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ere the TRUTH starts. Public Pension Reform. Law Enforcement News. Officer Down News. Collective Bargaining. Corruption. - See more at:
Where the TRUTH starts. Public Pension Reform. Law Enforcement News. Officer Down News. Collective Bargaining. Corruption. - See more at:

Officer Down

Monday, January 31, 2011

NEWS: (Chicago) Activists in Austin Neighborhood Fight to Get Police 911 Response Times

But when they ask for specific information about 911 response times in their neighborhood, they're told again and again they can't have those numbers because the city doesn't want the bad guys to know where response is slow.

--YEA, Right! They don't want the bad guys to know where response times are slow? NO, I don't think so! The administration of the Chicago Police Department don't want the public to find out how short handed they are actually operating in the districts and the effect it is having on public safety.--

STORY AT {FOX Chicago}

Better Government Association Joint Investigation

Updated: Monday, 31 Jan 2011, 10:34 PM CST
Published : Monday, 31 Jan 2011, 7:56 PM CST

By Dane Placko, FOX Chicago News

Chicago - When you call 911, you hope the police will respond in a matter of minutes.

But some residents of Chicago's West Side Austin neighborhood just hope they'll see a police car at all.

Ron and Serethea Reid have become so alarmed by slow and non-existent 911 response, they've formed a community organization to make their voices heard. They said if it's a shooting or major emergency, the police will get there-- sometimes quite quickly. But it's a different story, they said, for quality of life issues like drug sales, public drinking and fights.

"There's been far too many instances where there's been no response at all," said Serethea Reid.

Ald. Deborah Graham (29th), whose office is in the Austin police district, said even she had to wait when she called 911 because an upset young man was in the office.

The police department took their time coming, at least it felt that way," Graham said.

Since sounding the alarm last summer, the Central Austin Neighborhood Association has met several times with high ranking police officials and Chicago's Office of Emergency Management (OEMC). But when they ask for specific information about 911 response times in their neighborhood, they're told again and again they can't have those numbers because the city doesn't want the bad guys to know where response is slow.

"If we start making public response times, we're creating a situation that could be an advantage to someone other than these good citizens," said OEMC Deputy Director Clarence Thomas.

We got the same answer when we tried digging into last summer's fatal shooting of nine-year-old Tanaja Stokes. She and her seven-year-old cousin were jumping rope in the Roseland neighborhood when a crowd of gangbangers began shouting at one another. A neighbor who does not want to be identified called 911, but said it took police more than 15 minutes to respond. By then, Tanaja had been caught in gang crossfire.

"If (the police) would've come when I called... those boys would have seen the police and they probably would have kept going," said the neighbor.

We wanted to know whether that call got the same attention as other 911 calls throughout the city. But the OEMC has refused all our Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for 911 response times for each police district.

"This is a work in progress, and it's a work in progress in partnership with the citizens of the community," Chicago Police Commander Jim Roussel said. "So all the questions that are being raised are great questions and we need to have honest, forthright conversations about it."

UNION: (Chicago) Can Emanuel Residency Ruling Apply To Police, Firefighters?

--I am no lawyer but I think this will make for interesting questions--

STORY AT {CBS Chicago}

CHICAGO (WBBM) — The heads of the Chicago police and firefighter unions are commenting today on how the residency ruling for mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel might affect the rule requiring city workers to live within the city limits.

Mark Donahue, the president of the Fraternal Order of Police, says he’s tried for the past few years to get the legislature to change the law so Chicago police could go to the bargaining table with the city and negotiate over whether police could live in the suburbs. Donahue says the FOP will make that legislative push again this session.

Donahue says he doesn’t know whether any legal connection can be made between yesterday’s Illinois Supreme Court ruling for Emanuel and the city’s employment rule.

Chicago Firefighter Union leader Tom Ryan says he’s had members who’ve lost their jobs because they didn’t live in the city of Chicago. He says he doesn’t know whether yesterday’s Illinois Supreme Court ruling will have a bearing on those or any other cases.

“I’m not a lawyer”, he says.

Ryan says he does understand the difference between residency as it pertains to being eligible to be a candidate for elective office and the city’s residency rule for employment purposes, but he’s not sure whether the employment rule can be argued using yesterday’s ruling on Emanuel.

BREAKING NEWS: 2nd body found in torched Schiller Park tavern

--Hmmm, this one just gets stranger and stranger by the day.--


NEWS: (Suburban) Schiller Park tavern owner's death ruled homicide

ARTICLE AT {Chicago Tribune}

Four days after the owner of a Schiller Park tavern was found beaten to death inside his burned-out business, authorities have found a second body there, officials said.

A spokesman with the Cook County medical examiner's office couldn't say Monday night whether the new victim was a man or a woman, but said the fire victim found inside the charred shell of the Horseshoe Inn, 9639 Irving Park Road, was pronounced dead at 6:15 p.m.

An autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday.

The new body was a strange new development in a case that shocked many in the quiet suburb. The tavern's owner George Markopoulos, 67, was found shortly after a fire broke out in the early morning of Jan. 27. An autopsy determined that he died from suffered blunt head trauma in an apparent homicide.

The fire was also ruled arson, said Schiller Park police Officer Jeff Snarski.

Markopoulos was found on a cot in a first-floor back office where he would occasionally sleep, said Snarski. There were no signs of fire in the office and the autopsy did not find any indication that Markopoulos had inhaled any smoke or that he had been burned, he said.

Officials with Schiller Park police couldn’t be reached for comment Monday night.

NEWS: (National) President Is Likely to Discuss Gun Control Soon

ARTICLE AT {New York Times}


WASHINGTON — Administration officials say that President Obama, largely silent about gun control since the Tucson shooting carnage, will address the issue soon, potentially reopening a long-dormant debate on one of the nation’s most politically volatile issues.

The officials did not indicate what measures, if any, Mr. Obama might support; with Republicans in control of the House and many Democrats fearful of the gun lobby’s power, any legislation faces long odds for passage. Among the skeptics is the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada.

Still, Mr. Obama has come under increased pressure to speak out from gun-control advocates, including urban Democrats in Congress and liberal activists and editorial writers. They would like him to at least support a bill that would restore an expired federal ban on the sort of high-capacity ammunition magazine that was used in the Jan. 8 shootings in Tucson that killed six people and injured 13, including Representative Gabrielle Giffords, Democrat of Arizona.

The advocates, including Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York, were critical after Mr. Obama did not propose any measures in his State of the Union address Tuesday night to address gun violence. In interviews since, senior White House advisers have said without specifics that Mr. Obama would address the issue in coming weeks, though just how has not been decided.

“I wouldn’t rule out that at some point the president talks about the issues surrounding gun violence,” Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, told reporters on Wednesday. “I don’t have a timetable or, obviously, what he would say.”

David Axelrod, a senior adviser to the president, separately told reporters that Mr. Obama would “no doubt” speak out before long.

Mr. Bloomberg, who is co-chairman of a group called Mayors Against Illegal Guns, said in his weekly radio address on Friday that he was newly “encouraged” because “some of the president’s staff said that he was planning a speech on the problem and on guns and what he would do, and I think that’s great if he does that.”

When several White House aides were asked about that comment, each referred to Mr. Gibbs’s earlier comment.

Representative Carolyn McCarthy, a Democrat of New York who has introduced legislation to ban magazines that hold more than 10 rounds, said she was hopeful that Mr. Obama would now respond to “the pressure that’s been coming out from all the different groups and almost every paper I know of.”

Such a ban was part of a broader law banning many assault weapons that was enacted in 1994 by a Democratic-controlled Congress and allowed to expire 10 years later when Republicans were in control. Many Democrats have shied from gun legislation ever since 1994, blaming the loss of their House and Senate majorities that year partly on the assault weapons ban, which enraged the gun lobby, in particular the National Rifle Association.

Ms. McCarthy, who won election in 1996 as a gun-control crusader, three years after her husband was killed and her son injured by a man who opened fire on passengers on a Long Island commuter train, said, “I don’t see how anybody could get the assault weapons ban passed in this kind of climate with the N.R.A.”

But a ban on high-capacity magazines is possible, she said, adding, “If I didn’t think I could pass something, I wouldn’t push as hard as I’ve been pushing.”

Mr. Obama supported gun-control legislation as a state senator in Illinois, and as a presidential candidate he opposed laws allowing concealed weapons and endorsed those requiring tougher background checks of gun buyers and a permanent assault weapons ban. But as president he has been a big disappointment to gun-control groups.

A year ago, one of the main groups, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, gave him an “F” for his first year in office. Its report cited, among other things, his signing of a law permitting people to carry concealed weapons in national parks and in checked luggage on Amtrak trains, and his failure to name a director for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

“Not only did he not champion the cause, he actually signed bad legislation into law,” said Dennis A. Henigan, vice president of the Brady Campaign.

