WBEZ | Cicero http://www.wbez.org/tags/cicero Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en As temp work grows, African Americans push for their fair share http://www.wbez.org/news/temp-work-grows-african-americans-push-their-fair-share-110945 <p><p>Between his wife, children and grandchildren, there are a lot of mouths to feed in Kenny Flowers&rsquo; home. But he says it has been a decade since his last full-time job. And he lost one of his two part-time jobs a few months ago.<br /><br />&ldquo;So I&rsquo;ve been coming to MVP to pick up [work] and just get some honest money,&rdquo; says Flowers, 38, referring to Most Valuable Personnel, part of Personnel Staffing Group, a chain based in the Chicago area with operations in eight states.<br /><br />Flowers, a lifelong resident of the city&rsquo;s West Side, says he has gone at least four times this year to MVP&rsquo;s office in the Town of Cicero, a suburb bordering the city. He says he has spent hours and hours in the waiting room.<br /><br />But MVP has yet to give Flowers any work. Asked why, a company spokesman responds that Flowers &ldquo;calls the office frequently and is advised to come in the following day to be assigned out for work&rdquo; but &ldquo;does not arrive to be sent out.&rdquo;</p><p>Flowers calls that baloney and wonders whether MVP is trying to hide something he has noticed in the waiting room. &ldquo;I see more Latinos going out than I do African Americans,&rdquo; he says.<br /><br />Flowers suspects that many of those Latinos are in the country illegally. He says MVP assigns them work on the belief that unauthorized immigrants are less likely to raise a stink when employers short them out of pay or put them in dangerous conditions. The staffing firm denies that allegation.<br /><br />MVP&rsquo;s Cicero location is among 933 offices of temp agencies registered to operate in Illinois. Nationwide, more than 2.9 million people were employed as temps in September, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Temp jobs, once mostly clerical, are now mainly blue-collar and constitute about 2 percent of the nation&rsquo;s employment.</p><p>Those are all record numbers, but African Americans say they are not getting a fair shot at the work. They are accusing the staffing companies of discrimination. And their claims are getting attention from temp-worker advocates, federal regulators and some Illinois lawmakers.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Few blacks sent to bakery</span></p><p>Flowers takes me to that MVP office, part of a strip mall along the border between Cicero and Chicago. In the waiting room I see more than four dozen blue-collar workers hoping for an assignment. Some say they have been there for hours. While they wait, they are not getting paid. Nearly all are black.<br /><br />I pull out my audio-recording gear and take a few photos of Flowers on the sidewalk, where workers have spilled out from the waiting room. Within minutes a woman who helps run this MVP office comes out and commands everyone to go back inside. Everyone, that is, but Flowers and me. She tells us to leave, and we do.<br /><br />But we do not get far. As I interview Flowers on a residential sidewalk around the corner, a Cicero police car pulls up, then another. &ldquo;We have the subjects,&rdquo; one of officers tells his radio dispatcher.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/waiting%20room.jpg" style="height: 426px; width: 620px;" title="At the Cicero office of Most Valuable Personnel, dozens of black workers fill the waiting room. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" /></div><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m going to need to see IDs from both you gentlemen,&rdquo; the officer tells Flowers and me. The cop says it was MVP that called the police on us.<br /><br />After they run our driver&rsquo;s licenses for warrants, the officers leave us alone. But the whole experience signals that discrimination allegations in the staffing industry have touched a nerve.</p><p>MVP is a defendant in two class-action lawsuits in federal court. Both claim employment discrimination against African Americans. Temp-worker advocates, meanwhile, have come to the company&rsquo;s Cicero office to hand out flyers about wage theft. MVP claims the leafleting is an effort to &ldquo;coerce&rdquo; the company to settle the litigation.</p><p>But Christopher Williams, the attorney who filed the suits, says MVP has only itself to blame. &ldquo;Where there&rsquo;s a staffing agency within two miles of zip codes that have a population that&rsquo;s 97-98 percent African American, why were no African Americans &mdash; almost none &mdash; sent to work jobs at Gold Standard Baking?&rdquo;<br /><br />Gold Standard, an industrial bakery on Chicago&rsquo;s Southwest Side, relies on MVP for labor. The two companies are co-defendants in one of the suits. The claim is that the bakery asked for immigrant temps instead of African American temps and that the staffing agency fulfilled that request.<br /><br />&ldquo;Over a four-year period, when approximately 5,000 workers were sent to Gold Standard Baking, only 85 of those were African American,&rdquo; Williams says. &ldquo;These are low-skilled jobs that people on the West Side of Chicago need to have access to.&rdquo;<br /><br />At the same time, Williams says, MVP focused its recruiting on Spanish-speaking workers, and the company sent out vans to pick them up in heavily immigrant neighborhoods such as Little Village.<br /><br />In court, MVP has countered that the reason its workforce is mostly Latino is because of the office&rsquo;s location. Nearby Chicago neighborhoods may be black, but Cicero is mostly Latino.<br /><br />&ldquo;MVP does not discriminate against African Americans,&rdquo; Elliot Richardson, an attorney for the company, tells me. &ldquo;MVP sends out the very best employees for the positions that fit what those employees can do. There are plenty of job offerings at MVP right now. They are looking for workers. Regardless of their race, we welcome people to come in and to apply.&rdquo;</p><p>Gold Standard officials, for their part, referred WBEZ questions about the suit to a lawyer. He sent a statement that denies the allegations and calls the company &ldquo;an equal opportunity employer&rdquo; that is &ldquo;proud of its diverse workforce.&rdquo;</p><p>Last week MVP brought a suit of its own. The claim, filed in Cook County Circuit Court, accuses the temp-worker advocates and their group, the nonprofit Chicago Workers&rsquo; Collaborative, of defamation.<br /><br />&ldquo;Their goal is to destroy the temporary employment agencies in the city,&rdquo; Richardson says. &ldquo;MVP does not steal its employees&rsquo; wages.&rdquo;<br /><br />The temp-worker advocates respond that they are not trying to destroy the agencies, just some of their practices, such as the alleged race-based hiring.