Yearly Archives: 2020


Martwick’s empty school funding promise comes back to haunt

IL Senate appointee Martwick failed to deliver additional District 80 state aid despite pledge

At a board of education meeting last year, appointed Illinois state senator Robert Martwick appeared to make promises to District 80 when he pledged to work with the District in order to secure more funding.

Martwick spoke of the $45 capital bill passed in 2019 containing money “for school infrastructure and improvement”.

Martwick had promised additional funding for District 80

“My office will be a resource to you, as we look at those school construction and rehabilitation grants, make sure that District 80 and all of the other schools are getting their fair share, getting on the list, making sure you’re prioritized”, Martwick said, adding “my office will be happy to work with you on that”.

Martwick also spoke of the “evidence based funding model” passed by the legislature a few years back, and how District 80 was not considered on the list of “neediest” schools.

He said more money will make it to all the other schools “eventually”, stating “money will start flowing to District 80… so that’s coming”.

At the time of the comments, Martwick was a candidate in the 2020 Democratic primary election against Danny O’Toole.

Illinois politicians often use schools as pawns in budget and tax fights, and District 80 appears to have become the latest victim.

District 80 board president Sam Palazzo allowed Martwick to make these campaign promises at the December 2019 meeting, despite a prohibition on political campaigning during school meetings. Palazzo may have thought it would lead to additional funding for District 80.

Martwick went on to win the 2020 Democratic primary against O’Toole. However, Palazzo’s actions were for nought as Martwick did not secure any additional state aid for District 80, either in general funding, or grants.

District 80’s board has more Martwick critics than supporters, and some see Martwick’s lack of engagement on state funding for District 80 as retaliation for some individual board members’ personal opposition to Martwick.

Martwick’s only “contribution” to District 80 funding was taking credit for a $787.50 library grant, which, it turned out, was handled by the Illinois Secretary of State‘s office… meaning Martwick had nothing to do with it.

Avino attacks

District 80 officials must have been asking when Martwick is going to deliver the goods, as board member Lou Mezzano posted a notice of a grant Martwick procured for a Chicago school, musing “it sure would have [been] nice” to have received that money at District 80.

Mezzano’s post didn’t directly attack Martwick, but it was enough to draw a vicious attack from Martwick protege Frank Avino, who claimed Mezzano “didn’t do your job” about requesting a grant directly, and accused Mezzano of taking “cheap shots“.

Avino’s comments were surprising given as Avino is (was?) an ally of Mezzano, having campaigned for him in 2019.

Mezzano didn’t directly respond to Avino’s hostility, instead inviting him to the next District 80 board meeting where “our board will be speaking on this subject”.

Frank Avino is Illinois Democratic Party chairman Mike Madigan’s representative in Norwood Park Township, through Madigan’s Democratic Organization.

Avino also holds the elected positions of Norwood Park fire protection district trustee and Norwood Park Township Democratic Committeeman.

Avino has declared himself a candidate for the Norridge Village Board election in April 2021, even though Avino’s fire board term does not expire until 2023.

Close election

Martwick is locked in a tight general election race versus Republican Anthony Beckman. Beckman is being backed by state and local Republicans, while Martwick is supported by Madigan’s Democratic Organization.

The Dem Organization is also backing IL house 19 appointee and candidate Lindsey Lapointe, Cook County state’s attorney Kim Foxx, and appointee Norridge Village President Daniel Tannhauser’s Norridge Improvement Party slate (of which Frank Avino is also a member).

A key education policy contrast between Beckman and Martwick is support for school choice, the ability for parents to send their children to non-government schools of their choosing while receiving credits for property taxes paid toward public schools.

Beckman is a strong supporter of school choice, whereas Martwick is opposed.

Will Martwick actually secure any additional funds for District 80, other than taking credit for a sub-$800 library grant taken care of by somebody else?

If we go by Martwick’s track record so far… the answer is a firm “no“.


