledger for 5 months in fiscal year 2008 after they hired an outside agency to prepare their payroll.

· provided cash advances to two employees (Barbara Flowers and Arbdella Patterson) for non-business related purposes.

· paid a total of $1,798 in finance charges, late fees and other miscellaneous service charges on 6 credit cards.

· did not have receipts to support 70 percent of charges on the Regional Superintendent’s credit card. The Regional Superintendent also made numerous personal purchases, took cash advances, and paid for meals (both personal and for staff) on his credit card without properly documenting the purchases and advances.

· paid two Assistant Regional Superintendents $12,000 and $9,400 each in addition to their regular salaries for work completed during regular working hours.

· used Institute Funds for unallowable expenditures under 105 ILCS 5/3-12.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Maywood Police Department Gets New Police Chief...

According to the Proviso Herald and reporter Jolie Lee, Maywood has a new police chief. According to the Herald, Cmdr. Tim Curry takes over for Police Chief Elvia Williams on Friday.

Williams was hired in June 2006 on a two-year contract.

Curry is a 24-year veteran of the department. Since Jan. 2009, he has been promoted three times.

"I kind of thought that most likely I would get deputy chief and that would be it," Curry said.
"But I had no idea whatsoever I would get the spot (of police chief.)"

Village Manager Jason Ervin made the appointment and said Williams is leaving the department to "pursue some other opportunities."

Williams could not be reached immediately for comment Monday morning.

Ervin said he chose Curry based on the recommendations of others, although he declined to say who made those recommendations.

"The process came through a group of individuals that I was working with on public safety issues," Ervin said.

When asked who the individuals were, Ervin said, "That I'm not disclosing at this time." Asked why he was not disclosing the information, he said, "I'm just not disclosing it."

Ervin said he wanted to appoint someone with leadership qualities and knowledge of "the inner workings of the department." Ervin added, "People respect him."

Curry began his career in 1985 as a patrol officer. He became sergeant of the tactical unit in 1996. In January 2009, he was promoted to commander and then to lieutenant two months later.

Curry will be officially sworn in as chief at the July 7 Village Board meeting.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Proviso Math & Science Academy Holds First Ever Graduation!!!

The Proviso Math and Science Academy hosted its Inaugural Graduation Ceremony on May 30, 2009 on the campus of Dominican University. The Academy's first class saw 106 students, all headed off to college, graudate in purple and white gowns. Board President Emanuel "Chris" Welch told the graduates that he was happy to declare, "We made it." Welch told the graduates that they all made it together after dreaming about the day for over seven years. Welch told the graduates board members were ridiculed and persecuted for just the idea of creating a third high school. But because the Board chose hope over fear, Welch said they pushed forward with the new high school. Proviso Math and Science Academy graduates received over $5.9 million in scholarships this year. Congratulations Proviso!!!

Proviso West Graduates 525

According to the Proviso Herald, a total of 525 graduates from the Proviso West High School class of 2009 marched in red and white robes at the UIC Pavilion Sunday.

"The kids were well behaved and the families were just jubilant," Principal Alexis Wallace said. "The ceremony was wonderful."

The ceremony lasted two hours and was punctuated by a stirring speech by senior class President Javin Cotton.

"It was so phenomenal. As you listened to him -- he wants to go into education, but it was like listening to a future president," Wallace said. "And the way the students received him. It was unreal."

Wallace said a diploma was awarded to a student who had died of leukemia during the school year.

"We also had a young lady who has sickle cell anemia who had to be helped across the stage," she said. "We wanted to put her in a wheelchair, but she wanted to march. She was so brave. And she did get to march, it was beautiful."

Proviso East Graduates 304

According to the Proviso Herald, Proviso East High School grads remembered Sunday a classmate who was killed one year ago.

The district awarded a diploma to student Tawanna Ford who was shot and killed in June 2008. She was on track to graduate a semester early in December.

Her mother, LaDana Ford, walked on stage at the UIC Pavilion and accepted the diploma for her daughter.