<br /><br />Leone José Bicchieri, the collaborative&rsquo;s executive director, calls it &ldquo;sad that one of the major staffing agencies in the state of Illinois has decided to use so much time, energy, resources and money on lawyers&rdquo; instead of addressing worker grievances. Bicchieri says the defamation suit is an effort to silence workers.<br /><br /><span style="font-size:22px;">Allegations hard to prove</span></p><p>If some temp agencies are discriminating, it is difficult to find out how many. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission does not tally complaints against staffing firms.</p><p>But a few of those EEOC complaints in recent years have led to six-figure settlements from those companies. &ldquo;There have always been staffing agencies willing to steer employees based on race and other illegal factors, and that&rsquo;s certainly ongoing,&rdquo; said Jean Kamp, a top attorney of the EEOC&rsquo;s Chicago office. &ldquo;As more people are working through staffing agencies, it&rsquo;s more of a problem.&rdquo;<br /><br />Besides filing EEOC complaints, temp workers alleging race-based hiring discrimination&nbsp;are also dragging staffing firms into federal court. In the Chicago area, Williams is representing plaintiffs in three class-action suits. The defendants include MVP, four other temp agencies and three companies that contracted with the agencies for labor.<br /><br />But alleging discrimination is easier than proving it. In court, MVP has claimed that it does not keep records on people who arrive in search of a job. That claim, contradicted by a company vice president at a July forum recorded by WBEZ, has made it difficult for the plaintiffs to gather information about the job seekers&rsquo; race.<br /><br />&ldquo;This issue is about to be resolved,&rdquo; state Rep. Ken Dunkin (D-Chicago) said last week as he came out with draft legislation that would tighten up record-keeping requirements. His proposal would require staffing firms to keep a contact form on each job seeker and enable those workers to indicate their race and gender on that form. The idea is to make hiring discrimination easier to find.<br /><br />&ldquo;Hopefully we&rsquo;ll get to the bottom line in resolving this open and blatant discrimination against African Americans, [whose] unemployment rate is just as high as our Latino brothers and sisters,&rdquo; Dunkin said.</p><p>The two main trade groups representing temp firms in the state &mdash; the Staffing Services Association of Illinois and the Illinois Search and Staffing Association &mdash; both declined to comment about the discrimination allegations and Dunkin&rsquo;s proposal.<br /><br />Dunkin says he will introduce that bill this fall or winter after gathering co-sponsors.</p><p>In the meantime, Flowers is still hoping to find more income. &ldquo;Holidays are coming up and it&rsquo;s real rough on me,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s going to be winter and the heat and gas bills are going to go up even more. I would like my kids to have a nice Christmas like everybody else.&rdquo;<br /><br />He might be eligible to file a claim under one of the class-action suits against MVP, but the company is not showing much interest in settling.<br /><br />So, Flowers says, he will keep showing up at the temp agency. Some day, he says, it might send him out to work.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/cmitchell-0">Chip Mitchell</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s West Side bureau reporter. Follow him on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/ChipMitchell1">@ChipMitchell1</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>, and connect with him through <a href="https://www.facebook.com/chipmitchell1">Facebook</a>, <a href="https://plus.google.com/111079509307132701769" rel="me">Google+</a> and <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/in/ChipMitchell1">LinkedIn</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 15 Oct 2014 16:56:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/temp-work-grows-african-americans-push-their-fair-share-110945 Chicago civil rights film gets National Film Registry recognition http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2013-12/chicago-civil-rights-film-gets-national-film-registry-recognition-109435 <p><p dir="ltr">The year 2013 is ending on a high note for Chicago film. Cicero March, a short film documenting a historic local civil rights march, was selected by the Library of Congress for its National Film Registry.</p><p dir="ltr">The library selects 25 films each year for the registry, and most tend to be significant theatrical productions. This year is no different, as the <a href="http://www.loc.gov/today/pr/2013/13-216.html">big, popular films on the list</a> include Gilda, Pulp Fiction, The Magnificent Seven, and Judgement at Nuremberg.</p><p dir="ltr">But tucked among those titles was Cicero March -- a short independent documentary from the Chicago-based <a href="http://www.chicagofilmarchives.org/collections/index.php/Detail/Object/Show/object_id/689">Film Group</a> that details a significant moment in the region&rsquo;s history.</p><p dir="ltr">On Sept. 4, 1966, Robert Lucas of the <a href="http://www.congressofracialequality.org/">Congress of Racial Equality (CORE)</a> led protestors on a march through Cicero, located on the city&rsquo;s western border and then racially segregated.</p><p dir="ltr">The march was supposed to be led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. King had been in Chicago since January, and along with other activists, had faced many mobs in white communities such as Marquette Park.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/women%20watching.png" style="height: 258px; width: 350px; float: right;" title="Cicero residents photograph a historic anti-segregation march through the Chicago suburb in 1966 (photo courtesy Chicago Film Archive)" />But in August of that year, a <a href="http://mlk-kpp01.stanford.edu/index.php/encyclopedia/encyclopedia/enc_chicago_campaign/">&ldquo;summit&rdquo; </a>was held between King, then Mayor Richard J. Daley, the city&rsquo;s housing authority, and various real estate interests. Out of that emerged an agreement on open housing.</div><p dir="ltr">CORE was based in Chicago and well-seasoned by its efforts against segregation in Chicago public schools. And CORE activist Lucas <a href="http://digital.wustl.edu/e/eii/eiiweb/luc5427.0872.098marc_record_interviewee_process.html">considered the housing agreement a sham</a> and decided to go ahead with the march.</p><p dir="ltr">Once again, protestors were confronted by angry residents who lined the route, shouting, swearing, and threatening violence.</p><p dir="ltr">But as the Film Group documented, the marchers, flanked by police and armed National Guardsmen, were not afraid to respond.