Most people figured out that it was more than a working relationship between, former CC CFO Donna Dunnings, cousin of Todd Stroger, and Tony Cole, questionable hire. Numerous phone calls, at all times of day, and in the middle of the night, on major Holidays, are not normal for a normal business relationship, but this certainly does not look like a normal professional relationship. Donna Dunnings did not use any common sense here at all. Hiring an unqualified person to begin with, not doing a background check, and well not having a professional relationship with that individual. When there is such a lack of judgement, do we really trust this person in a position of CFO for such a large county? Obviously neither was smart enough to use their own private property, as in phones to conduct numerous questionable calls.
Politics is fluid in this State
This appointment of Roberto Maldonado from the Cook County Commissioner post of the 8th district to the 26th Ward Alderman is business, or fluidly in politics in this State as usual. The 26th Ward Alderman Billy Ocasio went to work as one Governor Pat Quinns Senior advisers.
Let's face it: Anyone Mayor Richard M. Daley appoints to the city council is automatically suspect.
You don't work your way into Daley's favor by being an advocate of good, clean, honest government.
You do it by getting your hands dirty - and keeping your mouth shut.
"Why did I pick Roberto Maldonado?" Daley said on Monday when he announced his choice to replace outgoing Billy Ocasio to represent the 26th Ward. "That is the question."
Daley likely picked Maldonado for three reasons: he's confident Maldonado will be a reliable vote for him; he wanted the post to remain in Hispanic hands for political reasons; he wanted to screw the disliked Ocasio, whose own terrible suggestions included a gay-hating reverend and Ocasio's own wife. That part isn't difficult to suss out.
The real question is: Who is Roberto Maldonado?
First the personal, then the political.
"Reminiscent of the hopes of so many immigrants from around the world who have come to America, Roberto’s parents migrated to New York City in 1947 from the impoverished island of Puerto Rico - in search of the American Dream," says Maldonado's website.
"Born in the South Bronx on August 28, 1951, Roberto learned the values of hard work and perseverance from his mother, Carmen, and from his father, Jose, who both worked long hours in factories and small grocery stores in the face of economic exploitation and discrimination."
Long story short after that, Maldonado arrived in Chicago at the age of 27 to pursue his studies at Loyola University while working full-time in the Chicago Public Schools as a psychologist. He opened what he called the first Hispanic-owned mortgage-banking firm in the Midwest, and latched on to Luis Gutierrez, then an alderman, running at least one of his campaigns.
In 1994, he won his seat on the Cook County board, representing the 8th District.
His wife and three children live in Humboldt Park.
Politically, Maldonado has always been seen as a man with a future in higher office, "perhaps in Washington," the Tribune editorial page said in 2003.
Over the years, though, the Tribune has become less enchanted.
"[Commissioners Joan Murphy, Earlean Collins and Deborah Sims] all fell for empty rhetoric from board member Roberto Maldonado, lead sponsor of the cigarette tax hike, about how the new revenue would help treat childhood asthma and other diseases caused by smoking," the paper said in 2004.
"Baloney . . . Maldonado's noble-sounding fiction was exposed when [Commissioner Larry] Suffredin confronted him with an amendment to spend all revenue from the cigarette tax not to balance Stroger's budget, but to treat lung illnesses and campaign against smoking. All that piety about helping children? That suddenly went right out the window."
First off I would like to congratulate Mark Buehrle on his no hit perfect game!
Next I would like to thank President Obama for using O'hare airport on the North side of town, verses Midway on the South Side of town. Even before Air force one touched down on the Northside, major roads were blocked off during rush hour for the Presidential motorcade. The traffic reports were reporting no less than a traffic nightmare for Northsiders. Again Thank you President Obama for choosing O'Hare.
Mark Buehrle's first 26 outs seemed to fly by -- though out No.25 seemed to stop every one's heart for an instant.
After recording his 27th consecutive out Thursday, Mark Buehrle begins the celebration. Buehrle delivered a curveball that started high in the zone. Tampa Bay Rays No. 9 hitter Jason Bartlett chopped at it and hit a high-bouncing ball to shortstop. Alexei Ramirez glided over a few steps, scooped up the ball and delivered a looping throw to first base.
Chicago White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle is embraced by teammates, including catcher Ramon Castro, after throwing a perfect game against the Tampa Bay Rays Thursday in Chicago. The Sox won 5-0.
Mark Buehrle's perfect game
David Cone 07-18-1999 New York 6, Montreal 0
David Wells 05-17-1998 New York 4, Minnesota 0
Mike Witt 09-30-1984 California 1, Texas 0
Kenny Rogers 07-28-1994 Texas 4, California 0
Len Barker 05-15-1981 Cleveland 3, Toronto 0
Catfish Hunter 05-08-1968 Oakland 4, Minnesota 0
Don Larsen 10-08-1956 New York 2, Brooklyn 0*
Charlie Robertson 04-30-1922 Chicago 2, Detroit 0
Addie Joss 10-02-1908 Cleveland 1, Chicago 0
Cy Young 05-05-1904 Boston 3, Philadelphia 0
* Game 5, 1956 World Series
Randy Johnson 05-18-2004 Arizona 2, Atlanta 0
Dennis Martinez 07-28-1991 Montreal 2, Los Angeles 0
Tom Browning 09-16-1988 Cincinnati 1, Los Angeles 0
Sandy Koufax 09-09-1965 Los Angeles 1, Chicago 0
Jim Bunning 06-21-1964 Philadelphia 6, New York 0
Monte Ward 06-17-1880 Providence 5, Buffalo 0
Lee Richmond 06-12-1880 Worcester 1, Cleveland 0
But the last out to secure his second career no-hitter? That seemed to unwind in slow motion.
