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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

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

PAROLE ALERT: Deny Parole for Cop Killer Anthony Blanks



Help stop the parole of convicted cop killer Anthony Blanks (Inmate # 78A0538).

Parole hearing set for September 13, 2011

Please send a short note to the New York State Department of Corrections by simply filling out this form:

Letter in Support or Opposition to The Board of Parole


Police Officer Arthur DeMatte
Larchmont Police Department, New York
End of Watch: Tuesday, October 12, 1976

Biographical Info

Age: 46
Tour of Duty: 20 years
Badge Number: 217

Incident Details

Cause of Death: Gunfire
Date of Incident: October 12, 1976
Weapon Used: Officer's handgun

Suspect Info: Convicted

Officer Arthur DeMatte was shot and killed while attempting to remove a transient from the New Haven Railroad tracks. The suspect was able to gain control of Officer DeMatte's service weapon and shot him. The man was convicted of murder and sent to prison.

Officer DeMatte had served with the agency for 20 years. He was survived by his wife and four children.

NEWS: (Chicago) Emanuel police cuts push draws criticism

--Would it surprise anyone to find out that if.....before the F.O.P comes out against things like this that their leadership makes a phone call to the mayor to let him know they need to keep up an appearance?
I am not saying that this happened. I am just asking if it would surprise anyone if it does happen?
I am a union man to the end but, the politics that play out in these situation are unreal and it would not surprise me one bit.
I know first hand what can happen when you do the right things and put the benefit of the whole against your own. 
I spent many years finishing number 2 on promotional lists and making sure the top guy got promoted while I was left to have to take another test.--


NEWS: (Chicago) Supt. Garry McCarthy to cut $190M from police budget


STORY AT Chicago Tribune

By Hal Dardick and John Byrne
Clout Street
3:44 PM CDT, August 31, 2011

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is looking for ways to slash tens of millions of dollars from the Chicago Police Department and already is running into heavy criticism from police union leaders who question whether it's all "a stunt."

Making those kind of major cuts likely would involve a two-pronged approach: ending the longtime budget charade of having a force of about 13,500 sworn officers on paper but always leaving more than 1,000 positions vacant and cutting layers of bureaucracy at police headquarters, according to a source familiar with the mayor's thinking.

The goal is to cut budget fat without reducing the current number of cops on the street or otherwise diminishing public safety, said Ald. Patrick O’Connor, 40th, the mayor’s closest City Council ally.

But Chicago Fraternal Order of Police President Mike Shields today called that type of approach “the Emanuel shuffle."

Shields said an Emanuel aide told him six days ago that the mayor did not have a target figure for cuts at the Police Department, even as numbers ranging from $190 million to $230 million have popped up in the media. Police Supt. Garry McCarthy rolled out the administration's initial push on the issue Monday, but he's not being made available for comment today on the topic.

Emanuel was mum on the specifics today as his administration regroups.

Emanuel said he will not reduce the number of cops on the street. But the mayor said the central office at the police department will have to see changes along with bureaucracies across city government.

"You can't close a $637 million budget (deficit) by putting out signs that say 'Do not trespass,' ” he said. “But that's not going to affect the number of officers on the street."

Shields, meanwhile, accused the administration of exaggerating the extent of the city’s financial straits so the mayor can look good when the budget comes in at a lower level.
By eliminating vacant positions in the budget, the city would only save money on paper, not in reality, he said.

“Who are they kidding?" Shields asked. "This is just a stunt. Clearly, they think Chicagoans are stupid."

And he said the mayor is not keeping his pledge to put 1,000 more officers on the street.

"He's going back on what his position was," Shields said. "The administration continues to push back the field goals posts."

Emanuel frequently says that under his new administration 750 more officers have been put on the street, but that figure is hotly contested by rank-and-file cops.
They note that 500 officers from specialized units who already worked the streets, albeit under centralized commands, were shifted to regular patrols or five district task forces. Another 50 were probationary officers.

O'Connor said Emanuel is making good on his promise. “Given Rahm’s current record of having put more police on the street without impacting the police budget, this is the other side of that coin,” O’Connor said of the cuts.

Ald. Howard Brookins, 21st, who is chairman of the City Council’s Black Caucus, said he was keeping an open mind until he sees the details.

“I think that there are some inefficiencies” at the Police Department, he said. “The Police Department is the sole biggest part of manpower in the city of Chicago, and to say that there are no inefficiencies in there would be ludicrous.”

“I think that (Police Superintendent Garry) McCarthy can cut the budget without cutting actual boots on the ground within the communities, but it’s going to take some hard work, and it’s going to take some thinking outside of the box,” he added.

Ald. Richard Mell, 33rd, said Emanuel’s “main promise” during the campaign was to right the city’s financial ship.

The budget “is going to have to be cut all over if we are going to be able to accomplish what the mayor wants to do, and not just push this thing over until next year,” Mell said, referring to next year’s anticipated budget shortfall of nearly $636 million. “So, it’s going to hurt, it’s going to hurt everybody.”

But some aldermen said they would have a hard time getting behind a plan to eliminate police department vacancies if that would mean cutting spots meant for street officers.

"Where would those 1,400 vacancies go to?” asked Ald. Daniel Solis, 25th, head of the Hispanic Caucus, who was referring to the current number of vacancies. “Would they be police officers who would normally go on the street? If that's the case I would have a hard time supporting it. If they were vacancies that were in a desk someplace, maybe I could be convinced of that, but I'd like to see where those 1,400 are at."

Budget Committee Chairman Ald. Carrie Austin, 34th, said she doesn't want to second guess Emanuel and McCarthy before she sees the budget proposal. But she said her far South Side neighborhood needs more police, not fewer. "Who's going to be the hardest hit?” she asked. “My community, so we couldn't stand for that."

NEWS (Chicago) Lawyer for convicted Chicago cop says client should only serve 10 years

--And this case just keeps going and going........--

STORY AT Chicago Tribune

By Erin Meyer
Tribune reporter
7:55 PM CDT, August 30, 2011

Former Chicago Police Officer Jerome Finnigan’s prison sentence should be capped at 10 years because he has already gone through four years of solitary confinement, his attorney argued in a court filing on Monday.

Finnigan, 48, and several other Chicago police officers were charged in 2007 with a series of home invasions, thefts and other crimes between 2002 and 2006.

He pleaded guilty in April and was sentenced to prison for his role in criminal activities at the Chicago Police Department’s notorious Special Operations Section, or SOS. The plea agreement Finnigan entered says that he be incarcerated for 10 to 13 years.

But by the time Finnigan was sentenced, he had already served almost four years in isolation at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in downtown Chicago, where prison officials determined he would be better protected from other inmates who might harbor grudges against him, according to court documents. Finnigan was arrested in 2007 and remained in custody while the state and federal probes continued.

In the court filing, attorney Marc Barnett argues that Finnigan’s sentence should be no more than 10 years to account for “conditions which are intended for violent, dangerous and disciplinary problems, and, by their very design and purpose, intended to impose far greater punishment.”

“(Finnigan) has spent the last four years confined in isolation away from the general jail population at the Metropolitan Correctional Center through no fault of his own, but for his own protection and safety,” Barnett argues. "The risk of vulnerability to possible victimization and serious injury in prison is not something imagined, but is real.”

In solitary confinement, Finnigan can’t watch television or go outside, according to the filing. His separation from the general prison population also precludes him from participating in religious services and going to the prison gym.

Finnigan’s only contact with visitors is through video conferencing, he has no access to email and is limited to 15 minutes on the telephone each week, according to the filing.

Finnigan’s attorney did not immediately return calls for comment.

NEWS: (Chicago) Daley officials’ unused vacation costs taxpayers $9.5M

--If the politicians would just stop stealing tax payer money, maybe, just maybe we would not have the public pension funding issues or the sacrificing of public safety for budget cuts that we are experiencing not just in Illinois but all across the nation.
People really need to start seeing where the real problems are and not just believing what the politicians are spoon feeding them.--

STORY AT Chicago Sun-Times

City Hall Reporter
Last Modified: Aug 31, 2011 02:10AM

Former Mayor Richard M. Daley’s 12th and final chief-of-staff Ray Orozco walked out with an $81,451 check for accrued vacation days, $5,143 more than the payment Orozco authorized to former Police Supt. Jody Weis for 64 unused vacation days.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported in June that Weis and his chief of staff Mike Masters were among 1,026 city employees paid $7.4 million for their unused vacation days since September 2010 in the transition from Daley to Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

On Tuesday, City Hall released the final list. It includes the names of 93 other city employees — led by Orozco — who received $2.14 million in additional payments.

