How can this be new news?

Honestly, Alderman Burke has been a Chicago Alderman for as long as I can remember. He has been an Alderman back in the day when it was normal and customary for Aldermen to give out City deals. And now there is news he helped get some city deals? Ok, so maybe it is an issue now where it's always been a non issue?

Why does Cook County Commissioner Deborah Sims have to wait until the local South Side Paper gets involved for something to be done in her district? This was not the first time there were problems in her district with the same cemetery, what was she waiting for? Oh, ya, it to get newspaper coverage.

How can this be new news?Ald. Edward M. Burke wrote a letter in his official capacity that helped a client of his law firm win City Council approval to develop a blighted stretch of land near Midway Airport.

It's the second time Burke has written such a letter so someone he's done business with could get a zoning change from City Hall. After writing those letters, Burke abstained from voting on both cases to avoid any conflicts of interest.

Ald. Edward Burke removed himself from voting on two development deals for his associates. He did however write letters of support for each project.
(Al Podgorski/Sun-Times)

In the most recent case, Burke wrote a letter July 18, 2007, endorsing a development project for Calvin Boender -- who was indicted last month along with Ald. Isaac Carothers (29th) on bribery charges stemming from a different project.

Boender, who has been a client of Burke's law firm for at least four years, hired Burke to seek property tax cuts on 14 properties -- only one in the city of Chicago -- since Aug. 15, 2005, records show. Seven of the cases were filed before Burke wrote a letter endorsing Boender's plans to redevelop the corner of 43rd and Cicero in Burke's 14th Ward.

Deborah Sims had a complaint, her only comment, "She has had other complaints"Barbara Bell, of Chicago, was "in a bad way" last month and wanted to visit her mother's grave to talk out her problems. Unfortunately, her mother, or at least her mother's grave marker, was not where Bell was figuring it to be.

Instead she found the stone stacked up with a couple of dozen other markers along the side of a maintenance building at the east end of Homewood Memorial Gardens cemetery.

Bell had not been to the cemetery in four years. On her visit in 2005, Bell discovered her mother's marker had been removed so the cemetery could do landscaping work. Cemetery workers assured Bell that her mother's grave marker would be back in the ground in a few weeks.

"It was lying on some two-by-fours and I went over and cleaned it off," Bell recalled. "It hurt me to think she'd been in an unmarked grave all that time, but I didn't cry and act like a fool. I started making some phone calls instead."

One of those phone calls was to Cook County Commissioner Deborah Sims, whose district includes the cemetery property.

"I had talked to the cemetery again and they told me it would take a week, but it was in the ground two hours after contacting (Cook County Commissioner) Deborah Sims - this after four years."

Sims said she has heard other complaints about the cemetery, so she made a conference call to Homewood Memorial Gardens with Bell. "I told them four years was unacceptable," Sims said. "They were polite about it, and they resolved it then and there."

Returned to the wrong grave?
Though Bell appreciates the marker is back in the ground, she worries if it has been put down in the right place. She said she remembered it being closer to a road that runs along the section of the cemetery where her mother is buried, and she remembers another tree being nearby.

"What if this is not where my mother really is?" Bell said while standing near the replaced marker. "If it's not right, I may as well have been standing by her marker over at that maintenance shed."

Tom Flynn, owner of Homewood Memorial Gardens, said the cemetery uses steel rebars that stick out of the ground to mark every grave site when workers remove grave stones for any reason. The cemetery also has maps indicating where people are buried. He said the area has been reconfigured and trees have been removed since Bell was there four years ago.

"Not getting that marker back in the ground sooner was our fault. She has a right to be upset about that," Flynn said.

"But it is exactly where her mother is. We've taken trees down in that area in the last few years so it may look different. I understand her concern."

Flynn argued that the tombstones and markers piled up near the maintenance shed may fall into several categories, including recently shipped markers or ones that have been swapped for other markers by family.

"Markers are sometimes replaced by military markers or added to a family monument. Some of them may belong to areas we're now landscaping," he said. "Cemeteries accumulate a lot of markers."


Bell's marker mishap is only the latest in a string of problems at Homewood Memorial Gardens.

In a grisly incident last June, a mud-covered human leg was discovered sticking out of the ground in an area of the cemetery where indigents are buried.

Five families filed a lawsuit against the cemetery in December 2007, citing such problems as misplaced bodies and broken coffins strewn. They also complained they were not informed where their family members were buried.

A Dolton man, Rayfel Harrison, has filed a lawsuit against the cemetery claiming his brother Teddy's marker was also removed in 2006 then relocated to another site.

