Andrew Rowlas Challenging Silverstein for Alderman

Andrew Rowlas, a community activist and former educator, has announced his candidacy for alderman of the 50th Ward, challenging two-term incumbent Debra Silverstein.

Rowlas is campaigning on a progressive platform of economic development centered around small businesses, improved educational opportunities for neighborhood students, and civic engagement by neighborhood residents.

His goals are in sharp contrast to Silverstein’s eight years of inertia. The ward still waits for the economic development plan she promised in 2011. Her lack of transparency and refusal to engage with her constituents are near legendary, even for Chicago. She is one of the Mayor’s most dependable stooges, a reliable member of the rubber-stamp brigade in the City Council.

Rowlas has served as president of the West Ridge Community Organization, is a leading member of LEARN–the coalition of community members and organizations that led the charge for a new library– and has worked extensively to foster communication and cooperation between and with all ethnic and religious communities across the ward. He was instrumental in the formation of the Warren Park Advisory Council, which gives local residents a voice in Park activities.

It’s worth noting that, after nearly 8 years in office, Silverstein had never shown any interest in connecting the north side’s largest park with its nearby residents. Rowlas saw the need to do so and rallied other activists to make it happen. Just imagine the great things that could happen in the 50th with a proactive alderman!

Rowlas spent 38 years as a teacher, counselor, and principal. He would be a strong voice for increased quality educational opportunities both in the ward and across Chicago.

Support the Rowlas campaign by volunteering or donating via the campaign Web site, rowlasforward50.com.

Silverstein will not be able to run a Rose Garden campaign this year. I look forward to the coming debates. And so should you.

 

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Earn Community Service Credits Through Summer Art Internship

Local resident and teaching artist/art therapist Sharon Hyson is offering a volunteer art internship to high school or college students to assist in an arts program with children and adults over the summer months. Sharon describes this position as:

“Volunteer internship opportunity for hIgh school or college student seeking community service hours or experience.  Participate in a summer arts day camp experience in Chicago with children, youth, and an intergenerational (adult) component.  No art experience necessary, Times and dates in July and August are flexible – 2, 4, or 6 weeks.  Experience with photography and technology is a plus, but not necessary.  If you are interested in learning about or plan future work in gerontology, human services, or the arts, this may be a good fit.  Contact Sharon Hyson, ATR, art therapist and art educator, at sharonhyson@gmail.com for further information.”

This sounds like a worthwhile way to spend part of the summer.

Memorial Day

As we celebrate the courage and sacrifices of the men and women of the United States military, I will be remembering my father and his brother, both World War II Army veterans, and my cousin, who served in the Coast Guard. Uncle Bud fought in the China-India-Burma theater, was wounded, and received the Purple Heart. I’ll also be thinking of my Uncle Frank, my mother’s sister’s husband, who died at the Battle of the Bulge. Even though I never knew him, I am grateful for his service and his sacrifice.

I will also be thinking of my brother, who served in the Air Force during the Vietnam War era, and my Uncle Johnny, our family’s last link to those who served in World War II.

I wish you and yours a blessed and peaceful Memorial Day.

Aldermanic Election Deadlines

If you’re thinking about running for alderman, it’s time to get organized. The election will be held on February 26, 2019.

You’ll need a total of 473 valid signatures from registered voters to get on the ballot. You can begin acquiring those signatures on August 28, 2018.

Notarized nominating petitions are due at the Chicago Board of Elections the week of November 19-26, 2018.

You’ll want to get copies of nominating petitions filed by the other candidates so you can begin to file objections to their petitions. It’s an interesting process, though more complicated than it needs to be, and you’ll need a team of sharp-eyed campaign workers to help you spot things like multiple signatures written in the same hand, or signatures and addresses written in different hands, or signatures using addresses of vacant lots and abandoned buildings. You can object to illegible signatures and also petitions without circulator signatures or with invalid notarizations.

The last day to file objections to petitions is December 3, 2018.

You’ll need a lawyer to help you defend yourself should your petitions be challenged. That lawyer will attend  a session at CBOE  with you  where CBOE employees will rule  on the validity of  the signatures  in question. Should challenges remain after this session,  you  will be required to obtain a signed and notarized affidavit from each person whose signature is challenged; the sworn affidavit affirms that the signature is valid. There isn’t a lot of time to get this accomplished because the candidate lists must be finalized and ballots printed in January 2019. You will need to organize and train teams of volunteers to get those affidavits.

Don’t be surprised or intimidated if another candidate files a thousand or more signatures. This is a tactic used by experienced politicians to frighten neophytes. Make your challenges anyway.