Mr. Obama recently nominated Andrew Traver, chief of the firearms bureau’s Chicago office, as director of the agency. Mr. Traver immediately drew N.R.A. opposition, throwing his Senate confirmation into jeopardy. And the administration recently proposed rules to require gun sellers in states bordering Mexico to report multiple sales of rifles and shotguns, to stem gun trafficking to Mexican drug cartels.

Mr. Henigan called those actions “encouraging signs.” He added, “The White House has certainly been sending signals that it realizes that it can’t go forward avoiding the word ‘gun,’ which is basically what it did for two years.”

NEWS: CNN exclusive: FBI misconduct reveals sex, lies and videotape

--Guess they are not as perfect as they like us to think.--




Washington (CNN) -- An FBI employee shared confidential information with his girlfriend, who was a news reporter, then later threatened to release a sex tape the two had made.

A supervisor watched pornographic videos in his office during work hours while "satisfying himself."

And an employee in a "leadership position" misused a government database to check on two friends who were exotic dancers and allowed them into an FBI office after hours.

These are among confidential summaries of FBI disciplinary reports obtained by CNN, which describe misconduct by agency supervisors, agents and other employees over the last three years.

Read the FBI documents obtained by CNN

The reports, compiled by the FBI's Office of Professional Responsibility, are e-mailed quarterly to FBI employees, but are not released to the public.

And despite the bureau's very strict screening procedure for all prospective employees, the FBI confirms that about 325 to 350 employees a year receive some kind of discipline, ranging from a reprimand to suspension.

About 30 employees each year are fired.

"We do have a no-tolerance policy," FBI Assistant Director Candice Will told CNN. "We don't tolerate our employees engaging in misconduct. We expect them to behave pursuant to the standards of conduct imposed on all FBI employees."

However, she said, "It doesn't mean that we fire everybody. You know, our employees are human, as we all are. We all make mistakes. So, our discipline is intended to reflect that.

"We understand that employees can make mistakes, will make mistakes. When appropriate, we will decide to remove an employee. When we believe that an employee can be rehabilitated and should be given a second chance, we do that."

Will, who oversees the bureau's Office of Professional Responsibility, said most of the FBI's 34,300 employees, which include 13,700 agents, follow the rules.

"The vast majority of our employees do not lie," Will said. "The vast majority of our employees do not cheat. The vast majority of our employees do not steal. The vast majority of our employees do not engage in the type of misconduct you are describing. There is an occasional employee who will engage in such misconduct, and that employee will answer for it."

However, the internal summaries show that even with serious misconduct, employees can keep their job (names and locations of the employees are not listed in the reports):

-- An employee had "a sexual relationship with a source" over seven months. The punishment was a 40-day suspension.

-- The supervisor who viewed "pornographic movies in the office while sexually satisfying himself" during work hours received a 35-day suspension.

-- The employee in a "leadership position" who misused a "government database to conduct name checks on two friends who were foreign nationals employed as exotic dancers" and "brought the two friends into FBI space after-hours without proper authorization" received a 23-day suspension. The same employee had been previously suspended for misusing a government database.

-- An employee who was drunk "exploited his FBI employment at a strip club," falsely claiming he was "conducting an official investigation." His punishment was a 30-day suspension.

-- And an employee conducted "unauthorized searches on FBI databases" for "information on public celebrities the employee thought were 'hot'" received a 30-day suspension.

Will said she could not discuss individual cases, and added: "I can't even confirm whether or not your information is accurate."

She said the bureau follows established guidelines for punishing employees.

"What we try is the holistic approach of the total employee," she said. "You look at the full record of that employee's career. You look at whatever the division has to say about the employee and you look at the facts in the particular case. You look at the employee's disciplinary history as to whether or not they have ever been in trouble. You look at how well they performed in the past, and you try to get a sense of whether or not this is an employee who can be rehabilitated, and if so, a period of suspension is imposed and if not, the employee is removed."

The employee who made the sex tape with the reporter, for instance, resigned before being fired, according to the report.

That employee "misused administrative leave, misused his credentials to get into a night club, misused a government vehicle, provided law-enforcement-sensitive documents to his girlfriend, who was a news reporter, improperly stored secret documents in a hotel room, which were viewed by his girlfriend, and following their break-up, threatened his girlfriend with the release of a sex tape the two had made, which threats she referred to a U.S. attorney's office," the internal summary report said.

Another employee, who used a "video camera to record (a) co-worker changing in (the) women's bathroom," also resigned, according to the report. The employee "lied about his conduct to (a) co-worker and attempted to erase the video when asked to relinquish the camera upon being caught."

And an employee who harassed a "former boyfriend, his mother and his new girlfriend" with "repeated phone calls, text messages, e-mail" was fired, the report said.

"If you lie under oath, you are gone," Wills told CNN. "If you tell the truth --- it's sort of Watergate 101. It's not always the behavior itself that results in a seriously adverse finding. It can just be the cover-up."

Konrad Motyka, the president of the FBI Agents Association, said, "Specifically, demonstrable, incorrect conduct or criminal conduct is not acceptable and never should be. But...our rate of conduct is actually less than in a lot of places, and human beings, being what they are, with the size of the organization we have, occasionally there will be some issues that come up."

Asked if there should be zero tolerance for serious misconduct, Motyka told CNN: "I believe there is zero tolerance for serious misconduct. Once it is adjudicated and proven to be a fact, just as anywhere else, people have the right to a fair hearing to determine whether the facts actually meet the circumstances."

James Wedick, a former veteran FBI supervisor who owns a consulting firm, said the misconduct is an embarrassment to the bureau.

"We are horrified, we're embarrassed. It bothers every official. It bothers everyone who works for the bureau. But law enforcement, the FBI, is made up of men and women. Men and women do make mistakes, and unfortunately, sometimes the mistakes are little bit more egregious than others."

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said the behavior described in the disciplinary summaries obtained by CNN is surprising.

"People in government, particularly the federal government, ought to be the best people that you can ever have, and people want to respect federal government employees. And most respected would be FBI agents," Grassley said.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

OFFICER DOWN NEWS: Officer Sava Basic

--Officer Sava Basic #1183 of the Bolingbrook Police Department was killed today while off duty in a car  accident. Not all details are known yet. Sava Basic was a passenger in the vehicle and was ejected during the accident. Officer Basic was young at 26 or 27 years old and leaves behind a wife and small daughter.

Our condolences to his family and to the Bolingbrook Police Department.--

ARTICLE AT {The Beacon News}

Bolingbrook officer killed in Kendall crash

By Matt Hanley                                           

Last Modified: Jan 31, 2011 10:51AM

A Bolingbrook police officer was killed Sunday morning when his wife lost control of the car while driving to church in Kendall County.

Sava Basic, 26, of Bazz Drive, Plainfield, died while receiving treatment at Rush-Copley Medical Center. Sava Basic and his wife, Megan Basic, 26, were driving to church at 8:29 a.m. Sunday, the Kendall County sheriff’s office said.

Megan Basic was driving north on Stewart Road, near Woolley Road, when she lost control of the car, police said. The car left the road, hit a tree and a culvert, then rolled, police said. Sava Basic was thrown from the car, police said.

Megan Basic was treated and released from Rush-Copley Medical Center, according to the hospital.

Besides being a police officer, Basic was also a world-class weight lifter. In July, he won the open division of the 308-pound class at the American World Powerlifting Congress world competition. Sava Basic benched 578 pounds in that competition, according to newspaper archives.

R.I.P.: Correctional Officer Jayme Lee Biendl


Correctional Officer Jayme Lee Biendl
Washington State Department of Corrections
End of Watch: Saturday, January 29, 2011

Biographical Info
Age: 34
Tour of Duty: 8 years
Badge Number: Not available

Incident Details
Cause of Death: Assault
Date of Incident: Saturday, January 29, 2011
Weapon Used: Person
Suspect Info: In custody

Correctional Officer Jayme Biendl was assaulted and killed in the Monroe Correctional Facility's chapel.

An inmate was discovered missing during a routine headcount shortly after 9:00 pm. The inmate was located three minutes later in the prison chapel's lobby and informed the officers that he had planned to escape.

After an equipment inventory was completed it was discovered that a set of keys and radio were missing. Other officers were dispatched to Officer Biendl's assigned duty post and found her unresponsive. CPR was initiated but she was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics a short time later.

Officer Biendl had served with the Washington State Department of Corrections for eight years.

