Whose welfare is the Village attorney protecting?

According to the local press, the Morton Grove Board of Trustees held a first reading of an ordinance that, if approved, would result in a number of changes to village liquor laws.

The ordinance would create two new types of liquor licenses – the Class M liquor license for microbreweries and Class N license for “video gaming cafes,” which would establish caps on how many liquor-license holders can have video gaming machines on the premises at one time. Additionally, the ordinance would raise permit fees on certain liquor licenses and increase the maximum number of Class A licenses.

During discussion of the ordinance at the board’s Sept. 14 meeting, trustee John Thill asked if it would be possible to set a more permanent cap on the number of establishments that have video gaming machines. Terry Liston, attorney for the village of Morton Grove, said a cap would not be possible because it would hamstring future boards. That answer just doesn’t make sense. If the Board of Trustees has the power to change ordinances, which they obviously do, why would it not be possible for a future board to change the cap if they so chose?

Thill added that he was concerned about video gaming’s effect on Morton Grove’s reputation, as well he should be.

Originally the home of the Huscher family before it was converted into a “swanky roadhouse.” During the late 1920s and early 1930s, The Dells eclipsed its competition. Located at the northwest corner of Austin and Dempster, it became the best known and most patronized of the roadhouses in Morton Grove, Illinois. The Dells offered live music and entertainment, dancing, fine food, comfort and ambiance.

The Dells was an incredibly popular and successful commercial enterprise. It boasted a spacious dance floor, broadcast its music performances over the radio airwaves, and, because it was not subjected to the musician union local controls within the city, freely imported nationally renowned musicians and entertainers. The Dells had tasty cuisine — steak, poultry, seafood and even frogs legs — in a well appointed setting on a tranquil wooded lot.

There was more, of course, because The Dells’ prosperous run was concurrent, not the least bit coincidentally, with the Volstead Act and prohibition. Additional attractions included beer, liquor and gambling and gangland wars over the profits of the same. The Dells was said to be owned or controlled by Al Capone and his gang. It is commonly referred to as the most notorious of the Morton Grove roadhouses.

Although slot machines and other forms of gambling were banned in Illinois and Cook County before the turn of the century, they remained relatively easy to find.

The hottest place around here was the “Little Bohemia” strip in Morton Grove, on Dempster Street near Austin. While prohibition was in effect, law enforcement was especially scarce and easily controlled in sparsely populated and rural unincorporated Cook County. Roadhouses there included Club Rendezvous, Lincoln Tavern, Wayside Inn, Club Morton, Walton Club, and most notoriously, The Dells, a roadhouse with a small casino on the second floor, stocked with slot machines, roulette wheels, and other games.

The Dells casino chip

Gambling was permitted to operate in the outreaches of Cook County under a hear no evil, see no evil code of inaction and paid protection during prohibition.

During Morton Grove’s gambling heydays operations were protected through political connections. Surprisingly, today, the man who rides herd of gaming interests in Illinois is none other that State Senator Lou Lang (D-16), who represents Skokie & Morton Grove. Whether it’s gambling, booze or tobacco, Lang’s campaign coffers benefit from contributions. Lang’s campaign fund is one of the largest for a state lawmaker, with more than $1 million. During his 28 years as an Illinois legislator, Lang received more than $6.56 million in donations, state campaign finance records show.lou langLou Lang isn’t a household name, but the veteran state legislator is well known to many as the driving force behind one of the biggest changes to Illinois’ law books in decades: The legalization of medical marijuana.

Before his work on medical marijuana, Lang earned a reputation for expanded legalized gambling in Illinois, proposing dozens of bills over the years seeking to increase wagering in casinos and horse tracks, with slot machines, video consoles and the Internet.

He was among the forces behind the controversial 2009 legislation that allowed municipalities to offer video gaming. Since video gambling went live in 2012, thousands of machines sprouted in thousands of locations including florist shops, truck stops, cafes and coin laundries. Even Lang said the law went well beyond the original intention.

Morton Grove village attorney, Terry Liston, says that to cap gaming in town would hamstring future boards. Since Senator Lang is also an attorney, I wonder if it is possible that he consulted with attorney Liston on this opinion?

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Refusing to Learn From History

The Morton Grove Village pension obligation is one of the highest for a local taxing body In Cook County. Every full time employee is entitled to get a pension, and Mayor DiMaria has increased the village payroll substantially since taking office, thus increasing the village pension obligation. Even the Village Attorney gets a pension and she works part time.

A pile of cash

When she was appointed to be the village Attorney the village was supposed to be saving money by have an attorney compensated with a flat fee rather than being paid on the hours of service rendered to the village. This might have looked good back in 2004 when then Village Administrator Ralph Czerwinski  wanted her for the village attorney, but  now, ten years latter the village attorney has less duties to perform because, the Mayor hired an outside law firm to handle Village Adjudication Court held on Wednesday’s that was being handled by the Village attorney.  Surprisingly, there was no decrease in compensation or hours allocated to the position so as not to  prevent her from being vested in the village pension program.

With the village pension liability topping one hundred million dollars with no end in sight and with the Village Administrator and the Village Finance Director leaving under mysterious circumstances what does the Village President (Mayor ) do?  He brings back the highest pensioner the village has and puts him on the payroll .

Ralph Czerwinski, Czerwinski the former Fire Chief, has left Morton Grove employment twice before after qualifying for not one, but TWO pensions. You can rest assured now that those pensions will be honored and paid promptly… regardless of cost to the taxpayer. 3 pigs trough

Ask yourself this question; if you are already getting 75% of your salary of over $100,000 after 30 years of service and then put in another ten years on  another job with a different village that would qualify you for hefty additional retirement benefits, would you need yet another source of income at taxpayers’ expense? What you have here is not a double dipper but a triple dipper at the public trough.

Municipal  Pensions that continue to burden and drag down  the State of Illinois are alive and growing in Morton Grove.

Ask yourself another question; “Why was the village bond rating downgraded?” One answer; “PENSION DEBT”; another answer; Mismanagement of Local Government… or maybe, with the recent Chicago Tribune article showing how Morton Grove is becoming famous in the drug culture for a codine-based cough syrup manufactured in town, mixed with Skittles candy and a soft drink  to make what they call Sizzrup or Purple Drank… the administration got curious and tried some. Codine sizzrup

It has been said that those who refuse to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Unfortunately, those of us who have learned from history are doomed to watch our unenlightened elected officials repeatedly mess up.

born ignorant