Orozco got two vacation checks: one for $76,339 for 112 unused days from the 29 years he spent in the Fire Department, the last two years as fire commissioner. The other check was for $5,112 for 7 1/2 unused days from his time in the mayor’s office.

He currently serves as chief executive officer of After School Matters, the award-winning arts, education and sports program founded by Daley’s wife, Maggie to train and occupy Chicago teenagers after school.

The new list of vacation pay-outs also includes: former press secretary Jacquelyn Heard ($29,649); former mayoral aide Patrick McLain ($25,479); former deputy press secretaries Jodi Kawada ($20,102) and Lance Lewis ($16,788); former Inter-governmental Affairs director Joan Coogan ($17,359); former mayoral photographer Antonio Dickey ($17,678); former Chief Financial Officer Gene Saffold ($11,736) and former Housing and Economic Development Commissioner Chris Raguso ($10,503).

That means that Chicago taxpayers spent $9.54 million to compensate 1,119 employees for unused vacation time thanks to a liberal policy that Emanuel has vowed to eliminate. The new benefits policy is due out later this week. Among other things, it’s expected to limit the number of accrued vacation days that can be carried over from one year to the next to as few as five.

Both Weis and Masters benefited from the former superintendent’s decision to change the policy governing vacation carryover to allow “command staff members” to carry up to 39 unused vacation days from one year to the next “when circumstances prohibited the use of current and prior year’s allotments.”

The change was made in June, 2010, after Weis entered the final year of his three-year, $310,000-a-year contract. Orozco signed off on Weis’ vacation carryover request, records show.

Police Supt. Garry McCarthy moved immediately to limit that. He’s allowing command staff members to carry over a maximum of 25 vacation days from one year to the next. Emanuel’s overhaul will impose further limits.

Emanuel has declared an end to the days when city employees turned unused vacation days into an “alternate form of compensation.”

“It’s appropriate to have vacation days. [But], it should not become an alternative form of compensation. And you cannot have the public sector out of line with the private sector,” Emanuel said last month.

“I have asked now for a review of that to make sure that the vacation days [don’t] become what it isn’t. ... [The review will] come up with some standards so vacation days, which should be granted for vacation days, do not become an alternative form of compensation and become abused.”

The Civic Federation has urged Emanuel to limit to 14 the number of unused vacation days employees can cash out upon resignation, just as most private sector companies do. City Hall sources said the mayor is prepared to go even further.

“What was done in the past was done in the past. There’ll be new standards going forward. I’ve done that for salaries. I’ve done that for positions. I’ve done that for credit card. I’m now doing it for cars. And we will soon be doing it as it related to vacation days,” he said when he ordered the policy change.

NEWS: (Chicago) Supt. Garry McCarthy to cut $190M from police budget

There are about 13,500 budgeted positions for sworn officers and about 1,400 vacancies. About 775 officers are on medical leave, a department spokeswoman said
--I would venture to say that the number is more like 3000 vacancies. 
Public safety is being sacrificed by politicians. When residents finally realize this and start responding to it properly, the politicians might be in for a big surprise.--

STORY AT Chicago Sun-Times

Staff Reporters
Last Modified: Aug 31, 2011 02:08AM

Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said Tuesday he’s been asked to cut $190 million from the Police Department’s $1.3 billion annual budget and would only get halfway there by eliminating police vacancies.

“We are looking at absolutely everything. There are ways to save money but the question is, how close to the bone do we have to get?” McCarthy said.

“We have to eliminate about $190 million. We are at a point right now that, if we eliminated all our vacancies, we would save approximately $93 million. That gets us about halfway.”

There are about 13,500 budgeted positions for sworn officers and about 1,400 vacancies. About 775 officers are on medical leave, a department spokeswoman said.

Ald. Anthony Beale (9th), former chairman of the City Council’s Police Committee, has infuriated the Fraternal Order of Police with his cost-cutting suggestions.

Beale recommended axing officers’ $1,800 a year uniform allowance as well as duty-availability pay — a supplemental $2,800 a year lump sum that compensates officers for being on call at any time.

Asked whether those items are on his hit list, McCarthy would only say “that has to be negotiated” when the police contract expires June 30.

But he said, “We are looking at cutting 15 to 20 percent across the board.”

Former Mayor Richard M. Daley routinely saved tens of millions of dollars by authorizing a certain number of officers in his annual budget, then failing to fill police vacancies or keep pace with attrition. His final budget was a classic example. It authorized the hiring of 200 additional police officers, but not one of them has been hired or entered the police academy.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel may have no alternative but to play the same manpower game. But that would run contrary to his campaign promise to put an additional 1,000 police officers in the patrol division — and his recent promise to erase a more than $635 million shortfall without cutting police, raising taxes or using one-time or casino revenues. “We’re not changing how many police we have. I’m not going to skimp on public safety,” the mayor told the Chicago Sun-Times earlier this month.

Civic Federation President Laurence Msall welcomed Emanuel’s decision to make deep cuts in the police department’s budget, which previous mayors have viewed as politically untouchable.

In a road map to fiscal solvency released two months ago, the Civic Federation urged the new mayor to eliminate “unnecessary layers of management” and supervisory benefits in the police department, reduce “chronic absenteeism” and redraw maps of police districts and “strategize beat staffing” based on the U.S. census, 911 calls and relevant crime data.

“We feel strongly that the Chicago Police Department needs to right-size its management to reflect potential savings generated from following the leaner management of New York City and Houston, both of which operate with fewer management layers,” Msall said.

Msall hedged when asked whether $190 million can be squeezed from the police budget without eliminating police vacancies.

“More important than the number of sworn officers is the number of patrolmen working the streets and responding to calls,” Msall said.

In his first 100 days in office, McCarthy has shifted 750 cops to patrol from desk jobs and from disbanded citywide teams such as the Mobile Strike Force and Targeted Response Unit. He also recently eliminated several layers of the command structure at the top.

The Civic Federation has proposed a similar cut in the Fire Department’s budget by re-evaluating everything from minimum staffing requirements for fire apparatus to the number and location of fire stations and by examining ways to outsource and reduce disability absences. The review would be the first since a largely ignored 1999 report by the Tri-Data Corp.

During an interview on his first 100 days in office, Emanuel noted that the number of fires has steadily declined over the years. Without offering specifics, the mayor said he has “some ideas” about how to make more effective use of firefighter downtime.

“I’m aware of what has happened over the years, but there are choices to be made,” he said. “As I go to the engine houses, I say, ‘What happens here guys can’t be sacrosanct.’ ”

NEWS: (Suburban) Burr Ridge says more police cuts would affect service

--Services are already impacted. The loss of one officer that is not replaced puts an added burden on all the other officers.--

STORY AT Pioneer Press

By Sandy Illian Bosch
Last Modified: Aug 30, 2011 03:35PM

Two years ago, Burr Ridge had 29 sworn officers on its police force. Today, the same job is being done by 26 people.

“We all wear many hats here,” Police Chief John Madden said.

And with the recent decision not to replace an officer lost to medical leave, that likely will continue.

Madden said keeping officers on the streets of Burr Ridge is and will remain a top priority.

“The reduction didn’t affect the patrol division,” he said. Twenty of the 26 members of the police force are assigned to patrol duties, with a minimum of three officers patrolling Burr Ridge during every day shift, and a minimum of four patrolling the village’s 7.5 square miles during the overnight and 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. shifts.

“We’re concerned about response times to calls,” Madden said. Fewer patrol cars could mean higher response times to some of the 15,000 calls Burr Ridge police respond to each year.

Burr Ridge officers responded to 15,150 incidents in 2010, an average of 42 per day. Those incidents include 911 calls, non-emergency calls for service, as well as officer-initiated activity, such as traffic stops, criminal arrests and business checks.

Madden said the department is getting by, and he’s hopeful the village will receive a federal grant to cover the cost of an additional officer for three years.

“I’m told that should be mid September when we get an answer on that,” he said.

If not, the department will continue to get by, Madden said, but any further reductions could mean the loss of the department’s community policing officer position. Officer Angie Zucchero serves as liaison to the community’s four schools. She also runs the DARE program and performs many community outreach duties, including the Burr Ridge Citizens Police Academy.

“Angie is always out in the community,” Madden said.

As important as her job is, Madden said, there is no room to compromise on patrols.

Village Administrator Steve Stricker said any further cuts would mean cuts in service.

“We can’t go any lower without really impacting service,” he said.

In addition to the village’s neighborhoods and gated subdivisions, Burr Ridge police also have six business and industrial parks on their watch, as well as the Burr Ridge Village Center.

“In all, we have over 400 businesses. Some very large businesses,” Madden said.

He said those businesses are estimated to double the village’s daytime population Monday through Friday.

