Police commander checks in with EVA July 6

President Message by John Scheer 

OK! Summer is finally here. The sun has come out and the weather has warmed up. The sidewalk cafes are packed and the street fairs are profitable. Looking around, you would never know the economy is in such bad shape.

Maybe this is a sign of good business planning and a popular neighborhood.

Whatever the reason, there is also an increase in crime. The most recent Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy report indicates that crimes against people are down but crimes against property are significantly higher. I’m not sure if there is a theory as to why one goes up while another one goes down, but it is a clear message that fighting crime is every ones responsibility.

For you own protection, follow the standard recommendations to keep cars, doors and windows locked to prevent easy access. Many crimes are referred to as crimes of opportunity just because something is easily accessible it is an easy target for a crime. Remain aware of who and what is around you when out on the street.

Other recommendations and safety guidelines can be picked up at the monthly CAPS meeting. Beat 1322 is held at Wood Street Police Station on the first Wednesday of the month.

Commander Judith Martin of the Chicago Police Department 13th District will be the guest speaker at the July EVA meeting. Expect the commander to share some of the improvements around the district, as well as updates on current crime investigations and trends. Please plan to attend the July meeting for current information that may improve your safety.

The July meeting is 7 p.m. Monday, July 6 at the Happy Village, 1059 W. Wolcott. In the past, the commander has been very interested in hearing from neighbors about crimes and issues that impacting all of us.

Plans are also under way for the August EVA meeting which will be the annual barbecue. The menu is coming together and everyone should be pleased.

This annual barbecue is the largest EVA event focused on increasing new memberships. Everyone is encourage to bring their neighbors as an opportunity for these neighbors to meet more of the EVA members and join the community group to be part of the neighborhood destiny. Watch the EVA web site for more information and details relating to the August EVA barbecue.

Looking for Chicago Avenue hotspots?

Free wireless Internet access is spreading along Chicago Avenue.

The ChiFi network blankets the Eckhart Park area between Ashland Avenue and Throop Street. But businesses across Ashland are web hotspots as well, including Alcala's Western Wear at Hermitage and Columbia Furniture at Hoyne.

Buildings with small rooftop installations extend the network. The West Town Special Service Area business district plans to add more rooftop gateways across Chicago Avenue from Halsted Street to California Avenue, and eventually along Damen, Milwaukee and Ogden avenues as well.

Computer users access one of the network locations, labeled ChiFi 1 to ChiFi 9. They're then directed to a gateway website to for a new password every month, said program manager Matthew Westfallen.

Getting access was a simple matter on a spring visit to OnShore Networks, 1407 W. Chicago Ave. OnShore installs web networks in apartment and condo buildings across the city, said the firm's Matthew Lechleider.

Businesses who agree to be hotspots, or neighbors curious about the service, can call (312) 850-9390 or visit westtownssa29.org.

Minutes for June 1, 2009 membership meeting

Submitted by Dana Palmer

  1. Guest speaker Earlean Collins presented regarding her role with the Cook County Board for District One. Mrs. Collins stated that she served on the Illinois Senate for 21 years before retiring and serving on the Cook County Board. She mentioned that she was raised a Democrat and continues to believe not only in the sharing of responsibilities but also in the sharing of benefits.

    Mrs. Collins went on to say that the top two responsibilities of the Board are public health and public safety. She expressed that the main challenge of the Board is finding enough revenue to fund the services that need to be provided. She explained that currently there is an increase in the need for services but a decrease in the amount of revenue generated. Therefore, the Board must find ways of retrieving revenue and they are currently doing so through property taxes, fees generated from the court system and sales taxes.

    However, she went on to explain, that the revenue generated not only goes to the Board to disperse to services being provided but they also are divided with the City of Chicago, the park district and the Chicago Transit Authority. In fact, she stated that only about 1.7% of the revenue generated goes to the Board.

    One idea for generating more revenue Mrs. Collins presented, was to become a municipality. She stated that by being a municipality you are able to generate revenue in other ways. One other challenge the Board is faced with according to Mrs. Collins is within the time limits in which the revenue can be spend once obtained. She stated that the revenue has to be spent within a specified time frame and that if that revenue is not spend within that time frame the revenue is lost and possibly given to another organization competing for it the following year.

    Mrs. Collins also spoke briefly about the John Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County. She mentioned that the services provided by the county hospital are not funded by the state of Illinois but from the county of Cook alone due to an agreement set-up prior to her involvement with the Board. Therefore, money can not be obtained from the state to help with generating revenue for services need at the hospital. She stated that one idea she had for combating this was to sue the state for not contributing to the revenue needed for services being provided by the hospital. However, she stated that this idea was not well accepted by others and has not been implemented.

    One other issue in regards to the hospital that was briefly discussed was the issue of billing patients for services provided by the hospital. Mrs. Collins confirmed that in the past the hospital was not billing patients for services due to the idea that is was a “free” hospital. However, they are now implementing a billing process and she feels this is a step in the right direction to help alleviate the revenue building for the hospital services from solely the taxpayers.

    Mrs. Collins also presented a little bit about the juvenile detention center and court system. She mentioned that she is currently working towards ways of decreasing the enormous amount of revenue going towards housing juveniles who have been convicted on non-violent crimes.

  2. Discussion of the August barbecue was postponed by John Scheer until the next board meeting.

  3. In regards to Planning, Preservation and Development, Scott Rappe stated that his letter regarding “The Winchester” contingencies presented at the previous Board Meeting mentioned that one of the contingencies was no more that 44 chairs in the outdoor cafe. However, the secretary report stated no more that 50. Dana Palmer reviewed her secretary reports which confirmed that vote at the May 4, 2009 membership meeting stated 50 versus 44. Therefore, Mr. Rappe will amend his letter to be resubmitted.

  4. Stephen Rynkiewicz stated that EVA is now on Twitter under evachicago.

  5. Steven Crane mentioned that he received two new memberships for EVA. He and Brodi Cole agreed to look into membership renewal comparing the membership list with the Paypal report to find out who still needs to renew.

  6. Rich Anselmo stated that he will continue to attempt to reach Joe Hunewinkel regarding making a postcard to distribute to East Village residents directing them to the EVA website.

  7. Rich Anselmo and Scott Rappe stated that they would go together to present to the Alderman's office about Pedestrian designations for the properties at the Pizza Hut, Post Office and Walgreens.

  8. Meeting adjourned.

Collins: Long road to roll back Cook County tax

Cook County's "indescribable" budget challenges forced an unpalatable 1% sales tax increase, Commissioner Earlean Collins told her East Village Association constituents on June 1.

The 1st District representative voted "present" to rescind the increase and return the tax to 0.75%, a move that did not survive President Todd Stroger's veto. "I don't have any problem voting present when both sides are wrong," said Collins.

At 10.25%, the sales tax paid in Chicago is one of the nation's highest. Collins said federal stimulus money for Cook County Hospital justified no more than a rollback to 10%. Raising property taxes would have been the only alternative. she said.

County spending is boxed in by longstanding from state health-care mandates to the Shakman court decrees against political hiring, she said. "They have a structural deficit they ignored for years," Collins said.

Courts should relieve the county of its spending requirements and force more equitable state funding, said Collins. She nominally controls courts as chair of the County Board's Criminal Justice committee. She also leads the panel on Workforce, Job Development & Training Opportunities, and complained that trainees were required to be paid twice the minimum wage despite their lack of experience.

For more of Collins' comments, read minutes of the meeting.