In the meantime, you’ll need to be raising lots of money. Former Alderman Dick Simpson notes in his campaign handbook that a candidate for alderman should have at least $250,000 in the bank. This is important if you are seeking endorsements, since established politicians will not support a candidate without enough money already banked to win the election. The press, too, is not inclined to cover candidates who lack money for publicity.

Ald. Silverstein has already raised more than $93,000 for the race.

At this writing there are no declared candidates in the 50th Ward. But if you’re thinking about running for alderman, now is the time to start recruiting and training petition circulators, volunteers, and paid campaign staff.

Go to the CBOE website for a helpful guide that goes into great detail about what to do and how to do it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Water Fountains Turned Off in Local Parks

The Chicago Park District has begun turning off water fountains in local parks because of lead contamination. According to information released by the Park District, two of our local parks are affected.

Indian Boundary — Three fountains have been turned off:

#1 — north of the spray pool

#2 — east of the tennis courts

#3 — west of the Fieldhouse, on the path.

Warren Park — Eight water fountains off: #1 — northwest corner of the park, north of the play lot

#2 — near the golf course bathroom

#3 — northeast corner of the park, near the play lot

#4 — on the path, east of the baseball diamond and west of the golf course

#5 — north of the tennis courts

#6 — southwest play lot

#7 — Cricket field

#8 — horseshoe pit, east of cricket field.

Please be sure to alert teenagers and young children. For the time being, it’s best to bring your own water.

 

 

 

 

Economic Development Community Meeting at Northtown Library

Every year the Chicago Community Trust invites City residents to participate in discussions of topics of public interest and public policy. The program, known as “Open Table,”  organizes these citywide discuussions neighborhood by neighborhood.

This year, the West Ridge Community Organization and the West Ridge Chamber of Commerce are co – sponsoring the OpenTable program that will take place on Thursday, May 10th, at the Northtown Library, 6435 North California, from 6 to 8 p.m.  The selected topic is economic planning and development in West Ridge.

Discussions will begin with a presentation by Abraham Lentner, city planning instructor att the University of Illinois at Chicago. After his presentation, the audience will break into small discussion groups to share ideas about potential eonomic dvelopment improvements for our neighborhood. The audience will then reconvene to share each group’s ideas, concerns, and recommendations.

The event is free. If you have any questions please contact the West Ridge Community Organization or the West Ridge Chamber of Commerce.

Why Aren’t Parking Laws Enforced on Devon?

Ald. Brendan Reilly wants to increase fines for downtown double-parking to $300 per offense. We should do the same thing for such illegal parking on Devon.

Traffic is routinely blocked up and down Devon as drivers park or wait at bus stops and ntersections. Even worse, many drivers think it’s acceptable to  stop and load groceries in the middle of the street. This is particularly true between Talman and Rockwell, a block with two of the major grocery stores and a corner sweet shop.

This practice is dangerous for bus passengers, who typically have to board and exit the bus in the middle of the street. Passengers using walkers, canes, or wheelchairs are the most inconvenienced . I was on a bus  whose driver had to ask the driver of an illegally parked vehicle–busy reading his newspaper–to move so a passenger in a wheelchair could board. It’s also dangerous to be trapped on the street between traffic and parked or standing vehicles, especially if you use a walker, cane, or wheelchair.

And what about pedestrians, who typically have to dodge cars zooming out from behind the offending vehicles? Drivers often turn down the side streets and blast through residential alleys to try to make up the time they’ve lost in these unnecessary roadblocks.

There’s no reason for supply trucks to be making deliveries through a store’s front door. All the stores have loading docks accessible from the alley. A new grocery opened just east of Washtenaw a few months ago. It’s located just east of the bus stop, and it’s become routine for 18-wheelers to park in the bus lane while delivering products to the store. The loading dock in the back has never been used.

Where are the police? And where is the alderman?

The failure to ensure that parking laws are observed on Devon should be an issue in the aldermanic campaign.

 

A Tough Year So Far

Yes, I’m still here.

It’s been a tough year so far, beginning with the death of Mr. Cat, my feline companion for more than 18 years. He was wonderfully intelligent, fearless, and the real boss of our household, lording it over a succession of dogs and humans. Tough but benevolent, Mr. Cat ruled his kingdom via a combination of charming sweetness and a ruthless indifference to anyone else’s needs. He was one of a kind, and the dogs and I miss him every day.

Then I had eye surgery, and serious complications from which I am still recovering.

And then came the March election,, with yet another carpetbagger from the Indo-American Democratic Organization moving into the state senatorial district barely a year before the election, and running a divisive campaign centered around slinging mud at an already-disgraced incumbent. He was aided in this by various special interests, and will no doubt be a reliable vote for those interests in Springfield. His campaign suggests that he will lower the ethical level in Springfield yet another notch.