“It does have an effect on our dayshift activity,” Madden said.

To cover the extra workload, detectives work a 10-hour shift on weekdays and remain on 24-hour call. The sergeants and chief also can be called to the scene if extra help is needed, Madden said.

NEWS: (Suburban) Economic concerns hit staffing at Hinsdale, Clarendon Hills police departments

--Relying on mutual aide from surrounding departments is going to be a lot harder when more and more towns cut their police forces to save money. Towns will barely have enough people to cover their own jurisdictions let alone send people to other towns to help.--

STORY AT Pioneer Press

By Chuck Fieldman
Last Modified: Aug 30, 2011 02:41PM

An economy that has forced municipalities to cut expenditures and look for additional revenue has trickled down to police departments, where available funding competes with geographical area, population and number of calls in determining staffing.

In Clarendon Hills, a village with 8,200 residents, the Police Department’s staffing is three people short, or 20 percent, of what is considered full strength. The department received 8,709 calls for service in 2010 and 7,124 in 2009.

Missing from the full-strength roster of a chief, deputy chief, three sergeants, one school officer, one investigator and eight patrolmen is a deputy chief and two patrol officers. The Clarendon Hills department is in the process of hiring one new patrol officer, and the deputy chief’s position is vacant while Ted Jenkins, the former deputy chief, is working as interim chief.

“You can look at the ratio of officers to citizens, but that equation has to be adjusted when you look at villages like Oak Brook and Willowbrook, which have a low number of residents and a high number of people working and visiting in town during the day,” Jenkins said.

“The other way is using the number of calls for service a department receives. The up side of these models is that you get a hard number from a mathematics formula, and I think that an objective formula is attractive when working on a plan,” he said. “The down side is that they don’t take into account the geographic area, demographics, the types of calls for service and the level of service a community wants from their police department, such as school programs, crime prevention, senior programs and other community involvement.”

Hinsdale, with a population of 16,816, has a Police Department working with a full staff level of 25 sworn officers, including a chief, two deputy chiefs, five sergeants and 17 officers, said Deputy Chief Mark Wodka. The Hinsdale department received 13,123 calls for service in 2010 and 9,276 such calls in 2009.

Police Chief Brad Bloom said the department’s staff levels are determined by workload and experience.

“We look at our historic calls for service workload, the number of high priority calls we receive, the number of calls for service requiring a two officer response and staff based on that experience,” he said. “We also factor in that we want an officer available a certain amount of time each workday to conduct patrol and handle selective enforcement activities.

Both Jenkins and Bloom said area departments share a variety of services, including dispatch. They also sometimes share equipment and have additional officers from nearby communities available for calls that require such action.

“We have been pooling resources and sharing equipment for some time now,” Bloom said. “For example, we are members of a multijurisdictional team that provides major case investigation, a tactical SWAT team, accident re-constructionists, canine officers and a computer forensic unit.

“We get access to these services when we need them and share the cost with the other communities.”

Bloom said Hinsdale, Clarendon Hills and Oak Brook shared the expense in purchasing a used prisoner transport vehicle.

“In the last year, we have been aggressively exploring the concept of shared services,” Bloom said. “We are working toward identifying redundancies, without effecting the quality of the services we provide or diminishing services.”

NEWS: (Suburban) Police staffing in Western Springs, La Grange area hit by recession

--Not replacing officers, cutting money to hire part-timers. All sacrificing public safety to save money.
I do not blame the police departments but the politicians that run the towns.
This is going to be a continuing trend until citizens start speaking out at the polls.
Or, even better, I cannot wait to see these news reports being used as evidence in a civil case against a town being sued for not properly protecting its residents.--

STORY AT Pioneer Press

By Jane Michaels
Last Modified: Aug 30, 2011 03:00PM

Employers and employees have been challenged to do more with less in a recession economy, and west suburban police departments are no exception.

The La Grange Police Department, for example, has 27 sworn officers, the same number as in the 1980s, but who now are responding to a much heavier volume of calls for service. In 2010, there were 19,193 calls for service, compared to 9,476 in 2005.

In addition, one full-time position, vacated by retirement, won’t be replaced until the next fiscal year begins in May.

In LaGrange Park, there are 21 sworn officers, down by two full-time employees who weren’t replaced in the past two years to save money.

“In 1996, there were 24 of us,” said LaGrange Park Chief Daniel McCollum. “We’re a pretty lean department.”

Cuts are lined up but haven’t taken effect yet in Western Springs, where there are 21 sworn officers. A sergeant’s position has been eliminated, but no one has been terminated. Rather, when someone leaves, the position won’t be filled.

Calls for services have risen steadily in Western Springs for the fourth year in a row and by 3.5 percent to 13,235 calls in 2010 compared to 2009, said Chief Pamela Church.

“With declining revenues, that’s affected all of our communities and is one of the things happening throughout law enforcement,” Church said.

Although the three communities are similar in population and geographic territory, there are other considerations besides the budgetary bottom line in deploying forces to protect the public’s safety.

Chief Michael Holub estimates La Grange’s daytime population is easily double that of the village’s permanent population of 15,550.

“Our central business district has become its own beat, based on the number of calls in a certain geographic area,” he said. “We spend an inordinate amount of time in the central business district.”

Another factor to consider is the amount of traffic moving through the village on major thoroughfares, including La Grange Road, Ogden Avenue, 47th Street and 55th Street.

“Our traffic counts show that over 35,000 cars per day travel through some of our higher intersections, aside from the people coming here to work or spend money,” Holub said.

Traffic and pedestrian safety in La Grange have been listed as priorities by the Village Board.

Law enforcement staffing guidelines also differ, according to population density and presumably higher demand for services in urban areas. The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports recommends assigning 2.2 officers per 1,000 residents, which would translate to 34.3 officers in La Grange.

At a ratio of 2.5 officers per 1,000 residents in urban areas, 39 officers would be recommended for La Grange instead of the 28 officers expected to be approved for the coming year.

Some communities also meet the demand for additional police manpower and requests for service by hiring back off-duty police officers at an hourly part-time basis without paying for training and benefits. The cost of hiring a full-time sworn officer is estimated at $100,000, plus $10,000 for a squad car.

La Grange’s budget of $90,000 for hiring part-time officers since 2005 was slashed in half this year to cut operating expenses.

Indian Head Park, which employs eight full-time sworn officers, also hires the equivalent of eight part-time off-duty officers, in part to cover contractual agreements providing additional patrols for neighboring unincorporated areas, including LaGrange Highlands.

How officers are deployed, both administratively and on the street, varies by department. La Grange doesn’t have a deputy chief, and employs two lieutenants as watch commanders, who also are on patrols.

In LaGrange Park, the chief, deputy chief and commander all take a turn on patrol at least one week a year, “so we don’t lose touch with the challenges and procedures of the job,” McCollum said.

And police departments already are sharing services and specializations through participating in such cooperatives as the Major Case Assistance Team or the Northern Illinois Police Alarm System Emergency Services Team.

“We are generalists. I don’t have a narcotics unit, or a canine unit,” McCollum said. “We use the Illinois State Police to process all of our crime scenes. They do a wonderful job and it’s free.”

Instead of specializing in certain areas, LaGrange Park seeks to build community relationships with the Adopt-A-Cop school program and having officers walk their beats an hour a day.

“Those efforts have paid dividends as far as knowing people on a first-name basis, and people in turn reaching out to us for service,” he said.

La Grange, LaGrange Park and Western Springs have banded together to study how services might be shared, such as dispatching and data storage and retrieval. Preliminary talks are going well, the chiefs agreed.

“A lot of departments are doing this, looking at opportunities to share services,” Church said. “This study is timely.”

Results of the cooperative study are expected sometime in September, she said.

NEWS: (Suburban) Oak Brook, Oakbrook Terrace police deal with cuts to force

“We’re doing more with less,” Oakbrook Terrace Police Chief Mark Collins said.
--Unfortunately, Chief Collins' words are very common among police chiefs across the nation.
Public safety is being sacrificed to save money. Politicians will say it is not, but it is.
There is no comparison between policing today and policing in the 1990's. Call volumes are up. Violence is up. Criminals are even emboldened by these reports as they start to think they can actually get away with more severe crimes.--

STORY AT Pioneer Press

By Sandy Illian Bosch
Last Modified: Aug 30, 2011 06:02PM

Not long ago, Oak Brook had 42 sworn officers on its police force. Today, the department is doing the same job with a force of 38.

It’s a story repeated in many towns, including neighboring Oakbrook Terrace, where a force of 20 is now doing the job once performed by 22.

“We’re doing more with less,” Oakbrook Terrace Police Chief Mark Collins said.