Buehrle delivered a curveball that started high in the zone. Tampa Bay Rays No. 9 hitter Jason Bartlett chopped at it and hit a high-bouncing ball to shortstop. Alexei Ramirez glided over a few steps, scooped up the ball and delivered a looping throw to first base.
Josh Fields steadied his hands and gathered in the routine throw. Twenty-seven batters, 27 outs.
Buehrle had thrown the majors' first perfect game in five years -- and just the 18th in major-league history -- and he couldn't believe it, covering his head with his mitt as his teammates mobbed the left-hander on the mound after a 5-0 victory Thursday in front of 28,036 thrilled fans at U.S. Cellular Field.
''I don't know how to explain it,'' Buehrle said minutes after delivering just the second perfect game in White Sox history.
''I never thought I'd throw a no-hitter, never thought I'd throw a perfect game, I never thought I'd hit a home run. Never say never in this game because crazy stuff can happen.''
Buehrle has won a World Series ring -- working as a starter and closer in the Sox' 2005 sweep of the Houston Astros -- started and won an All-Star Game and now has two no-hitters, the first coming on April 18, 2007, at U.S. Cellular Field against the Texas Rangers.
Not bad for a 38th-round pick.
Why would anyone go through great lengths to steal a huge flag? What does one do with a flag this size, beside fly it over a busy interstate?
The Cook County Board is kicking off a series of meetings, for those unfortunate people who have had to use the Cook County Hospital System, because of being uninsured, under insured or whatever unfortunate circumstances that led them to have no choice but Cook County Medical care.
Sheriff Tom Dart will be spending more time at Burr Oak, now that more bones have been found. Dart let clergy take a tour of Burr Oak in Cook County Buses and consecrate the burial grounds. Hopefully this is the only time clergy will be riding in Cook County Sheriff's buses.
It will take one to three weeks before a giant American flag is flying over Interstate 80 again.
Augie Juricic, manager of Berland's House of Tools, said a similar flag has been ordered to replace the30-by-66-foot banner that was stolen about 9 p.m. Saturday from its site behind Berland's, 1695 New Lenox Road, Joliet Township.
The $2,000 flag, which flew 100 feet into the air along I-80, was erected several years ago in memory of Shawn Pahnke, an Army private from Manhattan who was killed in Iraq in 2003.
Will County sheriff's police said it appears two men used a 2-by-4 to crank the flag down to the ground.
Sheriff Paul Kaupas, a Vietnam veteran, called the theft "unfortunate" and said he couldn't understand the motivation for it, other than a prank.
"I've had regular-size flags stolen from my house, but what would you do with a flag that big?" he asked.
Anyone with information about the stolen flag is urged to call sheriff's police at (815) 727-8574.
Cook County hospital officials will descend on the Southland next week for the first in a series of public meetings asking what people think of their government-run hospital system.
The South Holland stop Monday on the so-called listening tour comes as the system grapples with potential budget cuts due to the county board's tax rollback and an increasing number of uninsured patients - all while south suburban activists decry services moving to Chicago's inner city.
"We felt strongly that we really need to have community involvement in this process to seek out from our people their perceptions of the health system, what they feel we're doing good, what are areas for improvement," said William Foley, the system's chief executive officer.
The meetings are part of creating a strategic plan for the county's health and hospitals system board - a nine-member panel created last year to depoliticize the operation of Cook County's massive and cash-strapped health care system.
County hospitals have been on the front lines of the crisis created by ballooning numbers of uninsured Americans. The public institutions serve as the hospitals of last resort - safety nets - for those who often rely on an emergency room for primary care.
"You have a really disgusting situation where people can't get health care and they're driven into bankruptcy if they get ill," said Dr. Quentin Young, an observer and sometimes critic of the county system who once was chair of the Department of Medicine at Cook County Hospital.
And while the hospital system juggles its budget and patient load, Young said, it is trying to address a bureaucratic infrastructure.
"They don't have efficient systems," the doctor said. "People like me who want to support the public sector, and I do, have difficulty because citizens say, 'Look at the misfunction and waste.' Nobody likes that."
Meanwhile, Cook County commissioners voted Tuesday to rollback half of the penny-on-the-dollar sales tax hike passed more than a year ago. The move, which may prove veto-proof, would siphon 10 percent of the hospital system's revenue, or $85 million, and require cuts to the system, Foley said.
"If it happens, then that needs to be in our strategic and financial plan," he said. "We know that we're not going to get more revenues. We know we can't do everything ourselves."
The hospital system makes up the lion's share of the county's budget. For this year it was allocated $882 million.
Another 40 bones surfaced yesterday in back sections where other remains had been found dumped, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said.
We are gathered together to reconsecrate, to say a prayer over this land," prayed one of many ministers who met at Burr Oak Cemetery Wednesday to bless ground that authorities said had been ripped up over the last four years so graves could be scandalously resold for cash.
The 100 or so ministers representing so many faiths - multiple Christian denominations, Jewish - descended on this historic black cemetery in Alsip to tour the 150 acres where some 100,000 have been buried. From 200 to 300 graves have been destroyed, according to Cook County sheriff's investigators who've been overseeing the criminal case.
"We must trust in the Lord to take care of those people and bring them to justice and bring them to the right repentance the right remorse and the right turning away from their sins," he said, referring to the four employees accused in the scam that netted them at least $300,000.
clergy toured the cemetery still closed to the public in sheriff's buses, not permitted to walk around freely. Nor were they allowed to view select parts still walled off as crime scenes where FBI evidence technicians continue to sift through the dirt for more human remains.
Another 40 bones surfaced yesterday in back sections where other remains had been found dumped, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said.
His office plans to launch a searchable Internet database on Friday or Saturday, which relatives of the deceased can search for information about the graves of their loved ones.