2020 general election endorsements

I am voting for the following candidates in the local state and county races, and against a statewide tax referendum

Anthony Beckman – Illinois State Senator 10th Senate District. Beckman is willing to take on the State’s dire fiscal mess, proposing alternatives such as lowering the tax burden, and reforming pensions. Beckman is a breath of fresh air in a swamp of failed left-wing fiscal and social policies. Beckman has been endorsed by the Chicago Tribune, and former Democratic 10th District candidate Danny O’Toole, whom I supported in the 2020 Democratic Primary. I oppose the Norridge disgrace, appointee Robert Martwick, for many reasons.

Jeff Muehlfelder – Illinois State House 19th House District. Muehlfelder’s policies generally align with that of of Beckman, as such since I am in the 19th I am voting for Muehlfelder. I oppose appointee Lindsey Lapointe, who’s policies align with that of Martwick. Hand picked by Martwick to succeed him, Lapointe has demonstrated her willingness to take all her cues from Martwick and the 38th Ward Democratic Organization, without even a hint of independence – betraying her true status as a Martwick proxy.

Vote!

Pat O’Brien – Cook County State’s Attorney. I oppose the re-election of Kim Foxx. The violence spinning out of control is due in no small part to her unwillingness to do her job and prosecute those who should be taken off the streets. Innocents are dying in Cook County (especially Chicago) in the name of Foxx’s “social justice” – that’s not the job of a prosecutor, and such prosecutorial inaction emboldens more evil-doers. Foxx has refused to debate O’Brien.

Progressive Income Tax – I will be voting NO on the “progressive income tax” Illinois constitutional amendment referendum.

On the surface, and through its overly complicated and misleading description, this tax will allow for variable tax rates on individuals depending on income levels, instead of the “one-size-fits-all” current flat tax rate. If passed, it will mean higher tax rates for higher income individuals.

In reality, it will harm small businesses as these businesses often file taxes under individual tax returns, and so these business owners will be considered “rich” and burdened by higher tax rates.

Businesses will have to respond by laying off workers, moving out of Illinois, or closing outright. Illinois businesses are already being crushed by high tax rates. Add to this, businesses are reeling as a result of Illinois gov JB Pritzker’s coronavirus-pretexed lockdowns, that have imposed severe restrictions on business activity in 2020… with NO end in sight. How much more can Illinois’ companies take?

The amendment will open the door for local governments to tack on new income taxes at the county and local level by repealing the ban on income taxes lower than the state level. Tax happy politicians like Cook County Board President Toni “Queen Sugar” Preckwinkle, and appointed Village President Daniel Tannhauser, are salivating at the thought of taxing your income. Again, more hits to small business.

The constitutional amendment would also allow the state to tax retirement income. Pro-tax increase politicians such as Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs have desperately tried to walk back this admission in recent days, with Frerichs even canceling a press conference at the last minute. Tax on retirement income will quicken the exodus of retirees to no-income-tax states such as Florida, Tennessee, and Texas. More money leaving Illinois and never coming back.

The State has failed to make any meaningful cuts in spending. Nor have they implemented any property tax reform at the local level, despite promising to do so. All the current Illinois administration wants is more more more of our tax money, without any reform of taxes, or spending, at all.

When the money they “expect” doesn’t materialize, they will lower the income threshold on the higher tax rates, resulting in income tax hikes on the middle class and finally, more taxes on blue collar jobs.

As such, I believe they have failed to make the case for a YES vote on this tax referendum. Don’t be fooled. We need pro-business, pro-growth policies, not more tax increases.

The referendum is an opportunity for voters to say clearly and loudly: NO MORE TAXES.

District 79 tax increase referendum – If I lived in the District 79 part of Norridge, I would be voting NO.

District 79 says it needs more money for infrastructure and because of higher enrollment.  The increase in enrollment could be addressed by consolidating District 79 and 80, and allowing some students to attend Giles and Leigh. If District 80 has higher capacity and its buildings are under-utilized, then why is District 79 asking voters to pay for something the community doesn’t really need?

