Bob Evans Sausage Recall

The FDA has issued a recall of Bob Evans sausage products distributed in Illinois. They may be contaminated with pieces of small, hard plastic. The sausage products were not all labeled “Bob Evans.”  Some are labeled “Schnucks,” some “Giant Eagle,” and some are labeled “Meijer.”

See the FDA recall notice for more information:




More Challengers for Silverstein

Two new challengers have entered the race for 50th Ward alderman, Lawyer Ira Piltz and former candidate Ahmed Khan.

Ira is a graduate of DePaul University Law School and has a wide-ranging practice that includes real estate, corporate law, estate planning, and civil litigation. One particularly important court victory resulted in a change in Illinois law to allow religiously observant women to cover their hair in State ID photos.

Ira’s announcement notes that he is not running against an individual, but for the 50th Ward. He cites ” traffic, parking and zoning” as among his concerns, along with education. He notes that housing affordability and taxes are key issues in the City. As alderman, he would address the needs of the various communities within the ward and encourage contact between the various groups.

He intends to run “a campaign of ideas,” noting that “fresh ideas” are needed. As he said in his announcement, “We are all in this together and it is my goal to create a coalition that represents the entirety of our community.”

Ahmed Khan, who challenged Ald. Bernard Stone back in 2011, has also joined the race. One of four challengers in that election, Khan finished in fifth place with just under 6% of the vote. That race resulted in a runoff between Stone and the eventual winner, now alderman, Debra Silverstein. The other challengers were Michael Moses and Greg Brewer.

Khan recently received a Master’s degree in Communications from Northwestern University, where he is employed as assistant director of the alumni reunions program. He was a field organizer for both Bob Fioretti and Chuy Garcia in the 2015 mayoral election, and deputy executive director  for the Draft Biden campaign. Although he has considerable organizing experience, he has never worked on a winning campaign.

He is also a former chairman of the West Ridge Community Organization.

Piltz and Khan join Andrew Rowlas and Jason Honig as potential candidates for alderman.

Ald. Silverstein is seeking re-election to a third term.


Anti-Semites on the Loose

Last night, I had an altercation with an African neighbor over his insistence on loading a dumpster parked in front of my building with construction debris after 10 p.m.  He did not stop until the police arrived. While waiting for the police, he repeatedly screamed at me, accusing me of harassment because I wanted to get some sleep.

But it was the reactions of passers-by that I found most disturbing. One man appeared out of nowhere, screaming that the problem is that the old Jews don’t want anybody else living in their neighborhood. He advised the neighbor to call the police on me if I so much as jaywalk, to teach the old Russian Jews that they don’t own the neighborhood. He spoke with a heavy Middle Eastern accent, and shook his finger at me, saying that the Jews need to be dealt with and need to learn to mind their own business. I was stunned by such vitriol from a complete stranger on the street at nearly 11 p.m.

This man barged into a private dispute about which he knew absolutely nothing yet somehow decided it was all the fault of the Jews. It was appalling.

But he wasn’t the only anti-Semite on the street. Another man also with a heavy Middle Eastern accent rolled up on his bicycle and advised my neighbor not to “empower” me by arguing. He, too, advised ignoring the complaints of an old Jew and assured my neighbor that he had a right to do whatever he wanted regardless of the time of night. He left as soon as the police pulled up.

It was the blatant, shameless anti-Semitism that really got to me, and I was especially distressed by the obvious assumption of all the men present that they were dealing with an old Jewish woman who needed to be put in her place as a Jew and as a woman. It was sickening.

The antagonism toward Jews simply astounds me.  One of my closest friends is Jewish, and she tells me that she is always conscious of her Jewishness wherever she is. I struggle to understand this, because I am never conscious of my Catholicism, even when I’m in a synagogue. No one has ever looked at me and said, you must be Catholic. How can anyone tell she’s a Jew? Yet the men last night,  for unfathomable reasons of their own, believed me to be a Jew–a Russian Jew at that–and thus felt safe in blaming all Jews for whatever was wrong.

So much hatred for something so small that didn’t concern them in the first place.

It’s frightening.







Campaign News

Tuesday, August 28, is s the first day that candidates for alderman and other City offices can legally ask registered voters to sign nominating petitions.

Andrew Rowlas has released his first campaign newsletter. Contact his campaign to get on the mailing list (

Jason Honig is hosting a campaign kickoff at Warren Park on Saturday, August 25, from 11:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m.  Contact his campaign for more information (

Mayoral candidate Lori Lightfoot has released her proposed ethics reform plan. It targets outside jobs for municipal workers and addresses mayoral term limits, among other sound ideas.