Once the database is up and graves have been properly marked, the cemetery will reopen, said Roman Szabelski, head of the Catholic Cemeteries of Chicago now tasked with operating the cemetery. Szabelski said he should have a plan by August 1 for reopening details.
What a week, rather month, the County has had. The County Board voted to rollback the County tax increase, but Todd Stroger may still veto it. If Todd does will he have the usual support? Or will they be worried about the upcoming election?
Tom Dart, the Cook County Sheriff got another big surprise this week. The County board voted to decriminalize smaller amounts of marijuana. Tom Dart thought he would get more say so, or at least things would not move along so fast. Sheriff Dart has been one busy guy, and even more so lately. But Tom Dart has a big mess in the cemetery area, which may get worse as more people come forward with information on Burr Oak, or even other cemeteries. You would have to wonder if the County Board took advantage of how super busy the Sheriff has been to slip this new decriminalization of a larger amount of pot in. Commissioner Earlean Collins led the way on this, and I don't see this hurting her in the election. Earlean Collins has a South Side district which many constituents either know, or have known someone who would benefit from this. This could also save the County money, by keeping people out of the court system. I also have to give Tom Dart credit for always being available to the local news people, taking interviews daily.
The sales tax increase vote comes two weeks before petition filing to run again for County offices, and about 200 days before election. You have to wonder how much this had to do with the roll back vote? Will Todd veto it? Todd must know that he will have some tough candidates to run against for Cook County President, Toni Preckwinkle a favorite of the Daley's, both Commissioner and mayor, and Danny Davis, a long time congressman. You have to wonder if John Daley, Commissioner, who was a very loyal Todd supporter, is not changing his support so as to help Preckwinkle get in Todd's position? The Cemetery investigation at Burr Oak has exceeded the $200K that Todd Stroger said it would cost in overtime. The County Board has decided to sue the cemetery, but does the cemetery have any funds to sue for? Will Todd Stroger use the cemetery expenses as a justification for why the tax should stay where it is?
Joan Murphy and Deborah Sims are loyal Todd supporters. Deborah Sims seems to be having some issues with cemeteries in her district, one of which she did nothing about until the family got the Southtown Star involved. Joan Murphy and Deborah Sims who wanted their staff to be exempt from the Shakkman decree. Murphy and Sims have districts that border each other on the South side, where all the cemetery issues are now.
~~~Something I heard on news radio this morning. In Barrington, one of the Richest, if not the wealthiest Cook County Suburb. The City is now paying for yard work on foreclosed properties. Properties that have been vacant, and it is hard to find out who is the owner, which bank etc. These properties have grass that is growing tall, weeds that are growing tall and trees that need to be cut down due to the Ash Borer, and limbs coming off in storms. Foreclosures cost everyone, and even one of our wealthiest suburbs are affected.
If you’re busted carrying a small amount of marijuana in portions of Cook County patrolled by the sheriff’s police, you may get off with just a ticket.
In a move that caught the sheriff’s office off guard, the county board on Tuesday voted to decriminalize possession of less than 10 grams of pot in unincorporated areas of Cook County. Those are the parts of the county not claimed by Chicago or its suburbs."
Todd Stroger would have to sign off on the plan to decriminalize possession of small quantities of pot.
Cmsr. Earlean Collins lead the charge for the county board to create an ordinance that gives sheriff's police the choice to ticket instead of arrest a suspect in possession of less than 10 grams of pot.
So far, 13 states have passed some form of decriminalization of marijuana. The laws vary, but generally people caught with small amounts face fines or drug rehab programs rather than jail time. In Illinois, possession of 2.5 grams or less is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $1,500 fine. Here are the 13 states:
Source: The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws
The measure, which needs to be approved by Board President Todd Stroger to take effect, gives sheriff’s police and sheriff’s deputies patrolling the unincorporated areas the latitude to arrest a suspect on a misdemeanor charge or, under the new ordinance, hit them with a $200 ticket if they’re carrying 10 grams or less.
Leading the charge was Cmsr. Earlean Collins, a Democrat who admitted her grandson was busted for carrying a small amount of marijuana. She said arrests like that clog the jails.
“They got my grandson...he had a half of joint in the car,” Collins said. “They stopped him. They took him to the police station. They impounded his car and let him out the next morning. Why do that?
“A lot of kids make a mistake, have a little marijuana, and they can avoid going to jail or court.”
A spokesman for Sheriff Tom Dart, whose deputies and officers would administer the law, said the sheriff’s office was caught off guard by the timing of the vote.
Spokesman Steve Patterson said the sheriff was expecting a series of public hearings before a vote.
Instead, the vote was taken on the same day the county board voted to scale back last year’s controversial sales tax hike.
The other business of the County Board this week
For months, the Cook County Board has wrangled over what to do with the unpopular penny-on-the dollar sales tax increase that it pushed through a year ago.
But with an election year looming, the board on Tuesday passed a measure that halves the 1-percentage-point increase and that appears to be veto-proof.
The rollback means Chicago's overall sales tax of 10.25 percent - spotlighted as the highest of any big city in the country - would retreat to 9.75 percent.
Commissioner Larry Suffredin (D-Evanston), who was among the 12 commissioners who voted Tuesday to reduce the sales tax, said it would have a "boomerang effect of people coming back and shopping."
But lowering the county's portion of the sales tax, from 1.75 percent to 1.25 percent, effective Jan. 1, also means the county won't see a projected $130 to $140 million in anticipated revenue next year, according to the county budget office.
"Don't think that tomorrow and the next day and the next day that life will all the sudden get great, that we'll be looking through rose-tinted glasses and we'll all be happy," county board President Todd Stroger (D-Chicago) said, noting that employee contract negotiations are looming and the county will have to cover $104 million in pension payments.