</p><p dir="ltr">As helicopters hovered overhead, residents hurled taunts such as, &ldquo;You should have washed before coming here,&rdquo; and &ldquo;Hey, the Brookfield Zoo is that way!&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">In response one of the marchers yells, &ldquo;Don&rsquo;t stop, just keep it coming, just keep coming, don&rsquo;t stop. You fat punk, I think I see what you&rsquo;re made of. You fat punk -- and your momma, too!&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Cicero March is in the collection of the <a href="http://www.chicagofilmarchives.org/">Chicago Film Archive</a> (CFA). [Disclosure: The writer is on the advisory board of the CFA.]</p><p dir="ltr">The original print was a well-worn circulating copy from the Chicago Public Library&rsquo;s collection of 16mm films. After contacting Mike Grey and William Cottle of the Film Group, the CFA raised money to restore one of its prints of the film.</p><p dir="ltr">Anne Wells, the CFA&rsquo;s collections manager, says this was the third year in which the organization submitted Cicero March to the Library of Congress for consideration.</p><p dir="ltr">She finds it incredible that the footage even exists.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;They were the only news cameramen there,&rdquo; said Wells. &ldquo;So to the best of our knowledge, this is the only moving image footage of this civil rights march.&quot;</p><p dir="ltr">Wells thinks inclusion in the National Film Registry is a well-deserved nod to non-commercial Midwestern filmmaking, and recognition that this moment in history happened.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s ugly,&rdquo; said Wells. &ldquo;But you don&rsquo;t want to hide that past. It&rsquo;s a very emotional film, that this happened here.&rdquo;</p><p>All of the films selected for the National Film Registry have been deemed &ldquo;culturally, aesthetically or historically&rdquo; significant.</p><p><em><a class="underlined" href="http://www.wbez.org/users/acuddy-0" rel="author">Alison Cuddy </a> is the Arts and Culture reporter at WBEZ. You can follow her on <a href="https://twitter.com/wbezacuddy"> Twitter </a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/cuddyalison"> Facebook </a> and <a href="http://instagram.com/cuddyreport"> Instagram</a>. </em></p></p> Tue, 24 Dec 2013 09:28:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2013-12/chicago-civil-rights-film-gets-national-film-registry-recognition-109435 Cicero’s Dominick coasts to re-election in first-round triumph http://www.wbez.org/news/cicero%E2%80%99s-dominick-coasts-re-election-first-round-triumph-105777 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/larry_dominick_4_c%20%281%20of%201%29.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px 0px; float: left; height: 347px; width: 230px;" title="Cicero Town President Larry Dominick, celebrating Tuesday night, tells WBEZ he hopes to keep the office for 'the rest of my life.' (WBEZ/Charlie Billups)" />Despite allegations of corruption and nepotism, Cicero Town President Larry Dominick nearly doubled the vote total of his strongest rival Tuesday and won a third four-year term.</p><p>With all precincts reporting, Dominick had 60.0 percent of the vote in the western suburb&rsquo;s&nbsp;nonpartisan primary &mdash; more than the simple majority he needed to avert a runoff.</p><p>The campaign of Juan Ochoa, the race&rsquo;s only Latino, was counting on heavy support from Hispanics, who constitute most of Cicero&rsquo;s population. But Ochoa won just 30.5 percent of the vote. Joe Pontarelli, a former Cicero senior services director, trailed with 9.5 percent.</p><p>Dominick supporters, celebrating at an Italian banquet hall, said his victory margin proved that town residents are satisfied with his economic-development efforts and crime-fighting tactics.</p><p>But Ochoa blamed the results on &ldquo;apathy&rdquo; among fellow Mexican-Americans and said they lack &ldquo;a belief in the democratic process,&rdquo; having endured too much corruption south of the border.</p><p>&ldquo;So when they come here, when we come here, some of us tend to believe that all politicians are the same and that, no matter who you elect, it&rsquo;s all the same,&rdquo; Ochoa said.</p><p>Told of that analysis, Dominick did not seem to agree. &ldquo;Tell Juan Ochoa [to] go scratch his ass and move back to Berwyn, where he belongs,&rdquo; the town president said. &ldquo;Tell him that&rsquo;s not a good thing to say about our people of Cicero.&rdquo;</p><p>Dominick, 64, told WBEZ he hopes to keep the president&rsquo;s post for &ldquo;the rest of my life.&rdquo;</p><p>On the way to his reelection, Dominick weathered a series of unflattering news reports and lawsuit filings. The <em>Chicago Sun-Times</em> linked a close Dominick ally who heads a local school board to a wholesale cocaine dealer and a motorcycle-gang leader with mob ties.<br /><br />Another report by the newspaper revealed that the town had spent more than $3 million at a small hardware store in Berwyn, a suburb west of Cicero, while the shop&rsquo;s owners contributed cash and in-kind support worth tens of thousands of dollars to Dominick&rsquo;s campaign fund.<br /><br />A series of sexual harassment and whistleblower suits, meanwhile, named Dominick as a defendant. Newspapers spotted dozens of Dominick relatives and family friends on the Cicero payroll. And WBEZ focused on <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/cicero-president-seeks-third-term-town-employees-wear-two-hats-105673">town employees doubling as members of Dominick&rsquo;s reelection campaign</a>.<br /><br />Ochoa blasted Dominick on those issues but had some baggage of his own. In 2007, Ochoa accepted an appointment by Gov. Rod Blagojevich to head the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, better known as McPier. He served three years in that post before Blagojevich went to prison on a federal corruption conviction.</p><p>During his Cicero campaign, Ochoa denied that politics influenced his McPier contracting and personnel decisions and insisted he ran a clean ship.<br /><br />But Dominick kept reminding voters about his challenger&rsquo;s tie to the disgraced former governor.</p><p>Dominick also accused Ochoa of recruiting Chicago gang members for his campaign. That charge, the topic of a mobile Dominick billboard and campaign mailings, proved to be at least partially untrue. One of the alleged gang members, for example, is a 51-year-old town resident who has worked for years within Ceasefire, an anti-violence group backed by the city of Chicago.</p><p>Among many extraordinary moments in the campaign, a Cook County judge in December ruled that the Cicero Election Board&rsquo;s three members &mdash; Dominick and two other town officials seeking reelection on his slate &mdash; all had potential conflicts of interest. The judge replaced them with election-law experts from outside Cicero.