The 2009 graduating class included 304 students, most of whom were robed in blue. The top 10 percent of the class wore white, including the two valedictorians who spoke to their class: Dinishia Wolford and Clameirdre Prince.

Families packed the lower levels of the pavilion.

"This is our fourth graduation at UIC," Principal Milton Patch said. "It's great for parents, you never know what the weather is going to be like. So whether it's too hot outside or there's a rainstorm, this prevents that from happening in the ceremony."

School board President Emanuel "Chris" Welch said he has never missed a graduation in the nine years he has been on the board.

"This was fantastic," he said. "The tradition we started of holding the ceremony at UIC gives students the opportunity to invite more people."

Patch said this graduation was a special one for him as well. "There were several students I had graduate as elementary students in 1988 who wound up graduating with me again in high school," he said.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Flowers Uses Taxpayer Money for Personal Fine Dining!!!

According to the Daily Southtown, Charles Flowers isn't the only one charging family trips on the taxpayers' dime.

Instead of an excursion to Mississippi - which Suburban Cook County Regional Office of Education Supt. Charles Flowers purchased for his family on the regional office's credit card - Deputy Supt. Harry Reynolds seems to prefer the cool breeze and sandy beaches of San Diego.

More than $1,700 in charges appear on Reynolds' regional office of education credit card in June 2008 for himself and his wife, Calumet School District 132 Supt. Elizabeth Reynolds, and two other family members, according to credit card statements obtained by the SouthtownStar through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Reynolds did not return calls for comment this week.

Reynolds' district-issued card also includes charges to Chicago's theater district, one bill of nearly $100 at Bogart's Charhouse in Homewood, and car rental charges based in Jacksonville, Fla., documents show.

But that's small potatoes compared to the thousands of dollars Flowers spent on meal or food purchases since he took office in July 2007.

Sometimes, he's used the public credit card to eat out as many as four times in one week. The Clubhouse - an Oak Brook restaurant that boasts a luxurious country-club feel - appears to be a favorite. On Dec. 21, 2007, Flowers spent $863 on the fine dining, statements show. Just two months earlier, Flowers dropped $200 on Oct. 21 and was back on Oct. 23 to the tune of $85.97. In April 2008, he returned to charge $326.32. In total, he frequented the eatery - where specialties include sweet chili ginger calamari and pecan crusted tilapia - seven times, statements show.

The array of Oak Brook-area restaurants reflect a sophisticated palate. Flowers charged more than $430 at Wildfire in January of this year, $133 at Maggiano's, $286 at Papadeaux Seafood Kitchen and $89 at Bar Louie to his regional office's credit card.

But it wasn't all upscale cuisine. Flowers also seemed to have a craving for Applebee's, KFC, Panda Express, Potbelly, Portillo's, Panera and Priscilla's Ultimate Soulfood.

In addition to feeding his appetite, Flowers also spent $45 at Yehia and Company Hair Designs, statements show. There were also two separate limousine charges, plenty of purchases at the gas pump, a theater district charge, as well as hotel and rental car payments outlined in Flowers' credit card statements.

Flowers began his tenure with a credit card that had a $5,000 credit limit. That was upped to $10,000, and most recently $20,000.

Flowers did not return calls for comment this week about the credit card charges, nor has he responded to reporters' inquiries about a variety of questionable financial dealings revealed in recent weeks.

A preliminary audit of the office states that Flowers maintains he paid the office back from his personal account but the auditors were unable to confirm that.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Flowers Uses Taxpayer Funds For Trips and Credit Card Advances!!!

The Daily Southtown did a recent follow up on Charles Flowers. Read below:

The Suburban Cook County Regional Office of Education - the same office with a reputation of not answering the phone - spent nearly $20,000 on two phone systems in as many years, according to documents.

A preliminary audit of the office obtained by the SouthtownStar reveals a laundry list of questionable financial charges, ranging from airline tickets to Mississippi for Supt. Charles Flowers' family to nearly $2,000 in late fees and finance charges on regional office credit cards to Flowers' nephew - who is employed as an office floater - getting paid to eat lunch.