And yet another Cook County Cemetery may have issuesWilkowski pulled out his checkbook and started to write a check for $100 when he was stopped by an employee of the cemetery near Calumet Park.
Barbara Young, of Blue Island, checks the gravesite of her husband, Francis, at Cedar Park Cemetery near Calumet Park on Tuesday.
"As I took out my checkbook, I was asked to pay in cash," said Wilkowski, bishop of the Evangelical Catholic Diocese of the Northwest.
Three years later, Wilkowski's grandparents' headstones still are sinking into the ground.
Authorities have said they've found no criminal wrongdoing at Cedar Park, which was managed by the same woman charged earlier this month in the massive grave-reselling scheme at Burr Oak Cemetery. But Wilkowski's story may raise questions about whether the sister property had similar problems.
The Cook County Board voted Tuesday to sue the owners of a historic black cemetery in suburban Chicago to recover the cost of an investigation of an alleged scheme to dig up graves and resell the plots.
The county board acted after Sheriff Tom Dart said the cost of overtime, materials and equipment poured into the investigation at Burr Oak Cemetery in Alsip was mounting quickly.
"About $350,000 has been expended on the investigation," Dart said at a news conference. "I can't turn over county assets without receiving compensation."
Dart and Robert D. Grant, special agent in charge of the FBI's Chicago office, said 200 human bones have been found scattered in the cemetery. Those bones may never be identified, they said.
The sheriff described a chaotic situation in which headstones had been removed, some bodies may have been buried on top of each other and pieces of wood that might have been part of coffins were found scattered around the cemetery.
The Burr Oak mess is becoming bigger each and every day. Now we have a utilies worker calling WBBM news radio 4 years ago saying he saw hundreds of bones, skulls, caskets, etc. And nothing was done. He even called the Alsip Police, yet nothing happened. Now this information is coming out. Why aren't they investigating this? Or maybe thats also on the long list which is only getting longer of things that need to be investigated.
Todd Stroger is still trying to find the more money to deal with this. Todd Stroger also said that four times a year cemeteries will be visited by the county, instead of one, with no reference to the cost of this. Todd Stroger said the FBI is there and hopefully they will bring in more FBI. Yes, I am sure that would help Todd with the expenses.
Sheriff Tom Dart showed the records of index cards that were molded together, by green mold. Note to Tom Dart, this needs to done under a biohazard hood in the laboratory, there are all kinds of nasty airborne spores that could cause more problems when released, and there are enough lawsuits going on now with Burr Oaks related problems.
On Garrard McClendon Live, each night on CLTV news he has been taking calls all week from people who have been affected by the Burr Oak Cemetery discoveries. Heartbreaking, you can only listen to so much.
Day-to-day operation of the scandal-ridden Burr Oak Cemetery in Alsip has been wrested from the owners and turned over to the head of the Archdiocese of Chicago's Catholic Cemeteries.
During a Wednesday court hearing, Cook County Circuit Judge Stuart Palmer appointed Roman Szabelski, executive director of Catholic Cemeteries, to temporarily oversee Burr Oak, which has been closed by sheriff's police as a crime scene.
The appointment comes a week after four Burr Oak employees were arrested and accused of pocketing about $300,000 by digging up old bodies, dumping them in a mass grave in the cemetery and reselling the old plots off the books.
With lawsuits piling up and cemetery owner Perpetua Inc. a no-show at both the 150-acre site and in court proceedings about the management - and alleged mismanagement - of the cemetery, the judge moved quickly to put the cemetery into receivership.
Szabelski has extensive experience managing cemeteries. Catholic Cemeteries operates 47 cemeteries in Cook and Lake counties, handled 17,500 burials in 2008 and maintains more than 2.4 million gravesites.
Szabelski, who was out of town Wednesday, issued a statement to those whose loved ones' gravesites may have been desecrated at Burr Oak.
"I wish to assure them that I will work diligently to see to the respectful interment of their loved ones' remains," he said, adding that he would communicate with the judge and affected families about his progress.
His appointment was suggested during Wednesday's hearing by county and state agencies involved in investigating the alleged crimes at burr Oak. Attorneys representing the families of loved ones suing the cemetery agreed to the appointment.
What remained unclear is how Szabelski might be paid, but his attorney says he's not concerned about that.
"We're hoping ultimately it doesn't result in work for no pay," attorney James Geoly said. "But if it happens that way, it's a risk he's willing to take."
Also Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-1st), of Chicago, sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, asking that the Justice Department open a criminal investigation into the "shameful enterprise" at Burr Oak.
The Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs says it has turned over information on 2,000 veterans buried at Burr Oak Cemetery to the sheriff's office.
It is a small piece of the puzzle: 2,000 grave sites out of 100,000 at Burr Oak.
Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs spokeswoman Sabrina Miller says the department has turned over information about the grave locations to the sheriff's office.
"We had not previously been asked, but we do have this information and we believe it will be useful to the sheriff's office, which we're certain is overwhelmed at this point with the criminal investigation. And we did turn that information over to them."
President Obama comes onto the field at last night's All Star game in a White Sox Jacket. He throws out the first pitch. The game went fast because there were many one, two, three out innings. They had a new fresh pitcher each inning which also helped get outs so fast. The American League won again! There was only one White Sox player this year, Mark Burhle, pitcher.
Labels: White Sox
They are calling this the biggest and most horrific crime scene Cook County has ever had. Burr Oak Cemetery is closed to the public because of this. They have no idea when it will re-open. Every time I turned on any local news, there is either Tom Dart, Cook County Sheriff, or Reverend Jesse Jackson. CLTV News has had plenty of relative interviews on over the weekend, and I am sure they will continue. CLTV was at Eisenhower High School where the County set up an area for family to inquire about their family members in Burr Oak.