</p><p>The reconstituted board considered objections to Dominick&rsquo;s candidacy. Ochoa and another Dominick foe claimed that the incumbent shared ownership in a plumbing business that failed to pay town license fees and that he failed to pay permit fees for some garage construction at his home.</p><p>The board left Dominick on the ballot because, in part, the town never went after him over the business fees and never decided the garage work required a permit.</p><p>In January, a candidate on Ochoa&rsquo;s slate blamed politics for a violent attack. Sharon Starzyk, who ran for town collector after filing one of the sexual harassment claims, suffered a head gash as she campaigned door-to-door, she said.</p><p>The campaign also included accusations of fraud and voter intimidation. The claims led Cook County Clerk David Orr&rsquo;s office to request investigation by county and federal authorities. Orr also warned Dominick about &ldquo;illegal campaigning&rdquo; near an early-voting location and threatened to close that site.<br /><br />Two weekends before the election, the Ochoa campaign videotaped uniformed town employees canvassing voters door-to-door. The Ochoa team called the canvass an effort to suppress the Latino vote.</p><p>The Dominick campaign disputed that characterization and tried to shift the focus to Orr, accusing the clerk&rsquo;s office of failing to investigate town claims that mail-in ballot applications had come from vacant homes and properties.</p><p>Orr&rsquo;s office said all the applications had come from registered voters and had passed a signature-veracity test.</p><p>Throughout the campaign&rsquo;s final months, Dominick remained largely outside public view. On Saturday, just hours before a planned news conference to address &ldquo;false charges&rdquo; against him, Dominick&rsquo;s team cancelled the event due to &ldquo;scheduling conflicts.&rdquo;</p><p>After the polls closed Tuesday night, Orr&rsquo;s office reported a Cicero turnout of less than 33 percent, down from 38 percent in 2009, when Dominick won his second term.</p><p><em>Follow <a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/cmitchell-0">Chip Mitchell</a> on <a href="https://twitter.com/ChipMitchell1">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/chipmitchell1">Facebook</a> and <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/in/ChipMitchell1">LinkedIn</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 26 Feb 2013 20:32:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/cicero%E2%80%99s-dominick-coasts-re-election-first-round-triumph-105777 As Cicero president seeks third term, town employees wear two hats http://www.wbez.org/news/cicero-president-seeks-third-term-town-employees-wear-two-hats-105673 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F80310454&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Dominick%20courtesy%20of%20Civero%20Voters%20Alliance1.jpg" style="margin: 0px; float: left; height: 298px; width: 350px;" title="Ahead of Tuesday’s primary, what matters to some public servants is not their job duties but Larry Dominick’s reelection. (Photo courtesy of Cicero Voters Alliance)" />Once upon a time, it was hard to get a government job in the Chicago area without going through a precinct captain or another party boss. Over the years, federal court orders and corruption prosecutions have helped draw a sharper line between public service and politics. But the message hasn&rsquo;t gotten everywhere. With an election looming in Cicero, many employees of that western suburb are wearing two hats.</p><p>MITCHELL: Cicero officials this week called a press conference to warn about what they described as fraud that could swing the results of next Tuesday&rsquo;s election. It was a holiday, so Town Hall was closed. But the officials had keys. They opened up the building, invited the reporters into the council chambers, and took the podium.</p><p>HANANIA: Alright. My name is Ray Hanania. I&rsquo;m the town spokesman.&nbsp;.&nbsp;.&nbsp;.</p><p>MITCHELL: Hanania told the reporters they couldn&rsquo;t speak with Town President Larry Dominick, who&rsquo;s running for a third four-year term. He was speaking for Dominick. And he didn&rsquo;t try to distinguish Dominick the town official from Dominick the candidate.</p><p>HANANIA: We&rsquo;re here in part to respond to some of the false charges made by the other candidates and also to set our story straight.&nbsp;.&nbsp;.&nbsp;.</p><p>MITCHELL: Hanania called someone else to the podium.</p><p>HANANIA: Emo Cundari is the head of the Cicero Voters Alliance.&nbsp;.&nbsp;.&nbsp;.</p><p>MITCHELL: That&rsquo;s Dominick&rsquo;s political operation. After the press conference, Hanania told me Cundari had participated not as the campaign leader but as the town&rsquo;s property-tax assessor. It&rsquo;s the sort of double identity you see a lot in Cicero. Members of Dominick&rsquo;s organization hold jobs throughout the town&rsquo;s bureaucracy and have occupied seats on all sorts of commissions &mdash; even the Cicero Election Board. Until December, that board consisted of Dominick himself and two officials seeking reelection on his slate. Their conflict of interest &mdash; in ruling, for example, which candidates qualified for the ballot &mdash; was so obvious a Cook County judge replaced the entire board with members from outside Cicero. The politics also extend to the town&rsquo;s blue-collar ranks. Tony Loconte is a maintenance worker in a local school district governed by Dominick allies. I found Loconte and other town and district employees campaigning this week at Cicero&rsquo;s early-voting sites.</p><p>MITCHELL: You still working at Morton West High School?<br />LOCONTE: Yes, I am.<br />MITCHELL: Is this part of the job, handing out palm cards for Mr. Dominick?<br />LOCONTE: No, it&rsquo;s part of my precinct captain &mdash; doing it for my precinct.<br />MITCHELL: Are you on the clock right now for the town?<br />LOCONTE: No. I&rsquo;m not on the clock for the school either.<br />MITCHELL: Does your job have any connection to this campaigning work?<br />LOCONTE: None, whatsoever.<br />MITCHELL: You&rsquo;ve never felt any pressure to do this sort of campaigning for your job.<br />LOCONTE: Excuse me. You want to follow me to the bathroom too?<br />MITCHELL: We&rsquo;re not at the bathroom.</p><p>MITCHELL: Last weekend, a campaign trying to unseat Dominick videotaped uniformed town employees canvassing voters door-to-door. Our requests to speak with Dominick about the canvass were declined. Hanania, his spokesman, said the town was just investigating possible mail-in ballot fraud. And Hanania points out that Cicero&rsquo;s hardly the only place where public employees get involved in politics.</p><p>HANANIA: You&rsquo;re not seeing town employees at their offices or at their windows, saying, &lsquo;Thank you for paying [for] the vehicle sticker. Please vote for Larry Dominick.