Agency Contact Information

Washington State Department of Corrections
PO Box 41100
Mail Stop 41100
Olympia, WA 98504
Phone: (360) 725-8213

NEWS: (Suburban) Former Winthrop Harbor cop charged in porn case

--Always gotta be one out there.--

ARTICLE AT {Lake County News-Sun}

by frank abderholden
Last Modified: Jan 29, 2011 02:37AM

A Byron police officer who once worked for Winthrop Harbor and left after his demotion has been arrested on charges of possession of child pornography.

Illinois State Police Capt. Jim Winters said Officer Ricardo Concepcion was arrested Wednesday at the Byron police station after an investigation initiated by the Wisconsin Department of Justice.

Winters would not say what evidence police have gathered, but he said Concepcion is being held in the Winnebago County Jail.

According to the Byron Police Department Web site, Concepcion joined the department in 2008. Byron Police Chief Todd Murray said he had no comment on the arrest.

Winthrop Harbor Police Chief Joel Brumlik said Concepcion worked for the department from Aug. 13, 1991, until his resignation on March 25, 2004.

“He kind of had a rough tenure, nothing that rose to that level,” he said, referring to the child pornography charges. “He resigned and left to do whatever he was going to do.”

Concepcion was demoted just before he resigned. “It was a culmination of judgment things. He was a good officer, but never rose to the level of command officer,” Brumlik said.

“In this instance, it appears he has a problem. There is no room in law enforcement for someone like that,” Brumlik said, noting that it was his understanding that law enforcement provided the tip that led to the investigation.

UNION: Franklin Park, police begin contract talks

--I wish my brothers and sisters in F.P. well and I hope this one goes a little easier than the last few. I guess I can try to be optimistic.--

ARTICLE AT {Pioneer Press}

January 28, 2011


The talks have ended. Long live the talks.

Or so it seems with contract negotiations between Franklin Park police officers and the village government.

In April 2010, village trustees approved a new police contract that was almost three years in the making and just short of two years after the previous labor contract expired. That police contract expires at the end of April 2011.

In anticipation of the contract's end, the two sides will enter negotiations again, starting in February.

"The last one took a little more time because we had a change of administration," said Gary Bailey, an attorney with the Fraternal Order of Police Labor Council and participant in the negotiations.

"We started talking with one (village president) and one chief and one set of lawyers and ended with another (village president) and chief and set of lawyers," Bailey said.

Hammering out a police contract, however, has never been a speedy affair in the experience of Police Chief Mike Witz.

"We usually go about one-and-a-half years to recycle our contracts," said Witz, who has served in the department for almost 28 years.

Neither party spoke about what issues might come up or how long negotiations for the next three-year contract might take.

"We'll get to where we get when we get there," Bailey said.

NEWS: (New York) Slain cop's kin: 'There is no forgiving evil'

--I hope the board realizes the impact these types of crimes have on the officer's family and keep this monster where he belongs.--


40 relatives of an NYPD officer gunned down in the line of duty flooded a parole office in Manhattan

By Philip Messing
The New York Post

NEW YORK — It'll be a show of force to keep a cop killer behind bars.

About 40 relatives of an NYPD officer gunned down in the line of duty reportedly flooded a parole office in Manhattan to lobby for the heartless shooter to stay locked up, The Post has learned.

"This man should remain incarcerated for the rest of his life!" said Noreen Keegan-Connelly, 42, the niece of Police Officer Joseph Keegan.

"There is no forgiving evil. He should not be let out - ever."

On June 19, 1980, Keegan, 41, spotted Bruce Lorick, 22, trying to evade paying a fare in the 59th Street/Columbus Circle subway station. Keegan tried to eject him, but Lorick grabbed the cop's gun and shot him in the head before fleeing into Central Park.

Lorick, now at Sing Sing, was sentenced to 25 years to life and will appear before a parole board during the week of Feb. 21 for his fourth such bid for freedom.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

PENSION: (Illinois) Loophole allows superintendents to jump state lines to collect pensions along with six-figure salaries

--I don't knock anyone for making money but please take notice that these are all superintendents and administrators from the educational system. Stories like this sure make arguing for a $35,000 a year pension extremely difficult.--

ARTICLE AT {Chicago Tribune}

By Diane Rado and Duaa Eldeib, Tribune reporters

3:20 PM CST, January 29, 2011

Hank Bangser collects a $261,681 state pension after retiring as superintendent of New Trier Township High School District. Now, he's a full-time superintendent in Southern California, earning $170,000 at a job he'd be barred from in Illinois if he wanted to keep getting retirement checks.

His annual pension-salary combo: $431,681.

In tony Scottsdale, Ariz., retired Wheaton Superintendent Gary Catalani is back in administration too, earning $195,000 as school superintendent on top of his $237,195 Illinois pension. His total: $432,195.

A Tribune investigation has found that crossing state lines is one of the most lucrative ways for retired superintendents to collect multiple government checks without breaking pension rules, according to salary and pension data. Across the border, the retirees are free to work as full-time public school superintendents and collect Illinois pensions.

Illinois law seeks to award pensions to people who really are retired, said David Urbanek, spokesman for the Teachers' Retirement System for suburban and downstate educators. Generally, the goal is to prevent retirees from collecting a public school pension while still working full time in the schools, Urbanek said. If they do so, their pensions will be suspended.

Crisscrossing the country or hopping to a neighboring state to work impacts the cash-strapped, taxpayer-subsidized retirement system, which must dole out pension checks to retirees who would not get them if they worked as full-time superintendents in-state.

By jumping to Indiana, retired south Cook Superintendent Eric King takes in nearly $335,000 a year — a $166,608 Illinois pension on top of his $168,343 salary as Muncie school superintendent.

In Wisconsin, retired East Maine 63 Superintendent Kathleen Williams just started a superintendent job in Wausau, earning $156,000 while collecting her $177,711 Illinois pension.

And the practice works both ways.

The Tribune also found retired out-of-state superintendents jumping into Illinois with the promise of high administrator salaries and hefty pensions common in the Chicago region.

Educator Rebecca van der Bogert retired from Massachusetts, earning a $21,974 pension. She then worked as superintendent in Winnetka District 36, earning $374,496 in her final year. Now, she collects a $169,050 Illinois pension while she's head of school at the private Palm Beach Day Academy in Florida.

Retired Superintendent Robert McKanna of Palatine's District 15 earned $327,596 in his final year in the district. He collects a $180,396 Illinois pension, in addition to a $12,977 pension from the state of New York. He's now listed as a program chair at Argosy University in Schaumburg.

Jeremy Gold, a pension expert and New York-based consulting actuary, called earning multiple government incomes "indicative of sloppy governance and a cavalier attitude by those 'public servants' who exploit these loopholes selfishly."

"Illinois is a poster child for pension abuses," Gold said. "One of my colleagues calls this child abuse because our children must pay for our fiscal irresponsibility."

But the superintendents point out that they have followed all pension laws and rules.

"I worked uninterrupted for 36 years and obviously made all the (retirement) contributions, as did all of my colleagues," Bangser, 61, said. "The point is that, I think like anything else, you operate under the rules, restrictions and guidelines of whatever is in place at the time."

Bangser said he moved to California to be closer to his daughter and granddaughter. Although his base salary is $170,000 at California's Ojai Unified School District northeast of Ventura, Bangser said furlough days this year will reduce that to about $161,000. He doesn't get health benefits in California because he still gets coverage from Illinois.

Like Bangser, many of the superintendents interviewed said they wanted to continue their life's work.

Kathleen Williams, 61, said she missed education and wanted to return to work after retiring from East Maine in 2009. After doing some part-time consulting in her old district, she took the full-time superintendent's job in Wausau, in north-central Wisconsin. She started there Nov. 1.

"The big difference for me is that when you're doing it post-retirement, the stress level is not there," Williams said. "You are doing it because you truly want to be there, and you are choosing to give up not working to be able to do what you love."

But staying in one state to do that is not as lucrative, according to national pension studies, because states usually restrict the hours or income of a public retiree who wants to work in a government job and still collect a pension.

Recently, Illinois tried to further curtail retired superintendents who work as part-time administrators. The effort, however, has lost steam.

No limits are in place for the superintendents who cross state lines, and no formal monitoring exists to ensure that even in-state retired superintendents are working reduced hours.

"In the law, there is no enforcement mechanism," Urbanek said.

Legislators recently approved government pension reforms, but the changes affect only employees just starting to contribute to their pensions.

Retired Judge Gino DiVito, who has studied constitutional issues related to pensions, said retired superintendents could mount a legal challenge if Illinois tried to reduce their pensions while they are collecting out-of-state salaries.

Critics say the legal issues are in dispute and the state should go further in trying to rein in pensions.