The tiny town has a residential population of 2,100, but Collins said the local police also must serve and protect the tens of thousands of people who come to Oakbrook Terrace each day to work, shop and conduct business.

“Fifty percent of the community is commercial development,” Collins said. “Monday through Friday, it’s very active.”

Tracy Mulqueen, president of the Greater Oak Brook Chamber of Commerce, said the daytime population of the Oak Brook and Oakbrook Terrace area is estimated at 100,000.

Oak Brook police run two 12-hour shifts, with a sergeant, a shift commander and four patrol officers assigned to each of the two shifts.

In order to handle the daytime surge in population, the department also runs what Acting Police Chief Steve Larson called a “power shift” from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. An additional sergeant and an additional patrol officer are assigned to work those hours.

“We augment with that because that’s usually our busiest time,” Larson said.

Larson said the community’s commercial population also means the department must handle crimes that more residential communities seldom encounter, including retail theft and credit card fraud.

“We’re handling more complex kinds of crimes,” Larson said.

Collins said the busy streets around Oak Brook and Oakbrook Terrace also mean more accidents than other towns with a similar population. Oakbrook Terrace police are called to help with 650 to 700 crashes each year, Collins said.

“For a little town 3.5 miles square, that’s a lot,” he said.

Larson said the village plans to fill one open police officer position, but the other three will go unfilled. Larson said he doesn’t see that as a problem for the department.

“We’re adequately staffed,” he said.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

NEWS: (Chicago) Chicago cops wounded, accused shooter walks

Kenneth Green

In short order, the 12 jurors who watched the case presented against a backdrop of gang members returned their verdict: not guilty on all counts. Even Judge Carol Howard appeared stunned, according to some onlookers.

--What a travesty--

STORY AT Daily Herald

By Chuck Goudie

The most dangerous place for a Chicago police officer is:

a. Face-to-face with a heavily armed drug gang.

b. Trapped by gangbangers at the end of a dark alley in Englewood.

c. Cornered by some lifers carrying shivs at Stateville prison.

d. Sitting in a Cook County courtroom.

The correct answer is d.

Or at least it was last Friday.

That is when the man in the mug shot was allowed to go home, after being found not guilty of shooting and trying to kill two Chicago police officers.

You didn't hear anything about the trial, maybe because the cops were just wounded and survived the July 2009 shooting. It probably attracted little attention because the case should have been a lock for prosecutors.

The guy's name is Kenneth Green. He was 21 years old at the time and living in an apartment near 112th Street and Michigan Avenue in Roseland.

A special Chicago police team raided his place with a search warrant for drugs. Imagine one of those scenes on the copper TV shows: doors fly open, guns out, lots of yelling. They are among the riskiest moments in any police officer's life.

On that day two years ago, veteran officers Scott McKenna and Danny O'Toole were on the warrant team doing what they had done many times. The police team bursts in and spreads out, clearing the apartment room by room to make sure the search for drugs can safely begin.

Rarely do these “jobs,” as the police refer to them, go as planned. It takes incredible awareness, split-second reactions and extraordinary judgment. The wrong decision can mean people end up dead.

In his report, Officer O'Toole described having seen children in the kitchen of the apartment just as the police team rushed in. O'Toole and McKenna moved through the kitchen and came to a closed door on the left. As they kicked it open there were gunshots. Bullets came through the door, fired from the other side, hitting them both in their legs.

Then-police Supt. Jody Weis said at the time that the two gunmen in that room were shooting wildly through the door hoping to stop the Chicago police officers before they could get in.

The wounded officers returned fire and took cover on a porch, according to the evidence. Witnesses told police they heard as many as 20 gunshots.

When the gun smoke had cleared, O'Toole reported that he found the accused shooter — Kenneth Green, a reported gang member — hiding behind a file cabinet in that room. Green's brother was nearby. Both men were arrested, unharmed.

“These were guys who were going to fight their way out of the situation,” O'Toole told a reporter months later. “This could have been a nightmare if a little kid got shot.”

Last week, the only nightmare was in Cook County Criminal Court. After being held for more than two years on a high bond, Green went on trial. He was charged with two counts of attempted first-degree murder, two counts of aggravated battery with a gun and one count of drug possession.

According to those who were there, the courtroom was packed with some of Green's fellow gangbangers. They weren't in court because of some sudden interest in civics and criminal justice. Their presence was to intimidate, which is what they are very good at doing in neighborhoods, on city streets and in public schools.

They were there to intimidate the 12 jurors hearing the case. And the one civilian witness who was courageous enough to testify.

There were more gang members in the court gallery than there were police officers. Some cops have complained about that. But the way I see it, gang members have nothing better to do. Their only inconvenience was having to get out of bed before noon. Police officers have jobs and were out there pulling shifts, dealing with the transfers and realignment that have been undertaken by new police Supt. Garry McCarthy.

On Friday, despite two wounded cops and overwhelming evidence that the two cops had been shot by Kenneth Green, the trial that attracted no public attention went wrong.

In short order, the 12 jurors who watched the case presented against a backdrop of gang members returned their verdict: not guilty on all counts. Even Judge Carol Howard appeared stunned, according to some onlookers.

Mr. Green, you are free to go.

Justice is supposed to be blind. Not asleep.

“Prosecutors are extremely disappointed with this verdict” said Sally Daly, a spokeswoman for Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez. “The case was charged and prosecuted based on significant and credible evidence. It is unclear what led the jurors to this decision given the fact that there were inconsistencies in his (Green's) testimony.”

“Somebody dropped the ball here,” said Pat Camden, spokesman for the Fraternal Order of Police. “It is the fault of the state's attorney. If the case isn't presented properly, therein lies the problem. I understand the jury system but what kind of a case did they present? How the hell did a defense attorney convince a jury it was self-defense?”

Late Sunday, State's Attorney Alvarez' spokeswoman fired back: “It is curious that the FOP would blame prosecutors in this case when they were nowhere to be found in the courtroom during the duration of this trial,” Daily said. “Whoever is making this outrageous statement has no direct knowledge of the details of this prosecution or the dedicated work that was done by the prosecutors who handled this case.

“The Chicago Police Officers who were actually involved in this case, including the officers who were shot, were thankful and respectful of the state's attorney's prosecution.”

In Chicago, things like this do have a way of working out though.

If Mr. Green, now 23, resumes the same line of work that he was in before his arrest, he may well have police visitors in his home sometime in the future.

Then, if Green starts shooting at police, the 12 people he'll need won't be jurors.

They'll be pallbearers.

BREAKING NEWS: IL State Rep. Randy Ramey (R. 55th Dist) arrested for D.U.I.

According to reports Rep Ramey of Carol Stream was arrested Sunday for D.U.I. and released the following statement "I am deeply sorry."

More to follow when it becomes available.


~~***UPDATED @ 1:32pm***~~ 

STORY AT Chicago Tribune

DuPage County Republican chairman Ramey apologizes for DUI stop

By Ray Long
Clout Street
12:54 PM CDT, August 30, 2011

State Rep. Randy Ramey, the DuPage County Republican chairman, was ticketed for driving under the influence of alcohol early Sunday morning by the Carol Stream Police Department, the lawmaker revealed today.

“I regret and take full responsibility for my actions, and I am prepared to face the consequences,” Ramey said in a statement. “I am deeply sorry to disappoint my family and my constituents.”

Ramey registered a 0.17 blood-alcohol content when he took a breath test, according to a legislative aide. The legal limit is 0.08 percent. The lawmaker was driving along the center line of the roadway when he got pulled over, according to an aide.

Ramey was chosen this summer to replace DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin as head of the county GOP. Ramey is the stepson of former Illinois Senate President James "Pate" Philip.


PENSION: (National) Central Falls receiver cutting pensions further

".....Robert G. Flanders Jr., the receiver, call for cuts topping 50 percent and leaving some elderly pensioners with less than $15,000 a year to survive on. The retirees also are responsible for paying Blue Cross & Blue Shield monthly premiums of $232 for a family plan, or $95 for an individual plan."
--It is a rotten shame what these politicians have allowed to happen to theior towns and what they are doing to the retirees.--


PENSION: (National) Rhode Island city asks retirees to cut their pensions

PENSION: (National) Faltering Rhode Island City Tests Vows to Pensioners



01:00 AM EDT on Tuesday, August 30, 2011
By W. Zachary Malinowski
Journal Staff Writer

CENTRAL FALLS — The state-appointed receiver has sent a second round of letters to 141 retired police officers and firefighters informing many of them that their retirement pensions will be slashed further than he first proposed at a public meeting at Central Falls High School last month.