The above pictures are in another cemetery west of Burr Oak, also in Alsip in Southern Cook County, it also has a former Mayor of Chicago, Mayor Daley. The pictures are from Holy Sepulchre. Burr Oak Cemetery has Mayor Washington. But this one is open, now.
Todd Stroger was on News Radio WGN this morning talking to Gregg Jarrett. Todd told him Sheriff Dart said it will be around $200,000 in overtime expenses for the extra Cook County Sheriff's. Todd also said he will be meeting with his CFO and Comptroller about where the money will come from. Todd said they will find the money to fund this crime. Todd also told Jarrett that this is not a disaster area, and they can not use disaster funds because it is not a natural disaster. Todd did say that trucks, generators, tents, and other equipment from all Cook County services, including the Forest Preserve District,are being used at Burr Oaks for this investigation.
Also note, Steve Patterson is now Sheriff Tom Dart's Spokesman. Steve Patterson was a political reporter for the Southtown Star who covered Cook County Politics. Steve Patterson was also arrested covering a story at Stroger Hospital, he was mistaken for a protestor.
Dan Hynes also had a few things to say.
Hynes said his office doesn’t have the legal authority to police the nearly 2,000 funeral homes, cemeteries and crematories it oversees in a “very narrow, limited role.”
Relatives of more than 7,000 people buried in Burr Oak Cemetery are trying to find out whether the graves of their loved ones are among those desecrated, authorities said Sunday.
The number of angry mourners grew over the weekend as investigators locked the gates of the cemetery near Alsip and Illinois Comptroller Dan Hynes vowed to have the cemetery seized from owners.
Though detectives so far believe at least 300 bodies were illegally exhumed and dumped in a mass grave so their plots could be resold, thousands of dead remain unaccounted for by their families."
Beginning Monday, authorities face the daunting task of identifying more than 100,000 graves.
More heart breaking stories
“Babyland,” which Cook County Sheriff Thomas Dart said Friday no longer could be found.
“I heard they can’t find Babyland,” Jackson said. “She’s supposed to be in Babyland, so I want to know where she’s at.”
Jackson last visited Charronda’s grave in May. She has called the hot-line number to get information above the specific gravesite but has been unable to get through. She visited the cemetery last week, but the throngs of people made it difficult to get any answers.
The news that her daughter’s grave might be lost is forcing her to go through the grieving process once again, she said.
“I’ve been crying. I can’t sleep. It’s horrible,” she said. “It’s even worse because I don’t know where she’s at.”
She is not alone.
Elli Patacque Montgomery, a medical advocate for the Cook County Sheriff’s office, spent Sunday trying to help people through the information process and offering them counsel in their grief.
“People are either in denial or they are angry,” she said.
The cemetery where many well-known blacks are buried — including Emmett Till, whose death helped spark the Civil Rights Movement — has been closed since 8 p.m. Friday because it is considered a crime scene. There was no indication Sunday as to when it will reopen.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson said Sunday that religious leaders will work with will work with Till’s family to start a fund for a memorial. Money that was in a fund administered by the former cemetery manager apparently has disappeared.
On Sunday, Cook County Sheriff’s employees were taking information at Eisenhower High School in Blue Island from those seeking information about burial plots.
“We’re trying to get information from them and give them burial plot information. Hopefully, they’ll find out everything is OK,” said Willie Winters, director of jail diversion and crime prevention.
Steve Patterson, a spokesman for Dart, said there are 100,000 gravesites at the cemetery, according to the maps the sheriff’s department has found.
Richard and Leola Reynolds, of Blue Island, hoped everything would be OK with the burial sites they were seeking information about. The couple went to the high school seeking information about Richard’s father and six of Leola’s relatives who are buried at Burr Oak.
“We visit every year,” Richard Reynolds said. “We have a hunch they haven’t been disturbed.”
By 2 p.m. Sunday, more than 1,000 people seeking information about burial plots had been to the high school to fill out forms. The sheriff’s office was expected to contact them within five days, Winters said. But officials said that as of today, requests for information will be accepted only via e-mail or over the phone. Information will be taken at (800) 942-1950 or (708) 865-6070 or burroakcemetery
The Press Conference this afternoon won't hold too many big surprises
There has been a lot of talk about Roland Burris' legal bills, and lack of contributions to his campaign. It seems like there is not a lot of support, maybe people don't want their names to show up on his contribution list?
I am sure that Roland Burris should be concerned about his Tombstone in Oak Woods Cemetery on the South Side of Chicago, specifically Cook County where there are already two cemeteries with some unethical issues, one, Burr Oak Cemetery hitting the national news now.
Burris Won't Run For Senate In 2010: SourceCHICAGO (CBS) ― Click to enlarge1 of 1
Sen. Roland Burris (D-IL) fields questions from the media following a Small Business Administration round table discussion at the University of Illinois on May 27, 2009, in Champaign, Ill.
Democrat Burris, a former state attorney general and comptroller, was appointed last year to fill the vacant Senate seat of President Obama by then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich. But the circumstances surrounding that appointment – including federal charges that Blagojevich sought to sell the seat to the highest bidder – have dogged Burris.
Blagojevich, now facing a corruption trial, was kicked out of office by state lawmakers early this year.
Word of Burris' expected departure from the field of potential Senate candidates comes a day after Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced she will seek re-election to her state office, rather Senate. Madigan would have been a front-runner for the Democratic nomination.
Democrats who have expressed an interest in running include Chicago businessman Christopher Kennedy, son of the late U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias and Chicago Urban League chief Cheryle Jackson. Meanwhile, Republicans hope to capitalize on the Blagojevich scandal and reclaim the seat for the GOP. North Shore Congressman Mark Kirk is interested in running.
It was apparent right from the moment that he took office Burris had virtually no chance of winning at the polls.