"We have allowed a system to develop that is grossly underfunded and that has very generous benefits," said Laurence Msall, president of Chicago's Civic Federation, a nonprofit government research organization. "To draw a pension from the state … and then immediately go get another job as a superintendent or in another teaching capacity — they're really not retiring."

Brent Clark, executive director of the Illinois Association of School Administrators, acknowledged the sensitivity of the issue in a tough economy. Lawmakers just passed an income tax increase to help alleviate Illinois' fiscal crisis.

"You've got a lot of economic distress, and when you have these times, you get a lot of push-back, inspection, of people who earn high salaries," he said.

Some superintendents contacted by the Tribune reacted with anger — one hung up — and others vigorously defended their choices.

"Somebody who retires can go to another state and work. To me, that is the story, and that's what I've done," retired Oak Park and River Forest District 200 Superintendent Attila Weninger said.

His move had "nothing to do" with the part-time limits connected to staying in Illinois as a superintendent, he said. Weninger is now interim superintendent in the Stevens Point Area Public School District in Wisconsin, earning $149,500 while collecting a $180,302 pension from Illinois.

Many superintendents said the pool of highly skilled administrators willing to take on a demanding superintendency is shrinking.

At Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau School District in Wisconsin, board President Tanya Gendreau said the board hired retired Calumet City Superintendent David Grace because he was the most qualified.

"We knew he was retired," Gendreau said. "We were looking for someone with experience."

Grace earns $108,000 while collecting his $149,782 Illinois pension.

The Tribune located retired superintendents working elsewhere through Internet searches, newspaper stories and public records. The state system doesn't track those retirees.

Illinois State Board of Education data showed dozens of superintendents moving into Illinois with 20 or more years of service, but it is not clear if they are getting pensions elsewhere. Some out-of-state pension systems would not release information about their retirees.

Michigan did disclose several pension amounts. Janice Matthews gets a $73,489 pension from that state, while earning $201,301 last year as superintendent of Oak Grove District 68 in Lake County.

Dale Martin gets a $73,908 pension from Michigan and a $78,147 pension from Illinois, after working as superintendent in Downers Grove District 58.

The Texas system would confirm only retirement status, not pension amounts. Both Evanston/Skokie District 65 Superintendent Hardy Murphy Jr. and Elgin-based U-46's former Superintendent Connie Neale are Texas retirees. She also gets a $41,135 pension from Illinois.

After a 42-year education career, LeRoy Rieck, 68, gets three pensions: $43,106 from Illinois, where he recently retired as superintendent of West Chicago's District 94; $24,147 from Pennsylvania; and about $30,000 from Wisconsin.

Eric King, the former Matteson District 159 superintendent, said he's not sure what he'll do next. He went to Indiana in 2008 to become Muncie Community Schools superintendent, and he'll leave when his contract ends in June. That doesn't mean he'll stop working.

"Retirement is just a concept,'' said King.

VIDEO: Detroit police station shootout

This is a video from inside the 6th Precinct of the Detroit Police Department. It shows the shootout from January 23. Scary stuff.


NEWS: (Hillside) Six charged in Hillside bowling alley brawl

--Good job on making arrests quickly. Hope the officers recover quickly.--


NEWS: (Hillside) 3 Officers Hurt Breaking Up Brawl at Hillside Bowling Alley Involving Baseball Bats

ARTICLE AT {Chicago Sun-Times}

By Ben Meyer-Abbott and Rosemary Sobol

Staff Reporters

Last Modified: Jan 29, 2011 02:31AM

Six Chicagoans were charged with brawling in a Hillside bowling alley and injuring three officers who tried to break up a fight early Friday morning.

There was poking, scratching and nose-biting at the Hillside Bowl after Kristopher Lee initiated the fight, authorities said.

“They all came out of the bar in the bowling alley, so I would assume alcohol had something to do with it,’’ Hillside Police Chief Joe Lukaszek said of the baseball-bat wielding mob.

When the male officers tried to stop the fight at the bowling alley, 4545 W. Harrison St., they were attacked by bystanders, Lukaszek said.

During the 20-to-25-person melee, one officer was poked in the eye socket.

And another a man got “on top” of another officer who’d been knocked to the ground and bit him in the nose, arm and hand, the chief said.

“It was unbelievable. I thought he had gotten punched, but he said he was bitten,” Lukaszek said.

The injured officers were treated and released for bruises and cuts at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood.

Lee, 36, of the 140 block of North Long, and his wife, Keisha Heard, 27, were charged with felony aggravated battery to a police officer and resisting arrest, according to Andy Conklin, a spokesman with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office.

Another woman, 24-year-old Latoya Reed, of the 5500 block of West Washington, was also charged with felony aggravated battery to a police officer, Conklin said.

Three others were charged with misdemeanors.

Patrick Carter, 24, faces resisting arrest charges; D’Angela Johnson, 23, was charged with resisting arrest and obstructing and Jovan McNeal, 26, was charged with disorderly conduct.

A seventh person involved in the fight was cited for violating a local ordinance.

Contributing : Tina Sfondeles

PENSION: Chicago police, firefighters would pay more for pensions under City Hall plan

 --3% increase in employee contributions? That's quite a jump considering the City of Chicago pillaged the pension funds by allowing bad loans to Daley relatives and also by not paying the prop contributions to begin with.--

ARTICLE AT (Chicago Tribune}

By John Byrne, Tribune reporter

5:39 PM CST, January 28, 2011

Police officers and firefighters would pay more into their retirement funds under a plan Mayor Richard Daley's administration unveiled Friday as it pushes back against a new state pension reform.

While City Hall has yet to talk to labor leaders or state legislators, the mayor's aides are hopeful that changes to the recently approved law will save Chicago taxpayers $240 million per year compared to what the city now faces as a potential budget buster.

The administration's proposal would raise police officers' contributions to their pension plan from 9 percent to 12 percent between 2015 and 2018, and raise firefighters' share from 9.1 percent to 12.1 percent.

The General Assembly's measure included no bump in employee contributions, a fact Daley railed against to no avail as the bill advanced late last year.

Mark Donahue, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, said the union would only consider greater pension contributions by its members as part of contract negotiations with the city.

"I think if there's going to be relief for the city, there should be relief for the members" for their higher pension burdens, Donahue said.

Police got a new contract this summer, but it was retroactive to 2007, so Donahue said negotiations on the next pact could begin within a year.

Tom Ryan, president of the Chicago firefighters union, could not be reached.

The city's proposal also would require that the public safety pension systems be funded only to 80 percent rather than 90 percent of their total obligations, and extend the timeline to reach that benchmark from 30 years to 50 years.

Even with those changes, Gene Saffold, the city's chief financial officer, said the property tax increase in Chicago in 2015 still would be $310 million. Lawmakers, however, say the city can cover the increased pensions costs with revenue sources other than a property tax increase.

"This proposed legislation does not comprehensively address our pension issues, but it does significantly reduce the extreme burden on taxpayers caused by the recent changes to the public safety pension law," Saffold said at a City Hall news conference.

With Daley departing office in mid-May, it's likely pension relief will fall to his successor.

A spokesman for Sen. John Cullerton, D-Chicago, said the Senate president is open to working with the city "specifically in the area of extending the deadline for achieving the required funding levels."

NEWS: (Illinois) 2006 hero now could face prison

ARTICLE AT {Chicago Tribune}

Trooper who pulled police from burning car accused of stealing gas

By Steve Schmadeke, Tribune reporter

January 30, 2011

An Illinois state trooper honored as a hero for helping rescue an injured Chicago police officer from a burning squad car in 2006 could go to prison and lose his job if convicted of using his state-issued credit card to steal a few hundred bucks of gasoline.

Peter Radulovic, 46, was charged in 2009 with two felony counts of official misconduct and one count of felony theft. His jury trial, scheduled to start last week in Will County, has been pushed back to April.

It is a dramatic turnabout for the man who won the Law Enforcement Medal of Honor during a ceremony at the governor's mansion in 2007. Radulovic for a time also ran former Gov. Rod Blagojevich's security detail, the trooper's attorney said, and is a former Peotone village trustee.

A year after winning the medal, Radulovic was alleged to have used his state credit card to buy more than $300 in gasoline for his personal vehicle, apparently from several gas stations in Peotone, according to court records.

The District Chicago trooper has been suspended without pay and could lose his job depending on the outcome of an investigation that is before the state police merit board, said Master Sgt. Isaiah Vega.

Radulovic's attorney, Patrick Campanelli, said there is no video evidence that the trooper used the cards to do anything but fill the tank of his squad car. He said the case is based on internal affairs estimates that Radulovic's mileage and gas purchases were too high.

"It's frivolous charges," he said. "This case is unprovable. You could probably look at any state trooper and do the math of what a state trooper uses in gas and mileage and indict them for theft."

