WBEZ | south suburbs http://www.wbez.org/tags/south-suburbs Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Neglected rape kits require Cook County victims to recount assaults http://www.wbez.org/news/neglected-rape-kits-require-cook-county-victims-recount-assaults-108479 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/robbins.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The Cook County sheriff&rsquo;s office wants victims of as many as 201 unsolved rapes in south suburban Robbins to come forward and tell their stories, again.</p><p>That&rsquo;s because Robbins police didn&rsquo;t properly investigate them the first time.</p><p>Earlier this year the Cook County sheriff&rsquo;s office discovered 201 rape kits - dating back to 1978 - in a disorganized evidence locker in the Robbins police station.</p><p>One-hundred-and-fifty of the rape kits had been analyzed by state police, but Robbins police never conducted any further investigation. The other 51 hadn&rsquo;t even been sent to the state crime lab for testing.</p><p>&ldquo;Nationally the issue of untested rape kits is a big one &hellip;. But what we&rsquo;re talking about here is something more challenging. This department had sent in the kits but then never worked the results,&rdquo; sheriff spokeswoman Cara Smith said.</p><p>Robbins Mayor Tyrone Ward and police Chief Melvin Davis took over in May, about two months after the rape kits were found. At a press conference yesterday they stressed that the neglected rape kits were failures of past administrations, and did not reflect on their leadership.</p><p>Davis said he has replaced a quarter of the village&rsquo;s police department.</p><p>After he was hired, Davis said he conducted interviews with all of the officers, and determined that six of the 24 patrol officers weren&rsquo;t suited for the job. He also brought in new leadership.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve established a new command staff and we are making sure that all safeguards are in place to make sure this never happens again,&rdquo; Davis said.</p><p>Ward also promised that the underlying issues that led to the rape kits being neglected had been addressed. But he stopped short of promising more resources for the beleaguered police department.</p><p>&ldquo;You shouldn&rsquo;t work based on your salary, you should work based on your heart,&rdquo; Ward said.</p><p>Right now, the town of about 5,400 residents has two full-time officers - in addition to the command staff - and 24 part timers.</p><p>Davis said they are planning to transition three more officers into full-time roles.</p><p>The uninvestigated rape kits were discovered in March after a probe by the Cook County sheriff&rsquo;s office.</p><p>The sheriff&rsquo;s office took over the investigations and now is asking for help solving the sexual assaults the kits are tied to.</p><p>Smith said the condition of the kits was so bad that at least seven are water-damaged and unusable. And she said there are police reports for &ldquo;very few&rdquo; of the rape kits.</p><p>That&rsquo;s why she pleaded with victims to come forward to help investigators piece together what little information they have.</p><p>&ldquo;We may in some cases need to put together the case from the very beginning,&rdquo; Smith said.</p><p>Smith said the sheriff&rsquo;s office is pleased with the steps the new Robbins administration has taken. As for the old administration, she said in the six months since the rape kits were discovered she has never heard an explanation for how the kits went ignored.</p><p>&ldquo;In some of these cases we may be left saying [to the victim], we don&rsquo;t have an explanation for why it happened, but today we believe you and we&rsquo;ve done everything we could to try and bring justice to you,&rdquo; Smith said.</p><p>The sheriff&rsquo;&rsquo;s office and the office of the Cook County State&rsquo;s Attorney&rsquo;s are both trying to figure out a way to bring charges in the old sexual assault cases. The statute of limitations has run out on most of them.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s nuances in the law depending on the age of the victim, the age of the crime, if DNA was uploaded, &ldquo; Smith said. &ldquo;So we have to kind of put those pieces together for each one of these, but we are certainly going to have cases where we can&rsquo;t bring charges, and that&rsquo;s a crime in and of itself.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Patrick Smith is a WBEZ reporter. Follow him <a href="http://twitter.com/pksmid" target="_blank">@pksmid</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 21 Aug 2013 14:14:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/neglected-rape-kits-require-cook-county-victims-recount-assaults-108479 Morning Shift: Navy Pier's future facelift has to strike balance http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-08-13/morning-shift-navy-piers-future-facelift-has-strike <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Navy Pier - Flickr - Bernt Rostad.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>With Navy Pier headed toward a re-design in the next couple years, can the design continue to attract so many tourists? And, Matteson, Illinois, officials are closing Lincoln Mall. What does this imply about the future economy of the south suburbs?