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: