Tax increase?

Now that there is a “legacy” deal for Morton Grove to purchase water from Evanston, it might be useful to look at some of the “nuts & bolts” surrounding this agreement.

One thing that needs to be considered is the new infrastructure that will be required to get the Evanston water to the pipes in Morton Grove. The last “conservative” estimate on the cost was somewhere in the neighborhood of $90,000,000, (which puts it in a pretty ritzy neighborhood, but we are, after all on the southern border of the northshore).

Since it is highly unlikely that the DiMaria administration has $90 mil in a mayonnaise jar in the administrator’s office, that will mean floating a bond to pay the freight… and here is where the two latest downgrades in the village’s bond rating comes back to bite Morton Grovers in the posterior.

Doing some quick figuring computing the $90,000,000 necessary to fund the construction and add to that the fees and costs that go to the underwriters along with the “juice”, (interest), that will have to be paid to borrow the money and the dividing that by the number of households in Morton Grove and we are looking at a property tax increase of somewhere between $1,800 – $2,000 per household.

Just goes to show you that “legacy deals”, just like elections, have consequences. Perhaps the administration would like to show more of its’ transparency and hold another town hall meeting… this one to explain just how, (and who), is going to pay the freight on this project.

…and speaking of projects, has anybody else noticed that there has been no work done on either the Moretti’s site, (where the equipment remains parked since early February), or the project on Waukegan rd, (where the site has been leveled and there is no equipment or activity in view).

We are now in prime construction time… the weather is cooperating and the projects are unlikely to build themselves. Maybe the village fathers would like to explain what the delay is.

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This, that and the other

Well, the election is over, and as Mr. DiMaria has said, the people have spoken. But the burning questions are; “What people?” and “What have they said?”

It should come as no surprise that there is a deep divide in our citizenry when it comes to naming Morton Grove a “Welcoming”, (sanctuary), village.

Those who operate on feelings and emotions want an “open door” policy, regardless of the circumstances surrounding the “undocumented” persons involved. On the other hand, those who question why we have laws if we refuse to obey them and those who question just who is going to pay for the extra burden placed upon society by the “undocumented” are labeled as racist. As usual, our politicians, like the unprincipled weather vanes that they are vacillate back and forth as the wind blows their non-existent principles hither & yon. I can hear Village President DiMaria in my mind saying; “Half of my friends are FOR a welcoming ordinance while the other half are AGAINST it… and, as everybody knows, I stand with my friends.

With the imminent closing of Produce World, Morton Grove will officially become a food desert with not one food market within the village limits. Rumor has it that the Action Party folks were aware of this before the election, but chose their usual foggy obfuscation over transparent honesty when dealing with the situation. Produce World gone; Prairie View shopping center in shambles and even the Halal Market on Dempster has closed. Gonna be lots of hungry folks in Morton Grove I believe.

Now that the hoopla of the mayoral campaign has come to a close, can somebody explain what has happened to the two major building projects in the village? No action to be seen at the Moretti’s site and the large project on Waukegan is a ghost town. What’s going on here? Is it possible that the leaders of the projects in question had been promised seed money that the village doesn’t have at this time? Perhaps we should keep our eyes open for a new bond issue, (rates based upon our lowered ratings), in order to sweeten the pot even further for these DiMaria sweetheart deals.

And so, life rolls on in good old Morton Grove… giving voice to the old saying; “Same “Stuff”, different day!” 

Morton Grove is a swinging town

On January 10th. Morton Grove News ran an article regarding massage parlors which stated, in part;

Today we ask the question; “Does the change in the massage parlor ordinance mean an announcement of exciting new businesses by the Mayor?”

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Morton Grove. because of it’s Home Rule status, can license the parlors and make them subject to spot inspection.  (Home Rule allows a municipality with more than 25,000 residents or one whose citizens have voted to become a Home Rule unit to do pretty much anything not forbidden by state law.)

According to The Morton Grove Champion,

Village board members voted unanimously at their Dec. 12, 2016 meeting to adopt the new regulations which officials said are intended to give the village better oversight of massage therapy establishments.

(The main thrust of these new regulations increases the fee for a license to provide revenue for the village)

“The regulation of massage establishments is a matter of growing importance to public health safety and the welfare of residents,” said Trustee Bill Grear. “And is intended to prevent the spread of diseases through unsanitary practices and…abate nuisances and unlawful activity.”