The senator faces not only rock-bottom voter opinion numbers, but he's raised barely any money while others who plan to run statewide next year are preparing to raise up to $25 million each for their campaigns.
Burris scheduled a public appearance for Friday afternoon in the South Loop to make a "major announcement," his Senate office said.
(© MMIX, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights
No peace now
Meanwhile, more than 700 families with loved ones buried at Burr Oak registered with the Cook County's sheriff's office, which is heading up the investigation.
Throngs of families flooded the graveyard trying to find whether their family members had been victimized in death.
Some headed to their relative's graves on their own. Those who didn't know where to look stood in long lines waiting for assistance from the sheriff's office.
Brenda Ray was trying to find her brother's final resting place.
It's been 14 years since she's visited her older brother's grave and now it seems as if he's gone.
"There's just grass, there's no headstone, not even a stick," said Ray, also from Marquette Park.
Clutching the funeral program from the 1983 ceremony, Ray said this is like reliving the experience of laying a loved one to rest.
"It's like I'm burying my brother all over again," she said.
Only this time, it's worse.
"He don't have peace now," Ray said.
Aurelia Lovett Bey, of Chicago's Morgan Park community found all six graves belonging to her loved ones. The thought of other's relatives being thrown out like trash has her horrified.
"I just feel sorry for the people that it's going to affect, Lovett Bey said. "How could they do this to those people?"
On the far north end of the cemetery, a pile of smashed concrete sits among weeds and overgrown grass. It's been the final resting place of some 300 excavated bodies.
"This is going to be very difficult because all the answers were housed here and one of the people involved in this criminal act was one of the people who had all the records," Sheriff Tom Dart said. "This was not done in a very delicate way. This was not replacing graves, it was not moving graves, this was dumping of them."
A team of FBI experts who have worked with mass graves in Serbia are now working in the blue-collar south suburban community.
Assistant special agent Tom Trautmann said the FBI evidence response team will map the graveyard and use thermal imaging to find anomalies in the ground.
They'll also "manage the scene, collected the evidence, properly store it and analyze it to the extent we can," Trautmann said.
And the federal agents may may have to sift the entire back area where the bodies were dumped, Trautmann said.
"We only know once each step is met what our next step will be," Trautmann said. "Right now we don't know what we have."
Brothers and sisters, this is a black on black crime!
When are we ever going to learning?
The cemetery owners had no knowledge of these terrible crimes.
Oh Lord, help us all. Amen.
Yet another cemetery in Cook County has issues, in less than a weeks time, instead of getting Commissioner Sims involved, as in last weeks Homewood Memorial Gardens, we now have the Sheriff of Cook County, Tom Dart.
I hope this is not the beginning of things to come in area cemeteries. Pictured is another one of the famous buried at a Cook County cemetery, this one also in Cook County on the North Side, Commissioner Tony Peraica's district, in North Riverside.
Burr Oak Cemetery
Dart: More may be charged in burial scheme July 10, 2009 (ALSIP, Ill.) (WLS) -- As the first lawsuit against Burr Oak Cemetery loomed Friday, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart discussed the progress of the investigation into an alleged scheme to dig up graves and resell occupied plots.
The lawsuit is set to be brought by five families with relatives buried at Burr Oak.
Dart said that while four people are in custody, the investigation will look into whether more people were involved. The cumbersome part of the investigation will continue for some time, figuring out whose body is where and which plots have been double booked.
"The FBI has been phenomenal," Dart said. "They have got a lot of people here doing the forensic analysis. That's beginning today. That's going to go on for months. In addition to that now, we are working with the families extensively to try to connect them to their loved one in the best way possible and give them some assurance that the grave that they are interested in has not been tampered with."
Story continues belowAdvertisementDart said the hardest part is that the cemetery's records have largely been tampered with, or in some cases, are nonexistent because alleged re-sales were done off the books.
Dart said approximately 3,000 concerned loved ones went to Bur Oak Thursday, and more were expected Friday with some showing up as early as 6 a.m.
Dart said his department's investigators are still educating themselves on the basics of cemetery plotting.
"Our staff has been phenomenal in doing that quickly," Dart said. "I can't say enough to you, the people that have been coming here, amazing people, the dignity they have, the patience they have. We have been pleading with people for patience. We're not going anywhere. You do not need to come down here today. If you don't come here today -- we're not trying to discourage you if you want to see the grave of your loved one, but at the same time, there are a lot of crowds here and it takes awhile."
Dart said there have been no conclusions made about any of the disturbed graves, but he said in many cases, investigators and families can tell something is amiss just by looking at the gravesite.
"When I say 'not right,' it seems abundantly clear their loved one is no longer in the location they thought they were," Dart said. "We have had some instances where there was actual holes where there was supposed to be a grave, markers that are either missing or have been completely moved."
For at least four years, investigators said cemetery employees dug up bodies and the reused the same plots for new burials. In some cases, bodies were stacked on top of each other in plots.
Sheriff's Family Info Hotline: 800-942-1950,
Between 200 and 300 bodies were disturbed with 100 of them being throw into a mass grave in the back of the 150-acre property at Burr Oak Cemetery, Dart said.
Dart spoke to the relatives of those buried at Burr Oak who came by the hundreds Thursday to meet with investigators and search for gravesites, reporting whether they appeared to be disturbed.
"Family members have definitely come to us with gravesites in areas we hadn't reached yet where we then went out there and it's clear something has occurred," said Dart. "This was not done in a very, very delicate way, folks. When the digs occurs, they would excavate a grave. They'd excavate the entire site and then they would proceed to dump the remains wherever they found a place to do it in the back of the cemetery."
