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 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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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?

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