As for the condition of the Pennoyer school building itself, I have walked through all three grade school buildings in Norridge the past few years. There is no doubt Pennoyer is in the worst shape of the three. There’s roof leaks all over the place, and obvious HVAC issues.

However, the reason Pennoyer’s building is in such shambles, is due to the District’s failure to plan for (and budget for) maintenance over the years. They knew the end-of-life for it’s HVAC years ago.

Instead of planning to replace infrastructure over time, District 79 prioritized payroll over building maintenance, agreeing to a teacher contract that gives 6% raises in each of the last 3 years of employment. That’s a failure of leadership, especially Board President Michael Malusa, who has been on the board for 27 years. (Malusa’s wife has been a District employee for 20 years – a conflict of interest).

These are the same issues District 80 faced. 80 is doing much better than it did than two years ago. Why? Because people who actually care about the district decided to run for office, and formed a new majority, with new leadership. The new District 80 majority actually cares about building maintenance, and negotiated a new teacher contract that takes into account the actual and projected revenues of the district.

The only YES vote District 79 needs, is to new leadership. I urge people in District 79 to run for the District 79 board. You can start collecting signatures now from registered voters in 79’s area. You need a minimum of 50 signatures to get on the April ballot, due in mid-December.

District 79 will keep asking you for more money until the current leadership is removed and replaced with people who really care about the school and the community, over their personal financial interests.

Adam Chudzik, Norridge

 


Illinois Senate District 10 candidate talks taxes, law and order

Republican Anthony Beckman is challenging appointed Democrat Martwick in November

Anthony Beckman, a 17 year veteran of the Norridge Police department, has conquered cancer twice and won. And now he’s looking to take on a different kind of challenge – Illinois politics.

Beckman, a resident of Harwood Heights, is running for the Illinois 10th Senate district seat vacated by John Mulroe. The 10th district covers all of Norridge, Harwood Heights, and parts of Chicago.

Anthony Beckman is running for IL Senate District 10

The current occupant of the 10th Senate district seat is Robert Martwick, who was appointed to the position in 2019. Martwick was previously the elected Illinois House representative for the 19th district.

On an episode of the Max Rice Tonight podcast, Beckman laid out his positions and his priorities if voters send him to Springfield.

Taxes

On tax policy, Beckman cites tax relief as his “first priority”, strongly opposing the progressive income tax championed by billionaire Illinois governor JB Pritzker, and placed on the November ballot by the Democratic majority.

“We’re looking at this progressive income tax. They want to make it sound so glamorous, but we all know by after year 1, everybody is going to be affected”, Beckman said.

He alluded to the fact that the progressive income tax brackets will eventually hurt those making middle-class and lower wages, not just the wealthy.

“Now they are moving all the way down to people who are making $30,000 or more. That’s going to affect all the workers in Illinois.”

Beckman proposes rolling back the current flat income tax to 3%.

“We’re at 4.9% right right now with a flat tax, I’d like to see it go back down to 3%”.

He said lower taxes, including business taxes, will mean “putting more money back into the economy”.

“That’s what grows your economy. Not by government swelling up and taking more money from us”.

Sanctuary state

Beckman opposes “sanctuary state” polices that prevent local law enforcement from cooperating with federal law enforcement to curb illegal immigration.

“Sanctuary states, they affect us economically, fiscally and socially”, Beckman said.

“They affect the minority communities the most. We have low-skilled, low wage [jobs] going to illegals, when they could go to legal citizens”.

Beckman cited local law enforcement’s inability to deport criminal aliens.

“They are getting locked up for crimes, and you can’t hold them, because of the sanctuary city and state policies”, Beckman added.

Free speech and protests

Beckman is a strong advocate of free speech, saying “too many conservatives are not having their voices heard”.

“I am totally in agreement for the first amendment on all sides of the aisle when it’s peaceful”, Beckman said.