Four charged with dismembering human body
Carolyn Towns, 49, of Chicago is the former general manager at the historic cemetery. She has been identified as the key player in the scheme. Authorities said she accepted cash payments believed to be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars; permitted new burials to proceed; and then destroyed records of them.
Towns and three other employees -- Keith Nicks, 45, of Chicago; Terrence Nicks, 39, of Chicago; and Maurice S. Dailey, 59, of Robbins -- are charged with dismembering a human body, which is a Class X felony. More charges are expected.
During a court appearance Thursday, Towns was ordered held on a $250,000 bond. The others received $200,000 bonds. If convicted, they face six to 30 years in prison.
Towns is also accused of setting up a fake memorial fund in the name of Civil Rights icon Emmett Till, likely the most well-known person buried in the cemetery. Towns allegedly told donors the fund, set up in 2005, would help establish an Emmett Till museum. Authorities said Till's grave was not disturbed. Anyone who may have donated to the fund is asked to call the Cook County State's Attorney's Office.
Towns was interviewed by ABC7 in 2004 as she tried to raise funds to honor Negro League Baseball players buried at Burr Oak. At that time, police say she was already orchestrating body dumping and double burials.
Funeral directors told ABC7 the cheapest graves at Burr Oak, called the "select single" sold for $1,200. Top-of-the-line burials cost close to $3,700.
Prosecutors think the grave robbers netted at least $300,000.
"We're waiting for the facts and the allegations to come forward as you are. Again, we are maintaining our innocence on behalf of Ms. Towns and believe she will be acquitted of the charges," said Steven Watkins, Towns' attorney.
"How could this go on and nobody say anything for such a long period?" asked Thelam Smith, sister of deceased.
Patricia Smith's family won a lawsuit against Burr Oak in 2007 after they found a stranger's body buried in their family plot.
"We went to bury my mother, and the day she was going to buried, we received a phone call saying that there was an unknown, unidentified body in the grave," said Terri Blanchard, daughter of deceased.
A former Burr Oak worker says she sounded the alarm about cemetery manager Carolyn Towns four years ago, who she suspected of simply stealing money.
"When I looked up headstones, I see they sold for $200-300. When I asked about 'em, I was told 'Don't come over here starting trouble,'" said Rosetta Hill, former Burr Oak Cemetery employee.
Towns is being held in the psychiatric unit of the Cook County Jail. And while the on-scene investigation is just beginning, it's already sparking calls for stricter state monitoring of what is now the relatively unregulated business of burials.
Families search for graves
At least 600 families went to Burr Oak Cemetery Thursday to try to find out if the graves of their relatives were dug up. But it may take months to get answers.
At one time, Burr Oak Cemetery was the only place where African-Americans in Chicago could be buried. So there was a sense of pride when their loved ones were laid to rest there. But now that feeling has turned to disgust.
"This is unreal. I get out here, and I can't bury my aunt," said Diane Eewbru.
Eewbru attended her aunt's funeral Thursday morning along with family members. And on Thursday afternoon, they came to Burr Oak Cemetery to bury her, only to be told the site that had been purchased was not available because someone else was already buried there.
"When we first arrived here at 2 o'clock this afternoon, we were taken to a backup cemetery to a different plot, and I immediately jumped out of the car and said this is not the spot. And they told me about the situation, and they wanted to bury her there. And I said no," said Eewbru.
Ray Davis' sister, Hazel Ford, died in 1938, but the family didn't purchase a headstone until 1997. When they went to visit her grave that same year, they say they found her headstone lying on the side of the road, and they also made another gruesome discovery.
"About four feet from the gravesite, there was a lot of rubbish. And in that rubbish, there was a skull, a human skull with four teeth in it. I had my camera, and I took pictures," said Davis. "I called Cook County sheriffs, and they said there are a lot of skulls there and laughed."
Davis, a former police officer, says he also talked to cemetery management, but nothing was done.
Corey Weathersby says he has at least ten relatives buried there. He couldn't find the graves of his uncle and grandfather.
"To remove somebody or to, what I've heard, compact them down further and bury of somebody, you have no real soul," said Weathersby.
Weathersby was told that it could be three days before he gets information about his relatives.
FBI involved in identification process
More than 30 FBI agents were coming in to help identify remains and study the grids. The FBI is assisting because the agents have experience from mass gravesites around the world.
"They are experts who worked on cases like this, and they are saying this is a four to five-week process," Dart said. "And at the end of it, is there going to be certainty that specific remains match up with certain names? That will be difficult."
Officials said the work could take months.
"These people were all dumped together and co-mingled. We don't know what we have back there," said Tom Troutman, FBI special agent.
Lisa Madigan will run for third term as Attorney GeneralLast night Lisa Madigan was on Chicago Tonight with a one on one interview with Carol Marin.
Lisa Madigan says she loves her job, and wants to continue doing it. Lisa Madigan also said that when she asked many Politicians what regrets they have had with their careers they always said they wished they had more time with their families, and that resonates with her.
When Carol Marin asked her if she had discussions with Obama, Lisa said that they were State Senators together, and have been friends for many years before he was President and she was talking to him as a friend.
Now that Lisa Madigan will run for a third term as AG, others are considering Governor, or Senator. Some that may have considered AG may not. This is going to get interesting as many consider putting their hats in the ring.
Lisa Madigan's announcement is sure to bring a lot more news, and candidates out.
Back on the Cook County side a lot of interest is in running for Cook County President. Forrest Claypool now said he will not run again. Danny Davis says he is seriously considering it. Tom Dart is certainly in for the run, along with Toni Preckwinkle, and Larry Suffredin. As we all know the rumor mill has Bill Beavers thinking of retiring. Maybe Beavers won't retire until Todd is defeated then anoint his daughter Darcel to the Cook County Commissioner post. When Bill Beavers was first anointed John Stroger's Cook County Commissioner post, he then left his Alderman post to his daughter Darcel, who lost the 7th Ward to Sandi Jackson, wife of Congressman Jesse Jr.