&rsquo; These people are entitled to do whatever they want on their own time and they have to request their vacation time to do it.</p><p>MORRISON: When there&rsquo;s such an overlap between the political apparatus and the town employees, it&rsquo;s too much to be coincidental.</p><p>MITCHELL: David Morrison heads a watchdog group called the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform. He says the overlap hurts taxpayers.</p><p>MORRISON: They end up paying for employees that are doing political work as opposed to taxpayer work. They&rsquo;re told from the beginning, in essence, that, &lsquo;It doesn&rsquo;t matter what your job duties are. What matters is that your candidate wins.&rsquo; And, when that&rsquo;s the rule, they don&rsquo;t pay attention to what their job duties are, they don&rsquo;t worry about punching in on time. Because they understand that there&rsquo;s a secret system operating that means, as long as they deliver their precinct, they get paid.</p><p>MITCHELL: Morrison says that system will stay in place until Cicero voters get tired of it and find cleaner candidates to run.</p><p><em>Follow <a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/cmitchell-0">Chip Mitchell</a> on <a href="https://twitter.com/ChipMitchell1">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/chipmitchell1">Facebook</a> and <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/in/ChipMitchell1">LinkedIn</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 21 Feb 2013 22:44:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/cicero-president-seeks-third-term-town-employees-wear-two-hats-105673 Gutiérrez: Cicero officials trying to suppress Latino vote http://www.wbez.org/news/guti%C3%A9rrez-cicero-officials-trying-suppress-latino-vote-105591 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Gutierrez%20and%20Ochoa%209crop.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px; float: left; height: 234px; width: 250px;" title="U.S. Rep. Luis Gutiérrez and Cicero candidate Juan Ochoa, right, on Monday call for investigations of alleged voter intimidation. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" /></p><div>A door-to-door canvass by town of Cicero employees over the weekend has U.S. Rep. Luis Gutiérrez, D-4th, and a candidate for the town president&rsquo;s post calling for probes of alleged voter suppression.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Gutiérrez and Juan Ochoa, who is trying to unseat Town President Larry Dominick, say Cicero community-service workers visited homes on Saturday and Sunday to harass and intimidate Latino voters who had requested mail-in ballots ahead of the western suburb&rsquo;s Feb. 26 primary.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The town employees, according to an Ochoa campaign statement, &ldquo;knowingly and falsely portrayed themselves as police officers or private investigators and interrogated and intimidated voters, telling them that voting by mail is illegal and that, if they submitted their mail-in ballots, they would be committing fraud and that their votes would not count.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>At a news conference Monday, the Ochoa campaign called on Cook County State&rsquo;s Attorney Anita Alvarez, Clerk David Orr and Sheriff Tom Dart to investigate the canvass.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;You need to come here to Cicero and protect the rights of [Latino voters],&rdquo; said Gutiérrez, who is backing Ochoa in the primary. &ldquo;Alvarez, come here. Protect the voters here against this infamy of corruption here in Cicero.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Ochoa, former chief executive officer of the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, said the Dominick campaign had &ldquo;used public resources to intimidate and suppress the Latino vote.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>About 87 percent of Cicero&rsquo;s 84,000 residents are Hispanic, according to the 2010 census.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Cicero officials insisted that the town employees were only looking into what they characterized as likely fraud in the absentee-voting process.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;There were people applying for absentee ballots from lots that are empty lots, from boarded-up homes, from churches &mdash; asking for absentee ballots from places that they could not possibly live at,&rdquo; Thomas Bradley, an attorney for the town, said at a Monday afternoon news conference.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Cicero spokesman Ray Hanania said about 2,000 absentee ballots had been requested for the primary. That number, he said, was about five times more than in previous town elections.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>A Dart spokesman said the sheriff was aware of the Cicero situation and, as a result, planning to increase the number of sheriff&rsquo;s employees scheduled to help monitor next week&rsquo;s balloting.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But the spokesman, Frank Bilecki, made no promises the sheriff&rsquo;s office would probe anything before Election Day. &ldquo;We would have powers to investigate but it has traditionally fallen under the purview of the state&rsquo;s attorney and Illinois attorney general,&rdquo; Bilecki said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Orr, at a news conference Monday afternoon,&nbsp;said his office had notified the U.S. Justice Department and Alvarez&rsquo;s office about the allegations of both voter intimidation and fraud.&nbsp;Orr said Alvarez&rsquo;s office had begun investigating the allegations.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Alvarez&rsquo;s spokespersons on Monday&nbsp;did not respond to WBEZ requests for comment.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The skirmish follows months of charges and countercharges by the campaigns. Dominick&rsquo;s team has alleged that Ochoa has used gang members as campaign workers. Ochoa&rsquo;s campaign has pointed to Dominick family members on the town payroll and to Cicero&rsquo;s history of mafia influence.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Dominick, a former Cicero police officer, is seeking a third four-year term.</p><p><em>Angelica Robinson contributed reporting. Follow <a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/cmitchell-0">Chip Mitchell</a> on <a href="https://twitter.com/ChipMitchell1">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/chipmitchell1">Facebook</a> and <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/in/ChipMitchell1">LinkedIn</a>.</em></p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 18 Feb 2013 14:54:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/guti%C3%A9rrez-cicero-officials-trying-suppress-latino-vote-105591 Cicero, past and present http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-01/cicero-past-and-present-104731 <p><p>Cicero is the suburb nearest to the center of Chicago. In physical appearance, it look enough like the city that you might think it was just another one of those Community Areas, instead of a separate political entity.