Village administrator Ralph Czerwinski said there are currently four massage therapy establishments in the village and that another application is pending. He explained that none of the current ones are suspected of anything inappropriate, but the village just wants to proactively have measures in place.

“There should be rules because it protects the community and provides a healthy and appropriate environment,” Czerwinski said.

In today’s Niles/Morton Grove Patch we find the following:

MORTON GROVE, IL — The following information comes from the Morton Grove Police Department as a record of police activity. An arrest by the police does not constitute a finding of guilt but represents merely an accussation. Criminal charges are often dropped or reduced and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

PROSTITUTION

A 51-year-old woman, of the 8300 block of Callie in Morton Grove, was arrested for prostitution after grabbing and manipulating the genitalia of an undercover police officer at the Enya Spa on the 9200 block of Waukegan Road on March 23.

All of this leads the Morton Grove News to ask the following questions:

  1. Trustee Grear, can you explain why the new ordinance did nothing to curtail the spread of diseases through unsanitary practices… or why it failed to abate this nuisance and unlawful activity?
  2. Village manager Czerwinski, does this mean that the administration saw nothing inappropriate in the behavior exhibited at the Enya Spa or was the action on the part of the undercover Morton Grove police officer part of the village’s proactive measures under the newly modified ordinance?
  3. Finally, not to seem ageist, but Mr. village president, (or possibly any of the village trustees whose job it is to protect the quality of life in Morton Grove), explain exactly what is there about our village that would attract 51 year old hookers to ply their trade here?

This isn’t exactly what we would expect from moving Morton Grove forward.

Morton Grove Melodrama Part 13 – We’re off to see the Wizard!

Village president DiMaria, during his last campaign fashioned himself as “the face of the village”.

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Considering that his name and picture are plastered all over the quasi-political campaign literature laughingly referred to as the village newsletter, and his smiling visage appears in almost every local “news” story featured in “the Champion”, you can see that Mr. DiMaria takes his self-styled title very, very seriously.

There has been much talk in the national media lately about the narcissism and ego of a certain politician. Fair enough, but many of the same opinions and comments can be made regarding the Morton Grove Village President.

There’s little question that politicians wield vastly more power and control than the average citizen.

Moreover, privy to non-public, industry-related knowledge affords them all sorts of opportunities (blatantly unethical under Morton Grove ordinances) to substantially augment their income through “insider” trading and investments. For many of them the appetite for material riches can be insatiable.

Large bills fanned out and held in hand
Large bills fanned out and held in hand

Which helps explain why at times the liberty that some of them can’t resist taking with the public trust is so flagrant that (moralistically kicking and screaming) they actually end their careers behind bars. (Does the name “Rod Blagojovich ring a bell?)

One of the primary characteristics of narcissists is their exaggerated sense of entitlement.

It’s hardly surprising then that so many politicians (like our current village president) somehow think they “deserve” to game the system. After all, from their self-interested perspective, isn’t that what the system is for?

In their heavily self-biased opinion, if they want something, by rights it should be theirs. So, nothing if not opportunistic, they take from public and private coffers alike whatever they think they can get away with. (Consider the increase in stipend and “technology allowance” that the current administration granted itself without the benefit of public notice, public input or a public vote).

And given their grandiose sense of self, they’re inclined to believe they can get away with most anything. Sad to say, in today’s politics their judgment isn’t that skewed. Which is to say they’re much more often right than wrong.

Exploiting their privileged position in such a manner hardly leaves them plagued with guilt.

In general, guilt isn’t an emotion they’re prone to. How could they be if they feel entitled to the objects of their desire? In their minds their very ability to attain something must certainly mean it was merited. So it’s only when they’re caught with their hands deep in the till and their various efforts at denial have failed them, that they’re ready to admit responsibility, and posture remorse. But even then, whatever alligator tears they might shed are calculated to lessen the penalties for their misbehavior—or the time that otherwise they might be required to spend in lockup.