It’s Not “Just a Parking Lot” Anymore

Most of us treasure these last days of summer, as the days get shorter and the breezes warmer and the backyard tomatoes are ripe for picking. There’s nothing like sitting on the porch or in the yard or even in one’s own kitchen, enjoying the evening breezes, Sinatra singing, and a fresh tomato tart.

That is, unless you live around the Republic Bank parking lot, which this week will be the site of both a Wednesday movie night and a Saturday evening India Day program that includes a concert. The Minutes of the SSA meeting reveal that initial plans for tonight called for a restaurant crawl, movie night, and ribbon cutting starring the Mayor. He may show up. He’s running for reelection and what better way to show the Indian community he loves them? It will boost Silverstein’s reelection campaign as well–another photo for the weekly family album, er, constituent newsletter.

June 18 minutes

The India Day event, including the parade and the party-in-a-parking lot , is expected to cost $100,000, most of it privately funded. The original proposal included a talent show, a fashion show, and a concert. I wonder how much of that is being spent for the privilege of eating cake alongside an alley. You’d think the organizers would want to do better by their guests.

May 30 minutes.                                                          April 16 Minutes

The SSA is also planning a back to school event for next August in the same parking lot. How this will drive business to Devon is a mystery. No stores on the street sell school supplies or children’s shoes or clothing. The Indian businesses long ago made it clear they don’t want local residents in their stores, and I doubt if many tourists shop here for pencils and paper.

Continue reading

Jason Honig Running for Alderman

Jason Honig has announced his candidacy for 50th Ward alderman. Honig is a former teacher, counselor, and school principal who was once executive director of the Lawndale Learning Center. He currently works for an investment firm that specializes in ethical investment and money management.


Jason’s campaign slogan is “Alderman for the Common Good.” No discussion of the 50th Ward is complete without praise for diversity, no matter how ill-defined or undefined it may be. But Jason pledges to work across ethnic and religious divides to form a community of neighbors working together for the benefit of all residents. This is a concept that eludes the current alderman.

Like Andrew Rowlas, who already announced his candidacy, Jason believes that the alderman should be transparent about community business and active in the community. He supports participatory budgeting, a zoning committee to advise the alderman on zoning and land use, and empowering citizens to work with him on economic and residential development.


Honig would initiate ward days and celebrations of our diverse cultures. Personally, I’d like to see an end to ethnic-specific parades and celebrations. I think the best way to celebrate our community would be to hold an annual Fourth of July parade, celebrating the contributions made by each ethnic group to the American mosaic. I think we should celebrate the one thing that unites us– the fact that we are Americans or want to be.


Jason would provide translators at public meetings. The fact that he’s willing to meet with his constituents is a novelty in the 50th Ward. We’ve spent eight years with an  alderman who avoids her constituents and refuses to discuss public business lest we offer our own opinions, which she’s made clear she doesn’t want to hear. Whether it’s Rowlas or Honig who replaces her, it will be wonderful to have an alderman who  actually informs the community about public business and tells us how he voted on the issues of the day.


Jason would also promote “equity and diversity” in the ward office. He and Rowlas are in agreement on this issue as well. It never ceases to amaze me that the current alderman’s office is open only four and a half days per week. It closes promptly at 2 p.m. every Friday in observance of the Sabbath. But candle-lighting time, especially during the summer, is often not until 8 p.m. or later. Even if the alderman has to leave, isn’t there a Christian or Muslim or Hindu or atheist staff member who could keep the office open on Friday afternoon? Isn’t that one way for the alderman to practice the diversity she preaches? Would some creative juggling of staff schedules also permit the office to open at least a half-day on Saturday?


Honig supports term limits for the Mayor and the City Council and full funding for education. You can read his full platform on his Web site.


Nominating petitions for all the candidates will begin circulating on August 28. We won’t know who the final candidates are until December. The current alderman will try to eliminate as many of her potential opponents  as possible through petition challenges. If you really want to participate in the pre-election process, you might consider volunteering to review nominating petitions for irregularities. Maybe you’d like to host a meet-and-greet visit by one of the candidates in your home or at a public venue. There are lots of things you can do to support your candidate.

Contact the current challengers:




The Alderman’s Secret Housing Meeting

This evening, in what should have been an open, public community meeting, the alderman discussed with a few select residents a developer’s proposal to build 16 housing units across the street from the new library. The development consists of two buildings, each containing five townhouses, and one six-unit condo building. The only residents invited to attend are those who live in the immediate vicinity of the proposed development.

