Monthly Archives: September 2020

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

Norridge government discriminating against Poles, resident says

“How long will we be discriminated against in this Village?”, Wally Biszczuk asks

At the September 23 2020 Village Board meeting, Wally Biszczuk, a long time voice in Norridge’s Polish community, called out the Norridge Improvement Party (NIP) administration’s contempt for the Village’s Polish residents.

Wally Biszczuk addresses the Village Board over discrimination against Poles

Biszczuk cited the case of a Polish immigrant who was arrested for replacing his own fence, despite having the necessary permit and approval to do so.

He asked why Village Building Commissioner Brian Gaseor claimed, in a police report, that someone else owned the fence, even though the homeowner had proof of ownership.

Gaseor is a member of the Norridge Improvement Party. He and his wife Katherine (also a Village employee) combined cost Village of Norridge taxpayers nearly $290,000 in compensation this fiscal year.

Biszczuk said Village employee Joanna Skupien (also a NIP member) even asked the victim to sign an election petition for the NIP, apparently ignorant of the incident that led to the man’s arrest.

Skupien earns nearly $160,000 in total compensation as the “Village Administrator”, a position created just for her in 2015.

Skupien was previously the Financial Director under former Norridge Village President James Chmura. The position of Financial Director was modified to drop a Norridge residency requirement, as Skupien does not live in Norridge.

Biszczuk singled out Skupien and Village trustee Jack Bielak, saying that, despite their last names, they do not represent the Polish community of Norridge.

“Last name is nothing. You are supposed to have a Polish heart”, Biszczuk said.

Bielak posted a rebuttal on his Facebook page, which he later deleted.

Village officials offered no response other than a “thank you for your comment” from appointed Village President Daniel Tannhauser.

Norridge mayor: call police on opposition circulators

Daniel Tannhauser, in robocall, suggests calling 911 for petition circulators

It’s official – the Norridge Improvement Party has finished circulating their petitions.

That’s according to a robocall sent by appointee-Village President Daniel Tannhauser on September 21, who claimed the NIP circulators collected “thousands” of signatures.

But in the declaration of their joyous event embeds another, more ominous message: “Be cautious when opening your door to strangers… if you are ever in doubt and feel unsafe, please lock your door, and call 911”.

Translation: don’t you dare sign opposition candidate petitions.

Sounds as though Daniel Tannhauser feels his election effort’s success is in doubt.

Different rules

Daniel Tannhauser doesn’t like opposition circulators

The Norridge Improvement Party, as an established party, was allowed to start collecting signatures in late August. Independent candidates had to wait until September 22 to circulate – a full month later.

The timing of the robocall, just hours before independents can circulate their petitions for office, was not a coincidence.

Sounds like voter intimidation to me.

It’s unclear whether or not the robocall was sent using the Village of Norridge’s resources, or that of the Norridge Improvement Party.

However, Tannhauser did identify himself as the “Village President” in the robocall, which implies the robocall to be an “official” Village alert.

The call came from the same number as a similar robocall in August, where Tannhauser announced the start of the NIP’s petition circulation drive.

A few weeks back, the NIP sent out a mailing telling us about how they were responsible for (try not to laugh) “safe streets, spectacular services, and the low taxes”.

If the Norridge Improvement Party does in fact have all this support, with thousands of people signing their petitions… why is it they need to resort to intimidation tactics?

We can’t forget less than four years ago when the NIP went out of their way to intimidate homeowners with opposition signs on their lawns.

I’m told Daniel Tannhauser and Debbie Budnik were among those asking the signs be taken down in 2017.

I’m also hearing Village “code inspectors” have been harassing opponents of Tannhauser.

These actions betray a new sense of desperation I have not seen in the past from the NIP and / or their Chicago 38th Ward and Democratic Organization backers.

It may be the result of voter feedback indicating the majority are looking for new leadership.

Regardless, I can tell you that we – that is, those of us running for office – aren’t exactly impressed with Tannhauser’s puerile attempts at intimidation.

For the purposes of full disclosure, I, too, am running as an independent candidate for the Norridge Village board, and am currently circulating Village Trustee petitions for myself and two other independent candidates.