Campanelli said he believes the case was brought for political reasons, blaming it on sour feelings over Radulovic's job as Blagojevich's head of security, and said its timing — when his client is a year away from vesting in his pension — is also suspect.

And he said it made no sense that former Chicago police Cmdr. Jon Burge will keep his pension after lying about torturing suspects but Radulovic could lose his benefits over gas-card charges that "could've been settled in-house."

"After Blagojevich lost his position as governor, I think a lot of these state troopers looked at (Radulovic) as a person who moved up the ranks quicker than he should've," said Campanelli, adding that the promotion came after his client's heroics. "This is obviously just a ploy by state police to take (Radulovic) off the pension rolls."

A spokesman for the Will County state's attorney's office declined to comment on the pending case.

On May 7, 2006, three Wentworth Tactical District officers were chasing a suspect after a 19-year-old was shot in the leg. Their red unmarked Ford Taurus spun out while leaving the northbound Dan Ryan Expressway onto Pershing Road.

The car sideswiped a light pole, and the front end became engulfed in flames. An Illinois Department of Transportation worker told the Tribune at the time that it looked as if a building were ablaze.

Radulovic, responding to a call for assistance in the case, came across the vehicle first. He saw the passenger was waving a handgun and heard two shots being fired, according to an account released by Illinois State Police.

After determining that all the occupants were plainclothes officers, he tried to put out the flames and open the car doors, but they wouldn't budge, and the driver was trapped under the dashboard, according to the police account.

Radulovic and another trooper, Sgt. Devin Stokes, who arrived soon after, were able to pull one of the officers out of the car after breaking the rear passenger-side window.

"There was a lot of smoke and fire," Radulovic told the Tribune in 2006. "The scene was really hectic because, obviously, they were in a lot of peril. So we tried to keep them calm."

Stokes, who also won a medal for his actions, declined to comment when reached Friday.

The front-seat passenger was able to free himself, but the driver remained pinned inside the car until firefighters arrived, cut the roof off and freed him.

NEWS: (Suburban) Schiller Park tavern owner's death ruled homicide

--By all accounts, George was a nice guy. I hear he had some bad taste in women though. Hope they resolve this one quick.--


NEWS: (Suburban) Body found after fire guts Schiller Park tavern on Northwest Side

Fire ruled arson, man was beaten

By Carlos Sadovi and Joseph Ruzich, Chicago Tribune

3:20 PM CST, January 28, 2011

The death of a Schiller park tavern owner found after an extra-alarm fire at his business has been ruled a homicide.

An autopsy today found that George Markopoulos, 67, was the victim of an assault and suffered cranial cerebral injuries and blunt head trauma, according to the Cook County medical examiner's office.

He was found shortly after a fire broke out early Thursday morning at the Horseshoe Inn at 9639 Irving Park Road. Autopsy results made no mention of burns on the body or smoke inhalation.

The fire has been ruled a homicide arson, said Schiller Park Police Officer Jeff Snarski.

Markopoulos' body was found lying on a cot in a first-floor back office where he would occasionally sleep, said Snarski. There were no signs of fire in the office and the autopsy did not find any indication that Markopoulos had breathed in any smoke or that he had been burned, he said.

"There was no fire in the back," Snarski said.

He said that investigators with the fire department and fire marshal's office were in the building today. He said police don't have a motive or any suspects in the case.

Judy Biondo, a supervisor at Schiller Park's Bluthardt Recreation Center, across the street from the tavern, said she learned of the fire when a village official called her at 5:15 a.m. and asked her to open the recreation facility as a warming center for firefighters.

"When I got there all I could see was a lot of smoke coming from the building," Biondo said.

The tavern is about a block west of the Schiller Park Fire Department. A number of departments from surrounding northwest suburbs helped fight the blaze.

Biondo said that Markopoulos was a longtime supporter of the rec center's programs and athletes. On Wednesday night, as was their custom, participants in the rec center's volleyball league headed across the street to the Horseshoe Inn after their matches to quench their thirst, Biondo said.

"He was a great guy," Biondo said. "Everybody liked him. He would donate money to our athletic programs, especially volleyball and men's baseball. I'm shocked that this happened."

R.I.P.: Corrections Officer Casimiro Pomales


Corrections Officer Casimiro Pomales
New York State Department of Correctional Services
New York
End of Watch: Friday, January 28, 2011

Biographical Info
Age: 52
Tour of Duty: 22 years, 6 months
Badge Number: Not available

Incident Details
Cause of Death: Automobile accident
Date of Incident: Friday, January 28, 2011
Weapon Used: Not available
Suspect Info: Not available

Corrections Officer Casimiro Pomales was killed in an automobile accident as he and another officer transported an inmate to a medical appointment.

Officer Pomales was driving a prison van on the New York State Thruway, near Ulster, when it was sideswiped by another car. The impact caused the van to overturn. Officer Pomales, the other officer, and the inmate were transported to Kingston Hospital where Officer Pomales was pronounced dead.

Officer Pomales had served with the New York State Department of Correctional Services for over 22 years and was assigned to the Eastern Correctional Facility. He is survived by his wife and several grown children.

Agency Contact Information

New York State Department of Correctional Services
Building 2
1220 Washington Avenue
Albany, NY 12226
Phone: (518) 457-8126

Friday, January 28, 2011

NEWS: (DEATH PENALTY) Dillard, Reboletti want to reinstate death penalty in ‘extreme cases’

--At least they are thinking ahead for a worst case scenario.--

ARTICLE AT {Daily Herald}

By Kerry Lester

Gov. Pat Quinn has given no indication whether he plans to sign or veto legislation that would abolish the death penalty in Illinois.

Nonetheless, suburban lawmakers who oppose its abolition are already at work preparing a backup plan.

Republican Sen. Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale and Rep. Dennis Reboletti of Elmhurst are preparing legislation that would reinstate the death penalty for what they’ve deemed the “worst of cases,” if Quinn signs the ban into law.

Dillard said the proposal would reinstate execution for five categories of offenders: mass murderers, child killers, those who inflicted torture, those who kill a police officer, firefighter or prison guard, or witnesses to a crime.

“That just goes right at the core of civilized society,” Dillard said.

Reboletti, an Elmhurst attorney who is one of a select few licensed to litigate death penalty cases in the state, agreed.

He also objected to the way the legislation came up for a vote, in the final hours of the veto session earlier this month.

“I don’t think the action was taken by people who were truly representative of their districts. I think there would be much different result if this (came up) in the next months,” he said.

Reboletti said he and Dillard would like to hold hearings throughout the state on the issue.

On the campaign trail this fall, Quinn said he supports the death penalty for the “most heinous” circumstances. At the same time, he said the issue needs further study and he has kept the 10-year moratorium on executions, first put in place by Gov. George Ryan.

Quinn has said he is in the process of reaching out to individuals on both sides of the issue “to try to gather as much information as possible” to make an informed decision.

The governor has until mid-March to sign or veto the legislation. If he doesn’t act by then, the legislation becomes law.

Governor’s office spokeswoman Brie Callahan declined to comment on “any pending legislation that has not been filed.”

PENSION: (Chicago) Burge keeps his pension

--I followed this whole mess through the years as I am sure many have. I did not want to get into it while it was going on. I do find the pension decision interesting and I am curious to see if the Illinois Department of Insurance approves it. My opinion is 50-50. I see both sides of the argument and they both are logical in my eyes.--

ARTICLE AT {Chicago Tribune}

Half of board says perjury conviction wasn't connected to police work

By Ryan Haggerty and Cynthia Dizikes, Tribune reporters

10:21 PM CST, January 27, 2011

Former Chicago police Cmdr. Jon Burge's right to a pension rested on one ambiguous phrase in Illinois law.

The police pension board had to decide Thursday whether Burge's conviction for lying about the torture of criminal suspects in 2003 was "relating to or arising out of or in connection with" his job as a police officer.

Four board members, all current or former Chicago police officers elected by their fellow officers, voted in Burge's favor, deciding his perjury conviction had no connection to his 23 years with the department. Four civilian trustees appointed by Mayor Richard Daley arrived at the opposite conclusion.

A majority is needed to revoke a pension, so Burge, who is scheduled to start serving a 4 1/2-year prison sentence in March, will continue to collect more than $3,000 a month for the rest of his life.

Burge, 63, was never charged with torturing suspects while a cop. But in June, long after he was forced to leave the department, he was found guilty of lying about his knowledge of police torture.

That was the difference for pension board President Kenneth Hauser, who said Burge's perjury conviction "had nothing to do with things he did when he was on the job."

One board member even questioned Burge's conviction. "Juries don't always get it right," said police Sgt. Michael Lazzaro.