The two-page letters, signed by Robert G. Flanders Jr., the receiver, call for cuts topping 50 percent and leaving some elderly pensioners with less than $15,000 a year to survive on. The retirees also are responsible for paying Blue Cross & Blue Shield monthly premiums of $232 for a family plan, or $95 for an individual plan.

Until now, the retirees were not required to pay for medical coverage. That means a retiree making about $15,000 would be required to pay $2,784 for the family plan, or $1,140 for the individual plan.

Lawyer Michael W. Long, a retired police sergeant who has been a spokesman for the retirees, said Flanders and his financial team that declared the city insolvent on Aug. 1 have created an impossible situation for the former public-safety employees.

“We don’t understand how they expect people to live,” he said. “We really don’t. Everybody is a bit confused.”

Flanders’ second letter says that his financial team continues to review the pension records of all of the retirees. On Monday, Flanders said that they have found errors in the awarding of regular and disability pensions in the city.

“We are finding that there are historical errors that were continually made by prior administrations,” he said. “If we find there were errors, obviously, we are going to change them.”

In response to the letters, Long and several retirees have been meeting with elected officials to express their frustrations. Last week, Long said, they met with Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed, Governor Chafee and Patrick Rogers, Chafee’s chief of staff.

He said that they “were encouraged” with the reception and that he introduced the idea of placing the Central Falls retirees in the state pension system. Right now, the public-safety retirees are vested in the John Hancock or 1% Pension Plan.

On Tuesday, Long and several retirees are scheduled to meet with House Speaker Gordon D. Fox. Long said Sen. Elizabeth A. Crowley, D-Central Falls, Cumberland, Pawtucket, has been very supportive in their plight, and has been instrumental in setting up the meetings with Chafee, Paiva Weed and Fox.

Long said he has spoken to a 72-year-old retired police officer who had been collecting an annual pension of $33,000. He said that Flanders’ first proposal slashed the retiree’s benefits to $24,000 and now, following last week’s letter, his retirement income is down to $14,000. Long said that the man is covered by the family plan because he also needs medical coverage for his wife.

“He can’t live on this,” Long said. “He can’t even pay his car taxes and real-estate taxes.”

But Flanders said that he and his financial team are in the process of offering protection to anyone who was at least 65 years old on Aug. 1. He said those retirees will eventually get 100-percent medical coverage, meaning that they won’t have premium payments. He said the transition to the new plan could take up to a year.

On July 19, Flanders told the public-safety retirees at a meeting in the high school auditorium that they must accept massive reductions in their pensions to cut the city’s projected $5.6-million deficit this year by $2.5 million.

The retirees asked for more time to consider their options but, on Aug. 1, Flanders filed a petition to have the city placed in Chapter 9 bankruptcy. He said that the city has unfunded pension obligations of about $80 million, and that the pension funds would run dry by Oct. 1.

Flanders, in his letter to retirees last week, said that the rejection of the “pre-bankruptcy offer” caused the city to run up additional expenses and forced him to recalculate the pension formula. He said that filing for bankruptcy is an expensive proposition that will cost the city and state hundreds of thousands of dollars, even if Central Falls emerges from bankruptcy in six months. The cuts are essential or “the city would eventually run out of money for retiree pensions and perhaps other benefits,” Flanders wrote.

“This effort is to avoid such a terrible, but inevitable happening,” he continued. “By making these changes, we intend to make the city’s obligations to its retirees and employees sustainable.”

NEWS; (Suburban) In a decade, obscure tunnel board bled $1.3 million on overhead, but where's the underpass?

--C'mon!!! Are we supposed to be surprised?
I wonder how much money that could have been used to fund state pensions was put into bottomless pit projects like this and the water pipe project??
Just look at the towns and the names involved..
They speak VOLUMES!!!!--

STORY AT Chicago Tribune

Formed to fix train crossing, board ran out of taxpayer money, went back for more

By Joseph Ryan and Joe Mahr, Tribune reporters
August 30, 2011

About every 15 minutes, trains block a busy corridor in the near west suburbs — a problem so frustrating that state officials created a special board to oversee construction of a tunnel or bridge.

That was nearly 12 years ago. The agency has yet to move any dirt but spent more than $1.3 million on consultants, cars and rent while turning to taxpayers for more money to finish studying the project, the Tribune has found.

The obscure West Cook Railroad Relocation and Development Authority has covered salaries for an executive director, two project managers, a project liaison, a financial adviser, attorneys and accountants.

One consultant was given a $400-a-month car, and tens of thousands of dollars were spent on rent.

Two board members designated as secretary and treasurer were paid $6,000 a year, despite a three-year stretch during which they met for less than four hours total.

All of it was basically to push for one major construction project on the border of Bellwood and Melrose Park. So far, the authority has overseen preliminary studies on what to build — a tunnel — and how to build it. But even the preliminary work is not done.

The mayors of Bellwood and Melrose Park declined to answer questions about much of the authority's spending even though they have a hand in appointing the board and their towns have provided the money for administrative salaries and overhead.

Others who have been closely involved with the project declined to comment, couldn't be reached or have died.

New authority

The intersection of 25th Avenue and the Union Pacific line has been a traffic and development headache for decades. More than 90 trains chug across the busy road daily, often at a crawl as they pull in and out of the vast Proviso rail yards.

One recent morning, a 20-minute blockage was quickly followed by a stalled freight train that put a chokehold on traffic for at least another 45 minutes, even blocking two police cars with emergency lights flashing.

"This is the worst railroad (crossing) ever," utility worker Jim Burkart declared as he waited for the train to move. "This is almost … a daily thing."

Lawmakers created a small government in 1999 to do something about it.

The authority first consisted of Bellwood and Melrose Park officials appointed by the governor on recommendations from the mayors. Later, Maywood officials were added, along with a mandate to fix problem crossings in that town, but the authority has yet to study them.

The concept stemmed from an ultimately successful board that built an underpass at Grand Avenue in Franklin Park. State Rep. Angelo "Skip" Saviano, R-Elmwood Park, pushed to create both boards and said the Grand Avenue board hired only lawyers, engineers and construction firms, not multiple consultants and advisers.

"We didn't have any overhead," Saviano said of the Grand Avenue authority.

Overhead spending started immediately for the West Cook authority.

Since 2000, the authority has reported spending about $1.3 million in contributions from Melrose Park and Bellwood on administrative expenses, while using about $1.3 million in state grants for feasibility and engineering studies.

Spending started early with layers of administrators but has tapered off in recent years as officials pleaded with the state for more money to wrap up an initial engineering plan.

One of the board's first actions was to hire Gary Marinaro as executive director at $24,000 a year. Briefly a lawmaker in the early 1990s, he had recently lost his long-held post as the local township Democratic committeeman.

Constantine Stamatakos, former Melrose Park public works director, was hired as a project liaison to local businesses. His pay: $27,000 a year plus payments of $396.78 a month on a Ford Taurus. He died in late 2005 and was not replaced.

By law, the seven members of the board couldn't pay themselves, but they could appoint a secretary and treasurer from their ranks and pay them. And they did, tying $500 a month each to the posts, costing roughly $120,000 over 10 years. Records show the board met sometimes just twice a year for as little as 15 minutes.

Two project managers were also hired. One was a Chicago-based planning firm that eventually resigned in 2005. The other was a small firm run by suburban rainmaker Anthony Bruno — a consultant and heavy campaign contributor over the years to mayors in Melrose Park and Bellwood.

Bruno's firm was paid nearly $80,000 in 2009 even though he pleaded guilty in February of that year to tax fraud. The authority paid its project managers $540,000 over the last decade, financial reports show.

On top of it all, the authority paid about $35,000 to attorneys and $51,500 for a financial adviser — former Bellwood administrator Roy McCampbell. The Tribune revealed last year that McCampbell was pulling in nearly half a million dollars for various duties tied to his suburban post before retiring in 2010.

No records

Despite the various levels of management, records for the authority are lacking.

The authority didn't provide detailed spending receipts from before 2005. And yearly financial statements weren't created until last year, when a new project manager realized state law required them.

The authority also says it can't produce a lease for office space from 2000 to 2002 that financial statements show cost $108,000, or $30,000 to $40,000 a year. The authority first operated from an office building in Melrose Park but moved to space in the town's Village Hall, for which it paid $8,970 a-year.

Answers about why the overhead and extras were needed also are lacking.

Bellwood Mayor Frank Pasquale and Melrose Park Mayor Ronald Serpico declined to take questions and instead issued statements. Pasquale has been mayor since 2001 and Serpico since 1997.

The board chairman for the authority's early years, Ralph Salvino pointed questions to the project managers. He said the board spent what project managers said was needed to get the job done.

"The board members, basically, really didn't have anything to do with it," Salvino said.