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Ironically, despite the steadfast ethical values they profess, these politicians can be viewed as “moral relativists” in that what they adamantly deem immoral for others is yet somehow acceptable for themselves.
In our village, this raises it’s ugly head in playing “bait and switch” with TIF money earmarked for one project but funneled into a sweetheart deal behind the scenes, or changing a zoning/planning ordinance to pressure a landowner to take actions contrary to his/her own best interests, or something as simple as taking credit for increased businesses in town when there are still an overwhelming number of vacant retail properties on Dempster street, (Who are you gonna believe, Village President DiMaria or your own lying eyes?)

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Whether we characterize the personal “allowances” they make as constituting a double standard or outright hypocrisy, these privileged concessions to self clearly broadcast their overblown sense of entitlement. Which is precisely what enables them to regard themselves as sufficiently exceptional to exclude themselves from the rules and standards they impose on others.

What is hard for us to understand is why the village trustees have forfeited any credit, let alone much of a mention, for any of the “so-called” achievements of the DiMaria administration. Little acknowledgment of trustee Grear, who is, after all, the senior and longest serving trustee. Little acknowledgment of trustee Witko, who, while secure in her seat is defending the position of village president DiMaria while he stands mute and doesn’t defend himself.

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Strange… strange indeed.

The saying “Promises are made to be broken” rings particularly true for them. It’s become almost a joke that the devout pledges they made on the campaign trail bear only trifling resemblance to what they’ve done once in office.

The ability to convince voters that they’ll best represent their interests is what defines their success. Actually implementing what they avowed they’d tirelessly work for isn’t really an essential part of their agenda—which is typically well-hidden from constituents. In short, their campaigns measure how well they can dupe the public, not how well they’ll fulfill their responsibilities once declared victorious.

Perhaps the question Morton Grovers need to ask themselves is; “Are the village and myself better off now than we were 4 years ago”?

The Action Party, and village president DiMaria don’t want you asking that question, but, like in the scene from “The Wizard of Oz”, thunder; “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain”. DiMaria behind the curtain

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Morton Grove Melodrama Part 6 – Aye, there’s the rub

Well, dear readers, when we left our story last time we were pondering some of the financial facts surrounding the Moretti family- restaurateurs and friends of mayor DiMaria- being given the opportunity to lease the property from the village for a ridiculously paltry sum for an extended period.  Morton Grovers will have yet another pizzaria to enjoy, but they might want to consider when they pay the check that they not only have paid for their pizza, but also for the land under the restaurant… the alleged contamination of that land… and who knows what else.

Today we ask the question; “Does the change in the massage parlor ordinance mean an announcement of exciting new businesses by the Mayor?”

00000000happy-ending-massage

Morton Grove. because of it’s Home Rule status, can license the parlors and make them subject to spot inspection.  (Home Rule allows a municipality with more than 25,000 residents or one whose citizens have voted to become a Home Rule unit to do pretty much anything not forbidden by state law.)

According to The Morton Grove Champion,

Village board members voted unanimously at their Dec. 12, 2016 meeting to adopt the new regulations which officials said are intended to give the village better oversight of massage therapy establishments.

(The main thrust of these new regulations increases the fee for a license to provide revenue for the village)

“The regulation of massage establishments is a matter of growing importance to public health safety and the welfare of residents,” said Trustee Bill Grear. “And is intended to prevent the spread of diseases through unsanitary practices and…abate nuisances and unlawful activity.”

Village administrator Ralph Czerwinski said there are currently four massage therapy establishments in the village and that another application is pending. He explained that none of the current ones are suspected of anything inappropriate, but the village just wants to proactively have measures in place.

“There should be rules because it protects the community and provides a healthy and appropriate environment,” Czerwinski said.

He said Morton Grove started partnering with Glenview earlier this year to have Glenview health inspectors inspect Morton Grove food and restaurant facilities and said the same practice will be extended to massage therapy establishments. So on top of everything else, Morton Grove taxpayers are paying Glenview for inspection services. Where is the oversight by the Morton Grove administration?

Here’s a thought, why doesn’t Morton Grove require the licenses of the massage therapists to be posted (state law, already),  add the requirement that photos with names, addresses and phone numbers of the therapists would have to be posted as well…  as well as, photos, names, addresses and phone numbers of supervisors.

You might wonder why this would even be an issue until you look back over the past few years and find that there have been a number of prostitution arrests associated with massage establishments in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago.

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A few years ago, prior to the current administration, Morton Grove was winning national acclaim for being a great place to raise a family. Since then, we have seen an explosive increase in liquor licenses and gambling establishments with little, if any benefit for the quality of life for Morton Grovers.