You can bet he’ll have his own candidate for alderman, and probably, when the time comes, for committeeman as well.  Deals are being discussed as you read this, and deals cost money, and money is being raised, lots of it. Google Illinois Sunshine database and check out who’s giving–and who gave and expects to be rewarded.

The aldermanic race begins later this year, officially. In actuality, serious candidates have been talking to potential donors since last year. Who will run? Debra has been raising money, and Ira’s loss of both his leadership position and his senate seat suggests that she’ll want to keep her job, which pays $120,000 per year. Nobody has openly declared but I hear there are at least three potential candidates exploring the possibility of running.

It’s going to be an interesting summer, and I’m feeling better already.

I just love a good fight.

 

 

Merry Christmas

I will be one of millions of Christians around the world celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ on December 25.

The joys of the day include the beautiful orchestral arrangements and the soaring voices of the choir at Midnight Mass. The 120-year-old St. John Cantius Church is filled with flowers that complement its lovely, old-world interior. The Latin Mass will be celebrated by Bishop Joseph N. Perry, who joins the parish priests and acolytes in the solemn procession escorting the Christ Child through the church to the manger. The scent of incense and candles perfumes the air. During Mass, both choir and congregation sing the Latin responses to the Bishop’s prayers, and a solemn hymn graces Communion. When Mass ends, church lights are dimmed; each member of the congregation holds a lighted candle and sings the recessional hymn, Silent Night. 

I find such comfort and joy in this traditional ritual. When I was a girl, the procession was a colorful event, with young boys from the parish dressed as medieval pages in satin shorts and jackets with cloaks and feathered hats joining the priests and seminarians to escort the Baby Jesus to his earthly parents. Both St. John Cantius and my childhood church were founded by immigrants who brought the Old World culture to their homes and worship. It still lives in traditional churches like St. John Cantius, and for me is a direct connection to those Christians who came here long ago.

Family. Friends. Faith. These give life meaning, and never more for me than at Christmas.

Merry Christmas to you and yours.

 

The Money Race

The amount of money needed to run for office is simply obscene. In his most recent campaign handbook, former alderman Dick Simpson says that a candidate for alderman today needs a quarter of a million dollars to run a credible race. Of course, the job pays well. The incumbent, Debra Silverstein, earns $116,208 annually, or a one-term total of $464,832.  Nearly a half-million dollars over four years for a part-time job she basically phones in.

If she wins a third term, she can retire in comfort on the generous pension provided by taxpayers. If, for example, she serves a third term, giving her 12 years in office, and pays enough into her retirement fund to “buy” extra years of service, her pension would be 80% of her final salary, plus a guaranteed 3% annual increase. And aldermanic salaries only go up, never down.

Silverstein currently has $97,288 in funds for her 2018 re-election race, $8,500 of which has been donated since September, The $8.500 came from just five donors: Cermak Produce ($1,000); Comcast ($1,500); businessman / investor Asher Kohn ($1,000), and the  Chicagoland Operators Joint Labor Management PAC ($5,000).

She also received an August contribution from Regal Jewels in the odd amount of $318. I can’t help noting that the contribution arrived just as another of the family’s businesses, the Hindu temple on Devon, secured permission from the alderman to violate the law and hold two dance festivals–complete with loudspeakers–alongside residential housing. Not that there’s any connection, even though anyone who pays attention will see a pattern in business donations to the alderman.

And how much money do the candidates for Illinois Senate have on hand?

Ira Silverstein has $89,169, with $14,200 raised since September,; $9,200 of that came after he was accused of sexual harassment at the end of October. Those contributions came from Chicagoland Operators Joint Labor Management PAC (a whopping $7,000); the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association $1,000), and the Realtor PAC ($1,200). I wonder how the women represented by those donors feel about these contributions.

Ram Villivalam has $66,635 in ready cash, all raised since November 7 and most from himself, his wife, family, and the Indo American Democratic Organization. All the big donors gave $5,000 each, with Villivalam and his wife each donating $5,600. Only two organizations, the Illinois Political Active Letter Carriers and the Progressive Turnout Coalition, are represented; each gave $1,000.

Caroline McAteer-Fournier lists two donors and a total of $2,500 raised.

Zehra Quadri and David Zulkey do not report any contributions.

Anyone planning to run for alderman should have been raising money already. Once the challenges to the Senate candidates are decided, we’ll really see the money race begin. Personally, I think the race will come down to two candidates, Silverstein and Villivalam. Nobody else has the money to wage a proper campaign.

If you don’t already have the money for a March race, you won’t have it at all.