"Taking his whole family on taxpayer dollars is extremely questionable," said Pat Rehkamp, chief investigator with the Better Government Association.

Two administrators, whom the audit didn't name, collected their $87,644 and $80,628 salaries along with $12,000 and $9,400 for "consulting services" they did during normal working hours, the report shows.

When Flowers took office in July 2007, the office was more than $413,000 in debt. Under Flowers that more than doubled to $941,000 as of June 30, 2008, and he hired family and friends to work for him.

Three months after taking office, Flowers already was taking out cash advances on regional office's credit card, according to the audit.

The office spent $9,300 on a phone system last year - which went to replace an $8,900 phone system purchased only one year earlier, according to the audit.

Auditors initially arrived at the office in October 2008, only to return in December 2008 because the office was not ready the first time around.

Even with the two-month warning, there still were missing credit card statements, receipts and bank statements.

In a few cases, there was paperwork to support purchases but no documentation to prove it related to regional activities.

When mileage reimbursement was incorrectly totaled, it was paid without the correction, the audit stated. Another employee was overpaid when his hours were miscalculated.

The office is on its third business manager since 2007. Three weeks ago, Willie Mack, the director of ethics and fiscal compliance, was laid off, along with Joe Fogarty, a longtime office employee who worked on teacher certification, and Larry Polubinski, who dealt with special education.

Within the past month, the office was nearly two weeks late with paychecks. Earlier this year, employees had their health insurance temporarily canceled because group health insurance payments weren't paid on time.

The most recent round of paychecks were due May 1, but as off Thursday, employees had not been paid.

"On the surface of it, it looks like a classic misuse of taxpayer dollars," Rehkamp said.

Flowers did not return calls for comment.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Former Maywood Trustee Richard Lopez Convicted by Federal Jury...

According to the Chicago Tribune, former Maywood Trustee Richard Lopez was convicted by a federal jury last week. A former union officer and two employees of Teamsters Local 743 were convicted in federal court Friday for rigging two elections in 2004.

The three were found guilty on the third day of jury deliberations after a four-week trial in U.S. District Court in Chicago. The federal jury convicted Richard Lopez, the local's former secretary-treasurer, as well as Thaddeus Bania, its former comptroller, and David Rodriguez, an organizer.

They are to be sentenced Aug. 27. The local is one of the largest in America and represents more than 12,000 workers.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Peraica Staffer Colin Brady Charged With DUI???

According to published newspaper reports, Colin Brady, 33, of Westchester, was charged with DUI at 1:22am on April 27, 2009 at Harlem Avenue and Olmstead Road. According to the reports, police said a white Lincoln went through the red light at Harlem Avenue and 26th Street with the driver continuing to swerve. Officers stopped the vehicle and observed Brady unable to keep his head up and explain why he went through the red light, according to the published report. Brady apparently then failed the field sobriety tests and blew a .161 in the portable breath test. Once at the station, Brady reportedly refused to take a Breathalyzer. He was charged with DUI and improper lane usage. Brady is believed to be the same person who was recently a candidate for Township office on a slate headed by Theresa L. Kelly and supported by Regional Superintendent Charles Flowers. Brady is also believed to work for embattled Cook County Commissioner Tony Peraica who has had other staffers embarrass him with personal problems.

Daily Southtown Exposes Regional Superintendent Charles Flowers As Financial Failure!!!

The Daily Southtown newspaper wrote a detailed article exposing the corruption and failure of Charles Flowers as Superintendent. Here's the article and reporter contact information below:

When Charles Flowers took over the reins of the Suburban Cook County Regional Office of Education two years ago, critics were skeptical of his baggage.

Flowers, a former special education teacher and administrator, has a history of questionable financial dealings from his days as board president at west suburban Maywood-Melrose Park District 89. But he came into office in 2007 vowing to root out corruption and bring reform to Cook County public schools.