The buildings would replace the vacant lots on Morse and Western Avenues. The exact addresses are 6911 and 6915 North Western and 2339 West Morse. A special-use permit is required for the development. Continue reading

Three Little Angels

As you know, just a few days into the year I lost my darling cat to a sudden illness. We had just started our eighteenth year together, and he would have turned nineteen or twenty this year.

About to pounce on a muffin. Puddy would then roll onto his back and juggle it with all four paws, while Oso and Lady waited for it to fall.

Mr. Cat was a sweet yet tough little guy, and for weeks after his death my two dogs, Oso and Lady, searched the house for him. He had a maddening habit of popping out of nowhere and hitting them on the head or paws, then scampering away. I don’t think they ever quite got used to the idea that it was safe to walk across the room.

We moved through spring and Into summer without Mr. Cat, each of us mourning in his own way. Then, on June 2, Oso died suddenly of a presumed heart attack.

Oso was my big, silly baby bear, a dog who loved nothing more than to be petted and hugged and fed his favorite foods. He was one of those dogs who was always in the way, always trying to stay one step ahead. He’d rush to be the first in the kitchen, and no matter where he parked himself it was always the wrong place. He’d be in front of the stove when I needed to cook, in front of the fridge when I needed to get food, in front of the sink when I needed water. The few times he landed in the center of the room he was in the way, period.

Mom’s big brown bear.

Oso, as acting supervisor, would stick his head over my shoulder to check on the status of the food in the oven. He would sit and watch me chop vegetables, and insisted on a look before they went into the pot. He loved bananas and apples and his Thanksgiving treat of a slice of pumpkin pie.

Loving, friendly, and always ready for his close-up, he often posed for photos with passers-by on Devon, especially with children who squealed with joy that they could put their arms around my big, sweet bear. It got so that he would see a camera, and immediately assume his best pose.

Oso was a big dog with a big personality, and the house was suddenly empty without him. I hadn’t fully realized how well he took care of Lady until his passing.

My beautiful little girl had suffered all her life from a seizure disorder thought to be caused by a brain tumor. She also had congenital cataracts. A few years ago, one seizure affected first one front paw and then the other. After that, she didn’t want to go outside anymore. Even when I carried her down the stairs, she would refuse to walk and instead sit and wait to be taken back home. She was terrified of fireworks, which triggered  seizures, and I dreaded the summer holidays.

With Oso gone, she had difficulty finding her way around the house. I would often come home to find her standing trapped under a chair or in a blind corner, not sure in which direction to move. I was used to seeing Oso go to her aid, walking up to her and then moving  away,  a gesture that said just follow me and I’ll take you back to your bed. Lacking his guidance, she would now cry when trapped. I didn’t think Lady would make it through the summer, and, sadly, she didn’t. After several harrowing days and nights  of  fireworks explosions, she suffered her final seizure on July 3. My darling Lady died peacefully in her sleep mid-morning on July 4.

My beautiful Lady.

Lady was a beautiful dog, and she knew it. In her prime, she would strut down the street, conscious of admiring glances and enjoying the attentions of  people who would stop to fuss over her. Until her most serious seizure a couple of years ago, she was very playful, especially with dogs her own size. Sweet and loving, she had no interest at all in being Top Dog, a position that Oso and I each felt was ours (we fought to a draw).

All three of my angels died in a bit less than six months. Their ashes are back home with me, and they, along with their brothers and sisters, will be buried with me when my time comes.

I take my morning walks by myself now, and miss ethe excitement of a dog discovering the world anew every morning, examining each flower and blade of grass as though they hadn’t been there yesterday, then eagerly poking a head around the corner to see what’s there, catching a scent on the breeze and pulling on the leash to follow it. I’ve never had a cat who wasn’t fascinated by life on the other side of the window, watching the world for hours and then snoozing on the windowsill in the sunlight.

I have been blessed with many wonderful dogs and cats over the years. I like to think that when Mr. Cat, Oso, and Lady crossed the Rainbow Bridge they were greeted by the brothers and sisters who preceded them. I like to think of all of them running around on a cloud, playing happily and joyfully, Lady reuniting with her buddy Paco, Mr. Cat exploring the heavens, and Oso charming everyone in sight–lovingly in the way.

Eventually, there will be another cat and another dog, and they will be as unique and wonderful as all my other angels. But for now, I feel lost, my home is empty, and I cannot think yet about bringing another pet home.

Later, but not now.



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,

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