Michael Conway, a former executive at Aon, was joined by three city officials in voting to revoke Burge's pension. Conway said he thought the link between the perjury conviction and Burge's police work was clear.

"Others deliberated and came to a different conclusion," Conway said. "I can't speak for them, but that was pretty straightforward, from my point of view."

The board's decision outraged many of Burge's alleged victims and their supporters. But several legal experts said they were not surprised by the split decision.

"'Relating to,' 'arising out of,' 'in connection with' — those are very subjective terms," said Chicago attorney Scott Uhler, whose firm represents several Chicago-area pension boards. "It isn't a law that is necessarily easy to apply, and it often comes down to who is doing the interpreting."

Burge isn't the first public employee to keep his pension despite a criminal conviction. In 2009, a Cook County judge ruled that a former Chicago Fire Department lieutenant who had been found guilty of arson could keep his pension because he could find no proof that the lieutenant used his training as a firefighter to commit his crimes.

But pensions also have been denied to several high-profile Illinois figures, most recently former Gov. George Ryan, currently doing time in federal prison for corruption.

Burge was fired in 1993 after years of allegations of police torture under his watch. After a four-year investigation, a Cook County special prosecutor concluded in 2006 that Burge and his officers obtained dozens of convictions through torture. But no charges were filed because the statute of limitations had passed.

In 2008, the U.S. attorney's office brought perjury and obstruction charges against Burge over his testimony in a 2003 civil lawsuit, when he denied the torture allegations. He was found guilty by a federal jury in June.

Prosecutors had to prove the torture allegations to substantiate the perjury and obstruction charges against Burge. At Burge's sentencing Jan. 21, U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow drove that point home.

"You denied any knowledge of torture," Lefkow said. "Unfortunately for you, the jury did not believe you, and I must agree that I did not either."

City Treasurer Stephanie Neely voted against Burge but said she thought the language the board had to consider was ambiguous. She had hoped that Burge would lose before the board and then make an appeal to Circuit Court, providing the possibility for clarification on when pensions can be terminated.

Thursday's vote cannot be appealed.

Those who allegedly were tortured under Burge and his officers reacted to the board's vote with disappointment and disbelief.

"It's nonsense," said Darrell Cannon, who alleged in a lawsuit that he was tortured by detectives supervised by Burge. "And it's just another example of the good old boys staying together."

Attorney Flint Taylor, who has represented several alleged victims, was less measured in his assessment.

"To say that he should still be paid is mind-boggling," Taylor said. "It is a total slap in the face to the entire city."

NEWS: (Chicago) Another arrest for man nabbed more than 250 times

--250 arrests?!?! Busy guy I guess.--

ARTICLE AT {Chicago Tribune}

By Jeremy Gorner

7:17 PM CST, January 27, 2011

A 53-year-old man arrested more than 250 times is in custody again tonight, accused of trespassing at O'Hare International Airport, according to Chicago police.

Elijah Goodlett, whose last known address was on the 1000 block of North Central Avenue, was charged with criminal trespassing and soliciting unlawful business, both misdemeanors.

Goodlett was arrested about 11:30 a.m. this morning after, police said, he was trying to get travelers to allow him to carry their luggage.

Police said he was being locked up overnight because he violated his bail on a prior case, in which he's accused of trespassing at the airport.

Court records show many of his other arrests were on misdemeanor criminal trespassing and disorderly conduct charges.

Goodlett is due in court Friday.

NEWS: (Hillside) 3 Officers Hurt Breaking Up Brawl at Hillside Bowling Alley Involving Baseball Bats

--Hoping for quick recoveries for all the officers.--

STORY AT My Fox Chicago


Updated: Friday, 28 Jan 2011, 9:32 AM CST
Published : Friday, 28 Jan 2011, 8:00 AM CST

Sun-Times Media Wire

Chicago - Three police officers have been released from the hospital Friday morning after a crowd of more than 20 people attacked them as they attempted to break up a fight at a bowling alley in west suburban Hillside, police said. Seven people are in custody.

The officers responded to Hillside Bowl, 4545 W. Harrison St., about 2:15 a.m. to quell a brawl in which people were using baseball bats, Hillside Police Chief Joe Lukaszek said.

When the officers tried to separate combatants and make arrests, they were attacked by other bystanders, Lukaszek said. A crowd of about 20 to 25 people was involved in the incident, he said.

Emergency crews took the three men to Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Hillside Fire Department Lt. Jim Flynn said.

The three officers -- all men whose time on the force ranges from seven to 20 years -- were X-rayed and checked for broken bones, and released from the hospital Friday morning, Lukaszek said.

They suffered minor injuries including brusing and lacerations, Lukaszek said. One of the officers underwent an MRI to check for facial fractures, but it turned out to be negative.

The officers have been placed on the injured list and will need to be cleared by a doctor before returning to work, the lieutenant said.

Seven people are in police custody for the fight, including four men and three women in their 20s and 30s, Lukaszek said. Police are seeking felony charges against all seven.

Police from surrounding towns including Bellwood, Maywood, Westchester and Broadview also responded to the incident, Lukaszek said.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

DUKE'S BLOTTER LIVE - Tonight (Jan 27) @ 9 pm


A war on police? Is this a reality? 

The death penalty in Illinois and where it stands right now. 

Update on pension issues for the State of Illinois. 

All the news and events from the past week.

NEWS: (Suburban) Body found after fire guts Schiller Park tavern on Northwest Side

--Good luck to my WESTAF friends on the investigation.--

ARTICLE AT {Chicago Sun-Times} 


A body was found inside a northwest suburban pub where firefighters battled a three-alarm fire early Thursday morning.

Schiller Park Fire Chief Tom Deegan said the victim lived in the older building at 9639 Irving Park Rd. The Horse Shoe Inn bar and restaurant is located on the first floor, according to an online directory.

The building on the south side of Irving Park Road is a single story in the front and two stories in the back.

“When crews got there, there was heavy smoke coming out the front door of the building,’’ according to Deegan, who said the tavern had closed at 2 a.m. and the fire call came in about 3:45 a.m.

Firefighters were aware there was someone in the burning building and crews found the body in the tavern area, near the foot of a stairway leading to the residential area where the victim lived, Deegan said.

The unidentified man, who appears to be in his 60s, was pronounced dead at 4:46 a.m. at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office. The victim was not burned.

Deegan said several other searches were done and no one else was found.

The fire engulfed the building and a second alarm was called at 4:10 a.m., a third at 5 a.m.

“The damage is significant, ’’ Deegan said. A fire there is “unusual,’’ he said, adding he does not remember other recent blazes there.

Evacuations nearby were not necessary and the alarm was canceled about 7 a.m.

Fire investigators remain on the scene as of 9 a.m. trying to find out what caused the blaze. Deegan said it is too early to say how and where it started.

No fire code violations were found in the building, which receives annual inspections. The chief said he had no reason to suspect foul play.

He did not know whether the victim’s living area was equipped with smoke detectors. The owner of the building was notified, but Deegan said he did not see him on the scene.

About 50 firefighters fought the fire, with crews from Leyden, Elmwood Park, Des Plaines, Stone Park, North Lake, Franklin Park, Hillside, Melrose Park and Franklin Park responding along with Schiller Park.

Irving Park Road was closed in both directions during the blaze, but as of 9 a.m., westbound lanes had been reopened.

NEWS: (Suburban) DuPage's no-bid emergency radio contract with Motorola is in shambles

--I think Motorola is getting to big to fast and is trying to do to much.--

ARTICLE AT {Chicago Tribune}

By Bill Ruthhart, Tribune reporter

8:54 PM CST, January 26, 2011

When DuPage County decided it needed a new emergency radio network, it saw no reason to shop around.

DuPage's Emergency Telephone System Board awarded a no-bid, $7 million contract — funded through fees on landline and cell phone users' bills — to industry giant Motorola. In return, the Schaumburg-based company would build the county a nine-tower, five-channel radio network in 10 months.

But four years later, the cost of the contract has quadrupled to $28.6 million, DuPage is still using its old radio system and the county has abandoned plans for its own network.

The long delays and rising costs stem from a hastily approved contract that DuPage officials justified as exempt from competitive bids and signed despite warnings, the Tribune found.

The county's reasoning was that a state contract had cleared the way by settling on the lowest prices for the equipment. But the newspaper's review of records found the state contract didn't include infrastructure such as towers or transmitters and receivers that DuPage needed.

Now, instead of owning its radio system and never paying monthly usage fees, DuPage will spend the $28.6 million to rent space on an existing Motorola network, leaving the telephone system's board — and thus the county's phone users — on the hook for millions in future fees.