Tom Benigno is also circulating petitions for his independent Village President run.

I think this sort of behavior from the current rulers shows just how much we need new leadership at 4000 N Olcott.

Adam Chudzik, Norridge

Benigno picks up support from Republicans, grassroots

Tom Benigno secures key support for his 2021 candidacy

Benigno, in his early campaign rallies, has focused on addressing day to day issues and concerns brought up by members of the community.

He has called for greater transparency in Norridge government, and a more inclusive, positive attitude from Village officials.

(By comparison, the Norridge “Improvement” Party administration, is about as “transparent” as a brick wall, and as “friendly” as a hostile porcupine.)

He has mentioned Norridge’s growing rat infestation, which has repeatedly been dismissed and swept under the rug by the NIP government – they just don’t want to deal with it.

Benigno talks about streamlining government, making it more efficient, and of not constantly running to taxpayers for more money – great concepts, that are not being employed by the current regime.

(Earlier this year, I called for a restructuring of Village government and its spending priorities.)

More support for our local schools, including from private sector and foundation donations… who can disagree with that? Especially the younger demographics who have been moving into Norridge.

(I have long called for the consolidation of local school districts).

Benigno has also discussed the need for better businesses coming to Norridge… fewer gas stations, tobacco shops, and Go Bananas-type stores.

These all sound like good government policies in general, which should appeal to the whole political spectrum and non-political types alike.

Republican support

But wait a minute, this can’t be happening – the Norridge Improvement Party kept telling us Benigno was “Mike Madigan’s man in Norridge” when he ran the previous two times, and how Madigan and Benigno would “annex Norridge into Chicago”.

Strange then, how Madigan’s Democratic Organization is supporting Tannhauser, not Benigno, for Village president?

Benigno has been able to pick up notable support from the right and centrist political action groups operating in Norridge.

In contrast to the NIP government’s defunding of the Norridge police, Benigno has indicated support for our cops, a position which is resonating with a local, grassroots Republican group.

Benigno has picked up bipartisan and grassroots backing

Matt Podgorski, chairman of the Northwest GOP Club, spoke in favor of Benigno’s candidacy at Benigno’s August 15 campaign rally.

Benigno, in turn, addressed members of the Northwest GOP at their meeting in late August, where Podgorski reiterated Republican support for Benigno.

The Northwest GOP group consists of Podgorski, and includes Norwood Park Township Republican Committeeman (and IL Senate candidate) Anthony Beckman, IL House District 19 candidate Jeff Muehlfelder, and Chicago 41st Ward Republican Committeewoman Ammie Kessem (who was the GOP IL House 19 candidate in 2018).

Tannhauser’s supporters have been (somewhat hilariously) trying to convince people of the NIP’s “Republican” support, despite Tannhauser and the other candidates’ obvious strong liberal Democratic credentials. I’m not buying it, and neither should you.

Grassroots support

Citizens in Action for Better Government, a grassroots group operating in Norridge and the surrounding area, is also backing Benigno in 2021.

Citizens in Action supported what I consider were center-right Democrats in the 2020 Democratic Party, including Chicago’s Danny O’Toole for 10th Senate district, and Norridge’s Heather Boyle for county water reclamation.

O’Toole performed well against the Madigan-supported Martwick, garnering over 45% of the vote to Martwick’s 54%.

Boyle earned over 216,000 votes in her county-wide election – VERY impressive by any measure, and something she (and Norridge) should be proud of.

On top of that, some Norridge-local grassroots groups, and influential individuals, both of which provided decisive support to the Norridge Improvement Party in 2017, will not be propping up the NIP in 2021.

These people are not really interested in partisan issues, but the every day challenges the people of Norridge face, like taxes, disintegrating infrastructure, schools, and safe neighborhoods.

It seems to me Tom Benigno may be much closer to where the average Norridge resident actually is on the important issues, than Daniel Tannhauser, Frank Avino, and the other Norridge Improvement Party candidates are.

There’s hope yet for good, representative local government coming to Norridge.

Adam Chudzik, Norridge