The project managers and the executive director, Marinaro, couldn't be reached. The former financial adviser declined to comment.

Marinaro has been "inactive" with the authority for more than a year because of medical issues, according to the board secretary — who declined to answer questions herself.

The new project manager is Peter Tsiolis, Bellwood's chief of staff. He said he couldn't address any questions about spending before he came on board in 2010.

Pasquale was appointed to the board in early 2005 but didn't address the authority's spending in a statement that said, in part, he "inherited the authority as it was structured and staffed" but has since "streamlined the operation."

From 2005 to 2009, though, the authority paid for an executive director, a project manager and a financial adviser while also paying the treasurer and secretary.

Serpico issued a statement that characterized himself as an outsider to the authority's operations.

"The board members … must work in the best interest of taxpayers and accomplish the objectives given to them without delay," he said.

The project has hit delays.

A 2003 feasibility study settled on a tunnel to alleviate congestion, saying it would cost slightly less than $30 million. The price tag has since risen to nearly $50 million, if the tunnel can even be built.

More money

Red flags were raised early about the way local officials wanted to dig the tunnel, employing a mining technique not often used in Illinois or with the site's relatively loose soil.

A 2006 soil study found the site had "urban fill" up to 13 feet below the surface consisting of "gravel, cinders and building debris," ground not considered optimal for tunneling under railroad tracks carrying trains.

State transportation officials wanted more information, saying the initial tests didn't alleviate fears the tracks could come crashing down. It wasn't until 2009 that another round of soil testing was finally completed, but state officials say they still lacked the required analysis.

The board said it needed more money for that and embarked on a campaign to obtain an extra $250,000 from the state. Don Harmon, a top Senate Democrat from Oak Park, was one of the lawmakers to pen a letter asking for more money last year.

"This project is too important to ignore," Harmon wrote to the state's transportation chief.

Harmon said he was unfamiliar with the authority's spending details and declined to comment on the Tribune's findings.

The $250,000 came through this year, and the authority's new project manager said engineering is on track to be done around year's end, without the overhead.

"We still think it can be done without the layers," Tsiolis said.

Tsiolis said his firm will not be paid by the authority. The firm has a $900,000-a-year contract to run Bellwood.

Marinaro remains executive director, but Tsiolis said there are no plans to pay him. And the board secretary and treasurer haven't been paid since 2009 — though they are still on the books to each make $6,000 a year.

Once engineering is completed, Tsiolis said, the authority plans to try to tap another $12 million from the state while seeking federal funding to cover the rest of the $50 million.

Pasquale even met with U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood last year to advocate for the project, Tsiolis said.

Construction won't come fast enough for commuters such as Wendell Johnson.

The 41-year-old tractor-trailer driver from Chicago said he gets trapped at the intersection almost daily. He longed for a tunnel while recently stuck in his car as a train chugged by for 10 minutes.

Told of the spending on administrators and cars by the authority charged with digging that tunnel, Johnson shook his head and smirked: "Typical Illinois politics."

NEWS: (Suburban) Revenue bumps may put Aurora budget back in balance

Mayor Tom Weisner said that after a year of making tough decisions, the city is looking to restore four police officers to Aurora’s Police Department. Eight police officers were laid off late last year as a budget-cutting move.
--This would be a morale booster for both the officers and the citizens of Aurora.--

STORY AT Beacon News

By Stephanie Lulay
Last Modified: Aug 29, 2011 07:48PM

AURORA — Halfway through the year, the city’s Finance Department is projecting a $1.7 million surplus for the year, according to Finance Director Brian Caputo.

Caputo recently presented the city’s mid-year financial review to aldermen. Current estimates project the city will spend $135.5 million in 2011, and bring in $137.2 million in revenue.

“If we don’t get any late year surprises, we should have positive results for the year,” Caputo said. “I’m not saying the happy days are here again. They’re not. But they are moderating.”

The Finance Department is predicting a $5 million budget shortfall in 2012, down from an $18 million budget shortfall the city was facing at the beginning of this year. Caputo said cost containment measures that the city has taken and increased revenue will help. Decisions about what to cut next will be made by the city administration.

“We have had some rebound in some revenues, so that’s making things a little bit better,” Caputo said. “We’ve gone through a lot of cost containment effort in the last couple of years, and some items are not rising as fast as they were previously.”

Mayor Tom Weisner said that after a year of making tough decisions, the city is looking to restore four police officers to Aurora’s Police Department. Eight police officers were laid off late last year as a budget-cutting move.

“We’re pleased. A lot of the measures we’ve taken have done what we needed them to do,” Weisner said.

By the numbers

More than halfway through the year, Caputo said the city is anticipating higher than expected revenue from these major sources:

Water service fees, expected to draw $1.5 million more than originally projected (from $24 million budgeted to $25.5 million projected)

Income tax, expected to draw $1.3 million more than originally projected (from $12.7 million budgeted to $14 million projected)

State-shared sales tax, expected to draw $850,000 more than originally projected (from $18.65 budgeted to $19.5 million projected)

Home-rule sales tax, expected to draw $800,000 more than originally projected (from $17.7 million budgeted to $18.5 million projected)

Motor fuel tax, expected to draw $500,000 more than originally projected (from $4.16 million budgeted to $4.65 million projected)

Food and beverage tax, expected to draw $200,000 more than projected (from $3.4 million budgeted to $3.6 million projected)

Electricity use tax, expected to draw $150,000 more than projected (from $3.25 million budgeted to $3.4 million projected).

But in a few other major revenue sources, the city expects to have less revenue than originally thought:

Property tax levy, expected to bring in about $800,000 less than originally projected (from $43 million budgeted to $42.2 million projected)

Gaming tax, expected to draw about $500,000 less than originally projected (from $10.4 million budgeted to $9.9 million projected)

City’s share of Kane County court fines, expected to draw $500,000 less than originally projected (from $1.1 million to $600,000 projected)

Telecommunications tax, expected to draw about $50,000 less than originally projected (from $6.27 million budgeted to $6.22 million projected)

The Finance Department has projected that the city will draw about $1.53 million from building permit fees, on course with original projections.

Since 2007, Aurora’s share of gaming tax has nose-dived, from more than $15 million in 2007 to about $10.5 million in 2010.

“We knew this was coming,” Caputo said. “The casino in Des Plaines opened early (this year). It’s hard to tell at this point what impact that casino is going to have.”

Caputo said the mid-year estimates will stay relevant unless the economy dives into a double-dip recession and health insurance and worker’s compensation claims are not significantly unfavorable.

At the close of 2011, the city expects to have spent 85 percent of general fund expenditures on personnel costs, a proportion that has been steadily increasing since 2006.

PENSION: (Illinois) IMRF Pension Changes Enacted Into Law

--From the Illinois Municipal League--

By Joe McCoy, Legislative Director, IML

A bill intended to rectify perceived cases of "pension abuse" has been signed into law by Governor Quinn.

The new law is P.A. 97-0609

Changes to Article 1 (Applicable to All 17 Articles of the Illinois Pension Code)

SB 1831 would require the suspension of pension payments for those who retire and continue to work for the same public employer as a contractual employee. This provision would only apply to those hired on or after the effective date of HB 3474. The amendment creates a notification requirement that, if violated, would subject persons to a Class A misdemeanor and a $1,000 fine. Applicable to those who first become pension fund participants on or after January 1, 2012. (Page 8)

Changes to Article 7 (IMRF)

Posting Total Compensation Packages

Within 6 days of approving a budget, every IMRF employer that has a website must post information concerning any total compensation package that exceeds $75,000 in value. Six days prior to approving a budget, every IMRF employer that has a website must post information concerning any total compensation package that exceeds $150,000. In the absence of a website, employers must post all aforementioned information at the principal office of the employer. "Total compensation package" means payment by the employer to the employee for salary, health insurance, a housing allowance, a vehicle allowance, a clothing allowance, bonuses, loans, vacation days granted, and sick days granted. (Pages 1-2) 

Hourly Standard

The bill allows members to return to work with an employer without suspending their pension as long as they work less than the hourly standard of that employer. It also allows non-education employers to increase the hourly standard to 1,000 hours. (Pages 21-22)

Authorized Agents

The bill removes the requirement that the authorized agent be an IMRF member in order to vote in employer elections. (Page 16)

SLEP Conversion Sunset

The bill limits any service conversions into SLEP to only those conversions that occur prior to the effective date of the Act. (Page 35)

ECO Program Sunset

The bill sunsets the Elected County Officials (ECO) Program by disallowing new participants unless a county board files for ECO participation before the bill receives the Governor's signature. (Pages 42 and 46)