</p><p>Cicero Township was established in the 1860s, with an original size of 36 square miles. Over the next few decades, the City of Chicago nibbled away at its outer sections, while Oak Park and Berwyn went their own ways. In 1901 the current borders of the Town of Cicero were set in place.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Cicero--on%2057th%20Court.JPG" title="Cicero 'one-flats' on 57th Court" /></div><p>Unlike some towns, Cicero did not grow outward from a single point. Rather there were a number of separate settlements that gradually came together and coalesced. These included communities like Clyde, Drexel, Hawthorne, and Morton Park.</p><p>Cicero had excellent railroad transportation and low taxes. Industry was attracted to the town, and by the 1920s it became the state&rsquo;s second largest manufacturing center. The population grew from 16,000 in 1900 to over 66,000 in 1930. By that time Cicero boasted 115 factories.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Cicero%20Map%20Real.jpg" style="width: 350px; height: 248px;" title="" /></div><p>The largest manufacturer was the Hawthorne Works of the Western Electric Company. Opened in 1903 at Cicero Avenue and 22<sup>nd</sup> Street (Cermak Road), the plant made telephones and related components. At its peak, Hawthorne Works covered 141 acres and employed 40,000 people.</p><p>During the 1920s Cicero became home to another growing industry&mdash;organized crime. Prohibition was the law of the land, Chicago mayor William E. Dever was cracking down on bootlegging, so Al Capone moved his operations to Cicero. He established his headquarters at the Hawthorne Hotel, just down the block from Western Electric.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Cicero--Cermak%20Road.JPG" title="Cermak Road commercial strip" /></div><p>Soon Capone was running the town. In one famous incident, he publicly slapped the town president down the steps of the Cicero Town Hall. Frequent gun battles erupted, and it was said that &ldquo;if you smell gunpowder, you know you&rsquo;re in Cicero.&rdquo; Capone returned to Chicago in 1927, but the Outfit was now firmly entrenched in Cicero.</p><p>Still, the town wasn&rsquo;t all factories and gangsters. During the early years of aviation, the Cicero Flying Field was among the country&rsquo;s largest aerodromes.&nbsp; Two race courses, Sportsman&rsquo;s and Hawthorne, drew&nbsp;big crowds. Cicero was also home to Morton Junior College, one of the first community colleges, known to locals as UCLA&mdash;University of Cicero Located on Austin.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Cicero--old%20UCLA.JPG" title="Morton High School East--formerly 'UCLA'" /></div><p>People put down roots in Cicero. The population held steady at around 65,000 for decades. Most of the residents were Czechs, who had moved westward from Pilsen and South Lawndale. There were also a large number of Poles.</p><p>One group that wasn&rsquo;t found in Cicero was African-Americans. In 1951 a Black family who tried to move into an apartment on 19<sup>th</sup> Street was met with violence. Three nights of rioting ensued, the National Guard was called in, and the family was forced to leave.</p><p>Cicero&rsquo;s factories weathered tough times during the Depression. World War II and the 1950s brought some rebound. Then there was a long, slow decline as jobs moved away. In 1983, Hawthorne Works closed.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Cicero--Western Electric 1957.jpg" title="Cicero Avenue and Hawthorne Works, 1957 (CTA photo)" /></div></div><p>Now Cicero tries to adapt to a post-industrial environment. New vibrancy was brought in with the entrance of a large Latino population. The 2010 Census revealed Cicero had about 83,000 residents, with over three-quarter of those counted identifying as Hispanic. Many of the old Czech restaurants along Cermak Road have given way to establishments serving Mexican food.</p><p>Today a large strip mall occupies the former site of the Hawthorne Works. Cicero is the home of the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame, and there&#39;s still racing at Hawthorne Race Course. After years of scandal, there&rsquo;s hope that local politics has been cleaned up.</p><p>But old images are hard to erase. A major new Capone film is in the works, starring Tom Hardy and directed by Peter Yates. The name of the movie is simply &ldquo;Cicero.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Cicero--St.%20Mary_0.JPG" title="St. Mary of Czestochowa Catholic Church" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 22 Jan 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-01/cicero-past-and-present-104731 In Cicero, a Roman Catholic church founded by Polish immigrants welcomes the undocumented http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/cicero-roman-catholic-church-founded-polish-immigrants-welcomes-undocumented-104980 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/8386978341_0f0d5ca5a8.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Cicero is known for its <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/cicero-election-board-allows-dominick-ballot-104967" target="_blank">political turmoil</a>.</p><p>In the early 1960s, Cicero&rsquo;s residents violently chased civil rights marchers out of town, effectively putting a cap on Martin Luther King, Jr.&rsquo;s efforts in the area. And in the early 2000s, long-time Cicero Mayor Betty Loren-Maltese was arrested on corruption charges and <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/news/politics/betty-loren-maltese-out-prison" target="_blank">landed in federal prison for nearly seven years</a>.</p><p>But another story has been unfolding a little more gradually in the sizeable suburb just west of Chicago.</p><p>That story can be summed up with a statistic: In 1960, Cicero was 99.9 percent white. Now it&rsquo;s 87 percent Latino.</p><p>A 120-year-old Polish Catholic church just across the border with Chicago is adapting to the changes - and it&rsquo;s welcoming a group of immigrants from federal detention into their former convent.</p><p>St. Mary of Czestochowa Parish has been in Cicero since 1895, when this was a boomtown filled with first-generation Europeans. The parish is named for the biggest pilgrimage site in Poland, Czestochowa, the location of a mystical Black Madonna, or dark-skinned image of the Blessed Virgin Mary whose roots go deep into medieval European Catholicism.</p><p>Inside St. Mary of Czestochowa&rsquo;s towering neo-Gothic church, images of the Black Madonna with child are everywhere.</p><p>But among the church&rsquo;s nine Virgin Mary images, the Virgin of Guadalupe also has a prominent place.