Editorial - Chicago Ridge aiming high to get rid of its big bloodshot eyesore

Chicago Ridge is in the midst of celebrating its 100th anniversary with an eye toward the future.
Just a few weeks before the village held its Centennial Gala at the Glendora House, village trustees authorized the village attorney to work with TIF consultants Kane, McKenna and Associates Inc. on a plan to redevelop a 100-acre site on Harlem Avenue.
The Glendora House would be razed as part of the plan along with a nearby Burger King, motel and shuttered restaurant. But the abandoned Yellow Trucking terminal makes up the majority of site. It’s an eyesore to be sure and not the welcoming panorama village officials want on their western border.
A preliminary development proposal for the property features a conference center, indoor water park, restaurants, a cinema, hotel and multiuse buildings.
The plan sounds great and there’s no doubt it would go a long way toward making the southwest suburbs—especially those adjacent to Chicago Ridge—a destination point. And the dollars spent in such a business/entertainment complex would help the village hold down property taxes and improve services.
The question becomes: Is such a grandiose plan workable?
Stony Creek Promenade in Oak Lawn is finally past the planning stages. Take a drive to 111th Street and Cicero Avenue and you’ll see the exterior walls of Mariano’s Fresh Market going up. The store will anchor a center that also will include a Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurant, other restaurants and shops. But the mall did not become a reality overnight. Oak Lawn officials past and present worked for years to bring it to fruition.
Evergreen Park is another example of a town that has worked diligently to attract new developments. Again, it took time and effort primarily on the part of Mayor Jim Sexton to convince Pete’s Fresh Market (which is opening another location across the street from the Yellow truck terminal), Mariano’s Fresh Market and several small businesses to locate in town. In the meantime, plans to redevelop the Plaza remain in flux.
But the task before Chicago Ridge is much bigger than redeveloping a corner lot or attracting a single business to the community. Instead, it wants to overhaul a significant piece of property with a plan that has something for everyone. That’s a tall order. Only time will tell if it’s achievable.

Editorial - It’s good to cool down this hot issue before summer

The weather has warmed and the basketball hoops issue has resurfaced in Oak Lawn. Now, however, park district commissioners seem ready to remedy the problem.
The park board was expected to vote April 7 on a proposal to take down one of the two hoops at Little Wolfe Park, 107th Street and Laramie Avenue, thereby eliminating full-court games.
The vote was delayed until the May meeting because not all of the park commissioners could attend the April session, said Sue Murphy, park board president.
We’re encouraged that the park district has decided to take action at the park before the summer begins in earnest. This issue was debated for several months last year and it was clear that residents who live near the park wanted something done to eliminate full-court basketball games.
The competitive games, they contended, led to a variety of problems, including vulgar language, littering and numerous cars parked in the area. They added that player conduct caused other people, especially those with little children, to avoid the park.
Was race an issue? Perhaps. No one would say that out loud, but we suspect it played a role in some residents’ strong opposition to full-court games. Some wanted to eliminate the court altogether and replace it with a sand volleyball court or some other form of recreation.
That’s a bad idea. Lots of people enjoy playing basketball, and the park district should not deprive them of that opportunity. Half-court games should be sufficient for most hoopsters. If problems continue to occur, resident should call police and report them and notify the park district as well.
We salute the park district for responding to residents and proposing a compromise that should make everyone happy.

Editorial - Power outages for three days is hardly magnificent

 Oak Lawn Trustee Alex Olejniczak has had a few pet projects during his tenure—the most significant being holding ComEd responsible for improved service.

There’s no question that Olejniczak’s 2nd District has been hit the hardest by continued power outages, including one last year that left many residents without power for three days.
The outages are not limited Olejniczak’s district. There are other pockets of town that have gone without electricity for significant periods of time over the past several years. It’s an ongoing problem for Oak Lawn.
The 2nd District trustee believes the crux of the problem is ComEd’s aging infrastructure. He wants the village to file a formal complaint with the Illinois Commerce Commission to light a fire under the feet of ComEd to make some significant changes. He also wants the company to be pro-active instead responding after power goes out.
The village board was expected to discuss filing an ICC complaint at Tuesday’s committee-of-the-whole meeting, but one trustee who does not favor the move is Mike Carberry, who represents the 5th District.
At the March 26 village board meeting, Carberry expressed support for ComEd. He described them as a great partner who does a good job responding to complaints.
“I think they do a magnificent job,” Carberry said.
We strongly disagree. Power outages happen, but not at the rate they’ve happened in Oak Lawn. Residents should not go without electricity for hours or even days at a time. They should not fear surges that can damage expensive electronics and appliances. Power outages have become the norm in some parts of the village, and Olejniczak is right to demand that ComEd up its game. Trustees should at least consider an ICC complaint if that’s what it takes.
Outages may not happen as frequently in some parts of town, including Carberry’s district. But the trustee owes it to all Oak Lawn residents to support measures that bring pressure to bear on the utility. The company must not be let off the hook.


Inside the First Amendment : Privacy vs. First Amendment freedoms: The new conflicts

  • Written by Gene Policinski

Strictly speaking, privacy is not a “First Amendment” issue.

It’s not one of the five freedoms protected by the amendment’s 45 words, and in some cases it even works in opposition to the practical application of those freedoms.

The legal roots of privacy in the U.S. weren’t really set for the first time — except for the English concept of “a man’s home is his castle” — until a century after the Bill of Rights was ratified in 1791, when future U.S. Supreme Court justice Louis D. Brandeis opined on “the right to be let alone.”

But in our lifetimes — and more since just last June — privacy and its implications for First Amendment areas ranging from free speech to the freedom to assemble have taken on a new urgency prompted by government surveillance of the World Wide Web, phone calls and high-tech gadgetry.

Another View : Illinois helping prisoners start Obamacare enrollment

  • Written by Benjamin Yount, Illinois Watchdog

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — When you exit prison in Illinois you’ll get your street clothes, a notice of when to check-in with your parole officer and a pamphlet about Obamacare.

The state’s prisons and county jails are taking a proactive approach to enrolling people, mostly into Medicaid, through the Affordable CareAct. They’re starting the process while prisoners are locked up.

“When the person is in custody, they’re not eligible for enrollment,” McLean County Sheriff Mike Emery told Illinois Watchdog. “The stance we’re taking here in McLean County…is that we’re starting the process with inmates to get them enrolled for health care.”

Emery said his staff will fill out almost all of the paperwork for Obamacare so that once someone is released they can sign a few pages and be enrolled in Medicaid, or apply for private insurance. Most will go into Medicaid.

In Illinois’ prisons, inmates who are set to be released are told they could be covered by Medicaid well before their last day.

“Parole school in prisons serves as a primer on what to do upon release,” said Tom Shaer, Illinois’ prison spokesman for Illinois Department of Corrections. “IDOC informs inmates of their rights and opportunities under ACA, just as we inform them of all resources available to them in health care.”