Once he became regional superintendent, Flowers hired relatives and friends and then began giving employees salary advance loans. Then he went to Cook County government for an emergency loan, which the regional office has yet to repay.

In April, the regional office couldn't make payroll and earlier this year the department didn't pay its group health insurance premiums on time, leading the company to temporarily cancel workers' health benefits.

So where's the money?

After several unsuccessful attempts to reach Flowers in the past weeks, he said in a brief conversation this week that he would not comment.

"I am not in front of those documents," Flowers said.

Numerous calls to top administrators in the office also were not returned.

The office was more than $413,000 in debt when Flowers was elected. According to the last available financial audit from June 30, 2007, "If the regional office continues to operate at the current level ... its ability to continue ... may be questioned in future years."

Instead of slashing expenses, the office initially added staff and approved raises for administrators, all of whom at the time held doctorates. Salaries then ranged between $75,244 and $100,325, which in some cases was more than double the pay for the same positions under former Regional Supt. Bob Ingraffia.

Many of the problems at the regional office echo Flowers' troubles as a Maywood-Melrose school board member. In 2002 and 2003 Flowers came under fire for stacking the staff with friends who were paid more than their predecessors and for authorizing frivolous spending on laptops and cell phones for board members in a district with a $3 million deficit. All but six of the 200 laptops were later found in unopened boxes in a storage room by an auditing firm.

Flowers himself had his assets frozen for failing to pay $51,188 in income taxes in the past few years, which Flowers had previously said he was contesting.

Pay advance loans

After Flowers became superintendent in July 2007, he put his two sisters and a nephew on the payroll.

Less than a year on the job, he approved a salary advance of $6,000 to his sister Barbara Flowers, who is also his executive assistant, and $9,000 to friend Arbdella Hayes-Patterson, who oversees the truancy program, according to documents obtained by the SouthtownStar.

Approving what is in essence a loan for employees is unusual, said Marc Kiehna, the president of the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools.

"I think common sense and law tell us we should have contracts and pay our employees accordingly," he said. "It's not a procedure that I would do. Typically people earn the money that we give them."

As for the legality of it, Kiehna said "I would question it."

Neither Barbara Flowers nor Hayes-Patterson returned calls this week for comment about the loans.

Missed paychecks, cut-off insurance

Last month, the regional office couldn't make payroll, forcing employees to go almost two weeks without pay. Staff received paychecks Monday, which was just within the window allowed by an Illinois Department of Labor law that outlines just how late employees can get paid.

In the April 15 memo Flowers sent to his staff informing them payroll would be delayed, he wrote, "I regret having to take this action, but the funds simply are not there at this time."

With the next round of paychecks due today, a number of workers have said they are worried those checks will also be late - if they come at all. This comes in addition to layoffs within the past couple of weeks and switching some employees from fulltime to parttime, which also occurred in the past few weeks. It's unknown how many workers from the staff of about two dozen were laid off or had their hours cut.

Health insurance for those same employees was temporarily interrupted due to nonpayment earlier this year, a spokeswoman for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois confirmed. Coverage has since been restored.

Since the SouthtownStar started asking questions, employees have described the work environment as "hostile and tense." They've said administrators are "interrogating" employees, looking through phone records and e-mails to see who leaked information to the media.

Unpaid loans

In 2008 and 2009, Flowers, who currently makes $103,234, submitted budgets identical to his predecessor from one year prior - with the exception of a more than $10,000 increase for rent after the office moved, according to documents acquired through a SouthtownStar Freedom of Information Act request .

The approximately $670,000 operations budget does not include about $2.5 million in state and federal grants Flowers expected for 2009, as well as revenue from certification and fingerprinting, among other programs.

But of that expected revenue, the office will not receive $1.7 million from a state truancy grant. For years, the office won the competitive grant, but after Flowers took over and the amount requested went from about $100,000 in 2007 to $1.7 million, the state didn't approve the grant.