Also in the last elections for Cook County Board members, Bobbie Steele won, or rather was re-elected, only to give up, rather, anoint, son Robert Steele to her post. So even though there will be elections coming up in Cook County, there could be a lot of movement right afterwards.
Come to think of it is Tony Peraica going to run for something other than Commissioner?
Danny Davis might take on Todd Stroger for CC PresidentDanny Davis Strongly Considers Run for Cook County Board President
Produced by Mekea Williamson on Tuesday, July 07, 2009
Davis says a poll he took could influence some candidates not to run for Cook County Board president in 2010.
DAVIS: Some of them may find out before its time to file that running for them would be rather futile.
But Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown says she's not backing down.
BROWN: It's my understanding from Congressman Davis, his intial interviews that he did not poll Dorothy Brown. Therefore, he cannot indicate that he is far out in head of Dorothy Brown, because he did not poll Dorothy Brown.
Meanwhile, Chicago Alderman Toni Preckwinkle says she's not concerned about any polls right now. The alderman says she has already raised more than $400,000 for her campaign. Other candidates considering a run include incumbent Todd Stroger, Commissioner Larry Suffredin and Sheriff Tom Dart.
All Blagojevich's, Rod, Patti, and Robert should be getting nervous with John Harris' guilty plea
Ex-Blagojevich aide pleads guilty, will testify
July 8, 2009 12:49 PM
John Harris, the last chief of staff to former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, pleaded guilty today to a single count of wire fraud in federal court -- and agreed to cooperate in the federal probe against his former boss in return for a recommended prison term of just under 3 years.
Harris was accused of aiding some of the former governor's efforts to leverage the powers of his office in exchange for favors and campaign contributions. Among the accusations against Blagojevich is that he attempted to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama.
Harris entered the plea after Assistant U.S. Atty. Carrie Hamilton detailed discussions in which Harris talked with Blagojevich about how the then-governor could personally benefit from naming a successor to Obama in the Senate.
The discussions began long before Obama's election victory, Harris said. He said he aided Blagojevich by researching his ideas or counseling him and at other times "expressed opposition" to some of the plans to profit off the Senate appointment, Hamilton said.
In reading a summary of Harris' plea agreement, Hamilton alleged that Blagojevich met with an official from the Service Employees International Union -- a person he understood to be an emissary working on behalf of Obama -- hoping to get something for himself in exchange for appointing the right candidate to fill the Senate seat.
Blagojevich was hopeful that by naming a person identified only as "Senate Candidate B" -- previously disclosed to be Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett -- he could secure an appointment to become secretary of the U.S. Department Health and Human Services, according to the plea agreement.
Blagojevich also was interested in a possible job at a private foundation in exchange for naming Jarrett and asked Harris to look into it.
"Defendant told Blagojevich that the private foundation option would give President-elect Obama a buffer, meaning that it would not be obvious that Blagojevich was getting a position in exchange for making Senate Candidate B the senator," the plea agreement said.
Blagojevich then began to discuss the possibility that Obama supporters could set up a non-profit organization for his benefit in exchange for the appointment, the plea agreement said. Harris was asked by Blagojevich to reach out to an unidentified U.S. congressman about that possibility, but Harris did not follow through on the instructions, according to the plea agreement.
This year at the Taste of Chicago they rearranged the vendors. Instead of having the vendors back to back in the center of the road they put them on the edges so people would have a larger area to walk in.
There are a lot of people that still don't know how to go with the flow of traffic, and also people with strollers want to stop where ever they feel like so as to bottleneck the foot traffic. All in all it was an improvement for foot traffic flow.
The Budweiser Clydesdale were in an area north east of Buckingham fountain that was under trees, which was good. They had them right by Buckingham fountain before, where there was no shade, even though they are in tents.
Buckingham fountain has had some renovations over the Winter and Spring, where they replaced that fine gravel for paving stones. The paving stones were a nice improvement, especially when you wear sandals and get gravel in your shoe. They also added and International market this year around Buckingham fountain for the Taste of Chicago. It did not look like a lot of people were buying much of anything. I just walked by them, so I can't comment if the prices were outrageous or not.
The taste portions of most items were 4 tickets, most were 3 last year, and I can remember when they were 2 tickets. It seems most items cost more tickets overall this year.
This year they had a flash frozen popcornciscle at Garrett's. It was 6 tickets, my son was the one who tried this. It quickly de-thawed and tasted like cold popcorn I was told. Costo's had a decent size Gyro, and their taste portion of Greek Sausage was a full sausage in a smaller pita, it could have used some type of sauce though, but it was the biggest taste portion there. The Canady Le Chocolatier ran out of the Chocolate Gelato, while we were there, and that was also the taste portion flavor. They said more was on the way, but they substituted the peanut butter gelato for the taste portion, and many left the line. My son was in line for the peanut butter gelato anyhow so we stayed in line. The C’est Si Bon was new last year with it's sweet potato cheesecake, my son thought it was so good last year that he had to have it again this year. He thought it was just as good as last years Sweet potato cheesecake.
Lagniappe-Creole Cajun Joynt was out of crawfish. My other son went to Oak Street Beach Café and got shrimp on a skewer which was 12 tickets this year instead of the 10 tickets last year. He said it was very good, but he got two servings of it since one was not enough.
The water ride was not here again this year, just the Ferris wheel by Balbo. Also by Balbo another music stage was set up, and the Olympic promotion area was there as well. There was also another Olympic promotion area by the main entrance.
This year there were only a few entrance points where you had to stop and have your bags checked by either security or Chicago Police. It was about the same as going to The Cell when you enter through the gates.
Labels: Taste of Chicago