Village officials claim that there is no suspicion of anything inappropriate, yet a website called RUB MAPS
whose motto is “Where Fantasy Meets Realty”, where people literally suggest who to request & other “personal services” info on all kinds of massage parlors, lists three “questionable establishments, one on Waukegan and two on Dempster… one of which  on Dempster  was shut down by the Morton Grove Police.

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The frightening thing is that these establishments could be involved in human trafficking, meaning under aged women or women from foreign countries could be brought into Morton Grove and once here, forced to work in these places. It wouldn’t be surprising if drugs are involved in some. The working gals could be drugged up and become addicted, resulting in a dependency and vicious circle. There is also the possibility of gang activity and drug trafficking. All sorts of bad stuff is possible.

What is happening in our once family-friendly suburb? Follow the politicians; follow the legal folks, but most of all, follow the money.

Large bills fanned out and held in hand

This all begs the question; “Why isn’t the press or somebody investigating and reporting on this?”

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Morton Grove, best place to raise a family?

In July of 2007 Family Circle Magazine named Morton Grove as one of the 10 Best Towns in the U.S. for families.

http://evanced.nileslibrary.org/research/Newspapers/NilesBugle/2007/07_19_2007.pdf

At the end of 2011, Business week named Morton Grove the 3rd. best place in the U.S. to raise kids:

http://images.businessweek.com/slideshows/20111115/the-best-places-to-raise-your-kids-2012#slide14
“The No. 3 best place to raise your kids in the U.S. Morton Grove, a suburb about 15 miles from Chicago, is part of a park district that comprises 14 parks totaling more than 70 acres, two outdoor pools, a museum, four field houses, a 50,000-square-foot community center, and an outdoor ice rink, according to Morton Grove Park District. The village is home to several high-performing schools, including Hynes Elementary School, Park View Elementary School, Golf Middle School, and Melzer School, according to greatschools.org. ”

If you look back in Morton Grove’s history, it was not always so…

♠ Roadhouses thrived during Prohibition (1920–1933) in rural areas near Chicago. Roadhouses varied from small, sleazy taverns to big, fancy nightclubs with name dance bands and floor shows. Many served food, but the big attraction was being able to drink illegal beer or liquor. “The Outfit” or syndicates distributed the illicit booze and controlled many roadhouses where recognized customers could get served.  The Dells and Lincoln Tavern in Morton Grove, were among the biggest and best known.

♠ On October 25, 1931, the unbelievable happened. Al Capone was convicted of income tax evasion and sentenced to ten years in prison. That same day Matt Kolb was killed at his speakeasy gambling club, the Club Morton on the corner of Dempster and Ferris Road.

♠March 25, 1935 a tragic fire took six lives at Club Rendezvous in Morton Grove.

♠ February 17, 1947 William Vogel, (dubbed the slot machine king of the north side), surrenders to the court on an indictment of conspiracy to operate gambling equipment in Morton Grove.

And, if you think about it, the more things change, the more they stay the same…

All-InnAll Inn

Top row: “ALL INN on Dempster”

Bottom row:  “BIGGIES on Oakton” This is kitty-corner from Niles North H.S.

biggies 1biggies 2

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2005-09-16/news/0509160192_1_otb-parlors-niles-betting


Regulators hit “bad apples” in video gambling.

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2014-05-30/news/ct-video-poker-blacklist-met-0530-20140530_1_video-gambling-top-gambling-regulator-video-poker-companies

Video Poker Protections Questioned
http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-10-06/news/ct-met-video-poker-regulation-20131006_1_video-gambling-nicky-nichols-illinois-gaming-board

More Suburbs Betting On Video Poker
http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-02-07/news/ct-met-video-poker-reversals-20130207_1_video-poker-bans-suburbs

Gaming Board Targets Video Poker Loopholes
http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-11-22/news/ct-video-poker-rules-met-1122-20131122_1_video-poker-video-gambling-slot-machines

And, after the “Tilted Kilt” project was withdrawn in Morton Grove, we now have Playboy Bunnies…

Bringer Playboy
Bringer Inn on Ferris

I wonder whether Business Week would consider Morton Grove as a good place to raise a family in 2015?  

  MG-neon_gal