The new radio network stems from federal regulations following the Sept. 11 terror attacks that urged emergency responders to use "interoperable" systems — ones that have the capability to communicate with other departments on radio frequencies. The DuPage system would serve the sheriff's department and also is expected to provide service for police and fire agencies, with the exception of Naperville and Burr Ridge, which operate on other networks.

For Motorola, the DuPage deal secures the county's business for years to come, including future radios and airtime charges — all without facing competition.

It's not the first time the company has been so fortunate. In October, the Chicago inspector general determined that officials with the city's 911 center circumvented competitive bidding rules to grant Motorola a $23 million digital-radio contract.

Warnings ignored

The highly technical nature of the DuPage deal and its handling by an obscure board resulted in little scrutiny of the contract.

But the DuPage Mayors and Managers Conference and others tried to stop or slow it.

"We had real concerns about the lack of a competitive bidding process, because we weren't sure if the best prices were being secured," said Mark Baloga, the conference's executive director. "And secondly, the contract specifications were left very open-ended, so we weren't sure what we'd be getting."

However, the will of the 32 mayors and managers fell on deaf ears, and the telephone system board — its members appointed by the County Board — approved the contract 6-1 in September 2006.

John Perry, then Woodridge's village administrator, was the lone "no" vote.

"The board brought that contract forward too quickly," Perry said. "There was a process out there, options to consider, and then suddenly this must-approve contract was in front of us. We didn't go through all the due diligence."

Motorola declined to discuss specifics of the contract. Company spokesman Matthew Messinger said it is Motorola's policy not to talk about its work for a customer.

The customer, DuPage's telephone board, is funded by a 50-cent monthly surcharge on landline telephone users and a 45-cent monthly fee on cell phone users.

Elsewhere, area counties took varied approaches to improving their radio communications, from upgrading existing systems, to building new ones and renting on StarCom21, Motorola's statewide radio network used by the State Police and other Illinois jurisdictions.

To learn more about upgrading their radio systems, several suburbs, counties and emergency districts created the Northeast Illinois Communications Consortium.

DuPage joined the group, which studied which vendors offered the most technically sound systems and at what price. But not long after that started, DuPage dropped out, under growing pressure from police and fire officials to sign a deal with Motorola.

Robert Heap, a Naperville attorney who then chaired the telephone board, said DuPage left the group because it appeared likely to settle on a Motorola competitor.

"We had gotten recommendations from the chiefs of police, the fire, the sheriff, basically all of the relevant community groups," Heap said. "They said, 'Motorola is who we've been dealing with,' and that's where they wanted to go."

Naperville and Aurora stuck with the consortium and built a joint radio network. Unlike DuPage, they took bids from six companies. The $22 million offer by the winner, Virginia-based Harris Corp., was $10 million cheaper than Motorola's, said Ted Beck, Aurora's technology officer.

Harris built Naperville and Aurora's network in 18 months, and the system went live last month.

State Rep. Michael Connelly, R-Lisle, was chairman of the DuPage telephone board shortly after the contract was signed four years ago. After inheriting the Motorola contract, Connelly said he worked to slow the process down to conduct more research.

"I don't find, 'We've worked with these guys before' as an appropriate criteria for letting a government contract," said Connelly, who ran the board for eight months in 2007.

But the contract stayed — and grew.

No competition

In 2008, the board nearly doubled the contract price from $7 million to $13.6 million after Motorola said, among other things, that it needed to test new technology it was using for DuPage's network.

Last month, chairman Patrick O'Shea advised the board to increase the contract again, to $28.6 million, including a $2.7 million credit for money it had spent under previous versions of the deal.

On three occasions, DuPage decided not to consider other competitors even though a county ordinance requires officials to solicit bids for contracts to eliminate favoritism and secure the best possible deal for taxpayers. The ordinance and state law also require officials to rebid a contract if its price increases by more than 50 percent, which DuPage has done twice with Motorola's contract.

O'Shea and Linda Zerwin, the board's executive director, said that because the DuPage contract was based on an earlier state contract with Motorola for StarCom21, under the state's joint purchasing act the county was exempted from having to bid out the work on its own network.

However, a review of that contract, obtained under the Open Records Act, showed Motorola's deal called for it to lease StarCom21 to the state, while DuPage's contract was to build its own network. None of the equipment the county needed to build its system — radio towers, transmitters and receivers — was included in the state contract with Motorola.

John Rosati, a former sales director for radio provider M/A-Com, had urged the board to consider his company and others. He called the board's logic of linking the Motorola contract to state purchasing "ridiculous."

"That's like saying, 'I'm going to buy these new Ford Mustangs off the state contract for cargo vans,'" Rosati said. "They're both vehicles but have nothing to do with each other."

Asked how DuPage could purchase equipment that didn't exist in the state contract, Paul Darrah of the state's attorney's office said, "I can't comment on that part, because that was a decision made by the (board)."

The board's Zerwin would say only that she didn't have an answer.

The telephone board now plans to buy 3,400 of Motorola's top-line radios for about $6,000 each. The rest of the $28 million will pay for upgrades Motorola will make to StarCom21 to improve coverage in the county.

Motorola waived airtime usage fees for three years, meaning local communities that sign their police and fire departments on to the system won't have to pay upfront for airtime or radios.

Airtime rates currently average about $30 a month per radio. In DuPage County, that eventually will mean more than $1 million in revenue per year for Motorola in airtime charges alone, plus future equipment upgrades — all secured without bids.

The monthly phone bill surcharges are set to expire in 2013. If that happens, taxpayers who pay for individual police and fire departments could be on the hook to pay for radio airtime and any equipment that might need to be replaced.

O'Shea said the cost of building a network had skyrocketed to $48 million by the time he took over the board in 2009, and he insisted the only option left was to rent on the StarCom21. He said no other companies offered a system the county could rent from.

O'Shea said renting has its advantages. Although the county and municipalities eventually have to pay monthly air charges, they won't have to pay for upgrades or repairs, he said.

O'Shea acknowledged there were choices for the county if it still wanted to build its own radio network — the original intent of the contract.

"If you wanted to own your own system," he said, "yeah, there were other options."

Instead, DuPage is still waiting on Motorola.

The company's first commitment in the new deal that was signed on Dec. 13: deliver 1,800 new radios to the county by the end of the year.

Motorola didn't deliver — again.

Police Blotters January 27, 2011

Click on the town you are interested in.

Franklin Park, Northlake

La Grange, Lagrange Park, Westchester

Oak Brook, Oakbrook Terrace

Elmwood Park


Norridge, Harwood Heights

Oak Park

Park Ridge

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

UNION: Palatine firefighters forgo raises in one-year deal

--I like these one year deals to get through the rough patch without having to engage in a negative battle for a long term deal. I think they show a willingness on both sides to work things out. More importantly, I think it sends the right the message to the residents that their town is actually looking out for them.--

ARTICLE AT {Daily Herald}

By Kimberly Pohl

Recognizing current budget woes and hoping next year’s fiscal outlook will prove brighter, the Palatine firefighters union recently agreed to forgo raises in a one-year contract with the village.

In exchange, the equivalent of 1 percent of base wages will be deferred to the department’s overtime budget, as will the savings from abbreviated contract negotiations.

Aaron Adams, president of Palatine Firefighters Local No. 4588, said he hopes the economy will improve and the union can lock in a multiyear deal in 2012.

In the meantime, the bigger overtime budget will ensure adequate staffing levels for a department that annually receives about 7,000 calls.

“This contract is in our best interest and the community’s best interest,” Adams said. “We’re continually running short (on staff) when there are two calls, so this is an offer that seemed reasonable to both our membership and management.”

The deal, approved by the Palatine village council and retroactive to Jan. 1, covers all full-time sworn personnel below the rank of battalion chief, or 86 members, Adams said. It increases the department’s overtime budget by 25 percent, or about $125,000, he added.

Palatine Village Manager Reid Ottesen agreed the contract allows the village to “better man the streets.”

The village budgeted for 98 full-time fire department positions in 2011, down from 100 two years ago. That includes 68 firefighter/paramedics, one fewer than in 2009. There also are three fewer part-time employees and a hiring freeze remains in place.

The contract comes shortly after Palatine approved a 2011 budget that includes a 3.99 percent levy hike to fund the village’s fire and police pension obligation. The measure is expected to cost homeowners an additional $40 on their annual property tax bills.