What was approved in June 2008 was a $190,000 taxpayer-backed loan from the Cook County Board.

That money was used for operations and has been spent, Flowers said. It is unclear if the office will make the June 30 repayment deadline.

Cook County Commissioner Elizabeth Doody Gorman (R-Orland Park) cast the sole "no" vote when the request for the money came in last year.

"All Flowers did was pad it (the staff) with his friends and family and then come to us, to (board president Todd) Stroger, for a loan. How ironic," Gorman said.

After the dissenting vote, Gorman said Flowers' office contacted her to discuss the loan. She said her office called back daily, then weekly, to set up a time, and no one got back to her, which made her even more comfortable with her vote.

"If they can't sit down and meet, that just shows their inaccessibility and ineptness." Gorman said. "If they're this unresponsive to elected officials, I can only imagine what it's like with the community and teachers they have to serve."

Delays for certification

The office is responsible for services to 143 school districts and 400,000 students in suburban Cook County. One of its larger roles is to oversee teacher certifications and licensing.

However, at the top of Southland administrators' list of complaints are long delays in teacher certification and a difficulty getting anyone at the office to answer the phone.

The SouthtownStar attempted to retrieve a list of uncertified personnel in the county through a Freedom of Information Act request, but the regional office said it did not maintain such a list. In addition, the office did not provide a list of personnel for whom the office has received applications but have yet to be certified, saying, "The Illinois State Board of Education certifies educational personnel."

Also in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, the ISBE said it also could not provide those lists.

In contrast, the teacher certification specialist at the Will County Regional Office of Education said she could provide a list of certification applications waiting to be processed.

It's gotten so bad, districts are circumventing the office that should act as an arm of the state board of education.

"We go directly to ISBE," Forest Ridge School District 142 Supt. Margaret Longo said of teacher certifications.

In Community High School District 218, Supt. John Byrne said the district has lost potential teachers because the office didn't verify certification in time. Reports and surveys the district passes on to the office on time often arrive late to the ISBE, he added.

"Many of those have to do with financial deadlines," Byrne said.

In his 20 years dealing with the regional office, Byrne said he has never had so many problems.

"I'm trying not to assess blame, but something is missing here. It always worked before."

Duaa Eldeib can be reached at or (708) 633-5960.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Economic Times Hit Local Elementary School In District 89...

According to the Proviso Herald, about 30 teachers and certified staff will not be coming back to work at Maywood School District 89 next year.

At a Special Meeting Monday night, the Maywood School District 89 School Board meeting voted unanimously in favor of the action.

Those who will be let go are part of over 300 teachers and certified staff that work in the school district. The positions were non-renewal contracts.

Along with teachers some of the jobs of certified staff are literacy coaches, technology assistants, teacher assistants and tutors.

Maywood School District 89 Superintendent Thea Perkins said the decision was made in part because of the economy. She said less money is coming in from the state along with the decline in grant money.

She said the district's actions aren't exclusive and these kinds of steps are being taken by school districts across the state.

Perkins said despite the change the district will continue to work hard to provide the best education possible for the students in the district.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Financial Crisis At Regional Superintendent's Office!!!

David Pollard of the Pioneer Press Newspapers, aka the Proviso Herald, is reporting that employees at the Regional Superintendent's Office, headed by Charles A. Flowers, will not be paid today. Pollard writes that:

Friday will be payday for some, but employees working for Suburban Cook County Regional Office of Education in Westchester may leave for the weekend empty-handed. Office employees, speaking on condition of anonymity, say they were notified via email April 15 that they would not be paid on April 17.
Although there is the likelihood the office will not have payroll checks for the office's 18 employees, they still continue to come to work and say they are fearful about speaking out publicly about their predicament.
What do you think should be done? Who's to blame? What's your opinion?

Has Flowers destroyed the Regional Superintendent's office?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Proviso Township Election Winners!!!