</p><p>That&rsquo;s because St. Mary of Czestochowa Parish, once a go-to place for the region&rsquo;s Polish Catholics, is now over 60 percent Latino.</p><p>And the space behind the church, once a convent, is being renovated to host asylum seekers and others without papers who need temporary housing while they wait for hearings.</p><p>&ldquo;Cicero is basically kind of an immigrant community,&rdquo; said Mary Warchol, who&rsquo;s helping set up the former convent for the newcomers. &ldquo;I think that people have to see, well, they were immigrants when they came here. So what about the people here?&rdquo;</p><p>Warchol is a retired schoolteacher who was baptized in the parish, and now lives two doors down. As she and her cousin walked the empty halls of the convent taking pictures, she said the changes over the years are just a part of life in Cicero. The city has long been a stepping stone between Chicago and the suburbs, and a hotspot for immigrants and first-time home buyers.</p><p>With the support of the parish, a Chicago group called the Interfaith Committee for Detained Immigrants (ICDI) plans to rent out the old convent starting in February.</p><p>Father Waldemar, a Polish priest who came from Bolivia to head the Cicero parish, said welcoming immigrants is part of what keeps the parish alive.</p><p>&ldquo;We have many groups in our parish who are very dedicated to work in this parish...they feel here like it&rsquo;s home,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>ICDI was started by two <a href="http://www.wbez.org/sections/religion/chicago-filmmaker-explores-new-roles-us-nuns-102408" target="_blank">prominent Chicago nuns</a> to help people who are released from federal detention. The group takes calls and drives to local jails to pick up people who have been released and need help.</p><p>&ldquo;People are being released and they&rsquo;re being released to the streets,&rdquo; said Brother Michael Gosch, a teacher who&rsquo;s leading the House of Hospitality effort for ICDI.</p><p>In many cases, asylum seekers have to wait years in limbo before a hearing; others who have been caught without papers may have to wait for documentation from their home countries before they can be deported.</p><p>No matter the case, people coming out of detention are released to the streets and often find themselves with nowhere to go. They may be in Chicago from as far away as Kentucky, because the regional Immigration and Customs Enforcement (I.C.E.) headquarters is here. Or they may have arrived at O&rsquo;Hare airport as refugees and been taken to jail.</p><p>&ldquo;Our whole goal with this House of Hospitality on the one hand is to provide accompaniment and hospitality for people who have nowhere to go,&rdquo; said Brother Michael. &ldquo;But on the other hand, it&rsquo;s also about systemic change. Putting them in jail facilities, manacling them when you transport them, it&rsquo;s not humane and it&rsquo;s not just.&rdquo;</p><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/a-day-in-cicero.js?header=false&border=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/a-day-in-cicero" target="_blank">View the story "A day in Cicero" on Storify</a>]<h1>A day in Cicero</h1><h2>WBEZ sent Lewis Wallace and Andrew Gill to visit Cicero and find a story. Here are the results of their trip.</h2><p>Storified by <a href="http://storify.com/WBEZ"></a>&middot; Wed, Jan 16 2013 20:12:47</p><div>A day in Cicerochicagopublicmedia</div><div>In an effort to get to know Chicago's suburbs better, WBEZ sent us to visit Cicero this week. The idea was to follow our curiosity and find a story. <br><br>We started our day at St. Mary of&nbsp;Częstochowa, a traditionally Polish parish founded in 1895.</div><div>A day in Cicerochicagopublicmedia</div><div>The church has a special emphasis on the Polish "Black Madonna," one of few in the area.</div><div>A day in Cicerochicagopublicmedia</div><div>We asked the priest to explain a little about Our Lady of&nbsp;Częstochowa.</div><div>Learning about the Black Madonna in Cicero by WBEZ's Afternoon ShiftListen to Learning about the Black Madonna in Cicero by WBEZ's Afternoon Shift | Explore the largest community of artists, bands, podcast...</div><div>A day in Cicerochicagopublicmedia</div><div>A day in Cicerochicagopublicmedia</div><div>A day in Cicerochicagopublicmedia</div><div>A day in Cicerochicagopublicmedia</div><div>The priest told us that the parish isn't actually majority Polish anymore. The changing demographics of Cicero have led to 60% of the congregation being Latino.</div><div>A day in Cicerochicagopublicmedia</div><div>Services are now conducted in English, Polish and Spanish.</div><div>A day in Cicerochicagopublicmedia</div><div>As we were leaving, the priest introduced us to a parishioner who was stopping by to work on an interesting project. Mary Warchol was joining her cousin to photograph the old convent building before renting it to a group that houses immigrants awaiting their legal status.&nbsp;</div><div>A day in Cicerochicagopublicmedia</div><div>We thought this sounded like a great story, so we asked to tag along with Mary. Here are some photos of the convent building.</div><div>A day in Cicerochicagopublicmedia</div><div>A day in Cicerochicagopublicmedia</div><div>As the ladies took their photos, they told us a lot about the history of Cicero.</div><div>A day in Cicerochicagopublicmedia</div><div>A day in Cicerochicagopublicmedia</div><div>A day in Cicerochicagopublicmedia</div></noscript></p> Wed, 16 Jan 2013 22:11:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/cicero-roman-catholic-church-founded-polish-immigrants-welcomes-undocumented-104980 Cicero election board allows Dominick on ballot http://www.wbez.org/news/cicero-election-board-allows-dominick-ballot-104967 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Ochoa1crop.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px 0px; float: left; height: 300px; width: 250px;" title="But Juan Ochoa is vowing a court appeal. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" />A ruling by a court-appointed election board in Cicero allows Town President Larry Dominick to stay on the Feb. 26 ballot. But his opponents are vowing an appeal to Cook County Circuit Court.</p><p>Dominick&rsquo;s foes claim he is ineligible for the office because of an Illinois statute that disqualifies municipal candidates who are in arrears to their locality.</p><p>Dominick, according to the objections, shared ownership in a plumbing business that failed to pay license fees. He also allegedly failed to pay permit fees for some garage construction at his home, 3825 S. 59th Ct.</p><p>But the board, which ruled in the case Wednesday afternoon, found that it could not toss Dominick from the ballot because, in part, the town never went after him over the business fees and never decided the garage work required a permit.