Harrison said he was "perplexed and confounded trying to figure out where Teddy's grave was" when he went there on Mother's Day in 2006. Harrison said he rediscovered the marker two and a half weeks later, a good 30 yards away from where he thought it belonged.

Flynn denies Harrison's version, saying the marker was never moved, only covered with mud after being pushed down in the ground by a backhoe doing work on a nearby grave.

"It was never moved and his brother is where he's always been," Flynn said. "Markers get mud on them when work is being done."

Harrison did not buy the excuse. "Saying it was covered with mud and lost is unacceptable," he said. "There's a principle here. I want them to acknowledge their wrong and offer compensation for our distress."

Alan Henry, a spokesman for Illinois Comptroller Dan Hynes' office, said the office has received 42 complaints in the past 10 years, including three last year and two this year concerning the Homewood cemetery. The complaints range from deplorable conditions to the deceased not being buried deep enough. "Most involve indigent burials," Henry said. "Their expectations of how the grave site should be and how it actually appears causes problems."

Flynn has owned the 152-year-old cemetery for 40 years. For the past 30 years, the cemetery has had a contract with Cook County to bury the indigent. Flynn said his cemetery is often the only bidder.

Flynn said his family and cemetery workers know how to run a cemetery and take pride in providing a site for people who can't afford it. "This is a nice cemetery. We care deeply about it. People talk to newspapers but they don't know a damn thing about the cemetery business. Anyone can sue anybody. It's aggravating."

John K. Ryan can be reached at or (708) 802-8807.

For help with cemetery problems

I figured Burris was smart enough not to get himself in trouble. Yes his answered the questions vaguely, and that way purposely I am sure. After all he was the Attorney General for the State of Illinois at one time, and he should know a thing or two about the law, and being evasive, and not incriminating himself.

On Chris Kelly, gambling problems, drinking problems, and Blagojevich had him for a fundraiser? I guess he will have time to sober up while in jail. It was probably smart of him to plead guilty, instead of dragging this all out and having more skeletons come out of the closet, also this way the judge gave him a lighter sentence. ~~Rumors have it that Harris and Monk will also plead guilty. That is looking like a lot of possible cooperating individuals, and this should make Blagojevich nervous.

Patti Blagojevich, wife of the former Governor, is now on a reality show in the jungle. I give her credit for not putting her head in the bug cage. I could not watch much of the show since they had contestants drinking bug cocktails with pieces floating. I don't have that strong of a stomach, and there are better uses for my time. But Patti bailed out of the jungle and is expected to land in Chicago sometime today. I am sure she stayed long enough to get the amount of money the Blagojevich's need to live off for a while. ~~Rumors have her making $200-$250K, which is at least four times what your average Chicago family lives off in a year.

A prosecutor in central Illinois did and he's now saying there isn't enough evidence to charge Burris with perjury for statements he made before the Illinois House Impeachment Committee.

Sangamon County State's Attorney John Schmidt said today that while some of Burris' statements were vague, they wouldn't support a perjury charge.

"I cooperated at every phase of the process and I have said from the beginning, I have never engaged n any pay-to-play, never perjured myself, and came to this seat in an honest and legal way, " Burris said in a statement.

Burris was appointed to President Barack Obama's vacant U.S. Senate seat by former Gov. Rod Blagojevich after the FBI arrested Blagojevich on corruption charges. Those charges include allegations that Blagojevich tried to sell the seat for political

In January, Burris was called before a House committee investigating Blagojevich. Burris initially said he had no contact with Blagojevich or his supporters. Later, he changed his statement, saying he had talked to several aides and had discussed
hosting a fundraiser for the governor.
"I am glad I can now put this matter behind me and get on with my work in the United States Senate serving the people of Illinois," Burris

Ex-Blagojevich Fundraiser Gets 37 Months In Prison
Roofing Contractor Pressured By Feds To Testify Against Blagojevich In Upcoming
A roofing contractor who helped ousted governor Rod Blagojevich raise millions of campaign dollars has been sentenced to 37 months in prison.

Chris Kelly of Frankfort was accused of hiding company funds to buy a house and pay gambling debts. The 50-year-old Kelly is the former chairman of the Friends of Rod Blagojevich campaign fund.

His voice cracking with emotion, Kelly told Judge Elaine Bucklo, "I am deeply sorry to the court, and my family, and people I embarrassed by my actions. I know they're wrong. I'm sorry, your honor."
Kelly also must pay $600,000 in restitution for tax fraud.