Beckman took exception to the Antifa-led protests that have engulfed cities throughout he nation, saying they are “causing havoc” and “not protesting against the right things”.

“They’re protesting against America. They are actually protesting against what our Founding Fathers, and all those great people that fought in the Revolution, for our rights, for our freedom, they’re fighting against that”, Beckman said.

“They are fighting for their socialist beliefs, of more government, big government in our lives”.

Beckman does not believe rioting and looting should be protected speech.

“When you terrorize neighborhoods … you should not be heard”, Beckman added.

Term limits, pensions, gun rights

Beckman supports term limits for elected officials, and does not support pensions for elected officials, including himself.

“I get a pension from the police. I would not be taking a pension if I was a state Senator … [and] I would be fighting for term limits”, Beckman said.

Beckman is also in favor of ending double dipping of pensions, as well as pension spiking, a common practice among Norridge’s school districts.

“How long are we going to go before it all crumbles? We need to save pensions for everybody”, Beckman said, adding that he thinks pensions’ benefit amounts “should be capped”.

On the second amendment, Beckman vowed to fight “in every way” to protect gun rights in Illinois.

“That’s the rights that were implemented by our Founding Fathers. That’s the only way that we, as citizens, could protect ourselves against rogue governments.”

“If they declare martial law, how do you protect yourselves as citizens?”, Beckman asked. “You protect yourself by having [the] right to bear arms”.

However, Beckman agrees with firearm restrictions for criminals and those with mental instability.

“I agree totally [that] felons, and people who are mentally unstable, should not be allowed to carry guns, should not have a FOID card (Firearms Owner Identification Card), [and] should not have concealed carry”.

COVID-19 nursing home deaths

Beckman decried the high number of COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes, and the actions of the nations’ governors which may have contributed to these fatalities.

“You see the antics of these rogue governors, and not putting strict measures in place in these nursing homes, to allow individuals that had COVID, to be placed back into nursing homes who didn’t have COVID”.

“It just shows the lack of care of human life.”

Beckman and Max Rice also discussed patients being turned away from empty facilities. “The Mccormick place in Chicago … [only] 29 people were held’.

“That’s like saying ‘let’s kill our older community for numbers purposes’, or for population decline … it’s sad, and people need to start speaking out about it.”

Abortion

Beckman is an opponent of abortion, but acknowledges it as the law.

“I don’t lie to the voters. I am an extremely conservative, pro-life individual”.

“But I’m also a person that believes in the rule of law”, Beckman said.  “Roe vs Wade [was put into place] in 1974, it allows people to have abortion at 20 weeks. Do I accept it? No. But that is the law”.

“I agree with women’s rights wholeheartedly. I don’t agree with Planned Parenthood … the majority of people that are affected by abortions are minority communities”.

Running for office

Beckman encouraged other people to run for office, provided they do so for the “right reason”.

“If you actually have a passion, and you want get into politics for the right reason and not the wrong reasons of power status, money, elitist status”, Beckman said.

“Don’t worry about the backlash, because you are doing it for the right purpose”.

Beckman says the reason he has got involved is fighting for the interests of the working class.

“I want to go to Springfield for the right reason, and that’s fighting for working class people”, Beckman said.

“Democrats, Republicans, and independents… I want to fight for everybody”.

Beckman is running on the Republican “Law and Order” ticket, which includes IL House 19 candidate Jeff Muehlfelder, and Cook County state’s attorney candidate Pat O’Brien, who are opposing appointee Lindsey LaPointe and Kim Foxx, respectively.

Beckman has been endorsed by the Chicago Tribune.

The election will be held November 3. Early voting begins October 19 at the Norridge Village Hall.


District 79 tax increase referendum to appear on November ballot

Referendum will increase property taxes hundreds of dollars per year for next 20 years

District 79’s board of education unanimously approved a nearly $11 million bond sale at the August regular board meeting.