Proviso Township saw incumbents flex their muscle in last week's local elections. One major upset occurred in the Village of Broadview with the incumbents being ousted by a rising star in Proviso Township politics, Sherman Jones. Here's a break down of the election winners:

For Mayors:

Bellwood-Frank Pasquale
Berkeley-Tony Esposito
Broadview-Sherman Jones
Hillside-Joe Tamburino
Maywood-Henderson Yarbrough
Melrose Park-Ron Serpico
Northlake-Jeff Sherwin
Stone Park-Ben Mazzulla
Westchester-Sam Pullia
Forest Park-No Mayoral contest

For Contested School Boards:
Drena Lanier
Dorothy Smith
Maria Castrejon
Marilyn Thurman

Regina Rivers
Jaime Aquiano
Loretta Gustello

Ida O'Neal
Penny Williams Wolford
Andrew Riouse

Emanuel "Chris" Welch
Daniel J. Adams
Brian M. Cross
Kevin McDermott

For Proviso Township:
Michael Corrigan-Supervisor
William Daugherty-Clerk
Steven Zawaski-Assessor
Eric Sawchuck-Collector
Tony Williams-Trustee
Don Sloan-Trustee
Meri Herrell-Trustee
Tony Gillian-Trustee

Friday, April 10, 2009

Welch Wins Big In Proviso SD209 Race...

Proviso School Board President Emanuel "Chris" Welch, who endured the most negative campaign in school board history, won re-election on Tuesday by a landslide. Here's a break down of the votes:

HS Member Bd. Of Ed. Proviso Township 209 - 4yr.
9 Candidates - Vote for 4
Precincts Counted: 120 of 120 (100.00%)
Candidates Votes %
Emanuel ''Chris'' Welch (NP) 7,568 13.56%
Reatha ''Sue'' Henry (NP) 5,724 10.25%
Daniel J. Adams (NP) 7,023 12.58%
Brian M. Cross (NP) 6,999 12.54%
Maria Desena (NP) 4,689 8.40%
Kevin McDermott (NP) 6,842 12.26%
Carlos Anderson (NP) 4,880 8.74%
Rebecca M. Smith (NP) 6,490 11.62%
Arbdella ''Della'' Patterson (NP) 5,614 10.06%

A closer look at the numbers reveal that Welch placed first out of all candidates in Bellwood, Broadview, Northlake and Stone Park. He placed second in Maywood, Melrose Park, and Hillside. Fourth in Berkeley and Westchester, and sixth in Forest Park. Congratulations to Welch and his slate mates Dan Adams and Brian Cross.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Go Vote!!!

Don't forget to vote today in local elections. The future of our schools, municipalities, park districts, etc are at stake. Make your vote count.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Local Elections Are Here...

It's time to cast your ballot for local leaders in our towns and municipalities. When you go to the polls on Tuesday, April 7, 2009, here are some excellent choices for your schools in Bellwood SD88 and Proviso High School District 209:

For Bellwood SD88:

Ronald Anderson 186
Patricia Crawford 187
Beverly Graham 188
Lekeya Shearrill 189

For Proviso High School District 209:

Emanuel "Chris" Welch 201
Reatha "Sue" Henry 202
Daniel J. Adams 203
Brian M. Cross 204

Friday, April 03, 2009

Arbdella "Della" Patterson Wants to Close PMSA and Fire New Superintendent!!!

Arbdella "Della" Patterson, a candidate for SD209 Board, appeared at a candidates forum on Thursday, April 2, 2009 at the Forest Park Library. The forum was hosted by CU in FP. At the forum, Patterson clearly sent signals that she and her crew will close the Proviso Math and Science Academy if she is elected. In response to an audience question, Patterson said the school is not needed. She also indicated the school district needs a qualified superintendent to be put in place, another signal that she wants to oust new Superintendent Dr. Nettie Collins-Hart. PMSA was recently ranked by the Chicago Tribune as one of the Top 50 High Schools in the state of Illinois, and Dr. Collins-Hart was the Superintendent of the Year in the state of North Carolina in 2006. She is a recognized expert on closing the achievement gap.