The question now is whether Kelly will maintain that silence with the feds, or whether he'll start singing about his dealings with Blagojevich.
"I think it's fair to say that as of right now he's not cooperating, but you never know," CBS 2 legal analyst Irv Miller said. "When you've got to pack your toothbrush and start marching off to a penitentiary, you sometimes re-evaluate your position."

Kelly pleaded guilty in January. He admitted not only using company funds to pay a bookie and a casino but to buy and furnish a home.
The tax case is only the start of Kelly's problems. Kelly has also been indicted in a kickback scheme involving O'Hare terminal roofing contracts.
As as the one-time top fundraiser for Blagojevich

What I can't figure out is why Todd Stroger would hire someone this stupid? Donna Dunnings is no better than Todd, maybe even worse since he worked for her, she bailed him out of jail twice, and let him work in the finance department with her.

Tony Cole did not belong in the finance department for many reasons, but making $61K a year and not having to pay for housing should have kept a single guy, living in Chicago, not a high priced area like LA, in enough funds to stay out of trouble. There are many raising a family and paying a mortgage or rent on that kind of money or less, he obviously could not handle his own finances.

But will this come back to haunt Todd for the next election? Or will he be Teflon Todd because he fired Donna Dunnings? Not that Donna Dunnings was all that sharp with finances either, and certainly the finance Chair John Daley could use a finance course or two.

On a sad note today, we lost long time Chicago Tonight Newsman John Callaway passed away last night.

Former County Staffer Cole Was Paid While In Jail
Cole Was Released Monday In Most Recent Case CHICAGO (CBS)Sparks could fly at Tuesday's Cook County Board meeting, after the man in the middle of a hiring scandal was released from jail, and new revelations said he still collected a paycheck while incarcerated.

Tony Cole held a $61,000-a-year county job, but he was fired by County Board President Todd Stroger for failing to report a felony conviction on his job application. He had been convicted of writing bad checks.

"Taxpayers really should be outraged that at this time in our economic situation monies are being spent on a two-time felon who was charged and put in jail twice within a month after her was hired and is given a promotion on top of it? This is only happening in Cook County, nowhere else in the world," Republican Cook County Commissioner Tony Peraica said. "I am outraged."

"My understanding is that the state's attorney's office is investigating. I think that's pretty serious allegations of fraud here that ought to be investigated and the facts ought to be brought to light," said Democratic Commissioner Forrest Claypool.

The former steakhouse busboy and onetime college basketball star ran from a mob of cameras as he ran out of the security gate at the Cook County Jail on Monday and boarded a waiting CTA bus on California Avenue.

Cole was an assistant to former county Chief Financial Officer Donna Dunnings, who is Stroger's cousin.
She signed off on paid excused absences for Cole's three times.

Tony Cole, the convicted felon at the center of Cook County Board President Todd Stroger's patronage hiring scandal, has called the McGill Terrace Apartments on the South Side home since February of last year.
The apartments are provided either free, or at reduced monthly rent, for those with a low income. Now a government agency is asking a simple question: How did Cole worm his way into a federally funded free studio apartment?
Federal rules say Cole could only live in the subsidized studio apartment if he made less than $24,000 a year

This cop got off easyChicago police Officer Anthony Abbate was sentenced to two years probation today for beating a female bartender in a drunken rampage at a Northwest Side bar.

The Feb. 19, 2007, incident gained worldwide notoriety when surveillance-video footage of Abbate pummeling Karolina Obrycka streamed across the Internet. The videotape was instrumental in former Police. Supt. Phil Cline’s resignation.

Obrycka, who was in the courtroom for the sentencing, said she was disappointed with the sentence — and because Abbate never said he was sorry.
“I’m disappointed that he didn't apologize for what he did,” she said.

Cook County Circuit Judge John Fleming also imposed a home curfew from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. and ordered Abbate to perform 130 hours of community service.

Analyzing the fans of the Chicago Sports teams

This was an interesting piece in the Sunday Edition of the Chicago Tribune. Some of these results are of no surprise. Some are. I did not realize the most college graduates, and the highest income people were hockey fans. I also expected more single people to be Cubs fans, given the demographics of Wrigleyville.

Construction worker hit on Dan Ryan
Sometimes the construction gets so bad, and so do backups, that people actually make better time getting around town in the Winter.
Our other season is upon us now, and it's construction season. It's time to watch out for more than slick ice and snow. You have to slow down because construction workers are on the roads.