</p><p>Dominick&rsquo;s team hailed the ruling. &ldquo;The voters, at least in Cicero, should be glad that they get a choice of as many candidates who are qualified for the office,&rdquo; attorney Michael Kasper said.</p><p>A different view came from the objectors, led by Juan Ochoa, the strongest candidate trying to unseat Dominick.</p><p>&ldquo;Anybody that is not an insider would have been ticketed, would have been fined,&rdquo; said Ochoa, former chief executive officer of the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority. &ldquo;So we are hopeful that the spirit of the law is what wins the day.&rdquo;</p><p>The objectors have five calendar days to file appeals.</p><p>In December, based on a petition from Ochoa&rsquo;s campaign, Cook County Judge Edmund Ponce de León ruled that the election board&rsquo;s three members &mdash; Dominick and two of his allies, Town Supervisor Joseph Virruso and Town Clerk Maria Punzo-Arias &mdash; all had potential conflicts of interest.</p><p>Ponce de León replaced them with election-law experts from outside Cicero. The judge also disqualified board alternate Dennis Raleigh, a Dominick ally who serves as town trustee.</p><p>Dominick, a former Cicero police officer, is seeking a third four-year term.</p><p>About 87 percent of Cicero&rsquo;s 84,000 residents are Hispanic, according to the 2010 census.</p></p> Wed, 16 Jan 2013 20:30:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/cicero-election-board-allows-dominick-ballot-104967 Cicero election board to rule on Dominick’s fate http://www.wbez.org/news/cicero-election-board-rule-dominick%E2%80%99s-fate-104948 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Dominick1crop.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px 0px; float: right; height: 261px; width: 250px;" title="Cicero Town President Larry Dominick is running for a third four-year term and fighting a claim that his candidacy runs afoul of Illinois law. (Photo: Courtesy of Town of Cicero)" />A colorful political battle in a mostly Latino suburb just west of Chicago could hinge on a ruling expected Wednesday afternoon from the town&rsquo;s election board.</p><p>Cicero Town President Larry Dominick is running for a third four-year term and fighting a claim that he is ineligible for the post because of alleged arrears to the municipality.</p><p>The case&rsquo;s objectors include Juan Ochoa, Dominick&rsquo;s toughest rival in the Feb. 26 election. Ochoa, a former CEO of the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, is heading a slate of Cicero candidates running against Dominick allies.</p><p>Dominick, according to the objection, did not pay permit fees for building projects at his home, 3825 S. 59th Ct., and shared ownership in a plumbing business that failed to pay license fees.</p><p>James Nally, an attorney for the objectors, said the projects include garage work. &ldquo;He didn&rsquo;t apply for a permit to construct the garage but he applied for permits for other work on the property,&rdquo; Nally told WBEZ. &ldquo;So that&rsquo;s an acknowledgement that he knew that permits were necessary to do this work.&rdquo;</p><p>Dominick&rsquo;s own brother testified against him Sunday before the board, a three-member panel. Richard Dominick claimed to have worked for the company and claimed that Larry Dominick partly owned it and helped run it.</p><p>The company, according to a Chicago Sun-Times report, got $1.8 million in business from Cicero despite never bidding for a contract and never signing one.</p><p>Larry Dominick, a former Cicero police officer, says his ex-wife handled the renovation work and denies he has been a partner in the company.</p><p>Dominick&rsquo;s attorney, Richard Means, calls the president&rsquo;s brother &ldquo;a chronic liar&rdquo; and dismisses the claims about the building projects.</p><p>&ldquo;This is dredging up something in the very distant past,&rdquo; Means told WBEZ. &ldquo;In order to be unqualified because of being in arrears in a tax or other fee to the municipality, there has to be some kind of finding [such as] a ticket issued and then you didn&rsquo;t show up in court.&rdquo;</p><p>Ochoa suffered a blow on Sunday when the election board ruled that the &ldquo;only evidence that would be relevant&rdquo; would be a Dominick admission of the existence of a debt that &ldquo;he knows he should have paid&rdquo; or proof that Cicero had sought payment.</p><p>The ballot hearings followed a December intervention by a Cook County judge, who found that the board&rsquo;s three members all had potential conflicts of interest. Those members were Dominick himself and two of his allies, Town Supervisor Joseph Virruso and Town Clerk Maria Punzo-Arias.</p><p>The judge, Edmund Ponce de León, replaced the three with election experts from outside Cicero. Ponce de León also disqualified board alternate Dennis Raleigh, a town trustee.</p></p> Wed, 16 Jan 2013 16:54:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/cicero-election-board-rule-dominick%E2%80%99s-fate-104948 'Safe Highways'--a 1925 traffic safety film http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2012-01-20/safe-highways-1925-traffic-safety-film-95568 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2012-January/2012-01-19/safe highways image.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Today's film was produced in 1925 by the CTA's predecessor, Chicago Surface Lines. CSL wanted to educate the public on traffic safety, and was willing to smash a lot of cars to do so. As a result, much of the film is unintentionally hilarious.</p><p>What's interesting to the historian is the street scenes from nearly 90 years ago. The downtown sites are easy to identify.&nbsp; But the film also goes out into the neighborhoods. I've been able to place a few of these outlying locations (see below). If anyone recognizes other sites, let me know in the comments section.</p><p>1:50--Archer Ave at RR just east of Cicero. Conductor is flagging the streetcar across the tracks.</p><p>2:10--Cicero Ave at 22nd St (Cermak Rd). The old Western Electric complex is clearly visible. Notice that CSL ran two-car trains on some of the busier routes.</p><p>3:15--Cicero Ave at Erie. The Lucille Theater was at 653 N. Cicero Ave.</p><p>7:00--Possibly North Avenue. The center-of-the-street trolley poles are a clue.</p><p>8:14--Traffic signals were new in 1925, and the public was still getting used to them</p><p>9:20--Either Broadway or Clark Street. The streetcar is signed for Route 1.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" mozallowfullscreen="" src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/35332321?title=0&amp;byline=0&amp;portrait=0&amp;color=b30000" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="601" frameborder="0" height="451"></iframe></p></p> Fri, 20 Jan 2012 13:15:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2012-01-20/safe-highways-1925-traffic-safety-film-95568