Return to Work

The bill authorizes retired members who return to work for an IMRF employer to keep their pension even if employed in a position requiring less than the employer's standard for participation in IMRF. (Pages 40)

Final Rate of Earnings

Earnings for each of an employee's final 24 months of service cannot exceed 125% of the highest earnings of any other month in the "final earnings period." This provision applies to employees that first become participants in IMRF on or after the effective date of the bill. The "final earnings period" for these employees is the highest 8 out of the last 10 years. This provision would essentially serve as a cap on pension increases that result from late career salary increases. (Page 14)

Pre-Funding Pension Obligations

The present value of pension obligations created by a salary increase that is awarded during the "final rate of earnings period" must be pre-funded by the employer if the increase exceeds the greater of 6% or 1.5 times the salary earned during the previous year. This provision applies to current and future IMRF employees and is not applicable to employees covered by a collective bargaining contract. The section also includes a methodology and timetable that must be followed by the employer for making these payments. (Pages 56-58)

Pension Allocation Among Employers

Employer funding obligations for employees that earn pension credits among multiple IMRF employers would be determined using both service credit and salary information. IMRF believes that this change would be more equitable for employers because employers that pay higher salaries would absorb a greater share of the funding burden. (Page 59)

Pension Impact Notes

A salary increase of 12% or more for an officer, executive, or manager will require a pension impact note concerning the effect of the increase on a pension obligation. The authorities that are authorizing the salary increase must sign the pension impact statement. The employer must pay the costs associated with producing the Pension Impact Statement. Pension Impact Statements would not be necessary if a salary increase is the result of standard employment promotions that result in increased responsibility and workloads; earnings increases paid to invidividuals under contracts or collective bargaining agreements entered into, amended, or renewed before January 1, 2012; earnings increases paid to members who are 10 years or more from retirement eligibility; or earnings increases resulting from an increase in the number of hours required to be worked. (Pages 61 and 62)

NEWS: (Indiana) Grandmother who wants to carry gun to park sues Hammond over ban

STORY AT Chicago Tribune 

Grandmother who wants to carry gun to park sues Hammond over ban

9:27 AM CDT, August 30, 2011

The Northwest Indiana Times is reporting that a woman who wants to carry a gun when taking her grandchildren to the park is suing the city of Hammond for refusing to repeal a ban on weapons in city buildings and parks.

The Indiana General Assembly passed a law in the spring allowing registered firearm owners to carry guns inside most public buildings.

But Hammond has so far refused to repeat its gun ban, passed after a woman was shot and killed in City Hall by her estranged husband in 1991.

The Times reports that one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit is Michelle Bahus, who lives within half a block of a Hammond park and wants to bring her gun with her when she takes her grandchildren out.

Bahus has a state license to carry a gun, but is prohibited by city code from taking a gun to the park, her attorney Guy Relford told the newspaper.

The Indiana General Assembly passed a law in the spring allowing registered firearm owners to carry guns inside public buildings that do not hold a court.

But the Hammond City Council turned down a proposal earlier this month that would have allowed firearms in city buildings other than City Hall.

NEWS: (Chicago) Ticket case brings discipline

--Wondering what the tickets were for and what prompted the officers to do this.--

STORY AT Chicago Tribune

Chicago police say 5 relieved of powers

Jon Yates
Tribune columnist
10:23 PM CDT, August 29, 2011

The Chicago Police Department said Monday that it has taken disciplinary against five employees accused of writing a series of unwarranted parking tickets to an Orland Park man.

Police spokesman Lt. Maureen Biggane said the five were "relieved of their police powers'' and given desk jobs while the city's lawyers review potential charges against them. The employees weren't identified.

It is the first time the department has publicly acknowledged disciplinary action in the case, which began more than three years ago when Mark Geinosky started receiving tickets for infractions he did not commit.

The Police Department launched an internal investigation after the Problem Solver wrote about the Geinosky case on Feb. 24, 2009, detailing the 24 tickets, all of which were thrown out by administrative judges.

"Nothing changes in my view," Geinosky said Monday. "This is the white shirts at the Police Department controlling the message. This should have been dealt with immediately, and they chose to drag it out as long as they could in order to dilute any message of wrongdoing."

Jennifer Hoyle, a spokesman for the city's corporation counsel, said that in such cases, the Police Department forwards its proposed disciplinary action to city lawyers, who review the proposed charges to make sure they are appropriate and then work with the Police Department to draft the language.

Once that review is completed, the corporation counsel files charges against the employees involved, Hoyle said. If the charges include serious disciplinary action, the case goes before the city's police board.

Monday, August 29, 2011

R.I.P. Mikey C. (Chicago Police Horse)

STORY AT Chicago Tribune 

'He was like my family,' cop says of fallen police horse

By Erin Meyer
Tribune reporter
7:35 PM CDT, August 29, 2011
Chicago police officer Paul Casasanto touches his dead horse before leaving North Avenue Beach in a police vehicle today. Casasanto, a mounted police officer, was riding the horse when it bucked, collapsed and quickly died. (Alex Garcia, Chicago Tribune / August 29, 2011)
The horse reared and struggled as if fighting an invisible assailant.

Chicago Police Officer Paul Casasanto, on mounted patrol at North Avenue beach, had slid off the horse as it began to struggle inexplicably.

 “Mik just went down,” Casasanto said in to a police radio while holding tightly to the horse’s reins.

Casasanto tried to calm his horse while people in bathing suits and jogging clothes began closing in.

“Stay back,” he warned, as the animal continued to kick its powerful back legs.

After several weakening attempts to stand, the horse folded to the ground and rolled onto its side.

When the horse laid its head on the pavement in defeat, Casasanto placed one hand over its half-open eye as the animal took a last labored breath.

“He’s gone,” said Casasanto, as onlookers began herding children back toward the water.

Stricken by some kind of seizure, the Chicago police horse died quickly at about 2 p.m., Monday in front of a crowd of beachgoers, including a Tribune reporter, on a cloudless afternoon.

“Mommy, what’s wrong with the horse?” a little blond boy asked, tugging on his mother’s beach bag.

The 18-year-old horse was named Mikey C. to honor Chicago Police Officer Michael Ceriale, who was fatally shot while conducting undercover drug surveillance in 1998.

Casasanto removed his saddle and bridle and helped cover the dead horse with a plastic tarp.

“When you spend eight hours a day, five days a week together…,” Casasanto said, pausing. “He was like my family. They bring you nothing but joy.”

Casasanto was stunned by the horse’s sudden attack and could not explain it.

“At this point, there’s been no determination as to what the cause of death was,” said Chicago News Affairs Officer Darryl Baety.

An imposing 16-1 hands, sources at the scene said Mikey C. was a retired race horse, purchased by the city in 2003.

The animal was paired with Casasanto by the Chicago Police Mounted Unit, and has been used to patrol Chicago’s beaches and parks as well as special events.

By nightfall, workers had lifted the horse’s heavy body with a front-end loader and removed it from the crowded walkway.

Before that, Casasanto cut off the end of the horse’s tail and pulled off one of the heavy metal horseshoes nailed to its hoof. He wanted to keep these things to remember Mikey C.

“I’m trying to hold it together,” he said, hiding his eyes behind dark glasses. “I know I am going to break down later.”

NEWS: (Suburban) Skokie man arrested for allegedly touching three Elmwood Park girls inappropriately

STORY AT Pioneer Press

Last Modified: Aug 29, 2011 08:08PM

A registered sex offender was taken into custody Wednesday after allegedly inappropriately touching three teenage girls in Elmwood Park this month.

Kevin R. Mattix, 22, of 8632 Monticello Ave., Skokie, was charged with battery involving three 13-year-old girls on three separate occasions.

Elmwood Park Police Detective Mark Astrella said Mattix allegedly inappropriately touched three girls then fled the area. On one occasion he grabbed the buttocks of one girl.

The first incident took place at 7:08 p.m. Aug. 15 in 2200 block of 75th Avenue then the second girl was approached later that evening around 10 p.m. on 7800 block of Cortland Street. The third incident took place at 7 p.m. Aug. 20 in 1900 block of 76th Court.

Astrella said with the help of Chicago Police Department and Des Plaines Police Department they were able to make an arrest. He said his contacts in Des Plaines were able to identify a person who had been arrested in the past for actions similar to what was taking place in Elmwood Park.

And Mattix fit the description, Astrella said.

Mattix was taken into custody by Des Plaines police and brought to Elmwood Park for questioning. Mattix was identified in a photo lineup as well as a physical lineup by the victims and then charged.

Des Plaines Police Chief Jim Prandini said Mattix was arrested twice by his officers in 2009.

In July 2009 he was charged with battery after allegedly running up behind a girl and grabbing her backside.