The White Sox at the Cell had some construction going on during the off season. A new scoreboard that shows all happenings of all the other games being that day. I am not too impressed, it's pretty, but more light up and too bold.
The other area is a family area, where kids can bat, throw balls, and meet Southpaw when he's out and about over in that area.
There are bronze statues of Fisk, Cominsky and others.


June 10, 2009

Sun-Times News Group
A construction worker suffered leg injuries when he was struck by a vehicle while picking up equipment early today on the Dan Ryan Expressway.

The worker on foot was picking up equipment about 4:30 a.m. in the southbound lanes of the Dan Ryan Expressway near 26th Street when he was struck by a vehicle, Illinois State Police Master Sgt. Joe Donley said.

The worker was taken to Stroger Hospital in serious to critical condition, fire spokesman Joe Roccasalva said. Donley said the worker suffered leg injuries.

The incident happened near where the local and express lanes meet; the driver remained on the scene, according to Donley.

Information on citations or charges were not immediately available.

State police are investigating.

It's good to be a South Sider

As if the cost of gas getting close to $3 a gallon in the City isn't high enough, now there are other fees to driving that are.
Here is where it is good to be a South Sider. We don't have the parking issues associated with the rest of the city. Rarely do we have to worry about paying a meter in our day to day activities, almost all local businesses have enough parking.

We all know where the red light camera's are by now, and know how to spot them if they add more. Well, mostly if you don't blow red lights and stop when you see a yellow before you get to the intersection,.... well if you go back to basic Driver's Ed principles taught in the CPS, now you can put them to use to avoid a red light ticket, and a refresher driver education course at $25.

Most South Siders I know, myself included, take CTA when going into the Loop, or North Side. Yep, when I venture to the North Side, which is not frequent.

Why public transportation is the answer
Motorists nabbed by Chicago’s Big Brother network of red-light cameras already get slapped with $100 fines.

If the City Council’s most powerful alderman has his way, they’ll also have to go back to school — at a cost of $25.

At today’s City Council meeting, Burke introduced an ordinance directing the city’s Department of Administrative Hearings to launch a “red light education program”—both on-line and in person—bankrolled by charging red-light runners a $25 fee in addition to the $100 ticket.

Motorists who fail to complete training would pay an additional $50 fine.

Burke noted that teen drivers who receive traffic tickets in Illinois are already required to complete mandatory education programs, contributing, in part, to a 40 percent drop in teen deaths in 2008.

As if parking your car wasn't high enoughChicago motorists will now have to fork over more money at parking meters thanks to a plan that privatizes the city’s 35,000 meters. Mayor Daley unveiled a $1.15-billion bid today that would lease the city’s meters to Chicago Parking Meters LLC, which is made up of Morgan Stanley infrastructure funds. If the 75-year deal is approved by the City Council on Thursday, parking meter fees will jump to at least $1 per hour. That means the days of spending only a quarter for an hour are over. Parking spots that already charge $1 per hour are now bumped to $2 and meters costing $3 per hour will now be $3.50. But aldermen must approve any further rate increases after the first five years. The deal also includes more pay-and-display boxes and pay-by-phone options, which eliminates old-fashioned “pay-by-cash” meters. So the days of driving up to a meter and finding it’s already

Number 550 for Jim Thome

Pictured is the fireworks from Jim Thome's 3 run homer, number 550.
Andy Shaw is a good choice for the executive director of the BGA. He has a lot of experience dealing with politics, he also knows what the tough issues are. He also knows how to get answers. When I heard the news, I thought, this ia a good choice.

Andy Shaw Executive director of the BGACHICAGO– May 26, 2009 –The Better Governor Association (BGA), an 86-year old nonpartisan government watchdog, today named veteran political reporter Andy Shaw as its executive director.

"I've spent my entire career asking politicians from presidents to park supervisors the tough questions about the governments they run with your hard-earned tax dollars. I've held their feet to the fire. And now, after a short break to recharge my batteries, I'm back,” Shaw said.

Shaw covered local, state and national politics for the past 26 years at WLS-TV. Shaw resigned as chief political reporter for WLS-TV in January, capping off a 37-year news career that included stints with WMAQ-TV, the Chicago Sun-Times and the City News Bureau.

‘The Better Government Association is Chicago's pre-eminent corruption-busting civic watchdog group, so I pick up the torch in the fight against waste, fraud and corruption with a keen knowledge of history and a deep sense of appreciation,” he added. “Let's get it on!"

Shaw is a graduate of University of Illinois at Chicago. He and his wife Mary live in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood and have three adult daughters. Shaw replaces Jay Stewart, who left the position in January to join the staff of Illinois Governor Pat Quinn.

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