&nbsp;</p><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-42.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-42" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Navy Pier's future facelift has to strike balance" on Storify</a>]</noscript></p> Tue, 13 Aug 2013 08:29:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-08-13/morning-shift-navy-piers-future-facelift-has-strike Incumbents rule the day in suburban mayoral elections http://www.wbez.org/story/incumbents-rule-day-suburban-mayoral-elections-dnp-84794 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-April/2011-04-06/Naperville Riverwalk.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>Updated on 4/7/11 at 11:06am</em></p><p>Voters throughout Chicago's suburbs cast ballots in more than two dozen races for mayor or village president.&nbsp; But amidst budget pressures and uncertain economic times, the response from voters in most communities was: stay the course.</p><p>That wasn't true in every community, of course. Several of the state's largest cities will see new leadership this year - the result of both ballot box rebukes and voluntary retirements.</p><p>In the latter case, Joliet's incumbent mayor Arthur Schultz is retiring after 20 years in office.&nbsp; He'll be succeeded by Tom Giarrante, a retired firefighter and incumbent city councilman.&nbsp; Giarrante defeated eight other candidates on Tuesday to become mayor of Illinois' fourth largest city.</p><p>But in northwest suburban Elgin, longtime mayor Ed Schock lost his bid for a fourth-term in office, as tallies showed challenger Dave Kaptain winning 54 percent of the vote.&nbsp;</p><p>Residents of west suburban Wood Dale also will have a new mayor soon.&nbsp; Voters denied incumbent Ken Johnson's bid for a fourth term, giving the nod instead to Annunziato Pulice.&nbsp; Pulice won a close two-way contest, capturing 51 percent of the vote, following revelations that Johnson owed the village thousands of dollars in unpaid health premiums.</p><p>CPA David Gonzalez won election to an open seat in Chicago Heights over Alderman Joe Faso.&nbsp; The south suburban community has had an interim mayor since the death of then-mayor Alex Lopez in August 2010.</p><p>Challenger Gopal Lalmalani defeated incumbent John W. Craig in the race for Oak Brook Village President, and in the open mayoral seat in Rolling Meadows, former city councilman Tom Rooney sailed to victory against Jonathan Trapani.</p><p>In a battle of ballot nicknames in Prospect Heights, Nichaolas "Nick" Helmes handily defeated incumbent Dolores "Dolly" Vole with better than 70 percent of the vote.</p><p>But elsewhere, it was business as usual for many other communities as incumbents cruised to re-election in races for mayor and village president, many of whom ran unopposed.</p><p><strong>Schaumburg</strong></p><p>In Schaumburg, long-time incumbent village president Al Larson faced his first challenge in more than 15 years but emerged victorious over 31-year-old challenger Brian Costin.&nbsp;</p><p>Much of the campaign focused on the village's recently instituted property tax, as well as the village's ownerhip of the Schaumburg Flyer's baseball stadium and the Renaissance Schaumburg Hotel and Convention Center.&nbsp; Costin criticized the village property tax, and he argued that the stadium and convention complex should be privatized.</p><p>Larson, 72, has led Schaumburg for 24 years and his victory on Tuesday returns him to office for another four-year term.</p><p><strong>West Suburbs</strong></p><p>Tuesday night also proved to be a big one for Naperville's four-term incumbent mayor George Pradel.&nbsp; He defeated two other challengers to win a fifth term in office, which Pradel says will be his last.&nbsp;</p><p>In nearby Wheaton, Mayor Michael Gresk defeated Councilman John Prendiville in his bid for re-election.&nbsp; Gresk garnered 53 percent of the vote to Prendiville's 47 percent.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>South Suburbs</strong></p><p>While voters in Joliet selected a new mayor, incumbents won the day in several other south suburban communities, including Country Club Hills, where voters elected Mayor Dwight Welch to a seventh term in office.</p><p>In Harvey, Eric Kellogg also won re-election, though he failed to win a majority of the vote in a five-person contest.&nbsp; A recent controversy over a vote that made Kellogg superintendent of Harvey's public schools and allegations of corruption swirled during his most recent term in office.</p><p>Meanwhile, John Ostenberg cruised to a record fourth-term as mayor of Park Forest by a two-to-one margin, but the race for mayor of University Park was much closer.&nbsp; With absentee ballots not yet counted, Vivian Covington holds onto a razor-thin lead over Joseph Roudez.</p><p><em>Correction:&nbsp; An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Gopal Lalmalani as the incumbent in the race for Oak Brook Village President.&nbsp; He was the challenger.</em></p></p> Wed, 06 Apr 2011 14:54:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/incumbents-rule-day-suburban-mayoral-elections-dnp-84794