The second arrest came in December when he was charged with criminal sexual abuse for allegedly running up behind a group of girls and grabbing them inappropriately.

“There was a specific ‘MO’ (method of operation) that matched what was going on in Elmwood Park that matched what he had been doing here,” Prandini said.

Astrella said they have a pretty good rapport with other police departments like Des Plaines and when they found a common pattern they moved quickly.

“My priority and the departments is to try and hustle as fast as I can to get these folks and put them (victims) at ease,” he said.

Mattix is scheduled to appear in court Oct. 7 and is currently out on bond.

NEWS: (Suburban) Former Elgin gang members fight lawsuit

--This is a joke, right?--

STORY AT Daily Herald

By Tara GarcĂ­a Mathewson

The City of Elgin last year filed a lawsuit with the state against Latin Kings gang members in an attempt to stop them from associating with other gang members.

Some of the more than 30 people named in the suit have settled, saying they will agree to those restrictions, but four defendants are hoping to get their names dropped from the suit and remain free to contact gang members in the name of salvation.

Chicago-based legal firm Mauck and Baker LLC filed a motion on behalf of Elginites Elias Juarez, 26, Saul Juarez, 24, Ruben Sanchez, 23, and Oscar Sanchez, 24, arguing none of the men is a gang member, though three admit to being former Latin Kings. The motion also requests recovery of attorney fees for the men’s defense.

“We and our clients don’t want to thwart any efforts of Elgin as far as breaking up the Latin Kings gang,” said Mauck and Baker attorney Lee McCoy. “But basically our four clients are trying to do the same thing in their way.”

The law providing the foundation for the case against the men is called the Illinois Street Gang Terrorism Omnibus Prevention Act. The act, passed in 1993, said the activities of street gangs is not constitutionally protected and no society should be required to endure gang activities.

The City of Elgin is one of very few municipalities statewide to use the law to take gang members to civil court — instead of just fighting criminal cases based on specific criminal activity.

Elgin Police Lt. Jeff Adam of the department’s gang and drug unit said his was one of the first Illinois departments to form a gang unit in the 1980s and it has stayed ahead of the curve.

“During that time we’ve used a lot of creative tools and techniques to combat gangs,” Adam said. “Just like the gangs adapt, we have to adapt, too.”

The Juarez and Sanchez brothers all claim to have found God, motivating three of them to leave the Latin Kings and encouraging Saul Jaurez to stop his unlawful activity, though all maintain he never was a gang member.

The men do not wish to settle — like others involved in the lawsuit — because maintaining contact with gang members now and in the future is a priority. They want to help others find God and pull even more from the clutches of gang membership.

“I truly believe with all of my heart that ministering to gang members and leading them to Christ is a mandate on my life,” said Oscar Sanchez in an affidavit submitted with the recent motion by his attorney.

In the affidavit, Sanchez said he joined the gang in 2003 and left it in December 2009. His brother Ruben Sanchez said he joined in 2008 and left in May 2009.

In his affidavit, Elias Juarez said he joined in 2002 and left in August 2008. He said he was in jail more than five times in his life and spent 10 years on probation. After being led to God through attending church services, he turned away from that lifestyle, his affidavit reads.

Patrick Crimmins of the Elgin-based law firm Brady and Jensen declined to comment on the motion filed in the name of the Sanchez and Juarez brothers because it is pending.

The motion to dismiss all four men will be heard Sept. 6 in Kane County Court.

NEWS: (Suburban) Two arrested after police seize 3,700 pounds of marijuana

Luis Pichardo and Ignacio Morales (from left)
--I am told they lived behind the Melrose Park Police Station. Not that it makes a difference in anything. 
There are conflicting reports as to where the big stash was found. It was either their home or a store in Addison.
Big stashes like this are sometimes not easy to find, the offenders usually will stay way under the radar.
This is just good police work on the part of the arresting department.--
I would like to add that is extremely important work that these officers do in enforcing all of our drug laws.
As for the street value, for those that like to knock the police...Street value is figured out by estimating how much can be made once the drug is made into smaller amounts and sold.

STORY AT Chicago Tribune

By Clifford Ward
Special to the Tribune
3:02 PM CDT, August 29, 2011

Two men were in jail on drug charges today following a police raid at an Addison furniture store that resulted in the seizure of 3,700 pounds of marijuana with a street value of $16.8 million, according to DuPage County authorities.

Luis Pichardo, 32, and Ignacio Morales, 28, both of Melrose Park, were being held in lieu of $10 million bail on charges of unlawful possession of cannabis with intent to deliver.

The pair was taken into custody over the weekend after officers with the DuPage Metropolitan Enforcement Group noticed them Friday night acting in what police described as a suspicious manner in the front of the store in the 100 block of Laura Drive.

Pichardo was stopped by police a short time later and was arrested when he was discovered to not have a valid driver's license, according to authorities. During the stop, a police dog helped police discover the presence of drugs. The following day, the enforcement group executed a search warrant at the business and discovered the marijuana.

DuPage County State’s Atty. Robert Berlin lauded the work of police. "Because of their efforts nearly two tons of marijuana will not make it to the streets," he said.

The men have been charged with Class X felonies, meaning they could face a maximum 30-year prison sentence. They are set to be arraigned Sept. 19.

NEWS: (Illinois) Statehouse Insider: Quinn rules, somebody sues

--Quinn is an absolute embarrassment as a governor. The only thing he is good for is that he makes some polidiots look good with his pointless ramblings.
He will cost the us more in civil legal bills than both Ryan's and Blago's legal bills combined.--

STORY AT State Journal-Register

Posted Aug 28, 2011 @ 12:05 AM

Before the feds hauled him into court for entirely different reasons, ex-Gov. ROD BLAGOJEVICH had a solid reputation for getting the state tangled up in legal difficulties.

Whether it was because of one of his initiatives — remember when he got state lawmakers to ban violent video games only to have the courts shoot it down — or because of one of his snits, like when he sued House Speaker MICHAEL MADIGAN over special sessions — the state seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time in court.

Gov. PAT QUINN is stepping up to assume the mantle. In just the last few months, Quinn’s actions, or those of his agencies, have landed the state in court several times. The Department of Children and Family Services ended its contracts with Catholic Charities because the organization won’t put children with unmarried couples. Catholic Charities sued.

Quinn canceled pay raises for 30,000 union state employees. The unions sued. Quinn cut salary money for regional school superintendents. The superintendents sued.

So far, Quinn is faring slightly better than his predecessor. The state prevailed in initial rulings on the Catholic Charities and regional superintendent cases. The union lawsuit is still undecided.

* Quinn’s operation did nothing last week to dispel the notion that it isn’t the most organized bunch in the state. Or the Capitol complex, for that matter.

When Quinn acts on multiple bills in a day, his office puts out a list of the bills and what he did with them — sign, veto or whatever. Last week, one of the lists included a bill that Quinn amendatorily vetoed. He took a bill dealing with public notice of treasurer’s office policies and added language about how lawmakers should deal with conflicts of interest. It mirrored language sought by Legislative Inspector General TOM HOMER to beef up state ethics laws. On its face, it appeared the Quinn changes could have far-reaching effects on lawmaker activities.

However, within minutes, the administration was telling media outlets that the governor had not, in fact, changed the bill. The amendatory veto language was put out by mistake. As one media outlet put it in a story, Quinn vetoed his veto.

Now the question is what Quinn will do, if anything, about the ethics changes. His proposed language is in the hands of every media outlet in the state. Will he still try to get those changes through, and will the final version be different from his ill-fated attempt last week?

Oh, and the original bill that Quinn changed and then didn’t? He ended up signing it without any changes.

* Quinn did radically change another bill dealing with voter registration. He added stuff to it allowing voters to create a local government veteran’s advocate by binding referendum.

Madigan has long refused to consider amendatory vetoes where he thinks the governor has totally exceeded the boundaries of reasonable changes to a bill. This looks like another one that Madigan can add to his list.

* By now, most people know Quinn has a tendency to ramble in his public comments. Well, the Ramblin’ Man was in full voice at a bill signing last week.

Quinn started the ceremony by making some unprepared remarks that lasted about five minutes. During that time, Quinn said he once lived in a mobile home in Madison County, that state and local governments work together, Illinois believes in transportation, the state has the fewest traffic fatalities since 1921, it’s a tough economy, we’re Americans, his favorite words are “made in America,” 9/11, the state fair, Gold Star families, he’s been to Iraq and Afghanistan, the Old State Capitol, Abraham Lincoln and proclaiming America as the first democracy on planet Earth.

Quinn then signed the bill. It allows overweight trucks to drive short distances on some state roads.