PENSION: (Illinois) State Rep. Franks: Take away new lawmakers’ pensions

--Nice solution, coming from a guy that has his benefits all safe and sound. This is a ridiculous idea. Why don't they reform the General Assembly Pension System like they did all the others? Make the vested time longer, age of collection older, increase their contribution to equal other systems any number of reforms could be made. 
I think Rep Franks has future aspirations and is looking to make himself the "Great Reformer".--


Introduced 1/25/2011, by Rep. Jack D. Franks


40 ILCS 5/2-101      from Ch. 108 1/2, par. 2-101
40 ILCS 5/2-105      from Ch. 108 1/2, par. 2-105

    Amends the General Assembly Article of the Illinois Pension Code. Restricts participation in the General Assembly Retirement System by members of the General Assembly to persons who become participants before January 1, 2013 and provides that, beginning on that date, the System shall not accept any new participants who are members of the General Assembly. Makes related changes. Effective immediately.

ARTICLE AT {Daily Herald}

By Mike Riopell

SPRINGFIELD — Rep. Jack Franks, a Marengo Democrat, wants to take the chances for state pensions away from all future lawmakers.

Franks has filed legislation that would keep all members of the Illinois General Assembly taking office in 2013 and after out of the state pension system in an effort to save money.

Franks acknowledges doing so wouldn’t make a huge difference to the state’s huge budget problems, but he said it’s important to cut where possible.

“I can’t think of anywhere else a person can work part-time and receive a pension, let alone a pension as lucrative as those received by Illinois lawmakers,” Franks said in a statement.

Franks also filed the legislation last year, but it was never approved.

Franks, a lawmaker for more than 10 years, is eligible for a state pension himself.

He said Tuesday that the law doesn’t allow the state to take away benefits that any state employees, including lawmakers, have already earned.

NEWS: (National) Gutierrez bids to get radical out of prison

--Oscar Lopez Rivera and the rest of the FALN are terrorists.
A radical makes waves, has protests and sit-ins. 
Terrorists blow things up, murder and kidnap. 
The FALN did exactly that. And now we have our elected politicians trying to get them out of jail? Get real.
I am amazed at the disregard so many elected politicians have for public safety or the victim's families of these convicted murderous terrorists.--

ARTICLE AT {Chicago Sun-Times}

BY DAVE MCKINNEY Sun-Times Springfield Bureau Chief
Jan 26, 2011 08:37AM

SPRINGFIELD - Squaring off against Chicago’s top federal prosecutor and victims’ families, U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez is helping push parole for a one-time leader of a violent Puerto Rican separatist group responsible for 120 bombings nationally that killed five people.

Gutierrez (D-Ill.) believes Oscar Lopez Rivera, who headed the Chicago wing of the FALN, should be released from a federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind., after serving 29 years for seditious conspiracy, armed robbery and twice scheming to escape prison.

The FALN terrorized Chicago and New York City during the 1970s and early 1980s with a string of explosions, murders, kidnappings and armed-car heists that culminated with the 1975 lunch-time bombing of the Fraunces Tavern in New York City that killed four and injured more than 60 others.

The group simultaneously took over the Chicago presidential campaign offices of Jimmy Carter in 1980 and the New York campaign offices of Republican George Bush, holding campaign workers at gunpoint while ransacking the offices and stealing supporter lists.

Lopez Rivera, who oversaw the takeover of the Carter office, also directed the placement of five bombs in the Loop and suburbs in late 1979 and oversaw the 1980 armed takeover of an Oak Creek, Wis., National Guard armory.

Gutierrez signed a letter to the head of the United States Parole Commission, along with three other Puerto Rican members of Congress, that characterized the 67-year-old Lopez Rivera as the only Puerto Rican “convicted for politically-motivated activities in the early 1980s…who remains in prison” and someone who “would not pose any risk to society.”

“I joined a bipartisan and broad-based group of elected officials, including every Puerto Rican member of Congress, as well as community, religious and labor leaders in supporting a petition for parole for Oscar Lopez after serving more than 30 years in prison,” Gutierrez said in a prepared statement.

“Others who were in very similar situations to Mr. Lopez have received parole and become model members of their communities,” Gutierrez said.

An unrepentant Lopez Rivera turned down a 1999 clemency offer from former President Bill Clinton, who moved to free 16 Puerto Rican separatists on the condition they renounce terrorism as a means for the Caribbean commonwealth to obtain independence. Gutierrez was instrumental in winning those prisoners‚ release.”

Joseph Connor, whose father Frank died in the Fraunces bombing, condemned Gutierrez’ efforts on behalf of Lopez Rivera, whom Connor blames for all of FALN’s crimes.

“I really can’t put into words how despicable it is for Gutierrez, a U.S. House member, to endorse the release of an unrepentant terrorist like Lopez based on a petition of deception and lies,” Connor said.

“He and his fellow terror supporters have once again brought the pain of our father’s murder to our hearts and forced us to relieve the agony of January 24,” he said. “Like the terrorists themselves, he has no compassion for those murdered and those left behind.”

Supporters for Lopez Rivera contend he had no role in the Fraunces bombing. His attorney, Jan Susler, could not be reached Tuesday.

Like Connor, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald has weighed in against parole for Lopez Rivera, whom prosecutors describe as a “tactical, strategic and philosophical leader” of the now-disbanded terrorist group.

“Despite the passage of years and ample time for reflection, we (are) aware of no contrition for the damage he has caused or anything approaching a renunciation of his criminal acts. Thus, there is no known reason to believe that Lopez is no longer committed to the ‘struggle’ ‘by any means necessary,’” Fitzgerald wrote.

“The enormity of the violence that Lopez has planned, committed, supported, applauded and glibly attempted to justify to not warrant the exercise of discretion favorable to this committed terrorist,” Fitzgerald wrote.

A hearing officer has recommended against parole for Lopez Rivera. The federal panel that will decide Lopez Rivera’ fate could render a decision within the next few weeks.

NEWS: (Suburban) Oak Brook offers information on Craig incident to state's attorney

--Ya know, somebody needs to explain to all these suburban politicians that everything is not always black and white to the public, it's all about perception. And the perception lately is that a lot of these local politicos need to find new jobs.--


NEWS: (Suburban) Oak Brook president OKd liquor license, then took $10,000 campaign donation

ARTICLE AT {Pioneer Press}

January 25, 2011


Information from an Oak Brook investigation into an alleged incident involving Village President John Craig and two village police officers has been forwarded to United States Attorney Pat Fitzgerald's office.

At the conclusion of Tuesday night's Village Board meeting, Craig revealed he asked Police Chief Tom Sheahan to turn over the investigation to the U.S. Attorney and that the police officers in question may be interviewed.

"The tapes were dropped off this week," Sheahan said of taped interviews with witnesses of the incident. "They have everything. It's better to get a third party and they're the best third party."

The alleged incident took place Nov. 13 at the Sky nightclub, when Craig went to the bar to meet with its owner. According to e-mails sent by the officers, which were obtained by the Better Government Association, officers George Peterson and Garrett Church arrived at the establishment for a routine bar check and were told Craig wished to meet them inside.

Craig allegedly became upset with the officers and told them to, "Get the hell out of here!"

Police Sgt. Brian Strockis, according to an e-mail he sent, which was received by the BGA, arrived at 11:50 p.m. The officers and Craig were outside the bar still arguing. Craig reportedly threatened to bring charges against Peterson and to have him fired. Strockis told Peterson and Church to leave the bar and Strockis gave Craig a ride home.

The matter was chronicled in the Chicago Sun-Times Monday.

"So much mis-information was given by the Sun-Times in their article," Craig said Tuesday. "It's not fair to Oak Brook or its residents."

Gopal Lalmalani, Craig's opponent in this April's election for village president, took issue with quotes in the Sun-Times article where Craig claimed Peterson was "very close to my opponent."

"This is ridiculous," Lalmalani said. "I have never met or seen Officer Peterson in my life. I don't even know what he looks like.

"Craig's statement is an outright lie. We're a statewide embarrassment. The [president's job] is about honesty and integrity. Our residents and business community deserve new leadership."

At a Jan. 11 board meeting, Oak Brook resident Connie Xinos, who knew of the alleged incident, said he suggested Craig take a polygraph test to prove his innocence. The test was given by F.L. Hunter and Associates, Inc. of Hinsdale.

"I suggested to Mr. Craig that he submit to a polygraph test," Xinos said Jan. 11. "Mr. Craig thought about it for a half second and said 'When?' Mr. Craig's version of what happened was determined by the examiner to be true."

Xinos then handed copies of the lie detector results to the Village Board and e-mailed copies to village homeowner association presidents. Craig and Xinos have since challenged the officers to submit to a similar test.

"I took a polygraph and have yet to hear from our policemen and I think that should be taken into consideration," Craig said, adding that, if they were innocent, they would take the test.

For now the investigation is out of Oak Brook's hands.

"[Fitzgerald's office] will examine the evidence, I'll meet with them, and if they decide to go forward, we will cooperate," Sheahan said.