District 79 has placed a $10.9 million tax increase referendum on the ballot

The approval came without fanfare and without any public discussion from the board. According to District 79, the bond sale would be used to construct an addition to the existing school building, and replace certain school infrastructure.

Previous comments by board member Frank LaPalermo indicated the November 3 tax increase may be the first in a series of smaller tax increases, in order to eventually get to $25 million+ in bond sale levels the District sought in March 2018.

This time, District 79 appears to be attempting an incremental approach, hoping homeowners won’t object to smaller increases. The strategy failed to show results in 2015, or for District 80 in 2017.

According to a calculator on the District’s website, a home assessed at $250,000 would see about a $300 rise in their property tax bill for the next 20 years. A $350,000 home would see a $400 increase, with taxes increasing based on higher assessed value.

Tax increases stacked on top of each other

The higher taxes would be on top of the $195 million dollar District 207 tax increase referendum which passed in 2018. Most District 79 students flow into District 207 for high school.

District 207 has so far issued $116M of the $195M in bonds approved by the 2018 referendum, resulting in higher property tax bills for most D 79 homeowners.

D207 has $78M in bonds they have yet to issue, which will increase the 207 portion of affected homeowners property tax bills even more.

In addition, re-assessments conducted in 2019 have resulted in much higher tax bills for many residents, including those in District 79.

If passed, the tax increase will result in higher property bills for all homeowners, including those with the senior assessment freeze and senior exemptions.

The District currently has two bond sales outstanding: a $1 million bond maturing in 2021, and a $2 million bond up in 2032.

The $10.9 million bond sale, if approved, would dramatically grow the district’s debt, to several times it’s annual budget.

Although current lending rates are low, the District will still be paying millions in interest over 20 years.

The ballot question will appear as follows:

“Shall the Board of Education of Pennoyer School District Number 79, Cook County, Illinois, alter, repair, equip, improve and build an addition to the existing school building, including, but not limited to, constructing improvements for life safety, aging infrastructure, mechanical and plumbing systems, bathrooms and drinking fountains and constructing and furnishing a STEM lab, and issue bonds of said School District to the amount of $10,900,000 for the purpose of paying the costs thereof?”

District 79 board leadership criticism

Critics have seized on the bond sale as an example of District 79’s irresponsible spending under long time Board President Michael Malusa’s leadership, and failure to maintain infrastructure in favor of payroll.

Malusa has been on the board since 1993, and his wife, Catherine, has been an employee of the District since 2000.

District 79 had previously refused to entertain cost saving measures such as superintendent sharing, or district consolidation.

Malusa claimed in 2018 that consolidation wouldn’t save any money. The comments were made despite Malusa not possessing any data from a consolidation feasibility study to show whether or not the district would in fact benefit from consolidation.

The District 79 tax increase referendum question will appear at the end of the November 3 presidential ballot.

Early voting begins October 19 at the Norridge Village Hall.


OPED:No More Gas Stations in Norridge

Utilize taxpayer funds to get the best ROI

The eye sore of Norridge is the work of the Norridge Improvement Party and they want to add another gas station at the corner of Harlem & Montrose across the street from the BP.

The 12-pump gas station on Irving Park Road

There are enough gas stations in Norridge to satisfy the needs of this population.

NIP lacks imagination and creativity to come up with the best plan for that corner piece of property that will serve the community and not serve the transient traffic that already plagues the crowded street on Harlem Avenue.

Instead of bribing corporations with incentives, form an investigation committee to determine what is the best use for that particular piece of property.

Spend some taxpayer money to research this area and determine what is the best type of businesses that should be attracted to that particular corner.

Village leadership just sits at these board meetings like robots and expect the constituents to agree with everything that they say without some documented evidence that a true investigation was done for the betterment of the Village of Norridge.

Say NO to any additional gas stations in the Village of Norridge.

We have enough gaming parlors and mini marts. The Village residents must demand documented proof that the use of Village property will get the greatest return on the investment and should be supported by statistical data from a research firm.

Bob Mrozek, Norridge